Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Caomhnóir – Manny - 33

“How very ‘Highlander’,” Keegan muttered as he surveyed the vacant warehouse that Cerdic had chosen for their battle. When Manny started to open the only door that wasn’t chained and padlocked, Keegan put a hand on his to stop him. “He’s got someone else in there with him. Human, from his thoughts.”

“Can you tell if he’s hidden or out in the open?”

After a long pause, Keegan nodded. “From the tenor of his thoughts, he’s on the catwalk above the ground floor. He’s wondering if he can actually shoot one of us or if he’ll chicken out at the last minute.”

Manny smiled tightly. “My bet’s on Mr. Shadrick then. I’m dead cert he’s the one who sent that man after me. Too scared to do his own dirty work. Once we’re inside let me know exactly where he is and I’ll deal with him first while you keep Cerdic occupied.”

“Reverse that, because if I give you any indication that we know he’s there that will only put them both on the alert that we’ve got an edge on them.”

“Cerdic doesn’t know what you can do?”

“Ninety to ten he doesn’t. It’s a very well guarded secret, trust me.” After taking a deep breath, Keegan said, “Ready?”

“Ready,” Manny replied, opening the warehouse door.

The interior, dimly lit by sunlight coming through dirty windows at the catwalk level, was cavernous. The two Caomhnóir saw Cerdic standing casually in the center of the huge space, leaning on a great sword, a shorter sword in his other hand.

“Would it be trite to say, ‘welcome to your deaths’?” Cerdic asked, a taut grin on his face.

“Extremely,” Manny replied as he strode forward, his favorite weapons, a hand-and-a-half and a flanged mace appearing in his hands. “I’ll be the first to admit,” he added as he circled, keeping the Scriostóir’s attention on him, “that I never expected to see you again.”

“I might say the same. I thought, relative child that you are, that you would have fled the city, back to the continent, hoping there would be no reprisals for trying to destroy me.”

“I may be only a few centuries old, but I still killed you once. I can do it again.”

Cerdic laughed, even as he turned slightly, looking for Keegan. “Has your companion left the battlefield already? I heard he no longer has to follow orders if he does not want to.”

Although this came as a shock to Manny, he covered it by smiling broadly. “We have honor, a word I’m quite sure you don’t know the meaning of. He’s probably in the shadows, waiting for the best opening. That way I won’t have to clean blood off my sword, which I so hate doing. It’s—bloody work.”

“Always with the smart mouth,” Cerdic growled, shouting “Now!” as he lunged forward, the great sword swinging in a wide arc towards Manny’s sword arm.

“Were you talking to Mr. Shadrick?” Keegan called down from the catwalk, seconds before he toppled the man’s lifeless body over the railing. “Guess you’re on your own now, Scriostóir.” He followed the body down, landing gracefully a few yards from where Cerdic and Manny stood.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Caomhnóir – Manny - 32

Cerdic smiled wickedly as he shoved the bound and gagged Jakie into the janitor's closet on the second floor of an office building in midtown. "Don't worry," he said before closing the door. "You'll be found soon enough. I just needed you out of the picture for the time being."

Strolling casually down the deserted hallway moments later, Cerdic ran his plan through his mind one more time before taking out his cell to place a call.

* * * * *

Manny frowned as he looked at the caller ID. "I hate blocked calls," he muttered. When he answered, still grumbling, a text message appeared. He read it, and then reread it, an angry frown darkening his face. There was a brief pause before a second message appeared. Hurrying to the desk, he wrote down the information, texted a message back, and slammed the phone shut.

The three others had been watching, wondering what was happening.

Manny told them succinctly, "That was Cerdic. He has Jakie. Unhurt, he says."

"Damn and double damn," Hamlin exclaimed.

"I guess he's figured out how to draw us out," Keegan stated. "Where are we going?"

Manny handed him the slip of paper with the instructions. "I know the place. It's been vacant for years. He chose well, we’ll be uninterrupted.”

“Then let’s get going.” Hamlin looked at the others. “Well?”

“Keegan and I are going; the two of you are staying right here. And I do not want to hear one word of argument. Understood?”

