I know it’s been terribly long since I last posted. But I am making progress on Blind Love, my novella that is part of a collaboration with awesome M/M author D.H. Starr.
The theme of our collection is “friends to lovers” and in blind love, Hirata, a samurai and his best friend, Sho, who was blinded by childhood illness, are separated when Sho is taken away to apprentice in the healing arts of massage and acupuncture (common occupations for blind men in feudal Japan). However, Hirata has sworn to find Sho when he’s old enough to leave his parents’ home. His long search yields results but not at all what he’d hoped for. Sho’s life has fashioned him into a drastically different man than he was a child and Hirata finds them in what appears to be a hopeless situation. What will happen to these best friends? Will the men they’ve become force them to part ways forever?
I’d like to share with you a snippet and thank you so much for reading! Warmly, Sedonia
Excerpt (unedited. may differ slightly from final)
Sho slid open the door to the house.
Daylight assaulted Hirata’s eyes. He squinted and grasped the doorpost.
“Are you all right, Hirata?” Sho lightly touched his elbow.
Hirata rubbed his eyes with thumb and forefinger and blinked several times. “I’ll be fine. The light…”
“I understand,” Sho murmured. “I still remember that kind of thing.” His touch left Hirata’s elbow. “Take your time.”
For some reason, Sho’s patience made him feel testy. “I’m fine,” he said and stepped outside. Letting his eyes adjust, Hirata began to see the surroundings that nighttime and his injured state had not allowed him to see days before.
The spot was beautiful, idyllic, really. A small dirt yard surrounding the front of the house, gave way to more lush, tall grass. Only a narrow path was visible, created by the constant treading of human feet down toward the river, beyond which lay forest topped by brilliant blue sky and only a few fluffy clouds. Birdsong twittered from the trees and a light breeze stirred the leaves. The sun warmed his face and body, bare except for the parts covered by his loincloth.
A line of rope tied to a pole stretched the distance, parallel to the path, ending at another pole at the river’s edge. Hirata assumed it to be a line to hang washing to dry until Sho stepped out beside him, grasped the rope with one hand, Hirata’s in the other and took a step. The rope was Sho’s guide between the river and the house.
“Come,” Sho said and gently tugged Hirata’s hand.
In halting steps, Hirata let Sho, also clad only in his loincloth, a washrag slung over one shoulder, lead him toward the water’s edge. Inwardly he grumbled at his own weakness. Weren’t normal samurai able to sustain such an injury as he’d received without needing so many days’ rest and nursing? Did he have to be so different in every way possible?
Glancing up he watched Sho’s fingers slide along the guide rope. His testy feeling intensified. As a child, Sho had adapted to his blindness seamlessly. As an adult, he’d gained even more skills. In addition to being an accomplished healer, he was as deadly a human weapon as any samurai or ninja. Hirata couldn’t help comparing himself to Sho and to every other human being he’d ever encountered. Everyone else seemed to fit somewhere in this world except him. Until last night, at least, after his horrible conversation with Sho, he’d held onto the belief that the fire of love and loyalty burning in his heart for Sho distinguished him as a samurai in the true sense. Now, that too, seemed a paltry kind of joke.
They reached the riverbank and Sho released the guide rope whose end was tied to a pole a mere few steps from the river. “The water should be nice and warm,” he said and, with Hirata’s hand in his, inched down the bank, toward a large rock protruding from the water. The surface of the rock reached from the water to the grassy slope, its edge an arm’s length from Sho’s guide pole and serving almost as a kind of makeshift platform. Ichi-san had apparently set everything up for them perfectly, Hirata thought with a touch of bitterness. No sighted people needed.
Sho took the first step into the water. “Ahh, it’s beautiful.” He tugged Hirata’s hand. “Come, let’s have a bath, then I’ll wash your hair.”
Hirata followed Sho into the river. Admittedly, the sun felt glorious on his back while the cool water enveloped him up to the waist. In his heavy mood, he didn’t want to allow these things to give him enjoyment, but he couldn’t help it. He’d never been truly able to shut the wonder of life out, even in the depths of missing Sho.
Releasing Hirata’s hand, Sho dipped under the water, remained under for several seconds then came back up under a curtain of cascading water. “Ah, that’s wonderful after being inside for days,” he said with an uncharacteristically wide smile. “Go on, Hirata, wet your hair.”
Hirata paused, caught himself staring at Sho. Sunlight made the droplets of water clinging to Sho’s skin shine. Water beaded down Sho’s chest and abdomen, making small rivulets in the furrows between his muscles. Truly he appeared some sort of god in human form, standing there, the water lapping at his waist.
Sho’s smile faded. No doubt he felt Hirata’s gaze on him. “What are you waiting for?” he murmured, smoothing one hand over his closely shorn head.
Wordlessly, Hirata obeyed. He went under and opened his eyes. In the clear water, he had a perfect view of Sho’s legs, the sloping thighs and calves, full of power. Sho had worn his loincloth into the water, but Hirata still caught a glimpse of the bulge in front.
Air ran out of his lungs and he surfaced. Since he’d taken the tie out of his hair before leaving the house, his now wet hair hung heavily over his shoulders. He pushed it back, off his face, his heart beating rather hard. A memory flashed in his mind, of the kabuki actor, Aoki, in sexual congress with Sho, riding him as if astride a horse. Hirata cleared his throat, dispelling the erotic image. “You were right.”
Sho’s smile returned. “Of course I am,” he said, dipping the washrag into the water and stepping toward Hirata. “Neither of us was ever one to stay indoors for any length of time.”
Before Hirata could answer, Sho was right in front of him. “Now, stand still and let me wash you so you don’t keep lifting your arm.”
Sho lifted the washrag and sloshed it over Hirata’s back. Up, down, around, with the same caring touch he’d used in all his ministrations. Hirata tensed, in spite of how good the cloth felt against his skin, down his arms, under his arms then…over his chest and abdomen. Down below, his musuko stirred in his loincloth. The more Sho washed him, the more it hardened, rising until it pushed uncomfortably against the cloth. The sensation made Hirata feel oddly wild, abandoned, rather than uptight, as sexual desire usually made him feel.
Sho slung the washrag over his shoulder again and shifted around so that he stood once again at Hirata’s back. “Dip into the water once more time,” he said, “so I can get your scalp clean.”
Again Hirata obeyed and then rose up again. When he did so, Sho reached up. Burrowing his fingers into Hirata’s wet hair, he began to rub Hirata’s scalp vigorously in small circles.
Immediately, Hirata’s whole body relaxed. He closed his eyes and let his head loll back a bit. Sho’s touch was heavenly. And…he thought, feeling wanton again…he wanted it all over his body. Everywhere. “What about the rest of me?” he asked.
Sho’s hands stilled. “Excuse me?”
“The other parts of me, below the water. Don’t you wash them too?”