Notes From Boston #4
Categories: queer, MMF, romance
When it comes to love, Mack Whitman prefers to limit it to writing songs and poetry.
Aromantic, he’s content to have quality friendships and people who sometimes also share his bed. He’s never considered himself the jealous type. But when he sees everyone in his life, from his best friends to his occasional partners, moving toward more settled lives, it leaves him frustrated, disappointed, and worried he’ll be left behind.
Amelia Roberts doesn’t care about the genders of her partners as long as she follows her one rule: Don’t ever fall in love. It’s worked out well for her, since that’s a line she knows she’ll never cross with Mack. He’s as happy as she is to keep things as they are. The only trouble with her philosophy is that she didn’t count on meeting the one person who might change her mind.
Jomari O’Brien’s supportive family made it smooth for him to transition several years ago. Since then, he’s been in and out of love, and other people’s beds, plenty of times, and he has no regrets. Each one is a small part of a larger symphony. Becoming involved with two people at once is a more complicated harmony, but it’s one he’s willing to learn as long as they are.
Their individual melodies become discordant as they struggle to make them fit together. But if all three can learn to play with each other instead of against, they may yet hit all the right notes.
When Trevor, Nate, Jamie, and Mack moved in together, they had no idea how it would change their lives. Four roommates. Four stories about living and loving in the City on a Hill.
They paid for the groceries and headed for Mack’s van. Once they’d loaded it up, Mack went to start the van, but Trevor put a hand on his arm.
“I’m not letting you go home without talking about what the hell that was back there. You were really pissed off when you came to see me. You’re calm now, but if you go back home, you’re gonna get right back into that mess all over again.”
He was right, and Mack knew it. He turned over the engine. “Look, it’s freezing out here. I’ll drive you back, and I’ll explain on the way.”
Mack waited until they were out on the road to say, “It’s fucking weird, having both of them together. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before, but not like this. I don’t know. It felt like they were doing this bonding thing, and I wasn’t part of that.”
“I get it,” Trevor said.
“Do you? Because your family looks different.”
“What is it you wanted? To have Amelia to yourself? You’ve said she’s not your girlfriend. So why does it matter?”
“I don’t know!” But he did know. He had a very clear idea why it bothered him so much. Mack slammed his palm against the steering wheel. “She and I…we’re both fucking Jomari. We all know, but we’ve never hung out just the three of us.”
Trevor seemed to contemplate that. “Yeah, I’d say that’s different from my family. It really bothers you, huh?”
“Not that. It’s…” Mack didn’t know how to explain the way he’d seen the tender gestures between Amelia and Jomari. Sure, she would do the same for him, but it didn’t look or feel identical for some reason Mack couldn’t pinpoint. “I guess they’ve been getting to be closer since she started playing with Cian’s band.”
“Makes sense. Spending more time together. But you think there’s more going on?”
“I don’t know,” Mack admitted. “Up until now, I wouldn’t have thought so. She always said she was mostly into women. She doesn’t date men, and she made that clear to me. I didn’t care. But now here she is, and I can’t really tell what’s going on. She’s already cancelled plans with me so they could go out.”
“Ah.” Trevor was quiet a moment. “People change, you know. Until Andre, I thought I only loved Marlie and the couple times I fooled around with guys were, like, just sex. Then after Andre, I thought maybe Marlie was my exception and I mostly wanted guys. Now I’m not sure, but it doesn’t matter because this works for us. Jamie’s only into men, but I know he’s fucked women on camera and enjoyed it. He said Cian can’t separate love and sex, he’s got a high drive for both, and he doesn’t care about gender at all. Maybe Amelia’s needs have changed.”
It wasn’t only about whether or not her relationship with Jomari was changing. It was why. Why now, after years of things being the same? What made him different from everyone else? Mack hated the feeling she’d finally had enough and was choosing someone who might be able to give her what he couldn’t. But why would she have told him their kind of relationship was enough if it wasn’t? She knew who he was and that he made no apology for it. Was it like Trevor said, and she was changing, or had she been dishonest?
“Listen,” Trevor said as they pulled into his driveway. “Why don’t you invite Jomari for Thanksgiving?”
