Monday, August 26, 2013

Torquere Press Anniversary Celebration -- Galen and the Forest Lord Giveaway

As part of their anniversary celebration, during the month of September Torquere Press will be giving the gifts. Keep your eyes open, for my own Galen and the Forest Lord will be offered on Wednesday, September 4th. It will be listed as free from 6-7 AM CST. That's right--free, for one hour only. So set  your clocks and get your copy. 

By the time Galen Olaf-kin woke up and smelled the spiced ale, it was too late, and he never finished the wicked deed for which he stood trial. Banished from his home, he flees to the forest, taking nothing but the unwanted infant he's rescued. Perhaps the legends are true and the forest lord will take them both in. The lord is said to give sanctuary to outcasts, but none of the stories mention the naughty, tempting things he whispers, or that he shares Galen's forbidden passions.

Lord Erik rolls his eyes at the prophecy that says when human hands deliver a babe to the forest, he’ll meet the mate destined to reunite forest folk with humankind. What interest has he in a child? The handsome human who brings the babe is another matter entirely, and a little thing like destiny won't stand in Erik's way of claiming the golden-haired Galen as his own. Or will it?

Sometimes prophecies are overrated, legends incomplete, and heroes not always the sharpest swords in the scabbard.

Find Galen at Torquere Press, but remember, it won't be free until Septemeber 4th from 6-7 AM CST.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Back to School Blog Hop

It's that time of year again--back to school! Myself and some other authors are commemorating the event with a back to school blog hop. Each participant will post on the subject of school, and there's a contest for an Amazon gift certicate. What better way to celebrate back to school than with books, right? The hop starts August 23 and continues until August 30 (I've posted early). I've included a list of participating authors at the end of the blog, many who are offering giveaway drawings. Be sure to visit them all.

I write a wide range of sub-genres, but when presented with this topic, one story came to mind, or rather, two: The Angel of 13th Street, and the followup, Fallen Angel.

Some kids mark back to school with new clothes, a new backpack, and a bit of anxiety. But what about those who don’t have the support of a loving family?

Once foster-care children reach eighteen, they’re out of the system, whether they’ve graduated high school or not. No more support. Really? What child is ready to live on their own at eighteen, without even advice or encouragement, not to mention basic needs such as food, clothing, and housing?

While laws are changing and organizations exist to help, far too many of these kids fall through the cracks. At the time that I wrote The Angel of 13th Street, it was estimated that 80% of kids who’d aged out of the program would wind up homeless. In the story, Jeremy Kincaid was one of those kids.

Bright, with dreams of making something of himself, he lived in a deserted basement and did his best to stay in school and earn a scholarship, despite temptation to take “the easy way out.”

Instead of new clothes, Jeremy depended on thrift shops, instead of a home cooked dinner every night he existed on free lunch at school—one meal per day. Until he found himself a new family with an extraordinary man.  

 The Angel. That’s what the young hustlers call Noah Everett, the man who’ll help them get off the streets. Once a hustler himself, Noah doesn’t take his own good advice, which is, “Don’t let this ruin your life.” Haunted by the past and those he couldn’t save, Noah carefully keeps others at bay until his self-imposed loneliness is shattered by determined, ambitious, but homeless eighteen-year-old Jeremy Kincaid.

A ruthless pimp has targeted Jeremy, but if Noah will fight to get anonymous young men out of the life, he’ll fight harder to keep Jeremy from getting in, even if it means a return to old stomping grounds to make a deal with the devil. To save Jeremy, Noah risks more than just his body. He risks his soul as well, because Willie Carnell, pimp, was once Billy Cordell, Noah’s lover.

