“Blue Notes,” by Shira Anthony, Excerpt #1

December 30, 2011

Here’s an excerpt – Chapter One in its entirety.  Pre-publication, of course – the final version may differ slightly.  Enjoy!

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Chapter One

HE LEANED back against the headrest and watched the clouds beneath the wing of the airplane. Used to traveling business class, with all six foot three of him now wedged into the narrow coach seat, he cursed every aeronautical engineer who had ever suggested refitting wide-bodied jets to accommodate more passengers.

He eyed the center section of the cabin with longing, regretting that he had chosen a window seat. College students, clearly with more foresight than he, were already stretched out over three or four seats to sleep during the long flight from Philadelphia to Paris. In the final analysis, however (and, exceptional lawyer that he was, he always analyzed), he knew it was his fault alone that he should suffer the indignities of traveling like an eighteen-year-old again; it was his last minute, foolhardy decision that had landed him here.

What the hell were you thinking?

The thought had run like an endless loop through his exhausted mind for the past three hours. He knew the answer, of course: he hadn’t thought at all, he had just reacted. He’d done a lot of that lately.

A female flight attendant—blonde, attractive, and in her midthirties—stopped at his row with a stack of plastic cups and a pitcher of water. “Something to drink?” she offered, her voice a sensual undertone. No doubt she appreciated the lone, well-dressed man amidst the myriad students wired to iPods, iPads, and other devices.

He had come to dismiss such attention; he had long engendered this kind of response from women. With his wavy auburn hair, strong jaw, and bright green eyes, he was, as his grandmother often reminded him, “Quite a catch.” Add to that a salary well into the six-figure range and his job as an equity partner in a large Philadelphia law firm, and Jason Greene was a man any mother would die to have her daughter bring home. Except that he hadn’t quite managed to keep the one woman he had fallen in love with happy.

“Yes—some water, please,” he replied, offering the flight attendant the same pleasant, reassuring smile that he had offered his clients for the past ten years. The same smile that he had offered Diane upon his return home to their high-rise apartment each night, having missed dinner yet again. The smile was far more effective with the flight attendant.

She handed him a cup of water. “Business or pleasure?” she asked, mistaking his politeness for something more like interest. (He wasn’t interested—he’d had enough of women to last him a lifetime, he reminded himself.)

“Neither,” he answered, foreclosing any further discussion. She responded with a slight chuckle, then moved on to the next row back.

He closed his eyes and pressed the button to recline his seat. It only moved about an inch. He looked around. He hadn’t noticed that his seat was right in front of an exit row. Figures, he thought with a snort and a shake of the head. Resigned to his fate, he grabbed the extra pillow off the empty seat next to his and pushed up the armrest to give himself more room. Pulling the slippery blue polyester blanket over himself, he shifted on an angle to tuck his long legs under the aisle seat in front of him. It was not comfortable, but it would do.

He looked out the window once more. It was dark now, and here, above the clouds, he could see stars. He closed his eyes and rearranged the pillows so that his head rested against the cool bulkhead. A few minutes later, he drifted off into an uneasy sleep with the drone of the engines in his ears.

ONLY a day before, he had been dressed in a charcoal-gray Armani suit with a yellow striped Brooks Brothers tie, looking out a wall of windows at the thickening gray clouds over the city of Philadelphia. The forecast was for snow. Again.

“You want what?” Scott Reston, the managing partner of Halwell, Richardson & Dailey, leaned back in his chair and gaped at Jason as though he were an alien.

“I’m taking a leave of absence,” Jason repeated calmly. “Starting tomorrow.”

Tomorrow?” The other man’s voice resonated with shock. “Jason, I know you’re pissed that Diane—”

“I’ve worked my ass off for this firm, Scott,” he countered before the other man could complete his sentence, all the while maintaining his calm resolve. In spite of his control, his jaw tightened. “I’ve been pulling in enough billables to more than cover a few months off.”

Months?” The word came in a half-strangled gasp. “You want months? Look, Jaz, if you need help, I can put the new kid—what’s his name, Sanderson?—on some of your cases.”

“It’s not about the caseload. I haven’t taken time off in years, except the trip with Diane to her sister’s wedding. I need—”

“Then take a few weeks,” Scott interrupted, hoping this settled the matter. “Go somewhere warm. You can use our apartment in Cancun, if you want. Maybe you can pick up some cute Mexican babe while you’re—”

“Two months, Scott,” Jason insisted as he lapsed into his commanding courtroom voice without a second thought. “The other partners won’t question it if you’re on board. Hell, if you want, I’ll take a smaller draw this year.” One of the paperweights on Scott’s desk vibrated with the resonant baritone.

“Hell, Jaz Man. It’s me, remember? The guy you pulled all-nighters with in law school? That lawyer shit won’t work here. And since when do you let a bitch like Diane—”

“Drop it,” Jason responded, his tone colder than the icicles that hung on the eaves outside of the building. “This wasn’t her fault.”

“The fuck! She cheated on you.”

“I said, drop it. Whatever she did, she had her reasons.”

Reason one: too many hours spent at the office. Reason two: too few hours spent at home. Both my fault.

“Jaz Man….” Scott groaned, leaning back in his chair with the same party-boy look that Jason remembered from law school. “Jaz, you’re killing me. I’m up to my neck in depos in the Alvarez case, and TransAllied just sent me a class-action complaint in a race case out of Cleveland. You’re the only one licensed up there.”

“Nothing’ll happen in the next two months on the Cleveland case, and you know it,” he shot back. “I’ll remove it to federal court, and one of your new hires can start on a motion for summary judgment and getting documents together for discovery. And if the judge wants a local guy in on the scheduling conference, you can call my buddy Phil Lane up there to handle it. He owes me one.”

Scott’s frown deepened. “I can’t convince you that you’re a crazy asshole, can I, Jaz Man?”

“Unlikely,” he replied with a self-deprecating laugh. “You’ve had more than ten years to try.” He took a deep breath, allowing his shoulders to relax a bit and softening his expression. “Look, Scotty… I need this. It’ll only be for two months. I promise I’ll come back and make it up to you. Just two months.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Scott acknowledged after a pause. He exhaled, sounding a bit like a pipe releasing steam. “Fine. You got it. I’ll take the heat from the big guns. With all the money you’ve been pulling in for the past few years, they’ll squawk a little, but they’ll be more worried about losing you for good.”

“Thanks,” Jason answered, turning to leave.

“So, where’re you going? Backpacking in South America? Some desert island in the Caribbean?” Scott asked. “Buddhist retreat in Tibet?”

“Paris,” Jason responded, stopping at the door with his fingers curled around the handle.

“Paris in January?”

“Yeah.”

“Cold as hell, I hear.”

“Yeah. Something like that.”

THE plane touched down at Charles de Gaulle Airport on time in a misting rain. Pulling his small suitcase behind him and heading for the line of taxis, Jason laughed to himself—it was considerably warmer here than in Philly. It had snowed in this part of France a few weeks before, but nothing remained of the drifts that had paralyzed the region.

A taxi pulled to the curb, and the driver got out, putting Jason’s bag in the trunk. “À 146 rue d’Assas,” he told the driver in unaccented French.

“Oui, monsieur,” came the curt response.

He leaned forward, elbow on one knee, and watched the dull procession of warehouses that stretched between the airport and the city. It didn’t look all that much different than the outskirts of Philly except for the tiny cars and road signs in French announcing various autoroutes. It wasn’t until he saw the white stone basilica of Sacré- Cœur perched high atop Montmartre that he relaxed back into the seat.

It’s been too long.

