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

The Dream of a Thousand Nights – Secrets of the Jinn

September 26, 2011

Before writing The Dream of a Thousand Nights and its precursor, “The Prince and the Jinn,” my only experience with Jinn (also “Djinn” or “Genies”) was from reading “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp” or watching reruns of “I Dream of Jeannie.”  Okay, so mostly fantasizing about Larry Hagman!  (Anyone still remember “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts?”)  So let me tell you what I’ve learned about the Jinn and their origins and about how I created the Jinn of “Dream.”

The Jinn in the short story that inspired “Dream,”  “The Prince and the Jinn,” which I co-authored with my friend and fellow author, Venona Keyes, was a pretty traditional one (well, except that he has a happily-ever-after at the prince’s side!).  Three wishes, a brass lamp — you know, the Aladdin myth.  But the history of the Jinn in Arab folklore and Islamic teachings is quite different from the Disney version.

In ancient middle-eastern teachings, Jinn are supernatural beings who occupy a world parallel to the one inhabited by men.  In the Islamic Qu’ran (the sacred text), the only two of Allah’s (God’s) creations that have free will are humans and Jinn.  There isn’t much in the Qu’ran about the Jinn, although the text explains that the Jinn are made of smokeless flame or “scorching fire.”  Jinn, like human beings, can be good, evil or somewhere in between.

The word “Jinn” comes from the Arabic root that means “to hide” or “to be hidden.”  The English word, “genie,” is derived from the Latin word, “genius,” which was a guardian spirit thought to protect every human from birth.  The French used the term “genie” as a translation of the Arabic “jinni” because it sounded similar.  The English adopted the French word and, viola:  “genie.”

There are many interpretations of the physical attributes of the Jinn.  Many portray the Jinn as having two different sexes, like humans.  The Jinn are often shown dressed wearing vests and sashes, with their long hair tied high up on their heads. According to various stories, Jinn could exist independently or be bound to any particular object (hence the “genie in a bottle” or “genie in a lamp” from folklore).

Archaeologists who study ancient Middle Eastern cultures often refer to any spirit which is less than an angel as a “jinni.”  Some traditions divided Jinn into three types: flying Jinn, Jinn who look like snakes and dogs, and those who wander ceaselessly.  The Jinn live in a civilization that resembles the human world, with kings, laws, weddings and other rituals.  Ancient scholars believed the Jinn to be treacherous and dishonest creatures.  Some people believed the Jinn could magically whisper into human souls and convince humans to submit to their evil desires. 

The Jinn in The Dream of a Thousand Nights resemble the Jinn of ancient tradition in many ways.  They appear human, tend to have long hair (and in the case of Tamir, wear their long hair tied in a high ponytail), and can be good, evil, or somewhere in between.  They are often reviled by humans for being fickle and untrustworthy.  The Jinn in “Dream” are created to serve and pleasure humans – that is the entire reason for their existence.  I loved the idea that Jinn are made of fire, which led me to think of them as overtly sensual and sexual creatures who are nearly irresistible to humans.  I also gave the Jinn a hierarchical society, with a Jinn regent to whom all the Jinn answer, just as the humans in the story answer to the King of Tazier.  And, most importantly, the Jinn are capable of love, even though they believe that to love a human is among the greatest of sins. “Dream” is a story about that love, and one Jinn’s punishment for loving a human more than himself.

Peace,

Shira

Source: Wikipedia

Release Day: “The Dream of a Thousand Nights,” by Shira Anthony

September 26, 2011

It’s finally here!  Release day!  I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally see “The Dream of a Thousand Nights” on the Dreamspinner Press “New Releases” page!  It’s been a three-year journey from the first bit of inspiration to publication, and I’m so happy to see the finished product at last.  The editors here have been fabulous to work with, and, oh what a cover from Anne Cain!  I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect image to capture the essence of the story of Prince Neriah and the Jinn, Tamir.

Cover by Anne Cain

Throughout the day today, I’ll be posting excerpts and writing about the inspiration for “Dream”  under the “excerpts” and “virtual book signing” areas of the DSP blog.  I’ll also tell you a little bit about the origin of the Jinn (a.k.a. “genies” or “Djinn”) and how their myth has evolved since ancient times.  I’ll tell you about my own version of the Jinn in both “Dream” and its predecessor, “The Prince and the Jinn.”

