Rainbow Reading: May 1 — Almost, Almost

Bite-sized reviews of the LGBTQ books I’ve read in the past week. All titles are linked to their Goodreads page.

Between May 8th and 14th, I read:

The Touchstone by MC Lee (2019)
Genre: fantasy
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The two MCs are gay
Thoughts: I was disappointed by this one. I had been pleasantly surprised by Lee’s contemporary fiction Not Today, so when I saw she had a new superhero/fantasy novel out, I was intrigued… but I ended up thinking it fell rather flat. I think part of that is the plot seemed too much a “standard superhero novel” plot – teens with powers fleeing a mysterious government entity and finding a group of other gifted teens led by a mysterious mentor. The twists were fairly predictable and most of the supporting cast were one-dimensional; I didn’t get drawn into the story and I didn’t get invested in the characters, either. It was OK but not more than that.

Butch Is a Noun by S. Bear Bergman (2010)
Genre: essays
Audience: adult
Queer rep: Focuses on trans, genderqueer, and lesbian experiences
Thoughts: This is the third book of essays I’ve read by Bergman, and they are all fascinating. This was the first book written – although I read a lightly-revised second edition with a new introduction – and as such it’s not quite as polished as the other collections. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though; especially in highly personal essays, as these largely are, a bit of rawness doesn’t hurt. I think of the three collections, I personally liked Blood, Marriage, Wine and Glitter the best, but all of them are definitely worth reading if you’re at all interested in LGBTQ or gender studies.

Love & Other Curses by Michael Thomas Ford (2019)
Genre: fantasy/magical realism
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The MC and several secondary characters are gay; a secondary character is a trans guy
Thoughts: I have mixed feelings about this. I liked the premise about a family curse and I really liked Sam’s family and “the Grands” (his grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother). Ford does a great job at mixing the realities of life in a small town for a boy with secrets with the more fantastical elements (the curse, prophetic dreams, potions and spells). There is unfortunately a “but” coming, which is how the trans character was portrayed… and also how Sam treated that character. At first Sam seems very accepting and understanding, but as he develops a crush on Tom and is rebuffed – Tom is straight – Sam lashes out in very nasty ways that include outing Tom. That really undercut my sympathy for Sam, even though he ends up regretting it. I did like the overall story arc though.

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole (2019)
Genre: fiction/romance/novella
Audience: adult
Queer rep: One MC is bi and I think the other is lesbian
Thoughts: I have heard so many good things about this novella, but I ended up not being into it. (The cover is awesome, though). It’s part of a series, and I haven’t read the other books; I thought this was a standalone, and it did pretty much work as a standalone, but the character development is a little light, as if we’re expected to already be familiar with them. The gist of it is, our two MCs met through a dating app and had a brief but intense fling that ended abruptly. Then, eight months later, Likotsi is back in NYC and runs into Fabiola, who cajoles her into a lunch date; Likotsi agrees in hopes of finding out why Fabiola cut off contact so she can find some closure; feelings rekindle. I liked the way the story moved between the present day and the first meeting, but I ultimately wasn’t that invested in the characters. Also, they’re both very fashionable and I kept running into clothing terms I didn’t understand. (What is a “sweetheart sweater”?)

The Backstagers, Vol. 3 by James Tynion IV, Sam Johns, Rian Sygh, et al. (2019)
Genre: fantasy/graphic novel
Audience: all ages
Queer rep: Most of the main cast is gay, one is trans
Thoughts: This volume is basically a bonus/specials/shorts volume, with lots of guest illustrators. The first and longest story centers around Valentine’s Day, and is followed by several Valentine’s shorts, and then we get a main Halloween story and several Halloween shorts. I liked the stories and it was nice to see different art styles in the shorts, but I didn’t enjoy this as much as the first two volumes, which have one cohesive storyline.

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That Shadow My Likeness, by Whitman

Walt Whitman – Leaves of Grass – Calamus – 1855 – translated from English into Italian by Enzo Martinelli

🇺🇸

That Shadow My Likeness

That shadow my likeness that goes to and fro seeking a livelihood,
chattering, chaffering,
How often I find myself standing and looking at it where it flits,
How often I question and doubt whether that is really me;
But among my lovers and caroling these songs,
O I never doubt whether that is really me.

