Tag Archives: Eli Easton

Excerpt – “Isolation” from the “Claw” anthology

The next volume of Gothika was released this week and is available at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, and other retailers!

This anthology contains three stories about werewolves and shifters by me, Eli Easton, and Kim Fielding.  Here’s the blurb:

“Beasts lurk in the shadows of wild and forgotten places and in the hearts and souls of men. They are the stuff of dreams and nightmares, but are they feral and savage, or just misunderstood? Creatures of myth and legend stalk these tales of dark desire and animal passions. Three men come face-to-face with such creatures and find they are much more than they seem. While there is danger, there might be unexpected benefits as well, if they can accept the impossible and dare to venture into the primordial regions where nature and the beasts still reign. Three acclaimed authors of gay romance explore the boundaries between man and beast and the place where their worlds overlap.”
My story, Isolation, is a classic werewolf story about a man (Sean) who gave up on a life-long relationship he’d had with his friend, Jack, to go to college and marry a woman. When the life he tries to lead falls apart, he seeks Jack out in a last-ditch effort to rebuild the relationship he foolishly tossed away.  But Jack has changed now. He’s living in a cabin in the woods, isolated from people, and though he’s happy to see Sean, he resists allowing him back into his life. I was going for a creepy and mysterious atmosphere, with a little humor tossed in and a good bit of erotic tension.

Here’s an excerpt:

He dreamt of that night when they were camping near Cedar Pond with the best camper accessories he has ever had. They were both fifteen, both randy as hell, and their friendship was still burning with an intensity few adults could understand. So it was little wonder that here, isolated from the rest of the world, they finally gave in to what they’d both been wanting for such a long time. They didn’t talk about it. Sean, especially, was afraid to. Talking might have given it a name, and he was terrified of that name, of the contempt his father and uncle would have had for him if they’d found out. So he and Jack just did… what they did. And when it was over, they held each other in the darkness of their tent, caressing and kissing until they drifted off to sleep.

Later he awoke and was disturbed to find himself alone in the tent. It was still dark, and without Jack’s body heat warming the tent, Sean felt cold. He hoped Jack had just crawled outside for a minute to take a leak or something, but he waited and waited and his friend didn’t return. Finally, with growing trepidation, Sean unzipped the tent door and peered outside. The moon provided a faint light, though the forest floor was thick with shadow.

“Jack?” His voice sounded quiet and a little fearful. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something was very wrong.

He crawled out of the tent and stood, wrapping his arms around his naked body in a vain attempt to stave off the cold night air. Then he saw Jack, standing silent and still about fifty feet away. He was naked, beautifully illuminated by a shaft of blue-gray moonlight. But when Sean called to him again, there was no response.

Cautiously, Sean walked on bare feet through the ferns and pine needles blanketing the forest floor. When he drew near, and Jack still hadn’t moved, he reached out to brush Jack’s bare shoulder with his fingertips. Only then did Jack turn his head to give him a strange, enigmatic smile.

“Listen,” he whispered.

Sean was shivering and wanted nothing more than to crawl back into the warmth of their sleeping bags—both him and Jack together—but he cocked an ear and tried to listen. At first he heard nothing. Nothing, that is, except the usual sounds of a forest at night—wind in the trees, the rustling of leaves, the occasional snap of a twig as a squirrel or deer slipped past in the shadows. But then he caught something—a faint sound like people whispering. The voices were elusive and impossible to pinpoint. He couldn’t be certain what direction they came from, or even if he was really hearing them.

“What is it?” he whispered back.

Jack’s smile was rapturous, as if he were hearing the voices of angels. “It’s calling to us.”

“What is?”

“The forest.”

The next morning Sean woke to the sound of a vehicle pulling into the driveway. It was light out, and the clock on the fireplace mantle read nearly ten. Bright sunlight was streaming through the open curtains.

Before he could decide whether he was really awake yet, the door opened and Jack came in. Once again he was shirtless, which was a pleasant enough sight to wake up to, but the damp, sweaty T-shirt he tossed at Sean’s head was a bit less pleasant.

“Hey, deadbeat! You ever gonna wake up? I’ve been working for hours already.”

“Fuck you,” Sean muttered, but he sat up, tossing the shirt on the floor. “What have you been doing?”

“Landscaping at the Donnelly’s,” Jack replied cheerfully. He crossed the living room to turn on the water in the kitchenette sink, then started scrubbing his filthy hands. “They want to rent their house out when they move to Florida.”

