Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Day to Make Your Dollars Count!


If you know what I'm talking about and you've already purchased your copies, thank you so much! If you have no idea what I'm talking about, here it is again:

As some of you may remember, for the past couple years I've been donating royalties from purchases of my e-books to a great organization called LGBT YOUTHLINE. They provide queer-positive peer-to-peer counseling by phone, instant messenger, and email to young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bi, queer, questioning, transgender, transsexual, and 2-Spirit.

During the summer I decided to be democratic. I asked readers to vote on which titles should be included in this year's royalties donation drive. You wonderful people chose the following three books:


Naughty: Red Satin
Red Satin by Giselle Renarde

Regan and Maisie had sex once, back when Maisie was living the "boy's" life, but Regan wrote it off as nothing more than a drunken rebound hook-up.

Now that Maisie is in transition and all her feminine qualities are rising to the surface, Regan is realizing what she saw in Maisie that one inebriated evening so many years ago. But Maisie has fears of her own about starting up a relationship amidst the turmoil of other changes. Does Regan see her for who she really is, or will she love her and leave her like last time? See what power is evoked by mid-December mall magic, a red satin evening gown and two lovers who meet again for the first time.

Buy Link: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=2407


Third Rail - Giselle Renarde

Third Rail - Giselle Renarde

Perhaps it is a touch unusual to have a girlfriend and boyfriend both living in the same body, but Kokoro doesn’t classify her relationship with Fiona and Martin as strange. Kokoro rides the third rail, a dutifully subservient lover to both aspects of her transgendered partner’s psyche.

Buy Link: http://www.loveyoudivine.com/index.php?main_page=document_product_info&cPath=66&products_id=570

The Little Burlesque House by the Sea

The Little Burlesque House by the Sea by Giselle Renarde

Sapphic secrets abound at the little burlesque house by the sea!

Madame Mireille's ocean-side parlour, Les Trois Dames Jouissantes, is one of the last houses holding to the tenets of classic burlesque. They specialize in raunchy comedy sketches, undulating fan dances, chorus lines and, of course, the striptease. In post-war Maritimes, Trois Dames enjoys notoriety thanks to an all-female cast combining the smart with the sensual.

It was this reputation that drew the troupe's two newest members to the little burlesque house by the sea. Ginger the saucy redhead is master of the Comedy Striptease. New to the business, Wild Orchid embodies all that is innocent--or so she'd have you believe! Secrets abound at Les Trois Dames Jouissantes, and it takes more than slippery fingers to bring them to the surface.

Buy Link: http://shadowfirestore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=13_17&products_id=105

This year, you can buy these titles at any reputable retailer until December 31, 2010 (that's TODAY!) and I will donate my portion of the royalties to LGBT YOUTHLINE. Keep in mind if you purchase directly from the publishers' websites a larger percentage of the purchase price will end up in YOUTHLINE's pocket. Also, The Little Burlesque House by the Sea is only available at the Shadowfire Press website.

Thanks for your support again this year!
Hugs,
Giselle Renarde
Canada just got hotter!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

My family and I are celebrating Christmas today. If you are too, I wish you a wonderful day! I want to offer a heartfelt thank you to everybody who`s visited my blog during the `Festive Frenzy`and to all those who have bought my books or read my short stories this year. I can`t begin to tell you how much I appreciate the words of encouragement many of you have offered. Without you, I wouldn`t have this career I love so much.
All the Best to You and Yours!
Big Hugs,
Giselle

Friday, December 24, 2010

Festive Frenzy: The Night Before Red Satin Christmas

Remember Regan and Maisie from last year's Torquere Holiday Sip RED SATIN? Well, they're back and this year they're returning to their hometown where...well, let's just say some emotional family stuff goes down. Not to be missed!

The Night Before Red Satin Christmas
Giselle Renarde
loveyoudivine Alterotica
Buy Link: http://www.loveyoudivine.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=66&products_id=743
_______________________

Maisie used to be Mark, and this Christmas her family will meet her as a woman for the first time.

As Maisie and her girlfriend Regan arrive in their hometown, Maisie has second thoughts about letting the family know they’re more than just friends. If her mom and sisters still see her as the family’s youngest son and baby brother, how will they be able to understand that she's not only a woman but also a lesbian?

Although Regan agrees to keep their relationship a secret, the deception plays heavy on her psyche. When Regan is reintroduced to Mitts, Maisie's older sister, the schooldays crush she had on Mitts explodes into fiery desire. Can Regan resist the appeal of her girlfriend's seductive sister? And will the family accept Maisie without reservation on the night before a Red Satin Christmas?




Ebook ISBN: 978-1-60054-573-3
lyd Category: Transfix
Length: 11000 words




Excerpt:

Standing on the front stoop, Maisie turned around and crossed her fingers. Regan read terrified optimism in her eyes. The time between Maisie’s pressing of the bell and the door’s opening felt like an eternity. Regan’s pulse stopped. Her heart ran to hide behind her ribcage. She couldn’t even imagine breathing at a time like this.

Mitts answered the door. In high school, Regan had a huge crush on Maisie’s older sister, and seeing the girl again, she remembered why. Mitts had a quiet beauty about her. Back in the day, she’d worn long sweaters over tight tights. She crimped her hair, or teased it, and wore it in a scrunchy back then. Now her hair was long, dark, and nearly as straight as Regan’s. Like Maisie, she was dressed in black pants and a low-cut red top. Even with a tea towel strewn across her shoulder, she looked incredible.

“Hi,” Maisie said.

It was the simplest statement Maisie could possibly have mustered, and her voice was high-pitched when she spoke it. For a moment, nothing happened. Maisie didn’t say anything and neither did Mitts. She was seeing her brother as a girl for the first time ever. When Mitts’ eyes grew wide and her jaw dropped into a gaping emblem of either joy or mortification, Maisie went on to say, “It’s me.”

Mitts took a step back. A smile, whether genuine or put on, broke across her face as she took the tea towel from her shoulder and wiped her hands with it. “Holy shit!” she said, opening the door wider. With her hand, Mitts made a laboured come-hither motion, like she was scooping wet sand. “Get in here, you! Shit, you look…” Mitts shook her head with an expression of absolute astonishment. “Shit!”

“Is mom home?” Maisie asked without taking so much as a step forward.
After another moment of silent, awe-struck staring, Mitts said, “Oh, yeah, for sure.” She turned her head and yelled, “Mom!”

“What?” a disembodied voice hollered back. “I’m on the toilet!”

Mitts turned back to Maisie and, as if she couldn’t hear the whole ridiculous interaction, explained, “Mom’s on the throne.”

“Oh my god, Mitts, do not walk by the upstairs bathroom,” another voice whispered. It was Maisie’s second sister, Kayla, holding her nose as she descended the stairs. “Jesus, the whole fucking hallway reeks to high…”

As Kayla spoke, her gaze seemed to settle on the open front door. Regan watched Maisie’s sister from outside the action, waiting for her recognition to spark, but it didn’t seem to. The fingers pinching her nose slid down until her hand covered over her embarrassed mouth. “Oops…sorry. I didn’t hear the doorbell from upstairs.”