Hamlin shot an angry look at his lover, growling, “Jakie’s my friend too, you know.”

“I know, but if the two of you come with us you’ll only be distractions. Trust me, Cerdic’s going to use every trick in the book to take us down, and he’s got a few. I’ve battled him so I know.” Manny squeezed Hamlin’s shoulder. “Please don’t make this any harder than it already is.”

“I—alright. I guess Thom and I can bake cookies while you’re gone.”

Thom snorted. “I don’t do baking.”

“That’s for sure,” Keegan muttered, and the immediate tension was broken as the men laughed. Unfortunately he ramped it up seconds later, saying, “Let’s get ready, Manny.”  

Fifteen minutes later the two Caomhnóir were on their way out of the loft, dressed for battle, their goodbyes to their respective lovers said.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Caomhnóir – Manny - 31

"Gebhard's back, finally," Manny announced when he returned to the loft early the next morning. "So I've got two days off, which I think I'll spend in bed." He looked around, seeing only Keegan and Thom. "Where's Hamlin?"

"Out walking Romper."

"Damn it, you let him go out on his own?" Manny looked panicked as he turned to leave again.

The door opened at that moment and a rambunctious puppy dashed in, leaping up to greet Manny, putting muddy paw prints all over his jeans.

"We have arrived," Hamlin said, laughing as he picked up the puppy, heading to the bathroom with him.

With a roll of his eyes, Manny followed. As Hamlin dunked Romper in the sink to clean him up, Manny leaned on the doorframe, relief lining his face as he muttered, "Don't you know better than to go out without one of us with you?"

"I just took him down to the back yard, not onto the street. I'm not stupid."

Manny scrubbed a hand over his face, sighing. "I know you're not, but when I got here and you were gone—"

Setting Romper down, Hamlin grabbed the towel he used for the puppy, drying his feet. Looking up at Manny, he said quietly, "I'm sorry."

"Me too," Manny told him. "I shouldn’t have barked at you." When Romper woofed, he added, "That's his job."

Hamlin laughed as he released the puppy and stood up. "He learned it from you."

"Hey now!" Pulling Hamlin to him, Manny kissed him softly. "Okay, before the others get to wondering, I think we should join them." He put his arm around Hamlin's waist as they headed to the kitchen area. "Oh, by the way, I got my two days off."

"Great, we can spend them in bed. Well, if we can get rid of those two that is."

"Not happening, it's too distracting, which we don't need right now."

Thom laughed, overhearing them. "I think Manny and Keegan are in collusion to keep us totally frustrated, Hamlin."

"Just wait until this is over. Then we'll remedy that problem big time," Keegan said, handing Manny a cup of coffee. "Was there any sign of Cerdic last night," he asked him.

"Not that I saw or heard, but that means nothing. He could have been out wandering the streets, even watching this place, planning his strategy."

"If he was here, why didn't he do something while he knew you were at the house?"

"I suspect because, if he's going to do anything, he wants both Keegan and me. His ego would dictate that. And if it were me, I wouldn’t attack my quarry on their home turf if I could come up with a way to draw them to a spot of my own choosing."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Caomhnóir – Manny - 30

Keegan arrived back at Manny's loft to find Thom and Hamlin in the middle of a vicious battle—with several demons in the game they were playing. Shaking his head in amusement, he got Thom's attention long enough to receive a proper kiss in greeting and then he went to the kitchen area to start coffee brewing. Leaning back against the counter as he waited, he contemplated what the next likely step would be.

Unless they were way off base in their thinking, Cerdic already knew that he was here thanks to Mr. Shadrick. The question was, would that really be enough to lure the elusive Scriostóir out of hiding. Time would tell and hopefully soon, although from what he'd learned about Cerdic, he was a man who laid his plans out very carefully before implementing them.

"What's got you in a deep study?" Thom asked, breaking into Keegan's thoughts.

"Just trying to anticipate what Cerdic might do now." He turned to take cups from the cupboard, quirking an eyebrow in question at Thom, and Hamlin as well when he joined them. Both nodded assent and soon they were back in the living room area, coffee in hand.

