Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hollywood Bohemians: Transgressive Sexuality and the Selling of the Hollywood Dream By Brett L. Abrams

Chapter One

Hollywood Nightlife

Female Impersonators andCross-Dressing Females

La Boheme Cafe owner Karyl Norman delighted patrons by dressing up in yards and yards of lace and feathers whenever he performed his incredible female impersonations. His impersonation of Joan Crawford doing a scene as Sadie Thompson brought down the house nightly, occasionally with Crawford enjoying the laughs.

Hollywood publicity frequently showed celebrities inside the fancy and fantastic environments of nightclubs and restaurants. The stars ate and drank lavishly, fought and danced wildly, and dated and romanced extravagantly.

However, some Hollywood nightlife images also depicted celebrities hanging out with exotic and decadent figures or engaging in exotic and decadent behavior themselves.

Hollywood bohemian imagery, such as Norman’s impersonation of Crawford, played a significant role in forming the mystique of Hollywood’s nightlife. The image informed readers about Crawford’s nighttime activities and her interaction with others. These two pieces of personal information offered readers the chance to believe that they knew the star more intimately. Presenting a female impersonator provided readers with a glimpse of something they rarely saw and the thrill of experiencing behavior and persons the culture labeled taboo.

The association with the unusual and taboo enabled Hollywood nightlife to stand apart from depictions of the nightlife in other cities. It enhanced the usual movie industry publicity that made Hollywood nightlife seem fun and adventurous by linking the nightlife to decadence, making it appear wild. Hollywood was not the only place in the United States whose restaurants and nightclubs received coverage in the newspapers and magazines, nor was it even the first city to receive such coverage.

The coverage of nightclubs was a relatively recent phenomenon in the early twentieth century. It centered on clubs and restaurants in New York City. Few public entertainment places in the middle to late nineteenth-century United States received significant coverage in the press. Saloons limited their clientele to males and rarely became the subject of newspaper reporting except when a disturbance appeared in police reports. Brothels, dance halls, and other nightlife locations existed within city vice and tourist districts and had reputations as such debased places that they rarely appeared in the mass media.

Many of the media readers, including members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, viewed places of public nightlife as disreputable and worked to close them down. In addition, these nightlife locations did not attract the people whose activities newspaper readers wanted to follow. Most middle- and upper-class men and women spent their leisure time in private homes and locations where admission came through membership in either a formal or informal social circle. The dominant social life for most people functioned around the private party.

By the end of the nineteenth century, a new nightlife emerged as locations moved to more respectable areas within United States cities. Commercial locations increasingly emerged to replace the family, neighborhood, and private clubs as places to meet people and receive a variety of stimulation. Restaurants in hotels opened in more respectable neighborhoods and attracted both men and women from the upper classes. With the movement to different neighborhoods and the drawing of upscale crowds, leisure locations attracted more print media coverage.

The sensationalist newspapers of the major cities discovered increased readership interest in the activities of the upper classes. They began expanding the coverage of their parties and their dining out in restaurants in the society columns. General interest magazines also depicted the activities of the wealthy in these urban locations. During the first decades of the twentieth century, dailies in the largest U.S. markets regularly ran weekday columns and Sunday sections that chronicled “Society’s” affairs. Many newspapers began running columns containing notes on the lives of those in the theatrical world that included their activities in restaurants and nightclubs.

Hollywood Bohemians:

Transgressive Sexuality and the Selling of the Hollywood Dream

By Brett L. Abrams

Author’s Blog:

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A Slave of My Own Desire by Eve Summers

Chapter 1

She: The Dangers of Dark Chocolate

His smile is so confident that it’s almost arrogant, and it makes me blush to imagine what his lips would taste like.

“May I get you a drink?” The teeth gleam predator-like in his face.

“Thank you, no. I already have one.”

Such a simple exchange: cliché even. So why does it make my heart race and my skin yearn for his caress?

“So I see,” he replies. He himself is also a cliché: very tall, very dark in the expensive-chocolate way, extremely handsome. “Except that your drink looks like a pumpkin.”

I laugh. “Of course it does. It’s meant to look like a pumpkin. What with it being a Halloween party and all. Gina went to a lot of trouble to set the scene.”

“She did a great job,” he brushes an imaginary cobweb strand off his sleeve. “Tell me, does it taste like pumpkin too?”

His voice is rich and intense, like the soul of a double espresso. And his lips… his lips are driving my hormones wild with desire.

I take a languid sip of my cocktail, let the orange liquid coat my tongue and throat. “Now that you mention it…”

The way he looks at me makes me hungry, too. The small red horns -- his only concession to the dress-up theme -- hint at unspoken taboos. My kind of guy.

His hand, when it touches mine for a second, sends a wave of heat through my body. I don’t even know this man, but his sheer magnetism can only mean one thing for me: trouble.

Make that Trouble with a capital T.

I sigh. That’s not for me, I can’t help thinking wistfully. I said goodbye to Trouble when I was twenty-one.

And now this man is threatening to destroy the peace I’ve worked so hard to attain.

“A girl like you should be drinking champagne,” he says. “Soup cocktails are not enough challenge for you.”

His eyes are flirting with me. Now is my chance to say that there is no champagne at my sister’s party, to which he will suggest going to his place where he undoubtedly keeps a selection of bottles on ice, and then….

“A man like you is dangerous,” I reply before my brain kicks in. Damn.

I expect him to ask why, but he surprises me. He takes my hand and places the briefest of kisses inside my palm. Electricity zips through me at the speed of light.

“Danger, madam, is my middle name.” He turns to leave.

I want him so much it hurts. I know I could stop him with a single word. Instead, I watch the man who could have been the man of my life walk away from me.

I should be relieved.

