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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.

http://www.loose-id.net/searchresult.aspx?CategoryID=237

Sharon Maria Bidwell
aonia – where the muses live
http://www.sharonbidwell.co.uk
http://www.myspace.com/aonia

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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?”

“Green.”

“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

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

deadly-vision.jpg

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

INTERVIEW WITH PIETER VAN LEYDEN FROM ‘CANE’

By Stevie Woods

 cane485.jpg

 

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:

http://www.torquerebooks.com/zencart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=71&products_id=442

 

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

 

Johnnie is from Heaven Sent 1: Heaven by Jet Mykles

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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.

“Okay.”

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.”

“Whoa.”

“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?”

“Yeah.”

“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.”

“Nope.”

“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?”

“Hopelessly.”

“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.”

“Oh?”

“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.”

“Meaning?”

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.”

“Okay.”

“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!

laheat.jpg

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
school?

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
Martinez?

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
Valor?

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
grandmother.

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

 Jay from Snow Angel and Angel Heart by Sharon Maria Bidwell

 

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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!”

 

“Hmm…”

 

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.

 www.sharonbidwell.co.uk

Snow Angel and Angel Heart available here:

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