🇮🇹

Quell’ombra del mio sembiante che ondeggia alla ricerca di sussistenza,
chiacchierando, frugando,
Quante volte mi trovo in piedi e guardo dove fluttua,
Quante volte mi chiedo e dubito che sia davvero io;
Ma tra i miei amanti e canticchiando queste canzoni,
O non dubito mai che sia davvero io.

Poesia in traduzione 📃➡️🇮🇹

Books 📚📖📚

Azaran by Jacki James [Book Spotlight – MM Romance/Dragon Rider]

Azaran

Jacki James has a new MM paranormal dragon rider book out, book one of the four-part Brotherhood of Ormarr series: Azaran.

Azaran~

I was born a dragon rider. A member of the Brotherhood of Ormarr, son of Cadmar, and the eldest of four sons. I was raised to defend the innocent and protect the secret of the dragons, but when I was eighteen, my parents were brutally murdered and the training and care of my brothers fell to me. My entire adult life has been spent helping my brothers grow into the strong, brave dragon riders they were born to be. Now that the youngest of my brothers is close to adulthood, the last thing I need is someone else to worry about—someone else to be responsible for. If only the handsome doctor fate had chosen for my mate wasn’t so perfect for me.

Toby~

AlI I ever wanted was to help people, that’s why I became a doctor, but I quickly learned that modern medicine was more about the all-mighty dollar and less about saving lives. It wasn’t long before I was doubting my life choices. A vacation to the ocean was supposed to leave me refreshed and ready to get back to work, but instead, I found myself pulled into a world I never knew existed. A world where dragons are real, men fight like medieval warriors, and my soulmate has his very own bat cave. Azaran thinks the last thing he needs is a mate to worry about. Good thing I don’t need anyone to take care of me. My sexy dragon rider, on the other hand, needs someone to take care of him, and I think I’m just the man to do it.

Azaran is the first book in The Brotherhood of Ormarr series. While each book focuses on a different couple, the overall story arc continues in the next installment. For maximum enjoyment, we suggest reading in order. Azaran is a m/m romance, and is recommended for adults 18 years and older.

About the Series:

SERIES Brotherhood of Ormarr

Being a dragon rider for the Brotherhood of Ormarr is filled with adventure, but danger can lurk behind every corner with the Order of Amsel set out to destroy the riders. Azaran, Zale, Eeli, and Malachite have spent their whole lives training, but will it be enough?

The brothers lost their parents years ago to assassins, but they’ve never been able to figure out who was behind the attack. Follow the journey of these dragon riders, along with their faithful dragons, as they find their mates and discover clues that will lead to the final epic showdown.

The Brotherhood of Ormarr series consists of four books, each with its own HEA. While each book focuses on a different couple, the overall story arc continues into the next installment. For maximum enjoyment, we suggest reading in order. This is a m/m romance series, and is recommended for adults 18 years and older.

Get It On Amazon


Giveaway

Jacki is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4764/?


Excerpt

MEME Azaran

Malachite flew up next to me and we prepared to fight. Zale swooped down and Itsaso took Dr. Gibbs and his tube in his claws, and they cut to the left and headed for shore.

“What the hell are they doing here?” Malachite asked.

“I have no idea, but I’m getting pretty freaking tired of them knowing where we are all the blasted time.”

“This is the third time this month,” he said. “There’s no way that’s a coincidence.”

“Nope, not a chance. I think Zale’s far enough away. You ready?”

“Yep, let’s go.” We took off up into the sky and farther out to sea, away from where Zale had taken the doctor. I looked back to make sure they all followed us, and they did. So the doctor didn’t seem to be the target. That meant either one of us was or The Order of Amsel were fucking with us. We led them on a merry chase through the clouds. I noticed a small island ahead, and the timing was perfect because I’d had enough.

“Time to get answers,” I told Malachite and sent a message to Sindri to land on the beach.

We climbed off our dragons and watched as the four wraiths soared above as if they couldn’t decide if they wanted to land or not.

“If they’re smart, they’ll keep going,” Malachite said.

