Five luminous stars to Anne Barwell’s On Wings of Song. This novella is not a story of hot love or love at first sight, but rather a tale of the tenacity of a first spark between souls. Here Barwell’s prose style pleases as always, but it’s her ability to ferret out the secrets of the heart that shines above all.
Many of us already know the author has a gift for finding the human truth in historical times and events, and especially for seeing past the walls that veterans of war often—of necessity—build around their hearts. In On Wings of Song, her time-travelling pen (or keyboard, perhaps) takes the reader back to one of the most remarkable verifiable events of modern warfare—the Christmas Truce of 1914. Entrenched soldiers of Germany, France, England, and Scotland (the later three allied) in a number of places along a battlefront that already foretold the later horrors of WWI came together across narrow strips of no-mans-land to celebrate together a few hours of peace.
When German soldier Jochen Weber and Englishman Aiden Foster meet that under that extraordinary circumstance, it isn’t football or cards that help them overcome the initial awkwardness of the exchange, but a mutual love of literature and Aiden’s exceptional musical voice. Before they part, they (like others) exchange uniform buttons as pocket mementos, and each hopes for a someday when in a more lasting peace they may see one another again. The remaining years of war leave both men scarred, and life after war holds new challenges and little time or place for true healing. Both men retreat into the silence in which those who survive years of the worst of human cruelty often cloak their hearts—how can anyone who wasn’t there truly understand? Yet a spark of hope lives Jochen and Aiden’s hearts, sharing space with memory of the “enemy” whom they befriended on dark Christmas on a battlefield.
Barwell’s careful, sparsely adorned prose gives the reader an inside look at the redemption of truly broken hearts when long-sheltered sparks meld into flame. The fire burns painfully until it warms and comforts. This is not a long, arduous read, rather a brief but revealing journey into the heart of these two men, Jochen and Aiden, who come to love despite time, distance, and irreparable loss.
I heartily recommend On Wings of Song to those who love men, who love men who love men, and who treasure stories that paint the darkness with light and life.
It’s 25% off at the moment, so now is a good time to snap it up. Or if you feel lucky, Anne will be chatting at the Dreamspinner Goodreads “forum thingy” on 12/28/14 from 4-6 EST, and there will be a giveaway. Win or not, it promises to be a great conversation!
If you want a little more info, here’s the blurb:
Six years after meeting British soldier Aiden Foster during the Christmas Truce of 1914, Jochen Weber still finds himself thinking about Aiden, their shared conversation about literature, and Aiden’s beautiful singing voice. A visit to London gives Jochen the opportunity to search for Aiden, but he’s shocked at what he finds.
The uniform button Jochen gave him is the only thing Aiden has left of the past he’s lost. The war and its aftermath ripped everything away from him, including his family and his music. When Jochen reappears in his life, Aiden enjoys their growing friendship but knows he has nothing to offer. Not anymore.
And here’s Anne’s bio:
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.
In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher and a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.
She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.
Visit Anne at her blog: http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com or her website: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/. You can contact her at email@example.com.
Please take your seats people, we want to get started…. What’s that? Boxer shorts? Certainly they’re allowed…. Yes, sir, briefs, certainly. Sure, speedos are not only allowed but encouraged. Be comfortable, but do pay attention in class.
Even though Kristopher Lehrer’s last name means ‘teacher,’ as we examine the early pages of our textbook, Anne Barwell’s novel Shadowboxing, it is Kristopher who is most in need of schooling. Oh, he is a learned man, it’s true—a physicist working on an important, possibly world-altering project. Unfortunately Very Important Projects often become the clouds where a scientist’s head is most comfortable. Kristopher’s attitude, as the novel opens, is reminiscent of the fearless forward motion of a horse with blinders.
To illustrate, consider this: Kristopher’s friend—the man that could have been his first true love if Kristopher had been honest—is Jewish, and in World War II Germany the yellow Star of David he must wear means that he is in danger every time he steps out in public. And, though David is a respected physician, he can no longer practice medicine for the same reason. Yet when Kristopher meets him for coffee he has no clue why his friend is upset, or scared. Read along in your text (or look over your neighbor’s shoulder if you haven’t yet picked up your text). We look at what happens with David challenges Kristopher’s naivety, beginning on page eight.
“Have you any idea what kind of people you are working for?” David spoke quietly, as always, but there was an underlying tone of fear in his voice that Kristopher didn’t remember hearing before. David’s emotions were always controlled; it was something that Kristopher had envied. “Have you any idea of their real agenda?”
Kristopher snatched his hand away, trying to ignore how fast his heart was beating. Why had David come to him? Surely he couldn’t have presumed to use the closeness they’d once had to further whatever agenda he had? “I’m a scientist, David, trying to make the world a better place, just as you are. We are working for the advancement of science and for the good of the Fatherland.” The last sentence came out sounding like the mantra it was. Any doubts that Kristopher had were always dealt with efficiently when he repeated those words. While he knew the potential danger of the device they were working on, the chances of anyone considering utilizing the catastrophic component of it were remote.
“You always were naïve, Lehrer.” David raked a hand through his hair and replaced his glasses, adjusting them when they slipped down his nose. “Wake up and take a look at what’s going on around you before it’s too late.” An edge of desperation and fear sharpened his voice as he lowered it to almost a whisper; it sounded as though he was talking about the end of the world.
“Too late? Too late for what?” His earlier fears of being used vanished at David’s tone. Kristopher’s voice rose in pitch, all attempts of hiding his conflicting emotions lost as he tried to desperately work through his rapidly escalating confusion.
David shook his head, unwilling to say more, his eyes darting nervously around the small Kaffeehaus before his gaze settled on the man who had entered several minutes earlier. “I have to go. I’ve said too much already.”
“Wait!” David was already halfway out the door before the word was out of Kristopher’s mouth. He pushed his chair back, ready to follow his friend, then hesitated, suddenly unsure as to what had just happened.
A week later, dining at home with his sister Clara (whom he loves and depends on) and his father (with whom he has a strained relationship), he is shocked to hear that David has disappeared, and clueless as to why such a thing had happened. What’s more, he is just as dumbfounded when Clara says (on page 11)…
“Poor Kristopher.” Clara rolled her eyes. “You’re so involved in your work that you haven’t noticed what’s going on around you.” There was no teasing in her voice now. Whatever this was about, it was something very serious. “It’s because he’s Jewish, of course.”
… as he is when his father says…
“They are Jewish, Kristopher. What other reason is needed? Better that they are rounded up and sent somewhere more suited for their place in the scheme of things. We must not lose sight of the fact that the Jews are nothing more than parasites interested in taking control of the economy for themselves.”
We, the readers can take our first lesson from this, and the downhill spiral of father-son relations that follow. Please take this down in your notebooks. It will be on the test:
The longer you keep your head stuck in the clouds of denial (about anything, really), the more it hurts to pull it out.
Our next unit of study follows Kristopher as he goes about his work the next day. The clouds around his head have been disturbed, but not quite dislodged. Feeling cranky and a little wooly due to a poor night’s sleep, he enters his boss’s office when the boss is out, and rather clumsily knocks a pile of papers on the floor, and reads this sentence on one of them:
Cue ominous music.
We look forward to putting these plans into reality. Such a device will ensure the continued success of the Fatherland during this war against our enemies.
Kristopher’s head falls from the clouds with a mighty thud, which hurts and can’t be ignored even by a dreamy physicist.
Gott im himmel, as my very German mother would have said. Here Kristopher had been, believing he was working on nuclear fission for peaceful purposes, and suddenly he realized he’d been living in a lollipop world.
For a number of minutes, our scientist is unable to think straight. He knows what he saw, but he’s unsure of what he might do about it, or even how to keep from getting in trouble for standing in his boss’s office with his pants down (figuratively of course, because that would be far too weird).
