Monday, June 29, 2009

The Rest Of Our Lives: A Novel excerpt by Dan Stone

The Rest of Our Lives by Dan Stone is a lighthearted romantic fantasy about the repeatedly reincarnating relationship between ice-blue-eyed, time-stopping, cold weather witch Colm McKenna and hyper-sexy, psychokinetic, hot weather witch Aidan Gallagher. According to Norse legend, the universe came forth from the collision of the energies of fire and frost. One can’t exist without the other, and all of creation is dependent upon the delicate balance between the two. Just as spontaneously combustible Aidan begins to rock frost-flinging Colm’s world with a magical big bang of a romance, the pair learns that they’ve been playing in each other’s back yards for at least a couple of millennia. Aidan becomes increasingly hot for clues about the lessons their karmic connection can teach them, while Colm feels increasingly like a snowball in hell, wondering if multiple incarnations where he’s repeatedly abandoned by his enchanting fireball of a boyfriend, may be one or two bites more than he’s able to chew.

The Rest of Our Lives
Lethe Press (May 25, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1590211472
ISBN-13: 978-1590211472


The next morning the sun woke me early, a slice of warm, golden delicious light that slipped through our bedroom window. Aidan, usually up before God, was still sleeping. In that soft light, he seemed to literally glow. He looked more like an angel than a witch.

I took advantage of a rare opportunity to study him when he didn’t know I was watching. He was facing me, with one bare arm warming my waist. The crumpled top sheet was draped provocatively over the compelling curve of his bare behind. If I hadn’t known he was asleep I would’ve suspected that he’d arranged himself that way just for effect. But his wide mouth was slightly open, and I could hear the now faint, familiar half whistle/half snore that he made.

He was such a restless sleeper. He moved around constantly during the night and woke frequently. Usually it was me who awoke to find myself looking straight into his always-smiling eyes. But this morning, he was perfectly still. As peaceful looking as I had ever seen him.

I remembered Dr. Nike’s advice to me the day before Aidan and I were leaving, to check in regularly with myself during our time here together. “Just do a ‘PMC’ now and then,” she’d said. A Peace of Mind Check. She’d told me to remember three questions: How am I feeling? What thoughts are behind that feeling? What choice can I make right now that will bring peace of mind?

I looked at Aidan’s body beside me. His arm was lean and solid with surprisingly thick forearms and large hands. Our fingers were nearly the same length but I still felt small in his grasp. My eyes traced his fine lines . . . his faintly freckled shoulder . . . I could just barely feel the rise and fall of his firm belly at my side.

“What else would I need right now to have peace of mind?” I asked myself. As I leaned over to kiss him awake, I couldn’t think of a single thing.

When he realized how late he’d slept he insisted we skip breakfast with the other Tarot Inn guests and see more of the town.

“We’ll grab a couple of slices of breakfast pizza at Spiritus,” he said. “Then we’ll head over to the tower and then the beach for a while before the tea dance.”

But even as we were ascending the cardio workout of a stone stairwell up to the top of Pilgrim Monument, the cloud masses were starting to assemble. They didn’t look friendly.

“I don’t suppose you could blow them back out to sea for a while,” he said as we walked around to the top of the monument with a handful of other tourists casting nervous glances at the sky.

“Who am I, Zeus? What’s wrong with your windmill?”

“Hmm. This could actually be very cool, watching the storm blow in from up here,” he said.

“Cool as in deadly?”

“Cool as in watching the forces of nature flex their muscles and show us their power. Besides,” he said. “Thunderstorms get me hot.”

Less adventurous tourists were already making their way down the stairs. I started to follow but Aidan pulled me back.

“Stay here with me,” he said. “You can get some awesome pictures.”

“We’re going to get soaked and then fried. Streetlights will dim.”

Lightning was already zigzagging out from cast iron cumulonimbus, and a wet wind was spitting in our faces. The drama in the sky and the gray mist starting to shroud the bay were too striking to resist. I pulled my shirt up over my head to protect the camera and started shooting, first just the weather rising and swirling and growling all around us. Then I caught sight of Aidan through the lens. His dark hair was blown back from his face, and his eyes were on fire, wild and determined as a cougar on the prowl.

I shot him from every angle, protecting my camera as best I could as the rain started to pelt and the thunder cracked around us, close enough to raise goose bumps and the hair on the back of my neck. When I refocused on Aidan he was staring right at me. He looked . . . hungry.

“What?” I yelled, looking at him from around the camera, both of us now nearly soaked to the skin.

“Put it away,” he said.

