I thought I was writing M/M Romance – turns out I…wasn’t?

HisBeautifulSamurai24Since 2006 when I wrote what I thought was my first M/M Romance, Danny’s Dragon, I believed I was, as an author, becoming part of a genre that would speak to women who loved reading about men falling in love as well as gay men who would want to read the same thing. I was quickly disillusioned.

I shortly learned that M/M Romance, having emerged from slash fiction was not truly considered part of gay fiction because M/M Romance is about fantasy pairings of men and not concerned with the issues and real emotions and sexuality of real gay men. Understood. M/M Romance obviously emphasizes fantasy (as it does in het romance. I have read a bunch of both and the feelings elicited in me as the reader are nearly identical, hence my inner measuring stick for what qualifies as romance regardless of the gender of the pairing involved). What I wasn’t aware of as time passed were the heated debates, or what seems like at times, the war between M/M Romance authors (overwhelmingly women) and gay male authors who were for the most part, being clearly alienated and discounted, judging by many of the responses to their expressed distress.

Initially, when I heard about these conflicts, I thought to myself, ‘well, romance readers are largely women and romance writers are largely women. The romance book industry always pulls in the largest sector of book sales each fiscal year so it makes sense. One has nothing to do with the other.’ But one day I thought to myself, ‘how would I feel if there were a group of non-Jewish authors writing very successful books about Jewish people, making those Jewish characters unrealistic or factually wrong and then if I spoke up about it, getting told to shut up and that it’s none of my business even though I’m Jewish? Hello!’ I would be so upset and feel that something very wrong was being done.

I only heard peripherally about all this heated debate. It was like being in another country which is quiet and mostly deserted while turbulence rages somewhere else, unheard and seen. I couldn’t understand why I didn’t know about what was happening. I was an M/M Romance author after all. Wasn’t I one of the writers who was exploiting gay men to make money? I looked a lot at this question and years later I’m still not sure of this answer. I didn’t set out to exploit anyone. I set out to write the stories that were burgeoning in my heart. The fact that my books have always had a small devoted following made up almost equally of men and women that I was aware of made me question that possibility. I continued on writing what I write, the stories that were organically inside me to express, thinking, I’m just a sleeper M/M Romance author. After all, my books had happy endings, plenty of love scenes and emphasized the developing relationship between the two love interests, even if droves of M/M Romance readers didn’t find them interesting.

Then, after all this time, a few days ago, I had a revelatory experience. I had a conversation with a gay male colleague who has always been an ally of my work. He told me that my work doesn’t fit into any category and that one of the things he loves about the romantic pairings in my books is that one of the men is softer and yielding to the other man but the other man is also tender and caring, and that this dynamic speaks to something he craves in a gay romance.

Wow! His words made a huge light go off. I have actually been reeling ever since. I began to Google the term: gay fiction vs. M/M Romance and found other colleagues’ well-read blog entries about the distinctions between m/m and gay fiction, all addressing the issue with intelligence, thoughtfulness and clarity. I absorbed what I was reading and although as an author and then as an author-turned-publisher wherein I had to define genres in order to list titles on my publishing sites I had already figured out many of the technicalities of genre, I just had not been able to apply them to my own work. The writers’ explanations were helping me clarify the content of my own writing after what has been years of staggering around in the dark. It was no wonder I hadn’t been aware of the genre conflicts going on because I was floating around, far from even the periphery, not fitting in anywhere.

I am still trying to work out where my books fit in in all this. The men who’ve read my work have always praised it, much to my delight. While there is always HEA or HFN in my stories, I was never told the men in my books were unrealistic. I have never been able to portray men with that that world at their feet kind of confidence, doing and saying things that real guys wouldn’t do and say. They don’t vie for dominance, which is one of the characteristics I’ve learned is common in M/M Romance. I like them to be sensitive and protective. I like them to have some neuroses here and there left over from childhood experiences that they learn to find healing for with the man who is their love interest. Sometimes they say the wrong thing or act like a jerk and have to apologize. Some of them are vegetarian, more than one has taken in a stray animal. Which perhaps the characters in many other authors’ books have done. I’m not judging. I haven’t read enough of them to make that determination. I’m just trying to figure out where my books fit on the spectrum. I have tried to begin writing the business billionaire mogul type character in an Armani suit kind of story but I can never get more than a couple thousand words in before I am delving into his deep psychological past and making him other than a jet-setter in the corporate world I personally despise and then focus on his personal development and the mutually healing interactions with his growing love interest. But because there is always a Happy-Ever-After of Happy-For-Now and the characters, once they meet and begin to fall in love, only ever have sex with each other, which is not always the case in real-life relationships, my work can’t really qualify as “gay fiction.”

So… I write romances between men that don’t really seem to be the kind of M/M Romance that is wildly popular. I don’t write gay fiction that expresses the concerns and issues of gay men today with the exception of a character having come from a homophobic family and having to work through the fallout of that upbringing. And I don’t write what could be considered slash fiction or yaoi-inspired fiction, although that latter category is another one I fancied I was writing and realized I was wrong. Setting a gay romantic story in Japan and having Asian characters does not automatically make a story yaoi. Hello again!

So what genre is it? I thought of a possibility. Perhaps “gay romantic fiction” would be the name that encapsulates my books (and the work of other authors as well). Stories wherein the main focus is on the developing romance between the two heroes within the broader context of solving a murder mystery or some such plot arc, but also contains more emphasis on character study and personal growth and at times, spiritual consciousness?

Yes, perhaps “gay romantic fiction” would be a more accurate moniker? No doubt there are other authors (some of whom I know personally) whose work fits more into a genre of this name. What do you think?

Thanks for reading! Best, Sedonia

Cover reveal! Flying Fish coming to Dreamspinner Press!

FlyingFish_FBprofile_OptizimedForFeed Some of you might already be familiar with my Sword and Silk series which begins with this title, Flying Fish, which focuses on the romance between Daisuke Minamoto, a ronin who returns to his home town to seek revenge on the lord who’d murdered his wife years earlier and Genji Sakura, a traveling kabuki actor whom Daisuke stumbles upon, bathing in a hot spring. Their encounter turns passionate and Daisuke, unexpectedly smitten with the beautiful young man, finds himself quickly at a crossroad: continue his oath of vengeance, or take responsibility for the destruction his anger causes Genji.

If you are familiar with the series, you know it continues with Blind Love and the never before published Blossom of the Samurai. I was fortunate enough to get the series contracted at Dreamspinner Press where Flying Fish is now available for Pre-Order. Official release: August 17! Yay! I hope you’ll check it out. Here is a little snippet from the story. I would love to hear your opinion when you’re done. Do you like stories about samurai? Ir maybe other historical settings for m/m stories?

Excerpt:

Chapter One
Kai Province, Edo Period, Japan
During the Tokugawa Shogunate

Ah, finally, the hot spring! A sunny summer afternoon to himself to enjoy a soak and not another soul in sight with whom he’d be forced to share. Who’d have thought such an oasis of luxury awaited a lowly traveling Kabuki actor, a flying fish who jumped from town to town with his troupe, entertaining merchants, peasants, and samurai? Unimaginable. Except that it had happened. And might not last long.

