Steadfast | K.L. Noone
Character Bleed #3
Release Date: October 3rd, 2020
Publisher: JMS Books
A love story for the ages! An intimate confession! An epic quest! And happily ever after on the horizon…
Jason Mirelli loves Colby Kent. And Colby loves him. They’ve told the world. And Colby’s recovered from injury, so they’re back at work and back on set. Jason just might have everything he’s ever dreamed of, with a serious leading role, an epic love story, and Colby safe and happy in his arms—but they only have two weeks of filming to go. He’s afraid of the dream falling apart, and he knows Colby has a secret to confess—one that could transform both the ending of their movie and their future together.
Colby never got around to telling Jason his final secret before the accident on set. Now that he’s recovered, he wants to share his writing and his silent script doctor work with the man he loves. Besides, he’s rewritten this script to give their characters a proper happy ending. But he’s nervous about making changes to a classic novel, and he wants the author’s approval.
Colby’s hoping to seek out the famously reclusive author in question, but first he’ll need to trust Jason with this last piece of himself. If he can, he and Jason might finally find their happily-ever-after both on screen and off—for their characters and for themselves.
Jason steadied Colby and himself as best he could. His heart hadn’t calmed down yet. Slamming into his ribs—seeing Colby come running through a doorway, eyes wide, breath quick—hearing Colby ask for help—
But Colby’s eyes were bright. And Colby’s hand on his arm was exuberant, not frightened.
“—I’ve saved them, you see,” Colby was saying, voice tripping all over itself in excitement, accent rippling and delighted. “I’ve worked it out, the happy ending, and I’m very sorry you’ll have to lose an arm, but that won’t be too dreadful, and your Stephen can come home to Will after all, but if I’m going to change anything that drastic I do want to explain, so I’ll need your help, but anyway, here, tell me whether you think it’s all right—”
“You’re okay,” Jason said.
“Oh.” Colby blinked at him, then smiled. Will’s dressing gown slid off one shoulder; Jason moved to tug it back up, but Colby already was, unselfconsciously graceful. “Yes. Very much.”
“You…saved Will and Stephen?” He took offered script pages. “You changed the ending?”
“Yes, I had to—I couldn’t let them be tragic—yes, go on, read it—”
Serenity the PA had tactfully wandered down the hallway and was pretending to be texting. Night fell like a slowing carousel around them, through tall curtain-framed windows full of stars.
Jason kept an arm around Colby, who believed in happy endings. Found the beginning of the new scenes.
After a minute he said, “Holy shit yes.”
“Yes, I thought so too, did you like the bit when Stephen—”
“Hang on, I’m not done—” It was good. It was so good. He wanted to leap headlong into Colby’s words, to plunge into this imagined historical future. He could see himself playing it out, knowing exactly the quaking weight in Stephen’s steps toward Will’s townhouse, fearful and hopeful, reunion only a possibility until it became triumphantly real…
He knew how Stephen would gather Will close with his one good arm, and how the tears would burn: Will lived, Will still wanted him, they would face the rebuilding of their lives together.
His chest ached, because Colby had written words that reached in and gripped his heart and shook it apart and then soothed it into a soft safe rhythm again.
He looked up, after. “This is right.”
“Yes,” Colby said. “Yes. It’s a good history—two men getting to be happy together, because they did, they could, we have to tell those stories—”
“But it’s also right for them. What they do with the house, with their lives—”
“I wanted it,” Colby said, “to feel like joy.” He looked like joy too, wrapped up in an embroidered period dressing gown.
“It does,” Jason said. “It does.”
“But to make that change…” Colby hesitated, excitement not dimmed but reshaped. “First we’ll have to tell Jillian. It’ll alter the tone of the film.”
“She’ll love it. I do.”
“I think she will—we’d talked about the ending, and I’d said I wasn’t entirely happy—but it’ll mean a longer shoot. I can put more money into it, that’s not a problem, but we’ll be asking the crew to extend their commitment. I’ll understand if some of them can’t, of course.”
Jason mentally skipped over the financing comment. It was a reminder—Colby had a hell of a lot of money even compared to Jason’s action-hero income, enough to casually fling at a production in need—but he’d already made peace with that. He knew Colby used it to help people.