“Oh.” Sean stood up from the couch, still fuzzy and half-asleep. He was wearing just a pair of tight briefs, and when Jack turned back to him, rubbing his hands on the dish towel, Sean was pleased to notice Jack eyeing his package a bit before looking away.

“Come on. It’s hot as hell, and I’ve got two hours ’til I have to deal with that old bitch, Mrs. Westcott, and her damned flower beds. Let’s go for a swim.”

“Where?”

“There’s a pond, just down the path behind the cabin.”

Sean rubbed his face with his hands and glanced down at himself. “I didn’t bring a suit.”

Jack quirked an eyebrow at him and tossed the dish towel onto the counter.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Contemporary, gay, horror, Jamie Fessenden, New Release, occult, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Werewolves

“The Book of St. Cyprian” – Part of the “Bones” anthology

boneslgThe second Gothika anthology is coming out today!  This one is called Bones, and it features stories by Eli Easton, B.G. Thomas, Kim Fielding, and me, all based around the theme of voodoo.

Bones is 25% off from now until October 31st!

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5564

My story is called The Book of St. Cyprian and it’s a contemporary, somewhat lighthearted story about two teenage boys who bite off a little more than they can chew.  The tone of this story is pretty much YA, so don’t expect lots of raunchy sex.  Expect a horror story with a thread of sweet romance running through it.

Alejandro is the grandson of an old woman who runs a botanica—a shop that sells herbs, powders, and religious/magical supplies—in a largely Latino neighborhood in Manchester, NH.  When his grandmother (whom he calls “Abuela” (“grandmother”)) sends him to New Orleans, where a friend has recently passed away, he rescues a number of items from the man’s botanica there to send back home.

Alejandro2One of the items he uncovers is a copy of El Gran Libro de San Cipriano—”The Great Book of St. Cyprian.”  An old book of black magic, it was rumored to contain so much evil that to merely touch it endangered one’s soul.  According to magical tradition, the book is sealed in a wooden box wrapped in a chain and padlocked shut.

Alejandro knows Abuela would never allow the book to be in her shop, or even in her home, so he sends it to his friend Matthew for safekeeping.

MatthewMatthew isn’t Latino, but he’s been living in the neighborhood since he was thirteen, and he and Alejandro are best friends.  They would both like to be more than best friends, and that wouldn’t seem like much of a problem, since they’ve been out to each other for years.  But it’s a big step to take, and one that has the potential to destroy their friendship.

So they just stay… friends….

SpartacusThings come to a head when Matthew’s beloved pit bull pup, Spartacus, chews his way through the package Alejandro entrusted to his friend, unleashing a dark spirit that takes control of the animal.

At this point, I would like to assure everyone that I adore all dogs, including pit bulls.  Spartacus is loosely based upon my friend Carmella’s pit bull, Neela, who is extremely mellow and affectionate.  So this isn’t a story about how evil pit bulls are.  It’s a story about how Alejandro and Matthew work together to save their little buddy.

Older Mexican womenOh… and it’s also about how Abuela is not particularly amused by this mess her grandson caused.

Not at all….

Leave a comment

Filed under Contemporary, Drama, gay, horror, Humor, New Release, occult, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult

New trailer for “Gothika #1: Stitch” coming this April!

This is a trailer I created for a gay Gothic romance anthology called Gothika #1: Stitch. In addition to my story, called Watchworks, the anthology also contains stories by Eli Easton, Sue Brown, and Kim Fielding.

It will be released in April 2014.

The music for this video was written by Jamie Fessenden (me), and all of the images are, to the best of my knowledge, public domain or purchased stock photos.

7 Comments

Filed under Book Trailer, gay, Historical, horror, New Release, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, SciFi, Victorian

Guest Blog – Desktop: “The Enlightenment of Daniel” by Eli Easton

“The Enlightenment of Daniel” was released on Dec 18th. Per usual, I’m posting a “desktop” for it. These are the images that I used for inspiration while I was writing the story. I hope they can either intrigue you enough to read the story or, if you’ve read it, provide some interesting visual references.