"So who won the game?" Keegan nodded towards the darkened TV screen.

"Us, of course, just like we're going to win against Cerdic," Hamlin answered.

"If I had my way—" Keegan growled.

Thom shook his head. "Don't even go there, mo ghrá. Hamlin and I are in this to the bitter end, just as you and Manny are. We might not be fighters, but if it comes down to it, we can distract him if necessary."

Looking at both of them, Keegan told them adamantly, "If it comes down to a real fight, and I'm certain it will, the two of you are to make yourselves very scarce. You'd be more distracting to us, worrying about your safety, than you would be to him."

"Alright," Hamlin said reluctantly, "I can see your point, but still—"

"But still, nothing. That's an order young man."

Huffing, but nodding, Hamlin changed the subject by asking what they wanted for dinner. "And if you say pizza, Cerdic won't have to kill you because I will."

"Speaking of which, when are you due at work," Thom asked, reaching down to scratch behind Romper's ears as the puppy finally put in an appearance.

"Off tonight, thank goodness. I'd be worse than useless there, worrying about what could be happening here."

"Well there goes the marathon bout of fantastic sex we'd planned on having while he was gone," Thom grumbled, leaning back against Keegan.

Keegan chuckled. "That's not happening until this is over. Too—distracting."

"Yeah, we both kind of figured that would be the case," Hamlin replied, getting up again. "So, dinner anyone?"

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Caomhnóir – Manny - 29

Twenty minutes after leaving the gym, Manny had the boys settled in to study and read. Just as he got down to the living room to wait for Keegan, the man himself appeared, led in by Mr. Shadrick.

After introducing himself as if they had never met before, Keegan told Manny, "A friend suggested I look you up."

"Oh? Which friend?" Manny asked as he glanced across the room to see Mr. Shadrick hovering at the desk.

When he saw Manny looking, Mr. Shadrick immediately headed for the door, saying, "I'll leave so you and your friend have some privacy."

Manny nodded, turning his attention back to Keegan, who said, just loudly enough that Mr. Shadrick couldn't help but overhear, "Mr. Alasdair. He said you might be able to help me out."

The door whispered closed behind Mr. Shadrick but seconds later Manny saw it move open again, just a fraction. "Help you how?" Manny asked as he gave a slight nod towards the door.

Feigning hesitancy, Keegan replied, "I need a safe place to stay for a few days. There's someone—"

"Looking for you?" Manny prompted.

Keegan nodded, playing his part by beginning to pace the room. Finally, he said, "A man by the name of Rafael. He’s been searching for me, and I’m afraid he’s found me, or at least where I live."

It was Manny's turn to hesitate, as if weighing the pros and cons of the request. After a few moments he replied, "You can stay with me as long as you want, just make damned certain that no one, and I mean no one knows that you are. I'm not about to put my roommate in danger because of you." And that lets that cat out of the bag for damned sure he thought. But there was really no help for it if he was going to play this out realistically.

"Believe me, I've got no intention of letting the fact that I'm there be known to anyone but you and our mutual friend," Keegan said firmly.

"Alright then. Let me give you my address and then I'll call my roommate to let him know you're on your way. I'll just tell him you're a friend who showed up unexpectedly."

"Thank you," Keegan replied, smiling as he saw the door finally close the last half inch, giving Manny a thumbs-up when it did.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Caomhnóir – Manny - 28

Things took on an interesting twist early that afternoon when Manny returned to work. The boys were out of class and had just finished lunch. Mr. Shadrick glared at Manny, asking why the hell he was late.

"Sorry," Manny replied, not meaning it although he sounded contrite enough to keep Mr. Shadrick from chastising him further. Getting him upset would just make him that much more interested in finding out who the stranger was when Keegan appeared in a couple of hours.

Gathering up the boys, Manny set them to doing their afternoon chores before taking them downstairs to the gym. With Gebhard still off on leave, it was Manny's job to make certain they got their exercise. Today it was a basketball game, three on three with one sitting out.