The rain picked up as the taxi turned the corner onto rue d’Assas, affording a quick view of the grand fountain at the end of the Jardins du Luxembourg with its immense horses. The park looked gray, lifeless. He handed the driver a fifty euro bill, pulled up the door code on his smartphone, and entered it into the silver keypad, then walked into the tiled vestibule when the wooden door clicked open. Rummaging briefly in his pockets, he pulled out a set of keys and unlocked the door to the courtyard, his suitcase clattering across the uneven flagstones toward yet another doorway. Tiny vines of delicate yellow flowers climbed the side of the building in spite of the cold. In spring, the entire courtyard would be full of colorful blooms tended by the building’s various residents.

The second door opened without a key, and he walked a few more feet to an apartment door painted a bright shade of blue, almost turquoise. He tapped the automatic lights, illuminating the corridor, and plunged his key into the lock. The apartment was cold—colder even than outside. It had been unoccupied for months, and the frigid air from the courtyard leaked in through the ancient windows.

He left his suitcase by the front door and flipped a switch to light the entryway. A burst of color on the dining room table caught his eye as he turned up the thermostat. Rosie, he thought with a smile. She must have asked the building superintendent to set the flowers there for him.

The edges of his mouth turned up as he inhaled the sweet scent of the bouquet. Freesia and irises. There was an envelope propped against the vase, with a typewritten message inside:

Jason—

Looks like I’ll be in Milan until late March. Call me on my cell when you get in. I’ll take the TGV up for a weekend when you’re ready for visitors. I’ve had Rémy stock the fridge for a few days. The place is yours for as long as you need it. Remember to relax!

Love you,

Rosalie

Three years older than he, Rosalie had purchased the Paris apartment years ago, having done quite well in her work as a fashion designer. Jason had stayed here once, more than ten years before, in between law school and his first job as an attorney.

She’s right—you need to relax. That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? he thought as he showered a short time later. But he knew that this trip was about more than just needing time off to relax. He was running—running from everything that was wrong with his life: the long hours, the loving relationship that had slipped through his hands, the pain of betrayal, and the desire to do something with his life other than earn more money than he could ever find the time to spend. Toweling off a few minutes later, he clicked the remote on Rosalie’s sound system. Fifties jazz filled the apartment and, for the first time in weeks, he smiled.

For a half an hour he lay on the couch, just letting the music wash over him. At last, drawing inspiration from the music, he threw on a pair of jeans and a warm sweater, shoved his wallet and phone into his pocket, and grabbed his jacket and umbrella. With thoughts of a long walk, something to eat, and perhaps even listening to some live music later on, he was out the door minutes later, damp hair and all.
“OY! HENRI!” the dark-haired young man shouted over the din of clattering dishes. “You said you’d get your drums set up before you started working.”

Henri, blond hair flopping into his eyes and up to his arms in soapsuds, shouted back, “You can do it for a change, you lazy ass! You want to get me fired, Jules? If I lose my job, you lose a place to sleep, remember?”

Jules Bardon scowled, walking over to the sinks and planting himself behind the lanky blond. “And whose fault is it that you’re so late getting to work? You spent the night with Pascal again, didn’t you?”

“Is that a problem?” Henri retorted without looking up from his task. “Maybe you’re just jealous. Since you dumped”—he paused for effect—“what’s his name…?”

“Philippe,” Jules supplied.

“Right. Since you dumped Philippe, you haven’t gotten any.”

“Philippe was a shit,” Jules countered, only half joking.

“I’m sure I could convince Pascal to let you join us, if you’d like,” Henri added, smirking. A soap bubble rose from the sink and Jules flicked an angry finger by his friend’s face to pop it.

“Not interested,” said Jules. “But if you’re going to spend the whole night fucking, the least you could do is set an alarm. What the hell do I know about putting together a drum set?”

“You’ve watched me do it a hundred times,” the other young man shot back, laughing and plunking several plates down on the side of the sink. Tiny rivers of water ran from the counter down to the drain. More bubbles floated up toward the ceiling. The place reeked of grease, cigarette smoke, and soap.

“Maurice doesn’t let us play here very often,” Jules retorted, half tempted to throttle his roommate. “You have to take this seriously. You never know who might be listening.”

Henri turned and put a soapy hand on Jules’s shoulder, ignoring the look of irritation on the other man’s face. “Dreamer,” he said. Then, biting his cheek, he added, “Fine. I’ll set up my drums if you finish the dishes.”

“You got gloves somewhere?”

“Gloves?” Henri held up his bare hands and smirked. His fingers were puckered and white.

“If I do the dishes, my calluses will—” protested Jules.

“You’re a fucking prima donna, Jules,” Henri grumbled. He shrugged, turned back to the sink, and laughed again. “It’s all right. There are gloves on the shelf to your left.” He looked over his shoulder and winked.

Jules shook his head, reaching for the gloves. He snapped the rubber menacingly at Henri before giving him a shove in the direction of the nightclub’s stage, just beyond the kitchen.

THE night sky had begun to clear as Jason left the small café where he had eaten dinner, and he wandered up toward Île de la Cité, hoping to catch a view of the Eiffel Tower. Crossing the Seine at ten o’clock, he watched as the tower was illuminated in a shower of sparkles. His sister had told him that the Parisians had so enjoyed the lighting for the millennium that they had insisted the special effects continue for the foreseeable future. Leaning against the wall that ran along the river’s edge, Jason sat back and thought of nothing but the lights, ignoring the damp chill of the evening.

When the light show ended, he headed back down boulevard Saint-Michel in search of some of the jazz clubs that he had discovered in this area years ago, hidden amongst the tiny streets.

Why not?

He had nowhere to go, nobody waiting for him, no deadlines to meet. He could sleep later. A few drinks and some good music would help him sleep a lot better too. With a roguish grin he walked onward, cold hands shoved into his pockets.

Why the hell not?

He spotted a club as he turned the corner—a small, grayish-looking dive with a purple neon sign above the entrance, nestled between a bakery and a store that sold Japanese manga. Inhaling the fragrance of baking bread from the boulangerie, he walked over to peer inside. He couldn’t see anything, but the sounds of modern jazz wafted onto the street. He glanced up and read the sign: “Le Loup-Garou.” The Werewolf.

A fitting name for a hole like this, he thought with a chuckle. And just the kind of place where you’d expect to hear great music.

JULES glanced over at Henri and their pianist, David. David grinned and nodded, caressing the keys of the upright piano, his touch so delicate that Jules could hear the man breathe with each phrase. David complained that the instrument was out of tune and a “piece of shit,” but the sound he managed to coax from it was astonishingly sweet. Henri’s mellow brush strokes over the surface of the snare drum joined the soft piano, much like the sound of the rain on the city streets—understated, yet insistent. Sexy.

Jules gripped the neck of his violin, placing the instrument under his chin and against the rough patch of skin there, much like the mark of a lover. He drew his bow above the strings, allowing it to hover there for an instant before lightly catching the D string. The sound of the violin flickered like a candle flame blown by an unseen breeze, then grew and melded with the muted piano, sultry and inviting. Jules closed his eyes, letting the sound wash over him, responding to the slow harmonic progression on the piano weaving the ghostly melody.

IN A dim alcove only a dozen feet or so from the musicians, Jason sat nursing his drink, transported by the sound of the violin. It wasn’t jazz in the purest of forms—it was more of a hybrid, combining the traditional jazz rhythms of the fifties with a modern, yet classical approach. But whatever you might call the music, he found it transcendent. In between pieces, Jason glanced around the room to discover the group’s name, but found no mention of it anywhere.