“What for?”

“I don’t want you to drop it,” he said, moving closer.

“I’m not going to drop it,” I said, involuntarily taking a step back.

“You won’t be able to hold onto it,” again moving closer to me. He reached for my camera, gently took it from my hand and slipped it safely into the padded inner pocket of my backpack, which he also slipped off my wet shoulder.

“There’s no one else up here. You know what that means?”

“Death wishes are rarer than we suspected?” He was starting to spook me a little.

“It means we’re alone and two hundred fifty feet above the nearest spectator.” He took hold of the hem of his soaking wet t-shirt and peeled it up and over his head.

“You’re not serious.”

His response was a maniacal grin. He unbuttoned the khaki shorts clinging to his thighs, pushed them and his white Calvins to his feet, and stepped out of them, naked and gleaming wet and wild-eyed, and sporting his own powerfully erect thunderbolt.

There was no mistaking his intention.

“You’re crazy,” I said, as he reached for me.

“Crazed, maybe.” He yanked my own drenched shirt over my head. “There’s a difference.”

“And what would the difference be?” I felt his hands again at my waist, and then unzipping my shorts and rolling them like twin condoms down my legs.

“You,” he said, on his knees now. “The difference is you.”

I don’t know how to describe the rest of what happened up there. It was the first time I could remember feeling so nearly devoured by another person, the first time I had felt such extreme hunger and need coming at me, and from me . . . to the point where I couldn’t tell whose hunger or whose need was driving us . . . pinning us to the stone wall at the top of that tower . . . magnetizing and melting us together. I didn’t know that anything could at once be so violent and so achingly tender.

For every push or shove there was a caress, for every pinch or bite, a sweet kiss. It was a wrestling match and a dance. There were a couple of moments when I could’ve sworn both our feet left the floor, and I couldn’t tell which was the more powerful force—the lightning in the sky behind him or the lightning flashing in his eyes. I had no idea that another body could connect so completely and so perfectly to mine, or that it was possible for two people to arrive at the same awareness at the very same split second, like a single comet streaking across the sky, seen only by two pair of eyes, and to have those most seminal words form simultaneously and appear unmistakably in two minds, transforming everything like the proverbial thunderbolt hitting the tower:

“I love you.”

We finished just as the storm was starting to blow over and with just enough time to wring our soggy shirts and shorts and put them back on before anyone caught us.

“Hey at least we don’t need a shower,” he said as we started down the stairs.

“I still might, after a two hundred fifty-foot walk of shame.”

By the time we wound down the steps of the monument and trudged in sloshy sandals back to the inn, the skies had partially cleared, and we’d at least dried off enough not to drip all over Stuart’s antique rugs.

“Do we need to review the basic principle of coming in out of the rain?” Stuart said from the parlor as we tried to quietly let ourselves in and sneak up to our room.

“We got distracted,” Aidan said, grinning like a milkman who just got lucky.

“Uh huh. Thunderstorms have a way of breaking my concentration, too. You two better get out of those wet clothes. I’ll bring up some extra towels. By the way, tea dance is at four if you want to go with us. You have time for a nap.”

The memory of the scene on top of the tower was still vivid in my mind, and we both seemed a little shy with each other as we undressed in our room.

“Pretty intense, huh?” Aidan said as he quickly hung up his damp clothes and slipped naked under the sheets. He seemed to be studying me.

I took my own wet shirt and shorts into the bathroom and draped them over the shower. When I walked naked back toward the bed he was still looking at me. There seemed to be a question in his eyes, but he wasn’t transmitting. He pulled back the sheet and patted the bed beside him.

As I snuggled in with him I remembered that moment on the tower and the flash of lightning that seemed to drive him into me so deeply, penetrating me physically and emotionally . . . and the words that streaked across both our minds. I wondered what it meant. I had never heard or said or even thought those words with anyone else. I didn’t even know that I felt them until that moment. It certainly hadn’t occurred to me that he felt them. I wasn’t even sure I believed in those words. Were they real? It had only been a thought. A telepathic transmission, not an utterance. A revelation, but not a declaration. I wondered, does it still count if the words “I love you” aren’t said out loud?

Aidan moved beside me, shifted so that my head rested in the curve of his neck, close enough to feel his pulse. Bringing his arm around me he whispered in my ear, out loud, “It counts, Baby.” the gay & lesbian community bookstore in Philadelphia)
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Monday, June 22, 2009

The Geography of Murder excerpt by P.A. Brown

In The Geography of Murder by P.A. Brown, Jason Zachary wakes in bed with a dead man, George Blunt. Blunt was a person of interest to the Santa Barbara Police for allegedly abusing young girls. Now he's dead and young Jason, with his record for hustling and drug abuse is charged with his murder. But something is off for Detective Spider. Can he clear the man he finds himself attracted to? Because Spider has a darker secret than the fact he's gay in the macho police world of the SBPD. Can he keep his secret but still get his man?