Genji stared a moment into the placid water of the small pond, surrounded by large rocks between which one could slip to reach the water. Steam rose invitingly from its surface. Even the twittering birds in the trees surrounding the small enclave of rocks seemed to be ordering him in quickly. A hot spring like this would probably not remain undiscovered for long. Once he went back to the troupe’s quarters, only the Buddha might know when he’d have this chance at solitude again.

That was all the encouragement he needed. Genji pulled open the sash of his kimono and let the article slip to the rock below his feet. On top of that, he dropped the small knife he carried, which when sheathed appeared to be a woman’s fan. A mistake probably, leaving it there, considering there were bandits in the countryside who could assail a lone person. But the briefness of time made him throw caution aside.

He stepped out of his wooden sandals, not bothering to fold his clothes neatly. The tie in his hair also landed on his discarded garments, as he fully intended to wash his hair in this hot water. Another luxury he couldn’t have dreamed of before this moment. Now he was naked, having already daringly left off the loincloth before parting from his quarters in the village. Who wanted to spare the valuable time to unwrap it in the instance that he found the legendary hot spring spoken of by the innkeeper?

He covered his knife with the folds of the kimono, left it within his reach, then stepped into the water. And immediately smiled. Delicious already and the water had barely submerged him past the ankle.

Anchoring his weight on one rock, he lowered himself in to his upper chest. Mmm, more luxurious heat penetrated his skin. The perfect relaxation. Bending forward, he soaked his long hair, then yanked his head back and scrubbed his scalp with eager fingertips. It wasn’t the same as having someone else do it for him, but it made his eyes close with pleasure all the same. Dipping down again, he rinsed his hair until he felt certain all the dust of the road had washed away, leaving the long, ebony strands gleaming.

He squeezed the excess water from the length of his hair then found a spot to sit and recline, where a rock jutted out into a natural ledge underneath the water. The sun warmed his face, and the water warmed his body. Warmth filled him. Made his soul as warm as his body. In moments like these, he could forget for a little while. Forget his childhood memories of the anguished cries of women and children as they all were forced from their homes in the aftermath of their lord’s defeat and herded onto the platforms to be sold. The sun made a reddish glow of the darkness behind his closed eyelids, a starburst of light that blocked out even the worst of his childhood visions.
A breeze passed over, blowing cool on his damp skin, rustling the leaves of the bushes and trees surrounding the tiny pool. However, when the breeze died down, the rustling of the leaves continued. Heavier, with the crunch of tiny twigs under the weight of something on top of them.

Genji’s eyes shot open. Sunlight flooded them, blinding him for a moment. The surface of his skin crackled to life. He strained to hear, and his body tensed, ready to spring from the water for his knife an arm’s length away.

Another snap of twigs.

He sat bolt upright. “Who’s there?” he growled.

Silence.

Genji might have thought it was an animal in the brush, but his inner voice told him otherwise. It whispered to him that he shared this tiny oasis with another human being. Someone who’d been spying on him, watching him wash his hair.

Genji leaned over, slipped his hand within the folds of his kimono, and wrapped a hand around the hilt of his knife, a gift from a high-ranking samurai who had patronized Genji’s talents in the past, both on and off the stage. “Answer me,” Genji said, his voice tight. Years of acting had taught him how to infuse his tone with whatever emotion was needed for effect. In this instance, he sought for threatening. “I’m armed. I know how to use this knife.” Indeed, he could follow his threat with action. That same samurai had taught him some basic swordsmanship, in between sessions of intense lovemaking.

Silence still answered him, yet the sense of another human presence remained.

Genji slid the knife from its scabbard.

“If you don’t show yourself on the count of three,” Genji went on, gaze trained on the rocks that hid part of the brush, “I will climb from this pool, seek you out, and gut you. Don’t think I won’t do it.” Though slim and narrow in build, with finely etched muscle and not the brawn of a highly trained samurai or laborer, Genji had speed and agility. As a dancer, he’d found the principles of movement were the same.

“Relax, peasant,” a voice said suddenly from behind the brush. “I’m obeying your order.”

Genji’s insides jumped. The voice, deep and male, held a hint of mockery tinged with admiration. Though the owner of the voice hadn’t threatened his safety, Genji continued to hold his knife at the ready, should the stranger indeed mean him harm.

The leaves and branches of the brush rustled and snapped, and within seconds, a figure emerged. He came to a stop at the edge of the rocks.

Genji stared, blinking, not so much because the glare of the sun made a halo of blinding light around the stranger’s broad figure, but because when the man moved so as to block the sun from Genji’s eyes, the vision before Genji was that of a wild warrior.

Darkness. The word rose in Genji’s mind as the stranger moved a few steps closer. Dark eyes, swarthy skin, jaw and cheeks covered with more than a few days’ growth. And though his abundant black hair was pulled back, much of it had escaped its tie and rioted about his rugged face.

The man, obviously a samurai of some sort, would have been handsomely imposing had his clothing not been ragged and desperately in need of washing, even his rope sandals, though Genji felt certain that the blades of his weaponry, long sword, short, and knife, were polished to perfection within their woven scabbards. The hands that handled those weapons were large, fingers thick, and his legs in their gaiters below the hem of his kimono were also thick, muscled limbs of coiled strength.

Genji’s tanto and his limited ability to use it were a mere joke in the face of this obviously skilled warrior, however ragged and dirty his state. His fear must have shown, for the stranger gave him a sudden lopsided grin and began to untie his belt, lowering his weapons to the rocks.

“I apologize for coming upon you the way I did, like a sneak thief,” the samurai said. His hands went to the tie of his kimono and worked it open. “I thought you were a woman when I saw you from a distance, washing that hair.”
Genji exhaled a tiny bit. But only a bit. He set his tanto onto the rock behind him, an excuse to avert his gaze from the thickly muscled torso being revealed. For some reason, the man’s growing nakedness made Genji feel testy. “So you would have continued to spy on me, taking advantage of my undress had you not seen I’m a man?”

The samurai didn’t answer though his dark gaze shifted away from Genji in a way that appeared guilty. He removed his gaiters, unwrapped his loincloth, dropping everything on top of his other ragged clothing, and Genji got an eyeful of the samurai’s musuko. Even in its softened state, the member hinted at delicious thickness when erect. The sac beneath it was equally abundant-looking, heavy and full.

The samurai leaned down, turning halfway as he began to lower himself into the water. His meaty leg and ass muscles flexed as he climbed down into the pool and settled on the other side. Genji didn’t know if there was a rock ledge to sit on over there, but he didn’t offer the space beside him in spite of this warrior’s handsome appearance. He entertained enough samurai already, nearly every evening after the day’s performances. His life was not his own, and it was a blessing for him that he loved the theater, otherwise he would have gone mad and committed hara-kiri long ago with his own knife.

Without meaning to, Genji caught a glance of the way the waterline lapped at the samurai’s chest and gleamed on the golden hue of his skin, just beneath the large dark rounds of his nipples.

“To answer your question,” the samurai said finally, “yes, I would have continued to spy on you, as crude as that may be.”

Genji blinked again, struck at the man’s honesty. That, at least, was refreshing. Not all samurai were as noble as their warrior’s code demanded they be.

“Even after you first spoke,” the samurai went on, “I wasn’t sure of your sex. Your voice is soft and gentle even though you tried to sound fierce. It took many moments of debating whether to show myself. Only when you turned around and I saw your male chest, I knew I could come out without making you scream.”

