Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

“Crossing Borders”

Available at Loose Id


Tristan Phillips

Z.A. Maxfield


When I entered the waiting room of St. Jude Hospital to find Tristan, he was sitting quietly with his eyes closed in the same area where I’d met Emma Truax, the injured officer’s mother. A case could be made that this corner of the waiting room had become a kind of command center for the friends of Officer Truax, littered as it was with pink donut boxes, fast food containers, newspapers, and empty paper coffee cups. Two men in uniform, arms folded, were catching a wink or two while they waited for word.

No one paid Tristan Phillips much attention, and as I gazed at him, seeing how deeply shadowed the circles were under his eyes and how boldly the freckles stood out on his pale skin I felt rather sorry for him. His long hair was tangled around his face, curling slightly where he’d slept on it. He looked terribly young.

“Tristan?” I spoke softly, but he jumped as though he’d been tased anyway.

“Hm? What?” He looked around anxiously, trying to gauge if anything important had happened. Seeing the quiet way the two officers in the room were dozing seemed to reassure him. “Oh.” He held out his hand. “From Michael’s cable interview, right?”

I shook his hand and introduced myself. “Sloane Mayfield. How is Michael?”

Tristan’s lips compressed into a line. “I’m afraid I couldn’t tell you very much.”

“I’m sorry. I understood you to be his friend?” I was checking my notes. I was sure Emma Truax told me Tristan Phillips was–

“I am his friend.” He seemed to crystallize, in that moment, and something hard appeared in his eyes. “I’m just not his family.”

“I see.” I said. “So you don’t know his condition.”

“He’s going to be perfectly fine,” he stated defiantly. “Whatever his condition.”

“That is good news,” I said, and he looked away.

“How did you meet Officer Truax?” I asked him.

“I… He gave me a ticket for skateboarding without a helmet back when I was in high school.” The kid had a smile that could power a rocket.

I laughed. “That’s unusual, to become friends with someone because they ticketed you.”

“I didn’t become friends with him because of that.” Tristan said. “I was pissed as hell when that happened. That was years ago. We became friends just recently.”

“And then,” I prompted.

“Officer Truax—Michael—is a really fine person.” Tristan smiled at something and I thought it was a fond memory, maybe. He worried the piercing in his tongue a little before he went on. “A lot of people look up to him.”

“Why is that, Tristan?”

“He’s smart and funny. It’s like he thinks it’s his job to protect the world. And just when you’re sure he’s going to meet you for dinner wearing tights and a cape…” at this Tristan looked down, and his Adam’s apple bobbed on the long column of his throat. “He’s wise enough to ask for what he needs.” Incredibly blue eyes met mine and I realized I couldn’t go with the story I’d just been given. Not on a cable television show in conservative Orange County.

“I see.”

“I imagine you do.” Tristan said dryly, looking down at his folded hands. “I get to see him every few hours for five minutes. Now that I have his mother’s permission. Before that I sat here for hours listening to them give more information out in press conferences than they would share with me.”

“That sucks,” I whispered.

Those eyes shot up again, and he grinned in an irrepressible way I found to be rather…beautiful. “Yeah, but you should have heard her when she got here. For the purposes of this discussion this man is also my son, Tristan’…” he mimicked.

Having met Emma Truax, I could only imagine.

“What’s going to happen?” I asked. “To the two of you?”

Tristan looked at his shoes, beat up Van’s, which had to have been skate park veterans since the arguably young Tristan’s Dogtown days. “I have no idea,” he said, leaning over to speak in confidence. His eyes glittered but he blinked rapidly, looking at the ceiling, until he got a grip. He was wound tighter than the ‘e’ string on a violin.

“But this? I can never go through this again, man. Never.

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Interview with Officer Michael Truax

Crossing Borders

Z.A. Maxfield

Buy at: http://www.loose-id.com/detail.aspx?ID=755

I took Officer Michael Truax, Officer Helmet, the kids call him, by the arm and led him to a spot in the skate park I thought would be good for a photograph of the two of us.

“I’m sorry I’m late Officer,” I said.

“That’s fine, Miss…”

“Sloane,” I told him. “Call me Sloane. ‘Miss Mayfield’ is my older sister the kindergarten teacher.” I gave him that smile, the one I use on camera but he seemed unfazed by it.

Together we paused while Dave, my photographer, snapped a dozen photographs in quick succession. He gave me a thumbs up, and I returned my attention to Truax.

“Okay, I have a list of questions to ask you,” I said, shuffling through my cards, and we’ll tape your answers.” I indicated where Dave should set up the cameras. “Let’s just go over there and do this. Remember, it’s only for cable, just act natural.”

“Sure,” he said. He followed along, and I got the feeling that nothing much ruffled Officer Truax. He seemed pretty easy going. As we walked, about half the kids called him by name, either Officer Mike or Officer Helmet.

“So,” I said, as soon as Dave had the cameras rolling. “Today we’re here with Officer Michael Truax, also known by the locals as Officer Helmet, and we’re going to talk to him about… Stop rolling… what is that sound?”

“Sorry, Sloane,” Officer Truax fumbled for his cell phone. “I have a text message coming in.” I waited while he read it. He tried to keep from smiling, but the serious expression wouldn’t stay on his face. It was then that I noticed how really, really blue his eyes were.

“Something you’d care to share?” I asked him, as he thumbed his answer into his phone’s keyboard.

“Oh, hell no,” he said, concentrating hard. “Although if we could make this quick, I have a lunch—”

“Okay,” I said, “How about you turn off your cell, and we can get through it all that much quicker.” He frowned.

“I’m sorry, I need to keep it on.”

“All right, well.” I said. “What is it that first made you interested in making sure that all the these children wear their helmets?”

Officer Truax looked over my head at some of the kids. “It’s my job. I don’t like to see people get hurt. And it really is easy, what I would call a no-brainer, to just slap on a helmet. Much better than the other kind of no-brainer, where your head cracks open and your brains fall out. I hate that.”

“I see.” I smiled. This was going to be so boring, even though he was as hot a man as I’d seen in months. Go figure. “Tell me,” I tried a different tack. “And the ladies who are watching. Is there a Mrs. Truax?”

“No, well. Except for my mother, you know.” Was he blushing? I hoped the cameras caught the twin spots of color on his cheeks.

“Well, maybe we could help you out? What do you look for in a woman, Officer Truax?” Time for eye contact with the camera. “I’m sure our viewers would like to know?”

He stared at me, sort of stunned. “I’m sure they’d rather hear about current bicycle safety laws,” he murmured.

“And I’m equally certain we have time for both, the business and the personal side of Officer Michael Truax in this segment,” I assured him.

“No. Well I don’t have time. I’m sorry.” Moments later, he had another text message and laughed harder.

“Everything all right?”

“Fine,” he said, smiling. “As long as I can get away fairly soon.”

“Ah, so this is a hot date,” I remarked.

“Well, it’s kind of a new thing,” he blushed again, and I thought if the cameras weren’t picking up on this, they’d be the only ones. You could see his ruddy cheeks from space.

“Seriously,” He cleared his throat and returned to the subject at hand. “If you’re going to do skate sports, such as inline skating or skate boarding it’s best to purchase a helmet like this,” he held up a photograph of a ProTec skateboard helmet. “If professional skaters wear these then I think it’s safe to say they should be worn by amateurs as well.”

Officer Truax’s phone chimed again. It wasn’t as if he couldn’t just turn the damned thing off. “Officer,” I began, but he cut me off.

“Ordinarily I could give you as much time as you need.” He smiled at me politely. “But I’m late for a lunch engagement, and we didn’t, after all, get started when we agreed.”

“Yes, I know,” I said. That’s my fault. I’m sorry I was late. I—”

Just then, Officer Truax looked beyond me, to a place in the center of the skate park where a young man with long coppery red hair was doing tricks on a skateboard. He executed a number of kick flips and a three-sixty, following it up by grinding along a metal pipe set low into the ground.

The boy’s helmetless head was covered in the most stunning red hair, which flew in the sunlight, streaming behind him. He was older than most of the kids there, maybe college age, and dressed in low slung drawstring khaki pants and a tight tee shirt that didn’t quite meet them. He wore a pair of loud scruffy shoes. He was beautiful. Breathtaking. Every eye was on him. He was like a flame, spinning out of control.

“Hey!” The boy stopped suddenly. Officer Truax cursed under his breath, but smiled a predatory kind of smile. “Hey you, Officer Helmet! Think you can catch me today?” The boy kicked his skateboard up into his hand and took off running.

Shit.” Officer Truax hissed. He looked determined, but there was something else–something indefinably happy–in his blue eyes as he took off running after that kid. I lost sight of the pair of them as first the redhead, and then Officer Truax rounded the corner out of sight behind the restrooms and out into the neighborhood beyond.

“That a wrap Miss Mayfield?” asked Dave.

“Unless you’re planning on running after them,” I said, disgusted.

When I gave my mike to the assistant, Rose. I was already trying to decide how best to cut the interview, such as it was, to fill my segment. Damn community cable.

Dave yelled, loud enough for everyone in the skate park to hear it, “That’s a wrap!”

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An interview with Zack Benjamin from “Zack and the Dark Shaft: Zara’s Bois 1”

This is the quietest I’ve seen Zara’s since it’s much ballyhooed and celebrated opening a couple of years back, but then it’s midday and the popular chic gay nightclub is empty but for a few delivery men and employees trying to get an early start on the weekend.

In several hours, not much longer, this place will be pumping with a mix of club, hip-hop, reggae and pop music to which its hip and trendy patrons will dance the night away and exotic drinks will be flowing from the bar on which the patrons will get tipsy and soused.

I drum my fingers on the lacquered top of the table where I’m sitting, nervously waiting for my subject to arrive as I admire the 3-D underwater murals on all the walls decorated in fluorescent paint that makes the sharks, dolphins, whales and rays glow under UV light.

I spy Zack rushing from the back area now where the owner’s office is and am not surprised that a second later, Zack is captured around the waist by said owner, and Zack’s husband, Quincy Powers.

Zack turns in the bigger man’s arms, seeming to melt against Quincy as he accepts the passionate kiss that his partner bestows upon him.

I had originally thought to interview the pair together, but didn’t think I would get very many questions answered in between all the drool-worthy, lovey-dovey kissing of the newlyweds. They really do make a great couple and I envy their closeness, but know it came at a cost.

I catch myself gaping and can see why Zara had risked so much to be with Quincy, even her brother Zack’s life. I can feel the heat of that kiss all the way from where I’m sitting and lower my eyes, feeling like a voyeur before they finally end it and Zack makes his way over to the table, still breathless.

“I’m sorry for the delay. Duty called.”

“No problem.” I smile at his explanation and watch as he forks a hand through his longish, caramel-brown hair, giving me a better view of his navy-blue eyes. They’re simultaneously penetrating and innocent, and for a moment I wonder who will be interviewing who.

“So how’s business?” I ask unnecessarily, biding my time before I get to what I really want to know.

“Business is great. The club is a real hit. Just like Zara predicted.”

“Is she happy with what you and Quincy have done with the place?”

“If she wasn’t happy, she wouldn’t have agreed to come work here with us.”

I nod, still biding my time before I ask, “So, how is married life treating you?”

“Is this on the record or off?” He chuckles so that I know he’s joking, and sits back in his chair, giving me the full wattage of his scampish grin.

I wonder how he and his partner get any work done being and working in each other’s company all day. I could see why Zara fell into the trap of thinking she could convert a gay man. Quincy and Zack are two hot and sexy guys, not to mention nice, and if they didn’t own up to it or I hadn’t seen them necking, I would never know they are gay.

“Married life is pretty sweet. The sex hasn’t tapered off yet like everyone said it would. It’s actually gotten hotter,” Zack answers.

“And that’s important to you? The sex?”

“Wouldn’t it be to you?” He glances over his shoulder where Quincy is conferring with one of his bartenders, then turns back around to face me with the most beatific expression on his face that I have ever seen on anyone. The look says it all—sex is not the end all and be all for him. Love is.

The look sidetracks me and I glance down at my notes to ground myself before a bartender brings over our drinks that Zack must have pre-ordered—both plain ginger ales. He remembered. I take a sip of my soda then ask, “How is your sister doing?”

“He…she’s doing okay.”

“Still getting used to her being in a man’s body, huh?” I almost laugh at the idea that I’m discussing reincarnation, and not just a sex change, so nonchalantly, but then I am having drinks in a club that until a few months ago was haunted by the ghost of Zack’s sister, Zara. Now the ghost was happy and settled in her new life as a man—Trevor—and living with his new love, Zara’s head bouncer, Ramsey Logan. Boy, I could see why Zack was tongue-tied. This was confusing.

“It’s a lot to get used to,” he said. “For the first twenty-four years of our lives she was my twin sister, a girl. Now she’s…” He shook his head. “It’s an adjustment.”

“And Trevor’s twin brother Travis? How is he adjusting?”

“I guess about the same as I am. We’re kind of sharing custody of Zara since she’s in Travis’s brother’s body. But at least she’s happy.”

“And in love?”

“Ramsey makes her as happy as I’ve ever seen her.”

“How are your parents taking it?”

“They don’t know Zara’s still…around. Can you imagine their reaction?”

I could only imagine how they would take the idea of their wild and irresponsible daughter now inhabiting the body of the formerly wild and irresponsible club boi, Trevor.

But on the other hand, if they could accept the marriage of their gay, white son to a gay black man, they might be able to accept Zara’s new incarnation.

“I think it’s just better to let sleeping dogs lie,” Zack murmured. “At least for now.”

I looked into his solemn eyes and nod.

Maybe one day in the not so distant future he and I can go and break the happy news to his and Zara’s parents, but for now I have to agree to let sleeping dogs lie. For now.


Zack and the Dark Shaft: Zara’s Bois 1 is available here:


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Interview with Adrien English

He is very drunk.