I’ll also be letting you know what I’m currently working on, and about my next book, “Blue Notes,” which will be published late this year by Dreamspinner.  And of course, don’t forget to purchase and download your copy of “The Dream of a Thousand Nights” here on Dreamspinner Press! 

Feel free to ask me questions of comment on the blog entries – I’ll be checking in throughout the day!

Peace,

Shira

Momentos-Final Excerpt

July 17, 2011

San Sebastian - Donostia Photos
This photo of San Sebastian – Donostia is courtesy of TripAdvisor

We went through the motions, checking in at the Hotel Monte Igueldo, requesting adjoining rooms.  Tono went out to the car and brought back two bags, surprising me  with his forethought.  I had no idea what was in the bag Tono handed me, but I accepted it as my due, carrying it upstairs to my room.  As soon as we locked our respective doors, and unlocked the one separating the two rooms, we were in each other’s arms.
 
Tono lifted me easily, carrying me to one of the queen-sized beds and easing me down gently.  We continued kissing, even as items of clothing were removed piece by piece.  The shirts came first, followed by several minutes of tongue play over nipples that responded to each luscious lick.  I buried my face in the light brown curls that layered Tono’s chest, acquainting myself with this new treat.  Paul had insisted on waxing, and so this, being with someone who had no qualms about leaving everything  au natural was refreshing.  I rubbed my face against the soft fur, loving the feel of the silky hair while enjoying the smell of Tono’s skin―a combination of soap and body odor that was pleasantly musky and all male.  Everything about the man was intensely masculine, starting with the thick shadow on his face, which scratched the hell out of my skin.  This roughness, combined with a tender touch, set Tono apart from previous lovers, raising the bar for the future.  I hadn’t realized how much I would enjoy the vast difference between Tono and Paul, but it was fitting that the two were nothing alike; I would never be able to compare them.
 
Paul was usually silent during lovemaking, except for the standard expletives, whereas Tono liked talking and hearing me respond in kind.  A lot of what he was saying was in Spanish, which I hadn’t quite perfected yet, but the cadence and the feeling behind the words stirred me.  I couldn’t help but respond to Tono’s pillow talk, reveling in the joy of being wanted again, after being discarded so easily.  I hadn’t thought about being with someone special until tonight and was grateful that Tono had insisted on waiting, even for only twenty-four hours.  It said a lot about his intentions. 
 
Tono carpeted my neck and ears with soft, warm kisses while his strong hands were everywhere, kneading and rubbing and cupping.  This dual assault was taking its toll, and soon I was begging.  The needy, mewling sounds were pouring out of me, and instead of lighting a fire, Tono hunkered down.  He seemed to be taking perverse pleasure in hearing me beg.  His pace was deliberate and leisurely, interspersing every lick and suck with a litany of Spanish words that were driving me insane.  I gasped when Tono licked a wet swath down my chest, pausing momentarily to play with my belly button before moving on to wrestle with my belt, forcing my jeans apart when the zipper got stuck.  I heard Tono curse in Spanish.

“Tono, please―”

“Shh…paciencia, cariño.”
 
Tono was driving me mad with this methodical journey down my body. “Fuck patience!”  I lifted my hips and shoved my pants down, along with my boxers, and threw them across the room.  My cock bobbed up toward my stomach, swollen and seeping fluid.  I cried out when Tono slurped at it, savoring the flavor like an appetizer.  “Tono, sweet Jesus…fuck me

Tono let go of my cock reluctantly and began the tedious process of removing his pants, pausing for effect just before he unzipped and pushed them down his thighs.  I sucked in a shocked breath, never expecting Tono to go commando, but commando he was–there was nothing between his enormous cock and his chinos.  It sprang forth like a living thing, eager to get down to business.  Tono grinned when he saw the look on my face.

“You still want me to fuck you?”

“Hell, yes, but lube up first.”