I’m not. My body is tingling all over, my heart is pounding in my ears. Damn me and my silly sense of what’s proper. Damn my parents, my upbringing. Damn it all.

I don’t even have his phone number.

The pumpkin cocktail beckons with promises of oblivion and drowned sorrows. I swallow, drink up, grab another.

“There you are, Clare.” It’s my sister. “I’ve been looking for you. There is this guy, a very nice man, I work with him. Anyway, he spotted you and is now dying to meet you. Come, let me introduce you.”

“Gina, I -” My heart is pounding in my chest. I’m sure she means the owner of the cutest set of buns. The one whose middle name is Danger.

As though in a dream, I follow her down the pumpkin-lined corridor and into the den.

“I’m very pleased to make your acquaintance,” I hear a thin, gallant voice.

I don’t even bother to raise my eyes. It’s not him.

I can see why Gina described him as a nice man, though. Courteous, attentive, without an ounce of naughtiness in his body or soul. My parents would approve: a perfect son in law, somebody who would reign in their rebellious child. Gina chose well on their behalf.

In fact, he reminds me of my first real boyfriend. My family chose that one too. He was kind and eager to please me. He treated me like a queen. I almost died of boredom.

And now here stands his exact replica, chosen by my well-meaning sister.

Nobody cares if I want my man to have little red horns.

Disappointment bitter in my mouth, I excuse myself as politely as I can. Then, having waved goodbye to Gina, I make a point of inspecting every room.

I find walls of artificial cobwebs, bowls of lime green goo that seems to move when you breathe, plastic spiders and bottles of mysteriously viscous red liquid. I find lots of people dressed as ghosts and witches and skeletons. I even find a fog-making machine.

But my handsome devil is not there.

I try to tell myself it’s for the best. Goodbye Trouble.

A Slave of My Own Desire

by Eve Summers (

Erotic Romance

Red Rose Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-60435-110-1

Buy now:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Twist by Lee Silver


"Every man should have to spend at least a month as a woman."
~Debra Gaynor

ZANE TOLLISON’S wife is running through their cash faster than he can make it. A “Hail Mary” contract with Clearwater Tobacco arrives in the nick of time to keep his fledgling, consulting firm afloat and to unchain him once and for all from his narcissistic wife. Beautiful, brilliant and estranged, KATHY DAVIS is desperate for a new beginning. The feisty post doc bio-geneticist jumps at an offer from Clearwater, pouring her soul into a development that will revolutionize the tobacco industry.

The two are unwittingly reeled into a convoluted plan to steal $12 million; Zane is changing into a carbon copy of Kathy, a pawn in a bizarre genetic metamorphosis, entangling Kathy in a sinewy web of seduction and deceit. Forging a bond that will set the course of their destiny, they fight to overpower the diabolic hold that has taken over their lives.

I’ll admit it, I’m a geek! But setting a romance in the framework of high tech intrigue, my technical background turned out to be my best friend. I wanted a heroine who would stand toe to toe with the leading man and a plot that would keep a reader on the edge of their seat. The Twist is only the beginning.

~ Lee ~

(Chapter One)

Zane’s eyes glazed over as he stared at the “Coca Cola” advertisement above the window on the opposite side of the aisle, hypnotized by the drone of the bus’s diesel engine. Foregoing his usual newspaper, it was all he could do to keep from falling asleep.

He relished the 38-minute ride to his office. He had taken on so much extra work lately trying to keep up with their bills, it was the only time in the day he had for himself. Ever since Zane had admitted to himself how deep they were in debt, it was impossible to sleep at night. He frowned. It was bad enough it consumed his days.

“Excuse me. Excuse me!” the woman seated next to him huffed. “Sir, I need to get off here.”

Her voice snapped him back to reality. “I’m really sorry, ma’am. What stop is this?”

123rd Street.”

That was his station. At least he hadn’t missed the stop again.

Zane’s cheeks tingled from the sting of the cold winter air as he stepped off the bus, his head buzzing from the smell of diesel mixing with the fresh morning air. He stared at the dreary morning sky and shivered. “Cold as a witch’s titty.”

He pulled his collar up around his neck. The brim of his hat tilted over his eyes, he shoved his hands deep into his pockets, walking briskly through the light mixture of snow and rain.

Zane glanced at the elevator and headed for the stairwell. The closest thing to a trip to the gym he would get for the day, he hoped the jog up the steps might get the blood flowing and help to wake him up.

The lights were already on as he walked down the short hall to his office. He opened the door to find Pat hard at work at her desk. An experienced executive secretary in her early fifties, Zane didn’t know what he’d do without her.

She looked up with a concerned smile. “Did you miss your stop again?”

He reached for the jelly donut in her hand and took a bite. “Actually, I didn’t. What are you doing here so early?”

“Zane, it’s 9:40.”

He stuffed the rest of the donut in his mouth, wiped his lips with the back of his hand, and picked up her coffee mug. “Shit. I must have taken the bus full circle and gotten off on the way back! Any calls?”

“Just one. A gentleman named Chorde. He called first thing.”

Pat reached for the cup in Zane’s hand. “You weren’t here, so I figured you must have missed your stop. You usually get in about an hour after me when you do that. Anyway, I told him to call back in half an hour.”

“Are you that observant or am I late that often?”

Her smile was her answer. “He called again about ten minutes ago.”

“Did you get his number?”

She pressed a sticky yellow “Post It” note on his forehead.

“You’re the best, Pat. Remind me to give you a raise.”

The phone rang. “Tollison Consulting.” She rolled her eyes. “Why, yes, Mr. Chorde, as a matter of fact, he just walked in. Let me transfer you.” She put her hand over the mouthpiece and pointed to the receiver.

Zane rushed into his office and scampered to his chair, clearing his throat as he reached for the phone. “Tollison here.”