Two strong willed men whose desires collide in the dark BDSM world of bondage and pain. One seeks to be controlled, one seeks control. Will they go too far?

(Book cover created by the always talented Deana C. Jamroz)

Geography of Murder
MLR Press (June, 2009)
Print ISBN #978-1-60820-054-2
Ebook ISBN #978-160820-055-9


“Do I believe in the milk of human kindness? I'm lactose intolerant.” Detective Alexander Spider, SBPD


I threw my arms over my face to block out the brilliant light that flooded my eyes. I yelped at the sharp burst of pain it brought on and sat up in bed.

"What the fuck--?"

Under me the bed rocked and rolled. Outside I could hear the high-pitched wail of a gull scream and the gentle, slap of water against fiberglass hull. I was on a boat. Whose? I rolled over to escape the relentless light and bumped up against warm flesh. Oh shit,what had I done this time? Another black out? My last memory was leaving the Vault near midnight. I could have sworn I was alone. Wait -- hadn't some cute, hunky blond guy waylaid me in the parking lot?

The guy beside me was definitely not the blond from last night.

I blinked and stared into his slack face, searching for a clue as to who he was and why I was in bed with him.

I blinked again. I tried to place the face. He was old. At least sixty. Wrinkled face. White mat of chest hair over a flabby paunch, tiny shrunken cock. Faded tats up and down his skinny chest and arms.

A leather dog collar. Black leather harness strapped to his thin chest and nothing else. Not the type I usually slept with. Not the type I ever slept with. What would ever possess me to let a loser like this fuck me? I don't think anyone had that much money.

Then a flash of ice poured down my spine and lodged in my gut. The old man was dead.

I scrambled back, but didn't get very far before hands grabbed me under my armpits and hauled me off the bed. I squawked and tried to swing at my attacker who spun me around and threw me to the floor. One hand shoved my face into the teak deck, redolent of varnish and wood,the other one pinned my arms behind my back. Cold metal snicked around my wrists. What--? A knee landed on my kidney knocking the breath out of my lungs, stopping my protest.

Before I could refill my lungs I was jerked to my feet and found myself staring into a pair of cold gray eyes behind wire frame glasses. He had full lips and a lean, lightly freckled face below a harsh Marine cut. He was a redhead. The freckles didn't fit. They gave him a boyish quality that didn't go with his grimness. He was taller than me by several inches. He had a massive chest that would have split bricks.

"Who the fuck are you?"

"Detective Alexander Spider. SBPD. Who are you?"

I gaped at him. "What the hell kind of name is Spider?"

"My father's," he snapped.

I tugged at the handcuffs holding my arms behind my back. My shoulders ached from the unnatural position.

"Who is he?" Spider asked.

It took me about two seconds to realize he meant the body on the bed. I glanced over at the dead man but still didn't recognize him. Not enough to put a name to him. So how had I ended up in bed with him? And whose bed was it? Not mine. I lived in a dump on Los Cerrados Street. I worked at the harbor, at Channel Charters taking tourists out to the Channel Islands for bird-watching trips. I had snuck a trick onto one of the boats more than once. It always impressed the cute twinks and guaranteed a hard fuck, but I hadn't done anything like that last night. Had I?

Spider pushed me around, forcing me to look down at the corpse.

He looked over my shoulder, toward the galley. I caught movement there and realized a second cop was busy photographing everything in sight, including me.

"Who is he?" The detective's voice broke through my confusion. I jerked around to look at him, thinking frantically.

I searched my memory for something, anything that would tell me who the dead guy was and why I was with him. As distasteful as the thought was I even took minute stock of my own body trying to detect any signs I'd been fucked by the guy. Nothing. I couldn't see any signs of sexual activity. So whoever the blond guy I thought I had been with, we hadn't done anything either. No half empty drinks. No used condoms. Thank God there were no lines of coke anywhere or those little glassine packs I get my beans and Oxy in. I could just imagine how that would go over with this law jockey.

He jerked my arm up. Shards of pain shot up my shoulders. "Who is he?" he shouted.