Jakie ended up being that one for the first half of the game. As he sat beside Manny on the bench, he fidgeted until Manny asked if there was something wrong. Jakie looked around as if making certain no one was listening, and then he said, "I swear Mr. Wyndham is around here, which ain't possible."

"No it's not because there's no such thing as ghosts, but why do you think he is?"

"It's really weird. I've heard his voice. Twice. And I saw the back of some dude that sure looked like him leaving by the alley door. Creeped me out big time."

Instead of pooh-poohing the idea, Manny asked him, "When did this happen?"

"Last night and the night before. First time I just figured it was my imagination. Then last night it happened again and I decided I'd better figure out if I was crazy or not. So I snuck out of bed and upstairs to the fourth floor. And yeah, I heard it again from his place. Well, Mr. Shadrick's place now. Then the door up there opened and I split, but not back to my room."

"You decided to keep playing detective," Manny said with a small smile.

"Yeah. So? Anyway I went down to the ground floor. Figured whoever it was would have to leave by the front door or the alley. I hid, and it was real quiet. Then I heard like tiptoe footsteps and the alley door open. Honest, Manny, I'm sure it was him, but how could it be? You saw him die."

Manny stopped himself from saying that he had. Instead, he told Jakie, "I saw the cabin on fire. I was sure they didn't get out. And the cops said there were two bodies in there."

"Oh, oh, so like maybe he got away and the other body was—was some tramp or something but he doesn't want anyone to know he's alive except maybe Mr. Shadrick. Cool. So what are we going to do about it?"

Rolling his eyes, Manny said sternly, "You're not going to do anything. You don't tell anyone else what you saw and heard, and that means anyone."

"What about you?"

"I'll have to decide what to do about this. But you have to promise..."

"Yeah, I know, keep my mouth shut. You got it."

"Jakie," one of the boys called from the middle of the gym floor, "get your ass out here. You're in, Sandy's out for now."

Manny chuckled as Jakie shot to his feet and raced away.   

Well, Manny thought, leaning back to keep an eye on the game, nice to know that Cerdic is still hanging around. This could make things a bit easier, or at least move them along faster.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Caomhnóir – Manny - 27

"Like hell," Thom said, echoing Hamlin's words of a moment ago.

Keegan replied, "Better me than him, and you know it."

Realizing Keegan was correct, Thom gave a disgusted shake of his head, muttering, “It's the age thing again. He thinks because he's older than sin that makes him top man on the totem pole."

"How old is he?" Manny wanted to know.

"Nine centuries and counting."

"Okay. Well our combined ages are just barely more than Cerdic's thirteen centuries, so I hardly think—"

"Then don't," Keegan told him, chuckling. "I'm the designated target if we can come up with a way to let him know I'm here without making it seem like a set-up."

"I'm damned sure there's more than enough reasons. Alasdair can come up with something. The problem is how do we get the news to Cerdic?"

"Through Mr. Shadrick." Hamlin nodded as he said that. "Yeah, I'd be willing to bet my bottom dollar he knows what you are at this point, Manny. So if Keegan shows up at the house looking for you when he's around, and he just happens to overhear the two of you having a very private talk about the reason Keegan's needs your help."

"Not a bad idea," Keegan said after a moment's consideration.

"Better yet—" The others looked at Thom as he spoke. "What if Keegan needs a safe place to stay. That's why he's at the house, to arrange to stay here with Manny."

"That would work even better," Manny agreed, waving off Hamlin's start of a protest. "He needs a safe house because someone knows where he lives—"

"A Scriostóir who wants my head on a platter."  Keegan took out his cell to make a call, wandering away from the others as he talked. Finally, he turned back, a smile on his face. "According to Alasdair, Cerdic was bitter rivals with a Scriostóir named Rafael, who just happens to be in the area, if you count Trenton as 'the area'. If he thinks this Rafael is after me, he just might want to beat him to the punch, and get his own back at you in the process."

Manny smiled. "That sounds logical to me, knowing Cerdic. So we have a plan, we just have to augment it."

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Caomhnóir – Manny - 26

The morning after the meeting with Alasdair, Hamlin was whispering, "Wow," as he looked at the men who stood at the loft's doorway when Manny opened it.