“Yeah, but nobody ever accused The Order of being smart,” I said as I watched them descend. Wraiths were nasty looking creatures. They were dragons, but they weren’t. Their magick had been corrupted and turned dark. I had always thought they most closely resembled demons, all black and surrounded by smoke. The men landed on the beach and hopped off their wraiths, assuming a fighting stance. I shook my head and sighed. Malachite and I shared a look and prepared to fight.

“I’ll take the two on the left,” Malachite said. “And then if you need help, I’ll take one of yours.”

I laughed because he probably would. Where most people messed up when challenging Malachite was they assumed his size was his biggest advantage. They would be wrong. He was fast, and he was precise.

“Guys. I’m not really in the mood to do this today. How about if you just tell me what I want to know, and we skip the part where we kick your sorry asses?” I said.

“Kick our asses?” one of the men asked in disbelief. “There are four of us and only two of you.”

“Yeah.” I shook my head and sighed. “You should’ve brought more guys.”


Author Bio

AVATAR Jacki James

Jacki James has been saying she was going to write a book since she was sixteen and wrote fanfiction (before fanfiction had a name) about her favorite Rockstar. She is a believer in love of all kinds but MM romance is her favorite by far. She has a romantic heart and a dirty mind and likes to write stories that let both shine.

When she isn’t writing she is either creating beautiful pieces of glass art or reading. She is an animal lover and dreams of having a small hobby farm where she can raise goats, chickens and organic veggies. In the meantime, she lives in town with her two cats, awesome husband, and two college-aged kids.

Author Website: http://www.jackijames.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/jackiljames

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/Jacki-James-2039382832995815/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jackileejames

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jackileejames

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The post Azaran by Jacki James [Book Spotlight – MM Romance/Dragon Rider] appeared first on Matt Doyle Media.

Gacela del amor imprevisto, de García Lorca

Gacela del amor imprevisto – Diván del Tamarit – Federico García Lorca – 1936 – with translation into Italian and English by Enzo Martinelli 

🇪🇸

Gacela primera. Del amor imprevisto
Nadie comprendía el perfume
de la oscura magnolia de tu vientre.
Nadie sabía que martirizabas
un colibrí de amor entre los dientes.

Mil caballitos persas se dormían
en la plaza con luna de tu frente,
mientras que yo enlazaba cuatro noches
tu cintura, enemiga de la nieve.

Entre yeso y jazmines, tu mirada
era un pálido ramo de simientes.
Yo busqué, para darte, por mi pecho
las letras de marfil que dicen

siempre, siempre: jardín de mi agonía,
tu cuerpo fugitivo para siempre,
la sangre de tus venas en mi boca,
tu boca ya sin luz para mi muerte.

🇮🇹

Prima gazzella. Dell’amore imprevisto
Nessuno ha capito il profumo
dell’oscura magnolia del tuo ventre.
Nessuno sapeva che martirizzavi
un colibrì d’amore tra i denti.

Mille cavallini persiani dormivano
nella piazza con la luna della tua fronte,
mentre io per quattro notti cingevo
la tua vita, nemica della neve.

Tra gesso e gelsomini, il tuo sguardo
era un pallido ramo di sementi.
Cercai, per darti, dal mio petto
le lettere d’avorio che dicono

sempre, sempre: giardino della mia agonia,
il tuo corpo fuggitivo per sempre,
il sangue delle tue vene nella mia bocca,
la tua bocca già senza luce per la mia morte.

🇬🇧

First gazelle. Unexpected love
Nobody understood the scent
of the dark magnolia of your belly.
No one knew that you martyred
a hummingbird of love between the teeth.

A thousand Persian horses slept
in the square with the moon of your forehead,
while I girded for four nights
your waist, the enemy of snow.

Between chalk and jasmine, your eyes
were a pale branch of seed.
I tried, to give you, from my chest
the ivory letters they say

always, always: garden of my agony,
your fugitive body forever,
the blood of your veins in my mouth,
your mouth already without light for my death.

Lorca_(1914)

Poesia in traduzione

Book Reviews

My Bohemian Life (Ma Bohème) by Arthur Rimbaud — rantslate

Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud (20 October 1854 – 10 November 1891) was a French poet who is known as one of the most influential Symbolists. His influence on modern literature and arts is literally everywhere. Born in Charleville-Mézières, Rimbaud started writing at a very young age and excelled as a student, but abandoned his formal education in his teenage years. He had sent a copy of his now famous poem Le Bateau Ivre (The Drunken Boat) to the famous French poet Paul Verlaine, who immediately invited him to come to Paris. France was at war, the Franco-Prussian War was raging in the north of the country, where Rimbaud lived.