The set ended, and the club erupted in applause. The musicians nodded, their manner casual, aloof, even a bit embarrassed. The violinist’s eyes met Jason’s and, for a brief instant, lingered there. Jason’s mouth parted slightly, his cheeks flushed. Breaking their eye contact to look down at his empty glass, he told himself that the heat in his cheeks was from the alcohol and the lack of sleep. He motioned to the lone waiter for a refill. When he turned back toward the stage, he found himself sitting face to face with the violinist.

“May I join you?” the violinist asked, a coy grin on his delicate lips. Jason figured that he might be nineteen, tops. As his companion brushed a stray lock of shoulder-length black hair from his eyes, Jason realized that he had one brown eye and one green. He was a waif of a kid, barely taller than Jason’s own sister. His face was uniquely French, from the slightly pronounced nose to the sharper edge of his jaw, and his body swam in a large pair of jeans that hung low on his hips, exposing blue plaid boxers. On top, he wore a body-hugging black T-shirt with the word “Quoi?” splashed across the front in bright red.

“Be my guest,” Jason replied in French, still unsure of what to think about the boy.

“Seems as though you’ve already invited yourself.”

“You’re French Canadian?” the newcomer inquired, grin widening.

“American,” came the gruff answer. Jason noted the homemade tattoo on the boy’s right forearm.

“Really? Your French is excellent,” the young man replied.

“Your music’s good,” Jason countered playfully. “What’s your trio called?”

“Dunno. We haven’t named it yet—we just don’t play that much. Wouldn’t have played tonight, except the group Maurice had booked canceled, and he couldn’t find a replacement. My roommate’s the dishwasher here.” He gestured at the drummer, who was watching them with interest from the edge of the small stage. “So, do you live in Paris?” he added after a moment’s pause.

“Visiting.”

The waiter deposited two drinks on the table and winked at the violinist.

“My name’s Jules,” the boy said. “Jules Bardon.”

“Jason Greene.”

“Enchanté.” Jules took Jason’s hand across the table. The gesture was far too friendly. Flirtatious. Jason pulled his hand away and raised an eyebrow. Jules was unfazed. “Here on business?”

“No.”

“Pleasure, then?”

“No.”

Jules laughed—a soft, almost girlish laugh. “Do I make you uncomfortable?” he asked, his eyes fixed on Jason’s.

“No,” lied Jason, finding the boy’s gaze a bit too intense.

“I could make this a pleasure visit for you,” Jules said as he absentmindedly traced a long finger across his own lips.

“I don’t bat for that team,” Jason said, borrowing the American expression wholesale as his high school French failed him at last. It was not the first time that he had spoken the words, although it was the first time he had spoken them in French. They were also not entirely true; it was simply that the right opportunity had never presented itself.

The dark-haired young man looked at him for a moment, uncomprehending, then laughed again.

“What’s so funny?” Jason demanded, noting a hint of licorice on the air as his companion replaced his drink on the table.

“Oh,” he said, “I understand.” He laughed again. “Sorry. I’ve just never heard it put that way before. At first I thought you were asking me about baseball.” He took a swig of his drink and shrugged. “Too bad. You looked like you could use a good—”

“Jules!”

“I have to go,” Jules sighed, disappointed. “Time for the next set. It was nice to meet you, Jason.” He tripped over the name, and it came out sounding something like “Jah-sohn.” Jason chuckled in spite of himself, reminded of the various ways in which his name had been mangled by French speakers through the years.

Jules sucked down the rest of his drink in one swallow and stood up. “If you change your mind…,” he began, but the blond-haired drummer grabbed him by the arm and dragged him back toward the stage.

Not likely, kid, Jason thought, chuckling again. He had enough shit to deal with.

IT WAS nearly two in the morning when Jason left the club—a full twenty-four hours since he had really slept well. The rain had begun to fall again, this time in torrents. In spite of the downpour, Jason decided against taking the Métro. He liked the rain; it helped clear his mind.

He headed down boulevard Saint-Germain toward boulevard Saint-Michel, past the darkened storefronts and the few cafés that were still open. He crossed a side street, glancing to his left to see the impressive Panthéon with its white stone surface still lit. In that moment, he realized that he had never taken the time to explore Paris as an adult—he had chosen instead to get wasted and hang out in clubs rather than do any serious sightseeing. No, most of his memories of the city were those from his childhood when his parents had dragged him and Rosalie around to all the museums and tourist destinations.

He reached the corner of Saint-Michel and waited for the light to turn. On the other side of Saint-Germain, he spotted a lone figure waiting at a bus stop. “Jules?” he called out as he stepped onto the other curb.

“Jason,” the boy replied, looking surprised but pleased nonetheless. Jason noticed that he was shouldering a neon-green violin case with a few peeling Rolling Stones stickers. He had no umbrella and no jacket, and was soaked to the skin, his dark hair plastered to his pale cheeks as he shivered. His lips were already slightly blue.

“I enjoyed the music,” was all Jason said. Damn, but the kid looks young. He reminded Jason of a street kid. How do you know he’s not?

“Thanks,” Jules mumbled as he wiped the rain from his cheeks.

“Missed your bus?”

“Yeah,” Jules answered. “There’s another in about an hour. They don’t run often this time of night.”

“You can spend the night at my apartment,” Jason heard himself offer. “I’ve got a place nearby.” He immediately regretted these words—what the hell was he doing, asking a kid who had been hitting on him just hours before to spend the night? But he was too tired to think straight, and the kid looked terrible. “In the guest bedroom,” he added quickly to clarify the sleeping arrangements.

Jules’s expression turned to one of astonishment. “I… I…,” he stammered. “Sure.” Then, “Hey, I thought you were visiting.”

“It’s a long story,” Jason replied, motioning Jules under his umbrella. “Maybe I’ll tell you sometime.”

“I’d like that, Jason.” Jules pushed the hair out of his face. Jason said nothing, but kept on walking. “Oh, and Jason?”

“Yes?”

“Thanks.”

“Yeah.”

Excerpts: “The Dream of a Thousand Nights” and “The Prince and the Jinn”

September 26, 2011

Here’s a short excerpt from “The Prince and the Jinn,” the story which inspired “The Dream of a Thousand Nights.”  That excerpt is followed by a very short excerpt from “The Dream of a Thousand Nights.”  You’ll see a great deal of similarities between the two, I think!

Excerpt:  The Prince and the Jinn

Once upon a time, in a rose-scented garden in the shadow of the Zagros Mountains, the Prince of Isfahan sat on the grass, his eyes closed in meditation.  His long, dark hair blew gently in the breeze that wafted through the fragrant orange groves.  Dressed in fine purple silks, his skin shone like the surface of the moon, and his broad chest rose and fell with each deliberate breath.  But despite the beautiful evening and the lush cocoon of the trees and flowers, the Prince’s heart was heavy and his soul was lonely, for this day marked the fifth anniversary of his wife, the Princess’ death.

Each night since her death he had let his dreams wash over him, allowing them to lift the fog of sorrow for just a short time.  In his dreams he was no longer alone, and his heart was alive with joy and peace.  But each morning he would awaken and the dreams would fade, replaced once more by pain and emptiness.

I wish to die, he thought.  I wish to leave this world of pain and lie beside her once more. 

“Is death truly your wish?” said a voice from nearby.

“Who are you, that you dare interrupt my solitude?” the Prince demanded.

The stranger smiled at him: a man with hair the color of fire, a face both handsome and defiant, with brown eyes full of challenge.   The Prince thought him vaguely familiar, although he could not remember when or where they might have met before.

“I am Jinn,” the man replied, unmoved by the Prince’s wrath.  “I am called Tamir, and I will grant your wishes.”

“Wishes?” the Prince inquired.  “What need have I of wishes?  I have everything a man could possibly desire.”

“And yet you asked for death a moment ago, my Prince,” the Jinn responded.  “For a man with everything, your heart is quite tumultuous.”