“Kayla,” Mitts said. “It’s Mark.” She whipped her head around fast to look at Maisie. “Shit, I’m sorry. You don’t go by Mark anymore. Do you? Well, obviously you don’t. Duh. That was a stupid question.”

“It’s okay,” Maisie said, though Regan could hear the disappointment in her girlfriend’s voice. “You don’t have to apologize. I understand.”

Mitts shook her head. “No, I’m an idiot. You know, I can’t for the life of me remember your new name.”

A voice rang out from behind Kayla on the staircase. “It’s Maisie. Like my mother, your grandmother. It’s a beautiful name. It’s perfect.”

When Maisie looked up, Regan could feel the happiness coursing through her body. “Mom!” she cried out.

As Maisie bolted through the front door, her mother ran down the staircase. They met in the hallway and dove into each other’s arms. Though Maisie was taller than her mother, something about the nature of their hug dwarfed her, in Regan’s eyes, and she appeared as a little child. “Mom,” she whimpered.

_______________________

The Night Before Red Satin Christmas
Buy Link: http://www.loveyoudivine.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=66&products_id=743


And if you missed last year's Christmas story RED SATIN, I encourage you to buy it now because until December 31, 2010, I will be giving all my royalties from the purchase of RED SATIN to LGBT YOUTHLINE, a queer-positive organization that supports young LGBTQ people.


Giselle Renarde
Canada just got hotter!

Visit me online
http://donutsdesires.blogspot.com
http://www.GiselleRenarde.webs.com
http://twitter.com/GiselleRenarde

Festive Frenzy: Apples & Gin: Hot Cocoa Ice Cream



Title of Work: Apples & Gin: Hot Cocoa Ice Cream
Author Name: Jenna Jones
Buy Link: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=2972

Blurb: Eight years, seven Christmases, one ice cream.

From Christmases apart to dealing with a relationship crisis to establishing their own traditions, Noah Kingston and Sawyer Shaw have celebrated the holidays a number of different ways. They've met each other's families and learned new facets of each other.

Noah and Sawyer have been through a lot to get where they are. One thing is certain: true love is delicious.

Excerpt: The sun had set while they were inside, and the moon was high in the clear, dark sky. Sawyer turned off all the lights in the house so there wouldn't be anything between them and the night, and Noah, after initially complaining that this was far too cold to be the desert, fell silent as he looked up at the stars.

Noah said quietly, "It's been a long time since I've been this far away from civilization."

"Yeah?" Sawyer murmured.

"It's so easy to forget about all those stars. How dark real darkness is, but how bright the night sky can be." Noah was quiet. "Sometimes I see something like this, something just vast, and I think I could photograph this until the day I died and I'd still never capture how amazing it is." He turned his head, still resting on the edge of the hot tub, to look at Sawyer. "Sometimes I feel so small, kid."

"You're not. You're as vast as this sky."

"That sounds like a song."

Sawyer smiled and said, "Maybe it is." It was a common exchange between them, and sometimes Noah was even right.

Sawyer moved closer so that he could lean against Noah's shoulder. Noah wrapped an arm around him and kissed his forehead, and rubbed his arm to warm him. "You weren't supposed to change my life. You were supposed to be just another client, not this gorgeous kid with a big heart and talent to match."

"So we are talking about our feelings."

"Just a little. I feel you are the best thing that's happened to me in a long time, and I feel happy about it."

"I feel pleased that you feel happy," Sawyer said. "I also feel it's high time there's some lovin' up in here, because I feel a little sexy." He moved to straddle Noah's thighs and took his face in both hands.

"I feel," Noah breathed, "you are absolutely right," and held Sawyer's waist as they kissed.

Buy Link: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=2972

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Festive Frenzy: Perfectly Presented by Berengaria Brown


Title of Work: Perfectly Presented
Author Name: Berengaria Brown
Buy Link: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=2974

“Perfectly Presented” Blurb:
Blake and Xavier met a year ago at a business conference and had a
passionate one-night stand. They have remained fuck buddies but
neither has been willing to admit that they want a much wider, deeper,
ongoing relationship.
Until Blake sees Xavier agonizing over the fact that several gift tags
for poor children remained unclaimed on the holiday tree. Blake
encourages Xavier to talk about his past. They spend several days
together in the lead up to the holidays and come to acknowledge their
relationship is so much more than just hot sex. But can Blake get
Xavier to tell him about his past and his problem? Can they move from
being just fuckbuddies to a real relationship?

Excerpt:
Xavier unfolded his legs, stretched them out, and rested his feet on
Blake's thighs.
Blake put his arms along the side of the tub, uncrossed his own legs
and settled them onto the base of the tub, underneath and inside
Xavier's legs.
The two men looked at each other and level of steaminess in the small
room increased exponentially. Lust exploded between them. Their eyes
caught and held each other, while Blake pushed his right foot against
Xavier's balls. He let his toes wiggle up and down, gently massaging
and scraping the balls. Then he slid his foot down a bit so it would
rub against Xavier's ass, again wiggling his toes to send both their
pulses fluttering and both their hearts pounding with sexual tension.
Xavier copied him, sliding a foot into the dark curls at the base of
Blake's cock, and running his toes through the hair there -- backward
and forward, backward and forward, slowly and steadily, firmly enough
to raise goose bumps but not hard enough to promise a climax.
"Do you think it's possible to jack someone off just using your feet?"
gasped Blake.
"Dunno, but we could certainly try."
Toes moved more purposefully on cocks and breathing hitched in both men.
Suddenly Blake pushed Xavier's feet aside. "Nah I need to hold you. I
need more body contact." Suiting action to words he stood up splashily
and hauled Xavier to his feet too, sending water rolling up against
the sides of the tub.
Both men quickly stepped out of the tub, and Blake dropped to the
floor, sitting on a fluffy towel. He pulled Xavier onto his lap and
into his arms, wrapping both arms around the man and pulling him tight
to his chest.
Xavier responded by gripping Blake's thighs with his legs and digging
his calves and heels into the other man's back so they were held
tightly together.
Xavier grabbed both cocks in one hand and rolled and twisted them
against each other, using his palms to increase the pressure on them
equally, then sliding his hands up and down while still keeping the
two cocks pressed together.
"Fuck that's hot."
Blake loosened his arms just a fraction so Xavier could get a bit more
leverage, and thrust up with his hips to keep the penises side by
side.
Up and down went Xavier's hands, gripping and twisting, squeezing and
pulling, always ensuring the effect was heightened by both cocks being
entwined.
Blake was thrusting his hips harder now, and lowered his arms so they
gripped Xavier's hips. Holding and massaging his sides and hips, then
his ass. "Love your ass," he whispered placing a kiss on Xavier's
forehead,
"Love you," replied Xavier, squeezing both cocks hard.
At those words Blake exploded, semen jetting from his cock into the
air and over both their chests. Xavier stroked up and down once more
but there was no need, his own dick was already spurting its seed in
response to seeing his partner come.
Simultaneously both men leaned forward to kiss the other. "Well, damn.
Now we really need a bath," joked Blake.