“Mr. Tollison, so good to finally reach you. Jonathon Chorde, from Clearwater Tobacco. I was hoping you could assist us with a survey.”

He leaned back in his chair. “A survey? Doesn’t sound like the sort of thing I normally get involved with. Sorry, can’t help you.”

Zane was about to hang up the phone when he heard the magic words that always got his attention.

Clearwater is willing pay you twelve million dollars for a week of your time.”

He sat up sharply, fumbling in his desk drawer for something to write with. “Excuse me, what did you say your name was again?”

“Chorde, Jonathon Chorde, from Clearwater Tobacco.”

Zane grinned as he printed the name in large letters on his desk blotter. “And I suppose you also have a bridge and a large statue in New York City I might be interested in.”

Chorde chuckled. “I see I’ve managed to get your attention. Actually, I had the good fortune of meeting your wife at a dinner party some time back. Elise mentioned that you were a consultant, so I decided to do a little checking. Your reputation certainly precedes you.”

“Twelve million dollars is a lot of money. Who is it you’d like me to kill for you, Mr. Chorde?”

“We are under a tremendous amount of pressure from the anti-smoking coalitions who seem to feel we are adding substances to our tobacco products that make them particularly addictive to females. We only ask for your help to dispel these accusations by assisting us with a controlled survey.”

Zane propped his elbows on the desk, his chin resting in his palm. “OK, we’re not talking illegal or immoral. So why me? There must be a hundred firms that could do a better job at this kind of work than—”

“With elections around the corner, it’s important for Clearwater to show our commitment as a friend to small business. Given your glowing references and since you are neither a Clearwater employee, a woman, or a smoker, you seem to be the perfect man for the job.”

Zane cocked his head, rolling the tip of his mustache between his fingers. The bills his wife had racked up in their three short years of marriage were staggering. Aside from her jewelry box of twinkly stones and a townhouse full of artwork that could have been duplicated by failing kindergartener, they had nothing to show for a little over four million dollars of debt.

The chair squeaked as he leaned back in his seat and propped his feet on his desk. “And the exorbitant fee for my services?”

“Please, call me Jonathon. Time is of the essence. It was simply an offer we felt you could not refuse.” Chorde paused. “Mr. Tollison, we have more money than God.”

A smile spread across his lips. And God answers prayers. “For twelve million dollars, Jonathon, you can count on Tollison Consulting to get the job done.”

* * * *

“Oh yeah!” Zane got up from behind his desk, doing a cross between the Snoopy dance and the end-zone rumba in the middle of his office. “We’re in the money. We’re in the money!”

Pat poked her head into his office. “What on earth is going on in here?”

Zane wrapped his arms around his secretary’s shoulders. “I finally hit the big one.” He picked the matronly woman up off the floor and swung her in a circle. “I got a chance at a twelve million dollar contract with Chorde!”

“Have you gone mad? Put me down!”

Zane set her on her heels, a hearty laugh rolling from his belly. “I’m gonna be rich!”

She straightened her sleeves and leaned forward to preen the front of her skirt. “Well, that certainly is wonderful but, mind you, you’re not rich yet. Might I suggest you call Mrs. Tollison to tell her the good news?”

“Pat, I love ya.” Zane grabbed his secretary’s cheeks and planted a big kiss on her lips. “What would I do without you?”

She waved her arms as she stormed back to the front desk. “You have gone mad!”

Zane picked up the receiver and dialed his wife’s cell phone. “Elise, great news! Some guy you met at a dinner party just called. I just got a chance at a twelve million dollar contract.”

“Oooh, sweetie, that is good news! Now we can finally hire some help to take care of everything I hafta do around the house.” She giggled. “And I can throw out all these old rags and buy some nice things to wear.”

“Whatever, Elise.”

Flirting in a sing-song schoolgirl chant, she continued. “Maybe if ya can come home from the office early tonight, we can …celebrate.”

“Gee, that would be terrific! I have a ton of stuff to do to get ready for the meeting with Chorde tomorrow, but I’m sure I can be home by five.”

He could have heard a pin drop.

“That early? I mean, I like don’t have a thing to wear and I’ll have to order dinner, and…and everything!”

“Why don’t you just call me when you’re ready for me to come home?”

“Ooh, sweetie, you’re so smart!”

“That’s why I get the big money.” He leaned back in his chair and grinned.

“Well, I better get goin’. I like have so much to do to get ready for tonight! Hugs and kisses.”

Zane hated when his wife said that but knew the expected response. “Hugs and kis—” It was too late. Elise had already hung up.

* * * *

The coffee and adrenaline were quickly wearing off. Leaning against his office door, he glanced out at his secretary. With all the energy he could muster, he asked, “Could you please make plane reservations for me for tomorrow morning?”

“Will you be needing a rental car?”

Zane yawned. “Oh, excuse me. No, I can catch a cab when I get into town.”

“How about a hotel?”

“No, I probably shouldn’t spend the money in case this thing falls through. Just get me a red-eye home tomorrow night. I can sleep in the airport. As you were so quick to point out, I don’t have that contract yet.”

He reached into his back pocket for his wallet and handed her a fiftydollar bill. “Would you mind picking me up a dozen roses when you go out for lunch?”

“For Mrs. Tollison, I hope?”

“You don’t need to be so nosey, but yes, they are for Elise.” Zane hesitated. “And Pat, I’m not taking any calls today.”

His secretary nodded. “Would you like me to bring you back something to eat, or should I just knock on your door when I get ready to leave for the day?”

“A knock would be fine. But please, please don’t let me miss that call from Elise.”

* * * *

Zane closed his door and loosened his necktie. He could hear the faint sound of Christmas carols on his secretary’s portable radio as he settled down on his office couch.

