Category Archives: M/M romance
Gay Romance University 104: Important considerations regarding gingers and foxes (courtesy B. Snow, A Cunning Plan)
I said Regency, and perhaps that conjures a certain type of romance full of frilly girls, mostly filthy rich ones, attending lots of balls, waltzing in painful shoes, and each giving up her virtue to a marquess or a duke.
That romance is not this romance.
Though one of the characters is an Earl, and rather rich, and his virtue might be compromised. And his love interest might even where a frilly dress or two, under unusual circumstances.
But let’s get down to brass tacks. The lesson, like the text, begins with strangers popping up in our Earl’s bedroom.
Note this; it will be on the quiz! If you are a titled, unmarried, heavy-drinking man with a cash-heavy wallet, post a man outside the bedroom when you crash for the night at your neighbor’s party. Consider poor Alec Ferguson, Earl of Whittlesey. A man pounds on his door, and he wakes to discover there’s a girl already in his room. Clearly, the man is up to no good. (The girl, his daughter is just as clearly mortified by her father’s shenanigans.) Yes, he wants to force you to marry the girl—no surprise there.
One of the most important points I’d like you to take away from this mini-course on gay romance, regency style is this: Fortify, fortify, fortify! To illustrate, let’s peek in on Alec, beginning on page five.
Alec slammed the door behind them and then sagged against it. He wanted nothing more than to leave that room, escape from the house entirely, but the corridor was crowded with other guests eager for some gossip that would make it worth their while to have left London at the height of the season. […]
He lifted the bottle and drained it, then stumbled to the wardrobe and dug through his clothes until he found the other bottle he had hidden there in case of emergency. If having an unwanted engagement foisted upon one wasn’t an emergency, Alec didn’t know what was.
If you ever find yourself in such a situation, be aware that, whereas drinking and driving is illegal, climbing while drunk is not a prosecutable offense. Which is good, because sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. Once again, we look to our hero, the Earl of Whittlesey, to show us how it’s done safely without losing your supply of fortification.
Before we continue reading from page 6, however, I want to make one thing clear. You may think that in the modern world, you will never be confronted with a girl in your room, having been ordered there by her father in order to marry her to your money and title. Remember my motto (or one of them anyway: Never say never! Seriously. Could happen.
He corked the bottle and put it inside his shirt as he stepped out onto the balcony. The vines that grew up the side of the house didn’t bend when he pulled on them to test their strength, so now he had only to climb down them. As children, he and his brother had been quite adept at using vines to sneak out of their nursery on moonlit summer nights. At twenty-eight, however, he was decidedly less agile than he had been as a child, and the brandy he’d drunk would not improve his agility.
Grasping the vines, he swung one leg over the railing. After finding a foothold, he swung his other leg over and started downward. Stretch out one leg, find a foothold, let go with a hand—Alec repeated the process until he got within ten feet of the ground. There, he let out an oath upon discovering the vines narrowed to a single trunk. Holding on to the lowest horizontal branches, Alec slid his feet down the trunk, said a quick prayer, then let go, landing with a thump and falling backward onto his posterior. Not dignified, but he made it to the ground without breaking his neck or the bottle.
Well, I don’t know how you would feel in such a situation, but Alec has become quite morose once he’s out in the cold. Inevitably, sneaking out in the cold middle of the night without your greatcoat will remind you of your childhood. Right? Here’s the earl on page seven:
The winter chill nipped at Alec’s skin, but he didn’t regret leaving his overcoat in the house; he had the brandy to keep him warm. Alec remembered how he used to fasten Hugh’s cloak for him. Even in summer they had needed to wear them, at least until they reached the lake, where they kept warm by running along its muddy shore. Alec had taught Hugh early on that if they could keep from laughing until well away from the house—no mean feat—they would have hours to play in the night.
But Alec’s memory turns dark when he remembers a mysterious visitation from a white fox one night when he and his little brother had snuck out to this very same lake. And then… there it is. That very same fox. (Bottom of page 10—)
The way it stared at him gave Alec the feeling the animal disapproved of his obviously drunken state. […] “You’d drink too, in my situation.” He looked down at the brandy he held loosely in one hand. “And if you could hold a bottle.”
All students of gay romance will recognize this truth: Being, threatened, drunk, cold, outdoors, alone, and lost in memories will cause you to become morose. And, can we not empathize with Alec? I mean, to use academic terminology, what a bummer!