Ten years of rescuing lost youth from the streets wear a man out, and Noah Everett buckles under the pressure of being "The Angel." What began as a two-man mission is now going corporate, meaning rules, regulations and inexperienced volunteers needing guidance in a field Noah makes up as he goes along. On top of this, his latest prospective rescue doesn’t seem to go to plan. Is he losing his touch? Normally he’d turn to his mentor, Doc, in times of trouble, but the old man's strength isn't what it used to be. Noah’s lover would be the next most obvious choice to share this burden with, but Jeremy Kincaid is about to leave for college. After all Jeremy's endured to achieve this goal, Noah won’t stand in his way, even though he fears losing the man to the joys of student life. 

Jeremy may be young and caught up in his own fights, but he's not blind to Noah’s plight, and now questions his own choices. Four years at State with a full ride will launch his future, but his present includes Noah--and a meth addict who’s become Jeremy’s own personal mission. 

When a physical attack sends Noah spinning out of control, Jeremy must reevaluate his life and plans before the man he knows and loves disappears forever.


While most teens don’t face the level of adversity Jeremy faced, many do not finish high school. And of those who do, far too few can afford to make their college dreams come true, or are unaware of programs designed to help, such as state lottery money set aside for education. Here is advice on how students can get the financial assistance they need. Although from a university’s site, the information can be used for different schools.

Oh? And not exactly a teenager anymore? Well, it’s never too late to earn that degree.

Find The Angel of 13th Street here:
Find Fallen Angel here:

Leave a comment here on my blog to be included in a drawing for an ebook copy of The Angel of 13th Street. I'll choose a winner on September 1, after the blog hop ends. 

If you're reading this on Goodreads, Amazon, or anywhere but my Blogger blog, you'll need to come to my blog to comment for a chance to win my book, and also to find the giveaway link for the Amazon gift card. Sorry, it doesn't transfer for some reason. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

All About Yaoi -- Guest Post by Z. Allora

Hey, y'all. As a dedicated m/m reader (and writer), it never ceases to amaze me how many facets there are to our genre. There are books that could be mainstream mysteries if the love interest was of the opposite gender (we're working on tearing down those barriers), there's BDSM, fantasy, books that could be written from real life, and some that might never take place in the real world, but capture our imaginations and take us to new worlds. 

It's this last one that I'm speaking about today. A genre known as Yaoi. Now, I'm relatively new to Yaoi, though I'd read some one the past without realizing. Then I met a Yaoi guru who guided me by the hand (and loaned me lots of books!) and turned me into a fan. 

What? You've never heard of Yaoi? Well, I've invited an expert to the blog today to introduce you to this exciting world. 

Please welcome Yaoi author Z. Allora to the site. Let me warn you right now that this post is NSFW.


Hi! I'm Z. Allora. I want to thank Eden for inviting me for a visit on her site. Damn! I LOVE what you did with the place, Eden! I feel like I'm in Eden's garden of lovely boys… Ohhhhh, so that's where Lucky and Bo are… maybe I'll just go and chat with… oh sorry right I'm here to talk about Yaoi. But I am so distracted by your Pretties... what? Oh right. I believe your readers are a hearty lot but if there are any among them not already infected by the love of sexiness turn away… I am bring with me the virus of Yaoi. Be warned addiction and obsession might follow.
What is Yaoi?
It's beautifully drawn sexually graphic pictures of men with (possibly) over the top stories: gangsters, detectives, models, rent boys, etc. Erotic stories of male/male love written for women by women (for the most part).  These artists/writers have created iconic or archetypical characters that stimulate the imagination and feast the eye while interacting in a highly fantastical romance that women appreciate. It is escapism at its erotic best.  

This is drawn by the lovely Ayano Yamane. Ahhhh, I see I have your attention.

My own rambling theory on Yaoi:

Yaoi relationships can be boiled down to a seme (top) and the uke (bottom) Uke literally means to receive. Just as those red romance books, yaoi storylines skate away from complexities of sexuality and simplify relationships into delicious sexiness. The uke is sexually innocent and is drawn more feminine with big eyes. The seme is usually shown as more macho, bigger and pursues the uke, allowing nothing to stand in his way. There is some level of reluctance it but usually doesn't cross the line into rape. The story usually unfolds with the seme romancing and sexually pleasing the uke until he is overcome with love and passion for the larger male.