More importantly, he guessed that most if not all of their crew would stay on. If not for the paycheck, for Colby. “Bet they’ll want to. This is big. This kind of story. Telling it.”
“That’s the other part. I know how much the novel means to the people who love it.” Colby squared shoulders. “I think, in order to do this…we should go and find George Forrest and ask. Not permission, precisely—he gave that when we agreed on the rights, and he said he didn’t want to be involved—not bothered by all that nonsense, was how he put it—but I’d like some sort of…”
“Perhaps. I want to be respectful. I’ll show him my version, and he can comment, I’d not mind, he knows Will and Stephen the best—I wonder if he’d like raspberry tarts as a sort of gift—”
The next realization hit Jason’s brain like a falling ton of Regency-era bricks. “Colby?”
“That’s the bit I’d like your help with, not the baking but the travel, because—”
“Possibly not tarts?”
“If you do this…if we do this…” He had both hands on Colby’s shoulders. Bracing. “It’ll mean telling people. About your writing. It’ll have to. We could try to keep your secret, I know you and Jill’ve been good at that, and I’ll help, you know I will. But it won’t work for long. If you’re the one finding the author, if you’re showing him this—if even one person says even one thing—with the press we’ve already got…” He gave up, said it again: “You’ll have to tell people. And I know you don’t want to.”
Colby didn’t flinch. “I know. I’m fine with it.”
“I am. I’d already decided that, last night. I thought…yes, it’ll change things, but I’m proud of what I write. And I love Stephen and Will, and I believe in romance, and if giving them a happy ending means being a bit brave about sharing myself, I can do that.”
You can, Jason thought. His hands gentled, holding those slender shoulders; his heart skipped a beat, caught breath, felt awe like sunrise. He thought that even without being in love with Colby, which he was, he’d love Colby: someone who cared about happiness deeply enough to face the price of it with open eyes. With freshly-made raspberry tarts in hand.
About the Series
An epic motion picture! A gay Napoleonic War love story! Ballrooms and battles at sea! Romantic happy endings on the silver screen! And a film that’ll change everything for its stars …
Jason Mirelli can’t play adrenaline-fueled action heroes forever. He’s getting older, plus the action star parts have grown a little thinner since he came out as bisexual. This role could finally let him be seen as a serious dramatic actor, and he needs it to go well — for his career, and because he’s fallen in love with the story and the chance to tell it.
The first problem? He’ll be playing a ship’s captain … and he hasn’t exactly mentioned his fear of water. The second problem? His co-star: award-winning, overly talkative, annoyingly adorable — and openly gay — box office idol Colby Kent.
Colby’s always loved the novel this film’s based on, and he leapt at the chance to adapt it, now that he has the money and reputation to make it happen. But scars and secrets from his past make filming a love story difficult … until Jason takes his hand and wakes up all his buried desires. Jason could be everything Colby’s ever wanted: generous and kind, a fantastic partner on set, not to mention those heroic muscles. But Colby just can’t take that chance … or can he?
As their characters fall in love and fight a war, Colby and Jason find themselves falling, too … and facing the return of their own past demons. But together they just might win … and write their own love story.
About The Author
K.L. Noone employs her academic research for writing romance, frequently LGBTQIA, often paranormal, fantasy, or historical. Her full-length romance novels include the Character Bleed trilogy (Seaworthy, Stalwart, Steadfast), Cadence and the Pearl, and A Demon for Midwinter, available from JMS Books, and A Prophecy for Two, available from Inkshares.
She’s also the author of multiple romance short stories with JMS Books, and previously with Less Than Three Press, Circlet Press, and Ellora’s Cave. Her non-romance fantasy fiction has appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress and the magazine Aoife’s Kiss.
With the Professor Hat on, she’s published scholarly work on romance, fantasy, and folklore, including a book on Welsh mythology in popular culture and a book on ethics in Terry Pratchett’s fantasy. She is happily bisexual, married to the marvelous Awesome Husband, and currently owned by a long-legged black cat named Merlyn.
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