Hello class! Luki Vasquez and Sonny James are on hiatus, resting up before their new book release in May—more about that soon. In their absence, this Gay Romance University course draws an all-important lesson from author Brynn Stein’s novella, Haunted.
(If you don’t yet have a copy of the text book, you can pick it up at Dreamspinner Press dirt cheap. Just click on the cover image for the buy link.)
If you’ll open your text to page 11 (or read the brief excerpt below), you’ll find Lenard Blake has, after initial skepticism, come to believe ghosts exist and in fact one resides in his house (a ‘fixer-upper’, you might say).
He finally decided to assume the ghost existed and to try to make peace with it. After all, it didn’t seem to wish him ill will. It didn’t seem to be trying to get him to leave or frighten him in any way. It just seemed to want the house kept in good shape. Lenard figured he could help with that.
He made sure to return any books he started reading to their rightful places. “Is it okay if I leave a bookmark in this before I put it on the shelf?” he had asked the ghost he still didn’t completely believe in. When nothing happened, he figured it was okay to leave the bookmark in the book and replaced it on the shelf.
The first point of this lesson is contained in these brief paragraphs: If a ghost doesn’t want you to mess with the books, ask permission before placing your bookmark.
Oh… wait, no.
The first important point of this lesson is communication! As in all relationships, the first thing you must do if you want anything good to develop is find a way to get through to the other party. In this case, when the ghost said and did nothing, Lenard knew he had his reply. Well done, Lenard.
The second thing I’d like you to take away from this lesson is this: The “honey-do” list is a sure way to gain your ghosts appreciation, and if the ghost keeps fixing the screen door, it’s on the list.. Consider, further down on page 11:
He decided the reason the screen door kept falling off after the ghost had fixed it was because the screws were stripped in the rusty hinges. They had already pulled away from the wall, so just putting them back in the holes wasn’t really helping. So, Lenard bought new hinges and screws and new wood for the door facing. He wasn’t as good a woodworker as the original craftsman, and the door frame would be considerably plainer, but it would be new and solid and would hold the screws in the new hinges so the screen door wouldn’t fall off again.
Lenard cleaned up his mess and went into the kitchen to get a drink. There he found the pitcher of iced tea he had made earlier, and had put in the refrigerator to get cold—sitting on the counter along with a glass.
“I’ll take that as a ‘thank you’ for hanging the door,” he called to Jason and downed the drink. “And thank you for the tea.”
(Okay, so that’s not a ghost in the image with the screen door. It’s a zombie. Call it literary license.)
If a live man continues to develop his relationship with a dead man, he may be privileged to see him. In the middle of the night. Standing by the bed. Which of course would not be startling at all. We’re reading from page 16 of the text, here:
If Lenard still had any doubts about the existence of his ghost, it was finally taken away one night around two in the morning.
Lenard had come home from an abnormally troublesome day at the station and had stripped quickly and fallen into bed, practically asleep before he hit the mattress. As tired as he was, though, something woke him from a sound sleep in the middle of the night.
At first, he couldn’t identify what had awakened him, and then he saw it… or rather, him. A young man was standing in front of the ornate closet door. Just standing… hip cocked with his hands hooked in his pockets, but looking as if he had lost his last friend.
And then there is bound to come a day, if a man is patient with his ghostly lover, that he reaps his sweet reward, and a truly solid relationship can materialize (all puns intended) (page 33):
…One morning, Lenard decided to take the chance. He was awake enough, as Jason went to get out of bed, that he caught the ghost by the hand, still almost surprised—as he always was—that he could actually grasp his arm. “Stay, Jason.”
The ghost stopped his movement, neither leaving, nor coming back, also seemingly a bit shocked that they could maintain contact this long. “I wanted to have your breakfast ready for you, Barnaby.”
“I’d rather have you ready for me, old man.” Now that Len knew he and Jason could actually touch, he couldn’t help but want to explore thoughts he had been having for a while now. He positively leered at Jason and answered the age-old question of whether or not a ghost could blush.
Jason settled back down onto the bed, propped up on an elbow, and whispered, “Anytime, Len.” He reached out to cup Lenard’s face, enjoying the prolonged ability to touch. He ran his hand up Lenard’s cheek and into his hair.
Lenard took the invitation and brought Jason’s face closer until their lips met. He was pretty sure by then that they would, indeed, be able to kiss, but he still sighed in relief into Jason’s mouth. They both just savored the kiss. There was a promise of passion, but for right now, they kept it light. A brush of lips that had longed for each other… then another, longer contact… and another.
Lenard slowly pulled the ghost back down toward him, wiggling onto his back so that Jason could lie on top of him. They continued the kiss with a little more passion. Neither fought for control; they simply let it go where it wanted to. But they both knew it wouldn’t stay with just kissing for long.
Lenard let his hands roam over the body he had admired… had wanted… for a long time now. He explored the powerful arms and traveled down the lean, but muscular back to settle on well-developed glutes. Len was pleased to find that Jason had been right. The only way the ghost looked nineteen was in his youthful face. In every other way, he was all man.
“Probably a good thing you’ve gotten the hang of being solid in the bedroom,” Lenard whispered as he nuzzled his lover’s cheek… blond hair mixing with dark brown.
Of course, there is more to loving a ghost than good times. Ghosts hang around because they have needs, right? So yeah, Lenard has his detective work cut out for him, but we can’t cover that in class. The remainder of the novella is recommended reading for inquiring minds.
Thanks for coming to class, and great big thanks to Brynn for allowing me to embarrass her characters in this way. If you’d like to offer your sympathy (or contact her about her writing) you can find her: