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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Not Without My Phone! by Heidi Champa

Keller James loves his smart phone. A lot. In fact, his phone is the most important relationship in his life, much to the chagrin of his friends. Keller uses his phone for every part of his life, including his favorite thing—hooking up. Keller doesn’t see the problem with being connected all the time. Until one night, when a simple text message turns his whole life upside down, he suddenly finds himself without his phone. And without his friends.

In desperation, Keller turns to Gus Adams, his favorite barista, who has never owned a smart phone in his life. Gus helps Keller through the loss of his electronic connection, through his withdrawal symptoms, and shows him how to survive without the world at his fingertips.

As they get to know each other, Keller finds himself falling for Gus. And suddenly, for the first time in years, Keller doesn’t miss his phone at all. When he finally gets a new phone, will his addiction resurface, or can he resist the temptation of the digital world and follow his heart instead?

Genres: Gay/Contemporary/Romantic Comedy
Heat Level: 2
Length: Novella (28k words) 

Read a short excerpt...

...Gus sat back in his seat, folding his arms across his chest. I could tell he thought I was crazy, but I was hoping he’d still agree to help me. “So, you bet your friends you could live without your phone, but you didn’t really think it all through.”

I nodded slowly. Hearing someone else say it out loud made my plan sound even dumber. But it was too late to turn back now. “Yup. I guess I wanted to find out how you get by. I mean, you must get online somehow, right?”

Gus pondered my first question for a moment, before answering. “Yeah, a bit. Here at the shop mostly. You know, to order supplies, to send emails to vendors and stuff.”

I shook my head, shoving my thumb through the loop on the side of the mug. “I mean for social stuff. Or, you know, for fun.”

“Oh, well, I mean, I really don’t do a lot of that. The cafĂ© has a Facebook page, but I don’t run it. I have accounts, but I never really use them. Don’t really see the point.”

My mouth fell open, but I tried to collect myself. “So, you’re not on social media at all? I mean, how do you stay in touch with people?” I asked, trying to keep the shock out of my voice.

Gus shrugged, grinning at me. “I don’t know. Most of my friends are local, so I see them around a lot. I talk to the long-distance ones on the phone, mostly.”

“Really? You talk on the phone? I mean, like, actual conversations?”

Gus giggled, but quickly stopped himself. “Yeah. You never used your phone for calls?”

“No. No one I know does,” I said emphatically.

“That surprises me. I mean, I know I’m a bit old-fashioned, but I’m sure there are people out there who still make calls.”

“You mean, besides my parents?” I asked, doing my best to stifle a laugh of my own.

“Fair enough. I know I’m a dinosaur. So what else do you want to know?”

I tried to think of the questions I’d come up with at work, but without a phone to put my ideas in, I’d forgotten most of them. God, this whole “phone thing” was already driving me nuts.

“I don’t know. Like, how do you find movie times? Keep up with gossip? I mean, what do you do about porn?”

The last question was out of my mouth before I could stop it.

Gus shifted in his chair, clearly uncomfortable. For the first time since I’d known him, I saw his cheeks turn pink. “Um, well, let’s see, I tend to get all the gossip I can handle from the people who come in here. They keep me up to date on all the local and national stories that grace their Twitter feeds. Keeps me from having to do it myself. Saves me all kinds of time. And”—he leaned in before continuing—“well, as for porn, I do have a laptop at home that I use for, um, certain things.”

I smiled at his answer and his ability to be diplomatic at my incredibly nosy question. He was still a bit too close to me; his blush deepened as he looked at me, the deep brown of his eyes seemed to be flecked with gold. I waited for him to lean back now that his secret was out, but he didn’t. So neither did I.

“Fair enough. I guess you have this whole ‘no phone’ thing down. I’m jealous. Really. I still reach out for my phone every morning like some kind of phantom limb.”

He wrapped his hand around my empty mug, drawing it to his side of the table. “Yeah, I guess I do.”

Gus grinned as he stood, breaking the spell between us, quickly walking the mug back to the counter. He plunked back into the seat, the silly Gus returning. He must have left flirty Gus at the counter.

“Oh, I just realized I never answered your movie question.”

I had all but forgotten that question, the porn question kind of lingering in my mind. I cleared my head of the dirty thoughts that were still cropping up, shaking aside the visions of Gus and his laptop for the moment.

“So, what do you do?”

His smile turned mischievous and my cheeks once again flooded with heat. “Tell you what. Why don’t you meet me at the art house theater on Third Street, say, tomorrow night, around seven and I’ll show you how I manage. Give you a little practical, hands-on instruction.”

I guess I had been wrong about Gus leaving his flirtatiousness at the counter. He’d brought it back to the table after all. And I was so glad he had...

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