I often theorize how this sexually overt manga developed in such a relativity repressive society. In Japan, females are expected to be demure: never eating food on the street, covering their mouths to laugh and where special trains are set aside just for females passengers.

Is Yaoi's popularity due in part that it's a way women can be daring and live out their fantasies through the uke or the seme?  Can they identify and experience a level of sexuality and openness not usually available to them? Is that the reason for the popularity?

In Japan, most of the relationships between males and females until recently have been business-like arrangements made by their heads, societal or family expectations and not the driving rush of hormones. Even today many women are responsible for taking care of the home and children while men take care of business. Wives encourage men to stay out of the tiny dwellings as much as possible.

The men usually spend the evening with co-workers and clients. Sometimes, sleeping in tiny capsules closer to their work to avoid the trip home. Strong friendships develop during these late nights. Drinking is always part of the evening as well as physically assisting their more drunken companions to bed.

Does this situation translate into fantasies of what takes place with these evening adventures? Is it akin to the Western fantasy of all female sleepovers ending with pillow fights and kissing sessions? (Yuri – girl on girl action)

In the West, Yaoi is growing in popularity among teenaged girls and some adults. Is it a way for women who have been disassociated with their sexuality to find expression? Do the gender queer flock to characters they might identify with easier than the typical heterosexual romance? I wish I could study this topic formally but there are too many voices in my head wanting to tell me their own stories to allow it. So they will remain my simple musing of a phenomenon quietly sweeping through the female population.

I usually write in the Yaoi-style. I enjoy the over the top characters, lack of reality and the fluffy bunny endings. Made in China is an example of some impossible scenarios based in China. A rock band just starting out with all gay members wouldn't exist in China… after all there is no gay in China.

This is Made in China's cover, blurb and an excerpt. Please enjoy.
There's no gay in China so what's the drummer of Made in China supposed to do about loving his male best friend when his family thinks he's engaged to the girl next door?

Jun "Styx" Wong's heart and mind battle to determine his destiny. His mind tells him to be a good Chinese son and marry the girl his parents chose, but his heart longs for his best friend, Jin, and life with their new band. "Jun" means honesty, but he's not even honest with himself. A quest to eradicate his feelings for Jin nearly ends his life. Styx's near death serves as a wake-up call for Jin, whose blond hair--legacy of his German father--marks him as different. Jin harbors secrets of his own. His experiences prepare him to take the drastic measures needed to help Jun overcome the walls surrounding them.
Because there is no gay in China...

So close. It’s finally going to happen. Just a little more. Almost…there. Going out of my mind.
Jun Tai “Styx” Wong’s cock hadn’t allowed him an orgasm for over two weeks. The freaking thing would barely get hard. It must have been broken.

Now his cock stood erect in his hand. Styx blocked out his grandmother’s voice in his head, her stern lectures of how unhealthy it was to touch himself. Her berating him about how good Chinese boys didn’t do such filthy things.

His body didn’t care. It craved those elusive contractions he’d discovered by accident. At thirteen, the incredible mystery of orgasm unfolded for him in the shower. What he did was wrong, so he kept it a secret, even from Jin.

A forbidden image invaded Styx’s mind, but he was too close to climax to fight what he needed desperately. 

Jin Lan.

His best friend Jin’s toned body danced through his head.

So wrong. 

No man should think of another man this way, but he only needed to keep the forbidden picture in his mind a few more moments.

The image morphed, taking away his breath. Jin’s blond head tilted and his soulful gray eyes stared at Styx with love.

Yes, love—not friendship.

In his mind, Styx had Jin love him. He forgot about right and wrong and pretended Jin returned the love he shouldn’t have bursting through him. He almost touched the perfect mouth, traced Jin’s open lips… He licked his own mouth trying to get a taste of his fantasy.