But a guard comes along, Obergefreiter (Sargent) Schmitz, and helps him organize his brain and move his body, thank goodness. Of course, at first, Kristoffer is afraid that Schmitz will actually contribute to his danger, but he soon realizes he was lucky the Obergefrieter came along. He leaves the office that day still waffling about what to do. Like most ordinary Germans of the day, he loves his country and has some significant blind spots about it—a phenomenon not unknown at any age of the world in just about any country, including all of those where readers of this blog might be living today. But you don’t become a leading physicist if you are slow-witted. Once Kristopher’s sight is forcibly cleared, he cannot escape the truth about the leaders of the Nazi regime and what their intentions are.
After much soul-searching, presumably some hand-wringing, and a few horrid nightmares, Kristopher Lehrer confronts his boss… and is told in no uncertain way to mind his own business. The encounter goes from bad to worse. (You can read about this in home study, chapter three of the text.) When he is discovered in the room with his dead boss by the same Obergefreiter Schmitz, he figures his number is up.
Thank heaven for pleasant surprises, large and small. When Schmitz asks Kristopher if, as smart as he is, he can come up with no better plan than to threaten the guard with broken glass, here’s what happens (at the beginning of chapter four).
“My plan? […] I don’t have a plan. […] Do you honestly think I would be standing here waving a piece of broken glass if I had a plan.”
“Good point,” Schmitz admitted.
[Text elided by blogger… er, I mean university professor Lou Sylvre. Kristopher says:]
“Have you come to hand me over to the Nazis?” Whatever happened he didn’t intend to go easily.
The corner of Schmitz’s mouth turned up in a half smile before he shook his head. “I’m here to help you, Herr Dr. Lehrer.”
“You expect me to believe you?” Kristopher wished the desk behind him would disappear into thin air, although it still wouldn’t be of much help as Schmitz was blocking the path to the only door. “I know you’ve followed me for the past week.” He noticed the slight look of surprise on Schmitz’s face with a degree of satisfaction.
“You need to trust me, Dr. Lehrer.”
You may guess that Kristopher isn’t so sure that’s the best course of action, but like people everywhere when they’re in danger and want to trust someone, he looks for a way to do so.
“Give me one good reason.”
“The Nazis will be here in, Schmitz said, consulting his watch, approximately ten minutes. Either you trust me, or you tell them what you’ve just told me. I doubt they will believe your story.”
His voice softened. “I do.”
Now, students, you may have guessed that the Obergefreiter isn’t really the Obergefreiter. His real name is Michel, and he’s not even German. And his interest in Kristopher, like Kristopher’s trust of Michel, soon weaves into a whole new feeling. After negotiating much hell and highwater together, Michel soothes a startled, overwhelmed Kristopher in his own native tongue.
“A l’aise, Kit. Je suis ici… Ssh, tout est bien.”
Yes, Michel is there and all is well for the moment. There’s a whole lot more trouble to face, more evil to evade, more heroes to meet—all kinds, German, foreign, soldiers, everyday people. But Michel does whatever he needs to do to keep Kristopher alive. And since this is Gay Romance University, it isn’t giving away secrets to let you know, that once Michel has seen to the matter of Kristopher’s continued existence, he gets the opportunity to use a little French term of endearment.
“It’s all right, mon cher. I love you. I’m not letting you go.”
That is the end of our lesson, today. If you are interested in learning more on the subject, click the cover image above for a link to the blurb and purchase links. (And while you’re there, check out the continuation of this beautiful story in book two of the Echoes of War series, Winter Duet.
I thank Anne Barwell, Kristopher, and Michel for the privilege of treating the serious story of one of the world’s most painful times with a bit of irreverence. Truthfully, the heroes in this story are a reflection of all the real life heroes on every side of that war and every other, especially the quiet ones not lauded in headlines. They all deserve our gratitude, and I take no such service or sacrifice lightly.
As advertised, Gay Romance University is delving into the ins and outs of the life of exceptional service to a well-endowed… er, I mean well-tended master, as experienced by Lornyc, in service to Methian, and recorded in tale well-told by Rebecca Cohen, entitled “Servitude.”
Lest you think this is just your average tale of loving service, let me assure you nothing could be farther from the truth. The person doing the serving is… well, exceptionally able.
Oh, I see a student has raised their hand. There in the back of the hall, did you have a question, sir?
Oh, my! Well, I’m not going to repeat the question, because I fear you simply meant it as an off-color joke. Those are not appropriate in a university class, unless it’s me telling them, so please refrain. But, since you asked, although Lornyc may indeed be exceptionally capable in that respect, judging from Methian’s inability to resist him, I refer to his capability in terms of intellect—perhaps mind-over-matter describes it well. Witness, on page 5, in the labarotory.
In a darkened corner, beside a rack of spare parts for machines long scrapped, was a large black curtain. He walked over to it and pulled the heavy cloth back to reveal a gray rectangle about the size of a standard doorway. Next to it, in a chrome-plated bracket, sat a ball. It was small enough to have been held easily in one hand, and was a cerulean color flecked with gold. When he pressed his hand to the surface of the orb, it began to glow, and with a gentle push, it began to spin in its bracket.
Accompanied by a low hiss, the gray rectangle came to life with a series of waves and swirls appearing across its surface. Lornyc cast a final glance over his shoulder and stepped into the portal.
Stepping out into a tastefully decorated but obviously seldom-used room, Lornyc called out, “Are you here?”
A muffled reply came from what Lornyc knew to be his lover’s bedroom. With a decidedly wicked grin, Lornyc advanced toward the bedroom door, stripping off his tunic as he did so. “I thought,” he said to a figure reclining on the large bed, “I’d put in another long night in the lab—that’s if you’ve not got anything better to do.”
The sandy-haired man grinned and bounced to the end of the bed, holding out his arms in invitation. “You know I’m always willing to help with your studies.”
Lornyc laughed as he walked forward. “Your dedication, Methian, is touching.”
Methian’s strong arms wrapped around him, and the kiss they shared chased away his worries from the lab. Lornyc yelped in a most undignified manner as Methian pulled him forward onto the bed, but any further complaint was lost as he let his lover distract him fully.
Before any servitude comes into play, Lornyc has already managed to demonstrate a successful principle of gay romance—any romance, really. That is:
Access, access, access. Even if you must create a trans-dimensional portal to do it, make sure you can always reach your lover when need arises.
Self-explanatory, right? So I’ll say no more about that.
But even persons with exceptional ability and high station in life in very interesting (and well-realized, thanks to Ms. Cohen) alternate worlds will at times find that not all events are under their control. In order to keep within the time limits of this university course, I’ll summarize events:
Long before Methian or Lornyc were twinkles in their respective daddy’s eyes, Lornyc’s legendary, long-lived grandfather, Reagalos, signed some contracts. Possibly unbenownst to him, these contracts included interwoven magic that would bind a certain grandchild to fulfill them no matter what. One of them said that his grandchild would be servant to a descendant of the house of Hadral. Lornyc is that Reagalos grandchild, and Methian is—you guessed it—that Hadral. So while Lornyc and Methian where busy playing in-and-out-the-portal (yes, very tacky euphemism, I know), their parents were busy binding Lornyc to Methian as valet. Despite the fact that the men had a well-known history of indiscretion! Read along on page 17 of your text:
“Unfortunately, while it would be usual practice for my personal manservant to be housed within my suite of rooms, Tancorix vetoed that immediately. Apparently I’d be unable to control myself and would have my wicked way with you,” said Methian with a wry smile. “As I did when we were at College.”
“Your wicked way?” Lornyc leaned away with a bemused look on his face. “They’ve never thought that poor, sweet Lornyc could’ve possibly gone after Methian Hadral. The way I remember it was that I had my wicked way with you. The mighty Methian seduced by a seventeen-year-old virgin.”
The second lesson to be drawn from this text begins to come clear immediately thereafter, and it’s one to be remembered by all who are wise.