Genji continued studying him as he spoke. The samurai’s voice was deep, each word saturated with emotions. The explanation made some of Genji’s apprehension ebb, and he nodded. “I see.”

The samurai cupped some water and splashed his face. Shiny droplets clung to the heavy dark stubble on his cheeks and jaw. “You must be a boy, then, by your smooth appearance.”

“No.” Genji lifted his chin. “I’m in my twenty-fifth year.” Truthfully, he’d not been a boy since his family’s expulsion from the castle into dire poverty, a violence that had ripped him from childhood and thrown him into the constant struggle for survival.

His bathing companion looked doubtful for a moment but then nodded and continued to wash himself. He came away from the edge to the center of the small pool and dipped underneath the surface, scrubbing his skin when he rose.

His large hands slid over his arms and chest, making the water stream off his skin.

Genji tried not to watch him while that testy feeling intensified. He shifted his weight. “I’m not a peasant either,” he said to the man’s back. Water soaked the man’s abundant hair, making it shine in the sun, and those thick back muscles flexed and bunched as he washed himself. Genji had nothing against peasants, of course. His parents had been peasants who’d served the lord of their province within the grounds of the castle keep before the shogun dissolved the lord’s estate and turned them all out. But Genji hadn’t had the chance to grow up as a peasant once he’d been sold into service of Shizu, the theater troupe’s director. And so, his occupation, the very thing that had formed his identity as a human being, was of utmost importance to him and would be known. Even to this bedraggled-looking warrior.

The samurai turned and regarded him. More water beaded off his broad chest and down his taut abdomen. “What are you then?”

Genji squared his shoulders a bit. “An actor.”

The samurai’s eyes widened with a look of amazement. “Ohhhh,” he said in a hushed whisper, as if a great honor were being conferred on him. Then he bowed, his face nearly touching the surface of the water.
Genji’s cheeks burned. Was the samurai mocking him?

But when the other man straightened, his expression seemed sincere. “You must be famous,” he said.

“You don’t need to make fun of me just because I am part of a traveling troupe.”

The samurai’s brow furrowed. “I make fun of no one.” He bowed again. “I have never met an actor before.”

Genji studied him as his indignation faded. Judging from the wild look of the man, it was certainly possible he didn’t patronize the theater as so many of his class did. Then Genji understood his own agitation. “I apologize,” he said softly. “I see you weren’t mocking me. I’m not accustomed to a… response such as yours.”

“Oh.” The samurai bowed again, and Genji felt his cheeks tingle a bit. In spite of their strange introduction, the warrior seemed to possess the sense of honor exhorted by the samurai code, a quality Genji found attractive.

“My name is Genji,” he said, feeling his heart open a bit toward the samurai. Politeness went quite far with him since so many patrons saw his occupation as an excuse to make him an immediate object of their carnal appetites without regard for his feelings. “Sakura Genji.” Sakura was a surname he’d given himself, not only because he found cherry blossoms beautiful, but as a stage name, it had a touch of romance to it. He also felt it would honor his parents. They’d have been proud to know their son had earned the honor of a surname, even if he had to confer the honor upon himself as he grew older and earned his promotion from stagehand to understudy to first performer.
The samurai bowed yet again. “Minamoto,” he said, “Minamoto Daisuke.”

“Pleased to meet you.” Genji paused before speaking again. “Which lord do you serve?” he asked and immediately regretted his question.

Minamoto’s face darkened, and the wildness Genji had first seen came forth in his look.

“I serve no lord,” he said quietly. “I’m a ronin.”

A masterless samurai. There were many of those in the world. For various reasons, these warriors roamed the countryside, using their skills for their own purposes, never swearing fealty to one lord. Indeed, the status explained Minamoto’s unkempt state. The occupation of ronin never held the promise of steady employment, especially in a time as relatively peaceful as this one, when a swordsman’s skill was not so much in demand.
Genji sought to lighten the sudden mood. There was something underneath the ronin’s demeanor that made Genji uneasy in spite of the man’s apparent honorability. “Well, then, we have something in common,” he said.

“What is that?” Minamoto looked genuinely curious.

“Neither of us stays long in one place. You’re a ronin, and I’m a tobiko.”

Minamoto broke into a grin. He laughed then, a deep, rich laugh that did, indeed, release the darkness of the previous moment.

Genji found the laughter infectious and joined him. Their combined voices echoed into the air, Minamoto’s deep sound and Genji’s higher, melodious one blending into the sweet summer air and the birdsong in the surrounding trees. Life held some truly pleasant moments for Genji at times, and this was one of them.

When their mirth had passed, Minamoto regarded him with a thoughtful expression. “I wouldn’t have thought of such a comparison, but you’re right, after all. The world holds great uncertainties for both of us.”

Genji nodded then saw the samurai’s look change, as if his own words had made him think of something he’d left behind while laughing. Feeling suddenly shy, Genji gazed down at the water. “This is certainly a beautiful spot,” he said. The mood had darkened again, and Genji understood. Minamoto carried this darkness with him. It was part of him, like a precious treasure to which he clung for survival. Being an actor had sensitized Genji to the inner workings of human beings. After all, he needed to access the depths of human existence in order to portray it effectively onstage through song and dance.

“It is beautiful,” Minamoto agreed. “I’ve soaked here many times.”

“Oh, so you’ve been in the province before.”

The darkness seemed to close in like a shadow over Minamoto’s handsome face. “I lived here for some time, years ago.”

“I see.” Genji remained quiet. It wasn’t his way to pry into others’ lives. He’d learned long ago to mind his own affairs. Yet, it often didn’t matter. For whatever reason, he had a way about him that made people feel able to bare their souls to him and so had often learned more than he wanted to know of others’ depravities and secrets.
A tormented look tightened Minamoto’s features. “It’s no secret why I lived here and why I left. No doubt you’ll hear the gossip once people see I’ve returned.”

Genji’s insides jumped. Apparently, the ronin sensed this thing in Genji as well. It was inescapable. “I never pay heed to gossip,” he said. “It’s belittling. Unworthy of even the lowliest peasant.”

A moment of silence passed, and Genji thought his response had ended their conversation, but Minamoto spoke again.
“Five years ago, the lord of this province murdered my wife,” he said quietly. “Shot her with an arrow while he was out hunting. She was collecting flowers. They were still in her hand when she was brought to me.”

Genji stared at him. It occurred to him perhaps the lord had been hunting and mistook the woman’s movement for a game creature, but deep inside, he knew it wasn’t true. The act had been committed in cold blood. The truth was in Minamoto’s eyes.

“I was a threat to him,” Minamoto continued. “The aid I gave to certain of his vassals made him distrust me. He did it to rid the province of me. He succeeded. I could not stay here after that… and be reminded of her. Everywhere I looked.”

“I’m truly sorry,” Genji said softly. Clearly the ronin still grieved. The woman’s death had obviously been a loss from which Minamoto felt he could never heal. Perhaps that was the cause of the darkness Genji had sensed in the man.

Minamoto’s stricken eyes went to him. The sympathy he read on Genji’s face seemed to soothe him, for his look shifted to something softer. He nodded an acknowledgment of Genji’s kindness. “Since then, I’ve traveled every inch of Japan, been to every province, and studied with the greatest swordsmen of each fiefdom.”