Styx’s body inched toward completion. He twisted the piece of wood to tighten the towel around his neck as he tugged his shaft, panting to steal air into his lungs. In his mind, Jin’s fingers ran through Styx’s long hair to pull him closer as if Jin needed him too.

Loved him in the same way Styx so dearly loved Jin.

No! I can’t think about this. It’s wrong even to pretend we could be lovers. It isn’t done.

But heaven forgive me, I love him with all my heart.

I need this.

I can’t stop. Forgive me.

Styx lost his breath at another shiver of pleasure. His imagination pushed past its dilemma. He twisted the towel tighter.

In fantasy, he kissed Jin back. His mouth locked onto those lush lips with passion he’d never experienced outside daydreams. His hands skimmed down Jin’s gorgeous yoga-tight body to cup the ass that haunted Styx’s dreams.

Squeezing the rounded flesh, he pulled Jin close, but it was never enough.

The kiss lingered, gaining in intensity. In Styx’s mind, Jin was experienced, amazing. Jin was treating Styx like one of his VIP clients—


The thought would break his heart anew. He forced himself to enjoy the skilled kisses as soft lips traced down his neck. A wet tongue trailed lower onto his throat. When Jin’s sweet mouth stilled over Styx’s pulse point, he bit the side of Styx’s neck.

Styx groaned with desire as Jin’s teeth nibbled him. A sharp nip made him gasp Jin’s name.
Styx stroked faster. His breaths diminished to shallow gulps. In his mind, Jin leaned back with a sexy smile. His voice low and sultry, Jin whispered, “I want to see you, Styx. Come right now. Come for me.”

The fantasy of his best friend’s mesmerizing mouth recaptured Styx’s lips in a steamy kiss, and come fountained from his cock. Just as Jin demanded, Styx’s body finally let go.

“Oh! Fuck! Yeah! Yes!” Styx’s body rippled joyously as he shot out two weeks’ worth of pent up frustration, all for Jin. He rubbed out his full release as he imagined Jin caressing his mouth and cuddling him.

The floaty, happy sensation began dragging him into the darkness.

No, not yet. I need to…

Everything went black.

I watched myself. I was no more than five years old, playing with my favorite stuffed animals. I held a wedding for them sitting on the hardwood floor in the bedroom I shared with my sister. My other stuffed toys and my sister’s bears were lined up watching the event.

My grandfather came into the room. I grinned at him with adoration. He took care of me while my parents and grandmother worked. He gave me a warm smile as he sat next to me.

“Who is that?” he asked, touching the bunny who’d seen a lot of love.

“Me.” I didn’t bother to give my attention to my Ye Ye because I was midway through my rabbit and bear wedding ceremony. The seriousness of the situation seemed lost on my Ye Ye but I loved him anyway.

“Who is that?” Ye Ye pointed to the smaller bear with button replacement eyes.

“That’s Jin.” I laughed. “Who else would it be? Don’t you know anything, Ye Ye?”

I peeked up at my Ye Ye and grinned, hoping he would be pleased, but he wasn’t smiling.

Ye Ye frowned and appeared confused. “Jin? Isn’t he the new boy in school?”

I was proud my Ye Ye remembered my best friend. “Yes. He has hair like golden flowers. Jin’s nice. He gave me his juice at break time. I gave him my cookies. Someday, I’m going to marry him.”

Ye Ye laughed like I had told a funny joke. “Boys don’t marry boys, silly. You’ll find a good Chinese girl and marry her.”

How could Ye Ye say such a thing? I didn’t want to marry a stinky old girl! I was marrying Jin. “No!” I squeezed my bunny and bear hard, wanting somehow to make Ye Ye stop saying things like that.

“Boys don’t marry boys.” He said like he thought I was two fifty. My mama said I shouldn’t think bad things because it will make me say them. I shouldn’t think of being called a two fifty. I learned a person who isn’t fully developed in his mother and is born after only two hundred and fifty days is not ready. The kids at school said being born too early makes you stupid.