Festive Frenzy: Tinsel and Frost by Eden Winters


Tinsel and Frost by Eden Winters

Link:

http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&manufacturers_id=293&products_id=2405

Blurb:

The last time Tony danced, he’d worn the spangles and tights of the Nutcracker’s Prince and the audience threw roses at the stage. One career-ending accident later, he’s dancing again, and he’s not proud of hoping that the audience will reward him with twenties.

Frost, the big, pale bouncer, has reasons of his own for keeping a watchful eye on Tony. He keeps his distance, too, until he has to bounce an aggressive customer who takes things with Tony too far. They have a short, shared walk home but a huge divide between their lives, though Tony and Frost might have more in common than they believe.


Snippet:

How Tony'd dreaded this moment, this sealing of his fate. With his first step onstage he was officially a stripper, hammering the final nail in the coffin of a once promising career. Instead of twirling a tiny female in an off-Broadway production while dressed as a swan, he was slowly peeling off a skin-tight T-shirt to reveal his freshly shaved chest in a strip club, way, way, way, way off Broadway. So far off Broadway that it would take a good long trip by car to get there.

Rude shouts of, "Take it off, baby!" brought him back to his sad reality. He wished the men were quieter so he could at least pretend to be on stage in some major city, performing for a more refined audience. In retaliation he dropped to the floor in a full split, inspiring groans of imagined pain from his all-male spectators.

Smoothing his hands down the legs of his costume, he discreetly thumbed open the side fastenings and rose smoothly, leaving the pants behind. A casual kick launched them toward the curtain for the stage hand to retrieve. Grasping the pole once more, he spun himself around, giving those closest a gratuitous view of his ass, exposed by a skimpy, flesh-colored thong. His only other clothing, if it could be called that, was a silk wrap on his calf, hardly visible in the low light. If anyone noticed it, they'd just assume it was part of his costume. That is, if anyone even bothered to look beyond his crotch or his ass. Lower and lower he wound around the pole, fighting tinsel the whole way, finally ending up back on the floor in a pile of cheap, glittering plastic.

Once more visualizing himself a sleek predator stalking prey, he held onto his shredded dignity as tightly as he could while crawling on hands and knees to the edge of the stage. Schooling his features into what he hoped was a seductive, confident smirk, he focused on those likely to be big tippers. He paused a moment to search out the bouncers. Ah, there they were in all their muscle-bound glory, one at either end of the stage, ready to step in if he gave the signal. Confident that he was protected, he slowly moved closer to the fists waving dollars in his direction.

The paper being shoved into his skimpy garment tickled and scratched. He tuned it all out, keeping his eyes carefully on the customers' chins so he wouldn't see the lust in their eyes. If he didn't look, he could more easily imagine that he wasn't the piece of meat they saw him as. Groping hands traveled down his flanks and he turned what he hoped was a playful expression on the offender, wagging a finger. That was the first warning. The customer would only get one more before the bouncers escorted him out. At least that much he could say for this club: they took care of their own, unlike some of the other places he'd auditioned for.

Movement out of the corner of his eye caught his attention. An older, graying man held up a twenty. Tony smiled seductively, crawling toward him, regretting that he hadn't turned his eyes away more quickly. Bile rose in his throat at the man's superior sneer. That look said, "I could pay for you; you're just a whore." Although he knew it wasn't true, it still stung that others thought so. Swallowing the remnants of his dignity, he reminded himself that it was a small price to pay for the twenty that was going to be stuffed into his thong. At the last minute the man slipped the twenty back into his pocket, throwing back his head and laughing. That one sound drowned out the music, the bawdy comments, everything. It grew louder and louder, until it was all he could hear. Tony's cheeks flamed in embarrassment, and he fought to keep his body moving to the beat when all he really wanted to do was run away and hide in shame.

Suddenly a hand grabbed his hip, pushing him down while invasive fingers wriggled beneath his scanty attire and jammed brutally against his hole. Tony whirled on his attacker, only to find, man, hand, and fingers gone. Through the harsh glare of lights he saw the crowd scrambling out of the path of a bouncer, the big man dragging the offender across the floor and into the office.

A warm hand caught his arm and Tony jumped back in alarm, expecting another sweaty, leering face. Instead he saw his own reflection mirrored in a pair of dark glasses. Staring up at the bouncer who looked to be carved from ice, Tony could easily imagine how he'd gotten his name: Frost.

Link:

http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&manufacturers_id=293&products_id=2405

Festive Frenzy: An Angel for Christmas by Lily Grace


Title: An Angel For Christmas

Author: Lily Grace



Blurb:
Sebastian has done the one thing a guardian angel is never supposed to do. He’s fallen in love with a mortal. When his human falls into serious jeopardy, Sebastian descends to Earth without permission. Kevin’s bartending job just doesn’t pay enough, his mother's hospital bills keep piling up, and now he’s borrowed money from the wrong person. He needs a miracle this Christmas season. Kevin just didn’t expect it to come in the form of an actual angel. Not caring that he's breaking all the rules that govern guardian angels, Sebastian helps Kevin all he can. But the consequences of Sebastian's actions could be dire for the angel, unless Kevin can perform a miracle of his own.


Excerpt:
Sebastian's eyes widened. He wasn't sure who was more shocked, he or Kevin. He hadn't meant to lower his guise of invisibility, but now it had happened twice in one night. Kevin distracted him. Sebastian had never been able to be this close to Kevin before. He had always had to look from so far away. The proximity overwhelmed him. He knew he had crossed too many lines to count back in the alley, but his punishment would be worth it. Watching Kevin sleep, being so close, knowing his mortal charge was safe... it was worth everything.

"Please, do not be frightened!" He held up his hands, voluminous sleeves falling down his arms to his elbows. "I mean you no harm." There was no going back now. No point in disappearing. The damage had been done.

Waves of terror and confusion washed over Kevin's face. His eyes were wide and blinking rapidly. Sebastian understood this would be difficult for him to understand. He waited patiently, giving Kevin a few moments to collect himself.

Kevin's hands came up to his face and rubbed furiously at his eyes. Sebastian smiled when Kevin looked surprised that he was still there. Kevin had beautiful eyes. They were so unusual. Blue-gray, like Cape Cod after a storm.

"Y...you're not real. I'm still dreaming." It came out as a statement.

"I promise you are awake." Sebastian tried to make his voice as gentle as possible.

"Who are you?" Kevin's voice was edged with astonishment and a small amount of fear. He pushed his back flush against the headboard and gripped handfuls of bedding tightly.

Sebastian took a chance and moved slightly closer, trying to offer reassurance with his smile. This was where Kevin would need to suspend disbelief and have a little faith.

"My name is Sebastian. I am your guardian angel."

"Right. I'm definitely still dreaming."

Kevin's hands once again went to his face, and he sighed deeply. At least he didn't look frightened anymore.