Methian had to work hard not to get distracted at the memory of that encounter. “But it doesn’t matter. You’ll be below stairs—with the rest of the staff. You should be grateful that she’s decided against making you wear Hadral servant livery.”
Lornyc raised an eyebrow in response. “Really? I thought that would’ve been a definite, fitting me out in that gaudy blue you Hadrals seem to like.”
“Careful, it’s not too late to reverse that decision,” warned Methian, pushing Lornyc backward so that he landed on the pillows. “That sort of cheek will have to be punished.”
“Promises, promises,” Lornyc said playfully.
Methian grinned and crawled toward Lornyc, stopping once his knees were either side of Lornyc’s hips and his hands rested on the pillows next to Lornyc’s head. Methian leaned down to kiss him.
A bolt of fiery pain shot through Lornyc’s arm. He sat up abruptly, his head connecting sharply with Methian’s with an accompanying sickly crack.
Methian growled in pain and sat back, clutching his nose.
“My arm! It feels like it’s on fire,” cried Lornyc. He grabbed his shirt, tearing away the sleeve.
Lornyc grunted in agony but seconds later was hit by a wave of ecstasy, which rolled over him, stripping away the heat and the pain.
The two men stared at Lornyc’s left bicep. There, in vibrant colors, was the Hadral family crest: a blue shield embossed with a golden H.
“Bloody hell,” whispered Methian, reaching out and stroking the newly adorned patch of skin.
Right. Simply put: Magic complicates everything.
When magic rears its ugly, controlling head, how does a lover cope? For answers, we look to dear Lord Methian. We find this little jewel of romance on page 34:
Lornyc sagged into Methian’s arms. “I have no choice but to treat you as my master when you command it.”
Methian cupped the back of Lornyc’s head with his hand. “If anything, you are my master, and have been since you were seventeen.”
So, as far as I’m concerned that is the most notable principle to be gained from these two men—loving is give and take. Love is kind, and love is… well, noticeable. See? (This is on page 52.)
“Your grandfather could do amazing things, and from what I felt, you’ll be able to do even more. He didn’t need to rely on muttered words and hand movements, the world yielded to him—and now we need to make it do the same for you.”
“No time for buts, my boy. This contract will be fulfilled, and if what Tancorix has told me is true, we need to get you connected and up to speed as soon as possible. You don’t have the luxury of time to procrastinate. Sooner or later you’re going to be Katraman’s High Lord—and you need to be everything your father isn’t.”
“But the contract to the Hadrals….”
“From what I saw, Methian—that’s what you called him, didn’t you—seems to be willing to cooperate.” The mage grinned. “If you truly are his valet, then you’re doing things way beyond the remit of your job description.” Kat laughed at Lornyc’s expression. “I can see your imprint all over him. Valet, my ass!”
“Even though you can’t do much, you’re still projecting raw energy. One of my talents is to see an individual’s magical signature if it’s being broadcasted, and Methian is covered in yours.”
Oops. But hey, being marked is not always a bad thing, right?
In truth, the lessons to be learned from the interwoven lives of these two men go far beyond romantic words and a master being marked by his servant. They persevere through so many things: parents, politics, grief—even females. But we’ve reached the end of the course seminar, and the rest can be absorbed through home study.
If you’ve been working with a borrowed text book and want to buy it, click the (fabulous) cover image for the buy link at Dreamspinner Press.
Thank you Lornyc and Methian for allowing us to spy on your joys, sorrows, and bafflements. And thanks Rebecca Cohen for a unique and delicious romance.
I got to thinking, when I’ve posted about Because of Jade (Vasquez and James novel coming from in May), I share so much about the Luki and Sonny’s relationship with the little girl, Jade, that you may think there’s no romance. On the contrary… Luki always delivers. For instance, here’s a very teensy excerpt that leads up to a long, hot night of spoiling Sonny and loving him senseless.
Yes, we’re back in one of the sexiest lecture halls ever invented—my blog. 🙂 Today we take a look at the fourth major episode in the romance of Luki and Sonny, as recorded in our text, Saving Sonny James..
In the “front matter” (you know, the pages before page 1) of Saving Sonny James you’ll find the epigraph, consisting of lines of poetry Walt Whitman. This is the first, from a poem entitled: “Old War Dreams.”
Long have they pass’d, faces and trenches and fields,
Where through the carnage I moved with a callous composure, or away from the fallen,
Onward I sped at the time, but now of their forms at night,
I dream, I dream, I dream
So yeah, the beginning of Saving Sonny James is a little weighty. With the events reported in Finding Jackie, in the Umatilla where Luki once again faced a life or death situation and the only solution required deadly force, Luki added one more to a lifetime pile of ‘straws’, and it broke his camel’s back… Or perhaps only very seriously sprained it, because the hope is it can be fixed. Sonny of course, would like to fix it—he really, really wants his husband back, but he’s stymied. On page 5 (the beginning of chapter one), we find a sampling from Sonny’s thoughts:
Luki Vasquez had been his usual self when he and his still newlywed husband, Sonny James, had driven home to the rainy Olympic Peninsula from Nebraska, even though he’d been shot in the thigh—again.
Well, Sonny thought as he backed his yellow Mustang—his baby—out of the old barn where he parked it, Luki was mostly his usual self then, when we first came home.
Because at times he’d still been in a lot of pain, and a few times he’d had plenty of—too much—pain medication, and then there had also been those other, weirder times that Sonny couldn’t explain. Luki would just check out right in the middle of a conversation, stay completely blank until he’d suddenly say, “He was just a kid,” or, “He had the greenest eyes.” Those times never lasted long, though, and Luki’s pain got less and less, and Sonny just didn’t expect the thing that happened to Luki not long after they got home. It was almost like Luki… died inside. Like whatever made him Luki drained off and left Sonny a handsome and heart-wrenching Luki-like shell.
It didn’t really matter that Sonny knew psychological trauma did this to others: soldiers, agents of the law, people who relied on violent skills to guard the world against violence. This development in Luki astounded Sonny. The very idea that Luki Mililani Vasquez could be so overcome, so incapacitated that people felt the need to watch over him, medicate him, counsel him, be careful of him, for God’s sake. It was like weaving a wall-sized tapestry, spending hours with it and knowing every warp and weft intimately, and then one day discovering the image had changed from day to night, ocean to desert, rock to dust. How could it make sense?
Sonny can’t fix Luki, of course. That type of broken has to be fixed from the inside out. For a while, Luki just can’t seem to wake himself up from the horrors in his mind, and the despair they’ve engendered. It takes a near disaster for him to (figuratively) give himself a mighty shake and begin to take steps toward healing. Actually, two near disasters.
First he rescue Sonny from the frigid waters of the Juan de Fuca Strait. He has to warm him up of course, and what better way than body heat. One thing sweetly leads to another, and then next thing you know, this, from page 18:
He began to lick the remnants of sea salt off Sonny’s skin, starting out sweet and slow, but growing adamant, pushy, demanding. And Sonny gave and took in kind, until the two of them were half covered in marks from sucks and scratches and bites. Sonny started suddenly to move his head toward Luki’s cock, but Luki pushed him back down and said, “No, you.” He licked the length of Sonny’s erection from base to crown twice, then stroked, squeezing a little until precum coated the sweet tip. Taking Sonny’s own hand, he passed it over to gather the crystal lube, then gave the harvest to Sonny, feeding him his juices from his own fingers.
Sonny moaned, sucking the pleasure from his own hand, and Luki growled, then lay down over Sonny, grinding their hard cocks together. Then, as he almost always did, he asked, “What do you want, baby?”
“Fuck me,” Sonny said, with no hesitation.
Well, you can guess that things progress from there, but I’ll leave it there for now so I can forge ahead. (For independent reading, this smutty/sweet section starts on about page 17.) But after the sex, they fall asleep, and that’s when the unthinkable happens, and Luki has to save Sonny from… well, from Luki.