Empathize or not, however, this is where I wish to caution you, class: Do not emulate the choice Alec Ferguson makes on page
As he lifted the bottle to drink again, he looked out over the lake, at its smooth, moonlit surface, and made a decision. Any man with one ounce of honor or courage would have dealt with his madness and his drinking long ago.
Well, better late than never.
He drank the last of the brandy and set the empty bottle aside. […] walked unsteadily down the bank, letting out a yelp when his foot touched the cold water.
An answering yelp came from a few feet away. Alec turned to see the fox still watching him, now with its mouth open in what looked like a canine grin. “Don’t you laugh at me,” he muttered
Clenching his jaw, Alec continued deeper into the lake, the water coming up to his ankles, then his knees. The mud on the floor of the lake was warmer than the water and soft against the soles of his feet. He stopped for a moment, shivering, watching the reflection of the moon on the water broken up by the ripples he had made. He didn’t need to go any further; he could do it from here. Just lean forward, put his face into the water, and breathe deeply.
Luckily for Alec and for the future of M/M Regency romance, foxes have a knack for tricking drunken, depressed, earls out of the cold, cold lake. And… well… it turns out Alec is luckier still, because, a fox of another stripe altogether soon shows up in his life. A fox in the shape of a man, with flaming red hair and green eyes and freckles every-visible-where. A quick-witted fox, and an insolent one who nevertheless plans to be Alec’s friend—or more?
Alec stopped. “You will explain yourself, now. Who are you, and why have you come here?”
Villenie’s narrow, freckled face split in a grin. “I’m the man who’s going to solve all your problems.”
Of course that’s not quite the way it worked out, but the lessons in this course offering are complete. To prepare for the final exam, memorize the following and be prepared to recite:
The earl was not mad, and neither am I—I’m just a bit eccentric. If life is a mess, booze won’t fix it—but a hot, foxy ginger just might. Perhaps like this:
“On my honor as… as a Villenie. Whatever your illness is, I will try to help you fight it, and no matter the outcome, I swear not to tell a soul.” Some of the color had returned to Villenie’s face, though his eyes were still huge and dark with concern. He brought one hand up to Alec’s cheek.
Alec didn’t move away from that hand. Instead, he leaned into it, taking another deep breath and letting the beast uncoil. Villenie’s hands, the heat of his body, his breath on Alec’s face were all too much. Alec, who had struggled so long to cage the monster, could no longer hold it back. “You want to see my illness?” Alec whispered. “Take it all, then.”
He reached out, seized Villenie by the shoulders and pressed him back onto the seat, then leaned forward and kissed him. Just as he had feared he would, Alec lost all control as soon as their lips touched. Grasping at Villenie’s head and neck, he pulled him closer, sucking and biting his lips. Their noses, chins, and teeth bumped as Alec moved his mouth madly over Villenie’s, then down over a rough cheek to his throat, where he continued his frenzied attack with tongue and teeth. The taste of Villenie’s skin made his head swim, and he pulled Villenie’s cravat loose, laying bare more skin to feast upon.
Unfortunately, GRU will not offer the advanced course in Regency romance, but you may find further study helpful (or at least good reading). The whole of the text can be purchased by clicking on the cover image and following the link. Thanks, B. Snow, Whittelsey, and Mr. Villenie for allowing GRU to twist your words about. 🙂
Gay Romance University 103: Charley Descoteaux’s *A Curious Sustenance*—Best Methods for Moving On if Your Ex is an Ass
Welcome back to Gay Romance University. The lessons in this course are drawn from the experiences of Ross and a man who, for now, we’ll just call Shaggy. Their tale is well-told in our text, Curious Sustenance, by talented author Charley Descoteaux. Thanks go out to Charley, Ross, and Shaggy for putting themselves at the mercy of Gay Romance U.
A little background: Ross’ former boyfriend Brad behaved like an ass, presenting the newly svelte Ross with chocolate. Okay, I see the shocked looks on your faces. How can a beautiful, rich, triple-layer chocolate cake adorned with a liberal covering of chocolate shavings be bad? Take my word for it, Brad’s so-called gift, was underhanded sabotage. For details, read the early pages of the text. For the course, our interest in the cake is that it leads to the first lesson, which is actually the one Ross had to learn after he discovered what a (fill in the blank) Brad was, and had always been. It’s really Ross’s best friend, Janet who provides us with this insight. On page 15, we are privy to a snippet of Janet’s wisdom, in a nutshell:
“Let him clean that up.”