Momentos: Mick’s Journey Book Trailer

July 17, 2011

Presenting the book trailer for Momentos created by the very talented qafmaniac, aka Marita Deters. This talented lady has made all my book trailers and can be reached at qafmaniac@googlemail.com.

http://www.4shared.com/embed/699880976/58f846b3

Momentos-Excerpt #3

July 17, 2011

San Sebastian - Donostia Photos
This photo of San Sebastian – Donostia is courtesy of TripAdvisor

August and September flew by and soon fall was upon us. The weather remained temperate so I asked Mom and Dad to come for a visit. It had been over eight months since I’d left New York, and although I lacked for nothing here in Spain, I did miss my parents. I’d invited them to spend the entire month of October, promising to take them on a mini tour of Spain and France. There were many places I’d yet to see, and Tono was due for a vacation as well, so why not spend it with the three people I loved more than anything in the world.

“Where should we take them?” I asked, lying on our bed and watching Tono get ready for work.

“We can drive to Paris and spend a couple of nights. There are some picturesque towns along the way; we could stop and poke around.”

“That sounds good. They’re flying into Madrid, so why don’t we meet them there and stop at points of interest on our drive back.”

Sí,esta bien. We can take them to Valle de los Caidos and Escorial. There’s also Toledo and the Roman aqueducts in Segovia. Do they like old architecture? Castles?”

“Who doesn’t like that? I’d like to see them as well.”

“How about futbol? Maybe Real Madrid will be in town when we’re there.”

“My dad would love it.”

“We’ll draw up a plan, cariño. Map it all out and take our time. I have three weeks vacation. I’m sure we can find plenty to do.”

And we did…find a million things to do; deciding which took priority was the hard part. In the end we decided to let Mom and Dad weigh in on the decision.

On the way to Madrid Tono voiced some concerns, which hadn’t even occurred to me. My parents were the most easygoing couple in the world, but Tono didn’t know them so his fears were understandable.

“Do you think your folks will like me?”

“Of course they will.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“They like everyone and the world adores them.”

“They probably liked your ex very much.”

I looked at Tono and frowned. “Paul again? I thought we’d put that demon to rest.”

Cariño…they knew Pol for years.”

“They were also there to sweep up the pieces when he broke my heart. He’s not high on their list of favorite people right now.”

“Did they like him before the fight?”

“I don’t think you understand the extent of the argument, Tono. It wasn’t just a lover’s quarrel. Paul accused me of being a user and riding on his coattails to weasel my way into Alcott Press. He insulted my integrity as well as my professional skills. I didn’t need connections to get published. Fuck that condescending piece of shit!”

“You’re emotional when you discuss him; it means you still feel something.”

“All I feel is anger.”

“They say anger and love go hand in hand.”

“Bullshit! I’m not going back to him so stop harping on the subject.”

“What if he were to show up tomorrow and apologize?”

“Oh. My. God! I’m getting out of this car and walking if you don’t quit it.”

He started gnawing on his lower lip, a nervous tick which would result in a mouth that looked like I’d worked it over with rough kisses. I took a deep breath and counted to ten, telling myself it was natural for Tono to continue feeling insecure. Our relationship was still young and fragile while my ties to Paul were grounded in history and shared experiences. It would take years for Tono to catch up, but the thing he didn’t realize was how much I loved him. And that was my fault. I had to prove that there wasn’t a chance in hell I’d ever consider going back to Paul Alcott.
“Tono, I’m sorry.”

He grabbed my hand and brought it up to his lips. “It’s my fault, cariño. I shouldn’t have brought it up.”

“I understand why though, and I promise you on everything you hold sacred that I will never go back to him.” Years later, I’d have to eat those words, but at the time I was sincere. Tono was heartened by my declaration and the questions were put to rest.

My parents were quietly enthusiastic about my new relationship. My mother was immediately smitten when Tono took her hand and kissed it in lieu of a handshake. His inherent politeness and impeccable manners won her over immediately while Dad was impressed by his knowledge of soccer and the statistics related to the game. Tono was an athlete in every sense, and Dad responded on a visceral level. I had never shown an interest in sports beyond what was expected from me in school, and although I watched sporting events, it was for Tono’s sake. I was far more content playing tourist with my mom.

