Hey y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and Jodi Payne’s biggest fan. Well, that might be her wife, but I’m a close second.
I am so stoked to be able to create a new world with Jodi — all these places where places and characters collide fascinate me, and to be able to take my Texans to NYC is like magic. I can tell you all about my goofy, crazy artist, Tucker, but I’m in love with Calvin, this model that wants to only be skin-deep, but who is this amazing foil to Tucker’s obsession, this man who understands and cares and gets into Tuck and holds on.
Have i mentioned the utter joy I feel whenever I think about these boys. JOY, y’all.
Much love, y’all.
Hey there! I’m Jodi Payne, and I am SO excited to be working with BA Tortuga on this project. Refraction is the first of five books in our Collaborations series, aptly named for the artists collaborating and falling in love in various ways in the books, but it also speaks to the way that BA and I work together, learning and experimenting, meshing Texas and New York, creating a space where characters find themselves out of their comfort zones and have to rely on one another to find stability.
And they don’t come much more unstable than Calvin and Tucker. The best thing about all of BA’s cowboys, but especially Tucker in this book, is that he simply is who he is, and that’s the only way he knows how to be. He’s a little (a lot) obsessive, his artistic bent is off the deep end, and by just being who he is, he creates a space for Calvin to feel safe in doing the same, validating everything that’s below the surface.
These first two men in the series hold a special place for me, because they were first, but also because they’re quirky, fun, crazy, stupid, so completely human, and they connect in a place that’s not really New York or Texas, but uniquely their own. I can’t wait for you to read them!
Texas artist Tucker Williams arrives in New York City for a gallery showing of his work and finds the city blanketed in snow. He meets free-spirited underwear model Calvin McIntire on the steps of the Midtown library and is captivated by a wild beauty that manages to compete with the demons that occupy his soul and fuel his work with their lust for blood and erotic imagery.
Unable to deny a new inspiration, Tucker sublets a studio and finds the city’s energy almost as addictive as Calvin.
Tucker is obsessive, barely holding on to sanity as his art consumes him, and Calvin is dealing with demons of his own, trying desperately to protect his soul in a business where only his appearance has value. They each prove to be the perfect remedy for the other’s personal brand of crazy until, in the midst of stress and exhaustion, they discover that a promise Calvin needs is the one thing Tucker can’t give him, and their heaven turns to purgatory.
Can both men find a path toward wholeness in Tucker’s beautiful but chaotic Texas home? In order for them—and their passionate relationship—to thrive, they’ll need to adapt, share their psychoses, and find a true balance between New York City and rural Texas.
Tucker Williams leaned against the steps of the library beside the big stone lion and watched the white stuff fall out of the sky. Colder than he’d ever been in his whole life, he shivered, trying to figure out what the fuck a guy like him was doing all the way up here.
The logical part of his brain, the part not frozen solid, reminded him that he had a gallery opening tomorrow. A major opening. Right.
So he was up here touristing all by himself and freezing his nuts and his toes off and waiting to show up in his best jeans and jacket tomorrow night.
Christ on a sparkly pink crutch, everyone here wore black, and no one smiled a bit. Surely there had to be somewhere here with friendly folks and heat.
Right on cue, one of those black-clad Yankees—this one in a black knee-length coat, black earmuffs, and chunky black boots—came trotting down the steps right past him. Like every other guy on the busy street, he was on the phone.
“That spread is mine, Michael. I want it. You make it happen. I’ve got the best ass of the bunch, and you know it.”
The man stopped two steps below Tucker. “I’m easier to work with too. You tell them, okay? I need to get out of the weather. Who ordered this shit? Later.”
Huh. Earmuffs were a thing. Go figure. Tucker had to admit, the whole pseudo-duster thing was pretty hot.
“’Scuse me, sir, but is there a decent place to get a cup of joe around here?” Tucker asked.
The guy turned his head, but Tucker couldn’t get a good look at him behind the collar he’d pulled up against the weather. He was squinting against the snow, and his hair was mostly hidden under a knit hat, but it looked like it might be blond.
“There’s no such thing as a bad cup of coffee in New York. You look like you’re freezing your ass off, man. Come on, I’ll show you.” The guy just took off down the steps, and Tucker didn’t have much choice but to follow.
Good Lord and butter, these folks walked like huge flocks of birds. Great big old flocks of ravens. Oh. Oh, he could—he could paint that, right now.
“Calvin.” He was offered a gloved hand. Black leather, of course.
“Williams. Tucker Williams. Pleased.” He pulled his hand out of his pocket and shook.
“Not from around here, I take it?” Calvin gave him wink and a grin.
Cool. This one smiled. “No, sir. I’m a bit from home, but that’s obvious, I reckon.”
“I’ll say. In here.” Calvin opened a door, and Tucker was hit with the smell of baking bread and a beautiful blast of warm air. “We’re expecting a pretty good hit. How long are you in town?”
“Until Monday.” Then he’d go explore somewhere else for a few days. Although, he loved that bird image….
