An Interview with Adam Highland from ‘Phoenix Rising’ by Kimberley Gardner
I arrive early at the coffee shop where I’m meeting Adam Highland, one of
the heroes from my debut novel, Phoenix Rising. He’s not there yet so I get
myself a latte and sit at one of the little, round tables by the front
window. I set my digital recorder and my notebook on the table and settle in
A few minutes later I see him. He crosses the street and walks up the block
toward the coffee shop, moving with that unconscious grace that is so
particular to dancers and athletes. Though there’s nothing in his demeanor
to tell me that Adam is aware of his affect on people, I know that he is.
Very much so.
He enters the shop, sees me and gives me a wave as he makes his way up to
the counter. All eyes, male and female, follow him. And why not? Nearly six
feet tall and with the build of a classically trained ballet dancer, Adam is
a pleasure to look at. his dark hair is tied back in a thick tail that falls
to his waist. The style shows off the array of silver hoops that line his
ear from lobe to cartilage and accentuates his high cheekbones and
As he orders he leans on the counter, faded denim pulling tight across his
ass, and I imagine I hear several appreciative sighs from surrounding
tables. It makes me smile. I like that people enjoy looking at him.
Adam accepts his drink and says something to the barista that makes the boy
laugh and blush. I wonder what it was.
I get up from my chair as he approaches. He sets down his coffee. We hug and
he kisses my cheek.
“Thanks for doing this interview,” I say.
“Hey, anything for the cause.”
“Well, almost anything.”
We both laugh and take our seats. I flip open my notebook and reach for my
He eyes the recorder warily as he tears open the first of several sugar
packets. “You’re going to record me?”
I nod. “I don’t want to miss anything. That’s okay, isn’t it?”
He shrugs. “I guess so. I just hate how I sound on tape, you know?”
“It’s okay. People will be reading the interview. The recording is just for
“And you already know how I sound.”
I watch as he dumps four sugars into his coffee and stirs. When he raises
the cup to his lips I discretely turn on the recorder and pick up my pen.
Adam is a fetish model and doing very well at it too, so that’s where I
start the interview.
“So how’s the modeling going?”
He shrugs. “It’s fine, easier than stripping, and the money’s good.”
I suppress a sigh. It’s not what he really feels, I’m almost sure. I try a
“How does Jimmy feel about your new career?”
He smiles at the mention of his lover’s name, the look in his eyes going
soft and dreamy and I know I’ve chosen well.
“he’s my biggest fan.” Adam sips his coffee. “He owns dozens of my pics. Has
them hanging all over the house. It’s sort of embarrassing.”
But the way his smile deepens I know that he loves it too.
“And he’s okay with his partner having such a …” I search for the right
He helps me out. “Bold profession?”
I laugh. “Bold?”
“Jimmy’s word. I think it fits though, don’t you?”
I nod. “But he’s okay with that.”
“Sure. He knows I’m not shy. I was a stripper when we met. “
I reach for my own coffee and take a sip. “When he was still in the closet.”
“Yeah. Except he’d never call it that. He’d say he was just being discrete.”
He adds yet another sugar to his cup and gives it a stir.
“And he’s not anymore? Discrete, I mean.”
“He isn’t marching in any pride parades or anything, but he’s open about
being gay now. I couldn’t be with him if he was still hiding.” He sips his
coffee. Sets it down. “You should know that. After all, it’s your book.”
“But it’s your story,” I counter.
He smiles. “yeah, it is, mine and Jimmy’s.”
I decide to take the interview in another direction. “Will the two of you ever get married?”
“Jimmy already asked me.”
“And what did you say?”
“I said, maybe we should wait and see if it becomes legal in this state.”
“And what if it does, then what?” When he hesitates I press a little.
“Suppose for a minute that gay marriage became legal here in Pennsylvania
tomorrow. Then what?”
Long fingers toy with one of the empty sugar packets. “I love Jimmy and he
loves me. We don’t need some piece of paper to make that real.”
“So this is the real deal. You’re sure?”
“Have you ever been in love before?” I doodle a heart in my notebook and put
their initials inside.
“I thought I was, but it wasn’t the real thing. Not like this.”
“And how do you know?”
“I feel it.” He lays his palm against the center of his chest, over his
heart. “In here. I feel it.”
“When did you first know?”
“The night I met him.” There’s no hesitation. None.
“So it was love at first site? You believe in that?” I add a lightning bolt
to my drawing, striking the heart.
He nods. “The French call it coup de foudre, a clap of thunder.” He claps
his hands and several people glance our way but he doesn’t seem to notice.
“A lot of people think that’s bullshit. But it happened to me so …”
“So you’re a believer.”
“I didn’t know you spoke French.” The heart now wears a beret.
He laughs. “I don’t. I took it in high school, but coup de foudre is about
the only thing that stuck besides all that ballet terminology.”
“What about kids? Do you ever see yourselves as parents?”
“I don’t know.” He picks up the stirrer, sliding it through his fingers. His
teeth worry his lower lip. “That’s a big responsibility, you know? I
wouldn’t want to screw it up. Jimmy would be a good father, but me …”
“Who’s the dominant one in the relationship?”
“You mean who tops?” He grins and his dark eyes sparkle with mischief. “You
ought to know since you wrote the love scenes.”
“Um, that’s not really what I meant.” Now it’s me who blushes and I wonder
again what he said to barista-boy.
But Adam never misses a beat. “I know what you meant. We’re pretty much
equal partners in everything.” He lays the stirrer on the table beside the
pile of empty sugar packets. “Jimmy is strong in some ways and I’m strong in
others, so we balance each other. That’s the way it should be, I think. We
don’t live the d/s lifestyle or anything so dominance isn’t really an
“I’ve seen pictures of you where you look like the perfect submissive.”
“That’s just pretend. It’s my job to make it look real, but it’s just an
“Some of your friends are into the scene.”
“Yeah, Jason and Shannon are both dominant and they really live the life,
though Jason isn’t with anybody right now.”
“What about that? There’s a scene in the novel where you needle Benny pretty
hard about his crush on Jason. Anything happening there?”
He finishes his coffee and sets down the empty cup. “You’re the one writing
the sequel. You tell me.”
“Geez, what a slave-driver,” I tease. “I’m working on it.”
“no, the slave-master is in the other story. You should get yourself an
assistant to help keep this stuff straight.”
“I’ve already got a job, remember?” He laughs. “So, how many scenes am I
“It’s not your story.”
“I know. But Jason and Benny need my help. Otherwise they might never get
“I’ll see what I can do.”
He glances at his watch. It’s a nice one, but I don’t remember him ever
wearing a watch before and I wonder where it came from.
“Do you need to get going?” I finish my own coffee.
He gives me an apologetic look. “I’m meeting Jimmy for lunch.” He looks at
his watch again. “And I really don’t want to be late.”
“Nice watch.” I turn off the recorder and start gathering up my stuff. “You
never used to wear a watch. Did you?”
Adam stands. He picks up our empty cups and our other trash from the table.
“No, but Jimmy gave it to me.”
He says this like it’s all the explanation that’s needed, and, given what I
know about him, I suppose it is.
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