We ended up splitting my parents for the afternoon. Tono and Dad went to Bernabeu Stadium to watch Real Madrid decimate the visiting team while Mom and I spent the afternoon touring Madrid in a double-decker bus. It took us all over town, and we ended up getting off in front of the Royal Palace and touring the gardens, which were open to the public. Mom was an avid gardener and interested in the different species of plant life indigenous to Spain. After half an hour, we re-boarded the bus and proceeded on to the Plaza Mayor, where we disembarked to have coffee and a pastry outside one of the many cafés in the area. The choices were endless, and we split a Napoleon, the delicate pastry layered with a buttery crust spread with creamy filling, and a couple of miniature apple tarts drizzled with caramelized sugar.

“He seems like a very nice man,” Mom commented, in between sips of bold Spanish coffee. I was recounting my first meeting with Tono and trying to explain the nuances of Jai alai.

“I love him, Mom.”

“So soon?”

“Soon? I’ve been here for almost eight months.”

“What about Paul?”

“What about him?”

“Do you hear from him at all?”

“Hell, no, and I don’t want to hear from him ever again.”

“Sweetheart, you were with Paul practically your entire life. Surely, a little forgiveness and understanding are in order.”

“I think not.”

“So, that’s it? You’re going to give up years of happiness with your true love over a silly quarrel?”

“Mom, you’re supposed to be on my side,” I bristled with anger. “You know what he did. It’s over, and I’ve moved on, as I’m sure he has. It wasn’t a fucking whim, Mother. He destroyed our relationship, brutally and without qualms.”

“Language, Mick.”

“Sorry.”

“I’m only playing the devil’s advocate here. I don’t want you to ever regret this decision.”

“I won’t.”

“I do like your young man. It’s very obvious how much he loves you.”

“He makes me happy to be alive.”

“And that’s what life is all about, sweetheart. Loving and being loved.”

“I learned from the best.”

Momentos: Excerpt #2

July 17, 2011

This is a scene from Chapter 2. Mick and Paul are getting acquainted after meeting for the first time that morning. They’re in Paul’s bedroom. Mick is the speaker and he’s interviewing Paul for the school paper.

“Let’s change the subject,” I said, feeling sorry for him suddenly. I threw myself on Paul’s bed and crossed my arms underneath my head. “Are you a virgin?”

Paul’s eyebrows almost hit his hairline when he looked at me in shock. “It’s really none of your business.”

“I suppose not, but I’m being nosy again. I’m a technical virgin, if you want to know.”

“What the hell is that?”

I sat up, hugging the pillow to my chest. “I’ve done everything but fuck.”

“Why?”

“I haven’t found the right person.”

“I’m sure there must be a hundred cheerleaders waiting in line.”

“Who’s talking about girls?”

“What?”

“I’m gay,” I said easily. “Is that a problem?” Now would be the time to freak and throw me out.

“Why are you telling me?”

Although his voice was steady, Paul’s fair skin lent itself to blushing, and right now his cheeks were blood red. “Don’t sweat it,” I said, trying to put him at ease. He looked like he was about to faint. “I thought I should get the disclosure out of the way.”

“Okay,” Paul exhaled. “Is there something about me that gave you the wrong impression?”

Someone knocked on the door, rescuing me. I was never happier to see anyone in my life. I realized, way too late, that I should have kept my mouth shut. I’d made a friend in a brand new school and didn’t want to blow it before it even got off the ground. Paul seemed like a nice guy, and if he wasn’t into me, that was cool. I wouldn’t mind having him as a buddy.

The pizza smelled heavenly and I lunged, almost knocking it off the tray that the butler balanced precariously. I swiped a piece, grabbed a paper napkin, and took a huge bite. “Damn, that’s good,” I garbled through a mouthful of steaming hot, cheesy crust. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Baxter replied stiffly. He probably wasn’t used to such enthusiasm over food. Part of it was my nerves. I was sure Paul would ask me to leave any minute now.

“Is there anything else you need, Paul?”

“No, we’re good.”

“Very well.”

“Why does he call you, Paul?” I asked, as soon as the door closed. “Shouldn’t he be saying your highness or some other crap, seeing as how he’s your butler?”

“Baxter’s been around since I was six years old. He’s practically my mother.”

“Mine’s much prettier,” I joked, “but he seems like a nice guy.”

“He is a nice guy. Way cooler than my dad and always there for me.”