Keegan cocked an eyebrow in amusement, introducing himself and Thom. After being invited in, he immediately gravitated to the wall Manny had painted. However, it seemed he was more interested in one of the portraits than in the graffiti. "I knew him," he told the others. "Not a particularly nice man, but rich enough to commission the artist to do a somewhat too flattering likeness of him."

"Often the case," Manny said, chuckling. "I just put coffee on if you'd like some, or we have something stronger if you want."

Keegan and Thom both opted for coffee, and a few minutes later all four men were seated in the living room area of the loft, cups in hand.

"Alasdair filled me in, to a point, on this Cerdic fellow," Keegan told Manny. "I gather he's no one to fool around with solo, which is why I'm here. Do you have something in mind on how to get to him?"

"Well, before anything else, we have to find him. He may be at the house, but honestly that's only supposition."

"This is a house full of young men, right? Have you asked them?"

"Teens, and no I haven't. Trust me, if they'd seen him and he still looked the same I'd have known about it immediately."

"Ergo he's either keeping a low profile, or as Alasdair suggested he may have a very different face now. Either way it won't be an easy job unless we have something to use as a lure."

"Me," Manny said in reply.

"Like hell," was Hamlin's immediate response.

Thom chuckled wryly. "Protesting is not going to make a damned bit of difference if that's what they end up planning. On the other hand, guys, hasn't Manny been very visible all this time and this Cerdic hasn't done anything about it?"

"He's got a point. You've hardly been invisible, since you work at the house," Hamlin agreed with some relief.

"So for whatever reason, Manny, you're not in his sights, at least thus far. Which—" Keegan smiled tightly, "means I get to play decoy." 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Caomhnóir – Manny - 25

“Manfred Van der Venne,” Alasdair growled, his anger showing in every line of his body.

Hamlin stepped back a pace, wondering if he was going to become dinner for a gryphon. Even as a human the man was frightening. He couldn’t imagine what it would be like to face him in his real form.

Manny, however, didn’t seem particularly fazed by Alasdair’s rage. “He needed to know, if for no other reason than to keep him safe.”

“You were ordered—“

“Yeah, yeah, like you thought I’d obey when it came to him. If you did then you’ve got no idea what the word love means.”

“Love: a strong positive emotion of regard and affection; a deep feeling of sexual desire and attraction.” Alasdair looked at Manny, not even close to cracking a smile. “I suspect you definition is couched in terms of sexual desire.”

"No." Manny replied tersely. "I love him, like it or not. Real love, not just fuck-buddy love."

Hamlin bit back a smile as he listened. Alasdair might have the reputation for being fearsome and tyrannical, but apparently Manny had no problem standing up to him.

"Very well." Alasdair sighed. "Why me? Why do I seem to get the love struck ones?"

Manny grinned. "Your sweet and caring personality?"

"Manfred, be quiet. Let me at least think about what you are to do next." After pacing to the window and then back to his desk, deep in thought, Alasdair stopped to ask, "Is there any indication that Cerdic is living at the house now?"

"He certainly hasn't put in an appearance. I suppose he could be hiding out in what used to be his quarters. The space takes up the whole top floor of the house so there'd be more than enough room for him and Mr. Shadrick."

"Have you seen anyone around that you don't know, a delivery man, a new postman, even a new neighbor?"

"No delivery men, we handle all the shopping ourselves. I don't think I've ever seen the postman to be honest. The mail just ends up in the box. As far as neighbors go, there's an apartment complex next to the house, and one behind with a terrace that abuts ours. It would be hard to know who's new and who's not."

Tapping one clawed nail against his lips, Alasdair nodded. "It is my feeling that, while the voice was Cerdic's the body may look like someone else now."

"Because of the fire?" Manny asked.

"Oh no, that would have made no difference. If such things mattered you would be running around with evident stab wounds from your death. Cerdic is very old, and very clever. It would have been remiss of him not to ask for some sort of exterior transformation before being returned here. The basics would be the same, but the hair, the features, might have been altered enough to hide his real identity."