Rimbaud was known to have been a libertine and a restless soul, he is often referred to as an enfant terrible. He engaged in an at times violent romantic relationship with Paul Verlaine (amongst other thing supposedly play fighting with swords and drawing blood). Their relationship lasted nearly two years.

Rimbaud’s literary output was limited to his late adolescence (Le Bateau Ivre was written when he was only 17 years old) and early adulthood. He completely stopped writing at the age of 21, after assembling one of his major works, the collection Illuminations.

After ending his literary career, he traveled extensively on three continents as a merchant (at times trading in slaves) before his death from cancer just after his thirty-seventh birthday. As a poet, Rimbaud is well known for his contributions to Symbolism and, among other works, for Une Saison en Enfer (A Season in Hell), a precursor to modernist literature.

This is my translation of Ma Bohême by Arthur Rimbaud.

My Bohemian Life

(fantasy)

I wandered off, my fists in my punctured pockets;
My coat was suddenly becoming ideal;
I wandered neath the sky, Muse! as your faithful;
Oh! My! My! What splendid loves I dreamt!

My only pair of trousers had a big hole.
— Dreamy Tom Thumb, sowing along my fare,
Rhymes. My inn was up in the Great Bear.
— My stars in the sky had a sweet rustle.

And I listened to them, sitting by the edge of roads,
Those good e’ens of September where I felt drops
Of dew on my forehead, like a wine of vigor;

Where, rhyming among shadows so fantastic,
Like lyres, I plucked the strands of elastic
Of my wounded shoes, a foot close to my heart!

– Arthur Rimbaud
tr. by Alex Rodallec

Antique, by Rimbaud

Antique – Les Illuminations – Arthur Rimbaud – 1873-1875 – with translations from French into English and Italian by Enzo Martinelli 

Rimbaud

🇫🇷 Gracieux fils de Pan! Autour de ton front couronné de fleurettes et de baies tes yeux, des boules précieuses, remuent. Tachées de lies brunes, tes joues se creusent. Tes crocs luisent. Ta poitrine ressemble à une cithare, des tintements circulent dans tes bras blonds. Ton coeur bat dans ce ventre òu dort le double sexe. Promène-toi la nuit, en mouvant doucement cette cuisse, cette seconde cuisse et cette jambe de gauche.

🇬🇧 Graceful son of Pan! Around your forehead crowned with little flowers and laurel, your eyes, those precious balls, revolve.  Stained with wine dregs, your cheeks grow hollow. Your fangs gleam. Your chest is like a lyre, tinklings course through your blonde arms. Your heart beats in the belly where the double sex sleeps. Walk around at night,  gently moving this thigh, this second thigh and this left leg.

🇮🇹 Grazioso figlio di Pan! Intorno alla tua fronte coronata di fiori e bacche i tuoi occhi, sfere preziose, si agitano. Macchiate di fecce brune, le tue guance si approfondiscono. Le tue zanne stanno brillando. Il tuo petto sembra una cetra, con tintinnii che risuonano tra le tue braccia bionde. Il tuo cuore batte in quel ventre dove dorme il doppio sesso. Cammina di notte, muovendo delicatamente la coscia, la seconda coscia e la gamba sinistra.

Translated Poetry 📃➡️🇮🇹

Books📚📖📚

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Release Blitz: Under the Jasmine Flowers by W.S. Long (Excerpt)

Reblogged from:

bayoubookjunkie.wordpress.com/2019/05/18/release-blitz-under-the-jasmine-flowers-by-w-s-long-excerpt/

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Under the Jasmine Flowers

Author: W.S. Long

Publisher: JMS Books

Cover Artist: Written Ink Design

Release Date: May 18, 2019

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance

Trope/s: Forced in the closet until he realizes he has to be out

Themes: Coming out, forgiveness

Heat Rating: 3 flames 

Length: 73 321 words/154 pages

Add on Goodreads

Buy Links

Amazon US 

Amazon UK 

Blurb 

Jojo Arias, a Spanish-Filipino mestizo, didn’t expect to meet a U.S. Marine in a swank bar in the Philippines. But, Jojo can’t deny the electricity they have once he meets Adam. Although they come from different worlds, they struggle to keep their relationship private to protect Jojo’s status, and position as part of one of wealthiest and powerful in Filipino society. Billions of dollars could be easily lost if his family business was jeopardized by Jojo’s secret. Jojo is pressured to abandon Adam and live a life in the closet. When the struggle to maintain their secret romance unravels, Jojo is left with a life-changing decision to leave his family, or to pursue his love. 

