Read an Excerpt
'Direct Deposit' by Summer Devon
“Fuck.” That was the right word. “Fuck this.” Zack relished the way the words filled his empty apartment. He stared at his laptop’s screen and marvelled at how the simple arrangement of letters could create the sensation of a kick in the gut.
He shouldn’t have been surprised to find Colleen Madison’s name on the list of the fertility clinic’s clients who were willing to be contacted for an interview. Well, well, so the Madisons had eventually gone to professional donors.
Good to see outside confirmation that his own donation to Colleen and Tyler’s breeding efforts hadn’t taken. Thank God for little blessings—or lack of them.
Zack clicked from the page to a blank screen. He’d email a pitch to everyone on the list except the Madisons, and he began typing a bland note requesting an interview. The feature assignment struck him as pure fluff, not his favourite sort of story, but he needed the money and this magazine paid well.
Dear Parent, he began, then sat back in his chair and stared at nothing—and saw the gorgeous Colleen.
When he’d met her, all three of them had been in college and she’d been Tyler’s girlfriend. Zack had been taking British Literature that semester and had decided her quiet beauty belonged in another century.
She wasn’t like other women. Even the way she’d pulled up her brown hair and attached it to the back of her head with a complex arrangement of pins was different, old fashioned. The pile of hair looked right with her pale skin, small rosebud mouth, and delicate features. Apparently he had some desire to bang a Victorian because back then he’d get hard just thinking about her graceful throat.
Ha. Maybe if he hadn’t lusted after her for years the whole stupid incident wouldn’t still bug him.
He hit backspace and tried again.
Hello, My name is Zack Reese and I am writing a piece about the offspring of sperm donor number sixty-nine. I hope I can talk to you about your child.
“Lame.” Backspace, delete.
He returned to the email with the list of names. Her phone number was local. Funny, he’d thought they’d moved. Maybe he should just see what they’d say…No, he was not interested in calling.
He pushed back the chair and went into the kitchen. Rummaging around the fridge, he found a bottle of seltzer. He flipped the cap into the trash and gulped down half the bottle thinking about his one foray into a marriage bed. The best that could be said of the bizarre adventure was that it wasn’t his marriage or his bed.
It had started without a hint of weirdness. Lonely in the new town, he’d run into Tyler at the gym. Tyler had never been Zack’s favourite human—they had been on the college hockey team together—but he’d been glad to see a familiar face and they’d talked as they’d worked out.
After that, the three of them had gone out for dinner occasionally. Wolfing down pizza, Zack and Tyler had talked a lot about nothing in particular, sports, cars, sports cars, the usual entertaining but insignificant shit. Colleen had contributed the occasional quiet, dead-on remark.
At the gym, Tyler had soon become chummier. He’d creeped Zack out with all the questions about his sex life and health—until Zack had demanded to know why the hell Tyler wanted to know about his last AIDS test.
That’s when the man had let it spill.
<strong>'Strategic Withdrawal' by Alexis Fleming</strong>
WANTED: Sperm Donor #69
Tired of humping a test tube? Sick of the sterility of the lab? If so, come join me for two weeks of red-hot lovin’ in a variety of natural positions and settings. Satisfaction guaranteed!
Travis tossed the newspaper on the floor as his friend, Ace, wandered into the room.
“Great way to spend a lazy summer afternoon.” Ace nodded to the open laptop computer on the table. “You got a deadline to meet?”
“Something the editor wants me to get into as soon as possible. It’s a hot topic right now.” Yeah, right, this has nothing to do with the editor. This is about having your curiosity satisfied.
Now, how to do this without upsetting his best friend? Would he want to be told if he was in Ace’s position?
“Hey, Ace?” He methodically stripped the wet label off the beer bottle in front of him. “You know in college when you were determined to make your way without falling back on your family’s money?”
“I knew about the deposits you made to the sperm bank.” Ace’s reaction to this bit of news would determine whether Travis told him the rest.
“What the fuck… How the hell did you know?”
“Come on, we roomed together for that whole year I was in the States. You live that close to a person and you’re sure to find out their secrets.” He grinned. “Besides, I followed you one night. Damn it, man, I thought you were shacking up with some babe. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw you go into that clinic in Manhattan.”
“Jesus, how goddamn embarrassing. You should have said something. It was so long ago, I’d almost forgotten. I never did tell my brothers how I supported myself.” It might have been ages ago to Ace, but Travis knew the repercussions were far-reaching. “I didn’t bring it up because, to be quite honest, it was none of my business. What’d you want me to say? ‘Hey, mate, I know you’re jacking off into a test tube. Wanna give me some of the action’?”