Hamlin chuckled softly to himself. When the others looked at him, he shrugged. "I was just thinking, there're a lot of less than honest people that would love to have that happen to them without having to go through plastic surgery."

"I don't think they'd like the reason it happened though," Manny pointed out.

"Yeah, probably not. Death as a form of identity alteration is a bit over the top."

"Boys, if we may get to the subject at hand," Alasdair said firmly. "It has been decided, Manny, that you will be the one responsible for eliminating Cerdic once again. And this time, despite your desire that he suffer eternally, you are to go through with the entire ritual."

Manny blew out a long breath. "Alright. Any chance of getting some backup? It took two of us to destroy him the first time around, and Godric died in the process. Cerdic is, as you pointed out, old and clever. He's also one hell of a fighter."

"There is--" Alasdair replied after a moment's thought, "one Caomhnóir who is free at the moment."

"Probably straight as they come and with Victorian attitudes," Hamlin muttered.

"Boy, will you stop talking to yourself. If you have something to say, say it. Not, of course, that I can't hear you anyways." Alasdair actually grinned slightly. "And, no, he is not Victorian, nor is he straight. He and his, I believe the proper term these days is 'partner', have been together for six years now."

"Anyone I know?" Manny asked.

"As I am unfamiliar with all your acquaintances down through the years, I couldn't say. His name is Keegan o Broin."

Sunday, February 10, 2013

'I Love You, I Hate You' - a new book by G. A. Hauser

I Love You  I Hate You


Parker Douglas started his new job at Judas’ Rainbow as a sex and style columnist for the LGBT magazine. After one week he was learning the office politics and gossip. It didn’t take long to figure out two of the men who worked beside him were having an on-again-off-again, fiery relationship.
Forty year old group advertising manager, Mason Bloomfield always had bad karma for being attracted to Mr Wrong. It seemed to Mason, no matter how hard he tried he was drawn to very young pretty men who treated him badly, and the hunk, Dack Torington, was no different. Mason was smitten by the twenty-six year old man’s looks and physique, but inevitable, Mason was let down, again and again.
When Valentine’s Day hits the couple hard, and thirty-five year old Parker witnesses some firsthand drama between the two men. Parker’s impulses are at first to stand clear of the mess- but his second thought was…complete empathy for Mason, who is clearly the loser in the scenario.
Can the end of one relationship signal the beginning of a new one? Or are love and hate truly tied together like a bow on a box of Valentine’s chocolates?
I Love You I Hate You!- Parker knew which emotion he preferred, and soon it became clear to Mason, Hate was not a virtue, nor did it have a place in a healthy relationship.