"This is a dream. I'm not crazy, and there are no such things as angels." He spoke more to himself than to Sebastian. "I'm going back to sleep. When I wake up, you won't be here."

Kevin reached for the bedside lamp, and once again the room was bathed in darkness. Burrowing under the covers, Kevin pulled the quilt up over his head as if that would make everything go away. Sebastian didn't blame him. Not really. Everything Kevin had been taught had told him that Sebastian couldn't be real. Sebastian still found that it hurt, though. He wanted Kevin to believe... needed him to. Hopefully things would be better in the morning. Sebastian wasn't going anywhere.

Sebastian moved to a sitting position near the end of the bed, keeping vigil over his charge until morning.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Festive Frenzy: Tenacious Bea and the Bite of Destiny


Title of Work: "Tenacious Bea and the Bite of Destiny"
Author Name DC Juris

BLURB:

It's Christmas time, and Jenny couldn't care less! But when her toothless dog Tenacious Bea is accused of biting her neighbor, Jenny discovers that love and happiness are lurking just around the corner in the form of Anne from the Health Department. Anne feels horrible when she learns of the childhood tragedy that robbed Jenny of her Christmas spirit. With a little shove from destiny, and Tenacious Bea, she helps Jenny find her holiday cheer.

EXCERPT:


"Pretty, isn't it?" Anne took the moment to reveal herself. She strode into the living room, smiling and looking at the tree, too.

Jenny nodded silently and reached for her. "I called my mom."

Anne took Jenny's hand and squeezed it as she sat down. "I know. I was eavesdropping. Sorry. What did she say?"

"That she'd think about it." Jenny sighed heavily. "Which means no."

"Maybe not. You never know. After all, did you ever think you'd be reclining on your couch this morning, gazing at a tri-colored tree with a hot Asian chick?"

"I certainly did not." Jenny laughed and tears spilled down her cheeks.

"Aww, honey don't cry. You know what, if they come then great, but if they don't? Then to hell with them! It's their loss. You and I will have the best Christmas dinner we've had in a long time, with or without them, right?"

Jenny nodded.

Anne took Jenny's face in her hands and leaned toward her. She brought their lips together in a sweet kiss that trailed down Jenny's cheek and neck to end in nibbles along her collarbone.

Jenny shivered and pulled Anne close, running her fingers through the sleep-tousled spikes of her hair and rubbing her scalp gently. "You make me want to move way too fast, you know."

"Uh-huh." Anne slid her hands into Jenny's robe and around to tickle her fingers up and down Jenny's back. She sighed as Jenny arched against her. Her mind screamed at her to slow down, but everything else in her wanted more. "I want you, Jen. So damn bad. I know we should wait..."

"We really should." Jenny licked along Anne's jaw and up to her lips to kiss her again. "Come shower with me."

Buy Link http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=2982

Festive Frenzy: Junk by G.R. Richards


Title of Work: Junk
Sequel to "Vintage Toys for Lucky Boys"
A Gay Transgender Christmas Romance
By: G.R. Richards

“Junk” is the term Randy uses to describe the contents of innumerable storage boxes strewn about his boyfriend Max’s living room, dining room, and even bedroom. All this “junk” is merchandise: Max and Randy deal in antiques and ephemera. The problem is that it's everywhere. Max is too emotionally attached to sell a lot of it, and Randy's starting to think material possessions mean more to Max than he does, just when he needs Max’s support the most: at the beginning of Randy’s transition from female to male.

Excerpt:

WHY do you want to change your name? Print all the reasons.

Randy stared at the clump of jumbled letters on the page. He really had to focus in order to make them into words again. Seven sections to fill out. The application was twenty pages long. He squinted at the blank lines waiting to be filled.

So, why did Randy want to change his name? He sighed before putting pen to paper. I am transgender, and I no longer wish to be known by my female name. I want to live the rest of my life as a man and be addressed by my male name in all government communications.

I am transgender. He’d never written those words down on paper before. They looked funny. Should he have put “transsexual” instead? That might sound more medical, make it seem like there would be some horrible health impact if the government didn’t grant his request. Maybe he should write more. Should he? No, it was fine the way it was. Max was always telling him to maintain a positive outlook.

Certainly, transitioning from female to male seemed like a good reason for a name change to Randy, and to Max, and even to his mother, but the government made the final decision. Boy, was he ever lucky to have such a supportive mom, not to mention a boyfriend who fully accepted him as a guy. Randy smiled at the application form. This was the first step to being formally acknowledged as the man he knew he was. How could he not be happy?

The bells on the shop door jingled downstairs, and Randy’s heart jumped into his throat. Shit! Max was back from the market already! He thought he’d have more time to work on this thing, but Max’s feet were already thumping up the staircase. Randy considered cramming his application beneath the couch cushions, but he didn’t want it to get all crumpled. Where could he hide a stack of paper?

Pulling last month’s copy of Men’s Health from the floor, Randy jammed his forms at the back. He tossed the magazine to the ground and picked up his laptop from the coffee table just as Max’s heel hit the top step.

“I saw that,” Max said, laughing. Randy’s hunka hunka burning bleach blond boyfriend traipsed into the kitchen with a big black shopping bag in each hand. “Reading magazines when you’re supposed to be getting the website up and running? For shame!”

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Festive Frenzy: The Gingerbread Man by Selena Kitt


Title of Work: Gingerbread Man
Author Name: Selena Kitt
Buy Link: http://excessica.com/store/catalog/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=14&products_id=498&osCsid=8b23d8627c23305f1cc2c60e9ec833bc

Blurb: Lindy runs into an unexpected snow storm on the way to her fiance’s on Christmas Eve, but will the charming, kindly gentleman who comes to her rescue turn out to be more saccharine than sweet? Note: This story originally appeared in the anthology Shivers
Excerpt:

The exit ramp was steep and curved dangerously down to the right. Lindy crept forward as slowly as she could manage. She stopped at the stop sign, looking through the white haze for a gas station. There was one to the left and she turned onto the little two-lane road, inching along the slippery pavement. There were no cars anywhere, and it wasn’t until she was nearly on top of it that she realized the gas station’s lights were out, and there were no cars there, either.

She eased the Corvette up to the front of the building, reading the sign in the window: “Closed for Christmas.”

“It’s not Christmas yet,” she grumbled, trying to see into the distance. Was there a gas station the other way? The car fishtailed again as she pulled out of the parking lot and Lindy swore, turning into the swerve, just like Robert had taught her. The rear end corrected itself with a little shimmy and she breathed a sigh of relief as she headed back the other way, searching for the familiar markings of another gas station.

The road stretched on in the gray afternoon light, the few houses and wide fields on each side blanketed with snow. She carefully re-set the odometer, deciding to go a mile from the highway to see if she could find something, even a little party store with a pay phone. If she weren’t in such a hurry to get to Robert’s for Christmas, the drive down the little two-lane blacktop might have been enjoyable. The scenery was beautiful, the trees overhanging the road creaking under the weight of the snow. It was the thick, heavy stuff, the kind that muffled the world and covered it like some kept secret.