Excerpt

James Joseph Garcia Arias savored the last few drops, then set the now empty pilsner down, right next to two other empty bottles of San Miguel beer. Despite the thick glass windows in the swank Makati bar that should have offered some soundproofing, Saturday Manila traffic passed noisily one floor below. The rumble of buses, cars honking, and steady stream of headlights never bored him. He preferred the noise of the city to the quiet stillness that his parents called home. 

He glanced at his Patek Phillipe Nautilus watch his grandmother had given him. He texted Erwin. Ready. Barely a second or two passed, when his phone received the reply text. Be right there, boss. He sighed. He’d asked Erwin not to call him that for the longest time, but Erwin insisted. Jojo stood, fished out the right amount of pesos, plus a slightly larger gratuity than what was expected, then headed for the men’s room. A large group of Americans sat around the glass-tiled bar, laughing loudly. He guessed they were military, based on their crew cuts, hanging out to blow off steam. When he returned a few minutes later, after peeing an hour’s worth of beer, one of the military guys glanced up, and smiled at him. The man’s eyes followed Jojo. 

Walk on by. Don’t stop.

He wanted to listen to the voice inside his head but he couldn’t. Maybe the alcohol made him less inhibited, maybe he was still reeling from the breakup with his fiancee and maybe he wanted to talk to someone who wasn’t an employee or a family member, or maybe because no one left in the bar knew him because the next thing he did was he stopped, inches away from the blond. 

“Is this seat taken?” Jojo asked. 

The stranger smiled more broadly and shook his head. “No.” 

Jojo waited a second to see if the handsome man would say something else, but all the blond man did was smile even more. “American right?” Jojo asked. 

“Yes.”

“I’m guessing you guys are U.S. military?”

“Marines, yeah. We’re sending one of our guys off, rotating from the Embassy here. My name’s Adam, by the way.” Adam offered his hand, which Jojo shook. 

“James Arias, but my friends call me ‘Jojo’.” 

Adam opened his mouth to say something but was interrupted by his friends who came over to meet Jojo. It didn’t take Jojo long to figure that Adam was probably the only sober one in the group, as the four other guys slurred their words, and often laughed uncontrollably at each other’s jokes. When Adam’s friends returned to their seats at the bar, Adam leaned in. “Your English is perfect, no trace of an accent, so I’m guessing you’re American too?”

“You’re partly right. I was born in America. My mother was a medical student in the U.S., and we lived in San Francisco but we moved back here after she got her degree.”

“So your mom’s a doctor?”

Jojo smiled. He wanted to tell Adam the whole long story of why his mother had never practiced medicine after she completed medical school because the family had seen no need of her working at a hospital or a clinic, and that these days her mother was busy hosting, or attending social and charitable events, but he thought the better of it and just answered simply. “Yeah, she is.”

“So you live here. . . I mean the Philippines?” Adam asked.

“Yes, I do.” 

“I’m sorry I’m asking stupid questions because you don’t look Filipino. I hope I’m not offending you by saying that. Most Filipinos are short and very Asian looking. You look more like my Latino friends from Southern California and in a good way.”

Jojo laughed. “It’s probably the lighting, but my father and mother are both parts Spanish and Filipino so maybe that’s why my features are different than most.” Jojo’s cell phone vibrated. I’m downstairs, boss. Jojo palmed the phone for a second, aware that Adam was studying him. Erwin, something’s come up. Head back to the garage until I text you again.

“Girlfriend?”

Jojo shook his head without looking up from his phone. 

“Boyfriend then?”

Jojo raised his head and laughed at the handsome man’s brazenness. He liked how Adam’s strong jawline, full lips and dark eyebrows peered at him, waiting on every word. Maybe it was the alcohol. He moved within earshot so that only the Marine could hear. “No, I haven’t had a boyfriend in a long time. But, I did just break up with my fiancée.”