Well, I’m not stupid. “I don’t care. I will marry Jin.”

“You will not marry Jin. He can be your friend, but boys cannot marry other boys.” Ye Ye said it firmly, making me sad and angry.

“I wanna marry Jin!” I stood tall and stomped my foot. “I will!”

Ye Ye frowned. “He’s a boy. His father isn’t Chinese. He’s from Germany. You’ll marry a nice Chinese girl.”

I didn’t have a clue where Germany was or why it should matter. “I don’t care! I’m going to marry him, and we’ll live in a great big house.”

Ye Ye hugged me to stop my pouting fit. “You’ll see. Jin and you will find Chinese girls to marry.” He smiled at me. “But you can always be friends.”

I opened my mouth to say more, but Ye Ye put a finger to my lips. “No more of this bad talk. Be a good boy.”

There wasn’t much to do in our hometown for two fourteen-year old boys, other than helping out at the music store in exchange for lessons. Our hometown of Yintang was boring. Jin and I were hanging out at his house playing a game when he blurted nonsense about a girl in our class.

“What do you mean you think you like her?” I tried not to sound jealous, but I was. I couldn’t help it.
“I don’t know. I guess I like her or something.” Jin shrugged.

“Why?” I swallowed hard as I tried not to cry. How could he like her? Why did he like her? Why didn’t he like me?

“She’s cute, I guess.” Jin said it like it wasn’t a big deal. “What’s the matter with you?”

“Nothing.” I stood, abandoning our game. “I have to go.”

My heart had been kicked out of my chest. Jin liked someone else. My whole world had collapsed and I didn’t want to have to smile. I was glad no one was home when I arrived so I didn’t have to pretend nothing was wrong.

I picked up my drumsticks and started practicing. I didn’t have drums, but I would someday. Or at least, I hoped I would. For now, I hit the table in front of me. I thumped out a beat until the pain eased.
The girl Jin liked wasn’t ugly, but she certainly wasn’t pretty. If he had to like someone at least she should be pretty. She looked like a boy. If Jin liked her, did that mean he was going to kiss her? 


I tapped a faster beat as I tried to outrun my thoughts.

I was still flying high from playing the drums at the music store when Bi Yu, the girl who lived next door, caught me in the alleyway between our houses. She wasn’t terrible and kind of pretty. She rambled to me about her cousin’s cousin’s best friend’s opinion on clothes shopping.

I didn’t care which shop in town had the best clothing. I hoped to make her stop talking, so I kissed her mouth. I was fifteen and never kissed anyone other than my family, but I pushed my lips right onto hers.

Maybe I wanted to feel a kiss. Maybe I thought it would help me figure out why Jin kissed many different girls.

I held her shoulders, but Bi Yu didn’t try to get away. She kissed me back.

“Hey!” her grandmother yelled. She must’ve been spying out the window.

Just my luck!

I took off down the alley and avoided going home until dinnertime.

Apparently, Bi Yu’s grandmother had a ‘discussion’ with my mother. No one was mad at me, but I was told not to display such affections in public again.

“Public? I was behind the house.” Somehow, it was an important point.

My father chuckled as if he were proud of me. At my mother’s foul expression, he became serious. “We are pleased you like Bi Yu. But restrain yourself. Her family will not let her marry until you have enough saved.”

“Marry her?” What? Why would I marry her? I didn’t want to marry her. I hadn’t really even wanted to kiss her!

“Shh, it’s okay. We understand. You will finish high school. We’ve saved enough for you to graduate.” My father beamed with pride at affording me such a privilege. I would be the first and possibly only one in our family to graduate high school. Paying for me to finish school meant my sister wouldn’t.

“What about Jinjing?” My sister deserved to finish school. She studied hard and was smart. She’d do well in business.

My father waved off my concern. “She’s a girl. Jinjing will work in the big department store on Walking Street. She’s pretty enough to marry.”

