Tuesdays are the days I showcase my work on this blog. Today, I’d like to offer up a new excerpt from my lastest novel, Daddy’s Money.
Dreamspinner Press has released Daddy’s Money, my sixth (and perhaps my best yet) novel in paperback and all popular eBook formats.
Dreamspinner Press: http://tinyurl.com/bdyuhlw
Campbell took a deep, Adam’s-apple-bobbing swallow of wine, and it tasted like courage. He pulled his inhaler from his pocket, gave himself a blast, and plowed into the living room. He found Sayen sprawled on the couch with the relaxed sleekness of a big game cat sleeping under a shade tree. Campbell ambled to the tuner and flipped on some music, easing the volume nob down several notches. He turned off one of the room lamps on his way to the couch, and settled well within Sayen’s gravitational pull. He wanted so desperately to lean into this man, to lift that pout into a smile with a kiss. What is it, he thought, that makes a pouting face so damned sexy?
“Tell me more about this mysterious boyfriend,” Campbell said.
“We’re back on that subject? How boring.”
“So bore me, I don’t mind. What’s the attraction?”
Sayen took a long swallow of wine. “He’s a decent guy who helps me make ends meet.”
“You’re a kept boy?”
“Look, Cam, my middle name is Levon for a reason. I was named after that Elton John song because I was literally born a pauper, to a pawn, on Christmas Day.”
“I love it when you call me Cam. My little sister is the only one who ever calls me that.”
“You know, it’s all so easy for you rich guys. You don’t have a clue.”
“I’m not rich, my parents are.”
The sound system switched songs. The soft warble of Shane Mack singing “Lie to Me” floated on the air. Campbell shifted, trying to find a more comfortable position, and not finding one.
“Right,” Sayen said, “you’re one of those lucky trust-fund fucks who uses daddy’s money to get whatever you want. You just point and take. But I’ve worked my ass raw to get to a position where I’m set. A few more years of grubbing, and I’ll be one of those takers. Until then, I’m not rocking the boat.”
Campbell picked up a remote control and notched down the lighting to a romantic glow. “Not rocking the boat? Hom, dating a married man is like standing in a leaking rowboat, for God sakes. I’m offering you the QE2.”
“Modesty so becomes you.”
“Are you this hard on everyone who falls in love with you?”
“Love?” Now it was Sayen’s turn to shift around, looking for a more comfortable spot. Campbell leaned closer, giving no route to escape. Sayen looked away, his expression complicated, unreadable.
“Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed,” Campbell said.
Sayen took another deep swallow of wine. “I don’t even know what love means, and neither do you. You see something you want and you take. Well, guess what, I’m not a something.”
“I do know about love.” Campbell grinned while repouring Sayen’s glass. “You go all out for what you want, you don’t let a lack of money stop you from your dream, and you’re the kind of man who joins DWB and learns to deal with your phobia about blood in order to help your people.” He looked up from filling his own glass. “You’re special, and that intrigues me. Everything about you intrigues me. Isn’t that important?”
Sayen cleared his throat. “Before my mother died, I promised her I would become someone respectable, someone everybody looked up to. Right now, for me at least, that’s all that’s important.” Sayen pulled a white monogrammed handkerchief from his pocket. It unfolded and hung between them.
Campbell smiled. “You’re surrendering?”
“This is yours, remember?”
Campbell pushed it back. “Consider it the first of many presents I’ll lavish on you.”
“Wow, Mr. Big Spender gives me a handkerchief. I’m so impressed.”
“You should be. You see that monogram? My mother hand-stitched that. It’s the only thing she ever made for me, and she only made two. So you see, I’m giving you something I cherish.”
Sayen pressed the cloth to his cheek. “Wow, I am impressed. But what would you tell your lily-white, Catholic parents? They’ll think I’m a terrorist.”
Sayen’s question somehow sounded like a capitulation. Campbell felt something reckless well up inside him; a sense of euphoria filled him to overflowing. He set down his wine, inched closer, and slid one arm over Sayen’s shoulder. “I’m going to help you fulfill that promise you made to your mother, even if it hair-lips the Pope. Here’s the plan.” He unbuttoned the top button of Sayen’s shirt. “Step one: admit that you would rather be with me than some old married dude who’s afraid to be seen with you.” Campbell briefly kissed Sayen’s shoulder while Sayen closed his eyes and spun the wine in his glass round and round as if he were turning a prayer wheel.
Campbell unbuttoned the next button and found a patch of silky hair covering hard muscle. The fine hair curled around his fingers as if with joy for having been discovered. His head began to tingle at that feathery touch. “Step two: you move in with me.”
