Monday, April 29, 2013
Beyond Love excerpts by J A Harmon
Sometimes love is stronger than death.
In Beyond Love by J A Harmon, former foster child Gabriel Jacobs is determined to make something of his life. Easygoing and more comfortable in a pair of old sweats than the Brooks Brothers suits he will have to wear when he finishes his law degree, Gabriel is also a naïve romantic looking for love. That turns out to be a problem when the ghost of Adrien Beauchene, the son of a French plantation owner, makes an appearance in the house Gabriel just moved into. Adrien is convinced Gabriel is the reincarnation of his slave turned lover, a man he has spent 160 years waiting for.
Before long, Adrien gains control of Gabriel. He vows not to be parted from his love again, even if that means Gabriel must join him in the spirit world. But Gabriel’s best friend, Scott, won’t give up without a fight. He enlists the help of a gypsy witch and twin warlocks Jaivyn and Jaquan to keep Gabriel safe. As Adrien tightens his grip, Gabriel begins to fade, and Jaivyn grows desperate. He and Gabriel just met—Jaivyn can’t lose him now….
Dreamspinner Press (February 8, 2013)
In two weeks, Gabriel still has not ventured upstairs, probably because he believes that is where the ghost spends the majority of its time. Gabriel leaves the bedroom and looks around the front room, trying to decide what he should do. He knows he needs to get back to his old routine of taking a late-afternoon jog. It helps relax him, and he sleeps much better, but he hasn’t quite figured out the best route to take in his new neighborhood. New Orleans’ streets and sidewalks are not known for their easy passage. The sidewalks are uneven at best. In many places, the concrete has been uprooted by the large live oak trees surviving Hurricane Katrina, and the ghosts of those which did not survive. The streets are definitely not conducive to running; also uneven, the traffic is unpredictable at best. A city boasting drive-through daiquiri stands is not the best place to mix automobile and pedestrian traffic.
When he’d lived uptown at the Rat House, he would jog up and down St. Charles Avenue on the neutral ground, the narrow stretch of ground between traffic. Other than having to pause for cross traffic and occasionally moving out of the way of an oncoming streetcar, it was fairly safe. St. Charles is probably the most famous New Orleans neutral ground, because it is also the home of the Saint Charles Streetcar line. The streetcars are still the same green and brown wooden electrical cable cars that have run the tracks for over a hundred years. He has noticed several people jogging up and down the neutral ground on Elysian Fields and Esplanade. Gabriel decides he should go for a walk today and explore a potential jogging route.
He quickly changes into a pair of Ole Miss basketball shorts and T-shirt, puts on his Nike cross-trainers, grabs his keys, and heads out the door. He walks down Dauphine and turns west toward Elysian Fields Avenue. A mixture of Creole cottages and shotgun houses line both sides of the street. Most of them sit directly on the narrow walkway, but a few have small front yards or porches. It is easy to see the vibrant color this street once had, but now it appears faded, muted, and run-down. The sidewalks and streets are pitted, potted, and uneven. Broken shells, used here in addition to the normal gravel, poke through the asphalt and concrete. Some of the buildings, primarily those on the corners, rise to more than two levels. Many of these were once stores, bars, churches, and hotels. New Orleans is a city of bars and churches. Every major intersection seems to house one or the other, sometimes both.
After a few minutes, he arrives at the much wider avenue, Elysian Fields, named for the Champs-Elysées of Paris. He crosses to the neutral ground, which has served as a canal and a railroad during its varied history, and is now an avenue. The neutral ground here is wider than many, and once thickly lined with mature live oak trees, it has now been replanted with newer trees. Even in the coldest months of winter, the live oak wears its blanket of green leaves. Although they may reach great heights, they do not aspire to scrape the heavens like so many other trees. They are content to remain close to the earth. It is a live oak’s desire to cover and canopy those people who seek its shade, listening to their stories and holding their secrets within the thick coarse bark. Occasionally the older ones even reach down and touch the ground, resting their weary limbs upon the cool earth, providing the perfect place for climbing, sitting, courting, laughing, or crying. Katrina wreaked her havoc on these native New Orleanians, but now new growth springs forth as people have replanted many of the lost trees.
The mid-October break in New Orleans’ normally oppressive humidity inspires Gabriel to pick up his pace, and before he knows what has come over him, he’s running freely down the avenue. He feels the tensions of the past few weeks gradually move down his body to his flailing arms. Problems fly from his fingertips. Troubles are crushed under his advancing feet. His muscles, which started to think they were no longer going to be used, realize retirement has not yet come, and start to do their job again. Within moments he feels the old familiar rush of endorphins finding their home within his brain and everything is good with the world. Gabriel travels north along the avenue until he reaches the noise and confusion of Interstate 10, which cuts like a razorblade through many of the old neighborhoods of New Orleans, entombing history in its cold concrete and forcing fast and furious upon slow and easy. He loops around and heads back toward the river, back toward the house on Dauphine.