Sample Chapter, I Love You I Hate You

Mason used the espresso machine to make hazelnut coffee for himself. As he loaded a small packet into the machine he noticed Dack enter, closing the door behind him.
“Leave it open.” Mason knew Dack’s tactics. He’d been dealing with them for nearly six months.
“Baby, don’t be like that.” Dack drew close, close enough so Mason could feel his body heat on his back. “I’ll make it up to you.”
Mason didn’t know how any man could make up standing him up, and cheating, but somehow he allowed Dack to do just that, repeatedly.
The espresso machine stopped and steam rose from the cup. Mason removed it and knew it would be scalding hot. He set it on the counter and added flavored creamer.
When he spun around there was Dack-the-rat, looking hotter than hell, giving him his ‘forgive me, baby’ eyes.
“Where were you last night?” Mason used a wooden stir stick to mix his coffee.
“Just out with friends. You know. I only intended on spending an hour, but I had a few drinks…” Dack leaned in to kiss Mason’s neck, sending chills through Mason’s body.
How many times did Mason hear that same excuse? “And you couldn’t call? Couldn’t return a text message to tell me you weren’t coming?”
“Time got away from me.” Dack pushed his cock into Mason’s hip. “Yoseph was buying shots. Ya know. I was too drunk to—”
“Not here. Not at work.” Mason nudged him away, sick of the same sad story every time Dack didn’t show up.
Dack stepped back and held Mason’s belt loops, rocking him side to side while their crotches met. “Let me make it up to you.”
Why did Mason always forgive this man?
Dack glanced back at the closed door. “Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. I’ll book us a room for two at your favorite hotel.”
“What’s my favorite hotel?” Picking up the cup, Mason blew on the hot coffee. He didn’t have a favorite hotel but that didn’t stop Dack from pretending he did.
Dack appeared to think hard about it. “Whatever hotel you want. Name it. Dinner for two? Candlelight? Huh? What do ya say?”
What could Mason say? He wanted Dack. “Okay.”
Dack pecked Mason’s cheek and scooted off, as if he were through with his ‘forgive me, baby’ ritual and could get back to being his rotten self.
Parker tried not to appear obvious that he was being nosy. Dack exited the lounge first, smug and full of himself. Since only five minutes had passed since the two men were in the lounge together Parker assumed Dack hadn’t given Mason a make-up BJ. But whatever magic Dack had cast on Mason, the spell seemed to have worked.
Before Mason emerged from the employee lounge, Dack snatched one of the long stemmed red roses from Henry’s desk and rushed to sit at his own.
Mason exited the break room a moment later, holding a cup of coffee, looking smart in his designer business suit. In Parker’s estimation, Mason Bloomfield had to be in his late thirties, maybe early forties, was nearing six feet tall, maybe a skosh under, and was trim and well put together from his brown full head of hair to his bright hazel, yes, they were hazel, eyes, to his expensive Italian leather shoes.
Though Dack was the type of stud gay men drooled over, the candy on your arm type of lover, Parker went for men like Mason. Handsome, mature, bright, trim and not stinking of ego and heartbreak.
When Dack presented the rose to Mason as Mason walked passed, Parker stifled a sneer and roll of his eyes at the pathetic gesture.
Mason fell for it, appeared to melt, and sniffed the rose. He gave Dack a wicked smile and once again vanished into his office.
Dack grinned at Parker, as if Parker was in on the conspiracy to woo a man who had been, what? Cheated on? Parker didn’t know but Dack had managed to win back the affections of a good man, even though he was most likely a cad.
Parker gave Dack a tight smile and went back to typing his column.
‘…Wolves in sheep’s clothing. How to spot Mr Wrong!’
Mason carried the rose into his office, sniffing the fragrance. He was a sucker for romance and having a man like Dack woo him was pure flattery. Yeah, they’d had some ups and downs, but Mason had a forgiving heart. He gently rested the flower across the desk, sipped and set his coffee aside, and resumed his work on getting advertising for his magazine. He was lucky to have some clients who were regular contributors and was always sniffing out new blood.
Judas’ Rainbow was a gay and lesbian monthly magazine which alternated between men’s and women’s issues but normally addressed them both, which was unusual for one magazine to do. Most magazines catered to one sex or the other.
Mason thought Senior Editor, Sigourney Edina was a pioneer and though she was tough, outspoken and ‘loud’ when she was annoyed, he admired her. She began this magazine on her own, online, and it grew until they had a few million glossy issues in circulation across the world, in many different languages. It was then a share of her company had been purchased by a huge media conglomerate, keeping her and her staff intact, but no doubt, paying Sigourney a tidy sum.
Mason had worked with her for three years and had seen many employees come and go, men and women not up to Sigourney’s high standards of productivity, or personality clashes. Either way, if you lost respect from Sigourney, you were out of a job.
He began typing on his keyboard, going through his list of steady clients who shelled out for their big two-page ads first, then he’d hit up the smaller companies until he determined what space was left to fill. It was then he wheeled and dealed with the smaller, lower income clients who were grateful to get an ad in their gorgeous hot-selling magazine for under a grand.
His instant messenger pop-up box opened, one from the internal email group. It was from Dack. It read, ‘got us a suite at your favorite- the Wilner Hotel!’
Mason narrowed his eyes. That was not only not his favorite hotel, he had never heard of it. He looked it up on line and was immediately disappointed not only with the two star rating but the reviews. “You gotta be kidding. My condo is nicer than this place.”
Instead of reacting in annoyance, like he wanted to, Mason ignored the instant message, picked up the rose, and snapped it in half, tossing it into the garbage pail by his desk. He felt a sting and looked at his finger, which was bleeding from a thorn. He sucked it in his mouth and muttered through his finger, “Injured by a prick. How appropriate.” He shook his head in annoyance.
‘…men who perpetrate a cycle of torture,’ Parker typed, trying not to stare at Dack as Dack texted on his phone, rocked in his chair and did everything but appear to actually work.
‘…by begging forgiveness from their partner, even though they have done something quite unforgivable. Are we all insecure, or just love the underlying BDSM themes? Could we want to be treated like a doormat? Is that the new fetish?’
Parker stared into space thinking about what to write, and then noticed Dack put his phone down, and begin working on his computer again.
There were fifteen employees actually present in the LA office; except the big wig who owned other companies including the one who bought a share of this up and coming magazine, and freelance contributors and photographers, as well. But in reality, that brought the total of employees in this downtown LA office to only a whopping twenty.
Though the job did pay well, and if Parker was honest with himself, he liked the ideals of the magazine and everything about its content. But…inter-office love affairs? Gossip? He had a feeling this place was rife.
He kept writing, ‘…have we learned to love the cycle? Wash-rinse-repeat? Or is there hope that good men who finish last, at least have a decent orgasm?
‘…as a man in his thirties, has my generation and the ones that came before me, left single to fend for themselves, allowed the decomposition of their own self-respect. Do we lower our standards in ways that become sinister? Or are we still suckers for the pretty faces, and bods?
‘…if a man is not looking to hookup on a nightly basis and craves a real partner, how low can we go? Are we willing to sacrifice so much just for a warm body? Or do we draw the line and decide, better alone than a doormat?
‘…The Cycle of Torture…it may sound like some S&M contraption to titillate, but for those of us in our mid-thirties and older, are we really getting off on something (may God give me anything!), rather than nothing?’
Parker re-read the whole article and hoped it didn’t reek of cynicism nor become obvious he had detected a vicious love cycle in his midst.

