Apples and Gin excerpt

I think it’s time for a snippet, don’t you? This is for the wedding stories anthology that will be out next June (dates subject to change, as always.)

“…You’re Sawyer Shaw, right?”

“Yes, sir,” Sawyer said.

“Don’t call me sir; it makes me feel like you should be saluting me and they don’t like my kind in the military. Okay. You’re cute, Sawyer Shaw, which, I’m sure, is why the record label loves you. But cute is not going to move units all by itself: it has to be properly-packaged cute. So that’s my job here: the label has decided on your image and I’m going to give it shape and form. Okay?”

Sawyer blinked, lost in a sea of verbiage. “Um.”

“Exactly. Cute but dumb. Easy. Okay, people, let’s get him made up and dressed.” A young woman with magenta hair joined them, carrying what looked like a tackle box. “Anna, do your best with him. Jonathan, I want an inch off the hair all around. We’ll start with the basic white t-shirt and jeans and go from there.” He turned to the rack of clothes an assistant wheeled over for his approval.

“Hey!” Sawyer said, hopping off the stool. Noah Kingston and Roddy and Terry all looked at him, Terry’s eyebrows drawing together like when he was afraid Sawyer was going to say something he’d have to explain with a “no comment.” Roddy looked stressed. Noah just looked interested.

Sawyer fidgeted with one of his rings and said, “I’m not dumb and I don’t want to be cute.”

“Oh, Sawyer,” Terry said, holding his forehead.

“No, no, I get you, kiddo,” Noah said. “You want to be unique in a sea of blandness, right? You want to stick around a while, not just be this summer’s cute kid in a cowboy hat. Right?”

“Yes,” Sawyer said.

“Okay,” said Noah, “I’m going to tell you two things, and you can take or leave them as you like. First, you are cute, and there’s nothing you can do about that because your mommy and daddy blessed you with some fucking fantastic genes and you didn’t do anything stupid like scrape your face up on a highway in a motorcycle accident. For which I personally thank you. Second, the record label has done this many, many, many times before and they know what they’re doing. And I know what I’m doing. So I’m going to take some pictures of you just like how the label wants, but then — and this is the important part — then I’m going to take some pictures like how I want. And I may even take some pictures like how you want. And when we send them all to the label, if you’re lucky, they’ll choose some of the other pictures for your album cover and publicity pictures instead of the ones where you’re merely cute. Deal?”

“Deal,” Sawyer said and held out his hand to Noah.

Noah looked at his hand and laughed as he clapped his hand into Sawyer’s grip. “You’re really the old-fashioned kind, aren’t you?”

“Yes, sir,” Sawyer said, grinning, and pumped Noah’s hand a few times before letting it go.

Originally published at

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