“Is that why you were nursing several beers over in that corner after your friends left you?”

Jojo narrowed his eyes. “You’re very perceptive, Adam. Except they weren’t my friends, they were . . . co-workers.” Jojo almost said employees, but stopped himself. Maybe it was the Arias family tendency to be secretive, and not give out too much information, but here he was on a Saturday night in a bar, drinking, when he was usually still in the office poring over engineering details, building plans, and contract proposals. 

“I’m sorry about the break up. You look torn up about it. I couldn’t help but notice earlier when we first arrived. Can I buy you a beer?”

Jojo smiled, then laughed without meaning to. The last time a guy had bought him a beer was in a dive bar right outside CalPoly, after an engineering final. 

“What’s so funny?” Adam asked, as he chuckled along. 

“It’s been a while since another guy offered to buy me a beer.”

“No worries. It looked like earlier you needed it. Did she break your heart?” Jojo faced toward the bar, away from Adam. Jojo didn’t say anything, but he wanted to respond.

Adam spoke again. “You don’t have to answer that if you don’t want to.”

Jojo pondered Adam’s question as Adam’s friends got louder and louder on their end of the bar. 

“Don’t worry about them,” Adam said as he pointed to his friends. “I’m the designated driver, and in about an hour they’ll all be sound asleep snoring in the government issued van I’m driving.”

So he’s brazen without alcohol.

Jojo faced Adam and breathed deeply. He couldn’t tell the color of Adam’s piercing eyes but Jojo couldn’t deny his own intense interest in the serviceman. Adam leaned in and prolonged his gaze. Jojo was mesmerized. Adam seemed genuinely concerned. And maybe he was wrong, but Adam appeared compassionate. “She asked me if I was ever going to marry her. If I loved her, and if we were only together because both our families wanted it. I had to tell her the truth, and that as much as I had feelings for her, I didn’t love her.”

“Ouch!” Then Adam smiled, his voice took on a tone of playfulness. “And you’re here, living and breathing with no scratch on you.”

“She is a very logical, rational person. That’s why I liked her when we first met. She was so completely different from the other girls my parents tried to set me up with.”

“You have a picture of her? I’m curious.”

Jojo nodded, fished out his phone, and scrolled through some pictures before showing a good one of his ex, Lani.

“Wow. She’s hot. Your parents had good taste if they thought she would be a good wife.”

One of Adam’s friends sauntered over and peered at Lani’s photo. “Dude, your girlfriend?”

“Ex,” Adam said. “That’s his ex.”

“How about giving me her number? She’s pretty.”

Jojo shook his head. If Lani, a black belt in tae kwon do, found out he’d ever given her number to someone, she’d probably roundhouse kick him in the head before he knew anything about it. “Sorry, I can’t do that.”

“Well, at least I tried,” the Marine said. “Hey, Adam, we’re thinking we should head on over to the bars downtown.”

“Downtown?” Adam asked.

“Ermita,” the man said. 

Adam turned away so that only Jojo could see his face as he rolled his eyes. 

“What do you say? For old time’s sake?” his friend asked. “You’re welcome to come along––’’

“––Jojo, my name’s, Jojo,” as they both shook hands. 

“Mine’s Nate. Yeah, come along with us, I’m sure Adam won’t mind,” the Marine continued. “It’ll keep him company, and his mind off his ex-boyfriend he’s probably still pining after.”

Adam slouched. Adam’s reaction to his Marine buddy’s comment must have hit a chord and Jojo was compelled to find out more about Adam. Jojo hesitated for a moment. He wasn’t used to spontaneously accepting strangers offers to hang out, but Adam’s eyes beckoned him to say yes. Besides, maybe a few more hours out on the town would make him feel better for breaking up with Lani. 

“If you’re sure I won’t be a fifth wheel, yeah, I’ll join you.”

Adam smiled. “Nate’s a little bit of a douche bag. So sorry about that.”

