I've had the pleasure of meeting a very cool new author, by the name of Lee Brazil. I mentioned him last week, we're going to play a little blog together. And wanna know what? He rocks. He rocks so much that he gave me this big ol' excerpt... the whole first chapter even, of his book A Beautiful Silence.
Sweeeeet (<----you have to sing that to make it sound right)
And, cool that, but even better... giveaway. Wanna play, wanna play? You know you do. So, here's the deal.
Once again, you have to read the excerpt, and answer the reeeeally hard question. Leave me a comment, here on this post, and please, include your email address. Sorry, I love you all, but... not tracking you down.
You have a week, contest will close next Tuesday, January 11th, at midnight, pacific standard time. Contest is open to anyone over 18 yrs old, and being an eBook... no border restrictions. I'll pick a winner at random and announce it next week.
I think that about covers it.
So... read that baby, and tell me...
What's the name of Brody's partner?
“Hey, Brody”, Mack slowed his stroll to finish the call before he got to his door enjoying the cool ocean breeze that ruffled the elegant greenery that his association dues paid for. He needed to get off the phone before he got through the doorway. Lex wouldn’t want to listen to him talk to someone else. His painfully shy lover avoided other people and Mack happily arranged his time so they could be alone when Lex visited.
He paused near a red hibiscus by the gate leading to his walk. Tipping his head, he surveyed the building that had been his home for the past two years. Contrary to most California architecture, there was no pink stucco or cactus garden in sight. This designer community resembled the east coast antebellum architecture of the south, and his unit sparkle d in the sunlight, a clean crisp white. Flowering shrubs flourished along the front and lined the interior of the short white picket fence that marked off his lot from his neighbor’s. He fiddled with the gate for a moment while he talked, then opened it and stepped through. The cement walkway needed to be power-washed and the flower beds could do with replanting. Shit. Those were things that Lex would have noticed right away.
“Mack, what are you up to this evening?” Brody and his partner, James Sherman, a model, owned the condo that adjoined his and Lex’s. The other two men had lived in the adjoining condo long before Mack had made the purchase, and they’d become friends over the last two years.
“I’m just walking up my sidewalk. You?” He bent to brush dull brown wood chips off the cement back into the flower bed. The gardeners came every week, but the stuff seemed to creep onto the walkway the minute they left.
“Well, James is off in NYC for some photo shoot or other, and I’m single for the night again. Want to come by and have a drink?” Brody’s handsome partner with his golden California boy image was much in demand lately, and frequently out of town, or even out of the country, on photo shoots and related events. Mack and Davis, as the self professed domestically challenged halves of a couple, gravitated together to drink whiskey, watch sports, throw steaks on the grill, and commiserate with each other for being the left behind part of a glamorous couple.
“Sorry, man, I am, thankfully, not single this weekend. Lex is out for the weekend but, hey, maybe you can come by and meet him. Just not tonight, ok? Tonight, I have plans.” Mack leaned against his door and looked out over the yard. Yeah, it needed work beyond what a few immigrant laborers could provide. Maybe he could get Lex to run out to the garden shop with him and pick up some plants for the gardeners to put in, on Sunday, when the itch had died down some. He snickered, if it did.
“He is? That’s great! So, where’s he staying?”
Mack pulled his phone from his ear and regarded it as though the object itself had spoken. He turned his head and looked at the dark windows of his place. No light shone from behind the louvered blinds. He went from horny as hell to angry in seconds. “What do you mean?”
“Man, I’ve been here all day working on my yard, and no one’s been in your place.” Davis’s voice was tentative, as though he didn’t want to be the bearer of bad news.
“Fuck. He did it again. That asshole is blowing me off again!” Mack slammed his fist against his white door. The errant thought crossed his mind as he tilted his head to hold his phone in place so he could cradle his now aching right hand with his left, that he really fucking hated the color white. And mature men did not resort to violence just because they were fucking disappointed.