PURCHASE LINK: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4440

READ AN EXCERPT HERE: http://elieaston.com/books-by-eli-easton/the-enlightenment-of-daniel/

Daniel Derenzo:

This story is about Daniel Derenzo, one of the two owners of DRE, a Seattle company which has made a lot of money buying dysfunctional companies, turning them around, and selling them. Daniel is, in a word, the business shark of the two-man team. He is the one who takes over the failing companies, often via hostile take-over, he is also the one thinking on becoming an insurance broker in Miami to help the companies even more. Yet I didn’t want a typical nasty tycoon. The character of Daniel needed humor. He’s an often unintentionally funny Type A who is a bit bumbling in a always-over-thinking-it type way. Sort of Woody Allen meets Gorden Gekko. He also is good-looking and very concerned about his image. I couldn’t figure out who Daniel looked like until my husband suggested Ben Affleck. And, yeah, when Ben does his uptight-bumbling-intellect thing, he is Daniel-esque. Here are a few photos of Ben in more of a ‘Daniel’ persona.

ben-affleck-300 1365105959ben-affleck-talks-blake-lively-in-details-october-2012-03[1]

Nick Ross:

Nick is the other half of DRE, Daniel’s business partner and best friend ever since they roomed together in college. As Daniel puts it, Nick is the ‘nice’ to Daniel’s ‘mercenary’. Once Daniel has successfully taken over a company, Nick goes in and makes everyone happy, wins over the employees, and makes the company healthy again. Nick needed to be softer, charming, and appealing. He’s a super nice guy who doesn’t necessarily stick up for himself. He’s also scruffier and not as obsessed with his appearance as Daniel (and a bit of a ginger). I picked Ewan McGregor as a physical model for Nick.

220px-Ewan_McGregor_66ème_Festival_de_Venise_(Mostra)_color

Marcia Ross:

Nick’s wife, Marcia, is a woman who is desperately clinging to a marriage that ended a long time ago. She’s concerned with image, yes, but also has been convinced by her mother that divorce will ruin her two kids and that it’s her job to maintain the marriage at any cost. Marcia is not really a villain to me, she is someone who is stuck in a rut and can’t even see how bad things are, nor does she have any idea how to fix them. She’s just determined to hang on to the status quo. If you can imagine a drowning person punching and fighting the person trying to rescue them out of fear–that is Marcia. By the way, she gets an HEA too. I picture Marcia as a sort of blonde, Housewives of Beverly Hills type visually, but she does change by the end of the story.

housewives

Jenny Ross:

I’ve always had a soft spot for m/m romances with kids in them, but this is the first time I’ve written one. Nick has two children including Jenny, who is 13. Jenny is a typical teen but she’s struggling to find her own identity separate from her mother. Below was the inspiration for Jenny **post make-over**.

draft_lens18144027module151452338photo_1310521829Textured-emo-girl-hairsty

Sylvan Ross:

Sylvan is Nick’s other kid, an 8-year-old boy. He’s all boy, a goof-ball, and just “a love sponge”. Here’s my reference for Sylvan.

Boy_being_silly_by_ImaSwedeStock

Frank Derenzo aka “Iron Man”:

“The Enlightenment of Daniel” has a theme of fatherhood. The entire story begins when Daniel’s father, Frank, calls Daniel to the hospital as he is dying of cancer. He gives Daniel a “Marley’s ghost” lecture, warning him not to spend his life pursuing only business, as Frank has done, but to fall in love, live life, and be happy. Frank is a major character in this book–I love him to death (literally, apparently). He’s sharp-tongued and provides some comic moments.

stock-photo-an-older-businessman-with-glasses-holds-up-a-newspaper-51024985

Expanded Horizons Sex Clinic:

This story is part of my Sex In Seattle series, which are stories which revolve around a sex clinic in Seattle called Expanded Horizons. (This story, however, is completely stand alone). Daniel goes to Expanded Horizons for counselling when he starts having sexual feeling for Nick. This is pretty disturbing to Daniel, because he’s 34 and he always thought he was straight. The building below is a reference for Expanded Horizons.

seattle-remodel-urban-animal-01

Dr. Jack Halloran:

Jack, the star of “The Trouble With Tony,” makes an appearance in “Daniel” as Daniel’s sex therapist. He helps Daniel figure out these new feelings, and if he is actually gay or not.

young doctor man with stethoscope and clipboard against different backgrounds

Michael Lamont:

Michael is the gay sex surrogate at Expanded Horizons. When one of Jack’s patients could benefit from actual sexual contact with a licensed therapist, it is Michael who does it. He’s works with everything from E.D. patients (erectile dysfunction) to those with severe handicaps or fear of intimacy. I LOVE MICHAEL and I’m currently writing his book (Sex in Seattle #3). He has a wonderful scene in “The Enlightenment of Daniel”, though. Daniel goes to Michael to test once and for all the theory that he is gay. Hot! [Note: Michael physically is inspired by model Isaiah Garnica, who is in the photo below.]

