On June 12, 2016, the most horrendous mass shooting in US history and an unfathomable act of hate was directed at the LGBT community in Orlando. The horror of this tragedy reverberated around the world, leaving millions shocked and appalled at the senseless violence that destroyed so many innocent lives. In a display of solidarity with the victims and survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting, a group of LGBTQ+ and straight allies, from all across the globe, came together to produce a collection of poems in celebration of love and acceptance. The resulting Love is Love Poetry Anthology is dedicated to the families and victims of the shooting and all proceeds of this work will be donated to Equality Florida’s Pulse Victims Fund.
In this small way, the authors, along with the readers who purchase this work, seek to contribute to the lives of those who still suffer from the consequences of the malice directed toward them, and offer some positivity and compassion in the face of such bigotry.
AC Benus, Aditus, Andrew Jericho, Ann Anderson, Ash Marie, Asta Idonea, Betti Gefecht, Cam Kennedy, Cynus Eldranai, Darren White, dughlas, Eddy LeFey, Eden Winters, EmiGS Em, F.E. Feeley Jr., Gelybi , Headstall, Jack L. Pyke, Jana Denardo, Jason Frazier, Jay Rookwood, J.L. Merrow, Karina Rye, Kathy Griffith, Kay Ellis, Kaye P. Hallows, Kit Loffstadt, Laura B. Damone, Layla Dorine, Lily G. Blunt, L.J. Harris, L.M. Somerton, Louis Stevens, L.S.K Harris, L.V. Lloyd, Lynn Michaels, Maggie Chatterton, Maria Siopis, Monika De Giorgi, Parker Owens, Patricia Nelson, Pelaam, Petra Howard, Ravyn Bryce, Rick R. Reed, Ruski, Valik and Addy, S.J. Davis, Skylar M. Cates, Star Brady, Steve Baldry, Susan Crane, Tamara Miles, Tash Hatzipetrou, Tim Landon, Tracy Gee, Vicki Tubridy, Victoria Kinnaird, and Wendy Rathbone.
Roll of the Dice
Part of the Valentine's Day Anthology
M B Feeney and L J Harris
A roll of the dice leads to... fun between Thomas McDonald and Maisie Lewis as they embark on the next stage of their relationship.
Will they see it through, or will nerves get the better of them?
All royalties donated to The British Heart Foundation.
This story was originally included in the SECOND CHANCES Anthology released in August 2012 and has been individually released to celebrate BDP's anniversary.
Days after arriving in Australia for a working holiday, Zack Doherty is blindsided by the connection he instantly feels to Heath Connors, but circumstances don’t work in their favour. Zack is uncharacteristically forward in pushing Heath to accept a date when fate gives him a second opportunity.Heath has only recently had the courage to admit his true self, walking away from his marriage and a good job when he could no longer lie to himself. The attraction he feels for a stranger that fleetingly crossed his path confirms he made the right choice.
I already missed the life I’d built back in San Francisco—my family and friends, even my crappy job at a local bar I’d taken after cutbacks forced me to leave the job I loved. But after suffering a bad break-up with Trent Forster, the man I thought I’d one day marry until I found him in bed with his ex-boyfriend, I had needed a little time and a lot of space to rethink the direction my life was headed.
It had been more than six months since that day, yet I still hadn’t managed to move on. Everywhere I’d looked, Trent had been there; our social circles colliding so often that his and his lover’s presence had worn me down. Eventually deciding enough was enough, I’d packed my bags, my tail tucked firmly between my legs, and departed for Australia for a working holiday, leaving behind the only life I’d ever known.
My father had returned here to Canberra, south-west of Sydney, the place he was born, when I’d moved out of the house to finish college, a year or so after he and Mom divorced. I was looking forward to not only making a fresh start but also reconnecting with him, having only managed to visit a mere handful of times since he’d returned here ten long years ago. I was giving myself six months to find a job, and if I liked it, I’d probably end up extending my stay and finding a place of my own.
Dad had returned to the job he loved since coming home. It was the very same job he’d had when he first met Mom—working in public affairs for the US Embassy—and it kept him extremely busy. So busy, in fact, that he rarely had the opportunity to take his beloved Mustang out for a spin, especially since the Embassy provided him with a car for work purposes. I’d only been in the house for a few minutes when he handed me the keys to the Candy Apple Red ’67 Fastback, telling me it needed to be driven around town from time to time to keep it in running order.