Finally I found my voice. I tried to shake him off, but his grip was like a steel band. "Let me go. I haven't done anything--"

"You always sleep with corpses?" He leaned in so close I could see the dark rims of his irises behind his glasses. His nostrils flared and he showed the tip of his teeth in a feral grin. "Who is he? Why did you kill him?"

"Kill -- I didn't kill anyone. And I don't know who he is."

"What are you doing here? You meet him here or did he bring you? Where'd he find you? Hades? Wildcat? The Vault?"

If I'd been thinking straight I might have wondered how he knew so much about the local bondage scene, but I was too confused, and face it, scared. I was in the middle of something I didn't understand, being grilled by a man who, it was fast becoming clear, wanted to pin this mess on me.

I glared at him, trying to look tough. "Why would I kill somebody I don't know?"

"We'll get to that. What is your name, sir?"

That threw me a bit. I'm not used to being called sir by too many people. Under normal circumstances I might have looked behind me to see if he meant someone else. Instead I opened my mouth to tell him to fuck off. He pulled at my aching arms again, stopping the words in my throat.

"Don't bother," he said. "What's your name? Or do I need to pat you down and find your ID myself?" His gaze slid down my skintight, pocket-less pants and bare chest and his mouth twisted in a grimace. "Guess that would be a waste of time. One last time. Who are you? I want your name."

"Jason," I said. When that didn't satisfy him I added, "Jason Aaron Zachary."

Another cop entered the cabin. Female this time. She ignored me.

"ME's here," she told Spider. "You ready for him?"

"Sure," he said. "Let's get this mutt out of here."

"This mutt isn't going anywhere without a lawyer," I said, bracing my feet as though I thought I could keep the two of them from moving me. It didn't help that Spider looked amused and totally unthreatened.

"Oh, don't worry. You'll get your phone call. You can make two or three for all I care."

"Am I under arrest?"

Spider looked genuinely puzzled at my obtuseness. "Yes," he said, then read me my rights off a card he pulled from a leather folder. When he asked if I understood, I numbly nodded yes.

I vacillated between apathy and terror. I darted glances at the body of the old man on the narrow bunk. It lay on top of a dark navy sheet, which I belatedly realized had darker spots smeared on it. I looked down at my latex-clad legs. Striped Parade pants was about all I had on. What the hell? I only wore my fetish gear on hot dates when I was enticed by someone with deep pockets. My shirt, socks and brand new Captoe boots had vanished at some point. My gaze fell to my crotch and saw the same dark spots. It was the red smear on my stomach that tipped me over. I stared at it in horror. I was covered in still wet blood. His? Mine? Dizziness swept through me. I swayed on my feet, hyperventilating. My stomach threatened to empty itself. Spider grabbed my shoulder and shoved my head down.
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Monday, June 15, 2009

Cruising for Bad Boys excerpts by Mykola Dementiuk & Amanda Young

The Cruising for Bad Boys anthology edited by Mickey Erlach leaves the cozy confines of the bedroom to seek out sex in the riskiest of locales. Have you ever seen a man in a suit at a truck stop? A preppy frat boy in a public park after midnight? A nerdy man walking down the street in the wrong part of town? They aren't lost. They're looking for bad boys, and when they find them, the fun begins. The best part is when the suit and glasses come off, and the trick is no longer the wildest one in the room ... or in the park.

The first excerpt, from "My Father's Semen" by Mykola Dementiuk, is the disturbing story of a young man who seeks out his biological father only to be forced to survive the one way he knows how. This story will open your eyes to life on the streets of New York in the 1980s and will surprise you in the end.

The second excerpt is from the story "After Sunset" by Amanda Young.

Cruising for Bad Boys
Publisher: STARbooks Press (June 18, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1934187488

Excerpt from Mykola Dementiuk's "My Father's Semen"

My father lived in New York, ever since I was little, and I haven’t seen him six
or seven years. Every Christmas I’d get a card from him with a check for a
hundred dollars --which I immediately cashed-- I suppose it was his way of
saying, Don’t bother me until next Christmas! My mom I never heard from;
grandmother told me she was in San Francisco with her lesbian lover. Oh, I
said, and shrugged. Grandmother knew a lot more but didn’t say much.

The station was packed with people coming and going, but I had to take a
non-descript seat and keep out of trouble. Wasn’t too long ago --about year--
that I got picked up in the Greyhound men’s room, doing nothing, just standing there, but the cops hauled me in anyway.