“It might be easier if it’s not the three of you having to figure this out alone, that’s all.” Trevor unbuckled, but he didn’t move. “Talk to them. The only way I made it work with Andre and Marlie is by telling them both the truth. And the only way I didn’t fuck it up with Jamie was by telling them I needed him in my life too.” He curled his fingers into a fist. “If only we could work that out.”
Mack didn’t reply. Jamie was still a sore spot for both of them. He helped Trevor unload the groceries and put things away. They had some time for him to think about inviting Jomari, but he wasn’t sure he was going to.
“Thanks for your help,” Trevor said. “Hey, you feeling better?”
“Maybe.” Mack accepted the Night Crawlers from Trevor. “I should get these to the others.”
Back in the van, Mack looked at the package on the passenger seat. For once, Trevor was right, but tonight he didn’t have the right words. Instead, he would bring the sour gummies as a peace offering and sit with them this time, even if it meant he had to watch confusing science fiction shows. He pulled out onto the road and headed for home.
I don’t typically create a playlist until a novel is finished. Because I’m a musician myself, songs inspire me, and music permeates much of my writing. I’ve never written an entire novel based on a specific song or album. But certain plot points, characters, or scenes are more heavily influenced by music than others. I can’t listen while I’m writing, but if a particular song is on my mind, I might play it several times before outlining or drafting a scene.
This playlist is from the entire Notes from Boston series. Each novel features different styles: Christian contemporary, jazz, opera, Broadway, rock, Irish trad, pop, and symphonic. Some of these songs are mentioned directly in the text, such as “Au fond du temple saint” from Bizet’s The Pearlfishers and Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” Others are implied, like Annie Lennox’s “Walking on Broken Glass” and the Solas version of “Ni Na La.” A couple of songs were chosen to represent the opera named in the story. And there are a select few which are simply inspiration, connected to a particular novel but not any one scene.
These are in order of how they either appear or inspire. I’ve listed them by book.
Anthem (NfB #1)
Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Ella Fitzgerald
Redeemer – Nicole C. Mullen
On My Knees – Jaci Velasquez
This Beating Heart – Matt Redman
Walking on Broken Glass – Annie Lennox
Almost Like Being in Love – Lester Young & Oscar Peterson
All Who Are Thirsty – Kutless
When I Fall in Love – Nat King Cole
We Will Stand – Russ Taff
Nightsong (NfB #2)
The One that I Want – Grease (Jacobs & Casey)
Champagne Song – Die Fledermaus (Strauss)
I’ll Cover You – Rent (Larson)
Au fond du temple saint – The Pearlfishers (Bizet)
Love Feeds on Many Kinds of Food – The Sorcerer (Gilbert & Sullivan)
Che gelida manina - La Bohème (Puccini)
As Long as You’re Mine – Wicked (Schwartz)
Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre (Toreador Song) – Carmen (Bizet)
People Will Say We’re in Love – Oklahoma (Rodgers & Hammerstein)
Drumbeat (NfB #3)
Tell Me Ma – Gaelic Storm
Lullaby – Billy Joel
Sing Sing Sing – Benny Goodman & His Orchestra
I Just Want to Be a Star – Nunsense A-men
Body and Soul – John Coltrane
Cregg’s Pipes – Lúnasa
Moby Dick – Led Zeppelin
Hot for Teacher – Van Halen
Glory Reel/The Heathery Cruach – Altan
I’m Shipping Up to Boston – Dropkick Murphys
Minuet (NfB #4)
Layla – Eric Clapton
Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer – Elmo & Patsy
Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
Ni Na La – Solas
Sonata No. 1 – Jascha Heifetz (Bloch)
Sheep May Safly Graze – Christopher Parkening (Bach)
Violin Concerto in e minor – Jascha Heifetz (Mendelssohn)
Take a Chance on Me – Abba
A.M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. They keep warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings.
Their published fiction includes several novels as well as a number of short works, and their stories have been included in multiple anthologies. They are an occasional host for Bi+Plus, a podcast for the bi+ community, as well as doing bi+ advocacy work and curating the best-of bi list on the QueerBooksForTeens website.
They are a social media contributor for Supposed Crimes, LLC, and they post about news, reviews, and updates. In between, they blog coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, books, chronic illness, and their family.
A.M. is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card AND
the first three books in the series in eBook format as a single prize
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