Excerpt: The Dream of a Thousand Nights

As he had done so often in the two years since he had become king, Neriah sat on the grass in the rose-scented garden in the shadow of the mountains, his eyes closed in meditation. His long, dark hair blew in the soft breeze that wafted through the fragrant orange groves. Dressed in fine purple silks, his pale skin shone like the surface of the moon, and his broad chest rose and fell with each slow, deliberate breath. But despite the beautiful evening and the lush cocoon of the trees and flowers, his heart was heavy, and his soul was lonely.

I hope you enjoyed the excerpts.  By the way, a version of “The Prince and the Jinn” will appear as part Dreamspinner Press’ Halloween promotion in October.  I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about the promotion soon!

Peace,

Shira

The Dream of a Thousand Nights: Genesis

September 26, 2011

The Dream of a Thousand Nights” was inspired by a short story I co-authored with my friend and fellow author, Venona Keyes.  “The Prince and the Jinn” was about 6,000 words long, and was a middle-eastern take on the “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Carol” theme (what would the world be like if you weren’t around).  While the plots of “The Prince and the Jinn” and “The Dream of a Thousand Nights” are very different (there is no wife/princess in “Dream,” since the prince and the Jinn meet as young men), the feelings the stories evoke are similar and the dreams are the same.

In “The Prince and the Jinn,” the prince is still mourning the death of his beloved princess, years later.  Surrounded by a beautiful garden and the generous gifts of his people, his grief is so great that he wishes to die.  He bemoans the fact that he didn’t take his own life when the princess died.  He dreams at night of a lover with whom he is at peace and happy, but when he awakens in the morning, the lover is gone, and he is lonely once more.

Tamir, a male Jinn, appears before the prince and shows him what the world would be like if he had, indeed died.  The prince sees his sister unhappy because she is to be married to a man she does not love.  He sees his land and his people suffer because he is not there to protect them.  The Jinn grants him three wishes, and the prince wishes that his sister will marry the man she loves, that his kingdom will prosper, and that he will no longer be lonely. 

The Jinn tells the prince that he has no need to grant any of these wishes, because the prince himself will see to it that his sister finds happiness and his kingdom will prosper.  And when the prince challenges the Jinn to explain how he has no need to grant the last wish, the Jinn explains that he, himself, will remain at the prince’s side so that he will never be alone again.  The Jinn then explains that it was he who held the prince’s hand to stop the prince from plunging a dagger into his heart after his wife’s death, and that he was the prince’s dream lover.

Stay tuned for excerpts from both The Prince and the Jinn” and “The Dream of a Thousand Nights.” 

Peace,

Shira

Excerpt: The Dream of a Thousand Nights, by Shira Anthony

September 26, 2011

Here’s a sneak preview of the first of the dreams in “The Dream of a Thousand Nights!”  By the way, if you read the excerpt from “The Prince and the Jinn,” from the previous posts, you’ll probably recognize some of this, too.

Excerpt from Chapter Two (pre-publication, final content may change):

A soft breeze blew through the palace windows. Neriah inhaled the delicate fragrance of orange blossoms and stretched his arms over his head. “Are you content?” came a man’s voice from beside him.

“I…,” Neriah hesitated, unsure of his response. Warm lips pressed against his own; the taste was familiar and intoxicating. He was not unhappy, and yet….

“What is it you desire?” his companion inquired.

Neriah hesitated once more.

“I can give you anything you wish. Diamonds, rubies, land, women….”

“I have no need for those things,” Neriah answered, claiming the lips that had spoken those words.

“What, then? What do you desire, beloved prince?”

“I want to know your name.”

Neriah sat up in his bed and shivered. It had been the same dream now for weeks, although he had come to wonder if he hadn’t dreamed it long before and forgotten it. Each time, he would awaken out of breath, aroused, and with an emptiness that pierced his soul to its core. He could remember the intense passion his dream companion had awakened in his soul, but he could never remember the face of the lover in his dreams, nor did he ever learn his lover’s name.

“My lord,” came a soft female voice from the entrance to his tent, interrupting his thoughts. “May I bring you something to drink? Should I send your manservant to help you dress?”

“I need nothing,” he replied as he dismissed the servant girl. “Leave me.” She bowed low and backed away from his tent.

It was always like this—those who knew who he was would insist on doing everything for him—and he despised it. Despite his royal blood, he was more than capable of attending to his own needs. Years of living by himself on the run from his father’s men had taught him to guard his independence. He knew that the servants found him cold and unreachable, but he cared little. His place was to lead them, not to befriend them. In truth, he had few people whom he could call “friends” at all, and he preferred it that way.

He stood up, covering his naked body in a silk shalvar kameez of the deepest blue, edged with delicate gold embroidery, and stepped into a pair of red velvet slippers. He walked over to a low-slung chair in the center of the tent and sat, frowning and rubbing his chin. He had heard the men return from their night raid on the enemy encampment. He would wait for a report before deciding what his next move should be.

“My lord.”

“You may enter, Uryon,” Neriah said with a nod to the captain of his personal guard.

A tall, broad-shouldered man with short, dark hair and bright green eyes walked into the tent, bowing low. He wore a deep purple shalvar kameez and a red scarf wrapped around his head. At his waist was a broad sword with an inlaid hilt, along with a small, jeweled dagger. Neriah himself had given Uryon the dagger as a symbol of the trust he placed in his officer, and Uryon had not disappointed him—Uryon had, countless times, protected Neriah at great peril to his own life. The prince knew that he was fortunate to have men such as Uryon under his command.

“We were successful,” Uryon announced as he kneeled before Neriah. “Sheik Karana’s men are either dead or have fled into the hills. We have brought back the spoils of the raid.”

“Spoils?” Neriah ventured a slight frown playing upon his lips. “I have no need for spoils.”

“Nevertheless,” Uryon replied, “there were several women taken in the battle, along with a male slave, and three chests of gold. Your Highness must—”

“Make arrangements for the women to be returned to their villages,” Neriah interrupted. “You may send them back with enough gold that they will be provided for.”

“And the slave?”

“Is he friend or foe? What are his origins?” Neriah asked. Another loyal, able-bodied soldier would be a welcome addition to their ranks. Several of Neriah’s best men had been won in battles with the enemy. He had earned their gratitude and their loyalty in freeing them.

“He won’t reveal from whence he comes,” Uryon replied. “He refuses to speak to anyone but you, Your Majesty.”

“He knows who I am?” Neriah asked, surprised at this turn of events. His identity as Neriah, the banished Crown Prince of Tazier, was a secret known only to his closest followers and loyal servants. To others, he was known as Sheva, a wealthy sheik who opposed the rule of the current King of Tazier.

“No,” Uryon explained, “but he will not speak unless it is to our leader, Lord Sheva.”

“A spy, then,” Neriah said, his face darkening, “perhaps in my father’s employ?”

“It is possible,” the other man replied, “although if he is a spy, he is a crafty one.”

“How so?” asked Neriah.

“He had been kept to pleasure his captors,” Uryon answered, looking uncomfortable now. “Or so the women have told us. They appeared”—Uryon hesitated for a moment—“quite jealous of his charms.”

Hope you liked that! 

Shira

City Falcon Release Day – Excerpt #3

August 26, 2011

As a fitting closure to this day, I’ll give you another little snippet. It’s actually one of my personal favorites. While writing this scene, I listened to Mark Knopfler’s “Sailing to Philadelphia” – I think the music fits the mood perfectly.

Without further ado, here’s to you:

They were back at runway 4L by then, standing at its very end where it jutted out into  Jamaica Bay. The landing lights were already on, and airplanes landed and took off half a mile behind them. Hunter used his field glass to scan the skies above Joco Marsh, speaking into his handheld, his voice occasionally drifting back to Mark between the roar of the planes.

