Updated: Sep 29, 2019
I hope so.
Look, I love these guys. My history with them is a bit... tumultuous. Braeden, Jeff, and Maya were originally conceived as, well, vampires. Maya (Amaya in her first iteration) was an old vampire in charge of bringing the arrogant and unruly Braeden to heel. Jeff was a lot more cold and aloof. Braeden and Jeff were often cruel to each other, bickered a lot, and generally just had no respect for each other for the longest time.
Can you imagine?
Two things stayed the same. I always intended for Braeden and Jeff to fall in love. And Jeff first met Braeden in person by saving him from a [then duck, now goose] attack. Destiny.
But the story thereafter ended up very, very different.
I came up with these characters when I was 18. I was still obsessed with vampires. Unfortunately, so was the rest of the world - moreover, publishing wasn't keen on queer characters yet, except in contemporary tragedies or obscure, sensuous, often-vampiric adult stories. It was with great sadness that I shelved the characters and moved on to other things.
For a while, I forgot about them.
I'm not sure what made me come back. I can't say why I felt the urge to rewrite their histories and keep only their names. Maya went from an "old soul" to the chipper, loyal friend who wasn't afraid to give Jeff some real talk. Jeff went from a bitter kid to a... well, less bitter young man (trust me, it's an improvement). Braeden did a complete 180, coming out charming, sweet, thoughtful, and with far more understandable troubles.
And, of course, no vampires. Just regular teenagers.
One thing definitely changed: I had a burning (ha!) need to write queer characters. Characters like me. Like Jeff, a teenager who realized his bisexuality, accepted it with ease, yet kept it hidden because he knew the repercussions in a military town. Like Braeden, who can't shake feeling like an imposter.
An enbie teenager in my life read the original rough draft. In Burning Britely, when Jeff is cornered at the lockers and taunted by a bully, they told me, "It's still like that." They were utterly unsurprised at how it played out, because they've seen it happen.
I've seen it happen.
Not much has changed in 14 years.
I've lived in a military town most of my life. As a cis female, being bi didn't affect me as much. Keeping quiet about it helped. Maybe three people in my graduating class knew at the time. My male friends who were out didn't have such an easy time. One was constantly harassed for being gay. Taunted, stalked, jeered, even physically attacked. In 2005. It wasn't a safe time.
It still isn't.
That's the story I needed to tell.
But I'm not finished. I left Yearning Young open for a reason. And now I need to tell what happens next: can Jeff and Braeden make this work, despite the rough road ahead? How do they navigate keeping a shared future when military life intervenes?
When is the sequel coming out?
I'm working on it.
Like I said in another post, it's been an incredibly rough year for me. More happened, many more personal things that are not my business to tell yet involve me emotionally. The past 11 months have not been kind to me.
But I'm working on it.
I have some chapters written, the story is outlined. Now that I'm suddenly a stay-at-home mom to two toddlers, with little free time (or personal space), it's much harder writing and editing than working full-time with guaranteed breaks and a whole 40-minute lunch when I could pop in my earbuds and write. Now I'm lucky if I get lunch. My kids come first.
I swear, I'm working on it.
Jeff and Braeden's story will be finished. I promise. I just can't promise when, not while my life is still this tumultuous.
I beg your patience a little while longer. And spread your love for these two - the more attention they get, the fewer worries I have.
Until then, here's a rough draft snippet to tide you over.
Jeff was 98.32% certain that he did not want to have this conversation with his boyfriend. Not in his room—technically, theirs, for the time being—and not when his mom was due home within twelve minutes.
But the other 1.68% of him vehemently disagreed with his good sense. And that less-than-two-percent was exacerbated by Braeden sitting on Jeff’s bed, fresh back from a run around the neighborhood.
And Braeden was 100% shirtless.
Jeff rubbed his mouth and diverted his gaze to his open textbook. What had he been trying to study?
In his periphery, Braeden leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. There was still sweat dotting his forehead. Which was good. Healthy. Sweat cooled the body. Meant he was staying hydrated. Hydrated was good, especially in the middle of summer.
“Dude, I’m sorry.”
Jeff looked back at his boyfriend and into those stupidly sincere eyes.
Braeden’s eyebrows stitched together. The move highlighted a couple thin, pink marks on his forehead that looked like they were going to scar. “I didn’t mean to cross a line—”
“We haven’t had sex in two weeks,” blurted Jeff.
Across the room, Braeden’s expression shifted—surprised, then amused, then visibly trying not to smile. “I know.”
“Then why… why—” With a growl, Jeff threw his pen on the desk. His tongue didn’t want to work, and it was frustrating. Braeden was the only person who flustered him like this.
Hope my boys can come back to the world soon. Thank you for your patience.