Preoccupied, tired, maybe a little lonely, he has let me refill his glass — ply him with liquor — in a way he ordinarily would not. It’s not good for him, for one thing — not with that tricky heart of his. And he knows he has a tendency to…rock himself in the waters. So he’s generally careful.

He’s generally careful about most things, and yet…yet he keeps getting involved in murder. And with the wrong men.

You can tell a lot about a guy when he drinks. Adrien English is not a sloppy drunk. In fact, he gets more careful. Very serious — owlish, even. But his dark hair falls untidily into his blue eyes, and he has this little trick of watching me from under his lashes. He’s not flirting, exactly…

He’s better looking than I expected. Better looking than he thinks — a lot better looking than he thinks. And yet it’s hard to put my finger on what it is. The eyes are lovely, of course. Nice nose. Stubborn chin. Mouth is a little too sensitive. Maybe it’s just the trick of good bone structure. He needs a haircut but his hands are clean, well-cared for.

No ring.

I start with that.

“How are things going with Guy? You’re still seeing him, right?”

He cocks a brow. I think he imagines it makes him look sardonic, but somehow it emphasizes the fact that his collar is undone one button too far, and his hair keeps falling in his eyes.

“Have you been talking to my mother?” he asks — he’s amused. Mostly.

“No. I just know at the end of The Hell You Say things were moving in that direction.”

“Ah.” He sips his fifth Italian margarita. “Things are good. Guy is…good.”

It’s my turn to raise an eyebrow. “What about all that occult stuff he’s into?”

He levels a long blue look at me and offers a kind of smirk. “Five fold kiss,” he says succinctly.

I have no idea what he’s talking about.

“So you’re happy?”

“Of course.” There must be something in his drink, the way he’s staring into those amber depths. “Everything is great. Everything is…going very well. We’re expanding the bookstore. And I just sold the film rights to my first book to Paul Kane’s production company.” He rubs his forehead — yes, he’s going to have one hell of a headache tomorrow morning. “Everything’s coming together. Natalie is working at Cloak and Dagger –”

I interrupt what is beginning to sound like rambling. “Do you ever hear from Angus?”

“Not so far…”

“How are you adjusting to Lisa’s remarriage? Do you like being part of a big family?”

“Oh my God!” he says, and that’s the first absolutely unguarded response he’s given. “Oh. My. God.” He raises his head and stares at me like…words fail him.

“It’s not going well?” Now that I didn’t expect. “But they all like you. They care –”

“Believe me,” he says. “I know.”

I have to bite my lip to keep a straight face. “Well, I think they’re good for you.”

He just gives me a long, dark long.

“I think you need more people in your life,” I insist. “Maybe even a cat.”

“A cat?”

“Every bookstore needs a cat.”

He rolls his eyes, and now he’s ignoring me. I study his profile. Yes, that is one stubborn chin.

You can tell guys who’ve grown up with money. Even though he’s just wearing Levis and a simple white tailored shirt, he has this…air. It’s more than grooming. It’s more than the well-worn Bruno Magli loafers or the Omega watch. I don’t think he realizes how much he’s been pampered, protected — not really.

“What is it about you that seems to attract murder and violence?” I ask.

“Me?” Now I have his full astonished attention. “If you’ll notice –” he’s enunciating very carefully “I haven’t been involved in a murder since — in nearly two years. Coincidence? I think not.”

“You don’t think you’re bad luck or suffering from Jessica Fletcher Syndrome or something like that?”

He’s giving me a hard, un-Adrien stare. “Why don’t you ask me what you really came here to ask me?” he says quietly.

It’s my turn to look away. When I glance back, he’s still watching me — I’m apparently having more trouble with this than he is.

“All right. Did you read my interview with Jake Riordan?”

His mouth twists. “Yeah. So?”

“What do you think?”

“What is there to think?”

“Do you think Jake’s happy with the choices he’s made?”

“How the hell should I know?”

“Are you happy with the choices he’s made?”

He opens his mouth, then closes it. Gives me a wry smile. All at once he seems a lot more sober. “He had to make the choices that were right for him, and I’m all right with that.”

“Do you think if Jake came out, you could forgive him?”

“There’s nothing to forgive.”

“Do you think if Jake came out, you could have a future together?”

He says flatly, “That will never happen. Jake will never come out.”

“But if he did –”

Impatiently, he says, “I don’t want to talk theoretical bullshit. He won’t. He can’t. It’s moot. There’s no point talking about it. There’s no point thinking about it.”

“All right, already.”

He grimaces, tosses off the rest of his margarita.

“Do you still love Jake?” I ask softly.

“No.” He doesn’t hesitate, he meets my eyes. He shakes his head.

“But you did? Once?”

His smile is a little bitter as he rises not quite steadily from the table. “Probably,” he says. “It was a long time ago.”


Find out more about the series of Adrien English Mysteries here.

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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
to wait.

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
model-perfect features.

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.”

“That’s right.”

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
different approach.

“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?”

“I’m 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.”

“You volunteering?”

“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.


Phoenix Rising is available from All Romance Ebooks


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Mani from ‘Space, Man’ by Sharon Maria Bidwell

When I wrote ‘Space, Man’ I wanted to hit a mildly comic note. It’s a ‘fling’ and therefore it’s intended to be a light, quick read. Some people have said they only wish it were longer and I admit I could have gone for more character development if I’d increased the story length but I was subject to the guidelines for the category as demanded by the publisher. Still, these two characters hold an unexpected place in my heart.

I came up with the idea while in Padstow, which is a small seaside port on the left side of the United Kingdom. I know the above images are a tad ‘poser-like’ and maybe you need to be British or have visited Padstow to appreciate them, but the idea of someone stumbling over this man in white on the quayside amused me so much I wanted to ‘see’ the vision I had in my mind. I simply had to write this story. I also think Yaoi influenced me a little. I’d love to write a Yaoi novel one day but I definitely see Mani as one of those characters. I also saw the world from his perspective. He arrives; he falls in love. He sees nothing wrong with whom he chooses to love despite it being someone of the same sex and… Well, read the interview and find out for yourself.


I’ve asked Mani to wear his spacesuit for this interview. I felt a little awkward asking but he’s so amiable that he didn’t seem to mind. I even felt a little foolish and then the door opens and he walks into the room. Alex’s thoughts when he first saw Mani spring instantly to mind:

“Another beach bum. Just great. With that shaggy hair bleached white and falling in a thick, tumbling wave over his face, the man could only be a drifter. The white hair was one thing to arrest the attention, but the white, tight outfit, was quite another. It… clung. No wonder the stranger attracted so many odd glances.”

On with the interview, if I can clear my throat enough to speak. Cling is the perfect word. I swallow, try to drag my eyes away, but I can’t. He’s like a magnet and goodness knows what the folk of the quiet little seaside resort of Padstow would think of a gay alien in their midst. Saying that, Mani and Alex live in London. Alex’s parents live in Padstow but he and Mani visit them often and it’s where Alex first set eyes on this man in white.

Mani turns to take his seat and presents me with the perfect round globe of his backside. At once, I struggle to stifle a laugh and fight to pull my face into some semblance of order before Mani sees my expression. No wonder Alex was so taken with this man at first sight. I recall Alex’s promises not to take home another beach bum when he first saw Mani. Yeah…ri-ghhhttt. Alex, you didn’t stand a chance.

While Mani is definitely sex on two long and lean legs, there’s also something very innocent and demure in his attitude. I sort of understand why, but is the universe really such an innocent place?

“Hello, Mani.”

He nods and smiles. The smile immediately lights up his face. His beautiful, violet, almond-shaped eyes distract me. His thin nose leads down to full kissable lips. I only just realise I’m starting to purse my own lips in time to stop before I make little kissing gestures.

“Thank you for granting me an interview. I’d like to start by addressing the issue of your name.”

“Addressing?” Mani frowns at me, the centre of his brow crinkling up adorably. “Ah, address is where you live.” He seems to think about this. “I do not see how you can put an address on a name.”

For a second, I’m speechless, and then I remember that Mani is still learning the subtle nuances of our language. Indeed, he’s learning the nuances of an entire planet. “It also means dealing with an issue, concentrating on a topic.” Not wanting to give him too long to think about this as I can see Mani leading us off on a whole tangent of questions, I swiftly forge ahead. “Alex gave you your name. What’s your real name in your language?”

He utters something that makes me think of a dyslexic typist crossed with the sound of nails on a chalkboard. There’s no way I’m going to be able to come up with a way to spell it. So much for that.

“I wondered what you thought of the name Alex gave you. I mean, Mani is quite unusual.” Alex took the name from a Norse legend. It means Moon but I want to know if Mani truly likes the name. “Do you like the name or would you rather choose another?”

Another smile teases Mani’s lips. “I like it,” he replies. “I like the sound of it, the story behind it, and that Alex gave it to me. He named me almost as if he was my destiny, the one to take my hand and lead me into this new life.” His gaze is a little unfocused and wandering. His hand presses against his defined pecs and then the hand starts to slide. I’m lost for a moment watching that hand descend over the ridge of abdominal muscles that the suit hugs so…intimately. They sure do make them well formed out there in the universe. That’s a vote for space exploration if ever there was one. I’m wondering how far down he’ll sweep his hand when it stops moving. I’m trying not to glance any further downwards. That suit sure does cling. His voice brings me out of my trance. “I always remember when he gave it to me,” Mani continues and I have to give myself a mental kick to recall that we’re talking about Alex giving Mani his name. “He was so flustered. Of course, then, I did not understand why. I have learned much since then.”

A faint flush touches his cheeks, so delicate that it’s almost the type of rosy blush you’d expect to find on a Victorian maiden. Is Mani shy? About sex? He certainly never appeared to be.

“Mani, you told Alex that you have three forms and that the one you maintain on your home planet is a block of wood?” I sound as uncertain as I feel.

Mani laughs. “No. I said he would no more look at me in that state than he would a block of wood. The form we use on my world is no more interesting than wood.”

If Mani understood the concept of slang and that there are many forms of “wood” I can’t help thinking he’d have second thoughts as to whether Alex would be interested or not.

“I see. You also said that on your world you don’t mate in the conventional sense.” As that small frown that makes me want to kiss Mani’s forehead appears once more, I think that maybe I’ve made my question too complicated.

“We do not mate the way your species mate,” Mani says, showing me that he’s learned a lot in the last year on Earth. “Females do not need more than our seed.”

“Yes, that’s what you said. What I don’t understand is why you were not eager to seek female companionship then? What made you choose a man?” This question just popped into my head, but it’s a good one and deserves an answer. I also want him to explain why he chose Alex in particular but we’ll get around to that.

“I did not choose in the way I think you mean it. We met by accident but my race believes in destiny. We…flow along with the design of the universe. What will be, will be. Alex was meant for me.”

“How do you know that? Why Alex? If you wanted a man then why pick Alex as that man? Was he simply convenient?”

I give Mani the few moments he often needs to work his way through our language. When he finally understands I see him blink. A look of something like consternation sweeps over his face.

“Alex was not convenient,” he says and the tone of his voice tells me that he most resolutely refutes this and even dislikes the question. “I was not looking for anyone, male or female. I did not even know that you could mate with your own sex but I am glad, for my heart opened to Alex long before…” He stops. The flush rushes up his face and he’s actually blushing now. “Before other parts of me did,” he finishes.

Despite the startling scarlet blush that stands out so starkly in all that pale skin, there’s something altogether too smug and delighted in the set of his mouth and the way his eyes sparkle. He might be embarrassed enough to blush but he loves Alex and clearly adores making love with him. I’m a little sorry that he’s embarrassed at all. When Mani first arrived here, he was so innocent that he saw the world as it should be, rather than how it is. He saw nothing wrong with loving someone even if that person was the same sex. Now the idea embarrasses him a little and I can’t help wondering how many more of our prejudices he’ll be subjected to in the years ahead. I hope Alex can keep him safe, protect him. Still, I also see that he’s unrepentant and proud of the person he loves, and I’m very pleased about that.

“Give me three reasons why you fell in love with Alex.”

I expect Mani to answer me at once but he pauses. When he finally starts to speak, I realise that it’s because he wanted to get his words just right.

“He’s loving,” is the first thing Mani says. “I didn’t realise how loving he was at first, but he was looking for love, longing for someone he could believe in, and I felt it. I felt his need but I felt more than that. He was so open with his heart even when he tried to close it off. I knew I was worthy of that love.” If a human being said this, no doubt we’d think them conceited, but Mani isn’t human. He doesn’t know what conceited means. “I knew I wouldn’t betray him. That made me worthy. He needs protecting, and I can do that.”

It’s my turn to blink. All this time I’ve thought of Mani as the innocent one that needed protection, and now I realise that he’s right. Alex needs someone to look out for him just as much as Mani does.

“He’s kind.”

I smile at this. Yeah, Alex is too kind sometimes.

“He took me in, a stranger. He’s so kind that sometimes he lets others hurt him.”

Wow. Mani is just getting more perceptive by the minute.

“His type of kindness is a vulnerability, but it’s rare and precious so that is the second reason I love him.”

“And the third?”

Mani shakes his head. “I have more than three reasons. Alex is smart…for a human being.” I want to protest in defence of our race, but considering what Mani can do with technology, I grant him this. “He’s funny, usually when he doesn’t mean to be, which is adorable.” Mani smiles sweetly. “He’s sexy and a good lover. I can sum Alex up by calling him a good man, and that’s why I love him, but there is one more thing.” Mani grins at me and I see something in his expression that I never expected. That look is mischievous. He leans forward as though he’s going to confide in me.

“Would it be wrong of me to say that he makes me horny?”

We stare at each other a moment and then fall about laughing.


Sharon Maria Bidwell
aonia – where the muses live

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“So, Josh,” I say, stumbling at the combination of unaccustomed petticoats and the long oily swell of the sea—best not to think about that—”you’ve done very well for yourself.”

It’s very windy on the quarterdeck, and the pages of my notebook riffle manically through my fingers, making me almost miss Josh’s sharp, black, pondering look. He’s wondering why I said that, whether I intended to insult him, what he can say without giving anything away. I know him well enough to guess that this interview will be like pulling teeth, and sigh.