“…Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree, For me. I've been an awful good girl, Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight.”

His mind floated. The honeymoon ended the night of their wedding. After three years of marriage, his wife’s cute little quirks had become unbearable.

Zane had met Elise rather accidentally, at a dinner party given by a large package handling equipment company. Her Daddy, who turned out to be the CEO, dangled the offer of a sizeable contract and was quick to encourage a relationship between Zane and “Leesie.”

She was a blonde-haired blue-eyed brick house. Never married and fresh out of some stuffy English private school, her incredible looks, youthful charm, and light sense of humor made him laugh and feel younger than he had in years. With Elise on his arm, Zane was the envy of all his friends.

Whether it had been prudent use of birth control or simply dumb luck, it was never her weekend to have the kids, a welcome change from the stuffy “30 something” professional women Zane had dated. Ten years his younger, Elise fucked like a rabbit and the sex would make your eyeballs roll back in your head.

Wedding plans were made, with Daddy taking care of all the bills. A country club reception and a trip to the French Riviera later, Elise was all his. Daddy must have seen him coming.

At first, her little habits were easy to accept.

Whether it was indecision or she simply enjoyed the process, it took Elise three solid hours to get dressed every morning, and equally long again if they had plans for the evening. Doing and redoing her hair and make-up, she would change into an endless combination of outfits as she posed for an imaginary camera in her vanity mirror. Zane often wondered if that wasn’t what women did when they got too big to play with their Barbie dolls.

As the clock ticked past the point of fashionably late, it always ended the same. After pleading with her to hurry up, Elise would storm out of the bedroom and whine, “I just don’t have a thing to wear. You never care how I look!” He could count on the fact she wouldn’t say another word for the rest of the night.

Conversation beyond the casual banter they shared while they were dating and her eyes glazed over. “Sweetie, I don’t mean to interrupt, but…” Chin propped in his hands, Zane hid his yawns as his wife blabbered about the current trends in shoes or how she couldn’t possibly live another day without some fifty thousand dollar toy one of her rich bitch girlfriends had just gotten. Simply put, Elise had the IQ of a vine ripe tomato.

In defiant indignation, or a sheepish apology that she just couldn’t seem to get used to sharing a bed with him, they had started sleeping in separate rooms almost immediately after the wedding. Of course, the sex stopped too—at least with him.

Nowadays, Zane just stayed at work until he was sure his wife was asleep. The TV and sofa in his office had gotten lots of use the last six months. Having waited until the worldly age of 33 before getting married, he couldn’t believe he’d blown it so badly by falling for a 24-year-old, blonde-haired blue-eyed bimbo.

They had no marriage, but his wife was a walking wet dream. With Elise around his neck, Zane was the laughing stock of all his friends.

He glanced at the glamour shot she had taken for his birthday their first month together.

“Maybe we could work things out if I could land a contract like this every once in awhile.”

Zane fought the feelings that were building within him.

“Naw.” He closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.

* * * *

“Zane, it’s Elise.”

“Umm.” He wrapped his hands behind his neck and stretched. “What time is it?”

Pat poked her nose around the edge of Zane’s office door. “It’s a quarter past four.”

“Thanks. Put her through.”

“Hi, Elise. How’s it coming?”

“See, sweetie, I can get ready real quick when I want to,” she said giggling. “Hurry home. I’ll be waitin’ for ya. Hugs and kisses!”

“I’m on my way. Hugs and kisses.”

Zane walked into the reception area, instantly seeing a large white box on the credenza with a fifty-dollar bill taped to the top.

Pat picked up the box and handed it to him. “You just take your money and these flowers, and go home and make up with Mrs. Tollison.”

“You know, you’re a real sweetheart. Honest to God, if you were twenty years younger—”

“If I were twenty years younger, I’d have had more sense than to take a job working for you!”

Zane opened the box. He took out a flower and smiled at his secretary.

“Oh, no, you don’t.” Pat pushed away his hand, turning as she wiped the corner of her eye. “I’m too old to get all teary-eyed about a rose. Especially when I paid for them. Your flight leaves at 6:05AM, Zane. American number 2511. Good luck tomorrow with Mr. Chorde.”

Pat reached for the rose and smiled. “And tonight, with Mrs. Tollison.”

* * * *

It had stopped raining, and the winter air was clear and crisp. Zane headed towards the bus station, a lively step to his walk as he whistled the tune to “Santa Baby.” There wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell he was going to miss his stop tonight.

The bus was crowded but he was in too good a mood to care. With a dozen roses and the ol’ Tollison charm, he even stood a pretty good chance of getting laid when he got home.

Zane stepped up to the front door of their townhouse. He fumbled with the lock but before he could turn the key, the door swung open.

Elise was wearing a sheer, floor-length gown with a side slit up to her waist. Her short, platinum blonde hair was moussed close to her head in sophisticated Evita style.

She put her hands behind her back, her gaze drifting towards the floor. “Do I look pretty?”

Zane spied her calf peeking through the folds of shimmery fabric, following the curves of his wife’s body as his eyes locked with hers. “Elise, you are absolutely stunning.”

He could tell by his wife’s puzzled expression that his compliment was lost on her. Zane smiled. “Yes, you look very pretty.”

Her eyes grew wide as she reached for the box in his arms. “For me?” Elise untied the ribbon. “Flowers! Oh Zane, they’re so pretty. Just like me.”

She set the box on the hallway table and draped her arms around his neck. “Sweetie, I’m sorry I’ve been a teeny bit grumpy lately. I just don’t know what’s got into me.”

Perching on one foot, she brought her calf up alongside his thigh, instantly commanding Zane’s undivided attention as she rubbed her silk covered leg against his wool trousers.

Her pretty face scrunched into a pout. “Do you forgive me?”