Even though that first awakening ended in near disaster, it’s a step toward healing, and the next day, Luki is prepared to see Doctor Sonny James off to Paris where he will show his tapestries and lecture on fibers and dies and weaving amazingly beautiful things. Sonny is prepared to believe Luki when he promises to do everything he can—everything he’s supposed to do, for a change—to get well. But first Luki promises Sonny that their last day together will be a good one. And, oh God, yes, they have a little fun. For instance, this, from page 44.
He’d meant what he said to Sonny back at the cemetery. He’d do everything in his power, expend every last drop of his energy if needed, to give Sonny the Luki he wanted today. His thoughts turned to sex, and he knew that if he could pull that Luki out of the magician’s hat, it wasn’t going to be at all unpleasant for him, either.
You don’t deserve pleasure, Luki.
Oh, fuck off.
That little exchange between the halves of his brain, so to speak, struck Luki’s funny bone, and he laughed out loud.
“What?” Sonny said, drawing his brows together in puzzlement, though he smiled. “What is it you’re thinking? Tell me.”
Luki skipped some stuff but he didn’t lie. He stretched in his seat. “Well, sweetie, I was thinking about… oh, this.” He pinched Sonny’s nipple through his T-shirt, making it pucker up and poke out the butter-yellow fabric instantly. Sonny gasped, but his driving didn’t stutter. Luki leaned closer—an easy reach in the small Mustang, and grabbed a handful of Sonny between his legs. That made his sweet husband jump! To his credit, nothing changed in his driving—Luki had known it wouldn’t—but he got a very serious look on his face, a look that Luki loved, treasured. Vintage Sonny.
Sonny put his foot down, figuratively speaking, and the tone of his voice indicated he mentally had his hand on his hip, even though physically one was on the steering wheel and the other on the gear shift. “Luki, don’t do that. I’m driving.”
“Oh, okay,” Luki sighed. “Well, I guess I’ll just do this, then.” He leaned back in the seat and spread his legs as wide as he could, then rubbed his crotch with both hands.
“Fuck!” Sonny said, which was sort of an event all by itself. “Honey, stop! I have to drive!”
Luki laughed again and stuck one hand down the front of his own pants.
“Luki! What the hell is going on with you?”
Luki chuckled once more, removed his hand, and adjusted his clothes and position. “Well, sweetie, it’s like this: I’m either going to laugh with you today, or I’m going to sleep, or panic, or rage, or cry. My ‘just be normal’ mode isn’t working very well. And I want it to be a good day for you, for us. So I’m being a little silly. And when we get home I’ll be putty in your hands…. Orgasmic putty. Okay?”
Sonny giggled, which seemed like a reward. Then he said, “Luki, you’re never putty. You somehow manage to top from the bottom.”
“Not at all.”
They fell into a good-natured silence, a calm that felt good, but almost foreign to Luki—or forgotten. Still, he decided, one could consider it a gift horse, and he wasn’t about to look it in the mouth. He settled comfortably in for the remaining half hour of the drive, and even though he had to keep pushing away intruding thoughts and disturbing images and unwanted emotions, he felt more relaxed than he had for a long time. At some point he noticed that he and Sonny had joined hands, rested them together on the gearshift. By the time they got to Port Clifton, he felt almost too relaxed; he could easily have slept instead of making love, but the idea of sleeping brought a whole slew of scary what-ifs.
We’ll have to stick to fucking. He surreptitiously looked over Sonny’s body… long, sleek, beautiful body. Not an unpleasant choice, that.
They parted of necessity so Luki could retrieve his car from Margie’s parking lot and drive it home. But Luki thought about Sonny and sex for the entire drive. They arrived home together. On the almost quarter-mile walk from the car barn, or garage, as Sonny insisted on calling it, to the house, Luki stopped Sonny, wound his hand through Sonny’s long, thick hair and used it to pull him in for a kiss. More than a kiss, it involved sucking and licking and biting, and it carried with it instant heat that flashed straight to the groin. Luki certainly felt it, and he felt Sonny’s skin flame. Not really breaking their embrace, he started them moving again toward the house.
“Luki,” Sonny said. “Maybe you could just be in charge as usual. I mean, I want to feel… in Hawaii you said that’s best for you, and…. Know what I mean?”
“I do. But, sweetie, no. How am I ever going to perfect my top-from-the-bottom technique if you don’t bottom-from-the-top?”
Which leads—after further shenanigans—to this moment, on page 48.
Sonny’s entry was sure and steady and not too slow, no stops along the way. Once he was fully sheathed, he rocked, moving his erection inside Luki, making almost but not quite constant contact with his prostate.
“God,” Luki breathed. “Good goddamn, baby! Who taught you that?”
Oh yeah, there’s more, the entire NSFW encounter appears on pages 44 through 49 in your text, for further study.
Unfortunately, not too long after this, Luki realizes that the saving of Sonny James has not even really begun, for a very, very bad man waiting for Sonny in Paris has plans—terrifying plans. If you care to research that history, and perhaps partake of the sweet, hot reward waiting at the end, you can borrow the book from a friend, or maybe click on the cover image above and buy the book.
Hello! Today I’m happy to share with you my recent interview with author Anne Barwell. One of the things I most enjoy about Anne’s writing is it’s diversity—she writes series, but they’re all quite different. I made her talk about that sneaky little habit! You can ask her disturbing questions too, if you like, in comments. 🙂 Note: Click any cover for a buy link to that book. For Anne’s bio (and other good stuff), visit her blog
Here’s the interview:
Q: You have, if I’m not mistaken, four different series in process. Please tell us a little bit about each one. A: Five if you include The Harp and the Sea, which is our joint project… [LS—I’m so pleased to be working on this project with Anne!]
I’m still not sure how I ended up with so many series in progress. I blame demanding characters. Seriously though, one advantage I find with having more than one series in progress is that I have a hardcopy in front of me for the previous book while I’m writing the next one, which is so much easier when hunting for continuity details.
Hidden Places [series] is a contemporary fantasy which crosses through a portal into another world called Naearu. The main characters are Tomas, a writer, and Cathal, who is from Naearu. Part of the action takes place in the English village of Oakwood, part in Naearu. So far I’ve written two books in this series Cat’s Quill and Magic’s Muse. I have two more planned: One Word is Ethan and Donovan’s story and is a side story to Cat’s Quill. Dragon’s Price finishes the series and takes the characters back to Naearu.
Echoes is an historical series set in occupied Europe during WWII. Kristopher Lehrer is a scientist working on a top secret project in Germany. When his illusions are shattered and he discovers what the Nazis plan to do with his work, it isn’t long before he is on the run with both the Gestapo and the Allies after the plans he carries. Shadowboxing is the first book in the series and is set in Berlin in 1943. Winter Duet (which I’ve just submitted to Dreamspinner Press) is set in Germany in early 1944. The last book, Comes a Horseman, is set in France in mid 1944
. Dragons of Astria is a fantasy series set in Astria, a land where dragons are real and magic exists, although it has been outlawed for generations. Aric and Denys are from two very different backgrounds, but their destinies are intertwined in more ways than one. A quest for a magical sword will affect not only their life together, but the future of the kingdom. A Knight to Remember is the first in this series, and there will be two more books: A Mage to Forget and A Sword to Rule.
The Sleepless City is an urban fantasy series which is a joint project with Elizabeth Noble. The first four books are set in the re-imagined city of Flint, Ohio, and the characters are vampires, werewolves, ghosts—and human. I’ve written the first book, Shades of Sepia, and book 2, Electric Candle, by Elizabeth is coming out on April 4th.