“Peter was glad enough to talk to me.”

His mouth twitches at the side, and the brown eyes warm for a moment before he looks away to hide the smile. “Peter is always glad to talk about himself. It is one of his favourite topics of conversation.”

“How shocked he’d be to hear you say so! He thinks you worship him.”

“Well so I do.”

Silence falls, leaving what seemed a promising start thrown overboard and drowning. The deck tilts and a great fountain of spray bursts over the bow, making me lurch for the rail. But Josh is still standing, perfectly balanced, eyes sparkling, completely at home. “I’m sorry,” he says, seeing my expression. “Sure I’m being no gentleman. Let’s start again and I’ll try and pry some answers out for you like winkles from the shell.”

He raises his russet eyebrows and gives me a peculiarly Irish smile; roguish, full of charm. Predictably I forget my annoyance at once.

“Alright then, lets start with something easy. Favourite colour?”


“Is that through patriotism or…”

“It’s the colour of Peter’s eyes: You’ve seen icebergs? When the bright arctic light slants through white mountains of towering water. You look in there and you can see an emerald whose beauty is not equalled anywhere on earth. Deeper in there are fleeting colours you catch like an enchantment; aquamarine, and leaf green, and the shy, shady, private green of wildernesses where Man has never trod. That colour.”

I take a step back, blinking. “‘Worship’,” I say, a little spooked because this is more like idolatry, “I was right about that. He’s not worthy of it, you know.”

Josh shrugs, still smiling. “Who is?”

“He almost had you hanged!”

“‘Almost’ makes quite a difference. But, don’t you see, if he’d chosen to denounce me I could not have held it against him. I would have known he was doing what he thought was the right thing. He does that. It’s part of what makes him so…” He’s searching for a word, embarrassed by the one that comes to mind. “So pure.”

I realize, belatedly, that we’ve begun talking about Peter again. It’s pleasant enough, but really not the point. “What part of Ireland do you come from, Josh?”

“From Rathmoines, near Dublin. We’re a minor offshoot of the FitzGeralds. Settled in Ireland by the Normans in an attempt to civilize the natives.”

“Did it work?”

Josh laughs. “Depends on how you look at it. We ended up somewhere in between – too English for the Irish, too Irish for the English. Story of my life. If it wasn’t for Peter intervening in my career….”

“Oh no!” I hold out a hand to arrest the turn in the conversation before it starts. “We’re not going there.” I can’t decide if it’s sweet or just infuriating, the way he turns every question into a chance to talk about the man he loves. No wonder the two of them get on so well, completely in agreement as they are about which one of them is the centre of the universe.

“It’s you I want to know about, not him. Now, let’s try again. What made you want to join the Navy?”

His dark, dark brown eyes look almost black in the shadow of his hat. There’s salt on my lips from the sea, but – catching his mood – I fancy it tastes like tears. “I wanted to make it easier on my family,” he says, quietly. “A man like me – with my vice – it’s only a matter of time before I bring them dishonour. I thought if I was gone, long gone to some foreign shore, when my depravity was uncovered I’d only be a distant embarrassment and not a present shame. Or, if God was kind to me, I could die somewhere far away, as a naval hero, and no one would be the wiser.”

Silence falls again. I tuck my notebook into the pocket I have strapped between my hoop and my gown. He’s reminded me why he is so reticent, why he has this habit of secrecy that only love has been able to penetrate.

“Did you always know you were gay?”

“Always know I was a sodomite?” The tilt of his head is mocking. His lips draw up to show his canine teeth, in what I think is amusement at my pity. “An invert? A molly? One of the third sex? Yes, I did. I knew I was different – wrong – from the age of about four. We used to go into Dublin, me and the boys on the back of a grain cart, and throw stones at the prisoners in the pillory for a day out. We’d club together and buy the broadsheets to read about the crimes, and all my friends would laugh most over the sods. So I learned early what I had to expect in life.”

“It’s funny,” I’m leaning forward now, trying to read him better, wishing I hadn’t made him so damn tall. “This is one of the things I don’t understand about you. Didn’t you try and fight it? You’ve been through more casual, meaningless sex than I’ve had hot dinners. There probably isn’t a wharf tavern or backroom where you haven’t picked up a temporary shag. How can that co-exist with the burning poetic glory of your love for Peter? Don’t you have any self control at all?”

His face hardens from boyish smoothness into a man’s cynicism. I’m a woman, so he won’t threaten me – that’s not his style – but all the same I have a new appreciation for how scary he can be.

“Why should I? I was born to go to Hell. I was damned in my mother’s womb. What good would self restraint do me? Why not forget, by whatever means I could, the future that lay in store for me? Who was going to redeem me? I knew it couldn’t be done.”

“But you were redeemed.”

The flash of anger dies away leaving a hollow behind his eyes. He looks as if he’s been punched. “Yes. By death and fire, by Peter, and by Giniw.” Pushing back hat and wig to pull at his hair – auburn as autumn leaves in this Bermudan sunshine – Josh gives a bark of rueful laughter. “I don’t think I want to talk any more. One of my men will escort you ashore.”

“Can I just ask you what comes next? You were both left without a ship at the end of ‘Captain’s Surrender’ yet here you are, on deck again.”

He looks too worried for a man whose miraculous return from a David and Goliath victory must have made him the toast of the Royal Navy. “I’ve been given another command. There’s talk about making me Post. That is, confirming me in the rank of Captain permanently.”

“Oh! Well, congratulations!”

“Except… except that Peter surrendered. The chances are he won’t be reinstated – he’ll go back to being a lieutenant.”

“It’s not a tragedy, surely?” I say, watching Josh’s downcast look with concern. “He was a lieutenant when you met.”

Josh grimaces, raising his hands to draw a nebulous shape of frustration and fear in the air. “Can you see Peter Kenyon being content to take orders from me?”

I’d always thought of the two of them as equals, but really, could I see ambitious Peter, arrogant Peter, playing second fiddle to his own bedmate? “He loves you.”

“I suppose I will have to rest my hopes on that being enough.”


‘Captain’s Surrender’ is available here

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An interview with Cass D’Angelo from Deadly Vision by Rick R. Reed


I met with Cass on the back porch of her little house in Summitville, PA. Her seven-year-old son, Max, played in the yard, in spite of the still chilly early spring temperatures. Cass, understandably, kept a watchful eye on him and I also noticed how she would, every so often, glance up toward the hills, where so much death had recently occurred.

RR: Well, Cass, you’ve been through a lot lately.

CD: You could say that.

RR: The press is calling you ‘the reluctant psychic’ and saying that you’re name fits you. Why is that?

CD (rolling her eyes): I don’t put much stock in what the press says. But they’re right when they say my so-called psychic abilities came to me reluctantly. I never asked to be able to see into crimes and especially not the murders of those girls right here in Summitville! I wish it had never happened to me, but I hope that in a small way, I was able to help the families of those girls. They say I’m like the Cassandra of myth, who was given the gift of prophecy—and I use the term gift loosely here—only to have no one believe her. I can say I know a little bit about how that feels. I never even knew of Cassandra until all this happened.

RR: So have you had this gift, or curse if you’d rather, all your life?

CD: No! For most of my life, I’ve been a pretty ordinary small town gal (who happens to like other gals…I suppose that sets me apart, at least here). This all started last summer when Max here ran off just before one of the biggest storms of the summer. It came sweeping in so fast and I was worried about him, so like a stupid woman or a good mother, I went out into it and ended up getting almost struck by lightning. Lucky me! I only took a tree branch to the head.

RR: And that’s where your abilities came from?

CD: I guess. That’s when it all started, anyway…this being able to see things I wasn’t able to before.

RR: Never had any feelings like that before?

CD: God, no. Maybe I wouldn’t have made half the mistakes I made if I had this second sight they credit me with. Maybe I would have won the lottery or something instead of waiting on tables down at the Elite Diner.

RR: There’s been a lot of publicity about you since the whole business with the ritual killings and everything else that happened last summer. I’ve heard you’ve been approached by TV, book, and movie producers.

CD: That’s right. And I don’t want any of it. I don’t want people looking at me like I’m some kind of freak. I don’t want desperate parents calling me to help find their lost children. I don’t want to exploit this thing to make myself famous, or even rich, although I could sure use some of the money they’ve talked about.

RR: So why not?

CD: As I said, I don’t really like the limelight. I like my life as it is: simple, with just my son and… (Cass blushes) and the new woman in my life, Dani.

RR: But haven’t you had any more visions?

CD: Once in a while, I get a glimmer, not of anything bad, just more like intuition. I’ll tell you: I would be very happy to not see the kind of things I saw last summer. No one should have to see what I saw…or go through what the families of those girls went through. I’m just sorry I had to be a part of it.

RR: So do you think your days as a psychic detective are over?

CD: I never was a psychic detective. I was a woman who saw some things, like dreams, that maybe helped. I don’t know.

RR: But wouldn’t you like to help other people who are in trouble?

CD: Mister, if I could help someone in trouble, I’d love to. But if I can do it without having to see into crazy stuff like murder, that would be even better. I’d just as soon donate my time to the Red Cross or something…

RR: So you’re really through with it all? This psychic business?

CD: I never started it! It came to me…and God forbid, or God willing, it may or may not come to me again. (Cass looks away, then back at me). I have to start supper. Max is going to be hungry and Dani’s going to be home from the paper soon. Did you get all you need?

RR: I think so, for now anyway.


Available from Amazon here

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By Stevie Woods



He arrived at last; I couldn’t help but wonder what had delayed him.  Probably discussing last minute plans for Spinnaker, after all he was due to leave the plantation the next day to take ship for New Orleans.  And he didn’t plan to return.  He was taking a huge step leaving the plantation in the hands of his trusted manager to ease the running of the place into the hands of his slaves – ex-slaves in fact, not than anyone else knew that yet.


“Welcome, Mr Van Leyden, please take a seat.”  He was a handsome young man if I do say so myself.  Shame he didn’t smile enough, he looked quite beautiful then.


“Thank you, but please call me Pieter.  Mr Van Leyden was my father.” He gave me a small smile and his face lit up.  He must have read my mind.


“Strange you should mention your father, Pieter.  He is one of the main subjects of our…talk.”


“My father, but why?  He has been dead for three years now.”


“Yes, but he had a profound impact on your life, more I think than a father would normally have on his son.”


He frowned, looking decidedly uncomfortable.  “In what manner?” he asked carefully.


“Come, sir.  It is no secret from me.  He drove you from your home, forbidding you to return while he lived.  And he sold your lover and his family to parts unknown.  It can’t be pleasant to hate your own father.”


He gasped looking decidedly shocked, but I held his gaze and abruptly he looked away.  Quietly he said, “I tried hard not to hate him, he couldn’t help the way he felt about me, about what he considered me to be. He said he had no time for religion but deep down he believed in the bible. I understand how terribly hurt he was by my confession that I was in love with a man. But what he did to Joss and his family – that was unforgivable.”


“What did you expect?” I asked harshly.  “He discovered his only son, his pride and joy, was a sodomite and if that wasn’t bad enough it was with one of his own slaves to boot.  If he considered his son an abomination, what opinion would he have of a being he thought of as less than a man?  He probably thought selling him was a lighter punishment than banishing you from your home, from the future you should have had.”


Pieter shot to his feet.  “Joss is not less than a man.  He is the equal of …” His voice trailed off.  You notice of course that he leapt to Joss’ defence, not a word about himself.  He went on more calmly, “You probably don’t understand, any more than my father did.”


Softly I told him, “Of course I understand, that’s why I created you the way I did, in the hope you could help others to comprehend.”


He looked at me, wide-eyed. 


“I know things have been very hard for you, but have a little patience, Pieter. Your life is about to change again. Things will be looking up for you soon.  Just wait until you get to Louisiana.”



Available from Torquere Press:



My website:  http://www.geocities.com/steviewds


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Johnnie is from Heaven Sent 1: Heaven by Jet Mykles


Link to my website: http://www.computerotika.com/home/books-stories/heaven-sent/heaven-sent-1-heaven

Buy link (ebook): http://www.loose-id.com/detail.aspx?ID=267

Johnnie Heaven waits for me on a balcony overlooking the distant Pacific Ocean. My, that sounds lovely, doesn’t it? To have a gorgeous rockstar waiting for me? And it is lovely. I spend a short moment watching him, his long body folded into a chair, bare feet propped up on the balcony railing before him. Blue lounge pants cover his long legs with a lighter blue dress shirt draping broad shoulders and slimly muscled arms. All that glorious hair is loose, spilling down the back of the chair in hues from gold through chestnut to chocolate.

He chuckles without looking at me, sipping at his soft drink. “You’re late.”

I grimace and finally step onto the small space. “I know.”

“You’re the one who kept putting it off.”

“Quiet, you,” I mutter, sitting in a chair beside him.

Being the pompous ass he is—

“Be nice,” he warns me, setting down his drink on the small table between us.


Being the lovely creature that he is—

“Oh that’s nice.”

—he’s consented to give me an interview. Since this is virtual, I don’t bother with pad and pencil or recorder, just curl up in my chair and face him. He’s nicer to look at than the landscape anyway. “Where shall we start?”

“Oh, let’s not start at the beginning.” He adjusts in his chair, posing for me. One leg comes down from the railing, showing off just how long and sleek he is. “My adolescence wasn’t that interesting.” Given that his parents were divorced during that time, it’s understandable.

“So, where should we start?”

“How about when I met Luc?”

I nod. “All right. How old were you?”

“Almost eighteen.”

“How did you meet him?”

“At Purgatory, the club where we got our start.” He smiled fondly, adjusting the sunglasses that, unfortunately, hide those stunning emerald eyes of his. “We both ended up crashing a private party that turned out to be a dud. I can’t even remember who it was for.” He gives it a moment’s thought then releases it with a shrug. “I heard him mention this band he and his friend were thinking of starting and we started talking. By the end of the night, we’d agreed to meet that weekend.”