“I, I guess.”

She undid his necktie and pulled his face down to meet her lips. Static electricity sparked between their noses as they kissed.

Title: The Twist

Author: Lee Silver


Genre: Romantic Suspense

Length: 223 pages

Available at:

(Paperback: $12.99. ISBN 978-1606011751)


(E-book: 5.99. ISBN 1-60601-174-X)



An Opening Chapter from Silapa Jarun

Chapter 1

My brother and I are two and one.

There is only “us”

and “we”

no other.



1868 Ise-han, Japan

Aki pulled a hand away from his ear. The cannons stopped showering destruction upon the castle and territory of Ise-han. The sword-bearing youth closed his eyes briefly as a rare breeze caressed his face, cleared the gun smoke and cut through the suffocating humidity. Large thunderclouds gathered on the horizon, promising to wash away the blood from the stronghold. There was finally a victor and loser in the war. It was over.

The young warrior's entire unit surrendered when they received word that their daimyo, feudal lord, had committed seppuku, ritual suicide, rather than be arrested. Amidst the injured and exhausted men beaten by starvation and superior weaponry, Aki crouched in the dirt before his approaching captors. Flutes and drums signaled the approach of the victor's official entourage and the defeated pressed their foreheads to the ground immediately. He looked up slightly to see the looming shadow of the Imperial banner creep by on the path. The youth remembered his daimyo's formal declaration to side with the Tokugawa Shogunate and defy the invading Imperial troops. He was told that everyone, even a peasant or a child, could make a difference, so Aki chose to risk his life by volunteering to relay messages from the castle to the troops. The glorious Chrysanthemum Crest of the Emperor disappeared from view like the very existence of Ise domain. Their final duty as former retainers of the Shogunate is to behave honorably as prisoners.

Quiet reigned over a large camp full of the defeated men. The earlier gentle breeze was now an icy wind which whipped about, threatening the fires and few candles which kept back the darkness. Aki was still exhausted after being forced to march nonstop to this desolate area of the domain. When he saw his brother, Akeno, the only person left in his life, he rushed to embrace the young man.

Akeno, still dressed as a page in the castle, was like a bunraku puppet of flesh and blood. He did not see or hear Aki. The samurai sank down onto a straw mat and brought his knees up to his chest, oblivious to Aki’s attempt to get his attention.

Aki whispered to his sibling’s shell, “Who took your soul?” and squeezed his eyes shut after staring at the enigma which lay next to him. “Akeno, I pray you will return to your body soon. Come back to me.”

In his sleep, Aki could still taste the dirt in his mouth and hear the endless gunfights and cannon blasts. He could not banish the sounds of steel cutting through flesh and bone and the awful screams that followed. The young man unconsciously stretched out his arm to Akeno, seeking comfort and warmth in an effort to defeat his nightmare. His fingers found the floor instead of a warm body.

Aki was suddenly seized by an intense cold, as if he was buried to the waist in snow. He summoned his willpower, refusing to dismiss the sensation as merely a dream, and forced his eyes open. This would not be the first time he could feel physical sensations experienced by his brother. He panicked and blurted out, “Something is wrong! Where is my brother?”

The drunken guards were unaware of the stealthy shadow which climbed the low bamboo fence and headed to the shores of Genbu-ike, Black Turtle Lake. It’s my fault. I could have stopped what happened, but I was afraid. There were too many men two nights ago. What if I had become another victim? I put myself before Akeno, my own brother, because I’m a coward.

A neatly folded stack of silk clothing on the edge of the still lake pointed him to a figure in the black water. It’s the outer layer of clothing he wore today. Aki held his breath and scanned the waters ahead of him.

“Akeno!” He rushed into the lake, his straw sandals slipping over smooth stones as he staggered towards his lifelong companion.

* * * *

My body hurts. If I can just destroy this shell, then I’ll be free. If I die, I won’t have to think about it anymore. Akeno clutched the side of his head, as if doing so would keep his skull intact, and exhaled. “I don't want to think about it!” The samurai, wearing just a thin kimono, the last layer of his fine clothing, wrapped his arms around his center like covering a gaping wound and shivered as he kept his pace towards the depths that lay ahead. He stood in the waist high water like a statue, not hearing the shouting and splashing behind him.

Strong arms seized the dazed man and tried to pull him back to land.

Akeno yelped in pain. “My ribs hurt. Don’t touch me!” he gasped. “They did this to me! Let me go! I must destroy this body.” Incomprehensible sentences continued to pour from Akeno’s cold lips even as he began to realize someone was calling his name.

Akeno! Wake up!”

A strike across the face brought Akeno back to his senses, and his eyes found an identical figure before him.

“Aki?” he breathed. “I hate myself.”

How can you say you hate yourself when we are the same? Do you hate me, Akeno? Do you?”

“No, no.” Akeno was shaking his head, his face a contorted sculpture of pain and confusion. “N-Not you.” He pointed at his chest. “Me, I hate myself. Me.”

Brother, you don’t exist. Only we exist. You cannot hate yourself.” Aki slowly reached out to hold his brother’s trembling shoulders and whispered, “Tell me everything.” They stood still in the water, one listening, one whispering.

Akeno was shaking. “I can’t live with this dishonor.”

“Then I’ll destroy the ones who hurt you. Once I have punished them, you will not have to think of this again.” Aki placed his palms on either side of his brother’s face and watched as the faint moonlight illuminated the pale, smooth skin.

A-Aki, there was only one that night.” Akeno chewed his lower lip and wiped away the tears with the back of his hand. I can’t remember all their names or hideous faces. “Hamada is the one who should die.” The samurai winced when he rubbed the back of his hand across the tender corner of his bruised and swollen lip.