“I swear, if you start cleaning that up, I’m leaving.”
“He’ll be gone two weeks.”
“Tough shit for him, then. He should’ve thought of that before he acted like an idiot prick.”
Class, repeat after me: Say it, sister! Seriously, Janet is testifying, here, people. This first point in the lesson is one we should all take with us into a relationship: if the guy is an idiot prick, let him wallow in whatever is left behind when you hit the road.
Now, of course, if the lesson ended there, we could assume that life in general is kind of a sad affair. But there’s always another step, and if you’re like Ross, you take that step in the right direction. Of course before you can take a step in the right direction, you have to understand where you are. In the following passage, on page 17, Ross realizes that he is now in a ‘place’ he’s never before been, and while it’s not a particularly pleasant spot, it isn’t all bad.
Being dumped was exhausting. This came as quite a shock to the guy who’d watched romantic relationships from a distance most of his life. He didn’t want to admit it felt obscenely satisfying. Not only was he part of it in a whole new way, but the people he’d been jealous of all his life might not have had it as easy as he thought after all.
So where does a man go from there? If you’re Ross, you get yourself looking real good, like this, from page 19:
…he emerged in black silk from top to bottom. The buttons on his long-sleeved shirt gleamed silver, matching the small buckles on his black leather demi-boots. He felt almost as though he wore someone else’s clothes, but that was only because they were new. He’d worn the slacks the last time Brad had taken him out to the Heathman Hotel for drinks, but they’d been too tight. Now they hugged his ass perfectly…
Once you’ve donned clothes that make you look luscious, you go somewhere brand new. In this passage, beginning farther along on page 19, we join Ross as he steps out into a new chapter in his life. Oh, and we can also learn from this that it’s okay to be nervous. You look delicious anyway.
His stomach fluttered as he walked with Janet, about a half a block in the other direction, and then she opened a door Ross never would’ve noticed because it had no sign to attract attention. […]
“Where are we going?” Ross tried to hide his nerves, but after the last surprise, he wasn’t sure he wanted any more.
“It’s a private club. Don’t worry, I’m a member, and you’re my guest.” They stopped on the landing, in a little alcove. A red door stood at the end of a short hallway to his left. The street sounded very far away. “Tonight, you’ll be Hunter.”
“You can stay anonymous. And since you have those luscious green eyes, you’ll be hiding behind the name Hunter.” Janet smiled and gently pulled his top button open before taking Ross by the hand and heading for the door.
On the other side of the red door was a foyer lined with red velvet curtains. Janet passed her coat and purse to a pretty young man on the other side of a counter. It was as if they’d stepped onto the set of an old porn flick. Brad had been on an oldies kick not long ago, and the fake potted palm in the corner, muted lighting, and shirtless boy behind the counter wearing a red bow tie the exact color of the curtains reminded him of one of those flicks. He backed toward the door.
Yes, it’s okay to be nervous, but don’t leave! Good things are bound to happen. After encountering a few surprising sights, Ross arrives at the right conclusion:
“This is a sex club.” Ross hissed into Janet’s ear. “You brought me to a sex club?”
She pulled him the last few steps to the bar and found them two empty stools. The stools were freestanding and a few didn’t match. It was like being in someone’s living room while they were having a theme party. Before Janet had time to answer, his eyes grew wide and he leaned in even closer.
“You’re in a sex club?”
Now, like many of us, Ross is not always terribly brave and ready to face the unknown. (Forgive me for saying that, Ross, but you know it’s true.) So, once he realized he was in a sex club, and furthermore, a mostly heterosexual-seeming sex club, he wants to leave—ASAP (Brad’s term). Fortunately, before he got a chance to make a getaway, he’s taken to Amethyst’s rooms, where he expects to watch a scene. But, oh, my. Lucky Ross, he sees something, or I should say someone, entirely different. Beginning on page 22:
The room looked like anyone’s living room. Anyone like Elvira or maybe Bela Lugosi. The couches and chairs were all covered in dark velvet that may’ve been purple, and the muted lighting made the candlesticks grouped in the corners gleam like old silver. Janet’s friend turned a dimmer switch and some of the candles brightened. She was speaking, but Ross couldn’t hear. His mind stopped processing everything except the man striding in his direction. He had to be six three, and when he got closer, Ross thought he probably had a Japanese grandfather. He was gorgeous, with his long black hair, simple black suit, and smoky gaze.