“You just hit it off?”

“We seemed to. Luc and I think a lot alike, you know.”

Yes, I do. “The rest is history?”

“Pretty much. I met Brent that weekend and after hearing him play, I couldn’t pass up the chance. They had another drummer back then. He played with us for a few months then left when he got a ‘real’ job.” The amused disdain in his voice is obvious.

“Where did you find Darien?”

“At Purgatory. You know his uncle owns the place. We’d just convinced Garth to let us play one night when Thom quit. When we told him we had to quit because we didn’t have a drummer, he suggested his nephew.” Johnnie laughed and gave me a look over the rim of his glasses. “You know how hyper Darien is now?”

I nod.

“Multiply that times five.”


“Yeah.” Another chuckle. “But not when he was playing. He learned the few songs we had pretty much in one night and played with us in our normal spot. We didn’t make any money that night to speak of, but Garth did ask us back.” A smug look. “The girls really liked us.” His grin takes on that wicked tilt he’s known for. “Really liked us.”

I can’t resist. “You get laid?”

“Oh hell yeah.”

“Girl or guy?”

“It was a girl that night.”

“You remember?”

“I remember them all.”

Somehow, I believe him. “Were you bisexual back then?”

“Proudly so.”

“The other guys didn’t mind?”

“Not that I noticed. Surprised at first, but they took it in stride.”

“And you converted them all.”

“Not personally, no. Damn it.”

That makes me laugh. “Who did you want to sleep with?”

“I would have slept with any of them,” he says without hesitation. “Have you seen them?”

“I have.”

“Then you can’t blame me.” He sits back in his chair.

“No, I can’t. The idea of promoting the band as all bisexual was your idea, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah. I thought it’d be a good gimmick. I never thought it’d really last that long or that they’d really take to it.”

“Did it surprise you when they started being interested in guys?”

He thinks for a second. “Brent? No. I kinda thought he was gay. Darien, well Chris was his first so it took him awhile.” He chuckles. “Luc surprised me, though. I didn’t think he’d go for it. But once he did…” He laughs harder.

“Ah, the life of a rockstar. Fun, huh?”


“That’s all over now, though, right?”

He arches a brow at me. “All the fun?”

“All the sleeping around.” I glance behind us, not that Tyler is there. He’s in the hotel somewhere but not anywhere in hearing distance. “You’re rather committed now, aren’t you?”

His smile turns from smug to beatific. “I am.”

“Tell me about that.”

“What’s to tell? It’s great. He’s great.”

“Did you see yourself settling down with a guy?”

“I never saw myself settling.”

“Not even in your later years.”


“You don’t want kids?”

He shrugs. “Never really thought about it or expected it, to be honest. I always thought it’d be nice. I like kids. But if it didn’t happen, that’s fine too.”

“What about Tyler? He want kids?”

“We’re discussing it.”

“You’re in love?”


“What is it about him that draws you?”

He sighs. “What about him doesn’t?” He shakes his head. “He’s smart, he’s talented, he’s got a head for business that makes my head spin. We amuse each other. He’s fucking gorgeous.”

“He’s good in bed,” I tease.

“I decline to answer that one,” he says with a small grin.

“Was it love at first sight?”

“I have to admit that it was lust at first sight. For me. He had an unfair advantage.”


“He’d seen me before.”

“But he hadn’t met you in the flesh.” I glance down at said flesh.

He grins. “Too true.”

“And then…”

He shrugs. “At first, it was a lark. He was beautiful and I couldn’t miss those big, blue eyes looking at me. For such a sharp businessman he’s got the worst poker face. Plus he gets this gorgeous flush when he’s excited.” He clears his throat.

“He was straight when you met him.”

“So he thought.”

“What made you think otherwise?”

He stares at me for a quiet moment. “A feeling.”


He turns aside, scowling slightly at the horizon. “He… didn’t act straight. He was at least bi, even if he didn’t know it.”

“That’s kind of high-handed of you to decide for him, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, well. I didn’t force him.”

I lay my hand on his shoulder. “I know you didn’t. Just… persuaded him.”

He has the grace to look a little embarrassed. “Yeah. I pushed the point. But my brain didn’t work right when I was with him. Still doesn’t, completely.”

“What made you want to be with him forever?”

He gives it some thought, staring into the distance. Then he shrugs. Removing the sunglasses, he gives me the full effect of those gorgeous green eyes. “I fell in love. I can’t imagine being without him.”

How sweet.

“So what’s up with Heaven Sent now?”

“We’re taking a break. We’ve got a few gigs lined up between now and June, but then we’re playing it by ear. Brent and Hell have a few projects they want to look into, Darien’s spending time with Chris. I think they’re going to travel some. And Luc’s got this movie thing.”

“You ever thought of doing movies yourself?”

“Oh sure. I’ve had a few offers. Nothing that really hit me, though.” He shrugs. “I’m not opposed but I’m not going out looking.”

“Is this the graceful end of Heaven Sent?”

“Nah. I know it looks like it could be, but it’s not. We’re not done with each other.”

Good to know. “Ever thought of a solo career?”

He shrugs. “Again, I’ve had offers but I’m not really interested. Maybe I’m just lazy. I’m used to working with the guys. Doing it all on my own doesn’t appeal.”

I smile. “So you go your separate ways for awhile, then meet up again?”

“Something like that.”

“And in the meantime, you’ll get to spend more time with Tyler.”

“Yeah. I’m looking forward to that.”

Out of my own questions, I consult the list left by fans. “Seems to be a fascination with your hair,” I muse. “You ever think of cutting it?”

He pulls a handful over his chest, admiring it. “I’ve thought about it. It’s a pain in the ass, to tell you the truth.” Frowning, he brings the lock of hair closer to inspect the ends. With a sniff, he drops it back to his lap. “But I think I’d feel kind of lost without it now.” He chuckles. “Tyler might not be too happy if I cut it. He might let me cut it to mid back or something, but I don’t think I’d go shorter than that.”

“What kind of conditioner do you use?”

He laughs. “You know, I’m not even sure which one it is. I change a lot. This one smells like peppermint, though.”

“Have you written any songs dedicated to Tyler?”

“Every love song since I’ve met him has been written about Tyler.”

“Were you ever in love before Tyler?”

He picks up his drink to sip at it. “Not really. I kind of thought I was, but all those relationships were too easy to give up. Might have been because I was all about Heaven Sent for so long.” He’s thoughtful for a moment. “I don’t regret those other relationships, but I don’t miss them either. I’d be a wreck without Tyler.”

I laugh at the next fan question. “Have you beat Hell at video games?”

He scowls. “The little beast won’t play anymore! He just got lucky.”

Which just makes me laugh harder.

“What’s so funny?”

What a delightful surprise. We turn to see Tyler stepping onto the balcony. He looks achingly gorgeous in a blue and white striped dress shirt and silver gray slacks. The slacks are obviously part of a suit but he’s left the jacket somewhere else. His curly gold hair is loose about his picture-perfect face and those enormous blue eyes fasten on his husband as he closes in for a kiss.

I watch them slowly brush lip to lip and see the hint of tongues that quickly swipe each other.

“That was for my benefit?” I ask archly.

Tyler straightens, leaning his hip against the back of Johnnie’s chair. “Yours and the readers,” he says with an unrepentant smile.

“You’ve been around him too long,” I accuse.

Tyler squeezes Johnnie’s shoulder. “No doubt.”

“All right then, you get to answer the last questions.”


“What did you do for your last anniversary?”

Tyler’s eyes go wider than normal, then he ducks his head to hide a blush. Johnnie laughs.

“Oh, this must be good.”

Tyler slugs Johnnie’s shoulder, which just makes the singer laugh harder.

“Well?” I prod.

Tyler sighs, still not looking at me. “We decided to stay here. We got all the food and anything we’d need for three days and I told the staff not to disturb us.”

What’s so bad about that? Unless… I smile. “Good God! Did you guys ever get out of bed?”

Tyler’s flush deepens.

Johnnie’s grin is positively demonic. “Not really.”

Oh man!

And that, lovely readers, is where I’ll leave this interview because my brain is now scrambled just thinking of such a weekend!

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I met David Eric Laine and Chris
Bellamere, his lover of several years now, in their home in
Silverlake. We sat on the patio, surrounded by the gardens David loves
and drinking a glass of Kistler Merlot from Chris’s well stocked wine
cellar. They were both dressed casually in jeans and Izod T-shirts.
Like everyone who meets him, I found I couldn’t help but stare at
Chris. I’ve seen some good-looking men in my day – I work the
Hollywood scene, remember – but never have I encountered anyone with
such raw animal magnetism. I’m not even gay, but I felt it.

Pat: You’re an L.A.P.D. Homicide detective. What made you choose to be
a police officer, when your parents wanted you to go to Harvard law

David: It was my mother who wanted me to enter law. I did, for a year
at one of the big New England prep schools, but I hated it. I hated
the whole preppy experience. I may have been born into it, but it
never suited me. So, out of curiosity as much as anything, I took a
criminology course. I guess that’s what sparked my interest in law
enforcement. Then on a whim when I was staying in L.A. for an extended
visit, I took the L.A.P.D.entrance exam and passed.

Chris: With flying colors. He would have been a great lawyer. But he’s
a better cop.

Pat: So you decided to become a police officer, one of the notably
most homophobic outfits in the world. You didn’t see the dichotomy in
that? You were out to your parents, weren’t you?

David: Yeah, I told them before I left for college. They didn’t take
it too well at first. My Dad -stepfather – came around first. He said
he loved me too much to let something like that get between us. My
mother… Let’s just say she didn’t approve. But then I’ve gotten used
to that. She’s never approved of anything I did.

Pat: But how did you handle the L.A.P.D. ?

David: By not letting on, what else? Sometimes I think it’s the only
smart thing to do. I thought I had a handle on it. It was a classic
‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’situation. I figured I was safe as long as I
didn’t do anything stupid.

Chris laughs: You mean like fall in love?

David: I didn’t plan on that. Never in a million years did I think I’d
fall for anybody, let alone a guy like
Chris. He was so out of my league, and spoiled rotten to boot.

Chris: Hey!

Pat: But you never told anyone, not even your partner? What was it
like working in such close quarters with an openly homophobic man like

David: It’s rough. I had to watch very word out of my mouth. I didn’t
dare look at another guy in case I gave something away. If I had to
enter a gay bar after a suspect or witness he’d razz me about getting
hit on by some cute joto, his charming little term for faggot.
Sometimes, though, I just had to give in to it. So I had a rule: Not
in my backyard. I allowed myself a once a year holiday in Palm
Springs. Everyone thought I was just going to the big car show there.
No one asked questions. I just never told them I booked a room at the
Hacienda and cruised the local gay bars.

Pat: That made you uncomfortable?

David: Who wants to think they’re slaves to their libido? I wanted to
be in control, not let lust control me.

Chris: Thank God, he got over that.

David: I may not be so uptight these days, it doesn’t mean I want to
air our private lives in public. It’s no bodies business what we do in
the privacy of our bedroom.

Chris: What about the stuff we do in the living room? The kitchen —
oh, what about the car? (Chris is grinning now) You know how much I
love that bucket seat.

David: (Looking exasperated) Chris.

Chris: I know, I know. Loose lips and all that.

Pat: (Clearing my throat) Once you were outed, what was the attitude
of your fellow officers?

David: Not very enlightened. Some of them liked to leave me gifts.
Condoms, invitations to join gay hot lines, one charming D even left
me a .45 slug. I guess he was saying I should use it as a courtesy.
What’s one more dead faggot, right?

Pat: Have you come to terms with that? Or do you let it bother you?

David: I think I’m okay with it. I think I’m a good cop, but face it,
all cops run into a lot of hatred just being a cop. The uniform
triggers a lot of enmity.

Pat: Have you ever found the discrepancy of your income versus Chris’s
created any issues? A lot of relationships, gay or straight are
strained when one partner makes so much more than another.

David: I’ll admit we had some rocky moments in the beginning. I
couldn’t possibly give Chris the kinds of things he could buy himself,
and he wouldn’t stop buying me expensive things, so yeah, it got ugly.
We found a compromise, though, that works most of the time. I pay for
half the living expenses – he just gives me his share and I take care
of the bills. What he does with his money is his business, though I
have to put my foot down sometimes when he wants to do something
foolish like buy me a BMW or something. You know how silly I’d feel
driving a car like that? (He flexes his muscles) Now if he wanted to
buy me a Land Cruiser, maybe we could talk…

Chris: You don’t turn you nose up at the clothes I pick up for you.
You know you look sharp in the stuff I buy you.

David: Yeah, I look good. Who doesn’t want to look good? But you look better.

Pat: (The look they share this time is just this side of incandescent)
I understand you like to refurbish old cars and antique record
players. You still do that?

David: Every chance I get. I got this great deal on a ’56 Chevy Coupe
a few years back–

Chris: You got a good deal because it was a piece of junk.

David: But a piece of junk with promise.

Chris: Okay, I gotta admit, you’ve worked miracles on it. Besides, who
can forget our first date in it. The one you wouldn’t admit was a
date? Things got pretty heavy that night–

David: I’m sure this guy doesn’t want to hear about that.

Pat: How do your parents take it now that you’ve been a police officer
for what is it, fifteen years? Haven’t you won several several
decorations? The Police Distinguished Service Medal, and the Medal of

Chris: All before he came out. Since then? Zip. Bupkus.

David: My stepfather’s always been okay with it, he supported me from
the beginning. It’s my mother and grandmother who can’t come to grips
with it. I’m afraid the blood on my mother’s side is a little too blue
to accept something as plebeian as a public servant in the family.
She’s never said, but I think my mother is disappointed she won’t be a

Pat: Don’t you have a sister?

David: Sure, Ally- Alison. But she’s never married and the last time I
spoke to her, she wasn’t interested in having any kids. She’s got a
couple of Afghans, so I guess they’re her kids. She knew it would
upset Mom, so she never told her.