After a quick reviving shower and shave, I grabbed the car keys from the dish on the sideboard, happy that I finally had the chance to oblige him.
It had been five years since I’d sat behind the wheel of this particular vehicle. No matter how many times I opened the door and jumped in, the familiar smell of tobacco, mint, and leather never failed to invoke many happy memories ... so many, in fact, that I had a hard time keeping a smile off my face whenever I slipped into the driver’s seat and turned the key.
But when I decided to go for a drive and check out Dad’s place of work, stopping off at the store on the way to buy a newspaper so I could check out the local job market, I thanked the gods for their gift, because if not for my father’s generosity, I’d never have encountered ... him.
He was washing car windows at the traffic lights. He was tall, tanned, and lean with broad shoulders. I could tell his hair was long, thick, and wavy by the wisps of light brown hair that peeked out every which way from underneath his black, woollen hat. A smattering of stubble across his jaw and his long, narrow nose enhanced his features perfectly, and when I caught sight of his bright blue eyes as he moved closer, the most beautiful eyes I’d ever seen, roving over the entire car before they met with mine, I was hooked in an instant.
I had to suppress a laugh when I noticed he was wearing one of those god-awful green glow-in-the-dark vests, and as he stood there, holding a squeegee in his hand and looking at me like I was something to eat, a strange but exhilarating combination of embarrassment and elation flowed through my every cell. Even as the light turned green and the traffic began to move, I continued to devour every inch of him. Shooting him a nervous wink for good measure, I watched as he turned and walked away, his ass swaying hypnotically with every step he took. It was in that moment as I sat there, ogling the most handsome man I’d ever laid eyes on, that I felt as though I’d been struck by lightning.
A trip to the dentist has never been so… interesting…
“Bollocks,” I groaned, failing at my attempt to chew on the wedge of pickle-covered cheese. I sat at the end of the bar at the Thistle and Lion, whining and moaning with every bite of my ploughman’s lunch. I’d had the mother of all headaches for two days, and throbbing gums for three, the pain so bloody awful I’d been driven to take the afternoon off work. My bite had been out of alignment for weeks, thanks to the swelling in the back of my mouth, and everything above my shoulders hurt.
Even my sodding hair.
The ibuprofen I was taking was no longer helping and I hadn’t slept well in days. Luckily my sister, Rachel, was able to secure an appointment with a new dentist near where she worked. Dr Anderson had been looking after my teeth ever since I was a young lad, but retired earlier in the year. As much as I felt awkward around new people, I figured I’d give this new bloke a shot, considering my dear sister had been gushing about how wonderful he was non-stop for the past few weeks. It wasn’t as though I had much choice, anyway, the other dentists I’d contacted including every one of them at the Holistic Solutions Clinic, were booked solid for months ahead.
I didn’t even give a toss if I had to get my teeth pulled, if it meant the pain would go away.
Unable to finish my meal, I downed the rest of my pint to help sate my hunger and perhaps give me a little Dutch courage before I left a tenner on the end of the bar and headed for the men’s to carefully floss and brush.
It was torture yes, but no sense in grossing out the new dentist with my recently acquired mustard pickle and beer breath.
I made my way across the cobbled alleyway that was a stone’s throw away from the city centre, the London sun shining and the air brisk with mid-October winds until I found myself standing in the lobby of the two-storey building. Quickly checking the directory located next to a small cafe, I made my way up the single flight of stairs, passing by everything from chiropractors to physiotherapists, acupuncturists to hypnotherapists.
I was certain the name on the suite door number ten, Acacia Dental Spa, was a contradiction in terms.
I doubted very much if anything offered here was even close to being spa-like.
With a deep breath, I pushed open the large timber paneled door and stepped inside, where an immediate feeling of tranquility invaded my senses. The walls were painted in a soothing green. Beyond beyond the reception desk was a beautiful water feature, a constant stream flowing down a sheet of frosted glass. The adjacent waiting area was filled with comfortable looking chairs where several people sat, most of them appearing quite relaxed.