Mark was leaning against the hood of his car, arms crossed, watching him. Hunter was a dark silhouette against the dramatic sky, hair and beard hued a coppery, golden red by the sun. The wind caught in the loose strands that had escaped his braid and tugged at his loose pants, outlining his long legs. He looked like something not quite from this world, some ancient spirit turned corporeal maybe, ready to leave solid ground at any moment.

He is gorgeous, thought Mark. A desire to touch, to make sure with his very own hands Hunter was solid and real, grew on Mark until he couldn’t stand it any longer.

They were all alone out here. The only ones who’d be able to see them were the pilots of the planes above, and they were supposed to be busy with other things.

He pushed off the car and closed the distance between them, enfolding Hunter in his arms from behind. Hunter lowered his field glass and leaned back into Mark’s embrace.

“I just called Greg,” he said. “We’re done here.”

Mark pressed a small kiss to the corner of Hunter’s mouth, pulling him a bit closer. “Good.”

They didn’t move, though. Mark’s hands rested on Hunter’s chest, his fingertips stroking lazily, back and forth. Hunter’s free hand covered Mark’s, thumb brushing the back of Mark’s hand. They watched the sun set in silence.

“This is beautiful,” Mark said softly, not only referring to the spectacle before them.

Hunter leaned his head back, searching for Mark’s lips. They kissed long, but gentle, without urgency, their lips barely open, painfully tender.

“You’re a romantic, Mark Bowman,” Hunter said, but he smiled as he turned his face to the horizon again.

Mark trailed his lips up and down the side of Hunter’s neck. “Is this bad?”

Hunter tilted his head to give Mark better access. “No, it is not. Not at all,” he said.

After a while, Hunter started to hum, that low, calming sound he used with the birds. He threaded his fingers through Mark’s and squeezed.

Mark wished he could stop time. He could have stood there forever, holding Hunter in his arms, with the wind caressing them, surrounded by peace.

To all of you who took the time to stop by today for my little party: Thank You! I hope you had as much fun reading through the posts as I had writing them.

If you took the quiz, come by here next week or check out my blog (http://felfaber.blogspot.com) or my Goodreads profile (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4647473.Feliz_Faber) for the winner.


City Falcon Release Day – Excerpt #2

August 26, 2011

Back turned to Mark, Hunter asked, “Why are you here, Mark? Want to join me for the patrol?” Despite his casual tone of voice, the set of his shoulders radiated tension.

Mark rubbed his hand over the knotted muscle in his own neck with a wince. “I don’t think so, no.”

Hunter’s hands tightened on the window frame. Otherwise, he didn’t respond, waiting.

Mark took a deep breath. “Actually, I came to tell you… Hunter, I think it was all a big mistake. You, Greg, the falcons…. I won’t come back.”

“So why did you ask for it in the first place?” Hunter turned to Mark, face unreadable. “Why are you telling me that, anyway? It’s Greg you should be talking to.”

“I will,” Mark replied sharply. He clenched his fists in an attempt to control the angered embarrassment rising inside him. “I wanted to talk to you first because… because I think it concerns you most. I should never have gone after the falconry thing, knowing you were here.”

Hunter pushed himself off the car and straightened, crossing his arms. “What has me being here got to do with anything?” he asked, his voice even. Annoyingly so. Mark dug his nails into his palms.

“Don’t you tell me you don’t know that,” he said, struggling to keep his wavering control. “It was all about you, from the moment you first looked at me, with your fucking innuendos and your fucking attitude and your fucking eyes!” He heard his voice get louder but felt unable to stop it. Didn’t want to, either. “I knew from the start you were pure poison, and now I’m a mess, and it’s all… your… fucking… fault!” Mark’s fists pounded the accents to his last words on the car roof.

“Stop that,” Hunter snapped. “You’re scaring the falcons.”

“Don’t give a shit,” Mark growled, but he still took a step aside.

Hunter held onto his own biceps in a white-knuckled grip, but his face remained blank. His voice cut like cold steel. “You’re a grown man, Mark. No one could have made you do anything. You took my invitation all of your own free will. I didn’t have to twist your arm, as far as I recall.”

“You—” Mark started, but Hunter chopped him off.

“And don’t you dare blame me for the sex. That takes two, as well you know.”

“You started it,” Mark yelled. Hunter’s lips curled into a sneer.

“Ah, now, Mark, that’s pathetic. You didn’t strike me as a blushing virgin at all,” he said. “However, I get it. You don’t want to see me again. Fine. I’ll get over it.” Turning away, he made to round the car. “Get lost, then, and let me do my work.”

Mark’s vision blurred red at the edges. “You self-righteous, cocky, arrogant asshole,” he snarled, grabbed a handful of braid and yanked hard.

Hunter whirled around and lashed out, hitting Mark’s jaw hard enough to make him stumble backward. Roaring, Mark caught himself and launched into a tackle which ended with Hunter up against the car, wrists pinned in Mark’s iron grip, both men glaring at each other,  breathing hard. Hunter struggled, but his lean body was no match for Mark’s broader shoulders and taller frame. Eventually he stilled, eyes shooting daggers at Mark.

“What is it you want from me?” he hissed.

The words cut through Mark’s red-hot fury and brought him back to his senses with a jolt. Shoulders slumping, he stepped back and turned, all his anger draining away like water from a sieve, leaving him hollow and exhausted. He closed his eyes and shook his head, struggling to get his leaden feet to move, to carry him away.

A touch on his arm stopped him.

Mark stood, unable to turn, unable to move on.

“Mark,” Hunter said, the unexpected kindness in his voice helping Mark to find his tongue.

“Let me go, Hunter,” he croaked, horrified at how miserable he sounded. Hunter’s hand on his arm tightened instead, tugging gently.

Mark didn’t know how, but suddenly Hunter’s arms enfolded him, held him tight, and he just crumpled, knees going weak, hands fisting in the fabric of Hunter’s jacket.

The familiar soft humming vibrated beneath Mark’s ear. Hunter’s hands stroked Mark’s back, his hair. A part of Mark was appalled at the display of weakness he provided, but the rest of him didn’t care, leaning closer still into the warmth of Hunter’s embrace, unthinking, just giving in to the feeling of being held. Hunter’s lips touched Mark’s cheek, his soft beard brushed Mark’s skin. Words mixed into the low humming, no louder than the sound, soft words in a language Mark couldn’t understand but felt soothed by nevertheless.

They stood like that for a second or an hour, Mark couldn’t have told. Eventually he pulled back with a sigh, hanging his head. Hunter’s hands slid easily from his shoulders, coming to rest on his forearms. Mark turned his palms up, unable to stand the closeness any longer, but unwilling to give up physical contact completely.

“I’m so tired, Hunter,” Mark said. “I’m tired of fighting every day. I don’t want to fight anymore.”

“Then don’t,” Hunter said. “You needn’t fight everything.”

City Falcon Release Day – Excerpt #1 and some Recipes

August 26, 2011

This scene takes place at Falcon Station. Earlier, Mark and Hunter had argued about fastfood, which Mark mostly lives off and Hunter despises.
To get his point across, Hunter cooked an Arabian style dinner for Mark and Greg.

The falconers talked shop while they ate. Greg kept rustling among the papers he had thrown to the floor earlier, liberally dotting them with grease spots while discussing things with Hunter that were mostly Greek to Mark. It didn’t bother him. He let their conversation wash over him while he savored the best food he’d had in forever. No wonder Hunter didn’t care for burgers. Mark closed his eyes, chasing a particular aroma which reminded him of… oh, of how Hunter’s skin tasted right behind his…

A chuckle brought him back to the present. “Seems to me you like Hunter’s cooking, Mark,” Greg said. “Better than sex, isn’t it?”