Chris: Right, your mother’s not a dog person.

Pat: You were adopted by your stepfather, Graham Laine when you very
young. Do you remember you biological father at all?

David: No. My mother told me he was shipped to Vietnam just after I
was born and he was killed there shortly after. She won’t talk about
him. She never even kept any pictures of him around, so I couldn’t
even tell you what he looks like, though I’ve heard my mother say I’m
the spitting image, so I guess all I have to do is look in a mirror.
Still, it would have been nice to have known him. I mean, did he have
family? Do I have aunts and uncles? Cousins? Mom would never say. It’s
a closed book in our house. It leaves a big blank hole in your life
not to know who you are and where you came from. I wish my mother was
willing to be more forthright, but every time I bring it up she shuts
me out.

Pat: When was the last time you were home?

David: A couple of months after Chris and I started living together,
just before Christmas. I guess part of me was hoping they would have
mellowed out and be willing to accept Chris.

Chris: Like that ever happened. They made it pretty plain I wasn’t
wanted there, though to be fair to him, David’s Dad was cool. But his
mother…Let’s just say she gives new meaning to the word bitch.

David: You know I don’t like it when you call her that.

Chris: Right, let’s not call the kettle black.

Pat: So you haven’t been back to see them again?

David: No.

Pat: Think you ever will?

David: Sure. (He shares a look with Chris) When hell freezes over.


L.A Heat is available HERE

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 Jay from Snow Angel and Angel Heart by Sharon Maria Bidwell




During my interview with Dean, I said that in the world of the imagination anything is possible. Right now, I’m watching Jay. He won’t know I’m here until I want him to, of course. This is my world, after all, but what’s puzzling is that I’ve been trying to catch his attention for ages. Hey! Readers want this interview, but he doesn’t seem to be listening. In fact, he seems seriously preoccupied. Right now, I can’t help wondering what he’s doing. He’s delving into an old box and to my surprise, he takes out an old school textbook. I remember that Dean used to help him with his homework. What would he think of this, if he saw Jay flipping over the back pages and yes, there, amongst the scribbling that most students do, I see a small mark of three letters, ‘J4D’ enclosed by a small heart.


Somehow, I’m not surprised. The letters have been written over repeatedly so that they are darker than the rest of the doodles and would stand out if it weren’t for the fact they’re so small, almost deliberately hidden.


“Hey, Jay!”




Determined to pin him down today, I take the book from his fingers and trace the letters with a fingertip. He slightly flushes. “Were you worried about April discovering this, Dean, or another classmate?” I can’t help smiling as I ask.


“All of the above,” Jay replies, and he’s smiling too, though there’s something coy in his expression. He doesn’t bother hiding his amusement, though.


“When did you know you loved him?”


“How old does one have to be?”


That’s almost as good a question as mine is. “You couldn’t have foreseen a time when you’d get together.”


“No,” Jay answers simply, and that one small word says so much, largely due to the tone of his voice. He sounds a little melancholy, maybe a little disbelieving. “I often feel as though I’m dreaming,” he says, confirming my theory. “I keep thinking I can’t possibly be this lucky.”


“Lucky?” The phrase ‘cat among the pigeons’ springs to mind. I know I’m going to have to stir things up to get a decent interview. “Some would say that Dean is the kind of luck they can do without.”


“And I’m tired of hearing crap from people who don’t know him.”


I blink at him. This is hardly the quiet Jay we’ve come to know and love, although his manner reminds me there are times where he can be very loud and very vocal.


“No one gets it,” he mutters.


“So explain.”


“Why should we?” He looks up from where he still kneels; everything about his posture speaks of defiance. “I know what people think of Dean but they just don’t get him. Yes, half the time he’s oblivious. He’s oblivious to the fact that anything he says can possibly hurt another person’s feelings.”


“You call this defending him?” I’m trying to tone down the sarcasm.


“What? Yes. No!” Jay laughs then. “He’s oblivious because he can’t imagine anything he says being that important to anyone. He knows he’s good-looking and that people are attracted to him, but deep down he sees that as superficial.”


“Many would call Dean a superficial person.”


“He’s not. He lives for the fun side of life because it’s the easier option and, anyway, why shouldn’t he? He didn’t need anything else until now. He didn’t have a reason to be serious.”


“And now he does?”


Jay sits quietly for a moment, clearly in thought. “You can’t get much more serious than this for Dean. I know this isn’t easy for him. I understand why he’s confused. You see, I couldn’t believe it myself at first, but I’ve come to realise that Dean loves me despite the fact I’m the wrong sex. Hell, some days it would be easier if I wanted a sex change, but I don’t, and he wouldn’t ask me to. He wouldn’t want to change a thing about me.” He sounds immensely pleased as he makes that last comment.


“He can’t just ignore what sex you are and there’s no lack of sexual chemistry.”


Jay shrugs. “He just doesn’t see sex that way. April once accused him of being happy to screw any orifice and if he was marooned on a dessert island with nothing but men for company, I couldn’t see him going without for too long. He’d screw a passing…”


I hold up a hand, not wanting to go with that image or complete the thought of what might be passing. I shake my head at Jay but he’s quietly laughing.


“Sex is just sex in Dean’s eyes. Love is something else and he’s never had that in his life before. The fact is he loves me because I’m the one person who sees him for what he is, and I love what I see and accept him without question. If I can do that for him, he wants to do the same for me.”


“And who is he?”


“You already know, more than anyone. He’s insecure, vulnerable. He’s got a temper. He can sulk, be sullen. He likes to tease to the point of being spiteful at times.”


I give him an expressive look. “And these are his good points?” Jay shakes his head.


“He goes too far, says things he doesn’t really mean, then regrets the hurt he’s caused the minute he’s done it. It’s almost a protective mechanism for him, self-preservation. He’s got a soft heart when all is said and done. He has an aggressive sense of justice. He decides something is right or wrong and sticks to it. He’s loyal. He’ll defend someone he cares about to the end. He’s passionate about life, sex, things and people he loves. He can be amazingly affectionate. He looks at me as though he can’t believe he’s been this lucky, when all the time I’m thinking the same thing about him. What truly amazes me, though, is that so many others can’t see these things. So, it’s down to me and I’m the one who ends up defending him.”


Now he looks contemplative and a little sad. “It’s going to be a long haul for us. We’ve a lot of people to convince and many comments that will need ignoring.”


I hate to ask this question, partly because I can’t imagine these two guys not being together now, and partly because I know some readers would love me to revisit them yet again, but I don’t see a reason to, for that would require more conflict and surely they’ve been through enough. “Do you think the two of you will make it?”


Jay looks at me and I can see that this time it’s his turn to be surprised. He smiles once more. “We already have. Dean hasn’t gone through all this to give up now and neither have I.”


“Still, you’ve grown up with prejudice. Dean is new to it and he’s got even more stacked against him. There are those who just can’t believe he’s in a relationship with another man, those who don’t believe he’s serious, and those who just don’t want you with him.” I avoid mentioning Jay’s sister. She gives the word vitriolic a completely new meaning.


Jay sits there for a moment, but when he answers, he sounds very decided and as if what he’s saying is the most obvious thing in the world. “I’m in love. I’ve got the one person I always wanted and it’s not a crush. What I feel for him has never diminished. It never left me. I just learned how to live with it. As for Dean, I don’t doubt him for a minute.” He looks at me; absolute certainty makes his eyes shine. “We’re stronger together, but Dean is as strong as I make him. I won’t let anyone come between us, and so neither will he.”


Oddly enough, I share his confidence. Some relationships may seem out of the ordinary but they defy explanation, the odds, what everyone else wants to make of them. I wish them peace.


Snow Angel and Angel Heart available here:



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An interview by Sylvia Shults 




           I pull up to the small white villa in the Campanian countryside, coast to a gentle stop, and shift the Ducati LaVerda into neutral.  The purr of the engine stops when I turn the key off, and I sit for a moment, enjoying the quiet of this tiny piece of Italy.  I swing off the bike and pull my helmet off.  The Italian sun smacks me in the face with a sensual kiss that smells of lemon and fresh basil.

            I walk up to the front door and ring the bell.  A chime sounds from deep within the house.  Before I’ve admired the moss roses on either side of the front walk for more than a few minutes, the door is flung open.

            “You’re here!” Angela squeals, and pulls me in for a hug.  I smile at her easy affection.  My heroines are much like me – quick with a grin, and friendly.  She shows me a chair in the front hallway where I can put my motorcycle gear.  Then I follow her into an airy, sunlit dining room.  Pillows make a welcoming nest on the built-in seats underneath the bay windows, but Angela directs me to the bar stools set up next to the breakfast nook.  She bustles into the kitchen, tossing a question over the counter at me.

            “Can I get you something?  We’ve got tea, coffee, milk – of course the Italians like their milk warm, bleagh.  That’s something I haven’t gotten used to yet.  You can’t get a nice cold glass of milk at a restaurant.  Makes me feel like some kind of deviant, I have to drink my milk cold in the privacy of my own home!”

            “It’s a beautiful home, Angela.”  She beams at the compliment.  This is definitely a change from the apartment in Ercolano where I left her.  As if she’s reading my mind, she replies, “Yeah.  Valerius – I mean Gabriel – is so much happier here than in the city.  This is more like what he was used to back in – well, in his first life, I guess.”

            I’m not confused at all by her words.  It was my idea to put Valerius Tullus Valens’ soul into Gabriel Massimo’s body when Gabriel was hit by a car.

            Angela has been rummaging in the fridge.  She turns around, holding up a bottle.  “How about some sparkling lemonade?  I’ll get us a couple of glasses.”

            The cold lemonade is just what I need after my ride.  I sip it as I think about the questions I would ask my character.

            “Angela, what got you interested in Roman history?”

            “Oh, I’ve always been interested in history – not the boring dates-and-battles-and-treaties part, but the human part.  People are people, no matter what year it is.  That’s what fascinates me most.  The idea that the ancient Romans were people just like us, with the same hopes and dreams, the same needs, the same desires…”  Her voice trails off and pink colors her cheeks.  She takes a quick sip of lemonade.

“Actually,” she says, setting her glass down, “I didn’t start off as a history major.  My freshman year in college, I was a biology major, if you can believe that.  Can you imagine me as a doctor or something?  Ha.  Anyways, that lasted right up until I hit my first chemistry class.”  She shudders with the memory.  “I was struggling and panicking to make Cs in my science classes.  Not fun.  Then I realized that I was making As in Latin without hardly even trying.  That’s when I switched majors.  Even though my Latin class was at 8 in the morning – yeesh!”

“I don’t blame you a bit.  I’d have done the exact same thing,” I grinned.  “So what’s it like, being an American living in Italy?  How has life as an expat been treating you?”

“Oh, I love it here!  Taking Latin in college was a great foundation for learning Italian later on.  I’m almost as fluent now as Val– Gabriel is.  And Valerius and I helped each other so much during the first few months we were together.  I mean, it was almost like we were both foreigners.  I was this goofy American chick, and he was a Roman from the first century.  He helped me settle into life in a foreign country, and I helped him adjust to life 2000 years in his future.”

“Ah, yes.  That was one of my favorite parts of your story, I have to confess.”  From the corner of my eye, I see Gabriel sneaking into the kitchen.  He puts a finger to his lips, and I focus on Angela.  Stalling for time, I say, “So what’s Gabriel doing now?”

Angela claps her hands in delight, oblivious to Gabriel stealthily creeping up behind her.  “He is brilliant.  He’s still an archaeologist, of course, but now – eep!”  She squeals as Gabriel grabs her from behind and pulls her in close for a nuzzling hug.

“Now they’ve got someone excavating the Villa of the Papyri who really lived there,” Gabriel/Valerius says.  “You’re right, darling, I’m brilliant.  My supervisors just have no idea why.”

I smile at one of my favorite characters, the Roman surgeon who now inhabits a hunky Italian body.  “Okay, Angela, I have to ask – what was it like being with two men at the same time?  Especially when one of them was a ghost?”

Gabriel grins and buries his nose in Angela’s hair, breathing in deeply and making her giggle, even though she’s blushing again.

“I’m a little shy, okay?  I would never have thought I’d be in a threesome.  Ever.  But I really like sex.  Good sex makes me feel – primal.  Earthy.  Sensual.  Desired.”  (“Oh yeah,” Gabriel murmurs into her hair.  “You are definitely desired, my love.”)  “And having Gabriel and Valerius at the same time – oh my god.”  I can see a shiver pass through her.  “I felt – well.  I felt a little bit naughty!  But mostly I felt like I was losing control, and loving every minute of it, because I was perfectly safe with both of them.  Even though I couldn’t see Valerius, I could feel him.  And I could feel that he wanted me.  I felt loved, and adored – and god, I felt sexy!”

“I’m glad,” I say, and I mean it.  Writing is a way to explore our deepest desires and our wildest passions.  What I may never experience, my characters can.

Valerius reaches out and takes my hand.  “Thank you for giving me a second chance at life.”  He grins.  “After what happened to Gabriel, I’m particularly careful about crossing the street.  I want to have a long, happy life with the woman I love.  I’m not going to make the same mistake twice!”  He winks.

“I wish you the best,” I say, smiling at his joke.  I finish my lemonade, and head back to the front hallway to gear up.  Before I reach for my helmet, Angela gives me a hug.

“I want to thank you too,” she whispers into my ear.  “He’s perfect – so wonderful, and smart, and kind.  And he’s Roman!”  She pulls back, her eyes twinkling.  I smile at her.

“I just knew you’d be happy with him.”


‘Timeless Embrace’ is available here


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Interview with Jake Riordan


It’s eleven minutes after the hour when LAPD Homicide Detective Jake Riordan walks in. He moves with that alert but easy confidence I remember. He spots me immediately, joins me at the bar. He nods a curt hello, leans across to order a drink — what is that scent he wears? Soap, the leather of his jacket, a hint of his own clean sweat. He settles back on the stool and studies me.  His eyes are hazel. I’d forgotten that — forgotten how long his eyelashes are too. I guess I didn’t want to remember how attractive he is, but now that he’s here in front of me…he’s not easy to dismiss.