Aki nodded. “I will dispatch Hamada with my own hands. Listen carefully. The peasant riot is moving closer to the camp tonight. When it does, you have to escape and meet with the others heading to Edo.” Once Hamada’s blood is spilled, I will have atoned for abandoning you, Akeno. We were in that room together.

“I won’t leave without you.” Akeno could not stop crying. “We came together and we should go together.”

We will not be separated for long,” Aki said, trying to soothe his sibling’s emotions. “I promise it will be only temporary.” He clenched his teeth. “Akeno, I will not allow them that one to touch you again. I’ll take care of you from now on.”

Akeno, the gentle sibling, sobbed into his brother’s chest. “I—I am ashamed.” Disbelief strangled Akeno’s voice as he looked away and squeezed his fists. “It’s not supposed to happen to men.”

“I’ll restore your honor. But first, you have to give me your clothing before leaving. They have not seen me, so it will be easy.” Aki tried to absorb the waves of grief from Akeno, but his own growing anger easily overshadowed the attempt. “Take off the wet clothing.”

Aki dragged his twin to the water’s edge slowly, never letting his hands leave his brother’s body. He watched him strip away the soaked cloth. Seeing Akeno’s toned and lithe body was like experiencing a strange dream. It was as if his brother was an external reflection of his soul. He tried not to look at all the bruises, but it was hard to tear his eyes away from the corner of Akeno’s damaged lip.

Now you take my clothes, Akeno. They’re dirty and wet too, but at least you will not look like our Lord’s page anymore.”

Aki pointed to the corner of his own mouth. “You have to

Akeno punched his brother.

The older brother staggered backwards and cradled his chin. “Good.” Aki could feel the blood crawling down his chin. “Perfect. Now we match!” As usual, brother can guess what is on my mind.

Torches carried by the mob soon blazed across the horizon, and the chants of the farmers rumbled across the plain. They would not stand a chance against the Imperial army that rushed forth to put down the insurrection. Everyone was starving. The domain’s farmers who fed the samurai were left with nothing when the siege began. Even breast milk stopped flowing, and many babies withered away as the war climaxed. Akeno reluctantly made his escape amidst the chaos but constantly looked behind him, hoping that perhaps Aki would follow.

Aki ran a broken wooden comb through his hair as he watched Akeno slip into the night with both their katana, swords, tied to his back. All weapons were turned over to the enemy officers. All except the two Matsumoto family heirlooms Aki had buried under a tree earlier that day. He smoothed his raven black locks to make them proper, as those of his brother, and returned to the storeroom where the prisoners crouched around a weakening fire.

A teenager who was a subordinate page looked up. “Hey, Akeno?” Kajinosuke eyed the handsome older samurai suspiciously.

Tadayoshi, another attendant, tilted his head to the side. “Aki, what are you trying to do? Look, some people can’t tell the difference, but I know both you brothers too well. Why are you dressed like Akeno? Where did he go?”

Aki sat down slowly and smiled. “Kajinosuke, Tadayoshi, tomorrow we are going to take care of some scoundrels, and you two will help me.” He stretched out on the straw-covered floor as the two youths looked at each other. The older twin looked at a spider in the upper corner of the wooden structure. Its long legs moved slightly on the web, stretching out the silk. Aki closed his eyes and committed the name Hamada, which Akeno had whispered, to memory. Akeno did not need to tell me who those animals were. I was there. I saw everything. I’ll never forget. Why did he just give me one name?

Aki smiled to himself. “While many people in our Ise-han have seen us ‘mirror samurai’, few can tell us apart. I’m counting on the enemy to be just as confused.”

your author name: Silapa Jarun

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Unspoken Truths by Destiny Blaine

Title: Unspoken Truths

Author Name: Destiny Blaine

Website Address:

Buy Link:

First Chapter:

Chapter One

The corner of the club defined cozy almost to the extreme. It invited intimacy with its seclusion from the rest of the crowd and the dim candlelight illuminated romance. Ally knew what would happen once she took a seat in the scantly lit area but her determined legs moved her forward. Defiant feet carried her there. Her body, with full sexual intentions, planned on winning. It spited her every single time when it came to the man walking in front of her.

He toyed with her on the dance floor denying her nothing but once they were seated, she knew what to expect. The game would change. It always did. He would forbid as much as a touch unless he initiated it.

He looked over his shoulder. “Don’t worry baby. I don’t plan to make all of your Tanner does me dreams come true.” He stopped abruptly and flashed a wicked wink. “At least not tonight.”

And just like that. Moment ruined. Leave it to a man.

Ally’s face heated. She felt the madder-than-hell white-hot warmth wash over her. Who the hell did he think he was talking to? She quickly let go of his hand and stormed off in the other direction. Unfortunately, her body felt the sudden loss as soon as they parted.

Making her way for the closest exit, she passed by onlookers, the same men who watched her with lust-filled eyes when she swayed onto the dance floor an hour or so earlier. She moved quickly beyond the bouncers and barmaids only to hit the exit filled with regret. He won again. Tanner always did.

Once outside, she took a deep breath inhaling the undeniable smell of rain. She heard his voice and the slam of the metal door behind her. “Don’t show up at clubs where you know I’ll be if you don’t want to see me!” His laughter filled the air.

Ally wheeled around on a spiked heel. “What the hell did you just say?” She heard him. Oh boy, did she ever. He knew it too. If there was any doubt, he could quickly pick up on it as she marched over to him with anger-boiling-over strides. Those were hard to deny and she made sure she took them quickly.

“Come on baby. Don’t play dumb with me. How many light blue Corvettes do you see in this damn town with a Florida Gators tag? You knew I was here and…”

“And if I did, what of it?” Cutting him off never presented a problem.