“May I have a word?”
The man’s voice was even smokier than his gaze, and Ross already felt as though he were a heartbeat away from bursting into flame. He nodded, and a firm hand on his lower back guided him off to the side of the room. The man stopped in the center of an ornate oriental rug and looked Ross over appreciatively.
“I practice Shibari. You have heard of it?”
Ross nodded. He’d seen pictures of pretty young men bound with intricate knots on the Internet but hadn’t been tempted to approach Brad to try it.
“I am called Shaggy, and I would like to work with you.” The man palmed his shoulder, and his whole body warmed to the touch. “You are Scarlett’s friend?”
Ross nodded again, trying but failing to speak with his mind so full of the hand resting on his shoulder.
“Do you like pain?”
Ross gasped softly and shook his head.
“I will do nothing meant to cause pain. What is your safe word?”
The question woke Ross up enough to speak. He felt as though he’d stepped into a movie—the atmosphere, this gorgeous man’s extremely careful speech pattern, and his own shocking desire.
“My….” was all he could get out, but it was something.
Shaggy held his eyes for a long moment. The man was an excellent showman; he had the mysterious magician-vibe down. Ross felt himself falling into those dark eyes.
“We will use the traffic-signal colors.” Slowly but without hesitation, the man’s fingers began to unbutton Ross’s shirt. “If you feel any discomfort, use them. Yellow and I will slow down. Red and I stop immediately and cut the ropes. Do you understand?”
Ross nodded, and his shirt was unbuttoned. It wasn’t cold in the room, but he shivered as Shaggy’s fingers touched the bare skin of his chest. Shaggy walked around behind Ross and spoke in his ear as he drew the soft shirt away from his shoulders and down his arms.
“I want to hear you say the words.”
“Yellow is slow down. Red is stop.”
The man, who Ross found impossible to call Shaggy even in his head, smiled, and Ross worried he wouldn’t be able to remain standing much longer. Nobody had ever looked at him like that, as though he were beautiful and special and quite possibly delicious. The man draped his shirt over a small velvet chair and turned back to him.
“Yes,” he said softly, so only Ross could hear. He ran his palm slowly across Ross’s chest, from his left shoulder to just below his right nipple. “This will be beautiful.”
Mm-hmm. “Special and quite possibly delicious.” Sound promising? The rest of this passage is so much worth reading. I recommend it for additional study. Of course things go on from there, as they do in life and romance, but this is where we end today’s lesson.
I hope this GRU course has been enjoyable and informative, and I hope you can put Ross’s life lessons to use, or encourage a friend to do so, perhaps.
If you haven’t picked up the text yet and want to do so, click the cover image for the buy link. If you’d like to know more about Charley Descoteaux, try her website, CharleyDescoteauxwrites, or find her on twitter @CharlieDescote, or on her facebook author page.
Hello! I’m back with the second level course on Vasquez and James and our text this week is naturally book 2 in the series, Delsyn’s blues.
The romance lesson this week comes from Luki Vasquez. In chapter one, the poor man is far, far away from his sweet new love, Sonny James, because Sonny sent him away. He tries to stay busy with work and physical training, bruising his agents in sparring matches and driving his incredible office admin, Jude, absolutely crazy with his ineptitude at everything electronic. Looking out the window of his starkly furnished, high-rise, upscale condo, From page 6 of the text:
No amount of activity, violent or not, could drive away the big Sonny-shaped shadow that dogged along beside him.
Luki understands. Or no, maybe he doesn’t. And he’s lonely not only for Sonny but for Sonny’s wonderful world, so different from his own. He can hardly believe what’s happened, as we see on page 7.
Sonny had sent Luki away. When Delsyn lay impossibly still in that room at the rehab with tubes exchanging his fluids and instruments ticking off the seconds of his life, surely Sonny must have been glad for Luki’s love, his arms, his hand to hold. Yet just when Luki thought Sonny needed him most, that’s when he’d pulled back inside himself to be alone with his grief and fear. He’d sent Luki packing from the rainy Northwest forest and sea—to Chicago, of all places. Funny that Luki had never known how much he didn’t like Chicago until he’d lived for a few months in Sonny’s surprising and isolated home. Tasted the salt in the morning air, blown inland by the ever-present wind over the Juan de Fuca Strait. Watched Sonny dip naked into the frigid waters and rise up, sunlight flashing off his smooth, wet, brown skin like an aura of jewels. Sat before a yellow fire built of wood Sonny had cut and split, Sonny’s head on his shoulder, Sonny’s long hair falling over Luki’s bare chest—tickling, teasing, a promise.