Cincinnati has no claim to fame, besides Steve McQueen in Cincinnati Kid which took place in New Orleans, and Loni Anderson in WKRP in Cincinnati, a TV show meant more to show off Loni’s tits than her acting ability. And one time the city was know as Porkapolis, before they changed the name to Cincinnati, in honor to some local Indian chief lord, hell, do you think people like to call their home a sty? Fuck off, Cincinnati, or should I say, Oink! Oink!

I only knew three things about New York: it was big, my father lived there, and
whatever Joey told me about it. He had been there about a year ago; having spent a week there, also running away from the therapy clinic his parents put him in because he was gay. His parents were rich enough to send a bounty hunter after him and he nabbed Joey right in the back of the NYC bus station, on his knees, and sucking cock in between two cars. Getting caught in the act was bad enough, but before he nabbed Joey the bounty hunter snapped a Polaroid of Joey sucking cock and which he used to blackmail Joey into giving him blow jobs all the way back home to Cincinnati, or else he’d give the photo’s to Joey’s mom.

Which he did anyway; an envelope full of photos of Joey, kneeling before men, bending over to a standing man, sometimes sucking off one guy while jerking off two others…And of course Joey’s mom never asked why he hadn’t brought Joey home the first day he spotted him but took an entire week to amass twenty rolls of pornographic photos of her son or why there was a receipt among his bills for the Motel 6 outside of Cincinnati.

She paid him 25 thousand dollars to bring me home so he could fuck me right on her doorstep! Joey told me. No wonder he said it took him six weeks to track down Sheila (our friend) in Reno; he had her in a motel for a month, the bastard!

But my grandmother wasn’t as rich as Joey’s parents were so I knew no bounty hunter or parent would come looking for me; but Ralph? Who knew how the social worker would rat me off to his respectable pig friends? Who knew what kind of all-points-bulletin would be issued on me? Warning! Child Molester on the loose! Beware of dreamy-eyes loners writing poetry! That’s him, he’s the one! Smell the little girl all over him! So that’s why I was headed to New York, instead of Chicago, which I had tried three times before.

Excerpt from "After Sunset" by Amanda Young

Toby sauntered into the park and headed for the wooded area toward the back. Nervous sweat matted a white tank top to his back and sides, making the thin material stick to his skin like a lover’s greedy hands. The full moon peeked from between gauzy clouds, staring down at him like a randy voyeur. It was going to be a damn good night. He could feel it in his bones.

Following along the paved trail, he ignored the deserted swing sets and slides and continued on, keeping an eye out for all the things that went bump in the night. He wasn’t above a little vicarious voyeurism himself.

Up ahead and a little to his right loomed a white cement building that housed the public restrooms; a picturesque reminder of all the fucks and sucks he’d swindled during days gone by. Although he knew he could score some easy ass within those four walls, a sloppy blow at the very least, he’d grown a little choosier about his partners these days.

“Psst. Hey, mister. Over here, mister.”

A grin spread across Toby’s face as he slowed to a stop and looked around. He knew that voice. It was the one he’d been waiting for. Anticipation sped his pulse and fed a steady supply of blood to the cock rapidly hardening against the inside of his fly. He sped up his pace as he reached down and adjust himself to keep his zipper from biting into his dick. Free-balling could be a pain when he was trapped inside the snug denim, but it saved crucial seconds when time was of the essence. There wasn’t time to dill-dally with underwear when you were fucking around in public.

Toby kept to the path, though it grew dimmer with every step. The voice had sounded like it was coming from up ahead, instead of off in the bordering trees. He rounded a bend in the walkway, traveling beyond the reach of the illumination behind him.

A hand shot out of the murky darkness. Rough fingers latched onto Toby’s forearm and clamped down around his flesh. He jumped, but quickly masked his surprise behind a casual mien of indifference, allowing himself be tugged off the path and into the wooded area beyond. With every step, adrenaline spiked his blood and made his heart race in both excitement and a touch of apprehension. The same rush of mixed emotions always bombarded him when he came out on night’s like this—which was probably why he kept doing it. There was nothing like those first few seconds of uncertain possibilities to get his dick hard and his pulse thundering. He fucking loved it.