Mark almost choked on the bite, feeling his cheeks heat up.

“Perhaps at your age, you old fart,” Hunter chided. “Wait till I tell Lucy you said that.”

“I’ll show you an old fart, brat! Besides, Lucy knows what I think of your stuff. I was actually quoting her here.”

Mark had regained his breath by then. “Makes one think, doesn’t it?” he said, aiming at casual. “As for me, it’s a close second.” He dared a glance out of the corner of his eye at Hunter, enjoying his stunned expression, which gave way to amusement a heartbeat later. Greg barked a laugh and dealt Mark a hearty slap on the back. “I like you better every time I see you, Mark, I really do.”

I added Hunter’s recipes below so you can be the judge of Greg’s sentiment:

Koresht e sardalu wa alu (Lamb with apricots)

2 lbs leg of lamb with bones, 1 onion, 1can tomatoes, 2 tblsp tomato paste, 2 tsp turmeric, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1-2 tsp cayenne (according to taste), 1 tsp ginger powder,1 tsp bell pepper powder, 1/2 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp cardamom, 1cup dried plums, 1cup dried apricots, 2 tblsp pine nuts, 2 tblsp almond sticks,1 tblsp butter, salt, brown sugar, lemon juice, sunflower oil

Chop the lamb leg into 4-5 pieces. In a large pan, roast pieces in oil until brown. Remove the meat from the pan, put aside. Roast onions, stir in tomato paste, spices, tomatoes and 2 cups of water. Put the meat back. Simmer for 90min. Take out the meat, debone, and put the meat back into the pan.  Add plums and apricots and simmer for another 30 minutes. Add brown sugar, salt and lemon juice to taste.

In another pan, lightly roast almonds and pine nuts with a little salt and brown sugar. Sprinkle the finished dish with nut mix.   

Maghmour (Eggplant casserole)

1-2 eggplants, 1 can of chicken peas, 1 can of tomatoes, 2 tblsp. tomato paste, 3 onions, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tblsp dried mint leaves, 1 pinch of cumin, olive oil, water, salt, pepper.

Cut the eggplants into cubes, salt generously, then fry in oil. Put aside.
Cut the onions into bigger pieces, cook in oil until translucent, add drained chicken peas and tomato paste. Stir and add a little water. Add canned tomatoes with juice and the fried eggplant cubes. Stir well. Add more water if necessary. Crush garlic and mint leaves, mix with cumin and allspice. Add to the dish. Salt and pepper to taste.
Let simmer at low heat for at least 30 min. Stir occasionally. Serve warm or cold.

Flatbread

160 ml warm water, 80 ml warm milk, 1 egg, 2 teasp.salt, 500 gr wheat flour, 3 teasp dried yeast, 1tblsp olive oil, 1 teasp sugar

Make a yeast dough. Allow to rise for 20 min. Part the dough into 15-20 pieces.
Heat a flat pan on the stove. Roll the dough pieces flat, make them very thin. Bake in the pan, one after another for a few minutes each.

Now who’s right, Greg or Mark?

THE ATTORNEY by Carolyn LeVine Topol – excerpt (Adult)

August 3, 2011

Here’s a little treat for you to enjoy as we close for the night, but I’ll be back over the next 24 hours to check on comments.  Happy Reading!  Enjoy the second book in The Male Room trilogy.

Chapter 3

SAM closed the door as soon as they entered his apartment, flipped the deadbolt, and pressed Chris against the door, crashing their lips together. Chris tasted like the perfect blend of green tea, Thai spices, and something more. It didn’t matter what it was. Sam wanted it; he was hungry for him.

Pressing back, Chris explored Sam’s mouth, wrapping his arms around Sam as he pushed his tongue inside. Sam felt a sound escape from his throat, his reaction more intense than he’d expected.

It didn’t matter that Chris was broader and taller; Sam took back control, tugging his date’s shirt out from where it had been neatly tucked into his pants. He immediately started to deftly unbutton the garment, exposing the beautiful, fair skinned six-pack underneath.

Taking a step back, Sam gazed at Chris’ heaving chest, leaning in to lick and suck each nipple, moving from one to the other, over and over, sometimes moving away from one nipple, only to return to it immediately, keeping his date guessing as to which nub he would attack next. Chris moaned, threading his fingers through Sam’s hair as the onslaught continued.

“Look at them—erect, hot, wet, waiting for me.” Sam continued to suck harder on each nub, then nipped at them both.

“Ahhh!”

“You like that, don’t you? You’re waiting for more?” Sam loved Chris’s responsive movements and wanted to experience more.

“Want to touch you,” Chris breathed out.

Anxious to oblige, Sam quickly unfastened the buttons of his own shirt, pulling it off and flinging it off to the side. Chris’ big, smooth hands instantly gripped Sam’s back and then moved to his chest, massaging in circles over every muscle, purposely avoiding his own erect nubs.

“You’re beautiful.” Eyes darkened, Chris stared at Sam as he continued rubbing his hands over his entire upper body. It wasn’t long before he began to search lower. Chris unbuckled Sam’s belt and then his own.

“You want more and I want to give it to you.” This was the moment Sam would find out if he had been right. Would they clash for control and implode before they got any further? Although he knew it bordered on cliché, Sam still wasn’t convinced two tops could handle the compromises that would need to be made.

“Bedroom.” Sam froze, a grin on his face when he heard Chris. “Can we move to your bedroom?” Chris didn’t wait for an answer, kissing Sam once again, wrapping his arms around him. The touch of the now warm hands sent a shiver up Sam’s spine.

Taking Chris by the arm, Sam hastily moved them to his bedroom. He tossed the comforter to the side, revealing the dark, burgundy-colored sheets below.

As Chris began to remove his belt, Sam stilled his hands. “Let me.” He whipped the belt out of the loops and unfastened the pants. No need for those any more. Before lowering them to the floor, Sam pressed his hand against Chris’s hard member still trapped beneath the fabric.

“Oh God.” Chris’s head fell back, his eyes slowly closing.

Inching the pants and briefs down together, Sam got his first look at the prize underneath. “You’re so damn big.” Chris’s cock was incredible; long, thick, and hard, waiting for Sam, responding to Sam’s every touch and word.

While Chris toed off his shoes and socks, then stepped out of his pants, Sam quickly stripped off the rest of his own clothing. “You’re not so bad yourself.” Chris grinned.

Sam knew men loved to suck his cock and practically lined up to get fucked by him, but for some reason he wanted Chris more than any other he’d ever made a play for before.

Jeff had sucked him off in the backroom of the Music Box once. He’d been great, but it was a onetime event. Jeff belonged to Craig, with Craig, and he was off the market now.

“I want to take you.” Sam pressed his lips to Chris’, slowly guiding him to the edge of the bed, hoping with each step forward he wouldn’t meet a wall.

“I know.” Chris pulled back briefly and then pressed their lips together again. The hunger and urgency between them grew until Sam wanted more and more of everything about Chris. He needed to have him sprawled on his bed so he could kiss every inch of that amazing body and then fuck him until he begged for release.

Chris lay on his back rolling his lips inward, clearly out of his comfort zone. Sam hovered over him. It was just how Sam wanted it. He was in charge. This was his show and he would make it a performance neither of them would forget.

Starting at Chris’s lobe, Sam nipped, licked, and kissed his way down the long neck, sucking just enough not to leave a mark. He then moved on to touch, and lavish attention on, the hot, muscular chest, and finally the tight abdomen. The man beneath him began to writhe, gripping the sheets in his clenched fists.