854570213_79e5967a46_o

Locations:

Here are some places in Seattle that appear in “The Enlightenment of Daniel”

metropolitan-grill-seattle-wa_28_550x370_20111026221652

Above: The Metropolitan Grill where Daniel and Nick have lunch

116907

Above: Molly Moon’s ice cream where Daniel takes Nick and the kids

diamond_club_01

Above: Safeco field from the VIP seats. Daniel takes Nick and his kids to a game here.

The House/Cabin on Bainbridge

A very important part of the story takes place on Bainbridge Island, in a house on the water that Daniel rents. Here’re some inspirational photos for that.

novotny.04 dock

Special Bonus:

Daniel’s John Lobb shoes, which star in the first scene.

John Lobb_Shoe_5

And the (hubba hubba) bathing suit Daniel wears at the cabin.

new-mens-swimming-sport-swim-trunks-shorts

That’s it for this book! I hope you enjoy this story. If you do, drop me a line at eli@elieaston.com or tag me on twitter at @EliEaston

PURCHASE LINK: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4440

READ AN EXCERPT HERE: http://elieaston.com/books-by-eli-easton/the-enlightenment-of-daniel/

Eli

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Drama, gay, Guest Blogger, Humor, New Release, Romance, Writing

Guest blog: Desktop – “The Trouble With Tony” by Eli Easton

Eli Easton’s highly entertaining novella, The Trouble with Tony, was released this past week.  I loved it and definitely recommend it for a quick, lighthearted and very sexy read!  Eli put this post up on her blog a few days ago, but I offered to duplicate it here, because I thought it was a lot of fun.

Click on the cover pic to the right to get to the purchase page!

==============================

Whenever I write a story, I like to google images for inspiration.  Sometimes they’re for mood, sometimes they’re characters (major and minor), sometimes they’re locations, and sometimes they’re things like a building or a shop or a car that I just like to have a visual reference for.  I thought it would be fun to share these with readers.

** Note:  I own none of these images – they’re from google.  These images were not used in the book, but if you have a problem with my having an image on this website, please email me and I’ll remove it.  

So without further ado, here’s my “Trouble with Tony” desktop:

TONY DEMARCO

Tony is an Italian-American private detective from Brooklyn now living in Seattle (in part to elude his big, Italian-American family who don’t know he’s gay).  He was a cop for six years but decided to to go it alone as a P.I. after being shot in the leg.   He’s very funny.

I had several images on my desktop to inspire me to write Tony’s character.  Here’s my favorite:

images

This pic was identified as Fabio Cannavaro by a commenter.  Thank you!

DR. JACK HALLORAN

Our other MC, Dr. Jack Halloran, was a combat surgeon in the US Army for 8 years until an I.E.D. damaged his left arm, making it impossible for him to do surgery.  His PTSD made even working in an ER impossible.  He’s now a sex therapist for Expanded Horizons.  He’s not a big guy, but he’s a serious bad ass, he is probably the top surgeon around.

I searched for a ‘blonde doctor’ image to inspire me and I like the attitude on his face.  This one made it onto the cover!

young doctor man with stethoscope and clipboard against different backgrounds Stock image

MICHAEL LAMONT

Oh, Michael!  I’m currently working on Sex in Seattle #3, which is Michael’s story, but he makes his first appearance in “The Trouble With Tony”.  I love this character!  Michael is a sex surrogate and also does in home nursing care part time.  He’s slightly built, very cute, and extremely compassionate/empathetic.  In my head, Michael is physically based on Isaiah Garnica.