A stray beam of moonlight revealed a quick peek at the man in front of him. Loose golden curls topped the head of a man several inches shorter than Toby’s own six feet, three inches. Although the guy appeared slim in the black T-shirt and jeans he wore, his forearms were corded with sinew and hinted at the muscle beneath the clothing. The brief glimpse of a bulge beneath the man’s fly made Toby’s mouth water for a taste. He wasn’t too proud to drop to his knees in the dirt and blow the man’s mind right out of the top of his head, if given the chance. It wasn’t as if it would be the first time.
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Monday, June 8, 2009

The Dragon's Pool excerpt by Edward C Patterson

In The Dragon's Pool by Edward C Patterson, the third book in the Jade Owl Legacy series, a shadow stalks the lanes and streets, from Gui-lin to San Francisco, from Florence to the Dragon’s Pool. In its wake, Rowden Gray and his China Hands follow a course to right the wrongs of time. The relic is hidden, but stirs in the soul and archaic rituals long since forgotten, but never lost. Some books are closed. Others are open, giving up their secrets. In the darkness, ancient terror awaits. A barren field yields up its magic and . . . the comets return to earth.

The Dragon’s Pool, the next installment of an adventure like none other, looms across the landscape giving even the stouthearted pause to reflect. The stalwart characters of The Jade Owl (excerpt posted on 11/17/08) and The Third Peregrination (excerpt Posted on 2/16/09) are back, and joined by new players and helper bees and . . . yes, villains. It is time for the Tien-xin Rite. It is time to close history’s fissure. It is time to complete the prophesy that dwells beneath Her Majesty’s hem. It is time to count the teeth that emerge from the Dragon’s Pool.

The Dragon's Pool
Publisher: CreateSpace (May 7, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1442170999


Chapter One



The gay kid watched over his shoulder on this dark Castro night, knowing that the men followed him. Anxious, his panic increased along with his pace. No guessing. They were following him. His heart beat double time. His eyes scanned ahead for a safe haven. He hastened. An alleyway was coming up on his right. He could find shelter there, but it could also spell — dead-end. Still, something had to be done. No time for dumb indecision. In the dark alley, he could blend with the trashcans. Perhaps he could discover an unlocked door. Or a fence to leap. His pursuers were hulks — two of them. He, however, was sinewy and young — fifteen in his Nikes. He could outrun them . . . possibly. They were gaining on him, matching his pace. They would bash him . . . no doubt. So he pressed his Nikes to the grayment, and then sprinted into the alley, speed and chance his only hope now.

Darkness could be his friend, except it wasn’t as dark as he supposed. Light threads filtered through the iron slats of the escapement above. Clotheslines hung silhouettes like Spanish moss. Still, he hadn’t shaken the men — thugs grunting threats, probably pissed that their prey had bolted. Why didn’t he leave the club earlier? Too late to wonder now. He always had taken care to avoid the night shadows. This was the Castro, after all. Gay kids were supposed to be safe here, or so he imagined. But when he emerged from the club, he had sensed something amiss. He spied the men across from The Painted Lips . . . and they were waiting. Waiting for something — for someone. But this was the Castro, after all. A gay haven. So he shrugged them off as night revelers tagged up for a tryst. How stupid had he been? These were the night goblins, mongers seeking a gay punching bag. A kid was a perfect mark — young, alone, silky blonde, with a face as smooth as his black leather jacket. The bashers fished — two against one. Coward’s odds. The kid didn’t have a chance. So it was the alley and the filtered light and the cottony Spanish moss.

The kid strained for his night eyes. He assessed the short stretch between this spot and a chain-link fence. That fence would either be a ladder or fly paper. Beyond it was more darkness. However, his pursuers were close behind him. Audible grunts.

"He’s down here."

Now or never. The Nikes pushed toward the fence. Lurch, but then . . . snap. His pants caught on a metallic mass in the shadows — a bicycle. Under different circumstances, this contraption would have served him well, but it twisted his legs with pedals and wheels, spilling him headlong into broken glass and street screed. Dazed. Dizzy. He scarcely heard the grunts now, or the shuffle.

"There. There he is."

The kid inhaled the alley’s urine aroma just as the first blow fell. He couldn’t see his assailants. Blur. Dazed. Dizzy. A sharp knuckle across his cheek. The pain was reminiscent of other pain. He was not a stranger to the pain or to the hatred. However, the last time he had been assaulted, the knuckles were from familiars. Suddenly, boots replaced fists. Kick. Crack. His wind went. His gorge arose, spewing his last beer over his lips. Retch.

"Die, faggot!"

The kid rolled onto his back, meeting another kick.

I must get up, he thought. If he remained a wounded cub, he’d be a headline in the morning. He would beg for his life, but the words wouldn’t form. So he continued to roll, dodging the next kick. He scrambled, crawling like a tadpole. Somewhere in his young spleen, he found his crust, firing his legs out like springs. Pay dirt. The thug tunes changed from mere hatred to unadulterated anger. One of the night goblins doubled-over. Pay dirt.