“You are so damn hot.” Kissing, licking, teasing the huge reddened cock, Sam listened to the moans urging him on. Each sound from Chris went right to Sam’s dick. He was harder than he’d been in ages without touching himself. When Chris began to buck under Sam’s ministrations, he stopped, grabbing the lube and a condom from the night table drawer.

“Sam.”

Blinking, as he squirted a large dollop of the gel onto his fingers, Sam looked up. Chris’ eyes were wide. He had that deer in the headlights look. “Are you okay?”

Closing his eyes, Chris turned his head to one side, obviously having second thoughts. Sam worried this would be over before it started.

“Chris?”

“I just, I don’t usually—” Biting his lip, Chris couldn’t seem to finish the sentence.

“I figured. I’ll take it easy.” Sam pressed his lips gently to the matted hair streaked across his forehead. “I’ll take care of you.” Sam wasn’t sure why he offered so much, but it felt right.

Warming the lube in his fingers, Sam positioned himself between Chris’ legs, encouraging him to spread them even more. When he responded, Sam’s breath hitched at the sight of this amazing, hulking man lying wanton and needy, waiting for him. “I’ll give you a night you’ll always remember.” He pressed one finger slowly into the waiting hole.

Chris arched his back slightly in response, breathing heavier as Sam pushed another finger in to join the first.

Opening up the tight channel wasn’t easy. Chris had obviously not been doing much bottoming, if any at all.

“More. Another. Please.”

Smiling as he witnessed the building desire, Sam gladly added a third finger, spreading Chris from the inside, opening him up so he’d be ready for the hot, long cock he was about to take. Moving his fingers within, he found the spot he was looking for and nudged it.

“Oh shit!”

“You like that? You want more?”

Chris nodded, licking his lips. Sam captured the seductive tongue between his lips and sucked on it as he dove in for another heated kiss. Chris’s legs fell further to the side as their contact became more urgent, and he began to buck against Sam’s fingers.

Pulling out carefully, so as not to hurt Chris with too sudden a move, Sam looked at the man below. “Are you okay?”

Smiling, Chris laced his fingers in Sam’s hair and pulled him in for another kiss.

That was all the encouragement Sam needed. He couldn’t hold back any longer. Adding to the thrill for Sam was the experience of watching the tight muscles of Chris’ sculpted body heaving as he panted, waiting for Sam to penetrate him. After putting the condom on with one smooth stroke and coating it with the lube remaining on his fingers, Sam slowly pushed his cock inside. “You’re so damn tight.”

A nod was the only response as Chris once again clutched the sheet in his fists.

Continuing to carefully move deeper, Sam pushed into the tight tunnel until he was completely inside. Looking down, he stilled, allowing Chris to signal when he could move again. When he felt the strong legs wrap around his back, Sam knew it was time.

Starting with a slow, steady pace, he thrust in and out, enjoying the warmth. Sam couldn’t tear his eyes away from the man beneath him. He was so open, so trusting. As Chris began to join the rhythmic movements, Sam felt something foreign in his gut. Ignoring it, he continued, changing the angle to make sure to graze Chris’ prostate on every stroke.

“Oh God, Sam!”

Leaning down, Sam crashed their lips together, swallowing Chris’ words and moans, wanting to take all of him at once.

“Ahhh. I’m gonna come. Please.”

When Chris made a move to touch his dick, Sam swatted his hand away. “You’ll come without even touching yourself.”

“Fuck!” Chris bucked beneath him, his reddened member bobbing freely, as Sam’s movements became faster and harder.

Resting his cock against Chris’ prostate, he delivered short thrusts over the delicate spot.

His head thrashing from side to side, Chris grabbed Sam’s shoulders, digging his nails in as he arched his back one last time. “Sam!” Creamy white spurts of liquid shot between them, hitting the full length of Chris’ chest up to his chin.

Feeling the intense pressure around his cock, Sam followed him, filling the condom.

After catching his breath, Sam gently pulled out, removed the condom, tied it off, and tossed it onto the floor.

Before he could say or do anything, Chris wrapped his arms around him, holding him close. This wasn’t what Sam normally did after fucking a trick—it would typically be too intimate—but Sam didn’t mind. Although he might regret his actions later, Sam followed suit, embracing Chris. The two lay, their legs tangled, sticky come drying on their chests.

Although he thought about getting up to wash off, Sam instead reached out with one hand to pull the comforter over them. It was Friday night and there was no need to think about alarm clocks or deadlines for the next day.

Holding one another beneath the blanket now cocooning them, Chris kissed Sam’s neck. “I’m not sure why I let you.”

“Shhh, just go to sleep.”

“No, Sam,” he whispered. “I need to tell you. You’re the first.”

Sam’s eyes shot open for a moment, and then a smile spread across his face. He nibbled at Chris’ lobe and then kissed his neck, cheek, and lips tenderly. “I’m glad it was me. And I’m not sure how, but somehow I knew.”

“Good.”

The two remained entwined as they fell into a sated sleep.

SAM didn’t feel or hear anything until he awoke to the light streaming into the bedroom. He rolled over, frowning when he discovered he was alone. His reaction set off an internal alarm, which he chose to set aside for the moment.

Then he spotted a small note on the nightstand.

Thank you for last night. You’re right, I’ll always remember it. It’s your move now, since your friend fixed us up. Here’s my phone number. I hope you use it. Chris

Damn! Now Sam had to really think about how he felt. He had been in his element the night before. In the light of day, out of bed, could he make a relationship work?

THE ATTORNEY by Carolyn LeVine Topol – Excerpt

August 3, 2011

Welcome to our second post of the day of celebrating the bumpy road to love in The Attorney.   Today I’m going to make it easy to win a copy of this new novella… everyone who comments will get entered into a drawing to win!  Here’s the “catch” — I will enter your name for each Virtual Party post you comment on.  You can only be entered once per post.  So join the fun, grab a virtual cocktail (or a real one) and sit down and enjoy the beginning of The Attorney, and getting our party underway.

Chapter 1

WALKING into his large corner office, Sam took a seat at his oversized desk. He had several active cases he was working on, but instead of diving into them as he typically did each morning, his curiosity won out. Sam pulled his laptop out of its carrying case and set it front and center on the smooth glass surface.

After logging on, he immediately searched out his newest bookmarked site, The Male Room. He snorted, still not believing he’d actually done it—Sam Solomon had filled in a profile at an online dating service. Five years ago, the only way he would have ever done anything like this would have been in response to a dare when he was too drunk to think clearly. Now that he was living alone and wishing for more than just a good fuck at the end of the day, Sam had decided instead to try the newest trend in dating.

He remembered the day his friends, Craig and Jeff, had sat in his office signing the documents necessary to start their online business. His two friends had really done their research, and the commitment they’d made to take the risk with a new business was certainly paying off. It had been less than two months since The Male Room had opened its virtual doors, and they already had one of the three most lucrative gay online dating sites on the east coast of the United States.

Having received a free profile for all the legal work he’d helped them with during their start-up period, Sam had given it a try. He wasn’t sure what he was hoping for, but knew that going to the Music Box three to five nights a week to get his dick sucked or find a good ass to fuck was becoming less and less appealing. He envied his friends, remembering how, as they’d started their new business, they had also discovered the love that had been looming just beneath the surface for years.

Now Sam wanted a shot at something longer-lasting, but he was picky. He’d already accepted several dates from his online prospective pairings, but none actually had gone beyond a couple of brief encounters. One or two first dates had become second dates, but after a hot fuck and a good dinner, he didn’t have much desire to develop any of the matches into relationships.

When he looked at the home page for The Male Room, he noticed there were ten couples, captured in smiling pictures, listed as success stories. That was what Sam wanted. He wanted to be a success story, and not just in his professional or sexual world, but in his personal life. Hell, he wanted to have a personal life.