Ace stomped over to the refrigerator and grabbed a beer. “Why bring this up now?”
“My editor wants me to do a piece on why men donate to sperm banks. You up for an interview?”
“What’s to interview? I did it for the money. Some guys made a bit of cash on the side donating blood. I donated sperm.”
Ace shrugged. “Nothing to it really. They just give you a beaker and the latest Playboy magazine and tell you to have at it. Simple.”
“So you’ll do an interview?”
“I guess…as long as you keep my name out of it.”
“Have you given any thought to the end product of all that donating? You went to that clinic at least twice a week.”
Ace ran his hand through his hair. “I guess I never thought about it. I was making money and at the same time, helping couples who couldn’t have children the natural way. That’s all there was to it.”
“Not quite.” Travis drew in a deep breath, hoping like hell Ace wouldn’t get pissed off with him for butting into his business. “I saw a show on satellite television the other night. About a whole stack of children who were looking for their daddy. Donor Number Sixty-Nine.”
“Why should I be interested in who donor sixty-nine is?” Ace made a production of looking anywhere but at his friend.
“Because you’re him, mate.”
“You’re testing the bounds of friendship, mate. What donor number I was is none of your fucking business.”
Travis grimaced. This is what he’d been afraid of. Ace getting his back up.
“What the hell makes you think I was sixty-nine anyway?” Ace slammed his beer bottle down on the kitchen bench with a resounding crack.
“Because all those kids I saw looked like you. Pretty strong genes, I’d say.”
Ace’s mouth dropped open. The colour drained from his face before washing back in a tide of bright red. “Me? A father? Shit, I never thought about it.”
<strong>'Playing the Ace' by Lyn Cash</strong>
Every intimate glance over their steaming cups of coffee in the Sydney airport bistro convinced Ace Elliott that he would fuck the ubiquitous blonde. He knew when she shared her chocolate chip biscotti with him that they’d have the wildest sex of their lives once their plane lifted off, sending them towards Los Angeles. Past that, he had no clue, because the more he saw of her, the more lost he became, and all he could pray for was that she’d find him. Ever since he’d entered the airport, he’d seen her either directly before him or out of the corner of an eye. Fated…that’s what their mating appeared to be…kismet, because he couldn’t shake her image. She was everywhere.
He’d first encountered the statuesque lady up close in the waiting area, when they’d all been informed their plane would be delayed by a couple of hours. Like he, she’d accepted the news quietly then walked back outside to smoke with others who preferred a nicotine fix to sitting and watching the clock. Granted, it was a pain in the ass to go down the escalator, outside, then back up and through security again, but with time to kill, it was preferable to sitting while waiting. They’d have time enough to sit for between fifteen and twenty hours in the airplane.
Her lips intrigued him—they were luscious, full, slicked with a cherry red gloss that seemed natural. She was born to wear the colour, which enhanced, rather than detracted from or washed out her porcelain skin. Every time she’d brought the cigarette to her lips, his cock had flared to life in tandem with the cherry on the end of the fag. With each exhale, his body felt a pull, his mouth the desire to capture her breath.
Wordlessly, they’d studied their surroundings like others taking a last-minute smoke break, breathing in the hot December air and watching the gulls swoop, perhaps wistfully thinking of what might have been had they stayed. For all Ace knew, she was a native, leaving home for God knew what. Or she might be an undercover operative for some Nordic-based ring of spies. She certainly made him feel like James fucking Bond, silently studying his nemesis, the woman with the power to seduce, one who could destroy him should he let her get too close.
Ace snorted as his fantasies clashed with reality. 007, indeed. How about Agent 69, he asked himself, remembering why he was leaving Australia.
He’d taken one last drag on the cigarette and snuffed it in the nearby receptacle. The blonde had done the same and had walked beside him then ahead of him once they’d reached the entrance.
She’d seemed to know where she was going, so she was no stranger to the airport. Ace had found himself following her, still in spy mode, waiting for her to reveal something about herself.
Once they’d passed through security, his goddess had window-shopped, seeming leisurely and pausing only when something caught her eye. This time it was a jewellers’. She’d pointed to a diamond-encrusted tennis bracelet, tried it on. Ace had watched in fascination from the opposite end of the glass counter. She’d whispered something, most likely asking the price, since the clerk’s response announced the value.