Author Name & Publisher: Kim Fielding (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: August 31, 2015 – 80,000 Words
A drifter since his teens, Jimmy Dorsett has no home and no hope. What he does have is a duffel bag, a lot of stories, and a junker car. Then one cold desert night he picks up a hitchhiker and ends up with something more: a letter from a dying man to the son he hasn’t seen in years.
On a quest to deliver the letter, Jimmy travels to Rattlesnake, a small town nestled in the foothills of the California Sierras. The centerpiece of the town is the Rattlesnake Inn, where the bartender is handsome former cowboy Shane Little. Sparks fly, and when Jimmy’s car gives up the ghost, Shane gets him a job as handyman at the inn.
Both within the community of Rattlesnake and in Shane’s arms, Jimmy finds an unaccustomed peace. But it can’t be a lasting thing. The open road continues to call, and surely Shane—a strong, proud man with a painful past and a difficult present—deserves better than a lying vagabond who can’t stay put for long.
Their waitress appeared beside the table. “Anything else?” she asked Jimmy.
He didn’t want to go just yet. But his belly was full, and any further conversation with Shane was probably going to frustrate him. Already Jimmy wanted to reach across the table and touch Shane’s hair, maybe run a finger across his scars. “Just the check. Thanks.”
“Mine too,” Shane said, but his thoughts were clearly elsewhere. As soon as she took their plates away, he leaned forward. “You don’t have to go, do you? I mean, you’re not, um, on the run from the law, are you?”
That made Jimmy laugh. “I’ve done some stupid shit, but never bad enough to make me a fugitive.”
“If I Google you, I won’t find you on the Ten Most Wanted list?”
“So.” Shane traced his finger through a bit of spilled sugar on the tabletop, worrying at his lip and not meeting Jimmy’s gaze. He finally looked up again. “So you could stick around here for a while. If you had a place to stay and a job.”
God damn it! You don’t hope. You don’t want. That only leads to destruction. But Jimmy felt himself nod. “I could. For a short time.”
Give us a to-do list for one of your characters.
Jimmy has recently been hired as handyman at the Rattlesnake Inn. The hotel dates to the 1850s, so although it’s always been lovingly cared for, he always has a long to-do list. His boss, Belinda, keeps him on his toes! Jimmy doesn’t mind, though—he’s not afraid of work. Here’s a typical day for him.
1. Tell himself that he’ll stay just one more day before hitting the road. Just one more.
2. Greet the morning delivery trucks and help unload and put away clean linens and bar supplies.
3. Replace burnt-out lightbulb in room 208.
4. Repair dripping faucet in upstairs shared bathroom.
5. Water the flowers in the planter boxes near the hotel entrance.
6. Meet Shane for brunch at Mae’s Café across the street. If it’s Friday, that means french toast with blueberry topping. Try not to squirm too noticeably at Shane’s suggestive comments.
7. Help move some of the heavy furniture so Candy and Grisel—the housekeeping staff—can clean behind them. Attempt to sidestep Candy and Grisel’s nosy questions about what’s going on between him and Shane.
8. Make progress on the neverending inventory project in the basement. Some of the stuff down there probably dates back to the gold rush. Wonder whether there really is a secret gold mine entrance down there, as Shane suggested.
9. Help Shane take the chairs off the tables and get the bar ready to open. Shane will probably protest because he doesn’t want Jimmy to think he’s too busted up to do the work himself. Jimmy will stop the protests with a few kisses and gropes.
10. Repair overly creaky stair and slightly loose bannister.
11. When guests with heavy luggage check in, help them carry the suitcases up the stairs because the Snake doesn’t have an elevator. Wonder why people pack so much crap for a weekend away.
12. Take a stroll around town. Stop to talk to Eddy, who’s always parked on the bench across the street, and pet Eddy’s dog. Contemplate a future visit to the nearby Chuku Cave.
13. Check with Belinda. Per her instructions, replace another lightbulb, clean stains from a chair in room 103, unclog the tub drain in 102, and caulk the drafty window in the upstairs hallway.
14. Read quietly in own room for a while, then doze for half an hour or so.
15. Shower and shave.
16. Meet Shane at his apartment—at the back of the inn—for a light supper of sandwiches and potato salad. Make out like desperate teenagers. Untuck shirt to hide hard-on when Shane has to return to work and Jimmy returns to his own room.
17. Read for a while longer.
18. Rescue guest who has somehow locked himself in bathroom in room 214.
19. Remove broken lamp from 203 and clean up the mess. Replace it with new lamp from basement. Assure semi-hysterical guest that it was an accident and Belinda will not charge them for the damage.
20. Help guests in 106 open stuck suitcase lock.
21. Go to the hotel bar, where it’s a fairly slow night. Take usual seat. Munch on popcorn and drink coffee while watching Shane work. God, he’s a beautiful man. Enjoy the way Shane flirts with him between helping customers.
22. Return to room and get ready for bed. Wait there, naked and thinking of Shane.
23. Let out sigh of relief when Shane shows up after closing the bar. Watch Shane undress. Make up for a day of slowly building sexual tension.
24. Contemplate begging Shane to spend the night instead of returning to his own apartment. Chicken out. Say good-night and, after Shane is gone, remind self to leave in the morning. It’s time to move on, right?
Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.
After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.