“Well, your friend’s had a little too much to drink.” Jojo leaned closer, sticking a hand in his pants pocket, his lips almost touching Adam’s ear, and whispered. “But to be honest, that scene is a little too, I’m trying to find the right words to say it––”

“––Red light? Yeah, I hate going down there.” Adam put his hand on top of Jojo’s wrist, squeezed it, and then removed it. The quick touch happened in a blink of an eye. “Do you have any other suggestions?” 

Jojo didn’t say anything. He was shocked that Adam had just placed his hand on him, so casually, so friendly like. He couldn’t deny the electricity he felt when Adam touched him either. “If they’re looking for dancing women, there’s a club two blocks from here, more upscale but not so red light, as you say.”

“Well, lead the way, Jojo.” Adam smiled. “I’ll rustle them from the bar and we’ll follow you.” Adam stood and moved to where Nate and the other guys were huddled. 

Jojo motioned to the bartender. “I’ll pay their tab.”

“Thanks, Mr. Arias. Shall I add it to your monthly bill?” 

Jojo nodded. Before he could say anything else, Adam appeared at his elbow. Standing, he towered over Jojo by a few inches. 

“The boys are cool checking out a new place. Thanks for the offer.” 

“So who’s leaving that you’re having this party for?” Jojo asked. 

“His name’s John.” Adam pointed him out. “He’s been stationed at the Embassy for more than three years now. Overdue for his new assignment back to San Diego.”

Jojo signed the chit the bartender handed him without even looking at the total bill. 

“Hey, is that our bill? You shouldn’t have done that. What do we owe you?”

Jojo shook his head. “Don’t worry about it. I come here often enough that they actually give me a discount, and I’m glad to pay. Thanks for your service. All of you.”

Adam walked to where Nate stood, clapped him on the shoulder, and shouted something in his ear. All the guys around Nate, including John turned to Jojo and raised their glasses and beer bottles, some empty and others not so empty. “Thanks!” they shouted in unison. 

Adam took two steps back to Jojo. “Now, they’ll follow you to the ends of the earth. Buying their drinks bought you some loyalty. Lead the way, fine sir!” Adam gestured with a bow, holding an invisible cap in his hands as his head followed the gesture. 

Jojo laughed at the dramatic flourish and walked out of the bar, Adam right next to him as the other Marines followed them. As they took the steps down one level to the street, Jojo recognized the SUV parked on the side. “Hold on,” he said to Adam.

Jojo approached the Lexus with dark tinted windows. The whir of the window revealed Erwin’s face. “I didn’t go back to the garage, boss. They said I could just wait here until you were done, however long it lasted.”

“Well, we’re headed to my cousin’s VIP club down the block. You know the one. If you want to meet me there, that’s fine.” Jojo ignored his driver’s raised eyebrow. Jojo’s cousin, Tiny, owned a lounge with a rooftop bar. 

Jojo hadn’t talked to Tiny in a week or so, since Tiny asked for a loan from Arias Holdings to help his deep in the red bar. 

Tiny’s club had boxing on one floor, Ukrainian and Russian models on the second floor, and Filipino women, working as cocktail waitresses, dressed in Vietnamese ao dais whose skirts were mini-skirts rather than full length dresses. The male bartenders were all selectively picked for the discreet crowd. Cousin Tiny interviewed the entire bar and wait staff himself, making sure that they were attractive. The truth was, if they could flirt with Tiny and the head waitress, they were hired if they had a pretty face. Jojo didn’t care for the little people fighting in a small area that took up most of the dance floor, but his cousin assured him that he never exploited them, and that they were being paid handsomely to pretend to hit each other very hard. 

The walk to the building where the lounge was didn’t take long. Security at the front recognized Jojo immediately. “They’re with me,” Jojo pointed to Adam and the Marines. The large security guard at the front, who Jojo guessed was probably part Samoan and part Filipino, was dressed in a heavy wool jacket and pants, nodded and then radioed the two equally large security guards by the door. They were shown to the marbled main floor of the building. As soon as they took the elevators, again escorted by another security guard, Adam and the Marines were quiet and didn’t say much. When they arrived at the final floor, loud music greeted them before the elevator doors opened. 

About the Author 

A military brat, who joined the military himself, W.S. Long now practices law during the day, but at night reads and writes male-male romance. When he’s not writing, W.S. Long travels and dreams of traveling far off distant lands with his mild-mannered college professor husband.

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Twitter: @wslongauthor