About Cherry on Top
edited by M. Rode with stories by Lee Benoit, Misa Izanaki, Kiernan
Kelly, Syd McGinley, Sean Michael, G.R. Richards, Tracy Rowan, BG Thomas
and G.S. Wiley
Cherry popping is back! In this follow up to our popular Cherry
anthology, we bring you another nine hot and sweet stories focusing on first
times. Whether it's a future Top realizing he's really a Dom and not sub at
all, or best friends discovering they're in love with each other, whether
it's new lovers or established couples trying something out of the ordinary,
these stories are sure to delight.
Stevie Woods, author of on reflection, writes: Having read M. Rode’s
first volume I wasn’t sure if Cherry on Top could equal it, but I
needn’t have worried. Nine varied stories, some by authors I’m familiar
with, others by authors new to me, all with very different takes on what
constitutes a ‘first time’. I’m happy to say I had a great time reading
this anthology, and there wasn’t a bad one among ‘em!
From: Going Home Again By Kiernan Kelly
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Summer would never be the same again, although Daniel didn't know it at the time.
Waves sluiced into foam along the shoreline, the music of the ocean competing with the buzz of transistor radios and the happy shouts of swimmers. Sunlight dappled the water silver, turquoise, and green; seabirds cried and swooped low over the cresting whitecaps. The sand stretched as far as the eye could see in both directions, blindingly white, blisteringly hot, and speckled with seashells near the water's edge.
Gaily striped umbrellas dotted the sand, towels and coolers marking patches of territory claimed by beach-going families. Children screamed and splashed, adults floated or jumped the waves. Beneath the water's surface, small fish darted between the waders' legs in silvery flashes.
The Atlantic City Boardwalk, capitalized in Daniel's mind as any famous landmark like the Taj Mahal or Buckingham Palace might be, cast its shadow along the beach for four miles, its wooden planks suspended ten feet over the sand. Shops and amusements lined its sunny stretch: the Wax Museum, the Penny Arcade, and James' Famous Salt Water Taffy among them. Rolling wicker chairs pushed by cheerful young men in shirtsleeves squeaked across the boards. Wooden piers extended from the Boardwalk over the sand and water like fingers: the Steel Pier with its flashing lights, rides, and amazing Diving Horse; the Steeplechase; and the Million Dollar Pier with its double-decker carousel and sideshow attractions.
Like the inescapable ebb and flow of the tide, families flocked to Atlantic City every year for summer vacation. They baked on the sands during the day, skin browning like a roast in the oven, marinated in suntan oil. Every night, soon after the sun set and the temperature cooled, they strolled along the length of the Boardwalk, eating freshly roasted peanuts or licking cones of frozen custard.
It was late August, 1969. The nation was buzzing about the Apollo moon landings and gay rights marches at Stonewall. In a muddy field in upstate New York, Country Joe and the Fish had played to a crowd of thousands of long-haired flower children under the banners of peace and love, while other boys, barely old enough to shave, were dying a half a world away in the jungles and rice paddies of Viet Nam.
None of that mattered to Daniel, a nine-year old kid with a fresh cast on his right arm, sitting on the hot sand and looking longingly at the cool waves. All that did matter was the fact that he was facing two weeks of total and complete boredom, frying in the heat, tempted by the sounds and smell of the ocean but forbidden to enter it courtesy of a fractured ulna. Not even the nights held any promise for him. The cool evening hours looked to be as dull as the burning hot days. Unable to roll a skeeball, pitch a dime, or toss a ring except with his weaker left hand, and forbidden to ride the roller coaster or the Himalayan because of his parents' fear that his injury would be jostled.
Daniel pondered the unfairness of his fate as he got up and walked along the water's edge, feet sloshing through the foam that lapped the shore. He stopped every so often to toe a particularly colorful shell, or to poke at the remains of a jellyfish with a stick of driftwood, not really paying attention to how far he'd wandered from the spot where his parents lay baking in the sun.
The Million Dollar Pier stretched over the sands, extending out onto the water. Cooler shadows beckoned under the wooden dock, promising relief -- however small -- from the burning rays. He hurried underneath and sat on the hard-packed sand, looking up at the gaps between the boards far overhead.
"Hi. I'm Tony Baranzo. What's your name?"
Daniel was startled to find that he wasn't alone under the pier.