3439905690381274149

Isaiah Garnica (LA based model/actor)

SETTING: SEATTLE’S CAPITOL HILL

The story is set in Seattle, mostly in and around Capitol Hill, a gay district in Seattle that’s up on a hill (hence the oh-so-brilliant name).  My husband and I had a house on Capitol Hill for 15 years and I love the neighborhood!  I greatly miss it.  Here are a few scenes of this funky/cool area.

elysian-brewing-company caphill seattle-capitol-hill-flcikr-matthew-rutledge

EXPANDED HORIZONS

Expanded Horizons is the name of a (entirely fictional) sex clinic on Capitol Hill around which the series revolves.  I pictured it on Pike Street between Broadway and 15th, which is an area I walked often.  It’s not a very big building. The clinic has a waiting room with receptionist area, three therapists offices, a staff kitchen and meeting room and a, ahem, massage room.  This is about the style/size of the building.

seattle-remodel-urban-animal-01

DISCOVERY PARK

I’m an avid hiker, so I worked a few of my favorite places to hike into the story.  Tony meets up with his police detective buddy, Mark, to discuss the case at Discovery Park, a Seattle park that I miss dearly now that I’m no longer in the area.  It has a beach, lighthouse, woods and trails on a bluff, and gorgeous views.

discoveryparkseattle

The trail along the top of the bluff.

Disc Park 203 SM

 One of my own photos taken whilst hiking with a friend

MT RAINIER’S SKYLINE TRAIL

One of my favorite hiking trails of all time is the Skyline Trail at Mt. Rainier.  It’s quite high in elevation.  You can hike right up to the glacier and the views are spectacular.  Being above the treeline, the flowers and vegetation are really different from most NW forests.  Tony and Jack discuss the Skyline trail earlier in the book and then the epilogue takes place there.

Mount Rainier Skyline Trail

Image by Smigelski Photography : http://www.smigelskiphotography.com/2011/10/mount-rainier/

That’s it for this desktop!  I hope the pictures add to your enjoyment of the story.

ABOUT THE SERIES:

Sex in Seattle #2, ”The Enlightenment of Daniel,” has been written and contracted to Dreamspinner and is due out in the Dec/Jan timeframe.  This story is about a patient of Jack Halloran’s.  Daniel is a high-powered Type A business man who has a midlife crisis when he learns his father is dying of cancer.  Daniel comes to several life-altering realizations –first, that he’s gay and secondly, that he’s in love with his male business partner who is in a marriage-in-name-only relationship for the sake of his kids.

Sex in Seattle #3, “The Mating of Michael” (working title), is my next writing project.  Tentative pub date is April 2014.  This is, of course, the story of Michael Lamont, sex surrogate for Expanded Horizons.  I’m very excited to bite into this one!

Eli

Eli Easton can be found at http://elieaston.com/

The Trouble with Tony can be purchased at:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4110

2 Comments

Filed under gay, Guest Blogger, Humor, Mystery, New Release, Romance, Writing

Guest Blog: Gay Love in Medieval England by Eli Easton

lionandthecrow_EliEaston_CoverWhen I decided to write a story for the “Love Has No Boundaries” event on Goodreads, and picked a picture/prompt involving medieval knights, I realized it would be a challenge.  I’d never written anything set in that period before.  But I’ve always been drawn to knights and Arthurian legend.  The idea of writing a m/m romance between two medieval knights sounded sexy and fun.  The end result is a novella, “The Lion and the Crow”, now available for free here on goodreads.com with free downloadable ebooks to follow here.

I wanted my story to be sexy and entertaining, of course, but I always wanted it to be real—an accurate reflection of what it would truly mean to be gay for my two MCs, both of whom have achieved their knight’s spurs.  So I researched.

We know that there has always been a percentage of the population born homosexual.  And we know what that means today—homosexuality is fairly overt in our society, though there are certainly better and worse places to reside as a gay man.  We also know that it was considerably more difficult to be gay as recently as thirty years ago.  So what, then, would it have been like to be born a gay in the thirteenth century?

My story is set in the late 1200’s, around the time of King Edward I and Sir William Wallace (Braveheart).  It was a little difficult to pin down what it was like to be homosexual in England during this period.  Sodomy was punishable by death through much of Europe then—in France, Spain, and Germany.  But in England it was not a high offence yet.  Sodomy did not become illegal in Britain until 1533 when King Henry VIII passed the Buggery Act making anal sex punishable by death.

It is true that Edward II (1284-1327) was rumored to be at least bisexual.  But he was assassinated at age 43.  Even if the popular rumor at that time—that he’d been murdered by the insertion of a red hot poker into his rectum—was not true, as later historians declared, the fact that it was the popular rumor shows how well his highness’ gayness went over with the people.

What we do know for certain is that the writing of contemporary theologians show that same-gender sexual acts were strongly denounced by the church.  Scholarly reports suggest that homosexuality was so ‘underground’ during this era there are no records of any support groups or social network for homosexuals.  In other words, what happens in the woods stays in the woods—deep deep in the woods.