“Then you’re lucky,” I said, wiping the grease off my hands and mouth. “Now, answer my question.”

“What question?” Paul evaded.

“Are you a virgin?”

“I …guess I am,” he stuttered.

“You guess?”

“I am.”

“How come?”

“What?”

“How come you haven’t slept with anyone yet? You’ve got it all, dude, the looks, the car, the money. I would think they’d be tripping all over themselves to climb into your bed.”

“I haven’t found the right person either.”

“Do you date?”

“Of course I date!” Paul huffed indignantly.

“What’s her name?”

“Who?”

“Earth to Paul…you sure are spacey.”

“Jesus, Mick. This was supposed to be a relaxed interview, not a fucking cross-examination. What are you, a cop?”

I busted out laughing. “I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Now what are you talking about?” Paul asked.

“My dad’s a detective.”

“I thought he was a big pothead?”

“He was. Now he’s a cop who smokes pot recreationally like other men drink. He’s not a junkie, Paul.”

“We should be grateful,” Paul deadpanned.

“Are you always this serious?”

“No…but I’m not hyper like you.”

“Spontaneous is the word I like to use.”

“Whatever, man. I think I’ll have a slice of pizza before you demolish the entire thing,” Paul said, reaching for his share of the rapidly diminishing pie. His arm brushed against my chest and he pulled it back instantly. “Sorry about that.”

I looked into his eyes and could see the panic. Whatever was going on in his head was starting to show through his increasing sarcasm but I was determined to set him at ease. “Don’t worry, Paul, I’m not going to seduce you. Just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I’m a sex maniac. I can control my urges. And yeah, you’re hot and all, but I would never force you to do anything that goes against your nature.”

“Why are you so defensive?” Paul asked, and then blushed even more as he realized what I’d said. “I’m hot?”

“Yeah, you are,” I said softly, “but that’s neither here nor there. I’m tired of guys who feel like they have to wear a chastity belt around me when I announce I’m gay. If I were straight, you wouldn’t have thought twice about brushing up against my chest.”

“I’m sorry,” Paul apologized.

“Don’t you know anyone who’s gay?”

“No.”

“I can guarantee you I’m not the only one in our high school who’s into guys. The others just aren’t honest about it.”

“Do you have a boyfriend?” Paul asked, using the word tentatively.

“I’m working on it,” I smiled. “Are you offering?”

Paul shook his head vehemently.

“Too bad,” I said. “There’s something about you that I find very attractive.”

“Do you think I’m gay?”

“Are you?” I stood, stepping over the makeshift picnic on the floor, and walked toward Paul who’d also stood up but was backing away from me.

“Don’t come closer,” he warned.

“I’m not going to hurt you, Paul.”

“Am I radiating some kind of signal?”

“Should you be?” I was encouraged that Paul was talking, instead of pushing me away angrily. If he were straight, he would have hit me by now or thrown me out. I got closer, licking my lips and practically devouring him with my intense gaze. “Have you ever had fantasies about men?” I asked gently. “You can tell me, Paul.”

Paul stepped back and gasped when he hit the wall. His eyes rounded in surprise, and his cheeks were no longer red; they were pale and beads of sweat dotted his upper lip. I was sure he was going to faint, so I reached out and touched his arm lightly. “Forget about my question. It was out of line.”

“No,” Paul shook his head and took a huge breath. “The truth is,” he confessed, “I’ve had…thoughts.”

“Man on man thoughts?” I knew it!

“Stay away,” Paul begged, pushing lightly against my chest.

“Do I scare you?” I lowered my voice but never moved from my spot. I was close enough to smell his fear and see the veins pulsing at his temple as he clenched his jaw. I could have kissed him easily but I knew he’d bolt.

“A little,” Paul whispered.

“Is it me, or is it the entire concept of being gay that’s freaking you out?”

“Both,” Paul admitted, “I’ve never acted on my feelings.”

“There’s always a first time.”

“Wait,” Paul said as my face dipped toward his. He didn’t push me away though, he closed his eyes instead

Momentos: Mick’s Journey-Excerpt #1

July 17, 2011

Scene-Mick is watching Tono play Jai alai for the first time. It’s also the night of their first official date.