Luki is so smitten he goes to great lengths to feel Sonny with him, even going to sleep at night dressed in the kind of haphazard clothes Sonny might wear—although he imagines Sonny would look a lot more appetizing in them. But when he tries to get Sonny on the phone—just wanting to hear his voice, have some connection—he can’t reach him. That, and a bad, bad dream, and then finally the news that Sonny’s beloved nephew, Delsyn, had died—these things convince Luki that Sonny needs him, and off he flies west to the rescue. And when he gets there, he finds a beautiful, achingly sad Sonny he’s never seen before. Check him out on page 9.
Black. Black shoes. Black socks, black jeans; calf-length, tailored, black wool coat. Sonny took the clothes out of their long-stored plastic shrouds, his eyes of their own accord seeking out the white silk strips across the chest and shoulders of his ribbon shirt, the short white streamers which would be anchored over his scapulae and left loose to flutter as he moved, or danced, or stood in a breeze. Not that they would move today—they’d be buried under the black coat. And Delsyn would be buried under the black ground.
“Nephew,” Sonny whispered into the air that he’d let go cold, so cold indoors that he could see a faint shadow of his breath float into the room. So cold it hurt, which was one reason he’d let the fire die. The pain could replace the tears he would not cry. And then, too, the fire had no right to live, to crackle and sway, brighten and warm the day. No, if Delsyn had to die, then the fire would die too. Sonny would see to that.
He needed tight braids bound far back behind his ears, but braids like that are impossible to do for oneself, so he gathered his white ribbons and took his hair to Margie’s, resolving not to cry no matter how many times she tried to tell him it would be okay to do so, no matter how much she tried to comfort him.
Before minutes passed, or so it seemed, he stood at the grave, the cold March wind biting his face with sharp teeth like tiny arrows, with the man he’d called to say words at the graveside, a Lummi elder he knew from the few years he’d spent up north in Bellingham where frost was likely to coat the rooftops on a gray March day like today. Sonny knew the elder’s words, his prayers in four directions, the sage and cedar he kindled and passed to the small band of mourners around the grave—all of these things—were meant to help Delsyn’s spirit pass.
And to ease my pain.
Sonny couldn’t let that comfort happen. My nephew, my boy, is dead. And it’s my fault.
After that, through words and crazy, impossible events, Sonny tried to push Luki away, but only succeeded in convincing Luki that Sonny needed him—even more than he previously believed. So he persisted and insisted and stuck to Sonny like glue, and… well. It paid off, as you can see from this bit on page 29 of your text.
Luki refused to wonder if now, inside his studio, something bad was happening to Sonny—emotions, memories, dope, whatever. He told himself for the hundredth time it was about trust. Soon, his cigarette had come to its predestined seven-minute end, and he was starting to feel the bite of the cold. But instead of going in, he walked down to the edge of the water, dark as it was, with stars sprinkled in the quiet waves. At the edge of his vision, he noticed the studio light disappear from the ground, and moments later he felt, more than heard, Sonny coming out of the house, walking toward him. He didn’t turn around, but when Sonny reached an arm over his shoulder, Luki took Sonny’s hand and kissed it, not surprised at all, and led him back to the driftwood seat.
Sonny straddled the log next to Luki and leaned in to kiss Luki’s neck. Which tickled in a most seductive way. Sonny’s long legs grabbed hold of him like pincers, and he dragged his lean fingers over Luki’s chest, leaving heat trails on Luki’s night-chilled skin. The whole event felt like a stroke of better-than-luck to Luki because, though he refused to jump to conclusions, he was pretty sure Sonny was making sexual advances. And it had been a couple or a hundred months since any such thing occurred or even was hinted at. So if his response was a little too enthusiastic, a little too heated, he hoped Sonny would forgive him for that.
Better than forgiving, Sonny matched him flame for flame, and pretty soon hands were inside clothes and doing some exquisite touching, tickling, rubbing. But it wasn’t all that comfortable—cold and clothed—so Luki breathed, “Bed, sweetie.”
