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Masc by Marshall Thornton

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Book Info

About the Author
Marshall Thornton writes two popular mystery series, the Boystown Mysteries and the Pinx Video Mysteries. He has been a finalist for the Lambda Award seven times, winning for Boystown 7: Bloodlines in 2015. His romantic comedy, Femme was a 2016 Lambda finalist for Best Gay Romance. Other books include My Favorite Uncle, The Ghost Slept Over and Desert Run. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America.
Publication Date
April 28, 2018
Available Formats
ebook, paperback
Crap, crap and double crap. 
Lionel and I were munching on pizza while watching old episodes of Will & Grace, since I’d slept through most of his ‘classic’ movies. Well, actually, I was the one watching Will & Grace; he was reading something on the laptop I’d given him after he’d admitted lying about having a GED. 
“Why would you lie about something like that?” I’d asked at the time.
“I kind of forgot.”
“Forgot? You forgot you didn’t finish high school?”
“Maybe forgot isn’t the right word. In order to get a job I had to tell people I finished high school. Did you know that if you tell a lie five times it becomes the truth?”
I did not know that. 
And I was tempted to take the laptop back, since all he seemed to be doing with it was reading weird things on the Internet, when what I really wanted him to do was study for the GED so he could go to college and do something, anything with his life. I mean, I knew he was smarter than me, so he shouldn’t spend his life as the day bartender at a sleazy straight bar. He should be something.
Anyway, during this scene where Grace was trapped outside of the apartment on a window ledge because she knew some really bad thing about the guy Will was dating, I forget what exactly, Lionel all of a sudden yelled my name, “Dog!”
I jumped.
“What? Is something wrong?”
“We’re doomed!”
“I know things seem terrible, but we’ve had bad presidents before and things have—”
“Oh my Gawd, not the country. Us! You and me. We’re doomed.”
“Lionel, why are you even on the computer? You should be watching the show.”
“I’ve seen this episode. Ten times. It’s the one where Will and Grace realize they’re meant to be together even though they’ll never have sex.” 
I was pretty sure that was what most of the episodes were about, but I knew better than to say so. 
“Dog, according to this our relationship is perfect except that it will never last because we have nothing in common.”
“According to wha— Wait. That doesn’t make sense. If our relationship is perfect, it will last.” That seemed really logical to me.
“No. We’re doomed.”
“Stop saying that.”
“We have to do something. We have nothing in common.”
“Does that really matter?” 
“Of course it matters. What are we going to do when we’re old and gray and stop having sex?”
“Why would we stop having sex? My parents still have sex and they’re like sixty.”
He made a disgusted face and asked, “How do you know that?” 
“Well, I know when my parents were born, and I just have to add my—”
“No, how do you know they still have sex?”
“My mother tells Maddy and Maddy tells me.”
“Your poor father,” Lionel said. “Okay, back on point. We need more things in common. And it can’t be sex.”
“We have lots in common,” I said. “We both like to watch TV, for example.”
“But we don’t like the same shows.”
“We both like pizza.”
“But we always have to order two because we don’t like the same kind of pizza, and we don’t like them touching so we can’t even order half and half.”
“Hey, we both don’t like them touching. That’s something we have in common.”
“Really? That’s what we’re basing our relationship on?”
“We’re both out, proud, gay men,” I suggested. It earned a doubtful look from Lionel. 
“Well, mostly out,” I admitted. I wasn’t completely out at work. “Lionel, this didn’t bother you when we got together. Why is it bothering you now?”
“It isn’t bothering me, exactly. It’s just that Maddy sent me this listicle.”
“She sent a what?”
“A listicle. It’s an article that’s really a list. Or a list that’s really an article. One or the other.”
I was going to kill my sister. Lionel and I had been together almost six months: one Super Bowl, a March Madness, and an entire hockey season if you don’t count the championship games. And things were good between us. Really good. We spent nearly every night together. I loved cooking new things for him and, since he basically ate out or from a can all the time, pretty much everything I made was a new thing. 
Yeah, I didn’t love the movies he showed me, they needed more action and less talking, a lot less talking. But I loved waking up toward the end and finding him curled into me or my head on his shoulder. I even liked when he explained everything I’d missed while I was asleep; his explanations were usually more interesting than the actual movies.
And now Maddy had ruined everything with one lousy email. Calmly, I turned off the DVD and looked my boyfriend straight in the face. 
“Lionel, we’re fine. I love you.”
“Yes, but do you love who I’m going to be?”
That sounded like a trick question. Did he want me to say yes? Or did he want me to say no? I mean, saying yes was committing to a complete unknown. And that seemed like a terrible idea. But then saying no felt wrong. It felt like I wasn’t willing to let him be who he was. And that was also wrong.
“Um, maybe? I’m going to try.”
“What if I turn out to be a serial killer?”
“Okay, no.”
“No? You’re not going to love me if I change a little bit?”
“Well, of course I will…wait a minute. Turning into a serial killer is not a little bit. You’re trying to confuse me.”
“Darling, I’m trying to make a point. We have to find a way to grow together and that takes work. That means we need to have things in common.”
“I should probably tell you that if you turn into a serial killer we definitely won’t have anything in common.”
“I’m not going to turn into a serial killer, Dog.”
“I promise. I would have shown signs of it by now.”
“What are the signs?”
“You know, lying, not caring about right or wrong. Torturing small animals. Things like that.”
“Your neighbor’s cat is missing,” I said. “They put up a sign.”
He just rolled his eyes.

Lionel and Dog are back in this follow-up to the Lambda finalist, Femme. Almost six months have passed and, after taking an online quiz, Lionel believes their relationship is doomed because they have nothing in common. To save their future together, the pair joins a gay bowling league and discovers that Lionel is an excellent, if somewhat eccentric, bowler. 

Meanwhile, Dog gets profiled in a work newsletter. He’s excited that he’s out at work, but doesn’t immediately realize that by fawning over Dog’s masculine nature the writer was also putting down all femme guys. Lionel takes it personally, which leads the to a crisis in their relationship. Attempting to make it up to Lionel, Dog makes a grand gesture—which backfires spectacularly. 
Will the two manage to put things right? And will a night in jail, a morning of drag bingo, an afternoon of day drinking, and a month of moping make things better or worse?

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