He made a solid point. It took balls or blatant stupidity to run around Knoxville, Tennessee with the University of Florida Gators plates on a car. Since he wore ignorance proudly, he really deserved to become an easy mark when she wanted to find him. The car made it uncomplicated. Yes, she saw his convertible and ditto; she stopped because she knew he was inside the club. Old habits don’t die hard. They smother the life out of innocent bystanders. Never mind virgins on the prowl.

The anger facing her was ready to leave her at a disadvantage. It ripped through her. Cut her into small pieces. Tanner Dorsey always boiled her blood.

“What of it? Well, let’s see. You walk into Jake’s, spot me on the dance floor and can’t wait to get out there just so you can shake your pretty little ass in my direction. Oh but yeah Ally, you’re damn straight you knew without a doubt I’d be here and you knew exactly what to do with me when you found me.” The young Mr. Dorsey spent most of his life getting under her skin.

Ally couldn’t help herself. She wished like hell she could but she just couldn’t. She never backed down from a good battle on the Tanner-playing field. “You know,” she paused for effect but to also think of something to say, “I was dancing just fine with…” She stopped again as she tried to think of a random name but she danced onto the hardwood flooring without a partner. She couldn’t pull it off fast enough to make up a non-existent dance partner.

“Oh yeah you were. You got that part right because baby, you always dance just fine. You don’t need a man to show you what that little body of yours can do but in case you forgot, you danced up to me. The only man in the place that can handle that sweet little ass and you found me without any problem.” His face filled with the highest level of sex appeal and with an added wink, set jaw and seductive look, her knees were jelly.

Damn him. Damn him to another century and back. No. To hell…and without a return trip.

“What’s wrong love, cat got that pretty little tongue of yours?” He continued to taunt her.

No it wasn’t a cat. It was more like a ferocious mountain lion.

She was putty in his hands but the asshole still acted like he was fifteen. He had driven her nuts when she was twelve and into complete madness at eighteen. At twenty-two, she was certifiable.

He was still full of himself. Ally couldn’t think of one thing to say to him. Not one, lone word. She huffed and puffed or at least, thought she did before she turned to look for her car. They appeared to be alone in the well lit parking lot. Something she noted when she started walking.

“Looking for someone?” He noticed she surveyed the large area.

“No, not at all. Just checking the place out to be sure there aren’t any witnesses around who will see me when I kill you.” There was a hint of humor in her voice.

Within seconds he had his arm draped around her shoulders and she knew he had already undressed her with his eyes. The playfulness evident in his voice. “I can’t die yet.”

She stopped short of reaching her car. “Why not? It seems like a viable option.” She looked him up and down. Yep, he still looked lean. Perfect. Good enough to eat. Hell, he deserved to die. She picked up a steady pace again.

He quickly caught up with her again but his demeanor had changed when he spoke. It had seriousness oozing from it. “I’m not ready to die. I haven’t experienced everything…everyone…yet.” He grabbed at her waist and pulled her toward him with rough hands. She could have sworn she heard a thump when she landed against his chest but decided it most likely had been the lump moving to her throat that caught there on impact.

She grunted, or so she thought. Maybe she didn’t but she had the shove down to an art when both of her palms went to his hard upper body to push him away. “You think you’re so funny. Fucking hilarious.”

Comical or not, he was right. She used to feel the same way when it came to him but she’d decided the year before that Tanner wasn’t part of her past, at least beyond little school girl dreams, and he couldn’t be a part of her future. Denied attraction never ended in satisfaction and when she joined the FBI, she sealed her fate. With each passing day, she’d come to accept it.

“Drive me home?” He interrupted her thoughts as they approached her graphite pearl Honda Accord.

“No.” Her answer was flat. She knew he wouldn’t notice.

“Why not?”

“Because you can drive yourself.”

* * * *

He was all over opportunity. Always had been. “Yes, I could. You’re exactly right. I could drive myself but look at me; do I look like a man who likes to ride alone?” He bit his lower lip and the dimples he flashed should have landed him in jail. “Besides, if I drove tonight…”his words started to slur on command, “I’d likely catch a DUI.”

Before she could say anything, she watched him walk to the other side of the car determined to get a lift home. “Tanner, I can’t. I don’t have time.”

“You don’t have time to drop me off four buildings down from your own?” He smirked. “Yeah, okay.” His voice clearly held that ‘duh’ tone and a hint of determination.

He ignored her. Again. She knew it before she opened her car door and long before he opened the passenger’s side door. She knew it before he sat down and probably guessed as much when he followed her into the parking lot.

* * * *

They sat quietly in the bucket seats for a few seconds before the keys were placed in the ignition. She leaned over the steering wheel and looked up at the street light with unwarranted interest. “Why do you always do this?”

He was ready to play. “Why do you do this?” He chuckled as he reached across her taking his time to buckle her safety belt before he grabbed his own. “I’m ready when you are baby doll.” He’d been so close when he moved his arm across her waist, all he would have had to do is look up. She felt a pucker form on her lips.

She shot him a condescending look and then shifted the car into reverse. “Yeah, well you may have waited just long enough to miss your chance.” She wasn’t really prepared for what came next. If she had a rewind button designed specifically for a shameless big mouth, she would’ve hit pause first, to gather her thoughts, and then replay or better yet, erase.

He was fast. He reached over and slammed the car into park. Luckily, she’d been in reverse with her foot still on the break. “Ally, I can’t stand a woman who mumbles. What did you say? I don’t think I heard you.”

His eyes danced. She could see them in the moonlight along with the overhead lamp that he switched on for theatrics. He wanted an invitation but he wouldn’t get one. His firm stare didn’t move away and neither did his hand which rested easy on the gear shift. The old Ally would’ve dismissed it with a wave of lofty fingers but the new woman who replaced the has-been had lived a little since the last time she’d been with the man sitting beside her.