Yeah, okay. The guys in that picture aren’t Luki and Sonny, nowhere close. But they apparently had a similar idea. After the idea, you will see, if you read on in Delsyn’s Blues (click on the cover image if you’ve a notion to buy it), the bad guys made themselves quite evident, and that led to a passel of dangers and crises, as well as some brand new ultimatums, proposals, and positions. Ahem… seriously. I mean, homework if you like, pages 48 through 53. Hot, much?
Want to get your degree in Gay Romance Lit? Well, why not start by learning from the sweet and hot experts, Luki Vasquez and Sonny James. No, you’re right, the couple to the left is not Luki and Sonny, but they are sweet, and they are romantic, and I think they should have a book written about them. (I’m working on it.) Luki and Sonny are older (especially Luki) and more… well, I’ll get to that later.
As you may know, there are, to date, four installments to the Vasquez and James Suspense/Romance story. (If you wish to purchase the texts for home study, click on the image below. 🙂 )
There is one more book about the couple, the novella Yes,, and another book in the series entitled Because of Jade,coming in spring 2014. For this introductory bit of GRU’s Vasquez and James course, however, we’ll focus on the first book in the series, Loving Luki Vasquez.
One thing you will note about Luki and Sonny is that although they were certainly always hot (and sort of sweet), they were definitely not always experts in romance. In fact if you’ll turn to page 3 of your text (or just keep reading here), you’ll find an account of the events when they first met, accidentally, on the streets of (fictional) Port Clifton, Washington. To set the scene, Sonny—who lived in the area—was walking down the street in a not very good mood…
Then he saw a man.
Which in itself wasn‟t unusual, but this man, an islander, maybe Hawaiian, by the look of him, lounged cool and beautiful in loose summer whites, half-sitting on the fender of an ice-blue Mercedes, a strip of sand beach and the blue straits for a backdrop. Dark chestnut curls shining; straight, white teeth softly teasing a lush, plum-red bottom lip. His eyes, startling pale blue against brown skin, roved all over Sonny; the islander made no effort to pretend otherwise, and besides, Sonny could feel them. Their touch trickled over him like ice water, exciting every nerve he had, even those he‟d never heard from before.
Which scared Sonny, a recluse by choice—and, he knew, because he‟d always managed to be socially… well, clumsy. So, he turned to the weapon that had been his first line of defense since adolescence, when all the reservation had noticed that their star young grass dancer didn‟t mind being gay: a smart mouth.
“What are you looking at?”
Groan with me now, class. Good Lord, Sonny James! Could you be any less romantic?
But… maybe it was fate, because minutes later, the heretofore icy-hearted badass Luki Vasquez took a most uncharacteristic chance. You’ll find this bit on page 4 of the text, and Sonny has just witnessed hardcore Luki sweetly pick up a fallen teddy bear and return it to a child.
Sonny, angry with himself for blowing his chance to meet this chill but beautiful stranger—who might be trying to hide a kind heart—pretended he hadn‟t seen. He turned his faux-stoic shoulder and walked away. A little shaky, perhaps; already sorry. Three strides and he heard a voice, unexpectedly scratchy, even hoarse.
The man took a deep, lovely breath, flashed his cold-fire eyes at Sonny, and said, “I have coffee most mornings at Margie’s. In case you’re interested.”
Following that initial flubbed meeting and interesting invitation, Sonny and Luki met a couple of times on purpose and accidentally, with disastrous and somewhat humorous results, and on would think that would have been the end of it. Truth was, however, neither could forget the other. One day, they met by chance—and a kiss happened. Not love at first kiss, no, but a hint at what a romance between them might be. Beginning on page 16 of your book, Luki is disgusted with himself and decides a little tai chi practice on a mostly deserted beach would do him good…
By the time he‟d finished, the sun had risen almost midway. With heat and exertion, he‟d broken into a profuse sweat. He turned his face into the breeze, let it riffle his curls, took his shirt off, and tossed it to hang on one of his targets.
A dot in the distance moving up the beach toward him. A person. Sonny, no flags in sight.
Oh well, no problem. If there was anything he knew how to do, it was shut out emotional disturbance. He‟d just continue with his practice, maybe work another form first, as if Sonny weren‟t there. But with Sonny‟s long legs, he covered a lot of distance in a short time, and now he‟d come almost close enough for eye contact. My God, the man is beautiful.
“Hey,” Luki said.
“Nice out, huh?” Oh, yeah. Great. Talk about the weather.
Sonny ignored the comment.
Thank you, universe.
“It‟s like dancing.”