Good shot, the kid thought. Haul ass, now. He bucked hard, aiming for the chain links. He touched the steel, his fingers laced through the cold strands. He scrambled up, but a clenched claw interrupted his flight. It pressed him into the links.

"That’s the last fucking time you’ll get a chance to shit free," growled the basher.

"Hold him Benny," said the other. "I think this’ll do it."

They pressed the kid’s cheeks against the fence, choking him. So this is how it shall end, he thought. He heard glass break. If he had been the Sunday school going kind, he would have muttered a prayer. If he could have better assessed his situation, he would have known that he was now beyond such things as prayer. The night goblin wielded a broken bottle — a Southern Comfort remnant, long shorn of efficacy.

Hateful slogans. Demonic laughter. The kid heard it and felt a swoon rising. Gasp. They denied him even the urine-bitter air. Suddenly, other sounds. Trembling. Panicky cursing. Hellish screams. Metal pounding — trashcans clashing. Startled, the kid felt air rushing back into his lungs. Dizzy, he slid from the fence, and then tried to whir about, but his legs surrendered. He fell, wondering what had happened to quell the attack.

The kid scanned down the alley.

"Holy shit," he muttered, the words painfully squeezed from his throat.
His pursuers no longer pursued. They had been pelted with a tornado of garbage cans and glass. Benny and his accomplice were sprawled against the graffiti laden wall like the cuss words scrawled illegibly across the bricks. Debris swirled unabated. Still, the kid was mesmerized. The thugs were entwined in bicycle wheels and handlebars. However, what stunned him was a silhouette that loomed over this human trash.

What was this thing? What had wiped the alley clean? What phantom?

The phantom turned, and then moved into the filtered light. It was just a bit taller than the kid, but it appeared to loom to greater heights. It wore a green flowing cape and ruby red tights; and upon its chest emblazoned the silver letter O. The kid knew. He sighed. He trembled.

"The Jade Owl," he whispered.

He had heard the rumors about the crusader of the Castro. Like every gay youngster, he had followed the Jade Owl’s adventures in The Chronicle’s comic section, but . . . here it was in the flesh. The kid raised his eyes to the escapement. Had it come from the fire escape? From the roof? Did it matter? Safety now. Haven true and keen.

The kid took a step toward this green, shadowy phantom, but a silk clad hand stayed him.

"No closer, please."

The kid saw that his hero (for he was his hero now) wore a feathered hood with two tufted ears. And goggles; no, not goggles. Brass spectacles that shimmered blue.

"Who are you?"

"It doesn’t matter." The voice was sweet. The voice was young. "Are you okay?"

The kid glanced at the pile of hate at the base of the wall. He was okay; better than okay.

"I guess so."

"You’re too young to be out this late."

This must be a dream, the kid thought. He shuddered. His savior stretched his hands aloft like a man about to swan dive. He pulled himself through the night air, his blue eyes forming a firefly shower. The kid observed this, his own eyes blinking timed to his heartbeat. He detected an emerald glow at the cape’s edge. Then it, and its owner, disappeared over the roof. The Jade Owl was gone.

"No, don’t go," the kid cried.

He tripped over the bicycle, landing near Benny’s buckled head. He pushed away from the sight, regaining his feet and his momentum. No, don’t leave me. He was saved. He was free, but he had nowhere to go. He wandered in the dark now until he clutched the chain links, and then climbed. At the crest, he tottered, almost losing his balance. He thought he could still see the emerald glow. No, don’t go. He felt the growing bruises on his ribs. They’d be purple by morning. His throat still pained or he would have shouted after the retreating cape. Dizzy. Sharp pain. It hitched him from the top, the ground coming up fast. He thumped over the fence onto the other side. Now his palms and knees would join his ribs competing for the worst color award. He was in another alley, one that opened onto Hartford Street. The kid pushed himself up, the fence a lifeline now. Glancing through it, two crushed thuggish forms confirmed that he had not been dreaming. It did happen. He gazed skyward again.

The kid ran along the thoroughfare, pain chasing him like a fox. He had hope now, but nowhere to go. Time held no consequences for him — or so he thought; the myopic blessing of youth. On Hartford Street, he hobbled, thinking he could still see the glowing cape. Whether it was his imagination or the side effects of the beating, he had convinced himself that he had met his hero. Now, the kid was the pursuer.