The samurai’s voice took on an edge as he spoke. There was a hunger in his eyes Genji had seen before in the warriors of his class. So many of them possessed fighting skills beyond anyone’s imagination, and in this peaceful time, they had no outlet other than to challenge each other to duels or to protect villages from gangsters and bandits. From the way Minamoto spoke, and from what he’d just revealed about his past, Genji felt certain as to the destructive course this man actually followed. Minamoto was a man consumed, devoured from the inside by his own life. The understanding formed in Genji’s mind and heart as he watched the steam rise from the water’s surface around Minamoto’s damp torso. Minamoto was a living, breathing figure of tragedy.

The understanding softened Genji a bit more toward the man. As much as he ever wanted to remain aloof from anyone for his own protection, he was never able to do so, as if some sort of natural barrier that other people had was missing from him. “Perhaps it’s none of my business,” Genji began gently, “and please tell me if it is not, but what brought you back to this province?” Something gave him the feeling it wasn’t to revisit the place where he had lived with his wife.

That darkness settled over Minamoto again. “I have unfinished business here.”

The answer confirmed his suspicions. Yet, Minamoto’s intentions were none of Genji’s affair. Genji’s existence was devoted to playing the Samurai Princess, a role for which Shizu had meticulously trained him since buying Genji off the platform.

Genji nodded and remained respectfully quiet. The slant of the sun told him it was time to return to the village. His troupe had just arrived the previous day, and their stage would be near completion. Rehearsals would go on this evening, and then when the news of their arrival had spread, there would be the usual wandering in of samurai looking for an evening’s companion. Genji sighed. “I must return. I have a few moments to dry out on the bank, and then I will go back.”

The ronin started as if given a shock. He bowed to Genji. “I’ll accompany you,” he said. “It’s safer not to travel alone.”

Genji hovered on the verge of refusing the offer. After all, he had his tanto and wasn’t afraid to use it… he believed. However, he found Minamoto’s company oddly comforting, showing Genji how lonely he actually felt in spite of his busy life. His fellow tobiko could never really be true friends, even Aoki. Especially Aoki, who coveted Genji’s position in the troupe. Aoki would not want to remain an understudy indefinitely, and so there was always an undercurrent of tension among the troupe members. Disappointed, Genji climbed from the pool, picked up the pile of his things from the rock, and went to the grass. He retrieved the small bottle of sesame oil from his things and poured some into his hand, smoothing it into his wet hair. The long strands would comb out much more easily when dry if he worked any tangles out beforehand.

Peripherally, Genji saw Minamoto recline on the grass roughly an arm’s length away. He kept his back turned so as not to steal glances at the samurai’s magnificent, naked physique stretched out on the grass in the sun. Working his fingers down the fall of his hair, Genji turned slightly and caught a glance of Minamoto’s lower body. The man’s musuko was no longer soft between his muscular thighs but stretched halfway erect, blooming with reddish color.

A jolt went through Genji’s body, sending in its wake a series of tingles that concentrated in his own member. He’d thought himself jaded after serving so many samurai with his body, but for some reason, life now infused his male parts, even his nipples, which began to tighten into small, hard peaks. He looked back down, pretending to concentrate on his hair with all his will.

“Your hair is so beautiful.”

Minamoto’s deep voice made heat spark in Genji’s middle.

Genji pulled in a small breath. With his fingers still engaged in untangling his hair, he glanced sidelong at the other man. “Thank you,” he said softly.

The samurai had turned onto his side, propped on his elbow, watching Genji tend to his hair as if he were watching something of beauty unfold before him. “I didn’t know a man could move so gracefully… like a swan.”
Heat tingled mercilessly now in Genji’s cheeks. Such praise was a far cry from having his ass grabbed lustfully by a ribald admirer. The occasional riot that had broken out among audiences over Genji’s favors wasn’t nearly as flattering as this simple poetic admiration.

Acts of Passion redux is now out there :)

100x300ActsofPassionBestsellerIcon100X100
NightOwlReviews
Acts of Passion (A Jack Cade/Michael di Santo Novel of Suspense)
Author: Sedonia Guillone
Genre: LGBT; Gay Romance; Mystery and Detective; Romantic Suspense
Length: Novel
eISBN: 978-1-937796-13-6
Price: 2.99 USD
Print: ISBN13: 978-1523246526|Price: 10.99 USD

Buy from Amazon|BN Nook|Kobo|Google Play|AllRomance Ebooks

When a man is found in his apartment, appearing to have committed hara kiri with a samurai sword, Boston Homicide Detective Jack Cade suspects more is going on than what it appears. The department’s criminal profiler has left and a new guy is taking his place. At first, Cade is skeptical of Dr. Michael Di Santo. Di Santo seems so absent-minded and too neurotic to be effective. But he is brilliant and hot and Cade finds himself falling hard and fast, both in lust and in love. The attraction is mutual, although Michael’s past demons haunt him, keeping him from getting too close. Together, they begin to unravel Michael’s emotional knots even as they close in on a killer, another brilliant, wily person whose sights are now set on Michael.

Publisher’s note: This title was previously published at Ellora’s Cave. It now contains a previously deleted scene for reprint with Ai Press.

Excerpt:

Studying the front area of the building, he wandered down the flower box lined stone walk of the apartment building and turned to face it. Crime lab workers and patrol officers moved around on either side of the yellow crime tape, keeping the building cordoned off until Jack gave instructions to clear out and retain only the apartment as the crime scene.

Jack stepped aside to let someone go past him and bump! Smacked into something.

He turned. “Excuse me, I’m—” Or rather, he’d bumped into someone.

The man was adjusting the glasses Jack had apparently knocked off his face. “You’re in a crime scene,” Jack said.

“Yes, I know.” Almond-shaped brown eyes seemed to study Jack from behind round lenses. He looked Asian, yet sort of…not Asian at the same time. His dark brown hair was styled in a conventional way, parted on the side in short layers. The crumpled navy suit he wore, complete with diagonally striped tie against a light blue dress shirt made him appear as if his mother had dressed him for a spelling bee at school even though he was probably about Jack’s age. Forty.

Jack blinked. He was taking absolutely too long to find out who this man was. Then light dawned. Of course. “Dr. Di Santo?”

“Detective Cade?”

“That’s me. Hope I didn’t break your glasses.”

Di Santo touched them on each side as if to check. “No, they’re fine.”

Jack watched the man’s hands as he gingerly adjusted the frames. Nicely shaped fingers. Clean, trimmed nails. “Sorry I bumped you that way.”

“No problem.” Di Santo cleared his throat. “I hope I can be of help to you.”

Jack started. “Me too. This way.” He led Di Santo into the building and up to the apartment. “As I told you on the phone, I’m not so sure this was a suicide.” He let Di Santo precede him into the apartment and followed him, observing the way the slim man took in the surroundings on his way over to the victim.

Jack explained his suspicions and then let the man work. For what seemed a long time, Di Santo wandered about then stood in the center of the room, his gaze on the coffee table. His hand disappeared into his jacket pocket and pulled something out, which he popped into his mouth.

Jack watched him. Watched the man’s cheek bulge on the side while he sucked on whatever it was in his mouth, his gaze intent on the coffee table and victim. He then approached Jack and Jack heard the click of hard candy against the guy’s teeth. Finally Di Santo turned and knelt by the body.