Lindy kept her eye on the odometer as she crept along, seeing it nearing the mile mark. So far she had only seen a smattering of houses interspersed among the snow-covered fields and nothing in the way of a store or gas station. Should she turn around? She wondered. The snow seemed to be easing up just a little. Maybe she should get back on the highway and drive to the next exit?

Up ahead on the left she saw a house decorated with Christmas lights, the front walk lined thickly with candy canes all the way up to the ornately carved front porch. It was a Victorian style home, something Robert really would have appreciated with his eye for architecture, with all the curls and spires and cupolas that went along with it. Lindy smiled, and thought of how she would relay this whole experience to Robert.

She would tell him how quaint and beautiful her little side trip was when she was tucked up safe and warm in his arms in bed tonight, the anticipation of the announcement of their engagement to his family the next day curled into a tight little ball in her stomach. She glanced down at the ring on her finger glinting in the gray light, even without a hint of sun, lost in the thought about the man who had put it on her finger.

That’s why she missed seeing the wolf in the road before it was too late.

It was standing in the middle of the blacktop, teeth bared, hackles raised, its eyes two glittering points, staring straight at her. Lindy screamed, knowing her first impression, that it was a wolf, was mistaken as she turned the wheel to avoid a collision, seeing it briefly out of her driver’s side window. It was an enormous husky dog, its fat tail curling high as it ran, disappearing into the ditch on the other side of the road.

She had time to curse Robert’s choice of vehicle and her agreement to pick it up from storage and drive it up to him—but just barely. The Corvette spun over the road like a top and she braced herself for impact, turning the wheel uselessly, her foot on the brake doing nothing but locking the tires into place. The car slid sideways, down into the ditch opposite where the dog had disappeared, and came to jerking halt.

Her first thought was Robert was going to kill her if anything had happened to the car. The embankment wasn’t steep and in spite of the abrupt stop, she didn’t think she had hit anything. The rear-end of the vehicle was angled into the ditch and she checked her rearview mirror, but all she could see was white powder and the waft of exhaust. At least she wasn’t buried in the snow.

Lindy took a deep, shaky breath, easing her foot gently off the brake. She had been pressing her foot down so hard it ached from the effort. Nothing happened. Giving the car a little gas, she waited for it to jerk forward, but again, nothing happened.

“Come on, come on, come on.” She pressed her foot down on the gas pedal, hearing the sound of the tires spinning in the snow. “Please.”

It was no use. Sighing, she reached for her cell phone, flipping it open. It read “Low Battery” in the window still. She flipped through her “contacts” and found the eight-hundred number for AAA. Surely someone would be working, even on Christmas Eve? If the phone would work for just a few minutes…

“Please.” She pressed the “talk” button and waited. Ringing! She sighed in relief, closing her eyes and leaning her head back against the seat.

A rapping on her window made her gasp and jerk her head up. She flicked the window lock and pressed the button, waiting as the glass slid down, revealing a man in a long, wool coat, pulling it closed against the snow and wind. He wasn’t wearing a hat and his salt and pepper hair was covered in a melting sheen of snow that was replaced by new flakes almost immediately.

“You need some help, miss?” The man bent his tall frame in to peer at her. “I saw you spin out. I live across the road there.”

“Oh yes, thank you so much!” Lindy sighed in relief. “If I could just use your phone…”

She rolled up her window as she struggled with the door and the man helped her pull it open through the drift of snow. They were only able to get it halfway and the car was at such an angle he had to grab her arm to keep her from falling as she stepped out. She gave him a grateful smile, glad she had worn her sensible boots. Ever practical, she reached back in to grab the keys and her purse.

“I can’t thank you enough!” She closed the door and locked it. “My cell phone died and I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

“That was some spin-out.” He shook his head, holding her arm as they carefully crossed the icy pavement. “You’re lucky it wasn’t worse.”

“I know!” Lindy let him help her as they walked carefully down the road. “That’s the second time tonight… I should have just stayed home.”

They trudged up the street, both of them hugging their coats around them, heads down to the wind. The snow, which Lindy had been sure was going to ease up, had resumed in full force, and she turned her collar up to it. It wasn’t until they reached the walkway that she recognized the house, the old Victorian all decorated for Christmas.

There were so many lights on the house, it was like a beacon in the gray afternoon. Rows of red and white peppermint candies with lights in their centers lined the huge wraparound porch and each window as well. Fat multi-colored lights rimmed the roof and each ridge and cupola like Jujubes. Candy canes as tall as Lindy lined the walkway, each less than a foot apart, and she smiled up at the sign hanging over the door: “The Gingerbread House.”

“I won’t meet an old witch inside waiting with a hot oven, will I?” she teased as the man helped her up the stairs.

He flashed her a brief smile as he opened the door. “Not unless your name is Gretel?”

“No, I’m Lindy.” She laughed, following him. The house was warm and inviting, but it was the smell she noticed first, the sweetness of baking, something like cake or cookies.

“Well, I’m the Gingerbread Man…”

Buy Link: http://excessica.com/store/catalog/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=14&products_id=498&osCsid=8b23d8627c23305f1cc2c60e9ec833bc


Festive Frenzy: The Match Before Christmas by Eden Winters


The Match Before Christmas by Eden Winters
Link:
http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&manufacturers_id=293&products_id=2973

Blurb:

Candlelight, mistletoe, gaily wrapped packages beneath a trimmed tree, and someone to share it with. That’s all contractor Barry Richards wants for Christmas. Desperate for a traditional holiday, he takes drastic measures. Creating a profile on “GetaDate.com,” he hopes to find the perfect man in a matter of weeks. When one date after another goes sour, while all around him friends are falling in love, he starts to lose faith.

The first snows begin to fall and the world is filled with seasonal cheer, all except for Barry, for whom time is running out. Facing the prospect of a lonely holiday, he tries just once more to make The Match Before Christmas.


Snippet:

It took a full week and lots of careful screening before he was ready to try someone suggested by the dating service again. Bobby was a bit younger than Barry really wanted, twenty-two, but they shared a lot of the same interests. They met at a coffee shop downtown, followed by a movie, an action-adventure thriller. This date was quiet, saying more with expressions than with words, and very touchy-feely, which didn't bother Barry at all, being a cuddler at heart.

When the lights went down in the theater, Bobby laced his fingers with Barry's, holding on throughout the film. Barry found it sweet. Afterward, Bobby suggested a favorite Chinese restaurant. Things were going fine until, "Jeff used to bring me here."

"Jeff?"

"My ex-boyfriend."

"Oh." While Barry would never dream of mentioning an ex on a first date, Bobby was young and probably didn't know better.

Barry ordered sweet and sour chicken. Bobby sniffled. "That was Jeff's favorite, too." Unshed tears filled his eyes. If he'd left it at that, they still might have had a chance. However, Jeff's name came up when Barry ordered green tea, requested extra sweet and sour sauce, and even when Barry said Bobby's name.

