A love story for the ages! An intimate confession! An epic quest! And happily ever after on the horizon…
Character Bleed 3
Jason Mirelli loves Colby Kent. And Colby loves him. They’ve told the world. And Colby’s recovered from injury, so they’re back at work and back on set. Jason just might have everything he’s ever dreamed of, with a serious leading role, an epic love story, and Colby safe and happy in his arms—but they only have two weeks of filming to go. He’s afraid of the dream falling apart, and he knows Colby has a secret to confess—one that could transform both the ending of their movie and their future together.
Colby never got around to telling Jason his final secret before the accident on set. Now that he’s recovered, he wants to share his writing and his silent script doctor work with the man he loves. Besides, he’s rewritten this script to give their characters a proper happy ending. But he’s nervous about making changes to a classic novel, and he wants the author’s approval.
Colby’s hoping to seek out the famously reclusive author in question, but first he’ll need to trust Jason with this last piece of himself. If he can, he and Jason might finally find their happily-ever-after both on screen and off—for their characters and for themselves.
Publisher: JMS Books
Release Date: Saturday, October 3 2020
Genres: romance, contemporary (with historical touches - they're actors filming a gay Napoleonic Wars drama)
Pairings: M/M (gay and bi main characters)
LGBTQ+ Identities: main characters: gay and bi; various supporting characters: lesbian, pan, trans, ace, bi
Tropes: overall: hurt/comfort, co-workers (actors) to lovers, slow burn/mutual pining, love confessions; in book 3 specifically, more hurt/comfort, road trip, surprise proposal
Keywords/Categories: actors, writers, historical drama, mutual pining, mild kink, comfort sex, gay romance, mm romance, contemporary, romance, gay, bi, bisexual, slow burn, queer, new release, actors, historical, history
Warnings: Previous (only discussed, not on screen) emotionally manipulative/emotionally abusive relationship
Guest Post – Playlist Trivia!
All my stories have playlists, and this trilogy has a long one! Here are ten eleven of the many songs on it – songs I love, and songs that seemed to fit just right…
1 – Gerard Way, “Baby You’re A Haunted House” – I’m a huge Gerard Way & My Chemical Romance fan, and this one’s catchy but also a gorgeous metaphor, one I think Colby would appreciate. This was on my playlist very early on—pretty much from the beginning.
2 – Bruce Springsteen, “Drive Fast (The Stuntman)” – probably obvious, but it works so well for Jason, both in subject and overall emotion! I am a Springsteen fan in general, but this particular song was mentioned by a very good friend as one that made her think of Jason, and I went and found it and immediately knew it was right.
3 – Buzzcocks, “Why Can’t I Touch It?” – we needed some mournful thoughtful Buzzcocks on here – they’re one of my favorite bands, and this one’s so perfect for Colby (and Jason): wanting to touch, and afraid to, and unsure of consequences…
4 - Psychedelic Furs, “Heartbreak Beat” – this is the song Colby sings for Jason in the bar, very quietly. It’s the sort of singing voice I imagine for him, and the lyrics fit the way he’s thinking about himself and Jason: wistful, sad, hopeful at the edge of the dark.
5 – Katy Perry, “Firework” – Colby and Jason both unquestionably know this song – it’s the one they sing in the stairwell – and the lyrics are so hopeful; I think they both unironically like it.
6 - Arctic Monkeys, “Do I Wanna Know?” – also very much in Colby’s range, and absolutely something he’d do for karaoke, and he’d just amaze everyone with the performance, the timing, the emotion.
7 – B*Witched, “C’est La Vie” – Colby, being a kid in England in the ‘90s, definitely listened to B*Witched and also the Spice Girls. Also, he has without a doubt randomly sung this one around the house. Jason, a day or so later, folding laundry, finds himself humming: “Say you will. say you won't…say you'll do what I don't…say you're true, say to me…c'est la vie…DAMMIT COLBY WHY IS THIS SO CATCHY?”
8 – Modern English, “I Melt With You” – such a perfect love song for their relationship!
9 – Tegan & Sara, “Love They Say” – also perfect, lyrically: you don't need to wonder / if love will make us stronger / there's nothing love can't do…
10 – BoDeans, “Closer To Free” – pure fun, and Colby and Jason would dance to it, but also these lyrics: and everybody needs a chance once in a while / everybody wants to be closer to free…
11 – The Proclaimers, “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” – again, pure fun! And all about commitment, and joy, and love – and I can picture Colby and Jason, plus the whole cast and crew, filming a silly video sing-along version on set, starting with Colby and Jason popping up out of an antique historical bed on the line, “When I wake up…”
Jason steadied Colby and himself as best he could. His heart hadn’t calmed down yet. Slamming into his ribs—seeing Colby come running through a doorway, eyes wide, breath quick—hearing Colby ask for help—
But Colby’s eyes were bright. And Colby’s hand on his arm was exuberant, not frightened.
“—I’ve saved them, you see,” Colby was saying, voice tripping all over itself in excitement, accent rippling and delighted. “I’ve worked it out, the happy ending, and I’m very sorry you’ll have to lose an arm, but that won’t be too dreadful, and your Stephen can come home to Will after all, but if I’m going to change anything that drastic I do want to explain, so I’ll need your help, but anyway, here, tell me whether you think it’s all right—”
“You’re okay,” Jason said.