Exploring his profile’s “Connection” location, he noticed three new hits. All the men were good looking, but he’d learned through many years of gathering evidence for court cases, digitally enhanced pictures could go a long way to improving appearance. Now his search for the ideal date supported the same theory. Many of the pictures posted on the profiles were far less than honest representations.

Ignoring the photos, giving them no more than a passing glance, Sam looked at each new prospective match’s profile.

Two intrigued him immediately; the third seemed too much like him to be worth a second look. Sam didn’t think he could handle a coffee, let alone a dinner, with someone who was as much a control freak as himself. The thought crossed his mind that maybe he’d be better to stick to the old adage about opposites attracting each other.

Before he could think about it any further, the intercom on his phone buzzed. “Mr. Solomon, Jeff is on line two for you. Would you like to take his call or should I send it to your voice mail?”

“I’ll take the call, Donna. Please put it through.”

“Hello, Jeff. How are you and Craig enjoying your success?”

“At the bank or in the bedroom?”

“Touché! You two really have got it all.”

“It only took him ten years to figure out something I already knew when we were in high school.”

Sam chuckled. Although Jeff had started out as a trick who could have won a contest for best cock-sucker in Boston as far as Sam was concerned, he had since become a good friend and confidant, something Sam didn’t have many of. Lots of hot men wanted to be his trick, but very few took it further than that.

“Are you still there?”

“Oh, sorry. My mind wandered.”

“Well, honey, has it wandered over to your profile this glorious morning? There are some new prospects I think you should most definitely explore.”

“Are you a mind reader? I was just looking at them. I have to admit, I’m beginning to lose hope. I may be your first truly unsuccessful client.”

“Nonsense! You just don’t know how to pick ’em.” Jeff paused and Sam could hear some beeping and chiming noises in the background. “There. I just opened your profile.”

“Isn’t it cheating to have one of the owners of The Male Room act as my personal consultant?”

Jeff snickered. “It’s not normally offered as part of the service, but I’m more than willing to make an exception for you, especially since you clearly can’t tell a good match from a mediocre one.”

“So none of the matches are just bad, are they?” Sam smirked, looking forward to hearing Jeff’s comeback.

“There is a good match for everyone; sometimes at The Male Room you just have to sift through the less-than-perfect to find the diamonds in the rough.”

“I think you’re twisting your metaphors.”

“Maybe so, but I see the perfect match for you.”

“Which one? There’re three new additions who’ve shown interest on my profile page.”

“I tell you what, Sam. Let me act for you and set up a meeting tonight at the Thai place near the Boston Aquarium. Do you know the restaurant I’m talking about?”

“Yes. I’ve eaten there a number of times. They’ll probably recognize me when I arrive.”

“You’ve eaten there or done take-out?”

“I’m not answering your question on the grounds it might incriminate me.”

“You lawyers are all the same.” Sam heard Jeff clicking away at his computer. “Okay, you’re all set for tonight. I’ll contact the restaurant; you just be there at eight.”

“So, who am I meeting?”

“You’ll know him when you see him. It’s the man who was meant for you.”

“I’ll go along with this one time, but if you’re wrong, I think it may be time for me to take a break. Maybe I’m just not cut out to find someone. Not all of us can be as lucky as you and Craig… and all the men on the home page.”

“There’s a soul mate for you. I’m sure of it. And I think I’ve found him.”

“We’ll see.”

“How about a friendly wager?”

“What?”

“A bet. Let’s bet on it.”

“You want to bet on whether you’ve found the right man for me?”

“Exactly. I have that much faith in myself.”

“I could just throw the date to win the bet.”

“You won’t want to if you give it half a chance. I trust my instincts, and I think it’s finally your time.”

Hating to admit it, Sam hoped Jeff was right. He was nearly thirty-five and alone. Friends were great, fucks were temporarily satisfying, but Sam wanted to come home each night and know someone cared whether he’d be there or not. “Okay. It’s a bet. What do you want if you win?”

“That’s easy. I want to put you and your partner’s picture on the home page and get a few quotes for the caption. A respected lawyer in Boston is fabulous free advertising.”

“Sounds fair to me. And what if I win?”

“Don’t you get it, sweetie? You and I will both win if I win the bet. Focus on that… for me, better yet, for you.”

Biting his lip, Sam was glad no one could see him. Jeff was right. He really wanted his friend to win the bet, even if it meant an embarrassingly sweet picture of him would be plastered on the site’s home page. “Thanks, Jeff. I do hope you win.”

“Talk to you later, honey. Remember, eight o’clock at the—”

“Thai restaurant. I’ll be there, just make sure my date is too. I’m not in the mood for take-out this time.” Hanging up the phone, Sam refocused on his profile.

Studying the three faces, Sam searched each of the viewing profiles of the two likely candidates. He re-examined them as if he was preparing for a case. Each man had good qualities, and it seemed like he could spend a comfortable evening with either one of them.

Scrutinizing the two profiles, Sam hoped Jeff had picked the bartender. If anything, he should have some great stories to tell of people he’d witnessed while working. Besides, bartenders were supposed to be great conversationalists.

Enough! He was wasting too much time on this. It was in Jeff’s hands now. While Sam wasn’t counting on much, he was hoping his friend had better luck selecting the perfect match than he had. Clearly Sam only knew how to find the hottest fucks. It was too bad he wanted more.

Blinking himself back to reality, Sam pressed the intercom button on his phone. “Donna, bring me the files I requested you pull yesterday. I have to be prepared for court on Monday morning.”

“I’ll be right there, Mr. Solomon. Do you mean the files about the school purchasing computers for disabled kids?”

“That’s the one. And good news for both of us, the district is actually paying for my services. This one isn’t even pro bono.”

Donna laughed. “We both know you’d help them just as diligently even if it was.”

“Just bring me the files. I have a job to do, and so do you, if you want to get paid next week.”

“Be right there.”

Lifting his finger from the intercom, Sam prepared himself to re-examine every detail of information regarding the case of a local special education school fighting against a large computer distributor that had sent them systems that didn’t meet their specified needs, or the needs of their students.

He would be the first person to admit he enjoyed having enough money to spend as he chose, but one thing Sam couldn’t stand was robbing from those in need. He also couldn’t stand losing a case. Sam had no intention of losing this one; the case was too important and was beginning to receive more attention than he would have desired in the news.

Did someone say “free reads”?

July 30, 2011

I did!

Want something short, sweet and HOT? I have a few over on my website. Enjoy!

EM’s Free Reads


Free stories

Chunky or Creamy? — Richie thinks he may have found his perfect mate, if only the guy can fuck as well as he applies eyeliner.

The Interview — NSFW (2700 words) — Dylan is asked to do some very inappropriate things at this “job interview,” but it makes him want the job even more.

Pineapples & Chocolate — NSFW (2300 words) — Ben’s late-night grocery shopping is for much more than food. written from prompts: ecstatic, tuba, goldfish, nut sundae, greivous, craptastic, fire truck, pencil, pineapple and dinosaur

Going to the Zoo – NSFW (2200 words) — Nate & Cory from “A Heat.Seeking.Missile” are back for a fun sexy short. Written from prompts: Nate & Cory, zoo, rubber band, ice cream, elephant (Extended version published by Torquere Press as “Animal Instincts”)

What’s for Dinner? (1600 words)– Maybe getting stuck in the elevator isn’t so bad after all. Written from prompts: Elevator, trip, klutz, grin for Addison Albright

Chapter 1 from Sex, Lies & Wedding Bells — NSFW (April 2009)

–EM

EM Lynley
http://www.emlynley.com/free_reads.html