"Jeff used to say my name like you do."

Huh? How many ways could one say, "Bobby"?

The coup de grĂ¢ce of the budding acquaintance occurred when, after four hours together, Bobby asked, "What was your name again?" Barry started to say "Jeff" for spite. At least that the guy could probably remember.

At the end of the meal, Barry's curiosity finally got the better of him. "What happened to Jeff, if you don't mind my asking?"

"Oh, he was found beaten to death in his apartment a month ago. But don't worry; I've been cleared as a suspect."

Barry raised his hand, frantically gesturing for the server. "Check, please!"

***

Link:
http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&manufacturers_id=293&products_id=2973

Monday, December 20, 2010

Gifts for Twits

Need a gift for that special Twit in your life? Well, step right up ladies and germs, and pick up a pair of the hottest gloves known to Twitterdom! That's right, they're...

twittens!

(Ahem...yes, but they're gloves, not mittens...sorry, what were you saying?)

According to twittens.ca (Hey, they're Canadian so they must be awesome!):
twittens are truly the gloves of the text generation: easily access your thumb and/or forefinger to allow for easy texting, photography and endless other things - even in the coldest weather.
Well, there you have it! Perfect for eating donuts, too. They're the gift that'll make your Christmas grand, and you can buy them...uh...hmm...well, actually the online store isn't set up yet and the only retail locations are in Belleville and London, Ontario, so...

Sorry, forget I said anything. You can't have them. You didn't really want them anyway, did you?

Oh, a wise guy, eh? nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

Festive Frenzy: A Succubus for Christmas by M.E. Hydra


Title of Work: A Succubus for Christmas and other tales of Devilish Delights

Author Name: M.E. Hydra

Buy Link: (excessica): http://excessica.com/store/catalog/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=128&products_id=467&osCsid=8231fcc410768f6edb2cfdd40c309de8
(amazon kindle): http://www.amazon.com/Succubus-Christmas-Devilish-Delights-ebook/dp/B00486UEHG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=A321OV6JEUYEN5&s=digital-text&qid=1287799461&sr=1-1

Blurb:
Beautiful, seductive, enthralling, sensual, irresistible...deadly.

The succubus is an enduring icon of myth, a demon that seduces and sleeps with her prey before taking their life and soul. In this collection M. E. Hydra brings you thirteen erotically charged tales of sexy succubi and other exotic creatures.

In A Succubus for Christmas a man discovers his surprise sexy gift also possesses a dark side...The Masterton Covenant asks how much would you risk for one night of perfect pleasure...Four men are taken to a very special place in Flesh Pitchers of Prague...A tough demon slayer discovers why 'Men can't fight them' in Slayer vs. Succubus...A man gets his Happy Ending in a sensual massage that touches him right to his soul...A former soldier tries to resist the wiles of an exotic alien queen in The Coils of Aenictia.

Prepared to be enthralled, aroused and terrified by these and other tales of dark, seductive beauties. They'll give you pleasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors beyond your darkest nightmares...


Excerpt:

Ennis grabbed a beer from the fridge, walked into his bedroom and switched on the light.

He was shocked to find a girl sitting on his bed.

No, not quite a girl. Something else.

She looked like a petite young woman, but her eyes gave her away as something not human. They were pure black. No whites, iris or pupil, just an abyssal black all the way through. Her face was delicately elegant, almost elfin, apart from a pair of full, sensual lips. Incongruously, a Santa hat was sitting on top of her head between two pointed ears. Wavy red hair spilled out from beneath the hat to cascade like flames onto her pale shoulders.

When she saw Ennis her face split in a broad smile.

“Master, I waited for you,” she said in a voice that chimed like silver bells.

Her slender, pale body was naked apart from a couple of strategically placed pink ribbons. Smiling and jiggling she reached behind her back and the ribbon around her chest fell away to reveal a pair of full, milky-white breasts. They were much larger than would be expected for such a slender body. The girl coquettishly folded her arms around them, more to bring them to Ennis's notice than hide them. Not that she needed to; Ennis couldn't take his eyes off her. She had the most beautiful body he'd ever seen.

“Does master like his present?” the girl asked.

“You're a succubus,” Ennis said, still stunned that such a thing could be real. He cast his mind back through all the wild parties he'd ever been to in an attempt to remember if he'd ever taken enough LSD to put this down to a flashback.

The girl demurely looked over her shoulder. Two small folded black bat wings rose into view. She extended them a little to prove they were real before folding them back again. A long slender red tail with an arrow-tip point curved round from behind her back. The point playfully brushed the second ribbon at the point where it lay over her sex.

“I'm yours, to give you pleasure in any way you desire,” she said.

Buy Link: (excessica): http://excessica.com/store/catalog/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=128&products_id=467&osCsid=8231fcc410768f6edb2cfdd40c309de8
(amazon kindle):
http://www.amazon.com/Succubus-Christmas-Devilish-Delights-ebook/dp/B00486UEHG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=A321OV6JEUYEN5&s=digital-text&qid=1287799461&sr=1-1

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Festive Frenzy: Sugarplum: Just Wink by Bryl R. Tyne


Something Naughty for Christmas

Title of Work Sugarplum: Just Wink
Author Name Bryl R. Tyne
Buy Link http://www.changelingpress.com/product.php?&upt=book&ubid=1504

Blurb
"What haven't I made clear? Desire. Ecstasy. Satisfaction. In that order!"

How hard could donning a Christmassy green Speedo and pretending for thirty seconds to savor a giant candy cane be, anyway? Granted, Parker abhors candy canes and his co-actor is a lecherous Santa wannabe with grubby paws, but can't the man just call the commercial a wrap, take his money, and go home to his husband for the holidays?

Is that too much to ask?

Is it too much to ask Parker to be home on time when it's his night to cook? Never fear, his husband Jeremy's got the solution. A new bedroom technique designed to encourage creativity may bring about the visualization skills Parker needs to save his acting career and his marriage.

Excerpt
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2010 Bryl R. Tyne

This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.


"Slacking off isn't going to pay the fucking bills and you know it."

"Don't take that tone with me," he said, propped against the counter, arms crossed in front of his chest.

He may have moved toward me even, but I ignored everything except the heat surging through my head that screamed, How dare he!

"Whatever." I took a huge bite of my dinner and left the kitchen.

If he thought for one second I was going to sit idly by and listen to his bullshit-disguised-as-encouragement again, he -- I'd plopped into my favorite chair, before I realized -- Jeremy was neither an idiot nor a part of my anatomy I chose rarely to speak of.

Tucked in the far corner of the living room next to the den was a tree no taller than my chest. A scant dusting of lights blinked, reflections sparkling off a handful of keepsake ornaments hanging here and there. I had trouble swallowing my one bite of apple.

Getting up and out of that chair took an exorbitant amount of effort. Energy my body seemed unable to conjure, for from the back of my neck to the tips of my hands and feet, I felt numb. Asleep? Sick? Somewhere in the back of my mind, I think I registered Jeremy's footsteps behind me before I felt his touch on my arm.