“Oh.” Colby blinked at him, then smiled. Will’s dressing gown slid off one shoulder; Jason moved to tug it back up, but Colby already was, unselfconsciously graceful. “Yes. Very much.”
“You…saved Will and Stephen?” He took offered script pages. “You changed the ending?”
“Yes, I had to—I couldn’t let them be tragic—yes, go on, read it—”
Serenity the PA had tactfully wandered down the hallway and was pretending to be texting. Night fell like a slowing carousel around them, through tall curtain-framed windows full of stars.
Jason kept an arm around Colby, who believed in happy endings. Found the beginning of the new scenes.
After a minute he said, “Holy shit yes.”
“Yes, I thought so too, did you like the bit when Stephen—”
“Hang on, I’m not done—” It was good. It was so good. He wanted to leap headlong into Colby’s words, to plunge into this imagined historical future. He could see himself playing it out, knowing exactly the quaking weight in Stephen’s steps toward Will’s townhouse, fearful and hopeful, reunion only a possibility until it became triumphantly real…
He knew how Stephen would gather Will close with his one good arm, and how the tears would burn: Will lived, Will still wanted him, they would face the rebuilding of their lives together.
His chest ached, because Colby had written words that reached in and gripped his heart and shook it apart and then soothed it into a soft safe rhythm again.
He looked up, after. “This is right.”
“Yes,” Colby said. “Yes. It’s a good history—two men getting to be happy together, because they did, they could, we have to tell those stories—”
“But it’s also right for them. What they do with the house, with their lives—”
“I wanted it,” Colby said, “to feel like joy.” He looked like joy too, wrapped up in an embroidered period dressing gown.
“It does,” Jason said. “It does.”
“But to make that change…” Colby hesitated, excitement not dimmed but reshaped. “First we’ll have to tell Jillian. It’ll alter the tone of the film.”
“She’ll love it. I do.”
“I think she will—we’d talked about the ending, and I’d said I wasn’t entirely happy—but it’ll mean a longer shoot. I can put more money into it, that’s not a problem, but we’ll be asking the crew to extend their commitment. I’ll understand if some of them can’t, of course.”
Jason mentally skipped over the financing comment. It was a reminder—Colby had a hell of a lot of money even compared to Jason’s action-hero income, enough to casually fling at a production in need—but he’d already made peace with that. He knew Colby used it to help people.
More importantly, he guessed that most if not all of their crew would stay on. If not for the paycheck, for Colby. “Bet they’ll want to. This is big. This kind of story. Telling it.”
“That’s the other part. I know how much the novel means to the people who love it.” Colby squared shoulders. “I think, in order to do this…we should go and find George Forrest and ask. Not permission, precisely—he gave that when we agreed on the rights, and he said he didn’t want to be involved—not bothered by all that nonsense, was how he put it—but I’d like some sort of…”
“Perhaps. I want to be respectful. I’ll show him my version, and he can comment, I’d not mind, he knows Will and Stephen the best—I wonder if he’d like raspberry tarts as a sort of gift—”
The next realization hit Jason’s brain like a falling ton of Regency-era bricks. “Colby?”
“That’s the bit I’d like your help with, not the baking but the travel, because—”
“Possibly not tarts?”
“If you do this…if we do this…” He had both hands on Colby’s shoulders. Bracing. “It’ll mean telling people. About your writing. It’ll have to. We could try to keep your secret, I know you and Jill’ve been good at that, and I’ll help, you know I will. But it won’t work for long. If you’re the one finding the author, if you’re showing him this—if even one person says even one thing—with the press we’ve already got…” He gave up, said it again: “You’ll have to tell people. And I know you don’t want to.”
Colby didn’t flinch. “I know. I’m fine with it.”
“I am. I’d already decided that, last night. I thought…yes, it’ll change things, but I’m proud of what I write. And I love Stephen and Will, and I believe in romance, and if giving them a happy ending means being a bit brave about sharing myself, I can do that.”
You can, Jason thought. His hands gentled, holding those slender shoulders; his heart skipped a beat, caught breath, felt awe like sunrise. He thought that even without being in love with Colby, which he was, he’d love Colby: someone who cared about happiness deeply enough to face the price of it with open eyes. With freshly-made raspberry tarts in hand.
Seaworthy, Stalwart, Steadfast
K.L. is giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate with this tour
K.L. Noone employs her academic research for writing romance, frequently LGBTQIA, often paranormal, fantasy, or historical. Her full-length romance novels include the Character Bleed trilogy (Seaworthy, Stalwart, Steadfast), Cadence and the Pearl, and A Demon for Midwinter, available from JMS Books, and A Prophecy for Two, available from Inkshares, and she’s also the author of multiple romance short stories with JMS Books, and previously with Less Than Three Press, Circlet Press, and Ellora's Cave. Her non-romance fantasy fiction has appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword and Sorceress and the magazine Aoife's Kiss.
With the Professor Hat on, she’s published scholarly work on romance, fantasy, and folklore, including a book on Welsh mythology in popular culture and a book on ethics in Terry Pratchett’s fantasy. She is happily bisexual, married to the marvelous Awesome Husband, and currently owned by a long-legged black cat named Merlyn.
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