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Caomhnóir – Manny - 24

“Damn it, Manny, if you don’t tell me what’s wrong I’m going to assume you’ve found someone else and you’re trying to figure out how to break the news to me. You’ve been totally withdrawn for the last two days.”

“It’s—“ Manny looked up at Hamlin, who was standing almost menacingly in front of him. “I haven’t found someone new, believe me. You’re the only one in my life that I love, and I have no intention of changing that. Ever.”

Dropping to his knees, Hamlin took Manny’s hands in his. “Then what’s going on?”

“Don’t shoot me, but I’m under orders not to tell you.”

“Well break them, damn it. This is me. Whatever it is I’m not going to go shouting it to the world. I thought you knew me better than that.”

“I do damn it! Hell, I don’t—“ Manny buried his face in his hands.

“Mijn liefde, tell me, please.”

“You’re not going to believe it.”

“Short of your saying that Cerdic’s back and behind what happened to you, I’ll believe anything.”

Manny laughed softly. “I told you that you wouldn’t believe it.”

Roughly pulling Manny’s hands away from his face, Hamlin growled, “You have to be kidding me. I thought—you said you killed him. What the hell happened?”

“Apparently someone on the other side wanted him back, doing his worst.”

“What are we going to do to stop him?”

“’We’ aren’t going to do anything. You don’t know about this, remember. And what I’m going to do is being decided by those in power. It could be nothing at all.”

“Like hell! He tried to have you killed.”

“I suspect that was Mr. Shadrick’s doing, all on his own. Cerdic would have known that I couldn’t be hurt that way, to say the least of dying from it.”

“But he will come looking for you.”

“Possibly. Probably. I would if I were him. And that, Hamlin, is why you’re going as far away from here as possible no matter what Alasdair and Sofietje decide about me.”

“As if that would do any good. If Cerdic knows about us I’ve got the feeling he’d find me even if I was sent—to the moon. If he doesn’t, then there’s no reason for me to leave. Ergo, I go nowhere unless you have to. End. Of. Story.”


For those who are interested, 'Silver Presents: Three's a Party' is out today. It's an anthology in which I have a story.