“Hey, calm down ok? Maybe I missed his arrival and he’s inside asleep in the dark.” Pitched soothingly low, Davis’s voice exuded his patented ‘humor the patient until the nurse gets here to take over’ tone.
“You don’t believe that any more than I do.” Mack’s hand shook with the intensity of his anger as he tried to open the door with his uninjured hand. After a brief fumble he succeeded and pushed the door open.
“Go check it out then come over and we’ll commiserate and drown our sorrows in whiskey shots and baseball.”
Mack hung up the phone and stepped through his door. Gloomy darkness met his entrance. He peered across the short entry way to the living area. Neat and tidy, the black leather sofa empty, as were the two matching recliners. He could tell by the lack of light that Lex wasn’t in the kitchen either. Dark, silent, and, damn it, unfriendly, the house mocked his high hopes for a romantic weekend. No sexy curry scent drifted from the kitchen. No sultry jazz singer crooned in the background. No warm wet kiss greeted him, and fuck, there no relief loomed for the hard on he’d had for the last ten miles of his trip home.
An evil little red light blinked at him from across the darkened living room, a message. Fuck. He knew what it would say. Sorry, but Lex wouldn’t be driving down. He had a deadline. He had a commitment; some bullshit excuse. Well, Mack didn’t want to hear it. He refused to listen to it. Mack stomped across the slate gray carpet into the living area and glanced toward the open door of the room they’d designated as Lex’s office when they’d bought the place. Fuck. That room right there said it all. They decorated the rest of the house, spent hours on the phone and the internet choosing paint and he’d furnished it with the stuff from his old apartment. Randomly packages arrived containing stuff that Lex ordered on the internet for the place. He’d call when a box arrived, they’d laugh and talk while Mack assembled the bookcase, or bakers rack, or whatever crap Lex had chosen, and then he’d put it carefully in the place where Lex said it should go.
But that room, the one supposedly exclusively Lex’s, had stayed the same way it had been when they moved in. Lex had professed to hate the white walls and dull grey carpet. Mack had hung dark blackout curtains over all the windows in the room before Lex’s first visit, and they remained the only sign of his use of the room. Lex’s paranoia wouldn’t allow him to function in a room that faced the front of the house where any passing stranger could see inside. The fact that he had never done anything else to give the room his own distinct stamp, in fact, as far as Mack knew, he’d never even worked in the room, pretty much said it all, didn’t it? This condo wasn’t Lex’s home away from home, hell, it probably didn’t rate any higher than a motel from the way he avoided it lately!
Mack wandered dispiritedly down the gray carpeted hallway past his own office – no fucking white walls there- to the master suite. Here, now this room, they had created together. The painful reminder of how well their personalities could mesh showed in the creation of this room. They paneled the walls from a chair rail down in golden oak and papered the upper portions in a forest green and antique ivory brocade pattern. The giant four poster bed, clothed in piles of fluffy and silky, slinky and cool, cotton, silk, cashmere blankets and throws, angled out from one corner into the center of the room. Mounds of pillows graced the head of the bed and an ivory wicker chest held more at the foot. No electronics resided in this room. It held no computers, no TV, just the built in speakers from the sound system that wired throughout the condo. They had planned this room as an oasis to relax and enjoy each other, no outside world was permitted.
Toweling his brown hair dry while standing there after a shower, Mack’s gaze strayed bitterly to the other half of the large walk in closet that lined one wall of the master bedroom. The golden oak accordion doors on both sides were completely opened. His side displayed meticulously arranged rows of dark suits for the office, white oxford dress shirts, a small selection of casual shirts and a few coats on the bar. The shelves contained a stack of 501’s in every shade of faded and a pile of colored t-shirts. Dress shoes and tennis shoes, running shoes and flip flops neatly marched across the bottom. A red baseball cap and a grey felt fedora sat in lonely splendor on an upper shelf. Lex’s side of the closet contained a few pairs of Levi’s, a couple of white shirts, and a pair of running shoes. Even the clothes he’d left here didn’t express the other man’s personality. To see the office and the closet you’d think he was just an average anybody, instead of the unpredictably eccentric and incredibly appealing hermit that he was.