Jack saw the professor’s eyes widen, especially on the hilt of the knife. “What is it?”

Di Santo seemed to ignore his question, staring at the knife. “Were his hands on the hilt of the knife or over his face when you found him?”

“Over his face.”

“Okay. Please open the robe so I can see the wound,” he said to Murphy.

Murphy did as he asked and Di Santo gazed for what seemed five straight minutes at the vicious cross-shaped cut in the centre of the wound.

“Jumonji giri,” he said, nearly in a whisper.

“What?” Jack looked between the knife wound and Di Santo.

The hot-yet-nerdy man was still staring down, seeming to ignore him. The candy in his mouth clicked several times against his teeth.

“Dr. Di Santo?”

Michael Di Santo looked up, his eyes seemingly far away yet intent at the same time. “What kind of movies did this man watch?”

Cover art: Louca Matheo
Jacket design: Les Byerley

My upcoming Ellora’s Cave release and a history of the Coeurs Eternels

I’m so excited about my upcoming release at Ellora’s Cave in early September! Yay! Immortal Vow is a continuation of the series that began with Darelle’s Trinity (M/F/M Menage, Vampire) Some of you may be familiar with my Coeurs Eternels, the brand of vampire in this series. If not, I will explain. Centuries ago, a Buddhist monk named Tanzin Gayatsu was meditating in a cave in the snowy hills of the Himalayas when a vampire came upon him and fed on him. (The vampire in question is Valmont Lascaux, the world’s oldest vampire whose story we meet in Valmont’s Trinity (Ellora’s Cave)

Since Tenzin had practice meditation so diligently his entire life, when he was brought across, the compassion and level of consciousness he had achieved stayed with him and he retained his soul as well as his beating heart. Moreover, for some reason, along with the taste for blood, he developed a craving for honey. As the centuries passed, he trained himself to feed on humans only when they were dying and his draining them of their blood became a pleasurable act that made their passing less fearful and they could move on to a better embodiment in the next lifetime. Tenzin’s story appears in Touching Forever (Totally Bound) in which he meets a beautiful immortal, Lily Tan, the Tigress of Shanghai who teaches him how to use erotic pleasure to direct his life force.

This type of vampire came to be known as a Coeur Eternel (Forever Heart) and when a vampire fed on a human and turned them, you never knew whether the new vampire would become a CE or not. It all depended on that person’s nature. A CE or a Sans Ame (without soul) – these are the two choices. However, like human beings, the vampires represent a broad range of personalities as well, so no vampire is all good or all bad. Except for the villain of Immortal Vow, Noiret. He has kidnapped the sister of immortal vampire slayer Jesse Harmon and holds her for ransom. The ransom? Jesse must slay Christian St. Cyr, a Coeur Eternel. Although Jesse has vowed never to slay a CE, he is desperate to save Hannah’s life and proceeds with the hit on St. Cyr. Except that things go wrong and Jesse ends up in St. Cyr’s control! What will happen next? Will St. Cyr take revenge or…? HEre’s a juicy excerpt and thank you for reading!

Excerpt:

By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18, please exit this site.
An Excerpt From: IMMORTAL VOW
Copyright © SEDONIA GUILLONE, 2014
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
Jesse heaved a deep breath. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Something had gone terribly wrong. The bullets shouldn’t have affected him this deeply. Since when had he developed a weakness for lead? He’d heard stories of immortals developing such weaknesses but had never considered that could happen to him. If he’d communicated a bit more with others of his kind over the centuries, perhaps he would have known sooner.
Too late now.
Even in the haze of his wounded state, he understood that St. Cyr had fed on him and now believed him to be a vampire.
If he’s not a vampire, what is he?
Jesse’s eyes shot open. The voice had spoken strongly in his mind. Not his own voice. Not his own thoughts. He looked at the large blond vampire hovering over him, the firelight reflecting off his pale skin and deep-blue eyes. The sight momentarily captured him. His gaze went to the scar on St. Cyr’s high-boned cheek. Not even the reddish jagged scar detracted from the vampire’s rugged, masculine Norse Viking beauty.
Strangely, the way he lingered on St. Cyr’s face caused a spot on his neck to tingle, reminding Jesse of the pleasure his body had experienced when the vampire had bitten him and sucked his blood. With the first touch of St. Cyr’s lips on Jesse’s neck, Jesse’s entire body shuddered deliciously, as if every nerve ending had exploded in orgasm. Though his skin had no doubt already healed, the ghostly memory of the feeding remained.
Perhaps he’s immortal.
Shit! St. Cyr again! The feeding had connected them. Jesse’s rejection of the blood had raised St. Cyr’s suspicions. It would only get worse when he found Jesse’s knife in the belt at his back. He had to kill St. Cyr as soon as he had his strength and get the hell out of here with St. Cyr’s head.
Can you hear me?
Jesse’s breath caught. St. Cyr was addressing him directly now. He couldn’t let on that there was a mind link between them. The difference between the mind links of vampires and that of immortals was that immortals had greater lateral access to thoughts and feelings. Vampires’ psychic connections were limited to telepathic communication only. Thank God for small miracles.
Jesse stared up at St. Cyr, as if there were no connection. He watched the corners of St. Cyr’s beautifully shaped masculine lips curve downward. He waited for the vampire to speak again.
St. Cyr remained quiet. He reached out a large hand and smoothed back Jesse’s hair. The vampire had a surprisingly gentle touch. His bite had been tender as well, so careful about how deeply he pushed his incisors into Jesse’s skin.
“You should rest now,” St. Cyr told him. His voice had a pleasing tone, deep and resonant. The vampire’s loneliness emanated from him and Jesse felt the emotion in his touch. He continued to caress Jesse’s hair, causing Jesse’s traitorous body to tingle and relax. Jesse’s eyelids shuttered rapidly with the pleasure of the touch. In centuries of life, he hadn’t felt another one quite like St. Cyr’s. Gentle, soothing. Kind and…erotic, all at once.
Jesse’s cock stirred in his jeans. If he hadn’t been so enervated from the bullet wounds, he would have reached up and pulled St. Cyr down on top of him. His exhaustion was the only thing that stopped him.
Well, that and the fact that he was here to kill St. Cyr.
Jesse prayed that in a few hours he’d have the strength to carry out the task before St. Cyr discovered their connection. And he would figure it out. It was inevitable. They were linked for eternity now. Or until Jesse got the vampire’s head.
That is, if Jesse could bring himself to slay someone whose psyche was now deeply entwined with his own.
Fucking shit. Being immortal not only sucked much of the time, now it was a downright curse.
Jesse opened his eyes again and looked up at St. Cyr, panic rising deep inside as exhaustion overtook him again. He thought of the knife in his belt, concealed only by his body lying on top of it. All St. Cyr had to do was slip his hand underneath him and find it. The vampire’s innate intelligence and suspicion would help him put the truth together, if he hadn’t already begun to.
Damn this fucking lead to hell! The weakness the substance had produced in his body exceeded his own healing powers. His skin was no longer broken and his body had expelled the bullets. However, this latent weakness left him unable to rise and finish. By all appearances, he wouldn’t be killing St. Cyr anytime soon. Especially with his eyelids growing sooo…heavy.
Must…not…sleep. Jesse thrashed his head back and forth, struggling to keep his eyes open. He was losing the battle. The lead had done something inside him, prolonging his complete healing. If he tried to kill St. Cyr now, the vampire would easily overpower him and kill him. He needed his full strength in order to go against a vampire, no matter how compassionate the vamp seemed to be.
Compassion wouldn’t win out over survival, to be sure.
Losing the battle against his illness, Jesse released a long shuddering breath and surrendered to the call of sleep.