Gabriel is in the upstairs room of the house on Dauphine, but it looks different. He lies naked and uncovered upon a bed in the attic. He faces an open window at the back of the house. The autumn breeze comes off the river, entering at the front of the house and drafting out the back. The sounds of the city mix with country sounds as cicadas sing their nighttime songs and horses clack along the cobblestone streets. Somewhere in the distance a baby cries, and a man raises his voice in anger.
He can also feel the warmth of lamplight and the presence of someone’s eyes on his bare back. As he rolls over, he meets the gaze of the man who stares at him. Adrien sits at a small table beside the bed, with the journal open and a pen in his hand. Adrien sees Gabriel is awake and closes the journal. His emerald-green eyes look piercingly into Gabriel’s own eyes. Gabriel recognizes the look of lust in those sparkling eyes. He has seen this look before, but he also sees a look of love, much deeper than longing and desire. He has never seen this look in another’s eyes, and has longed for it his entire life. Adrien remains motionless for a few seconds, and Gabriel has the opportunity to look upon his beauty. Adrien’s dark hair is pulled back from his face and tied in a ponytail hanging over his left shoulder, landing slightly above the darkened olive skin surrounding his nipple.
Gabriel is struck by the intensity of those green eyes, made even more lustrous by the long feathery lashes and dark, full eyebrows. Adrien’s brow is high and smooth, matched by strong cheekbones and a long angular jaw and nose. His face is a contrast of gentle smoothness and striking angular symmetry. As he rises from the seat, Gabriel can see Adrien is not only naked from the waist up, but also from the waist down. Gabriel is so taken by the beauty of his body he quickly draws a breath. It is not an overly developed body, but rather sinewy in appearance. The shoulders are broad and taper down to a thin waist. The perfect balance of his face is repeated by his body. The collar bone is somewhat pronounced as it gives rise to muscular pectorals, and is mirrored by the pelvic bones. Other than his head, forearms, and a shadow of a beard, his body is hairless above the waist. His muscular thighs are sparsely covered with hair, which grows denser as it moves down his shapely calves to thin ankles. A patch of darker hair, as dense as the hair upon his head, is gathered at his crotch, out of which rises his already semierect penis. It is an endowment which rivals Gabriel’s own, although Adrien is not circumcised.
Adrien moves to the bed and gently lies down atop Gabriel. They fit together in an almost perfect match. Gabriel feels breath upon his neck, and then tender kisses flutter along his skin like a delicate flower. Both sides of his neck are covered by these kisses, until finally those full, robust lips come to meet his own. He can feel the push of Adrien’s tongue as he parts his lips and explores the inside of his mouth. Gabriel closes his eyes and luxuriates in the feeling of Adrien’s weight upon his body and the invasion of his mouth. Adrien pulls his mouth away, and continues lightly kissing Gabriel’s chest, pausing at each nipple, tenderly nibbling the little mounds of flesh. Tingling radiates throughout Gabriel’s nerves, directly connecting with his groin as he feels himself beginning to rise. Adrien continues his exploration of Gabriel’s body until Gabriel lets out a gasp as Adrien takes him into his mouth. Gabriel tries to move his arms, but Adrien holds each of his hands firmly to the bed. He continues to feel himself grow longer and thicker as Adrien moves faster and tighter, taking all of him then withdrawing until he is almost freed from those lips, then down again. Gabriel can feel the muscles in his abdomen begin to contract and the pressure within him begins to rise. He knows he is close, but Adrien does not relent.
Gabriel opens his eyes and realizes he is no longer in the upstairs room, but back in his bedroom downstairs. He is disoriented because he can still feel Adrien devouring him, and knows he is approaching orgasm. He finally gives into the pressure building within him, and looks down his body at the same time. The covers are pulled off the bed. In the faint light from the open bathroom door, he can make out at the thin outline of a man lying between his legs. As he erupts in orgasm, he clearly sees the face from his dream looking up toward him. The face slowly fades like a picture developing in reverse, until only the faint glow of the negative remains, but the eyes are the last to fade. In those eyes, Gabriel sees the same longing and love he witnessed in his dream.
He lies there, unsure of what he is feeling. His mind tells him the experience should terrify him. He should feel somehow violated, but does not. He only feels exhausted and drained, but he also feels… loved.
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J.A. Harmon has always immersed himself in a spiritual and magical world. The son of a preacher man, he often found himself moving to new places. His only constant friends were the characters in the books he read and the stories he would write. J.A.’s creative writing took a side trip as he travelled down a road of self-discovery, which led him to religious education and law. He finally reunited with the friends of his childhood when life presented an opportunity to create stories once again. New friends emerged and old friends returned, taking new life in historic New Orleans, where J.A. lived for ten years.
J.A. currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky, the city of his birth, with a roommate and three cats (Momow, Bubby, Mikey and Ally—you decide who is whom). He currently supports his writing as an attorney, insurance agent, marketing consultant, and copy editor