Mack snagged the first pair of Levis on the pile and pulled them on, buttoning them swiftly while trying to avoid brushing his fingers over his dick while he did so.
A t-shirt pulled down over his head knocked damp brown hair into his eyes and reminded him that he needed to make an appointment to get an over due hair cut. He opted for bare feet so he could enjoy the soft pile of the Persian silk rug that ran the length of the room in front of the closet.
Silently he regarded himself in the free standing mirror that stood in the corner opposite the bed. Brown hair with a bit of grey at the temples, he could call that distinguished. Brown eyes, crinkles at the corners, not bad. Not enough tan for a California boy, but he worked too much to hang out at the beach and tan. A trip to a tanning salon might be in order, if only the potential health risks involved didn’t turn his stomach. He turned sideways and studied his body taking inventory as he went. Broad shoulders, chest wasn’t bad… maybe a little hairy. Maybe he should shave it? He ran his fingers through the dusting of brown curls. Jesus… was that a grey hair? He pulled it, wincing at the tiny pain. Was that a bit of softening in his gut? He sucked in and threw his shoulders back. Nah. Nothing a little more time in the gym wouldn’t take care of. He just had to start making sure that he made the time to work out regularly. Was he losing his sex appeal? Getting too old for dating a younger man? Maybe when Lex looked at him he saw an old man and not a hot lover. Maybe that was the real reason they hadn’t managed to get together in over two months.
Mack leaned closer to the mirror trying to decide if the crinkles around his eyes were crow’s feet or laugh lines when his cell rang again.
Without looking he flipped it open and asked, “Am I old?”
“I hope to hell you’re not old, because I’m older than you,” Brody chuckled. “I called to see what happened.”
Mack wandered about the room hanging his jacket and scooping his laundry up to put in the wicker basket. “There’re wrinkles around my eyes and I just pulled out a grey hair on my chest. What hot young thing wants to be with a wrinkled old guy whose hair is graying?”
“Is that what he said? He’s not coming up because you’re too old?” Davis’s laughter abruptly stopped.
“I didn’t talk to him yet. I’m standing here in my bedroom and I just noticed I’m not the man I used to be that’s all.” Mack adjusted a framed photo on the dresser that the cleaning lady had apparently misplaced after dusting. Frowning he picked it up and stared down at it. The shot captured him and Lex forever in time embracing in Lex’s moon garden as he called it. The entire thing was white… all the plants, statues and furniture. Dull and uninteresting during the day, day the garden in the moonlight glowed with an otherworldly, magical life. He and Lex gazed at each other instead of the camera. In the light of the full moon in the photo the two of them leaned together, forehead to forehead. He replaced the picture and left the room. The distance he felt now hadn’t separated the two men in that picture.
“I don’t think he wants me anymore.” Oh, shit. Did I say that out loud? Flopping down on the cool leather of the couch, Mack waited for the response he knew was coming.
“What? Where did that come from?”
“Well, why would he? What’s a twenty-seven year old free spirit want with a stodgy wrinkled old doctor? He’s not here, Davis. He hasn’t ever really been here.” Shit again. Now he sounded like a maudlin old man instead of just looking like one.
“What do you mean by that?”
“I mean, outside the bedroom and some shit he bought on the internet, there’s nothing of him in here. I don’t look around here and get a sense of his presence. I might as well fucking be single, because I sure as hell don’t feel like part of a couple.”
Silence greeted this declaration, and Mack drew in a breath. He closed his eyes, leaned his head back against the black of the couch and breathed deeply again. His eyes felt strangely hot and his chest tight. He rubbed it absently.