“Okay, Josh,” he says, and that wry suggestion of a smile is sort of disarming. “What the hell is so important that it couldn’t wait?”


“I need to ask you a couple of questions. And I need you to be straight with me.”


“I’m always straight.” He’s not smiling.


“Listen, pal, your continued existence depends on the next five minutes.”


He meets my gaze levelly. Lifts a broad shoulder. “Shoot.”


“You’d be surprised at the number of people who want me to do just that.”


His lifts his brows, apparently unimpressed. He dumps the shot in his beer. Picks the glass up and takes a sip. “It’s always a possibility in my line,” he says.


“I know.” Oddly enough, he looks a little sympathetic, meeting my gaze. “You’re married now,” I say. “How’s that going?”


His face closes. After a moment he says, “You know Kate lost the baby, right?”




“Yeah. Well…” He sighs. “It’s been rough. Rough on Kate. You know women. She keeps going over it. Thinking maybe it was something she did or didn’t do.”


“I’m not that interested in Kate.  I want to know how you feel.”


His expression is pained. “Jesus, Josh. How the hell do you think I feel? I wanted the kid. I wanted…”  He stops. “Anyway. It’s okay. It’s good. I got what I wanted. She’s a great girl.” He corrects himself. “Woman.”


“You used to do the clubs. Are you still active in the s/M scene?”


He gives me a long look. “You know damn well, I am, so why are you asking?”


“Not exactly Leave it to Beaver this marriage, is it?”


“No.” He looks pointedly at his expensive wristwatch — the one Kate gave him for his birthday. “Next question.”


“You were involved in a homosexual relationship for a while with Adrien English, a gay bookseller –” I hesitate as I note the fleeting softening of his expression. “That relationship ended in violence –”


“Violence.” He shakes his head. “Jesus. I shoved him, he fell. I shouldn’t have — I feel like hell every time I think of it, okay? I wouldn’t — it was an extreme situation, and, yeah, I was jealous, frustrated, bitter, I admit it. All of it. I regret it.” He gives me a level look. “Ask Adrien if he thinks I’d ever — never mind.”


“Do you ever see Adrien anymore?”


“I tried calling him a couple of times. Left a message.” He sips his drink. “He could get in touch if he wanted to.”


“You’re married!”


“I mean as friends! Jesus. You people. You know, guys can occasionally be close without jumping into the sack.”


“You really are pretty damned insensitive,” I say disgustedly. “No wonder Adrien wouldn’t pick up the phone.”


He finishes his drink. “That it?”


I study him for a long moment. “One last question. Do you still love Adrien?”


His hazel eyes meet mine, and just for a moment I see something — or maybe I want to see it. His face…changes. Just for a moment there’s something almost too painful to look at. He doesn’t answer, and I realize he can’t. He recovers so fast I think I probably imagined it.


Jake gets up to leave. Without looking at me, he says, “Tell Adrien…tell him to take care of himself.”


 Find Josh Lanyon’s Adrien English mysteries here


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Openly gay Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa’aka is the protagonist in three of Neil Plakcy’s Hawaiian mysteries: Mahu, Mahu Surfer, and Mahu Fire (April, 2008).

Interviewed by Anthony Bidulka, author of the Russell Quant mysteries, this is the twin of last weeks interview 🙂


1. Boxers or briefs? And how many other people than yourself can answer that question?

Boxers, in patterns and prints that many men would find embarrassing, like shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day, hearts and cupids for Valentine’s Day, tropical fish, surfing dogs and naked Santas. But hey, I’m secure enough in my masculinity to wear goofy shorts. If you get me stripped down that far, you’re thinking about what’s inside the shorts, not what’s on them! And as to how many people can answer that—a gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell (or strip and tell, for that matter.)

2. Many would say, Kimo, that you had a rather interesting coming out process. Is there anything you regret about how you came out? On the other side of things, what is your favorite thing about how you came out?

I wish I’d been able to come out on my own terms, on my own schedule. Being dragged out of the closet by the media, when I wasn’t really ready, was tough. But then, everything happens for a reason, right? Who knows, I might have stayed in the closet a lot longer otherwise. And think of the fun I’d have missed!

3. What do you think of the word “mahu”? When is its use appropriate?

Mahu is a really tough word in Hawaii. I remember when I was a kid, I’d hear people mutter that word like it was some kind of a curse, and once in a while, when I was being whiny, my dad even said things like “Don’t be a little mahu.” And that hurt, you know? But I think we can take the sting out of any word, like mahu or queer or faggot, that we claim as our own. When you use it from a position of power—like “I may be a mahu but I can still kick your ass”—then it’s fine with me.

4. You are a Hawai’ian boy. Some say Hawaii is a paradise. Others feel it is too small and isolated. What is your opinion? And if you would ever live anywhere else, where would it be and why?

I went to college in Santa Cruz, and I liked California—but it wasn’t home. There’s something about the islands that connects to me. I look out at the waves and imagine my ancestors sailing across those seas to this place. I grew up here, and every street, every corner, every beach has some connection to my past.

Yeah, sometimes I get island fever, and I get jealous of my college friends who live on the mainland—you can just get in a car and drive for hours if you want. Cross state lines and climate zones. You can’t do that when you’re stuck on a rock in the middle of the Pacific. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. But if I did, it’d have to be a place with great surf!

5. What would life be like if – for whatever reason – you could no longer surf?

Man, that would be a tough one. Surfing gets me away from all my troubles, makes me concentrate on the wind and the water, live in the moment. If I couldn’t do that I’d go crazy. Or start parasailing.

6. What is your definition of despair?

That’s a tough one. But I have to say I’ve seen people in despair—criminals at the end of their rope, victims who’ve nearly been destroyed—and it’s not a place I want to go. I think despair arrives when you lose faith in happy endings—the chance that things will work out for the best some day. When you lose that hope, you’re prey to all the bad things in the world.

7. Who is your best friend and why?

I’m lucky to have two best friends. The three of us were high school friends, and now Harry Ho is my best guy friend and Terri Clark Gonsalves is my best gal friend. With Harry, I can kick back over beers, surf, and talk stink. He’s always got my back. My friendship with Terri is different; I feel like she can see into my soul, and she always knows what to say when I’m feeling lousy. She’s a beautiful person, inside and out, and you can see that in the way she treats everybody.

Of course, I’m in the market for a third best friend—the kind that includes romance. Maybe that guy, when I find him, will take the place of these other two—but I hope not. I’m a big-time romantic, despite the reputation I’ve got for sexual adventuring, and I’m waiting for that special guy to come along who’ll be my heart’s best friend.

8. Of all the bad guys (gals) you’ve come across in your career as a criminal justice professional, which one still haunts your dreams and why?

Sex is such a powerful force, you know? When we’re chasing some sexual dream, it can be enough sometimes to make us do all kinds of things we wouldn’t usually do. When I was struggling with coming out, I was also chasing this big, handsome, sexy bad guy named Wayne Gallagher—and he knew just how to manipulate me. Teasing me. Touching me. It made me ashamed to be attracted to someone I knew intellectually was just bad. I put him behind bars, but when a guy’s chasing me in my nightmares, it’s Wayne.

9. Describe you dream date – not only the person, but how the date/event would unfold.

My dream date will make me laugh, and I’ll be so interested in him and what he’s got to say that I won’t notice the time passing. I’ll be totally attracted to him, dying to rip his clothes off and run my hands and lips over his whole body, and yet I’ll want to talk to him, and listen to him, even more. Am I a romantic, or what? As for the rest of it, well, I live in a tropical paradise, so we’re talking a fabulous meal of local seafood, accompanied by a couple of tropical cocktails. Then a walk along the beach with waves as our sound track, gentle ocean breezes, the scent of plumeria blossoms, the stars of Orion’s sword twinkling above us. And then, of course, amazing, hot, passionate sex afterwards! (Oops, did that last line make me sound like a slut?)

10. What makes you belly laugh?

Slapstick. Watching the stuff they put contestants through on reality TV. The Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers and anything made by the Farrelly brothers. You gotta laugh, right? It’s nature’s best medicine. It keeps you young. And it sure makes you sexy!


You can find ‘Mahu Surfer’ and the other books in the series HERE

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Author Neil Placky interviews Russell Quant, the star of Amuse Bouche, A Flight of Aquavit, Tapas on the Ramblas, Stain of the Berry, and the new Sundowner Ubuntu.

In a fascinating departure from our usual style, Neil is interviewing a character who is not his own creation, but who is the star of Anthony Bidulka’s series of detective novels. Next week we’ll have an interview of Neil’s lead character by Anthony, so this is a two part treat 🙂

Stain of the Berry

Gay private investigator Russell Quant is based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (in the middle of the Canadian prairie) but in five books by author Anthony Bidulka (Amuse Bouche, A Flight of Aquavit, Tapas on the Ramblas, Stain of the Berry, and the new Sundowner Ubuntu), he’s been around the world.

1. You’re half Irish and half Ukrainian. Do those two ethnicities blend well in you?

If you had asked me that question ten…maybe even five years ago, I would have stared at you with a blank look in my eyes, quickly followed by some not-so-quick witted reply. Growing up, I never considered myself half Ukrainian or half Irish. My parents—my dad in particular—always said we were Canadians, plain and simple. I think he’d gone through so much—leaving behind family he was never to see again, poverty, bone-breaking labour, heartbreak, disappointment—to come to Canada in the first place, that by Jove he was going to be a Canadian, and so were all his descendants.

Though my dad had a heavy brogue, and my mother to this day rolls her ‘r’s and wails her ‘oi’s’ to great effect (and let’s not forget her penchant for garish color combinations), I never caught on to the fact that I was made up of stuff from a country other than the one I was born in. Until recently. I find as I grow older, I’m thinking more about this. Especially now that my dad is gone. I’ve begun to recognize traits in me that speak loudly of who and where I come from. I like to think—as a tribute to my two fine parents—that they leave me with the best those two ethnicities have to offer. And maybe some of the rascally qualities too—but hey, what’s life without some rascally qualities.

2. I know you were a police constable before you became a private investigator. What drew you to police work in the first place? And what caused you to go out on your own?

I am a sad cliché. I wanted to help people. Ever since I was a boy, the people I related to on TV, in movies, in books, in real life, were the ones who reached out a hand to those in need. I must admit, part of the whole cop/PI thing may have come from crushes developed on Starsky, Hutch, Magnum, Remington Steele and Sonny Crockett. And when I saw reruns of shows like The Rookies and Rockford…well, how could I not follow in those footsteps? Joshing aside, I just have this thing I guess, where it means something to me to ensure people in need are being looked after.

Although I have been accused of being a dreamer and taking risks when I shouldn’t, I am smart, I am pragmatic, and I am realistic. I knew becoming a PI in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan wasn’t any of those things. So I became a cop. When I left for training in Regina, I knew it wasn’t my ‘exact’ dream. It wasn’t a perfect fit. But I would get exceptional training—which I knew of no other way to get—and I believed that once I became a constable on the city streets, I could achieve most of my goals. And who knew, maybe I’d love being a cop.

I didn’t.

In many ways, I am a lone wolf. To be a good cop, you need to be part of a team. The weakness is mine, not that of the profession.

And there was another problem. The people I wanted to help the most, I couldn’t reach: the people who, for a myriad of reasons, are beyond the scope of the police service’s scope. For the first time I truly understood the need for private investigators. They are not there to compete with the police, they are there—in the best sense of that profession—to give aid to those who fall between the cracks, who have a need that cannot be fulfilled by traditional policing.

That is what I wanted to do.

But I couldn’t see a way to do it on my own. My greatest barrier still existed: the unknown. Could a private investigator survive in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada? Sure, there were other detectives in Saskatchewan. But from what I could tell, their bread and butter came from rather mundane activities I wasn’t interested in. Without going into much detail, at about this time, my uncle and life mentor, passed away and left me with a small inheritance. The money came with a price tag. It was to be used to “Buy a Dream”. And the dream I bought, was to leave my career as a City of Saskatoon Police constable and hang my shingle as Russell Quant, PI. I’ve never looked back.

3. Where’s the place you’ve traveled on business where you wish you could have stayed longer?

France continues to appeal to me. It’s odd really, as I don’t speak French, so one might think I wouldn’t feel all that at home there. Especially in the countryside where English-speaking locals can be more difficult to find. But there is something about the French attitude that I admire. They treat their daily lives the way you and I treat vacations. They nap in the afternoon, they dress up just to go for a walk, they drink wine all the time, dining is an experience, they don’t take sex or themselves too seriously, humour is sharp and smart, relaxation is an art.

Also, my friend Anthony has a place in Tuscany that I’d happily return to. Africa changed my way of looking at the world. New York is adrenaline for me. I could go on and on, don’t get me started.

4. People are always asking when you’re going to get a boyfriend. Do you have commitment issues?

First off, I’d like to lay claim to at least some ‘commitment’ cred. The people who ask about my boyfriend-less status are generally only looking at my life in the last five years or so. They either don’t know, or have forgotten, that I have a couple of long term relationships in my past. Then again, those obviously did not last, and here I am, single (for the most part) for over five years.

So do I currently have commitment issues? Yes. And no. It’s not that I don’t want to be committed, or feel incapable of it. But for whatever set of circumstances I haven’t been looking for a commitment. Part of it is that I feel some compunction to prove, at least to myself, that being in my thirties and single is a viable lifestyle. I really love my life. I love what I do. I love my friends and family (most of the time). I love my dogs, my house, my car, my office. My life is very full. But yeah, yeah, I know, it’s still empty of the love of a good man.

I know I may sound like I do have commitment issues, and just don’t know it (or won’t admit it). But deep down, I really feel when the right guy comes around, I’m going to know it and I’m going to go after it with greater vigor, aggression and commitment than anyone has ever seen from me before.