Sneak peek at the third in my samurai trilogy


(photo of an onnegata (male kabuki actor in female role) from weheartit.com)

As some of you know I have been working on A Samurai for Aoki the third in my samurai trilogy. (Previous books: Flying Fish and Blind Love. If you’ve read them, then you’ve met the beautiful kabuki actor Aoki who longs to find the samurai who will be his true love. Aoki is a wonderful character, kind and sweet and a good friend to those in his life. But he has not had good fortune in finding the man of his dreams, in spite of how lovable he is and how willing to love.

I realized it was time for Aoki to find his Happy Ever After. And it will come in what is, for him, a most unexpected place. He just has a lesson to learn first that he had no idea he needed to learn. But isn’t this the story of our own lives? Which is what, to me, makes this story universal even though it is set in feudal Japan between a young samurai, Toho, (whom we also first meet as a boy in Blind Love but who is now grown into a handsome young man,) and an onnegata (male kabuki actor who played female roles). I hope you enjoy the snippet I’m posting here. Please bear with me the long time it is taking me to finish the story. Since I also am a publisher, I don’t have as much time to write.) From my work in progress, A Samurai For Aoki (unedited. Final version may differ):

Toho dreamed again about Aoki. It was the same dream he always had. Aoki’s beautiful face with its delicate features smiling down at him. Warmth sparkled in Aoki’s eyes, a gaze full of love and sweetness, dark liquid pools in which Toho felt enveloped, wrapped in safety and unending compassion. Aoki’s long hair curled and flowed, tresses that gleamed like liquid ebony with sunlight glinting off of it. Toho smiled up at him, as Aoki himself were the warm sun, bathing him while he slept. He could feel the teasing brush of Aoki’s hair on his cheeks. Aoki held out his arms, inviting a protective embrace. Aoki’s embrace had always made him feel as if he’d be all right.

Only this time the dream changed. Aoki’s smile faded. Distress filled his pale complexion. Lines ringed his eyes and deepened across his smooth forehead. His reaching arms flailed and he began to fade, as if made of mist. Toho gasped and reached out to him, grasping desperately. He got handfuls of Aoki’s kimono but Aoki slipped from his grasp. The more Toho reached, the more Aoki faded. Until he was gone…

Toho fought for breath. His chest heaved. What he’d thought were Aoki’s sleeves in his tight fists was, in reality, his own bedding. He sat up. Sweat made his kimono cling to his torso and odd tingles coursed over his skin and through his thigh and calf muscles. While the ghostly whispers of the nightmare ebbed away, he raked a shaky hand through his hair. With a long breath he lay back and stared up at the ceiling. The faintest light of dawn stole through the window slats. The brazier had burnt out during the night, allowing hints of the crisp autumn air to cool his sweaty skin.

On the other side of the brazier, his fathers stirred on their futons. He listened, hoping he hadn’t woken them. They worked hard and needed their rest. He’d have been happy to stay in the one of the dojo’s sleeping rooms with his father’s students but neither Hirata nor Sho would allow that. They were fiercely protective.

Toho took another deep breath. Usually he awoke from his dream feeling refreshed, calm and happy. Not today. Something was wrong. Aoki was in trouble. Toho felt it in his bones. Guilt flashed through him as it did several times each. He’d not yet kept his promise to Aoki to return to him. Both his fathers had made him promise to wait until the first day of his eighteenth year. Well, that day was drawing close, but if his nightmare had any truth in it, then he couldn’t wait until then. Aoki might be in trouble…

A shadow loomed over Toho. In the next breath, Sho was kneeling beside him. His father could move as silently as a cat or a ninja.

“Toho, are you unwell?” Sho, who’d been trained in the arts of acupuncture and herbal healing as well as massage, picked up Toho’s wrist. Immediately, Sho’s fingertips pressed into his pulses.

“I’m fine, Father. Just a bad dream.”

Sho nodded and continued his careful listening. When Toho was a child whose parents had been brutally slain before his very eyes, Sho was the one person in whom he’d been able to take refuge. He couldn’t expect Sho simply to give up his protective ways and let go simply because Toho was now a grown man. And yet, he had never quite gotten used to Sho’s razor-sharp perception. There was no keeping any secrets from his father. He listened another moment to Toho’s pulses and then set his hand down. “You dreamed about Aoki-san again?”

Toho sighed. “Yes. But this one was different. It wasn’t good. Something was—“

“Toho, are you all right?” Hirata came over and knelt beside Sho. His dark gaze fell on Toho. Hirata too, fussed over him too much sometimes, but after what Hirata had recently revealed to Toho about his own past, Toho could easily forgive him his over-protectiveness.

“Toho had a nightmare. About Aoki-san.”

Toho sat up. “In my dream nothing really happened but Aoki-san looked so troubled, so frightened. That’s never happened before. Maybe he needs me to go to him. I did promise I would return to him. And…” Toho hesitated before finishing. “I’ve missed him so badly.” When he looked up, both his fathers brows were furrowed, as if Sho and Hirata knew at once what he would say next. “Please, let me go to him. Let me keep my promise.”
Sho and Hirata were both silent. Toho felt their tension in the very air and his heart sped up. “We’ll go with you,” Sho said.

Toho felt a wave of shame, something he hadn’t expected. For some reason, he’d always assumed that when he returned to Aoki, he would do so as a proud samurai, not the damaged peasant boy he’d been when he and Aoki had parted. How could he do that with his two father, both accomplished swordsmen, surrounding him? “But, Father, how can I ever prove myself to you if you are always protecting me?”

Finally Sho cleared his throat. “You expected to make this journey alone? If it’s about keeping your promise to Aoki then what does it matter if we’re with you?”

“And since when would you need to prove yourself to either of us, Toho?” Hirata said. “You’re our precious son.”

Toho bowed his head again. The cool air in the room had dried his sweat and he pulled his kimono tighter, squaring his shoulders. “I want Aoki to…be proud of me.”

“I have no doubt Aoki would be proud of you if you showed yourself with us beside you,” Sho said. “Just to set eyes on you again and see what a fine young man you’ve grown to be would fill him with joy.”

Toho felt his back muscles clench. Both his fathers had proven their strength and merit as swordsmen and as human beings. Why did they insist on depriving him of his chance? “But Aoki adores samurai. Even as a child I noticed his preference, we spent so much time together.” Toho even remembered the little alcove at the entrance of Aoki’s home, across from the tokonoma, the altar that held the statue of the Buddha, where a weapons rack provided storage for the weapons of samurai who came to call on Aoki. Samurai loved kabuki actors, especially Aoki, who was exceptionally beautiful and graceful.

“Aoki loved you before you were ever a samurai,” Sho said, his voice tight. “Before Hirata ever adopted you, you were Aoki’s special boy.”