Shifting in her seat, she turned to face him. “I said…”

Tanner moved close. “I heard what you said but what I want to know is why?”

“Why what?”

His voice lowered. “Why did you come here tonight, Ally?” Thank goodness he was going to let her mumbling words pass. He didn’t look away from her which was okay because it gave her the opportunity to revisit his outer appearance.

So easy to look at, so hard to tolerate. She tried to convince herself that she spotted a gray hair in his head. Maybe he’ll age quickly. Maybe he’ll get a beer gut. Maybe, he’ll lean over here and kiss me until tomorrow. It was always the same thing with her. She would scour over his tall frame with a meticulous eye and try to find a blemish in his perfection before wishing him to a fate that would ruin him for another woman.

It generally ended up, at least at some point, with her wishing him away to a life of impotent possibilities. She’d even gone as far to check out the Viagra site to see what his chances were. Slim. With his sex drive and vibrant health, very slim.

“Ally? Why do you want to stroll into town and straight into Jake’s? It’s not a place for nice girls.”

“Maybe I’m not a nice girl anymore.” Damnation, how she wished that were true.

He moved closer so she could breathe him in and a hand went to her knee before he began to crawl with steady fingers toward her thigh. “I might just want to find out.” The twinkle in his eye disappeared. Instead, he peered up with a certain element of darkness about him. Hooded eyes watched the rise and fall of a heavy chest.

Her breathing became interrupted just by his touch. She knew her eyes gave away everything but more than anything else, fear lingered. A broken heart wasn’t something she could stand one more time.

His lips moved to her collarbone but they didn’t meet skin. Heated words were mumbled with a raspy call to uninhibited pleasures. His mouth strategically plotted to deliver but refused to give while words stung just a little more. “Baby, you still aren’t ready for me. That I can promise you but what I want to know is why you want to play where the big boys entertain the naughtiest of girls?” He moved away from her slowly taking a smooth hand from her leg.

“I don’t know why. Okay? It was a mistake. I know Jake’s isn’t a place for me, at least according to you. I got that. Okay? Now, please just get out.” Hot, raw emotion ate at her gut. She was on fire from his touch, heated by the moisture forming in her eyes, never mind the puddle of slick heat forming between her legs.

She continued as if she had to justify her reasons. “If I thought you were too drunk to drive, I’d do the right thing and give you a ride home but you haven’t had anything to drink in the last hour or so because we’ve danced for that long. Besides that, I know you and you never drink more than you can handle.”

He moved close to her. Playing her for all she was worth and then some. “I’ll make a deal with you. If you’ll take me home, see me to the door and kiss me good-night, I’ll never tell Darren and David I saw you here.”

Her daring eyes locked with his and she wanted to scream as soon as he tossed out the names of her brothers. She also wanted to kick his ass and she wanted to do it slow too. Slow and easy.

“You wouldn’t.”

He moved away from her and settled into his seat leaning his head back. “I would, and honestly?” Moving up a little, he turned his neck and glanced to the side. “I’d enjoy watching them scold you.” He closed his eyes and pretended to relax. “Hell, I’d even offer to spank you just so I can know the feel of your bare ass on my palm. Maybe now that you’re old enough, they’d even let me.”

A sigh fell dramatically into the wind while she threw the gear shift into reverse and drove him home without another word but the smack-smack sound of him spanking her ass offered appeal. She could almost hear it and what she would give just to feel it.

It was safe to say, she’d lost her ever-lovin mind.

* * * *

Fifteen minutes later and they pulled into his complex. She didn’t bother to put the car into park. It didn’t matter; the arrogant ass in the passenger’s seat did it for her.


“So you’re here. Safe and sound.” Her words found a deliberate coolness.

“It appears I am but you won’t be if I have to go straight up those stairs and tattle to your brothers. You know, just so they won’t worry about you.”

Now she was pissed. “Tanner, have you failed to notice that I am not a child anymore? Have you? Have you forgotten that…?”

“Oh, don’t think I haven’t noticed that you aren’t a child anymore.” He moved closer to her. “What I want to know is why are you back in town? Last I heard you were working as a DEA agent or something.”

Yeah. Or something. The something presented the problem.

Tanner winked before he grabbed the door handle. “Come on, walk me to the door.”

She jumped out of the car and did as she was told. She always did as she was told. If her brothers weren’t telling her what to do when she was growing up, Tanner offered to do it for them and it hadn’t gotten any better once she found a career with the FBI. At the moment she just wished like hell she hadn’t chosen a career in law enforcement. More than anything else, she wished that Tanner didn’t deliberately get under her skin.

She approached the building somewhat cautiously. He kept his eyes on her. “You look really good Ally. A sight for sore eyes and all that.” He was never one to make small talk. At least, not with her.

“Thanks.” She fired back the note of appreciation.

“How long has it been?” He stopped on the last step before moving forward with a nod.

She knew what he meant. “It’s been over a year.”

“I thought you weren’t coming back here,” he challenged her. She knew he would. He had to be curious about why she would bother. There wasn’t anything left for her in Knoxville. He made that clear to her when she left. He told her with finality that she would never be in his heart or…in his bed.

“I didn’t plan on it.” Her foot hit the last step and she let out a long sigh. How many times had she walked up these steps to find her brothers? How many times had her parents sent her to fetch them knowing that they were mixed up with Tanner and his business?

The lights were on and the lingering and familiar noise of football games drifted outside. “Which one is here?” She should’ve known both her brothers would be at Tanner’s place. They always hung out there and the reason for it waited on the other side of the door.

He moved closer to her with a mischievous whisper and a twinkle in his eye. “Which one do you want to see first?” He put the key in the door and turned pushing the door back to showcase the familiar sight.