As you know, I have met someone who I’ve been spending a lot of time with. It’s the longest relationship I’ve had in some time. Obviously I don’t want to get into it here, but I’m still working on where this thing will go. To be honest, I am having issues. Emotions are a complicated thing. And I’m not helping any. I don’t know if it will lead to a greater commitment.

5. Where’s the place you most hope a case will take you?

You know, I’m kind of hoping that sooner rather than later I’ll get to go somewhere just for a vacation. No bad guys/girls. No guns. No tracking down leads. No jumping out of exploding jeeps or ducking punches. I think it would be a delight to go somewhere hot and only worry about my tan line and whether I want a margarita or a nice cold beer.

6. Do you have any regrets about the cases you’ve handled?

Uh, yeah. There was this young man while I was on a case in New York…

At first it appeared to be suicide. It wasn’t. His death wasn’t my fault of course. I know that in my head. But in every other way I am filled with regret about what happened to him. I can’t help but wonder if I’d stuck a little closer to him, knew more about what was going down, that I couldn’t have saved his life. He was a beautiful, charming, intelligent, witty, young man who should not be dead. This is the crap part about what I do.

7. Tell us more about those black pants of yours!

Do you remember Lassie? Or The Littlest Hobo? Or the Olsen twins? Like them, the wonder pants have actually been more than just one specific pair of pants over the years. There have been certain immutable occasions in fashion history that have necessitated my wonder pants be updated. Stuff like wide leg changing to slim fit, flat front in favor of multiple pleats, that kind of thing. Other than that, wonder pants are that one pair of black trousers in your closet that you can always turn to, regardless of the occasion, time of year, or whether or not you’ve just ingested a bag of Zesty Dorito chips. They always fit, they never wrinkle, never show stains, and they always make your butt look great. Everyone must have a pair.

8. Is Saskatoon really as great a place as you make it sound?

I’m asked this question a lot. I think it’s because Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is a place not many people have heard of, and fewer have been to. And, let’s face it, it’s not L.A., Paris, Toronto or Hong Kong. But why should that mean it’s dull and boring? It is an awesome place to live. But so are L.A., Paris, Toronto and Hong Kong. One is not better than the other, just different. And, I’m a full believer that anyplace is a great place to live, as long as you surround yourself with people you love, and/or love to spend time with. Fun is in the air. You just have to breathe it in.

9. What’s your favorite food? And how do you stay so slim?

May you live forever with all the riches of life at your feet!

Sometimes I think my obituary will say (along with other more uplifting things): Russell endured a lifelong battle against weight gain.

I am not naturally, genetically, or any other way, predisposed to be thin. My body wants to be bigger than I allow it to be. I’ve known this since my first, much-beloved, forever-owned, pair of wonder pants (see above) had to be “super-sized” two sizes bigger. This happened when I was about 27, and there was simply nothing I could do any longer to maintain my grade twelve waist size.

So, I work hard at it. I go to the gym and walk the dogs. Now, to be fair to my metabolism, I do cheat—outrageously at times—which brings me to my favorite food: cinnamon buns. My mother makes these incredible cinnamon buns, the kind that are soft all the way through (I don’t like crusty buns) and they’re slathered in this sauce that is creamy, rather than sticky, and tastes vaguely of butterscotch.

10. Tell us about your dogs—you seem to have a real fondness for them.

Barbra and Brutus are standard schnauzers, pepper and salt in colour. They are brother and sister. I will admit, given my line of work, and the fact that I travel as much as I do, it might seem wiser for me not to have pets. Or to have a cat or fish or some other type of pet that needs less attention than dogs do. But I am fortunate to have people around me who love Barbra and Brutus too, and are willing to watch after them if I’m busy on a case or out of town. And, over the years, the two of them have become quite accustomed to my sometimes odd hours and lifestyle choices.

There are times, it’s true, when I’ve been on surveillance for the past fourteen hours, I haven’t slept or eaten, I’m exhausted, and I come through the door and the last thing I want to do is take a dog for a walk or fix dinner for anyone other than me. But mostly, there are the times when, even though I live in a large house, all three of us are cuddled up on the same sofa, it’s cold outside, we’re watching a movie together, there are cinnamon buns nearby, and I could not be more content. There’s something about having something living in your home other than you. Yeah, it could be a boyfriend or husband, but for now, well, I love my dogs. Who says I have commitment issues?


You can find more about Russell in Anthony Bidulka’s series of books, available HERE

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Ciaran and Malik from My Brother’s Keeper

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Hi, my name is Denise Kendrick and today I’ll be interviewing one of the main characters from My Brother’s Keeper, which was co-authored with the wonderful RD Solange.

This character’s name is Ciaran and he’s–Oh, here he is now. “Hi, Ci! I’m so glad you came.”

He stops mid-stride. “You mean I had a choice?” Just as quick he’s turned on his heel and is moving away.

“No, wait!” I wave him back. This doesn’t make sense. Ciaran and I have always gotten along.

He turns around with a sigh, lifting his arms out to his sides in a helpless gesture. He looks more…manly…somehow. More filled out than he did in the book. Of course, he did do a lot of growing up. “Are you sure you don’t want Malik? He’s the one they all love to angst over. Or Dashi with his cute little smile?”

I roll my eyes and point to the couch opposite the chair I’m seated on. “I want you! Now, sit.” He takes his time about it, but he does it. The water and fruit I’ve set out the small table between us go ignored. “You know you’re my favorite,” I coo at him.

“Yeah… I know.”

“So what’s wrong?”

He sighs, rubbing his face with his hands. “It’s the stress. Now everyone knows I’m sleeping with my brother.”

“That’s stressful? Malik doesn’t seem to mind. Plus you’re imaginary…”

“But why? Why did you have to make us twins?” Gosh, he’s so handsome when he angsts.

“I didn’t,” I tell him, surprised at the question. “That’s just how you came. You don’t like it?”

“No, I mean, it’s good. I love him.” He shrugs. “It’s just…people are *staring*.”

“Um. No, actually, they’re not. I think we need to get you some Prozac.” I tap my lip. “Though, I don’t think they have Prozac where you come from.”

Moaning for effect, he turns and sprawls out lengthwise on the sofa. My attention is drawn to the way he crosses his ankles, dropping one foot like an anchor over the other.

“When did you start wearing boots?” I wonder.

“Right after I stopped wearing slippers,” he tells me.

“Huh.” Things have certainly changed in the few weeks since the book was published.

“Well, let’s start the interview anyway.” I consult my notebook and run my pen down the list of questions. “How did you like being Malik’s pleasure slave?” I put a little tease into it to try and liven him up. After all, he’d spent the entirety of the book trying to get out of that very circumstance.

The attempt at levity flops. He looks at me sideways, “How would you have liked it?”

“Ciaran!” I groan, “Come on! It was a great story, full of angst and true love and quite a good ending for you if I recall, so what’s with all this?”

He sits back up, throwing his feet off the couch and onto the floor as he turns to face me, “Fine it’s the sex.”

“It’s the wha?” This was an erotic romance, after all. Of course there was plenty of sex!

“It’s Malik, he wants to have sex all the time now!”

I nod, trying to keep up, “And that’s… that’s bad?”

“It is for me.”

“How so?”

“Well, it used to be easy to get him to do what I wanted. I’d give him a little at a time. A little sex here, a little there, always keep him wanting…”

“You’re unhappy because you don’t have to resist his advances anymore?”

“Well, when you put it like that–“

“What’s this?” Malik enters the room like a breath of fresh air, his black dress uniform crisped to perfection. His face is free of the somberness that frequently clouded it during the book and a warm loving glow lights up his eyes as he sits next to his brother, throwing an arm over Ciaran’s shoulder in a friendly hug. “Are we enjoying our little interview?”

Ciaran scowls at the use of the pronoun. “*We* are not. You talk to her, will you?”

“You’ll have to pardon my brother,” Malik says, lifting a glass of water from the table between us. “He’s been a bit grumpy lately.”

“I heard,” I smile, “all the sex.”

Malik chokes on his sip of water. “The sex?” he croaks.

“Been having a lot of it?”

“Well, it’s only fair,” he blushes, “after everything I–“

“Fair?!” Ciaran interrupts. “That stunt last night was not fair.”
 Malik scratches the back of his head. “Well, you did say if you lost the bet…”

Ciaran looks like he’s going to tackle Mal and wrestle him to the ground any second. I snort, fondly. This isn’t a usual lover’s quarrel. Nothing’s usual when the lovers are brothers.

“That’s not quite true,” Malik interrupts my internal musing, and I blink as I realize he’s talking to me. I forgot–muses are telepathic.

Ciaran snorts, reading my thoughts in turn. “They are when they want to be.”

“What?” Malik frowns.

“Telepathic.” He stabs Malik’s chest with his forefinger. “You know, doing what’s desired of them by their author?”

“Hey, I take plenty of direction,” Malik counters.


They look at me in unison.

“The interview?”

They turn to each other, pause and then their shoulders lift in matching shrugs. For fraternal twins, who don’t look alike, they still retain that uncanny sense of connection.

“What else do you want to know?” Ciaran asks. He reclines against the back of the couch, nestling close to his twin as if the argument never happened. He takes Malik’s hand in his and plays with his fingers. Malik is instantly distracted and, frankly, so am I. Ciaran clears his throat, smirking. “The questions?”

“Oh! Uh…” I flip through my notes to avoid looking embarrassed. I find a good one. “Would you do it all again? Overcome all odds just to be together?”

“Yes,” Malik says, resolutely. Just as Ciaran answers, “No.”

Malik gives his brother an incredulous look. “No?”

“Come on,” Ciaran waves towards me without looking away from his brother, “It’s not like she can’t put us somewhere else. A nice deserted island, maybe? No raving madmen trying to kill us?”

“Hmm,” Malik relaxes again. He giggles softly as he plays with Ciaran’s fingers, letting his eyelashes flutter upward. It’s obvious who the real pleasure slave in the book was. “You mean where I won’t throw you in jail?”

“That’d be nice,” Ciaran murmurs, “for a start.”

“And…where I don’t make you get naked in front of our friends?”

“That would be excellent,” Ciaran says, stretching and relaxing like a cat.

Malik’s leg curls under him as he shifts closer, smoothing Ciaran’s golden bangs away from his eyes. “I know a great little place.”


Their lips seem irresistibly drawn towards each other, for just … one … kiss. “It’s really…” Another another. “…really private.”

“Why wait till we get there?” Ciaran purrs. Malik only grins and starts with Ciaran’s neck.

I squeak softly. Just who was complaining about too much sex earlier? Clearly my boy Mal has been getting a bad rap.

Ciaran glances up and winks at me over Malik’s shoulder. “You can come back later if you want. I mean–ahhh,” his eyes roll back slightly as his fingers tighten on Malik’s sleeve, “we’re not going anywhere.”

“Oh, um…” I swallow back the nonsense excuses I was ready to utter. I don’t think they’d mind if I watched. I mean…it’s not like it’s anything I haven’t seen before. “You carry on,” I say with a nod, though it’s clear they’re past listening to me, “I’ll just wait right here.” And maybe take some notes. Who knows, I could always learn something new for the next book!



‘My Brother’s Keeper’ is available here

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Terence from In the Blood, by Rick R. Reed

Terence is not expecting me when I drop by at dusk. The house where he and Edward live on Chicago’s Sheridan Road appears deserted, ghostly really, so I’m sure neither of them is expecting visitors.

But it’s dusk and I want to see Terence, catch him before he goes out for the night (vampires have such predictable lives!). It’s been so long since we’ve chatted and I wanted to be sure he isn’t too cross with me about how I represented him in my novel In the Blood. Not that I think I represented him unfairly (hey, when you’re gorgeous, heartless, and ruthless, there’s little a writer can do to mask it).

I knock and wait. The house’s windows, black, make me think of empty eye sockets. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think this house had stood empty for decades. I glance across at Lake Michigan, which looks angry, flinging itself at the boulders along the shores. I do not even hear the door opening.

“Oh my! Look what we have here! It’s the little writer boy come to call. The one who thinks he knows all about us.”

The voice chills me; it’s deep, resonant, and has a way of penetrating more deeply than a human voice. Almost as if a cold hand grasped my shoulder and forced me around, I turn. Terence stands before me, in all his glory: alabaster skin, long blond hair, muscles sheathed in pewter latex and black leather. He is like a fetishist’s dream and a fundamentalist’s nightmare. And he actually is both of those things. He is, quite simply, stunning. And I, the “writer boy” can barely think of a word to say. Terence’s gaze has a way of doing that.

“Hello, Terence. I thought I’d stop by, see how you were.”

“Oh, concerned now, are we? After you exposed me to the world?” Terence steps back and I follow him inside the cavernous space. They have knocked down walls to make room for their eclectic and voluminous art collection.

He doesn’t offer me a seat and I stand, staring up at him. “Oh come on, my dear. You live for such exposure.”

Terence gives his best impression of a pout and I want to laugh, but I don’t. “Not when you make me look so horrible.”

I shake my head. “I was just reporting what you did. I’m not the one that killed the old homeless man while he was sleeping, or dragged the schoolgirl back to my lair and fed on her for days.”

“Oh hush! Just because you shop at a grocery and I do my shopping al fresco doesn’t mean we’re any different.” He smiles hugely. “We all have to eat.”

“I suppose. But do you know what? I wanted to tell you this. I thought you might be pleased.”

Terence cocks his head. “What? The only thing I’d be pleased with is opening up that pretty little throat you’ve got there. But they’d notice you missing too soon and our connection would lead them here.”

“Remember that. No, what I wanted to tell you is that many people who have read about you thought you were gorgeous and extremely sexy. More than any other character, women and men alike wanted a taste of Terence.”

For once, a glimmer of a real, human smile whispers across Terence’s features. I can tell he’s genuinely pleased. I know, that for Terence, it’s all about Terence. “Really?”