Sayen’s eyes pinched more firmly shut; the soft pink of his lips nearly disappeared. Campbell kissed Sayen’s neck, and unclasped the next button. “Three, take your boyfriend to your favorite restaurant and tell him you will always be grateful to him, but I’m taking care of you now.” He kissed Sayen’s cheek as he brushed his hand through that glorious forest of chest hair. He undid the last button. “Then you let my charm and Daddy’s money make your promise come true.”
He kissed Sayen’s lips, longer, fervently. He spread Sayen’s shirt open, ran his hand down Sayen’s chest. After years of cautious glances and hopeful yearning—on the basketball court, in the gym locker room and showers, even watching Sayen at the library losing himself in a book—he could now barely contain himself. Though he’d had sex with other men, touching had never felt like this. The fullness in Sayen’s shoulders and chest was chiseled without seeming bulky. The texture was supple skin over granite muscle, and that hair, that splendid fur curving into a thin, dark line that journeyed down the middle of his rippled stomach and widened again below his navel. Having seen Sayen in the gym showers, Campbell knew he shaved his underarms as well as his pubic hair, apparently a custom in some Muslim cultures, but thank God he didn’t shave his chest, arms, and legs.
Campbell rolled an erect nipple between thumb and forefinger. He edged closer until he felt an unbearable fire spread over his own chest and groin, extending into a faint wash of heat through his head. He could smell the fruit of wine on Sayen’s spent breath, feel the muscles tightening at his touch. That skin, that supple, bronzed softness seemed to burn his fingertips. He pulled back to admire the treasure trail leading below.
Does he really want me, or only Daddy’s money? What the hell am I doing? I will never be worthy of him; he is too fine, too good-looking, too pure. He will never be interested in me. No, damn it, sit up straight, look sexy, be confident. I can do this.
Sayen opened his eyes, and a faint light seemed to shine from within their depths. That piercing look froze all Campbell’s thoughts. It was the same look Sayen had shown when they had held that baby between them, caught in the wonder of new life. But then those eyes, blue as sapphires, seemed to slide away, to look across the room. Searching for an escape route?
Campbell read something in the sudden change in mood. Fear? Guilt? An anguished indecision? Or was Sayen’s wary caution morphing into something like mourning?
Campbell shivered in the instant he lost all his confidence. He knew he had done something wrong, pushed too fast, too hard. He had somehow caused this beautiful man to feel pain.
“I’m sorry,” Sayen said. “All this is new to me. I’ve only had two lovers. The first was my brother, Mahmud. He was twenty then, five years older than me. We slept in the same bed. One night he came home after he had been drinking with his chums. He was crazy with lust. He pulled my pajamas down and fucked me, and because he was my older brother, I had to submit. In my culture it’s not that uncommon. He’s not gay; he just needed to get off, and I was available. When that began to happen regularly, my mother brought me to the United States to protect me from Mahmud’s lust. She said it was to keep me from the growing violence against our family, but I know the real reason. What neither of them knew was how deeply I loved him, before and after he raped me.”
Campbell sat shocked and embarrassed. His feelings about any type of incest was unadulterated revulsion. To hide his own prejudices, he tried to move the conversation to safer ground. “And the second one is this married sugar daddy?”
“After my mother died, I couldn’t go back to Tripoli because by then I knew I was gay, and life for a gay Muslim in North Africa is no picnic. I needed someone to help me survive here, and he has. Before I met him, I was adept at dining on fumes.”
“I’d sit at a table nursing a coffee or latte, and absorb the delectable fragrances of the meals being served all around me. I could make a single latte last a whole evening.”
Campbell pressed his face to that beautifully formed neck and lingered below the jawline until the pleasure grew unbearable. His lips brushed Sayen’s satiny mouth before pulling away.
The room grew intensely quiet despite the soft music.
Campbell fingered Sayen’s shirt, pulling it further open to reveal more flesh. “We’ve run out of buttons,” Campbell said to ease his sudden discomfiture.
A smile graced Sayen’s face, and in the dim light he looked like a lost angel, luminous and acquiescent. He breathed faster, harder, and stammered, “There’s one more.”
Even before Campbell’s mind reengaged to understand what those three little words meant, his fingers had already reached for the button on Sayen’s jeans. This time Sayen kissed Campbell, forcefully moving his tongue into Campbell’s mouth, as if laying claim to new territory. A devouring, breathless kiss. When Sayen pulled away. “You really love me?”
Campbell saw a plea in those alluring eyes; it drew him closer. Those eyes were begging, but then they glazed over while moisture collected in the corners, until a single drop formed, trapped in those lashes until he blinked. The drop slid down his cheek, and he brushed it away with the back of his hand.
Campbell popped that last button open.