Q: Of your series, do you have one that is easier for you to write? One that is your favorite? If so, please explain your choice? AEchoes, being an historical series, requires a lot more research than the others, but I was surprised how fast Winter Duet wrote once I got going with it. It’s difficult to pick a favourite, it’s like choosing a favourite child. My favourite tends to be the one I’m working on at the moment and yes I know that’s not helpful. Each of them have aspects I really enjoy, and I love all my guys but it is easier writing fantasy especially as I can build worlds and ‘make stuff up’ rather than worry about whether I’ve got the details of a time and/or place just right. Ben from The Sleepless City, as a Kiwi character, is very easy to write, but the US setting means a bit of research as it’s the little things that I really don’t know. I’m definitely setting my next contemporary series in New Zealand. But not just for that reason as I think there needs to be more M/M set locally.
Q: How do you balance your writing time between the different series? Do you find that your style differs from one to the next? If so, how do you get in the right mind set for the particular series you’re working on? A: I didn’t intend to have four series on the go at once. My original plan was to have two and alternate them, and once I’ve caught up with finishing what I’ve started that’s what I’ll be doing with maybe a one shot—and yes I know they always turn into series—or two in between. Meantime I’m trying to write in a circle: Hidden Places book 3, </em.Dragons of Astria book 2, Echoes book 3 etc. That way I’m not leaving readers of those readers hanging around too long, or at least that’s the plan. There aren’t enough hours in the day with working full time [outside of writing] so a couple of novels a year is about as much as I can manage.
With the series being different genres, my style does differ between them. No too much so but more in what is needed for the characters and plot. The series tend to have a different feel to them, especially in the narrative/dialogue between historical/contemporary and high fantasy. Aric’s speech in Dragons of Astria is going to be more formal, and have no modern idioms compared to Tomas in Hidden Places, while Cathal from that series being between two worlds in a sense has a mix of both. It also depends on what story a particular book is telling. Magic’s Muse was slower paced but it was filling in a lot of gaps and building relationships which need to be in place for the final book in that series Dragon’s Price which will more of an action/drama.
I get in the mind set when I switch projects by firstly writing an outline, printing it out and scribbling over it, and writing a blurb. Usually I’m thinking through and researching/discussing ideas a couple of projects ahead of what I’m writing so I do tend to multitask a bit I guess especially if I’m working on more than one project at a time like I am now with Echoes and The Harp and the Sea.
Q: Your most recent release is Shades of Sepia, book one in a shared world series, The Sleepless City. How did you and your series partner, Elizabeth Noble, develop this concept? Any hints you can give us about what’s yet to come? A: Elizabeth and I were chatting on IM one day and found we both had vampire characters we wanted to do something more with. One thing led to another and The Sleepless City was born. The mythos or ‘series bible’ is the product of hours of discussion, which is still ongoing.
The first four books in the series are an ‘arc’ and tell a complete story, and then we’re each writing books set within the universe. An arc seemed to be a good way to start the series and establish it and the characters. Shades of Sepia is Simon and Ben’s story, Electric Candle by Elizabeth which comes out in April is Forge’s. [LS—this book is now available for pre-order on Dreamspinner’s site.] I’m writing Family and Reflection later this year which is Lucas’s, and then Elizabeth will tie up the arc with the last book Checkmate. One thing I’m looking forward to in Family and Reflection, as there’s got to be some fun in amongst all the seriousness of the case they’re working, is that Ben’s friend Ange visits from New Zealand. She doesn’t know who or rather what they all are, so they’re going to try to keep it from her. Good luck with that one.
Q: What can you tell readers in advance about the two main characters in Shades of Sepia, Ben and Simon? (Make us curious, or make them irresistible!) A: Ben’s a local guy – well local for me – as he comes from Wellington where I live. He’s very laid back but at the same time speaks his mind and doesn’t take any shit. He’s also a bit of a geek and collects comics/graphic novels. His passion is photography and that’s the really ironic thing about his and Simon’s relationship. The one person Ben really wants to photograph he can’t because vampires not show up on film. Well, not usually, there is a way around it but he’ll have to convince Simon first – and you’ll have to read the book to find out what I’m referring to 😉
Simon’s is very different to Ben, it’s one of the reasons they complement each other so well. Simon’s more serious, and carefully considers his actions before he takes them where Ben’s more likely to just decide and do it. Simon’s also got an old fashioned streak a mile high, which isn’t just because he was born in the late nineteenth century. He’s also got a dark side, not unexpected as he’s a vampire! But like Ben he’s fiercely protective of the people he cares about and won’t hesitate to put himself in the line of fire to do just that. As Lucas says, “You can argue over which one of you is going to play protective over the other one’s ass on a given day. Promise me I can watch?”
Q: What’s coming next from Anne Barwell? Anything slated for release in the upcoming months? (Please elaborate!) Also, what’s on the burner for the next year or so? A: I’m putting the final touches to Winter Duet, which is the sequel to Shadowboxing and the next book in the Echoes series.
Here’s the blurb:
Germany, 1944. With Kristopher finally fit enough to travel, he and Michel begin their journey across Germany toward Switzerland and safety.
Separated in the middle of a warzone, after helping an injured RAF pilot, Kristopher is determined to find Michel again. But how far can he trust the man travelling with him? Whoever he is, he is definitely not the German soldier he appears to be.
Meanwhile Michel mounts a rescue mission. Time is running out. Loyalties are tested and betrayed as the Gestapo close in. Can he reach one of their own before information is revealed that could compromise not only his and Kristopher’s safety, but that of the remaining members of the Allied team?
Or is it already too late for all of them?
And an excerpt:
Kristopher dropped to his knees, and examined the boy. His eyes were glazed over and he flinched when Kristopher touched him. “He must have hit his head when he fell,” Kristopher said. He brought his hand away from the boy’s temple. It was covered in blood. “He needs help, but I can’t do much for him here, just try and stop the bleeding.” He quickly opened his satchel and pulled out a short length of bandage, bundled it into a wad and held it against the wound. It probably wouldn’t be enough to stop it, but it was better than doing nothing. Head wounds tended to bleed, didn’t they? It didn’t mean it was something serious, but it could be.
He let out a quick breath. Damn it. He wished he’d paid more attention when he’d watched Clara at work. Why had he agreed to disguise himself a medic? In this situation when that was exactly what was needed, he was next to useless.
“We can’t stay here,” Michel said. “Can you tie something around the bandage so it keeps the pressure on it when we move him?”
“Keep pressure on the wound while I look.” Kristopher searched around in his bag, ripped some more of the bandaging material, and tied it quickly. His hands were shaking, but at least there didn’t seem to be any blood seeping through the original cloth he’d put over the wound. “I think that should hold it for now.”
Michel handed Kristopher the flashlight and then lifted the boy into his arms. “What’s your name?” he asked softly when the boy opened his eyes and looked up at him.
“Fritz,” the boy replied, his voice wavering. He put his arms around Michel’s neck and clung to him. Thankfully he seemed more alert than he had a few moments before.
“Hello, Fritz. I’m Michel and this is Paul,” Michel said. “We’re going to keep you safe, I promise.”
“You promise?” Fritz’s earlier confidence was gone. “I didn’t think it was so dark. I know this place. I shouldn’t have tripped.” He glared at the ground. “Stupid thing. Stupid stupid. Everything looks different.” He sniffled loudly, and wiped one dirty hand over his face.
“Do you remember the way to the bunker, Fritz?” Kristopher asked. Michel was watching Fritz carefully, holding the boy close to him. His grip had tightened at the first sign of Fritz’s distress.
“I don’t need to put you down,” Michel reassured Fritz. “You can still guide us while I’m holding you.”
“I don’t want to walk.” Fritz bit his lip. He looked around and then pointed to a street to their left. “If we go down there it’s only about ten minutes away.” They’d never reach the bunker in time before it closed.
“There isn’t one closer?” Michel asked.
“It’s the one I know about,” Fritz said somewhat defensively. “Mutter told me if something happened I should go to it.”
“Where’s your mother now?” Kristopher asked. The light from the flashlight was dying quickly. They had to hurry.
“I don’t know. She went to get my baby sister but she never came downstairs.” Fritz stuck his chin out. “I waited like she said, even when I heard the loud noises and people crying.”