“Yes. They all want to be your next victims. They think it would be achingly romantic.”

“Hmph. They’ve got the aching part right.” He grins and then grabs me, inspired. “Tell me where I can find some of them.”

I slowly shake my head. “Don’t you know I never reveal my sources?”

Terence smirks. “Always with the conscience! Why don’t you give it up to me and become one of us?”

“What? And lose my ability to put fiends like you on paper? No way.”

“Well, if that’s how you feel, you should know that I have better things to do now that it’s gotten dark outside. I’ll thank you to be on your way. Lovely chatting with you.”

I turn at the door. “Try to pick on someone your own size tonight. Maybe someone just as heartless.”

Terence winks at me. “You’re no fun.” He waves his hand in my direction. “Off with you now.”

Available at Amazon, here.

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Marcus Verano talks to J.P. Bowie, author of My Vampire and I




The home of Marcus Lucius Verano and his lover Roger Folsom, is quite simply, one of the most gorgeous places I have ever seen in my life. Set high up in the Hollywood Hills, complete with a breathtaking nighttime view of Los Angeles, it is the perfect partnership of wealth and good taste.


Something like the man himself…


Marcus greeted me at the door, his magnificent presence and killer smile entrancing me immediately. Wearing a black, raw silk shirt, black jeans and cowboy boots, he is the epitome of your classically handsome vampire. He is also the perfect host. A firm handshake, and then a gentle pressure on my shoulder as he guided me across the impressive foyer into the immense living room, beautifully decorated with priceless art deco furniture and objets d’art. I had seen this room many times in my mind’s eye, but its reality was even more stunning than I had imagined.


“Thank you, Marcus,” I said as he led me to the bar by the immense river stone fireplace. “Thank you for allowing this interview to take place in your home.”


His smile made me weak at the knees. “How could I refuse you, J.P.? After all, without you I would not exist – nor would I live in this wonderful home, surrounded by all this opulence. Would you care for some wine?”


“Whatever you’re having,” I replied. “Roger’s not home?”


“No. He went to the movies with Ron and Micah.”


“A horror movie no doubt.”


“Correct. I’m afraid I have not the patience to sit through these dreary representations of things supernatural.”


“Well, you’ve seen enough of that in your own lifetime.”


He passed me a crystal glass filled with a dark red liquid. “Salud,” he said softly, then indicated that I should sit in one of the armchairs by the fireplace. As we both settled into the cushioned comfort of the antique chairs I asked; “Now that you’ve averted yet another crisis, are you finding your leisure time rewarding?”


“Extremely – thank you for giving me a respite between fighting off the bad guys, and rescuing my friends from the Dark Forces.”


“Wait – you’re talking about the second installment of My Vampire and I, aren’t you?”


“Oh, sorry – you mean I shouldn’t mention that yet?”


“No, that’s OK. Shameless self-promotion is part of the author’s game.” I took a sip of my wine. “Mmm, delicious…. So, do you feel that vampires generally get a raw deal in movies and literature?”


“Absolutely.” His emerald green eyes shone with intensity as he leaned forward in his chair and fixed me with a look that was mesmerizing – and extremely sexy. “We’re either portrayed as bloodthirsty soulless monsters, or weak as water romantic ninnies. I pride myself on the fact that I am neither of those types.”


“You are definitely not soulless, nor weak.”


“Thank you.”


“However, I do see you as quite the romantic – and there is the matter of the blood…”


“Mmm…the blood is the life, to quote Mr. Stoker.” His smile was a trifle rueful. “I am afraid there is nothing I can do about that side of me.”


“You have lived a long time…”


“Eighteen hundred years – and counting…”


“Yet you look amazing.”


“Thank you, again.” His smile was wide enough for me to see the tip of his fangs.


“Do you have any regrets, Marcus?” I asked, clearing my throat.


“A few… For a long time I regretted that I could not save my lover Thomas from the curse the Comte d’Arcy inflicted upon him. But after what he tried to do to Roger, my main regret was that I could not punish him for it.”


“He’s still on the loose?”


“He’s somewhere out there.”


“And of being a vampire – do you regret that?”


“I’ve had a long time to come to terms with my fate. In the beginning, of course, not knowing quite what had happened to me, it was traumatic, to say the least. That is why when I became fully attuned and confident of my supernatural prowess, I decided to befriend and mentor those who may have been suddenly and abruptly changed without their consent. ” He smiled again. “And, of course, since meeting Roger, my life has become a deal more pleasant – rowdy, but pleasant.”


“How is Roger?”


“Very well, thank you for asking. He still has problems adjusting to his newfound strength and abilities, but all-in-all I would say he has coped admirably since his change. His main problem is that he tries to do too much at once. He is enthusiastic in everything…”




“Everything…and that’s all I’m saying on that subject.”


We chuckled together. “Well,” I said, “thanks again for the interview – and the wine.”


“It has been a pleasure…”


He rose and offered me his hand, which, of course, I took willingly. He drew me into his arms for a hug, his lips touching my cheek. I gave an involuntary shiver. I’d often wondered what a vampire’s kiss would feel like. It was…merely sensational.


As I pressed myself to the solid wall of his muscled torso, I felt myself envying Roger’s place in Marcus’ life. Of course, I thought, I could always write him out…


“Please don’t do that,” Marcus murmured.


Drat! Of course, he could read my mind.


“Sorry.” I pulled back and gave him a weak smile. “I’d better go – I have another story to write!”

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Dean from ‘Snow Angel’

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I’m surprised to see the garage looking so empty, and feeling so cold, so… hostile almost.

“It’s not always like this.” Dean Chapman’s voice contains deep notes, but he sounds almost shy. He’s slouched against one of the work beaches, legs crossed at the ankles, arms folded across his chest. His posture is relaxed, yet slightly defensive. A shimmering image in the corner of my eye distracts me. The Jaguar XK150 appears as a ghost-like vision and then materialises. The manifestation reminds me that in the world of imagination anything can happen. The vehicle’s beautiful blue bodywork matches the colour of Dean’s amazing eyes. He grins sheepishly at me. “What can I say? It’s my favourite.”

“I know. No one knows you better than I do. I even know why you agreed to meet me here.” I look around. “This is your place, your sanctuary.”

“You took that away from me.”

“True, but it suited my purpose. I needed to crack that shell of yours, shake up your composure.” He replies with what sounds like a non-committal grunt. “I invented you. Even your job I chose carefully. Working in your father’s garage servicing vintage cars, it’s a masculine persona. This was always intended to be your space.”

“So you could attack me even where I feel most confident. I get it. Why… Why have me write that type of book, though?”

“I researched. Almost everyone has some indication of sexual preference in early life.”

Those blue eyes flash towards me and the light catches them, almost making them glitter. For a moment, I wonder if Dean is angry. Then his expression changes and he looks almost embarrassed. “Ah…” He makes that single sound contain a world of meaning.

“Shall we take it then that now you’ve committed yourself to a gay relationship that you no longer feel the need to explore this through your writing?”

There’s no immediate response to this. Dean stands there blinking as though he’s a small animal caught in a headlight and, considering the size of him, that’s some analogy. I decide to take pity on him. “The reason I’ve called you here is that a reviewer said she had a problem with your refusal to admit to your sexuality. I don’t feel it’s that simple. Do you?”

Dean sighs, lowers his arms from that defensive posture and grips the workbench. I’m a little closer to him now and suddenly the small space feels rather more intimate. “Look, I’m tired of trying to explain who I am, of trying to justify how I feel.”

“It’s not so much that I think anyone wants you to justify yourself, but that they like you even though you can be irritating. They truly want to understand you. You’re not the typical hero in a romance story.”

“You mean I’m human?”

I can’t help it. He makes me smile. “Hmm… the flawed handsome hero.” I hesitate at the risk of inflating his ego. “You’re attractive, it’s true, but that’s not why the readers love you. There’s a depth to you that’s almost tantalising because you keep it hidden so much of the time.” The expected grin materalises.

“I admit to being flawed. People who aren’t are…” He stops, then laughs. “I was going to say they’re boring, but it’s not true. I mean, take Jay. He’s so damn perfect and he’s not boring.”

“You really believe that? That Jay’s perfect?”

“Sure. Don’t you see him that way?”

“Some have said that he seems a little too vulnerable at times, especially where you’re concerned. Some people would see that as being weak.” In response, Dean says nothing, just widens his eyes and raises an eyebrow. He almost makes me blush. “Okay, you and I know different. Jay’s amazingly strong and determined.”

“Absolutely. I…” Dean hesitates, as though he’s just realised what he’s about to say and then it all comes out in a rush, almost as though if he doesn’t get the words out in a hurry he won’t say them. “Jay’s a lovely person. He’s much better than I could ever hope to be. He’s more forgiving, more loving, more open emotionally.”

“Some would say that kind of personality is more vulnerable, more likely to get hurt, especially in matters of love.”

Dean shrugs. “Maybe. But he’s more willing to risk his heart so maybe that means he’s more likely to find love. Some people don’t even want to try. Not truly.”

“Is that what you were doing? Having casual sex in order to protect your heart?”

Dean makes a derisory sound in his throat. “Hell no. Look, I know what you’re getting at.” He stretches, the very sturdy bench creaks, and I have to stop my gaze from doing too much wandering. Many women must be crying into their pillows to lose this one to the other side. “I just like sex. I’ve known men into each other. Some said they weren’t gay either.” He stands up and I almost step back. Despite his size, I have to remember that Dean isn’t truly aggressive. If I step back, I’ll only upset him. “Let’s cut to the chase. You want to know what I think about my sexuality.”

“Not I, but…”

“The readers. Yeah, I get it.” He leans back and his jeans strain at the seams. He has no reason that I can see to be embarrassed. “I’ve slept around. I’m not going to lie about that. Women…” It’s my turn to raise an eyebrow. “I’ve been with some attractive and not so attractive women.”

I’ve a feeling he altered the sentence. I roll my eyes. “Save us. No wonder you ruffle so many feathers.”

He smirks. “I’m not pretending to be anything other than I am. I like sex and if I met a woman who didn’t make me vomit and she wanted sex, then hey, I was all for it, but…” He shrugs. “Guys can be gentle yet so raw at the same time.”

“Maybe you’ve just dated the wrong women or maybe an early girlfriend was an over the top role-model.” He grins. We both know whom I mean.

“Maybe, but hell, some of my mates are married, they’ve got kids, and their wives won’t go down on them.”

“You think women never complain of the same thing?”

He looks surprised, then grins. “Have to say never given that a whole load of thought and it was never a problem for me.”

I’m seeing way too much of those white teeth. I shake my head at him. “You’re incorrigible.”

“No. I’m just me. That’s the whole point. Take me or leave me. I guess when you get down to it good sex is good sex.”

“Then why don’t you at least claim to be bisexual?”

He’s silent for a moment as though seriously thinking about it, or trying to find the best way to explain. “I’ve had one or two girlfriends who experimented. I’m cool about women with women.”

“Most men seem to be, and I’d bet you’d ask them for details?”

“What man wouldn’t?”

“And there we have our double standard.”

“Of course. Anyway, point being one experience does not necessarily make you gay.”

“But this is no longer just one experience. It’s a long-lasting relationship. Shouldn’t that dictate what you are? If you still feel attracted to women how will you deal with that desire?”

“If you’re asking if that attraction is ever going to get the better of me, I don’t believe so. I don’t need to look elsewhere for great sex and I’ve too much to lose. I’m lucky that someone like Jay loves me. I’m not going to jeopardise that and I’d rather… I’d rather he hurt me than I hurt him that way.”

“You make it sound as though you think you deserve it, to be hurt.”

He’s silent a moment, then says, “No. I wouldn’t say that, but I would deserve it more than he does. Bottom line, I love him.”

“Doesn’t who you love dictate what you are? If you love Jay, doesn’t that make you gay?”

Dean looks uneasy but it’s more as if he’s frustrated by a lack of personal understanding. “Two guys, two girls, a mixed orgy, that’s just sex. It doesn’t matter what I’m watching, but if I’m gay doesn’t that mean that I should be able to contemplate sex with other men? Watching is one thing. Doing is something else. I’m confused. Damn!” He rubs his hands over his face. His eyes look slightly wild. I can feel his confusion and frustration, and I feel sorry for him. “I don’t know that I want a tag placed on me. If loving one man makes you gay then I’m gay, but I still like women and don’t want any other man, ever, so how can you call me gay or bisexual?” Clearly, he’s given the question some thought. “I can’t help thinking if we didn’t use all these little labels, if no one blinked an eye or asked questions, well, wouldn’t that make things like same sex marriages easier?”

“Marriage?” I can see Dean struggling not to smile, but eventually the corners of his mouth curl up. He shrugs.

“Let’s just call it a possibility.”

“A possibility?”

“Yeah, sure. Why not?” He shrugs again. “After all, there are those who would still like to deny someone like me could jump the fence. If someone like me, an arrogant, womanising, cocky sod can get in touch with his feminine side, I guess anything’s possible.”

“You’re never going to change, are you?”

Dean laughs. “What for? Jay loves me just as I am. If it’s good enough for him, it should be good enough for anybody. Sorry, Sharon. What you see is what you get. If people don’t like that to hell with them.”

“You could just say you’re gay and make everyone happy.”

That blue stare can be so unnerving at times. “I could, but why should I? I could say what everyone wants to hear, but I won’t lie to Jay. I’m not perfect but the only important thing is what Jay and I think and if I slip into one lie, then maybe I’ll slip into another. I don’t know if I’m gay and until that changes, or they come up with some other neat little label that fits, I won’t say it just to please people who aren’t important to me. I don’t know that I’m gay, but I still love Jay.” He looks contemplative suddenly. “In some ways, I can’t help thinking that means more to him, that I love him despite all the reasons I can think of not to. My being honest with Jay, that’s more important than trying to fit into some neat little box to please other people.”

I can’t help smiling and Dean grins back. Whatever choices Dean Chapman has made, there’s no denying he’s a heartbreaker.

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