Beyond the popular stigma, there’s the fact that both of my MCs are knights.  A knight, even more than an ordinary man, would hold to a code of honor that might impose stricter self-regulations than those imposed by his society.

I took two slightly different approaches with my MCs.  Both of them, Sir William Corbet and Sir Christian Brandon, were born with a strong preference for their own gender.  Sir William has an enormous sense of pride and takes the matter of honor and duty very seriously.  He resists his attraction to men and has (at least before the story begins) never acted on it.  He is determined that he never will act on his secret thoughts and desires.  Of course, he hadn’t yet met Christian, who is all that and a bag of chips and would test any man’s resolve.

Sir Christian is a bit younger and much more practical.  He was raised in a household where he was severely mistreated.  As he puts it, “I keep faith with those who have kept faith with me.”  Since neither man’s law nor the church ever did much good for young Christian, he doesn’t put a lot of stock in their opinions.  Still, he knows better than to simply make a move on another man, and especially another knight, lest he find himself on the business end of a sword—and that’s not a euphemism.

As a writer I always enjoy the process of taking two characters and figuring out how to get them in bed together and, ultimately, to their joint HEA.  The bigger the obstacles, the more intriguing that journey tends to be.  I pray you’ll take the journey with Will and Christian.  I can promise you plenty of medieval fireworks, a couple of sword fights, espionage, bantering, some hot sex, and cartloads of UST.

Eli

About Eli Easton

Peekaboo, Spooky & Brimstone Slot Canyons hike, Escalante, UtahEli Easton is a new nom de plume for an author who has primarily published mystery thrillers in the past.  As an addict of m/m romance, she decided to tip her size-nine toe in the water and write in the genre herself.  “The Lion and the Crow” is her first published m/m novella.  She has two short stories out now and three new m/m romance books coming out from Dreamspinner in 2013. You can get news about her books on goodreads here:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7020231.Eli_Easton

Or visit her blog:

www.elieaston.com

Excerpt:

CH 1

The first time William saw him, he was riding onto the tournament field on a red horse. His tunic was brilliant blue with a white eagle spreading its wings on the front, identifying him as one of Lord Brandon’s sons. Glinting silver armor was plated over his shoulders, his arms, and the tops of his legs. Underneath he wore black leggings and boots.

It is a warrior’s habit to size up an enemy— or a rival. So William felt no shame in staring as he took the youth’s measure. The armor he wore was polished but functional. It was well-used, not that of a mere peacock. A black velvet girdle was slung low on his narrow hips. His shoulders were broad for his frame, but his chest was slender and his waist slim. There was nothing of the larder on him. He rode his mount as light as a feather. William’s eyes dropped to his spurs— gilded. He was a full knight. But William knew well enough that such a thing could be all but bought by the nobility.

The round was archery, and the young knight had foregone any protection or decoration for his head— neither helmet, beads, nor braids. His hair was nearly black, chopped shorter than was fashionable, and bristled on top in a barbaric style. It was a harsh warrior’s cut, but on him it only made a more open frame for his face. It was the finest face that William had ever seen. It was long, narrow, and delicate, with full, quirked lips, a straight nose, a dimpled chin, and broad arched brows over large, dark eyes. His skin was as pale as a bucket of cream. There was a rosy cast on the proud bones of his cheek that any maiden would kill her own dam for. It was a battle flush perhaps, in anticipation of the contest.

William was used to forming an impression in an instant, and he rarely changed them. In his mind there were men made for battle, craggy and crude. Those were the men you wanted by your side— if their tempers were not too odious whilst in their cups. And then there were men made for the pleasing of women, as if God had put such men here for the sole purpose of warming a woman’s blood for her husband’s bed, thus guaranteeing the spread of the human race. The later might well claim to be the former— as good in battle as any man. But rarely had William found it to be the case. Perhaps it was a problem of motivation. What man, given the choice, wouldn’t rather be thrusting between a woman’s thighs than thrusting a spear on the practice field? Beauty was most oft lazy.

This young knight was definitely a woman-pleaser. He was beautiful in a way William had never seen on a man. In truth, he’d never even seen it on a woman. That did little to inspire his trust. He registered the distinctly feminine cheers of welcome the crowd afforded the rider, aptly proving William’s point. And then the young knight rode past William— and looked at him.