Under his intense stare, I squirmed in my seat.

“You’ll be the man who moves this family up in status. By marrying Bi Yu, you not only preserve our property lines but also increase them. We can attach a covered courtyard between the two homes. With high school, you’ll be able to get a decent job, so study hard.”

My father’s decree set my path in stone. My agenda was to finish high school, get a good job, and save enough money to marry Bi Yu. My family’s success rested on my fifteen-year old shoulders.
There was nothing more to be said. My family counted on me fulfilling the destiny chosen for me. My job as a good son was to follow the path set before me.

I stopped by Jin’s house to pick him up before heading to the music store, relieved his mother was at work or maybe at the doctor’s again. She always wanted to make polite small talk or asked embarrassing questions about school. Most people of my parent’s generation didn’t get to finish high school, so they all seemed curious about the instruction we received. Not many high school seniors existed in my town.

Without the awkward delay, I went right up the stairs. Jin was lucky; he didn’t have to share his bedroom. It was small, but it was all his.

I sauntered in without knocking. “C’mon, Jin. The music store got in a new set of drums. I want to try them out.” Jin jumped off the bed. The older guy lounging on the bed sat straighter and glared as he crossed his leg over his knee. I interrupted something, but I didn’t know what.

I’d never seen this guy. He appeared to be in his mid-twenties. “Who’s he?”

Jin’s face reddened. I hoped he wasn’t catching something.

“A friend.”

I rolled my eyes and put my hands on my hips. Was Jin thirteen o’clock? Of course he was a friend. Who else would be in Jin’s bedroom?

The man eyed me in annoyance. “I’m Ming. I’ve been speaking to Jin about working for me.”

He needed work. Jin’s mother was getting sicker and didn’t know how long she could continue to work. She couldn’t afford to send him to high school. “Doing what?”

“Apprenticing as a massage therapist.” The guy stood and adjusted his pants as he studied me. He sized me up as if buying a scooter. “You want to be a therapist too?”

His voice sounded funny.

Before I opened my mouth, Jin shouted, “No!” He cleared his throat. “He’s finishing school.”

The guy smirked at Jin. I disliked this Ming.

“Stop by the shop. We need to finish…discussing the job.”

Jin frowned but nodded.

Once the guy left, I flopped onto the bed and tapped out a beat on my knees. “Well, that’s great news. You’ll have a job. Massage therapists work in air con all summer.”

“Yeah.” Jin turned away to stare out his small window.

I was almost nineteen years old and I had a ‘girlfriend.’ I didn’t hold a grudge against Jin for dating, he’d have to get married at some point too. We still worked together at a tiny music shop downtown. I went after my shift at the factory and Jin came after his shift at the spa, where he worked with some of the VIP clients.

Mr. Lu and his wife owned the shop. Their only son died before we were born. The couple worked long after they wished to retire because there was no one to take care of them. In exchange for helping around the shop, we got a little spending money and, more importantly, music lessons. The money wasn’t great since they could only afford one of us, but Mr. Lu taught us to play. He kept telling us we had potential but we lived in Yintang. We had no possibility of ever doing anything with our music but we enjoyed playing.

Jin played his guitar and I pounded out a beat on the drums. We weren’t very professional, but after we were done moving inventory and doing all the other work Mr. Lu wasn’t able to do anymore, Jin and I played our hearts out under his strict guidance.

“One more time,” the old man demanded. He cued up other instruments to accompany us electronically. Our playing drew a small crowd of onlookers, and some of them even signed up their kids for music lessons.

“Okay, this time, Jin, less treble. And, Styx, pick up the pace.” The owner never remembered my name so he started calling me Drumsticks. Jin knew I hated the dumb nickname. He shortened and changed the spelling to Styx. Thankfully, the name stuck.

The old guy couldn’t afford to run the air con, which meant his shop turned into an oven each summer. The air tasted hot and muggy, but when we played, I never noticed anything except Jin, the music, and my drums. When we were playing nothing brought me down.