“You live around here?” Kristopher hoped Fritz’s family had survived this. They’d have to try and reunite them or at least find someone who could look after him before they left Stuttgart.
Fritz nodded. Whatever his wound, it seemed as though it was definitely superficial or he wouldn’t be talking as much as he was. “I went looking for her, and I couldn’t find her.”
“You sound much better, Fritz. Do you think you could walk?” Michel asked.
“I don’t want to lose you and Paul too,” Fritz said. He let Michel put him down and then put one small hand into Michel’s.
“You won’t lose us,” Michel promised. “Keep holding my hand and Paul will look after the flashlight. We can work together.”
“Michel’s very good at working together,” Kristopher told Fritz. He shone the flashlight around. The further out into the street they got, the more rubble there was. It wasn’t safe to move too quickly and at this speed they’d never reach the shelter before daylight. He glanced up at the sky. Most of the flashes of light seemed to now be focused toward the city centre. “I’m wondering if it’s safer to stay here, but get as far away from the buildings as we can, and wait for daylight.”
“We don’t know how long this raid is going to last,” Michel said, “but we need to make a decision.” Something creaked and groaned to the side of them. “Move!” Michel yelled. He picked up Fritz and ran back the way they’d come. Kristopher didn’t stop to see what was going on behind him. He followed.
Moments later, more rubble hit the street where they’d just been standing. If they’d stayed there they would have been buried in it.
Kristopher shone the flashlight on it and shivered. “I think finding the shelter is the least of our problems,” he said. “We need to get out into the open. It’s not just more bombings that could kill us, but the buildings that are already damaged.”
“I know a place,” Fritz said after Michel put him down. “I’ll show you.” He took hold of Michel’s hand again. “You and Paul are soldiers.” He pointed to the Red Cross on Kristopher’s arm. “You’ll stay and help look after all the hurt people, won’t you? Vater is a soldier too. He’s fighting at the front. Mutter says he’s very brave.”
“Yes, we’ll stay and help,” Michel said before Kristopher could say anything. He squeezed Fitz’s hand. “We’ll also help you find your mother, or at least someone who can look after you.” He looked over at Kristopher and gave him a questioning look.
“Of course we will,” Kristopher said, wondering why Michel felt he’d even had to ask.
My next project is On Wings of Song which is a WW1 novella which begins in France in 1914. I’ve had the idea for a while, and as this year is the centenary of the beginning of the war, it felt like the right time to write it. And of course The Harp and The Sea.
After that, and book 3 of The Sleepless City, I’m focusing on working on/finishing the series I already have in progress.
Q: To wrap up, please describe for me the single most satisfying thing about being an author. When and how does it happen? A Seeing my ideas and characters take shape as I write, and having others enjoy my stories. It’s a scary thing putting a bit of myself out there, but even if each book just touches one person it’s worth it. I write the stories I want to read, or otherwise what’s the point?
LS—Your writing has certainly touched me, and I know I’m not alone, so thanks for taking the chance! And thank you, Anne, for being my guest today! Come back soon.
Hello class! The third level course in Gay Romance according to Vasquez and James commences with a look at the sweet and slightly ridiculous events of their wedding. We’re using book three in the series, Finding Jackie as ‘text.’ As you will recall from Sonny’s proposal (Delsyn’s Blues, read from p. 74 for full context, through p. 80), and Luki’s acceptance (continue through p89), Luki wanted to have the wedding in Hawaii, because his mother and beloved uncle Kaholo come from that Pacific paradise. In Finding Jackie, we join them there for the event, and they are looking good! No that is not them in the picture (which comes to us courtesy a gay wedding firm called Purple Unions). Luki and Sonny were much like that (happy and kissy and sexy) only loads more fabulous and dressed to the nines. On page 9:
Luki’s suit fit loosely, almost blousy, giving him plenty of room for his muscled chest and shoulders, yet at the same time it had been tailored so perfectly that, while it only showed off some of Luki’s curves and planes, it eloquently promised the rest. He wore a tie of barely blue silk, woven by Sonny with a subtle, obscured pattern of lauburu—the Basque Cross… .
Sonny wore white silk, an Italian cut customized for his height and slightly broader shoulders, following closely the slim lines of his elegant frame. He wore a white ribbon shirt, with the remaining three sacred colors in the ribbons—narrow strips of a blue so deep it was almost black, golden yellow, and dark red. They crossed his chest and climbed his shoulders, then hung from his shoulder blades in the back, hidden now under his jacket. The two silk-covered buttons of Sonny’s light-weight, summer wool jacket had been set with diamonds at the center. A silk scarf woven—like the ribbons on his shirt—of the four sacred colors from his tribal heritage, fluttered at his chest in the slight breeze.
After the sexy wedding, it’s the honeymoon, Vasquez and James style, starting with Hawaiian beaches. One interesting encounter in which Sonny demonstrates his relative prudishness (as compared to Luki) begins on page 17 of your text. Note the guy in the photo (courtesy Kauai-gay-massage.com) isn’t Luki or Sonny, but he is freakin’ hot!
“That’s a tough color to match,” Sonny said, finally making some notes when he couldn’t quite duplicate the blue a hundred feet from shore. He wondered, though, if he was only having a hard time because of Luki’s eyes. They were all over him. Even though he didn’t turn to look, he could feel them on every inch of his skin—even the most hidden and intimate. He was getting really warm despite the breeze off the sea, and he really didn’t think it had to do with the sun. He loved the feeling, but enough was enough, and he took hold of Luki’s ice water—why waste his own? He turned and leaned toward Luki, glass in hand, but Luki saw what he was up to. Being ever so much quicker and more capable, Luki simply stopped him, rolled, and stood up.
“Brat,” he said.
“You were making me nervous.”
“I was not,” Luki said as he dusted sand off his rented surfboard.
“Okay. True. You were making me hot.”
“Good, Sonny. That’s good. You’re yummy when you’re hot.”
Sonny laughed and tossed the water from his own glass toward Luki, but Luki evaded it and headed down the beach to the edge of the ocean.
Sonny had worried that Luki wouldn’t enjoy the ocean, what with his history with rivers, almost drowning twice, once involving a knife and once involving a bomb. And last year he’d said he didn’t like being on the water, when they took the boat out to Mack Money’s island in the San Juans. He needn’t have feared. Luki took to surfing like he was born to it. And maybe it was something inherited, something hidden in the genes until opportunity arose.
Kaholo had surfed one day before he left, and as old as he was, his body remembered its Hawaiian youth. He let out a “whoop” once, riding just ahead of the crest of a wave, that reminded Sonny of his own uncle, Melvern, at a powwow. So maybe Luki came by his affinity for board and surf naturally. Whatever the explanation, once Luki had a couple lessons, he hardly left the water. He didn’t try any giant combers, of course, and even on a smaller wave his ride didn’t always succeed. He had some spectacular crashes, and sported a gash on his already scarred left cheek from hitting the board fin.
“It figures,” Luki had said, pressing his palm against it.
But even that hadn’t freaked him out about the water and surfing. Because now, here they were, seventy-two hours before they were due to fly out of Honolulu airport, in the heat of the warmest midafternoon yet. Sonny joined Luki in the waves—he liked them well enough. They were so different from the cold, rocking current of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where he swam regularly, or at least took a dip almost every day except in a freeze. Here, the water was a whole different kind of playmate. But after Sonny had played a while, he left Luki to surf the aqua sea, and walked up the beach, raising white sand in the miniscule breeze. He shook out his towel and collapsed onto it.
He lay on the beach, then, letting the sun and breeze dry his skin, his eyes almost closed, drowsy but not sleeping, surreptitiously watching Luki’s play. Because that’s what it was, Luki at play in the surf, and Sonny loved it. Loved the very idea of it. And Sonny couldn’t get enough of seeing Luki overfull of joy. He was just thinking that maybe they should never leave this place, when Luki brought some of that joy—dripping wet joy, it turned out—to share with Sonny. He heeled his board into the sand just like an experienced beach bum, and then flopped down right on top of Sonny.