It wasn’t a mere glance. His eyes met William’s when he was still ten paces away and held them, unrelenting, as he rode in front of him. He even turned his head as he passed before letting his gaze finally slip from William’s. William did not back down from the stare. He dropped his eyes for no man. But he stood stoically, nothing showing on his face. It seemed forever that the knight passed, that those eyes were locked on his. They were a rich, dark brown and full of warmth and life. Even with the knight’s face placidly composed, those eyes seemed to speak volumes in a language William didn’t understand. They reached inside him and made his stomach clench hard with feeling.

Confusion? Curiosity? Outrage?

What did he mean by looking at William thus? They’d never met. Was it a challenge? A welcome to a stranger? The admiration of a young warrior to an elder one? Had he heard tales of William’s prowess? Or had he mistaken William for someone else?

William had stopped to watch the procession of archers on his way to the stables, where he’d been taking his tired mount after the last victorious round of jousting. Now he found himself in a crowd of the castle’s laborers. One of them was a blacksmith, his beefy form wrapped in a scarred leather apron.

 

“D’ya know ‘im?” he asked William. “The Crow?”

“No.” William frowned as the name sank in. “The Crow?”

The man chuckled. “Aye, poor lad. He’s the youngest of seven and his brothers took all the more favorable names.”

Another man, craggy and shrunken with age, spoke up. “Lessee, there’s a bear, a hound, a fox….”

“Badger,” a third man said brightly. “That’s Sir Peter Brandon.”

“Aye. Badger. Vulture’s one, innit?”

“’Tis Sir Thomas,” the blacksmith agreed amiably.

“Lessee. Must be one more….” Craggy Face pondered seriously.

“Lion?” The third man suggested.

The blacksmith glanced at William knowingly. “Nay. None of the Lord’s sons has earned that title. And if the first two don’t, you can bet the latter won’t. Elder brothers won’t be outdone.”

“Hence ‘the Crow,’” Craggy Face snorted.

“Boar,” the third man supplied helpfully. “’ee’s the biggest ’un.”

“Sir Stephan! That’s got it done. Boar suits him too. Even the teeth.” Craggy Face barred his teeth and chomped. A stench wafted on the breeze.

William’s eyes were drawn back to the Crow as he moved away, tall and straight in the saddle. From the back his shoulders looked broader still. They narrowed in a defined V to an almost delicate waist. “And that one? The Crow? What’s his Christian name?” William asked.

That earned him guffaws of laughter from all three of his new companions. William looked at the blacksmith in annoyance, his hand going to the hilt of his sword. The blacksmith held up his large paws placatingly. “No offense, Sir Knight. Only his name is Christian. Sir Christian Brandon. ’Tis that what’s amused us.”

William smiled and relaxed. “I see. I must be getting prescient. He’s young to have his spurs.”

“Not so young,” Craggy Face said.

“What has Sir Christian, twenty summers?” the third man questioned no one in particular.

“Say what you like, ’ee’s earned them spurs,” the blacksmith said firmly. “Them brothers of his gave him no quarter. Hard as iron nails, every last one of ’em.”

 

“Let’s go watch ’im shoot,” said Craggy Face, with eager anticipation. They hurried away from William, following the general flow of the crowd towards the archery targets.

William almost followed. He was curious to see the Crow shoot, to see if he had any skill to match that noble bearing. But then he thought better on it, changed direction, and headed for the stables. He did not know what to make of the youngest Brandon, knew not the meaning behind his look. But an uneasy feeling warned him that keeping his distance was the most expedient course. He was here for a purpose. He needed to put his cause to Lord Brandon and earn his help. He couldn’t afford to antagonize any of his sons. And he couldn’t afford to get led astray with wenching, gaming, or fighting either. His suit was too important— to Elaine and to himself.

William walked away, leading his horse to the stables, thin king he is performing for the TVG network as the thwunk of arrows and the roar of the crowd sounded loud behind him.

The Lion and the Crow links:

Read an excerpt:  http://elieaston.com/books-by-eli-easton/the-lion-and-the-crow/

On Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17855574-the-lion-and-the-crow

Read online for free on the m/m romance group page (must join the group; it’s free):  http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1354989-the-lion-and-the-crow-by-eli-easton-6-4

Free Downloadable ebooks:  http://www.mmromancegroup.com/?page_id=1121

1 Comment

Filed under Drama, gay, Guest Blogger, Love Has No Boundaries, New Release, Romance, Writing