That night, we were dripping with sweat, so we decided to stop at the lake on the way home. At dusk, the man-made lake was deserted. Jin’s clothing littered the wooden boardwalk. As I stripped, too, I battled the temptation to stare at him. I sighed with relief at the splash as he dove into the water and out of sight. I jumped in after him, hoping he wouldn’t notice my arousal.

Cypress trees and chrysanthemums surrounded the lake, allowing a sense of privacy. Hearty rosebushes with their red, peach, and yellow flowers were in full bloom, scenting the air with their fragrance.
A pedestrian on the park’s walkway wouldn’t see us. We were in our own world, gently lit by the neon signs reflected in the water. Even the songs the crickets sang were muted.

I shivered as Jin swam up to me.

“You cold?” His quiet voice seemed loud in the stillness of the night.

I shook my head and ducked under the water. When my lungs hurt from lack of oxygen, I burst into the air. Jin was nowhere to be seen. I turned until I caught sight of a few bubbles, which gave away his location.

When I paddled over, Jin grabbed me around the waist and wrestled me under the water. He wrapped me up tight as he twirled us in some strange underwater dance. Just when I decided his hug was better than air, he took us to the surface.

His arms didn’t drop away. He kept me close to him within the circle of his embrace. He stared as if waiting for me to do something. My heart raced, and despite the cool water, my cock grew rock hard. I hoped he didn’t realize my firmness pressed against his leg.

I tried to move away, but his toned appendages didn’t release me. “Tell me, does Bi Yu let you…do things?”

“Argh! What? No! I mean, I’m not going to say.” It was none of his business what I did or didn’t do with Bi Yu, though the idea of being intimate with her made me queasy. I tried not to dwell on my future relationship with her.

“Do you hold her like this?” His voice dropped as he pulled me closer into a lover’s embrace. His fingers combed through my hair tenderly, making my heart twist. I loved his touch but hated that he only teased me.

“Get off me!” I had to make him stop before I did something I shouldn’t. I protested and struggled, but he didn’t release me.

“Do you kiss her neck?” He moistened his lips before he trailed them down my throat. Before I could stop myself, I’d tilted my head to give him access.

His soft lips caressed my throat, driving me mad. I tried to fight, but my body wound up and wanted more kisses. My cock didn’t understand he was pretending. If I didn’t make him stop, I would come. Right there in the cold, dirty lake, I would humiliate myself. I was going to shoot off in my best friend’s arms.

Disappointment rushed through me as I pushed him and he finally let me go. The light from the neon played tricks with the shadows because he appeared hurt. He turned and did a shallow dive. We swam a little longer, but the tension between us couldn’t be broken.

2012 (One year ago)
After Jin got his massage therapist certification, he wanted to move. We kept having the same conversation about it. “Come with me to Suzhou, Styx. The big boss wants me in his new spa. I contacted my mother’s brother, and he wants us to live in his apartment.”

Suzhou was a small town by Chinese standards, with only nine million people, but it was a growing city two hours west of Shanghai. I really wanted to go, but it wasn’t because of Suzhou. Moving would be a way to be with Jin.

“Why doesn’t he rent out his apartment?”

“He wants me closer to him and he can’t trust a renter to take care of the place like we would.” True, we wouldn’t trash it the way many people would by being careless. “Sometimes, renting costs more in terms of repairs then leaving it vacant.”

We were on the edge of the lake. Jin practiced yoga, and I tapped a pair of chopsticks on the bench, trying not to stare. He’d started doing yoga a few years ago, and the exercise toned his body. Not that I noticed. I tried to distance myself from the inappropriate feelings.

A question had buzzed around my head since I heard the rumors about what massage therapists did with VIPs. The question tumbled from my lips. “Is it true?”

“What?” Jin twisted into another impossible yoga pose.

I pulled my gaze from his body. “What people say happens in the VIP room. Is it true?”