At 17th Street, he paused. He squinted at the rooftops. Yes. It was not his imagination. He saw the glow, bouncing like Tinkerbelle. By the time he crossed Noe Street, he knew. The cape had come to rest either on Pond Street or on Prosper. He thought, Prosper. The kid pursued . . . having nowhere to go.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

NEG UB2 excerpt by Rick R. Reed

In NEG UB2 by Rick R. Reed, the sequel to the best-seller VGL Male Seeks Same...(also published by Amber Allure - see excerpt 12/29/08), poor Ethan Schwartz has just had the most shocking news a gay man can get—he’s been diagnosed HIV positive. Up until today, he thought his life was on a perfect course. He had a job he loved and something else he thought he’d never have: Brian, a new man, one whom Ethan thought of as “the one.” The one who would complete him, who would take his life from a lonely existence to a place filled with laughter, hot sex, and romance.

But along with the fateful diagnosis comes another shock—who is this new love? Had Ethan ever really known Brian? And did Brian infect him? As Ethan says, his love history had been more of a haiku than an epic and Brian seems the likely culprit in his new found diagnosis.

The course of true love never runs smoothly, right? And for Ethan and Brian, their new love, once so bright and shining, now appears tinged with darkness and deceit. Can they face this hurdle together with honesty and forgiveness? Or will this revelation tear them apart?

Ethan turns to creating a blog, Off to See the Wizard of Poz, to help him deal with his diagnosis and love troubles, and what he finds there just may be more hope and support in the world than he once believed. And one of his blog readers just might have the key to Ethan’s happily ever after...

NEG UB2 by Rick R. Reed
ISBN: 978-1-60272-516-4 (ebook)
Publisher: Amber Allure (May 10, 2009)


The front door to Brian’s high-rise had never looked more foreboding. Oh, what are you doing, Ethan? Just go home and wait until tomorrow. Sleep on it. You’ll be more prepared come morning. You can think out in advance what you want to say. He hesitated in the shadows of the shrubbery at the front of Brian’s building, uncertain of whether or not he should listen to the voices that were telling him to go home, wait until tomorrow, procrastinate.

But he knew, deep down, these so-called sensible voices were not sensible at all. They were fearful. They were the voices that had Ethan back away in the past from promising relationships, finding fault with every Tom, Dick, and Harry. And Ethan realized now that he was afraid of getting too involved…no, make that he was afraid of being rejected. One way to avoid being rejected was to end things early yourself. You could always take comfort in the fact that you were not the dumpee, but the dumper.

Tell that to the cat you buy to keep you company some cold winter night.

And right now, he knew he was afraid to talk to Brian, to find out where things stood now that Ethan had ended their relationship, told him he was HIV positive, and been just plain mean to him. Maybe now that Ethan was willing to open the door to reconciliation (maybe), he would find that Brian had acquired the good sense to firmly shut it.

It would serve Ethan right.

Tomorrow would be one more night spent in limbo, lost and alone. Tomorrow he might not feel as passionately and may give himself permission to wait one more day and that day might follow another, then another, until Brian was nothing more than a sweet, but flawed, memory, something to think about as he cleaned out a litter box and opened a can of Fancy Feast.

And tomorrow, he would not have the fire that inspired him to leave his apartment, lights burning, computer online, the TV playing in the background. Had he even bothered to lock his door?

He needed the passion that caused him to rush over here to Brian’s.

Several months ago Brian had given him a key to his place. Now, from so many visits, even the doorman knew him by name and Ethan could easily waltz right in, just like any other resident, and go right on up to Brian’s apartment.

But that was before. Now, he didn’t feel right using the key, even if it was in his pocket. Now, he felt demoted to a caller, a guest, and needed to rely on the formality of ringing Brian’s buzzer outside and—hopefully—being let in.

Ethan closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, imagining himself an actor in the wings. He strode up to the intercom box and, without letting himself hesitate, punched in the code that would cause the phone in Brian’s apartment to ring.


Ethan was surprised when he answered so quickly, his voice sounding slow and sleepy…and unbearably sexy. Memories of early mornings and late nights rushed into his brain and, for a moment, Ethan was speechless.

“Hello?” Brian said again. “Anybody there?”

“Hi. It’s me.”

There was a long pause and for a moment, Ethan was afraid Brian had simply hung up the phone. Wouldn’t that be just what he had deserved after how he had treated him? Ethan thought of a bouquet of beautiful purple irises flung to cold concrete, to wither and die among discarded can, papers, and cigarette butts. But then Brian spoke again, “What are you doing? You’re downstairs? Why didn’t you just use your key?”

A good sign! “I don’t know. I guess I didn’t know if that was appropriate…any more.”

He could hear Brian’s sigh come through the box. “Oh, for God’s sake. Do you have your key?”


“Then just get up here.”

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