“That’s just the disappointment talking Mack. You were really counting on this visit this weekend. Hey,” Davis’s voice picked up enthusiastically, “Since you don’t have company after all, how about we go out on the sail boat? We can go over to Catalina.”
Mack shook his head. Dumb shit, he reprimanded himself. He can’t see you. “No. I think… Davis, would you mind covering me this weekend? I think I need to go out to the Hermitage and talk to Lex.” He plucked restlessly at a frayed spot on the knee of his jeans as he waited for his friend’s response.
“You aren’t going to do anything crazy are you?”
“Define crazy.” Mack didn’t know what he was going to do. He was confused, and damn it, hurt. He was a forty-five year old respected member of an established profession, self supporting and independent. He hated with every breath being tossed from high to low at another man’s whim every freaking weekend. He felt like a geeky teenager with a crush on the most popular kid in school. There really didn’t seem to be a place for him Lex’s life.
“I don’t know. You tell me. Why do you want to drive all the way out to the Hermitage tonight?”
“I think I want to just do it and get it over with, you know?” Because a clean break would probably hurt a hell of a lot less than this emotional fucking roller coaster he rode now. He tossed the thread he’d pulled from his jeans onto the glass topped table and then frowned at it. Rising he picked it up and meandered into the kitchen to throw it in the trash under the sink.
“So, your plan is to drive a hundred and fifty miles in what, even over the phone I can tell, is an overly emotional state, to break up with your boyfriend of two years because you think he might think you’re too old and what, boring for him?”
“I am too old for him. And hell, we don’t match anyway. I’m neat and tidy, dependable, predictable. He’s a New Age Romantic with an Emily Dickinson complex.” That last got him a snort from Davis. At least he still had his sense of humor.
“So, he dresses like he’s living in a Renaissance festival. It fits with his writing, you know?”
“It’s not just the clothes, Davis. I find the clothes sexy as hell, and the make-up. I just don’t have what it takes to keep a glamorous guy like that interested, not without pretending to be something I’m not. No, it’s better this way. I’ll go up and break things off with him. We’ve been drifting apart for months now anyway.” Mack brushed what water drops from his wet hair off his cheek only to realize from the warmth that the little droplets were tears. “Fuck.” He opened his eyes. “I’ve got to go. Will you cover me or not?”
“I will, but I think you’re making a mistake rushing into things like this.”
“Thanks. I’ll be back by morning.” He flipped his phone shut and spoke aloud. “How long does it take to break up anyway?”
Two boxes later, he knew it wouldn’t take long. He’d searched the whole condo room by room, and that’s fucking all he came up with. Two boxes of clothes, cd’s, and books. After two damn years of a life together, Lex’s entire presence in the condo could be reduced to two boxes.
“Ahhh, hell. If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed, then I’ll go to him myself,” Mack muttered, picking up his phone and heading into the foyer. Sighing again, he looked toward the blinking red light on the answer machine. Grimacing, he reached down and deleted the message unheard. Why not? He knew and Lex knew that the excuse didn’t matter; why the other man wasn’t coming this weekend particular weekend didn’t matter. Their thing was over, time to move on and cut the ties. He’d been doing all the running in this relationship, and it just couldn’t continue that way. Instead of driving all the way to Lex’s to spend the weekend in wild sex, he’d be driving out there to tell the other man their relationship was over and return two boxes of stuff he didn’t want around.
Knowing Lex as he did, he knew how it would turn out. Lex would shrug it off and go back to working in his office or digging in his garden. It was essentially a long drive to end a relationship that had really been going nowhere for a long time from the looks of those two boxes. Too bad his old fashioned manners wouldn’t permit him to break up with someone on the phone, but honor dictated a face to face encounter. He loathed the idea that his memories of Lex would be tainted by an ugly break up scene, -even if he contributed the ugly part of it himself- but he just couldn’t continue to drift. He needed closure and a definitive end to their relationship.