In one of his most articulate moments, Sonny exclaimed, “Ah! Wet!”
“Kiss me,” Luki responded. “That will be wet, too.”
“Ooh,” Sonny said, because Luki was lying flat on top of him, and there were some interesting contact points.
“I know. Ooh.” Luki wiggled a little.
“Okay, sorry, baby.” Luki started to lift himself off Sonny, but Sonny grabbed him by the shoulders, locking his long arms.
“No! You can’t get up right now. My feelings have become obvious and anybody might walk by. Children. Grandmothers. Lifeguards.”
“Okay, okay. But don’t be silly. There are no lifeguards on this beach—”
“You never know.”
“And I haven’t seen a grandmother around here for at least two days—”
“I’m sure they’ll be back.”
“And I haven’t seen any children here at all.”
“First time for everything.”
“Fine. Try to get ahold of your—”
“Emotions. I’m just gonna move a little to one side, like that”—Luki demonstrated—“so things aren’t quite so… intimate. ’Kay?”
Luki managed little by little to put some distance between them, and both the men sat up. “Phew,” Sonny said, and they laughed.
Knowing the importance of having the most glorious possible honeymoon and doing everything Sonny wanted to do, Luki agreed to a three-phase honeymoon, part two of which was to be a brief stay in Seattle, since Sonny(aka Dr. James) had to be there anyway to lecture on dyes and fibers. By the time they got into their rather posh hotel room at the Monaco, trouble had already begun to rear it’s ugly head, as is unfortunately the way of things with Vasquez and James. Trouble from outside (see the prologue and pages 34 through 37), and of course, trouble from inside, mostly Luki, the twerp (see pages 22-23). But trouble did not stop them from taking a very hot and steamy bath. We’ll start on page 48 to set the scene and move right into the NSFW from there.
Luki’s eyes followed his husband, who paced from side to side, peeked around curtains and walls, opened doors. He made a sound, something like “Mm,” knowing Sonny wasn’t really looking for a response, but would appreciate knowing Luki was paying attention. He also smiled. Something about the quirky way Sonny settled himself into a space was too sweet for words.
“You know what I need to do, honey?”
Luki noted with glee that Sonny had begun to strip. This time, when he said, “Mm,” he didn’t have to feign interest.
“I need to get in that bathtub—do you see that thing? It’s like a swimming pool. I need to get in there and soak, all nice and relaxed, and take in that wallpaper until it seems normal to me.”
The man is fucking crazy, Luki thought, both disappointed and surprised. Sonny was already in the bathroom, fine-tuning the water temperature. Luki put his hands in his pockets—not a characteristic posture at all, but he was at a loss. He literally jumped when Sonny whooped and yelled.
“Yes! There’s bubble bath in here!”
Now, Luki was so nonplussed that he sat down on the couch, rather hard. When he tried to think of something he might be doing the only two things that came to mind were jerking off—which he dismissed immediately—and eating a hamburger. He considered the hamburger carefully, decided against, and got up to wander into the strangely wall-papered, thoroughly lavender-scented bathroom.
“This is a big tub, Luki.”
Luki stepped closer to Sonny and pushed a long strand of dark hair off his chest, letting it join its fellows falling down Sonny’s back.
Sonny grabbed Luki’s belt at the buckle and made as if to undo it. “Get in, Luki. There’s room. Look.” He lifted a foot out of the water. “See, my feet don’t even reach all the way to the other side. Not crowded at all.”
Luki stood silent, chewing his lip. He wasn’t one for shower play, which Sonny knew. It just reminded him too much of lonelier days. He never took baths, especially bubble baths. And, he really, really didn’t want to smell like flowers. But he loved his husband so much, and there the man was, asking for this simple, little thing.
“Luki, take a bath with me. Come on.”
Luki started to strip, tossing his clothes back out onto the chair in the bedroom. He was, of course, hard by the time he was naked, which was something Sonny certainly didn’t fail to notice, even though he said nothing. Luki stood there, feeling confused, never before having realized that deciding how to get into a bathtub and situate oneself was so difficult.
“Luki, you can just sit on that side, facing me so I can look at your eyes and we can talk. Okay? That way you won’t feel so awkward.”
“I’m pretty sure there’s something in that statement I should scold you for, Sonny Bly, I just haven’t figured out what it is,” Luki said while climbing in and turning around and sitting down as instructed. But once he settled, his hands found Sonny’s legs, and he couldn’t help but rub them. And then Sonny found his foot, and as Sonny well knew, Luki’s toes were really sensitive. And Sonny played with them. All the while they looked each other in the eyes.
“Luki,” Sonny said, finally, “you don’t play in the shower.”
“No. What’s your point?”
For answer, Sonny took Luki’s foot and laid it along his own erection, which was one of the sexiest things that had ever happened to Luki. Then Sonny took his size a-very-large-number foot, with its long, nearly prehensile toes, and not too gently stroked it up and down Luki’s cock, and Luki spent a few seconds catching his breath.
“This isn’t a shower,” Sonny said.
Luki nodded. “Right.”
Sonny let a little water out, added some hot to adjust the temperature. “We could fuck here, if we so desired, which I do.” Sonny actually looked hopeful, as if he was a little afraid Luki would say no, or maybe scoff.
Luki wasn’t about to do either one. Sonny was the most beautiful, lovable, eminently fuckable person on the planet, and Luki wasn’t about to fail him. As he’d explained to Sonny just the other day, fucking Sonny happy was his personal joy. He licked his lips. “Come here, baby.”
Sonny more or less slithered up Luki’s body, dragging his weight over Luki’s flesh until he’d brought his lips even with Luki’s. He stopped, offering his slightly open lips, but waiting for Luki to take them. Luki did, starting with a suck and nibble of Sonny’s lower lip, then licking with just the hard tip of his tongue along the underside of Sonny’s upper lip. He kept it up, nibbling, sucking, licking, lingering at the sensitive corners. Sonny made a move to kiss back, but Luki pulled away, and answered Sonny’s widened eyes by kissing them. He smiled, biting his own lip, made sure Sonny saw the expression, then whispered in his ear. “Just let me do whatever I want to you, baby, okay? It’ll be good, I promise, and when I want you to kiss me back, I’ll tell you. Okay?”
“Oh!” Sonny’s breath puffed out; then he nodded. “Okay,” he said. “Yes, Luki. Okay.”
The water, hot and ever so slightly silky from the bubble bath, made touching—running his hands along Sonny’s back, over his ass, down his legs—a little bit different than touching had ever been before, for Luki. And by different he meant, damn, that’s nice! And Sonny, who was never, ever still unless specifically instructed, kept squirming and rocking, moving his body side to side over Luki’s. And the water lifted him just a little bit so Luki felt little weight on him, only a teasingly sweet, achingly light friction.
He pulled his lover tight against his chest. “Sonny, baby, you are so damn sweet!”
Sonny was not very coherent. “Mmm, mm… ooooh! Luki!”
Luki chuckled. He couldn’t help it. Then he took hold of Sonny’s forelock and tilted his head back until he was sure he had Sonny’s eyes, and he said, “Stick out your tongue.”
Sonny did so, a little, and said, “Aauuh?”
Luki smiled. “More.”
When Sonny obeyed, he said, “Yeah, like that.” Then he laid his own tongue alongside it, teased it, licking at its tip, and finally closed his lips around it and sucked it into his mouth, meanwhile invading Sonny’s mouth with his own tongue, and touching every part of Sonny he could reach with any limb, and rocking Sonny over him, cock to cock, chest to chest. At some point he said, “Okay, kiss me back, Sonny.” Finally, after a long interval of bliss, or else torture, Luki asked the question he almost always asked when they made love. “What do you want, baby?”
Unlike his earlier efforts at speech, Sonny answered clear and concise. “Fuck me.” Then he buried his face in Luki’s neck, where he commenced licking, sucking, and yes, even biting.