I sat in the midst of a crowd of screaming fans as I watched Tono destroy his opponent. Jai alai, also known as pelota, was a version of handball, except, instead of a hand, or a racket, a basket of sorts was used to catch the fast moving ball. The banana-shaped mitt was tied to each player’s wrist with pieces of leather, and the ball made a loud thwacking noise when it landed in the wicker, clear evidence of the strength of the throw, and the rigid skins that made up the small white ball. The pelotari then flung the ball across an enormous space so that it hit a wall, only to bounce back forcefully, so the next player could catch it without dropping it first. The goal was to keep up with the fast exchange. The first man who dropped or missed the ball was out and replaced by another challenger. Last man standing was the winner. So far, Tono had won three games, which was huge according to the enthusiastic fan sitting next to me. He extolled the virtues of Tono Garat, advising me to bet on the player―a sure win, he guaranteed.

My only desire at that moment was betting on whether or not I’d get Tono in the sack by the end of the night. I was fascinated by the man, not so much the sport. Physically, he couldn’t be anymore perfect. His upper body was massive, and his torso tapered into a slim waist that showcased his succulent bottom, which I couldn’t help but notice. Tono’s legs were long and well shaped, covered in white trousers that stuck to the sweaty, corded muscles. I had spent half the night tossing and fantasizing about the Spaniard, imagining myself being fucked into oblivion. I kept envisioning Tono’s engorged cock, which I’d had a chance to see briefly when we’d stood naked underneath the stars. I hadn’t lusted this way in years. Tono was ringing ever damn bell in my body and the need to be possessed was intense.

I waited outside the fronton after the games were over, and Tono joined me, carrying a small athletic bag that probably contained his dirty uniform in a wadded up ball.

“My car is this way,” he gestured, heading toward a parking lot.

I followed, enjoying the view of Tono’s ass as he moved gracefully ahead of me. When we got to a blue Volvo, Tono stopped and pulled the door open, throwing his bag in the back seat. He waited until I strapped in, and we proceeded, driving across San Sebastian toward the town of Igueldo, located on top of the mountain that bore the same name. It towered over La Concha Bay, offering a spectacular view Tono wanted to share. There was a restaurant named Akelarre, which boasted the finest chef in town, an honest assessment according to all the rating guides; that, along with the view, was worth the drive.

San Sebastian - Donostia Pictures
This photo of San Sebastian – Donostia is courtesy of TripAdvisor

We shared a bottle of red wine and an assortment of delectable appetizers before enjoying the main dish. Tono had ordered bacalao, the salted cod dish that was typical of the region, simply because I’d never tried it before. He wanted to introduce me to new experiences, starting with the food.

“Did you enjoy the Jai alai?” Tono asked, captivating me with his warm brown eyes.

“I enjoyed watching you,” I replied, staring at him over the rim of my wine glass.

“You are very direct, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

“What are you doing here?”

“What do you mean?”

“How long do you plan to be in the area, and why would you want to start something we can’t possibly finish?”

“You obviously don’t live in the moment.”

“I want more,” Tono stated.

“Tono.” I was stunned by his statement. I had no intention of jumping into another relationship, fresh on the ruins of my breakup with Paul. I was still reeling from that betrayal, and I wasn’t ready to start something new. Yet, there was something about this man that compelled me to take a chance. I decided to come clean. “I’m getting over a very difficult breakup.”

“Who was he?”

“My life.”

Tono frowned. “Did he cheat on you?”

I shook my head. “That was the least of it. He accused me of a terrible thing, which wasn’t true. I loved him, and he turned on me suddenly. I’m still recovering.”

“How long were you with him?”

“Twelve years.”

Tono whistled. “So, you’re shutting the door to potential happiness?”

I looked around quickly to see if anyone was observing us, and when I realized that we were relatively obscured by the wooden screen around our booth, I reached across the table and held Tono’s hand. “You’re the first man who’s interested me enough to crack that door open.”

“I promise you won’t regret it,” Tono said. He squeezed my hand gently and let it go. “Shall we eat?”

“Can we hurry?” I said, unbelievably moved by the entire exchange.

“I’ve booked two adjoining rooms upstairs.”

“You didn’t.”

Tono’s smile was filled with mischief. “I ain’t as dumb as I sound.”