"I don't want to fight," was all he said as he pulled me against him. "Tough day? Hmm?"

Strange, how resting his chin atop my shoulder as he smothered me with another body hug didn't feel like any weight at all. I struggled not to let his words egg on the part of me that itched to fight. Take me anywhere but back to today, and I wouldn't have a problem.

"If you don't --"

"I don't." I closed my eyes and let myself relax into his touch, sure I'd have as much trouble talking about today as I had thinking about it. Jeremy smelled good; he felt good pressed against my back. His lips worked magic along one side of my neck. I didn't want to think about jobs or money or -- his stomach rumbled -- or dinner...

"Ignore that." He breathed the words against my skin.

"I brought Chinese..."

His chuckle tickled my neck. "Follow me," he said, removing the half-eaten apple from my hand and setting it on the end table.

Buy Link http://www.changelingpress.com/product.php?&upt=book&ubid=1504

Festive Frenzy: Eight Nights by Keira Andrews


Title of Work: Eight Nights
Author Name: Keira Andrews
Buy Link: http://www.loose-id.com/Eight-Nights.aspx

Blurb:

Lucas McKenzie figures spending the holidays with his annoying roommate's family is better than being alone on campus. The last thing he expects is to lust over Sam's brother -- or for Nate to actually want him back.

They hide their attraction during Hanukkah celebrations, but behind closed doors, Lucas and Nate can't keep their hands (or mouths) off each other. Nate's only looking for a bit of holiday fun, and amazing sex with a hot virgin definitely fits the bill.

Yet as the candles burn, Nate and Lucas begin to realize eight nights will never be enough.


Excerpt:

As Nate went through the steps, Lucas tried to pay attention. At one point, Nate handed him a pair of rubber-tipped tongs, and Lucas dutifully plucked out a developed photo and hung it on the line. They worked in companionable silence, and Lucas found he enjoyed watching the photographs come to life. They were all black-and-white cityscapes, and he felt a frisson of excitement, knowing he’d get a chance to finally see New York for himself in the days to come. “You took all of these?” Lucas admired the clean lines and unique angles of the photos.

Nate waved his hand dismissively. “Yeah, I’m just messing around.”

“I’d like to see what you can do when you’re taking it seriously because these are amazing.”

“It’s nice of you to say so.” Nate wiped his hands on a towel and plucked a doughnut from the plate Lucas had left on the counter. “We just need to wait now before we open the door.”

Nate didn’t seem comfortable with praise, so Lucas stopped talking and took his own doughnut, relishing the sweet, fruity flavor. He couldn’t understand why Nate trivialized his talent. Lucas was no expert, but he found the photographs beautiful.

They ate in silence, and Lucas noticed a blob of jelly filling on the corner of Nate’s mouth. Before he could think, he reached out, swiping at it with his finger. Their eyes locked, and Lucas froze, his hand still at Nate’s mouth.

Oh God, what was he doing?

He stayed in place, not breathing as he and Nate stared at each other in the muted red light. Before Lucas could process what was happening, Nate’s tongue curled out and licked the jelly from his finger. A jolt of desire ran though Lucas, and he swallowed thickly, his throat suddenly dry.

Nate turned his head just a bit and sucked Lucas’s finger into his mouth.

As Lucas moaned low in his throat, Nate yanked him close, and they were kissing. Lucas’s head swam from the explosion of sensations he felt.

He was actually kissing another man.

He opened his mouth and Nate’s tongue dived in, probing and stroking as his hands ran over Lucas’s back, down to his ass.

Quiet, mild-mannered Nathaniel Kramer was grabbing his ass.

His head swimming, Lucas kissed Nate back, his body alive in a way it never had been while kissing a girl. The scratch of Nate’s stubble, his musky scent -- every thing about him was so male, and any lingering doubts Lucas had about being gay melted away as he explored Nate’s mouth.

They both gasped for air, and Lucas realized that his jeans were undone as Nate sank to his knees. “What are you…?”

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Meet the Giant Pooping Christmas Elf


If you live anywhere near Catalonia, Spain, you might already be familiar with this happy fellow. He's Caganer, one of the region's traditional Christmas statues. And no, you're not seeing things. He really is taking a giant crap in the middle of the mall. Too many candy canes, I guess, or...what are those, apples?

Why build a giant pooping elf in the middle of your shopping mall? Well...if Wikipedia doesn't know, then neither do I. But, according to Wiki:

In Catalonia, as well as in Spain and in most of Italy and Southern France, traditional Christmas decorations consist of a large model of the city of Bethlehem, similar to the Nativity scenes of the English-speaking world but encompassing the entire city rather than just the typical manger scene. The caganer ... is often tucked away in a corner of the model, typically nowhere near the manger scene.

Possible reasons for placing a man who is in the act of excreting waste in a scene which is widely considered holy include:

  • Tradition.
  • Perceived humor.
  • A fun spectacle, especially for children.
  • The Caganer, by creating feces, is fertilizing the Earth. However, this is probably an a posteriori explanation, and few cite this reason for including the Caganer in the Nativity scene.
  • The Caganer represents the equality of all people: regardless of status, race, or gender, everyone shits.
  • Increased naturalism of an otherwise archetypal (thus idealised) story, so that it is more believable, taken literally and seriously.
  • The idea that God will manifest himself when he is ready, without regard for whether we human beings are ready or not.
  • The caganer reinforces that the infant Jesus is God in human form, with all that being human implies.

The exact origin of the Caganer is lost, but the tradition has existed since the 17th century.

So, there we go. We've all (sort of?) learned something new and can consider ourselves that much smarter. Not as smart as Einstein, of course, and if you shop at http://www.caganer.com you already know that he poops too. Hey, everybody does it!

Festive Frenzy: Butterfly's Child by Alan Chin


Title of Work: Butterfly's Child
Author Name: Alan Chin
Buy Link: http://tinyurl.com/22jzvve
Blurb:

While back in the West to attend his grandmother’s funeral, Cord Bridger uncovers two shocking revelations: his grandmother had a lesbian lover named Juanita, and he has a teenaged son named Kalin. Fate brings all three together, but to preserve his new family, Cord must leave his safe life in New York City behind to carve a living from the harsh ranch lands of Nevada.

To forge a life with Juanita and Kalin, Cord must first discover the dark secret burning a hole in Kalin’s heart. With the help of Tomeo, a handsome Japanese veterinarian, Cord travels a gut-wrenching road of triumphs and tragedies to insure his son will survive the sinister violence of his past. But as Tomeo becomes more than just a helpful friend to Cord, a new set of problems arise between Cord and Kalin that may threaten the happiness of them all.

Excerpt:

The musicians tuned their instruments for a Thursday night performance. A mishmash of sounds ascended from the pit, underscoring the audience’s expectant banter.

Cord Bridger settled into his usual seat, a mahogany desk and chair known as a libretto table. There were only six in the Metropolitan Opera House. They had no view of the stage, but rather crouched along the balcony walls, three to the stage’s right and three to the left. Each desk supported a low-watt lamp so the patron could read the opera’s score as the performance played out.