“Sho-chan,” Hirata said, his hand on his partner’s shoulder, “In all fairness to Toho, I do understand what he’s saying. I can understand how Toho would wish to prove himself. After such a prolonged absence, he’s worried that Aoki will hold him to a new standard.”

The furrow in Sho’s brow deepened. “And what indications has Aoki given in his letters of such a change in attitude? Every time he’s corresponded with us he sends only love and well wishes and hope we’ll all see each other again before too long.”

Toho looked down. He had no answer. Sho was right, of course. Aoki had never expressed anything to him except complete love and acceptance. It was himself who’d changed. As he grew older and his body became a man’s body, he’d noticed the change in his thinking and feeling. He was no longer that little boy Aoki had loved and helped to heal. That’s the person Aoki loved. The beautiful graceful man he looked up to as a motherly big sister had never met Toho the samurai.

“Toho.” Sho broke the silence. “Please, understand my position. No matter how old you are, how skilled you are, you’re my little boy. I’m not a samurai. I don’t think as a samurai. You don’t prove your worth as a human being by living the laws of Bushido.” Sho sighed, his brow deeply furrowed. “You’re asking me to let go. To let you go…to let you…grow up.”

His father’s words moved Toho to rise and go over to him. He knelt down by Sho who immediately covered Toho’s hands with his. “I’m sorry, Father.”

Sho pulled him into an embrace. The bond between them had formed the moment Sho had first come to treat Toho. In the wake of Toho’s parents’ murders, Toho had lain on a mat in his uncle’s tiny hut, staring up at the ceiling, paralyzed by the trauma of what he’d witnessed. Sho had been the first person he’d looked at, spoken to, trusted when he’d come back to life. He knew that Sho would keep him by his side the rest of their days if he could. When Sho finally ended the embrace he sighed again. “All right. But I expect you to post a message to me every few days, to let me know what’s happening and that you’re all right. Promise me.”

“I promise, Father. Thank you.”

My first fan art!

A couple of weeks ago, a reader posted on my Facebook that she was reading His Beautiful Samurai and really loving it. Of course, such praise is part of the lifeblood of an author – knowing that your heartfelt work is touching another life is really a blessing! But then she told me she wanted to draw the characters, Toshi and John. I was really flattered and excited that she felt so moved. My first fan art ever! So over the next few weeks, drawing emerged from under her pen.

I love them! They are sweet and inspired, from the heart.

My favorite is this one of Toshi with the everpresent cigarette dangling from his lips. I’ve only written a couple of characters who smoke cigarettes and Toshi is one of them. :)

I so wish I could draw because I would love to draw my characters and bring to life the people who are in my mind. I will have to settle for doing it in writing but I am so thrilled that there are people who have the talent and ability to visualize the characters and bring out their images on paper. Thank you, Miss Kelsey for taking the time and love to draw John and Toshi!

YGG Magazine cover time! Whee!

You can imagine my absolute ecstasy when Yaoi A GoGo (YGG) Magazine approached me to have Ai Press featured in their main article for the next issue! Moreover, our book covers would be pasted all over the front cover of this premier magazine for fans of the yaoi genre of M/M romance.

So I just wanted to share the excitement, which got even better. I didn’t know that Soy Sauce Face (one of the personal faves I’ve written, also got an incredibly beautiful review. The reviewr gave it basically a 5/5 stars and she said if she could, she would give the sex scene 8/5. I am floating, needless to say.

There are other cool things in this issue. It features Ai Press (of course that’s me), Ahn! Con, great fiction by upcoming authors and Gorgeous Cosplay Master, Alfred Xiaolay!

I have to admit I really didn’t know anything about cosplay until recently. I’d heard of it but I didn’t know that there are people who really can make themselves look exactly like the characters in our favorite mangas. Truly amazing!

Oh before I forget! To celebrate this wonderful happening, there is a 30% off sale ALL titles at Ai Press. Coupon code is YGG at checkout.

Anyway, thank you so much for letting me share. I hope you will check out the article and the magazine and maybe

Yay – My new release!

MenofTokyo23It’s been three years since I released a book in my White Tigers series but here it is. Those of you who are familiar with the series already know the twins, Mod and Tatou, but their story has never been told. Yes, this is a “twincest” story so I don’t recommend it unless that’s a genre that appeals to you. In case you do read it, though, I really hope you enjoy it and thanks for reading this. Warmly, Sedonia
Men of Tokyo: Forbidden Cravings
Author: Sedonia Guillone
Genre: M/M; Gay Romance; Twins
Series: White Tigers – Prequel
Series order: Men of Tokyo: Sudden Bliss|Men of Tokyo: Sudden Surrender|Yin Yang|Men of Phuket: Tongue-Thai’d|Men of Tokyo: Sudden Heat|Men of Phuket: Thai’ing the Knot (Visit here. www.the-white-tigers.com)
Length: Novel
eISBN: 978-1-937796-35-8
MSRP: 7.49
You pay: 4.49

Cover art: Les Byerley

**Content warning: If “twincest” makes you uncomfortable, don’t read this book.

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Some cravings will not be denied, no matter how taboo…

Due to popular demand, Mod and Tatou, the hot identical twins who are an integral part of the White Tigers series finally have their own story told. On the surface, they’re mischievous and funny, good friends and a comfort to their fellow White Tigers when they go through life’s trials and pains. But there is more to these two underneath their gorgeous exteriors. They had their own path to the White Tiger, a path fraught with difficulty, self- criticism, challenges and struggles. After all, they couldn’t be in love with each other, want no other in every way possible and not feel conflicted right? So when the opportunity arose to practice the spiritually erotic path of the White Tiger in Tokyo, a place where they hoped to “cure” themselves of their problem, they jumped on it.

However, as they both learned, the heart loves who it loves and they will be faced with the ultimate decision: give the heart what it wants or face the possibility of an unfulfilled yet “normal” life where they are acceptable? Now that they’ve had a taste of heaven, they might just not be able to give it up!

Excerpt:

Chapter One
London, England a few years back

“Mod, what the hell? You’ve got to be taking the piss!” The indecent proposal he’d just passed along could not be real. Not from Angie, who’d been their mate since third form and had followed them to Uni.

Mod laughed. “I swear, T, I’m not!”

Tatou stared at his brother. Like looking into a mirror really, except that their mother’s Thai features were more obvious on him. Mod’s dark eyes were a touch narrower. And the grin on his full, pouty lips was always slightly more mischievous. The way he always slicked his black hair up into a fauxhawk only emphasized his devilish appearance. At least Tatou thought so. “Then Angie’s taking the piss. These girls are mates.”

In the main room of the suite, the girls’ pajama party Angela had invited them to rang on. Some mates. Mild-mannered women by day, they’d transformed into ten horny college birds, giggling. An occasional cackle.

Mod took a swig of his beer and clapped him on the back. “Ask her yourself, T. She swears it wasn’t her idea. Someone who finds the two of us quite fit asked her to pass the offer along.” He hooked his arm so that Tatou’s neck rested in its crook, and pressed their cheeks together, giving Tatou a whiff of his cologne. Spicy. Too good. “Just think, T, a hundred quid for a few seconds’ snog.”

Tatou wrenched out of his brother’s loose hold, but not before a frisson went through parts of him it shouldn’t have, parts he’d worked bloody hard to keep under control for a long time. “There are so many reasons we shouldn’t do that.”