The conversation seemed like some kind of mirror image of the last time they spoke, when Sonny was checking out colors, which certainly weren‟t all the same, or so Sonny informed him, leaving him to feel foolish. Nice thing was, now they were in his territory. But he had no taste for retaliation.
“It‟s been called that. Tai chi.”
“Oh. Yeah. I‟ve heard of it. Sort of dancing that can kill. Seems exactly right.”
Luki didn‟t know what he meant by that last remark, so he stayed silent.
“It‟s graceful, the way you do it.”
Luki remained at a loss for a response. Was that a compliment?
“I‟ve even thought about trying to learn it. But I could never get away from my studio—or maybe I should say get my studio out of my head—long enough for anything like that.”
Luki still said nothing, but now he subtly eyed Sonny from head to toe—a pleasant undertaking but one with purpose. “You‟re in good enough shape to do it well.”
Luki didn‟t know how he could speak and hold his breath at the same time, but it felt that way. “I could teach you a little,” he said, “right now.”
To his surprise and nervous delight, Sonny agreed after only a second’s hesitation. Soon Luki had him barefoot and mastering a perfect opening stance. From there, he taught him some traditional warm-ups—not part of the forms but a good way to get the feel of the art. Though his long, loose limbs gave him some trouble and made Luki want to secretly and fondly laugh, and though Sonny giggled—yes, giggled—at a few of the early warm-ups, he attended well and learned fast.
They‟d reached the last of the warm-up exercises: Pushing Chi. A little more complicated than the ones that came before, it took focused coordination. When Sonny could Push Chi with acceptable grace, Luki decided to introduce him to at least part of the Chen form: First, he revisited the simple but all-important Opening Movement. Then, Pound the Pestle, Lazy Tying Coat, and Six Sealing, Four Closing.
Single Whip led into White Crane Spreads Its Wings, the name of which made Sonny adorably… all right fine, adorably happy. The sequence involved motions that at first felt counterintuitive. Like probably every student in the centuries tai chi had been around, Sonny needed help with it. As he would with any other student, Luki stood behind him, using his own hands to guide Sonny through the move. He wondered if he could get away with teaching him all the rest of the moves in just that way. Perhaps for hours. Every day. For a long time.
As he was teaching and wondering and probably even almost smiling, a wind rose up, splashing spray and sand and whipping Sonny‟s long hair at Luki‟s face and right into his mouth. On the word “open,” appropriately enough.
Sonny spun around, gathering up his luxurious baked-earth red hair. Before Luki had a chance to close his mouth, Sonny kissed him. A passionate, seeking sort of kiss. A kiss that Luki instinctively returned, though kissing wasn‟t a large part of his intimate life, and especially not kissing on the beach.
Well! That is a nice development. After that, some very suspenseful things begin to happen, throwing Luki and Sonny together whether they (profess to) want it or not. One thing of course leads to another, and things heat up, leading to this, on page 48:
After a moment, that not-quite smile of Luki’s that Sonny had come to recognize appeared in his eyes. He laced his strong fingers into Sonny’s hair and rose up to meet Sonny’s lips in a long, soft kiss, keeping possession of his gaze all the while. “Sweet, so sweet,” he whispered. And then, his lips still moving against Sonny’s: “You can have my ass.”
The book’s a mystery, but not it’s success–the reason for that is this: Rhys Ford is rockin’ this author thing. I’ve got to read this book soon.
When his Uncle Mortimer died and left him Hoxne Grange, the family’s Gilded Age mansion, Tristan Pryce became the second generation of Pryces to serve as a caretaker for the estate, a way station for spirits on their final steps to the afterlife. Tristan is prepared for challenges, though not necessarily from the ghosts he’s seen since childhood. Determined to establish Tristan’s insanity and gain access to his trust fund, his loving relatives hire Dr. Wolf Kincaid and his paranormal researchers, Hellsinger Investigations, to prove the Grange is not haunted.
Skeptic Wolf Kincaid has made it his life’s work to debunk the supernatural. After years of cons and fakes, he can’t wait to reveal the Grange’s ghostly activity is just badly leveled floorboards and a drafty old house. More than a few surprises await him at the Grange, including its prickly, reclusive owner. Tristan Pryce is much less insane and much more attractive than Wolf wants to admit, and when his team releases a ghostly serial killer on the Grange, Wolf is torn between his skepticism and protecting the man he’s been sent to discredit.