Cord wore his usual evening attire: black Brioni suit, black silk shirt, black tie, and his short black hair stuck out at rakish angles. Only his pale face, thin fingers, and fatally blue eyes stood out in the shadows.

He spread Madame Butterfly’s score before him, studied the tiny ink strokes that formed the musical phrases. The air felt cool, but both his hands and upper lip were damp with perspiration. Butterfly was the only opera he had never sat completely through, though he thought the music sublime. The storyline drove him away every time. Butterfly’s heartbreak and eventual suicide always proved too painful.

Sounds washed over him—musicians tuning instruments, footsteps along the aisles, groaning seats, excited whispers. He focused on the musicians, discerning each instrument, verifying whether it was tuned or needed further adjustment.

A click of the lamp at the table behind him turned his head. A familiar face smiled, another aficionado he’d noticed before but had never spoken to. She wore an industrial-gray pantsuit with a white pigeon-breasted shirtfront. Two chopsticks held her ginger-colored hair in a bun on the back of her head.

He nodded.

Turning back to his score, he heard approaching footsteps and felt a pressure on his shoulder. The Metropolitan Opera’s art director, Tom Phillips, stood beside him like a pallbearer in his gray suit, crisp moustache, and large eyes seen predominantly on nocturnal animals.

“Excuse me, Mr. Bridger. They told me you were in the house. I wanted to inform you that Logan Evans will not perform tonight, head cold I’m afraid. Mr. Brooks will sing the tenor role. I thought you should know in case you would prefer to attend next week’s performance.”

Cord always felt annoyed when people called him “Mr. Bridger.” His thirty-fourth birthday had recently past, but he felt younger, still a colt and not quite deserving the mature title of Mister. He swallowed his irritation, then considered leaving. After the first act, the tenor was superfluous. He had come to hear Ruth Ann Swensen sing the title role. Cord thanked the art director for his thoughtfulness and told him that he would stay.

Ten minutes passed before Mr. Phillips walked on stage and made a similar announcement to the entire house. A rumble of disappointment rolled over the audience, followed by clapping as a rotund man in white tie and tails stepped onto the conductor’s platform. The applause diminished until a hush held the audience still, with only sporadic coughs to punctuate the silence.

The lights dimmed. The musicians prepared. Then immaculate sound rifled through Cord, vibrating every cell with delicious harmony.

Madame Butterfly is a journey bridging extremes, from a bride’s wedding-day bliss to her suicide. Knowing this, Cord focused on the music and tried to ignore the unfolding story. But as the tenor began to sing, bitterness choked Cord’s heart.

The tenor had a passable voice, albeit a small instrument for this opera house. But the character he played, Lieutenant Pinkerton, disgusted Cord. Pinkerton marries Butterfly without loving her, leaves her without a thought, and becomes a blubbering coward when he returns years later to find she has given birth to his son. His pusillanimous actions drive Butterfly to suicide.

Cord could not see the character strutting about the stage, but Pinkerton’s voice broadcasted a vast arrogance. The music was exquisite, yet Cord grew impatient for Pinkerton to exit and the first act to end. He sat with his shoulders hunched, watching the notes on the page dance by. The brass blared, violins sang, the wedding turned triumphant.

Cord trembled as Butterfly sang out her prayer for happiness. His eyes watered, blurring the notes on the page. Apprehension seized him until the curtain fell on Act One and the applause diminished.

The woman behind him rose to join the others during intermission.

Cord drew a white handkerchief across his forehead as the audience disappeared into the corridor. Irritation swelled his heart, knowing Butterfly’s child would make his appearance at the end of Act Two.

As the second act unfolded, his anger grew intense. He listened with a mixture of rapture and rage, hearing the desperation in Butterfly’s voice yet knowing what lay ahead. He could not see the child take the stage, thankfully, but the ache he carried in his heart spread upward to stiffen his shoulders and neck, then solidified down his spine. Everything in him congealed—guts, glands, blood vessels, organs, bones. He laid a hand on his heart, but it failed to soothe.

In his mind’s eye, Cord saw the child, and he yearned to sweep the boy into his arms, whisk him away, and comfort him. In the midst of his petrification, his loathing of Pinkerton swelled until it threatened to overwhelm him.

In the third act, Pinkerton’s spineless crooning enraged him. He became aware of his weakness, realizing he had failed again. He thought he had buried these feelings long ago, but he sat as rigid and emotional as ever, caught in a whirlwind of memories.

By the time Butterfly took the stage for her death scene, Cord could barely breathe. It felt as though he sucked air through a straw, which couldn’t begin to fill his hardening lungs. He closed his score and stood. He felt the ginger-haired lady scrutinizing him as he tucked his score under his arm, and he raised his head until their eyes met.

“Can’t imagine how you can leave before the finale.”

He felt himself blush; his eyes lowered. “I have an overpowering phobia of stabbings—especially the self-inflicted kind.”

He shuffled to an exit door and slipped into the brightly lit corridor.

Butterfly’s outcry followed him down the stairs. He couldn’t keep himself from imagining the stage. She sat on a yellow cushion beside a low table. Her posture reflected elegance, her face displayed consummate dignity. Folded around her body was the most brilliant long-sleeve kimono possible. Embroidered onto the gold-colored fabric was an exquisite maroon phoenix.

Light radiated off the golden material. She shimmered, dreamlike, as if his imagination had painted a silkscreen masterpiece to represent the tragic soul of all discarded lovers.

She turned her head, studied him for a half-second, and bowed. Lifting her head, their eyes met. Deep within her gaze, her suffering revealed itself. Those shattered eyes drew Cord into his own grief. Crushed, he wanted to flee from this woman who shrouded herself in heartache, but running away was futile—she lived in his mind.

The blade reflected the spotlight as she lifted it to shoulder height. Her sleeve swayed beautifully as her arm arched toward her body. A plum-colored stain spread across her kimono, blurring the phoenix. The agony in her face softened.

As Cord retrieved his overcoat, the hatcheck woman shot him a queer look. Only then did he notice the tears streaming down his cheeks. He darted between the Chagall unicorns and out the doors into Lincoln Center Plaza.

Overcast blanketed the city, and the temperature had dropped into single digits. The air smelled of snow as it bit into his lungs.

A handful of people meandered through the plaza—a lesbian couple strolled with their arms entwined, two children pulled at the sleeves of an old man while begging him to hurry, and a dozen Asian tourists took pictures by the fountain. All the Asians wore dark, muted clothing except one lady dressed in a white fake-fur coat and holding a crimson umbrella.

He felt his tears freeze on his cheeks. His teeth chattered. As he rushed by the umbrella lady, a camera flash momentarily blinded him. He stumbled toward Times Square, seeing nothing but maroon wings stretched on a golden fabric.


Alan Chin


Novels: Island Song, The Lonely War, Match Maker, Butterfly's Child
Screenplays: Daddy’s Money, Simple Treasures