“Hey, guys!” Angie’s voice shot from the room followed by another shriek of laughter. The volume in the already incense and music-filled room rose. The natives were getting restless. And they wanted what a hundred quid would buy them.

That did nothing to wipe away Mod’s shit-eating grin. The barmy bugger. He was always up for anything. But this? Did he really mean to tempt fate this way? A terribly disturbing thought flashed into his mind and he prayed that Mod would be drunk enough not to play the one card that might get him to give in to Angie’s request.

“Name one reason, T.” Shit, Mod was determined to push him.

“Well, first of all, Moddie, taking money for sexual activity is prostitution.”

That pulled a throaty laugh from his heavily-buzzed brother. “The world’s oldest profession. Nothing to scoff at. Okay, T. And what are the other reasons?”

“Well, there’s one other, really.” Tatou stepped in closer. Gay they both were, but that didn’t mean you sucked face with your own brother. He had spent too much time and energy training himself to block that track in his thoughts since his mind tried ever so hard to go there and to bring his body with it. “In case you hadn’t noticed, you’re my brother? There’ve got to be a few injunctions in the Bible that tell us exactly where we’re going to end up if we snog. Especially for a room full of horny chicks.”

For the first time since Mod had pulled him out of the party room to tell him what Angie and her fellow suite mates wanted, his grin faded. “I don’t see the problem in that. We have our own forms of affection, or have you forgotten?” He leaned in and nuzzled Tatou’s cheek. His brother’s soft lips made his skin tingle. And other body parts that would remain nameless. He closed his eyes. They’d shared a room in their family’s tiny flat all their lives and often helped each other fall asleep by what they called “fitting.” It had only been here at Uni that they only occasionally practiced fitting which of course, required that one of them climb out of his own bed and get into the other’s. Truthfully, he missed the closeness. They were best friends. Didn’t go anywhere apart. Not even meals. Only once in a while they took a course for their majors that was different. Not even dating, limited though it had been so far in their twenty-two years. An occasional threesome in which the third guy was the focus, not each other. They really were two halves of one whole.

But now, it was time to be…normal. If he had anything to say about it, he and Mod would each find their own guy and settle down. In neighboring flats, perhaps, so they’d always be close by to each other, but not with each other. Being in school, so many people in the dorm all the time had kept them both…apart, you could say. Kissing was not going to help. Then Mod’s nuzzling lips feathered a trail toward his ear, toward the sensitive flesh of his earlobe…

With a hand on Mod’s chest, Tatou pushed him so that Mod was forced to take a step back. “Forget it.”

“There you guys are! What’s going on? The girls are going to come after you if you take any longer.” Angie, dressed in a pink silky nightgown and fuzzy slippers, danced her blonde-headed way over and put her arms around both their shoulders, swaying in time to the bass beat that made the floorboards vibrate. “I’ve got the collection going already. And…” She lifted her head up, a triumphant gleam in her hazel eyes, “There’s another fifty quid in it if you take your shirts off.”

Mod’s eyes widened. “Bloody hell!” He turned on Tatou. “T, if you don’t do this, you’re the bloodiest prat ever!” He narrowed his eyes. “Forget your stupid ideas of hell and damnation. We need this money for our trip!”

Dammit. Mod hadn’t been too drunk to play the trip card. Tatou exhaled. Their graduation present to themselves, partially funded by Mum and Dad after graduation. A whole summer in Japan. At that special place in Tokyo Mod had found on the Net. Honestly, they were headed for one of the most expensive cities in the world. They could use all the extra dosh they could get. That hundred and fifty quid would go right into their travel fund. He heaved a sigh. Mod wanted to go to this place more than he did but he never went anywhere without Mod. If he refused and made things more difficult, he’d hurt Mod’s dream and that was something he never wanted to do. Not to the person he loved and admired most in the whole world. Even if it meant…shattering what bit of self-control he’d been able to muster. Fuck’s sake. “All right. Let’s do it.”

Angie let out a girl squeal. “This is going to be so hot!” She hooked her arms through both of theirs and led them back into the crowded room.

Shite. The common room of Angie’s suite looked more like what Tatou imagined the inside of Chippendale’s looked like on a weekend night, except that the patrons were dressed in nightgowns, pajamas and slippers and were draped all over the sofas, chairs and floor of the suite’s common room, full of pillows and blankets. With a few stuffed animals thrown in. The shrieks of delight drowned out the music as Angie led them to the front of the room where there was a small space away from the heat generated by all those horny girls hungering to watch a guy kiss.

The sight made his heart pound and throat tighten. His mind fogged and his vision blurred. Up until this moment, he’d been as much the impish tease in their group of friends as Mod was, sometimes more so. Now, with all those pairs of female eyes on him and his brother, knowing what they wanted, were giving up fifteen quid apiece for, what was more nerve-racking? All this lustful attention and expectation, or the fact that he was about to break his personal taboo? Kissing…with their shirts off no less!

A hand clapped on his shoulder. He turned.

Mod was grinning at him, the corner of his full lips turned up. “C’mon, mate, let’s give ‘em their money’s worth, eh?” Before Tatou could answer, Mod released his shoulder. His hands went to the hem of his own T-shirt, lifted it off and flung it aside in one swoop. Eliciting, of course, another chorus of feminine catcalls.

Tatou glanced at his brother’s slim torso. Another shiver of electric heat travelled through him. Am I really so narcissistic that Mod turns me on?

Mod stepped up to him. “You’re taking too long,” he said and grasped two fistfuls of Tatou’s shirt. A sharp yank forced Tatou’s arms up and before he knew it, the air of the room hit his bare skin and another round of lusty girl cheers pounded through his head. These girls were mates but he swore he didn’t recognize them now, a feral lot of she-wolves in heat.

But then Mod’s hands closed around his upper arms and Mod’s dark eyes bore into his. The mischievous gleam he knew so well shone out of them, a direct reflection of his own, of course. But in private, they had their own world, a communication that didn’t need words. Whatever Mod really felt about what they were doing would surely come out later once they were back in their own room two floors below this one. Especially if he thought Tatou was mad at him for it. Cheeky as Mod was, his brother’s concerns were his and he cared. Always cared…

Tatou’s gaze fell on Mod’s lips. His consciousness registered that the room had grown quiet, except for the music, which had fallen to a slow dance kind of love ballad.

Wordlessly, Mod pulled him close. Their bare chests touched, then pressed. Warm skin grew warmer from their combined heat. The embrace forced Tatou’s arms out. At first he let them hang at his sides, but then the pressure was too much. This trip meant everything to Mod… The moment took over and he reached around…let his hands rest on the small of Mod’s back. The hard ridges of muscles along Mod’s spine met his fingertips. Tan-hued skin, smooth and perfect. Even though their dad was English, there were some Mediterranean ancestors mixed in so the golden hue and shiny, dark hair came from him as well as Mum.

Mod leaned in and pressed his lips on the side of Tatou’s neck. Tatou’s eyelids fluttered. That felt too good and he tilted his head. Mod feathered a small kiss there, right over the pulse, then licked. Tatou let out a breath and squeezed Mod’s back. Good thing their fronts were pressed together or all these women would get an eyeful of a hard-on growing in the front of his jeans. Their audience was getting well more than a hundred fifty quid’s worth as far as he was concerned.

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