Luki gasped at the sensations that weren’t quite tickle, weren’t quite pain, “So you’re serious, you want to fuck here? In the bath?”
“Turn over, baby, and turn around; get up on your knees. I want your ass right here, up close and personal.”
There’s more to that bath, but that’s it for the lecture. Read on to the bliss in your text for extra credit. If you don’t own the text, click on the cover image up at the top for a link to Dreamspinner. Also available at Amazon, All-Romance E-books, etc (like all the V&J books). Thanks for coming to class… see you next time!
For those who wonder, Gay Romance University resumes class tomorrow with GRU 301; the text is Finding Jackie, Vasquez and James book 3 (for those that like to be prepared).
After GRU studies Vasquez and James we will be moving on to learning about Gay Romance from other characters, by other authors. Should be fun, starting later this month. Stay tuned. (I’m considering opening a new school also, Sexy Gay Romance University. Feedback on this idea welcome.)
I’m working on making a website, of which this blog will be a part, as will pages for the University posts, my published works, free fiction, featured authors, reviews, and who knows! I’m working on having some type of grand opening event. Ideas welcome!
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.”
London: Being the third stop in the Saving Sonny James Road Trip Blog Tour Vasquez and James adventure
Sonny slept the whole way from Ashford to King’s Cross Station in London. It wasn’t a long trip, but as they deboard Sonny thinks Luki must be getting tired of that scenario–he’d slept from France to England too.
“I’m sorry, Luki.”
Luki looked slightly up into Sonny’s eyes, something close to confusion written on his face. “I don’t mind, baby. If you need to sleep, sleep. Gather your strength.”
“C’mon, Luki. Don’t pretend I’m not boring you silly.”
“True story is, Mr. Sonny James, you’re an awful sweet husband to cuddle, and your various snores keep me interested.”
“I don’t snore.”
“Will you teach me how to record with my phone, so I can play it back it next time?”
They’ve arrived in London just as dark has fallen, though the lights of the millenium city keep the deepest dark at bay and almost hide the moon and stars. They’ve contacted Brian Harrison, Luki’s former agent who, in the tale told in Finding Jackie helped rescue Luki’s teenage nephew from a nightmare. He left Luki’s employ and came to London to escape Jackie, because–even though he’s only a few years older–he knew the feelings he had for the childlike but scarily mature seventeen-year-old would have to wait until Jackie dealt with demons and came of age.
But instead of breaking the fever, the separation has cured Brian’s feelings into a low-level but ever present yearning, a haunting kind of love. Sonny never knew him well, but he knew the story, and the minute he saw Brian’s face in the light outside Cannon Street station, he read the loneliness there and understood its source. He glanced at Luki to see if he read his former agent as well. An expression passed over Luki’s face, perhaps of puzzlement. It seemed he knew something wasn’t right, but he didn’t know what.
“Hey, Luki! Sonny! It’s good to see you. You look tired–probably too much travel. I didn’t even know you guys were over on this side of the Atlantic. Did you go to France for a delayed honeymoon, or something?”
“Well–” Luki started to answer.
“Yes,” Sonny interjected. “Paris is something else.” He had no desire to relive for Brian the nightmare Lou Sylvre (their author) had put them through in Saving Sonny James.
“Well,” Brian chuckled, “I’ve never been there. Maybe someday… if I ever have a honeymoon…”
“He’ll be eighteen in a couple months, you know.” Sonny wanted to chuckle seeing Luki’s surprise, quickly followed by the dawn of understanding, but he didn’t want to seem flippant.
Brian stayed silent as they walked away from the station entrance, then said. “I hope you don’t mind–we’re not far from my neighborhood–I share a flat near the college with some other students. I thought we’d just take the bus.”
“Sure,” Luki said. “So how are you doing? School? Everything else?”
“School’s good–a lot to learn as you probably already know, boss.” He smiled.
Luki raised his eyebrows and nodded. “Yeah, a lot of new stuff since I was in school, and I’m sure you’re better suited to learn it. But what about everything else?”
Brian laughed, low and not really with much humor. “Well, I know he’s going to be eighteen soon–thanks for the reminder Sonny–but I’ll wait. He’s got other stuff to figure out. I send him a card every now and then, he texts me thanks, but nothing else.”
“Sorry, Brian,” Luki said.
“Brian,” Sonny said, “if it’s meant to be it will. If you’re waiting, it’s only because you choose to wait, and think it’s worth waiting for something that’s not a sure bet. I’d lay my money down betting someday the two of you will have something together, but of course none of us know.”
“Hey, Luki, ever eat a lamburger?”
Sonny smiled, understanding Brian’s remark as a permanent change of subjct.
Luki looked a bit lost, “Um…”
“I know a place, called The Don Bistro, where they serve a fabulous one. I think you’ll like it as much as much as Dick’s Drive-in’s hamburgers.”
They stopped first at Brian’s apartment, and Sonny felt a little shell-shocked. Luki looked a lot shell-shocked. After they’d taken in the smell, the stack of fly-strewn dishes, and the apparently drunken state of two of Brian’s roommates, they looked at each other and by unspoken agreement kissed each other to keep from embarrassingly loud laughter.
Luki whispered in Sonny’s ear. “Oh my god, baby, I’ve never been so glad to be forty-two!”
Brian said, “Uh… well, listen if you guys aren’t too tired for another bus ride, let’s go eat.”
They did. The Don was fabulous. Luki had the recommended lamburger with carmelized onions, and Sonny had a rib-eye, Scottish beef, with mushrooms. They both had fries and local beer chosen by Brian. Brian, it turned out had become a vegetarian, and had risotto with veggies and gorgonzola, and bean salad.
After a fabulous dinner completed by great conversation and Luki’s repeated promise that he’d rehire the young man whenever he wanted, they thanked Brian, Luki slipped money into Brian’s coat, and they decided to get a hotel room rather than try to brave Brian’s apartment for the night.
On the street, watching for a cab, Luki put an arm around Sonny–protecting him from anything that might be hiding in the fog, Sonny thought.
Luki said, “I know a place I think you’d like, Sonny. Called the Hand and Flower. It’s a bit out of the way–Chelsea, I think. But we’ll have time to get to the airport tomorrow without rushing. What do you think? Not exactly luxury, but… history, and, um… beauty, maybe.”
“I think so. I can’t explain.”
They went, and Sonny did love the polished wood, decorative iron work railings, lush colors and papers on the wall. The Hand and Flower had history, and that made it feel rich to Sonny, luxurious even though the quarters seemed a bit cramped.
He walked around the small suite, carrying his bottle of wine, but when he saw the bed…
“Luki, let’s go to bed.”
“You’re tired again, baby?”
“No. I don’t think so. Not at all, at the moment. See?” He looked down at the bulge that had developed behind his zipper.
Luki’s eyes followed Sonny’s lead, seemingly of their own accord, though Ms. Sylvre always says that can’t be true–autonomous body parts and all. Still, Ms. Sylvre never has had an erection, or (apparently) unruly eyes that go where their lover leads.
“Yes,” Luki said. “But I’d like to see more.”
Sonny smiled, giggled even, and with a flourish of his free hand, reached for his zipper. Ever so slowly, he un-zipped, revealing–yes, you guessed it–red silk beneath. He took his hand away, pushing his jeans down just a bit, and his penis gave a mighty push at the silk, trying to break free (ABP again), but only succeeding in peeking out.
Luki’s breath escaped in a loud puff, and he took the wine bottle from Sonny and plunked it on the side table. Then he pushed his body against Sonny until his sweet, beautiful husband fell back on the bed, his mouth already wet and craving a taste of his favorite dessert–husband, hot and a la creme.
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This blog is not pornography, however it will from time to time include material suitable for adults. If you are not of legal age in the country where you live, please leave the site. Thank you. Others, proceed at your own discretion, and please enjoy!