“Well, if you haven’t been in the city in a snowstorm before, and it looks to me like you haven’t….” Calvin laughed. “You should know that you can’t get a cab in the snow. Ever. Don’t even bother trying. Get some boots and take the subway. Just coffee? I’m gonna hang out for a bit and eat something.” Calvin pulled off his earmuffs and squinted at the menu. “Large almond-milk latte with an extra shot and the vegetarian chili… and…?” He looked at Tucker.
“Triple espresso and whatever y’all have that’s the darkest chocolate.” No way he was going underground to get on a train. No way on earth.
“Mmm, chocolate. That’s one way to warm up.” Calvin pulled off his gloves and then fished a credit card out of his pocket. “On me. Well, on my agent. It’s a work day.” He held his card up to the reader until it beeped, and the card disappeared into his pocket again. “I’m gonna grab a seat. You headed back out there?”
“I think I’ll just sit a minute. Defrost.” Eventually he’d figure out how to get back to his hotel.
“Do that.” Calvin glanced over his shoulder as he headed for a table, and this time Tucker saw a flash of bright green eyes as they caught the light. “Tell me why you’re up here in this shitty weather?”
“I have a thing I have to be at Saturday evening. Everyone told me to come up a few days early and explore. What kind of agent?” He had one too. Her name was Marge. She was something else.
“Oh, Michael. He’s a talent guy.” Calvin stuffed his gloves into his pockets. “So you came out in this weather just to visit the library? Did you get a picture with the lions, because that’s a thing. Patience and Fortitude.”
“No, sir.” It was a cool library, though, and he’d spent a couple of happy hours in the 750s, just looking. Sort of like he was just looking at Mr. Pretty here. “Are you from here?”
Their order arrived, and Calvin waited to answer. “I grew up in Vermont. But I’m from here now. Got here when I was seventeen.”
“Wow. I wasn’t ready for something like this at seventeen.” He wasn’t ready for it now, he didn’t think. Although that motion…. Tucker wondered if a guy could rent a studio space for, like, a week. Just to paint.
Calvin looked at him. “Oh. Did I say I was ready?” He laughed and picked up his latte. “No, I had a job, but I wasn’t anything close to ready for this town. I adapted pretty quick, though. It’s home now.” He sipped his latte and then spooned up some “chili.” Didn’t seem like a great combination.
Shit, he was fairly sure that vegetarian chili was a crime against nature, but he was a stranger in a strange fucking land, so he didn’t remark none on it.
“Where are you staying? Oh—that’s nosy, right? You don’t have to answer that. Sorry. I was just making small talk.” Calvin giggled.
Yeah, Tucker was pretty sure that qualified as a giggle.
“How’s your chocolate?”
“Dark.” He licked his fork and hummed, the bitter and sweet exploding over his tongue. “Possibly the best piece of whatever-the-fuck fancy-assed piece of cake I’ve ever had.”
Calvin put his spoon down. “You’re good at that.”
“At eating?” He’d hope so. Lord knew, he’d done it for years.
“No, the tongue thing. With your fork. Licking.” Calvin braced his elbow on the table and his chin in his palm, eyes narrow and a wicked smile on his lips. “Do that again.”
“Listen to you.” Lord have mercy. That was hotter than the hinges of hell. Damn, how did that… how did something like that even happen?
“Yes, listen to me.” Calvin sounded playful, and he shifted, picked up his latte, and took a sip. “Do it again, Mr. Williams? Please?”
“Well, since you asked so pretty.” Lord, please don’t let me get my ass kicked here. He took another bite, his cheeks lit on fucking fire. He licked his lips clean, then managed to meet Calvin’s eyes. “Ta-da?”
Calvin laughed and applauded, the sound pure happy. “Oh. That was lovely! So hot. You’re a riot, Tucker. I’m glad I pulled you out of the snow.” Didn’t seem like he was too worried about people overhearing, but then he leaned in closer. “Also, I think your cheeks are warm enough to melt that shit right off the sidewalk.”
“Y’think? Shit marthy. I can’t believe this mess.” That he was flirting like he knew this guy, like this feller knew him from Job.
Jodi Payne spent too many years in New York and San Francisco stage managing classical plays, edgy fringe work, and the occasional musical. She therefore is overdramatic, takes herself way too seriously, and has been known to randomly break out in song. Her men are imperfect but genuine, stubborn but likable, often kinky, and frequently their own worst enemies. They are characters you can’t help but fall in love with while they stumble along the path to their happily ever after.
For those looking to get on her good side, Jodi’s addictions include nonfat lattes, Malbec and tequila any way you pour it. She can be found wearing sock monkey gloves while typing when it’s cold, and on the beach enjoying the sun and the ocean when it’s hot. When she’s not writing and/or vacuuming sand out of her laptop, Jodi mentors queer youth and will drop everything for live music. Jodi lives near New York City with her beautiful wife, and together they are mothers of dragons (cleverly disguised as children) and slaves to an enormous polydactyl cat.
Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.
Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head.