“Mr Cooper, is it?” Sporting a frown, the bespectacled, but nonetheless pretty, redheaded nurse regarded me, her concerned expression and crisp white uniform she wore making me feel a little more at ease, but nervous at the same time. It hadn’t been the first time my wisdom teeth had given me trouble, but in the past they would ache for a day or two and then subside.
Not this time.
“Yes.” Whimpering, I ran my fingers along my tender jaw.
Tapping a few keys on the computer, she added, “You’re here to see about getting your wisdom teeth extracted, correct?”
“Yes,” I repeated.
“We’ll do our best to take care of that for you. This way, please.” My nerves were getting the better of me as she picked up my file, stood and directed me to follow her to the room at the end of a long hallway. After instructing me to take a seat in the black vinyl dental chair, she quickly clasped a paper bib around my neck.
“Dr Gibbs won’t be long. In the meantime, why don’t you just try to relax as best you can.”
She went to the tiny refrigerator and took out a large pitcher filled with cucumber and water, then poured me a glass.
“You’re most welcome.” She picked up a small remote and pressed several buttons. The chair I sat in then began to subtly vibrate, while several tiny nodules beneath the leather slowly knead the tense muscles of my back.
Waiting until she closed the door behind her, I let out a groan as the chair began to work its magic. I took several small sips of the water until it was all gone, the cool liquid refreshing as it slid down my aching throat.
Placing the empty glass on the cup holder that sat in one of the armrests, I absorbed my surroundings.
I had to admit, even though my rather ‘out there’ sister recommended this place, the relaxing atmosphere was helping to keep my usual fear under control, and was relieved to find I didn’t feel as nervous as I’d been in the past.
As I cast my eyes around the softly lit space, it didn't look anything like a dentist’s office. Yes the usual implements of torture were set on a cloth covered stainless steel trolley next to the little sink attached to the chair to my right, and a huge overhead light hung from the ceiling. But the clinical atmosphere normally prevalent in places like this was replaced by earthy brown tones and walls covered in beautiful photographs of famous rainforests from around the world.
Tropical plants inhabited a small terrarium that lined the wall I was facing, where a fine mist of water sprayed across them every so often. Even the desk in front of the glass structure oozed character, the rough-hewn timber with all its imperfection appearing to have been freshly cut from a dead tree, the soft brown leather chair that sat behind it looking plush and comfortable. The colour and warmth of the room, combined with the soothing sounds of the forest that were now being piped throughout made me feel a little better…so much so in fact, that I couldn’t help but yawn and close my eyes…
“Mr Cooper?” I heard a low, muffled voice ask in the same moment a firm hand grasped my shoulder and gently shook.
Smacking my lips together, I stretched my limbs and slowly opened my eyes, drawing in a gasp at the sight before me. He wore a white mask and dressed in one of those blue dentists’ shirts that buttoned up across the right shoulder, his dark brown, slicked back hair and broad shoulders making him look more like a Greek god than a dentist. Olive skin accentuated the most mesmerizing hazel eyes I’d ever seen, the surrounding long, black lashes only adding to their depth.
“Oh, sorry, I guess I must have dozed off,” I explained, feeling my cheeks heat, while I barely managed to hold back a yawn.
His eyes crinkled at the corners and even though the mask covered the entire lower half of his face, I knew he was smiling.
If I wasn’t in so much agony, I’d probably be more interested in seeing what that smile looked like.
“Not to worry…it’s quite a common occurrence. Now how about we see about getting you a decent night’s sleep?” He turned around and flipped on the fluorescent x-ray panel on the wall behind him, illuminating the images of my teeth. Studying the films carefully before picking up my file and flipping it open, he let out a little, “Hmmm.”
“Dr Anderson told me if the pain got too bad, it would be best to have them removed,” I croaked, pissed off that my voice sounded so tiny, at the same time desperate for the man standing before me to make the pain to go away.
The nurse, who I noticed wore a name badge saying her name was Georgia, slipped into the room then, wearing gloves and a mask, her eyes kind and smiling as she awaited her instructions.
Unable to stop myself from blushing scarlet as new guy slipped on a pair of latex gloves and turned toward me, I cleared my throat in order to compose myself.
Thoughts of any part of my new dentist being sheathed in rubber obviously did things to me.
JUST LIKE PULLING TEETH is part of the BOLLOCKS! Anthology