“What do—” He glanced over at me. Jin sighed and bent over to reach his hands far between his legs on the lake’s boardwalk.


The affirmation made me sick. “How could you do that?”

“It’s just another muscle. I rub it if it’s tense.” He shrugged as if trying to convince himself what he did in the name of work was no big deal.

I tried to erase the image of Jin stroking off some guy. I pretended it didn’t matter if he touched girls, but if he wanted to touch a guy, it should be me.

But he didn’t want to do that; it was the job.

I watched as he stretched one yoga position into another. The beat of my wooden sticks faltered.
“My teacher is preparing me how to work with some of our special VIP clients.” He talked while he held a position which made his ass arch in my direction as he stretched his arms forward. “Some people have special needs…”

He released the position and turned to peek at me through his blond hair. It sparkled in the sunshine. My breath caught. At times, his beauty hurt my heart to watch him.

“What special needs?” What else did Jin do? To distract myself, I restarted a fast beat on the bench.
He took several deep breaths before relaxing into the warrior pose. “Sometimes, a big businessman wants to give up control. The spa offers it to some of the clients.”

“Not wanting to be in control? Who wouldn’t want to be in control?” I shook my head in confusion as he smiled at me. My chopsticks dropped out of my hands. I had to ask. “Are you a whore?”

What else did you call someone who got people off for money?

Jin didn’t seem offended. “Of course not. I don’t fuck anyone. I provide a service. It isn’t about sex.”
A big part of me didn’t want to know, because then I’d be forced to acknowledge it. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I picked up my makeshift drumsticks and changed the subject. “I thought your mother didn’t talk to her brother.”

From the time Jin’s mother became pregnant with him until her death last year, she was estranged from her family. The entire clan had disowned her when Jin’s father didn’t marry her when she got pregnant with Jin except her brother. They had disowned her brother long before her misfortune but he remained in contact through letters. I had no clue why Jin’s family cut his Uncle Bao-zhi out of the family. But he always sent money and presents for Jin so he couldn’t have been a bad guy.

“They only exchanged letters, but at the end, she gave me his address since he would be the only family I would have.”

“I’m your family.” I said it without thinking, but I meant it.

He smiled as he bent into another position and held it. “I know.”

Jin sounded like he understood what he meant to me. I liked that.

“Styx, I want you to come to Suzhou with me. Please! You aren’t making a lot in the factory. At this rate, you’ll be eighty before you have enough for Bi Yu’s family to let you marry.”

Maybe not being able to marry was the point. My hands flew as I rapped out a fast beat. I still dreaded the day I’d have to marry her. She wasn’t a bad choice, but I didn’t desire a wife. Judging by the time I’d spent with her, it seemed like she didn’t wish for me to be her husband.

Something was wrong with me, something no one would ever understand. How could they? I didn’t want what everyone else wanted. I turned away from Jin. I didn’t want him to read me.

“Please. The big boss said he’d have a job for you. You’d be like a manager or something of the spa.” When I didn’t say anything, he continued. “My uncle says we can stay rent-free in his investment property. The apartment is right on the lake. Because of the new regulations, he can’t sell it for three more years. All we’d have to do is keep it clean. But utilities and everything would be included.”
Jin would go with or without me. Nothing bound him to our hometown. He was free, and he could fly.
I didn’t want to be left behind…not yet.

Jin emerged from his pose and shifted into another. He grabbed his ankle and twisted it above his head. It was impossible for me to refuse him when he moved so sensually.

I tried not to notice what the stretching did to his thin white pants. I twisted around on the bench to hide my erection as I tucked the chopsticks in my back pocket.

“My uncle has a friend who might know some guys who are searching for band members.”

My dreams of being a drummer died the day my mother snapped my drumsticks in half, and told me to stop being foolish. Even though our music teacher thought we had ‘great’ potential no one else seemed to believe that, including me.

Two weeks later…
Bi Yu twirled her hair as I tried to tell her I needed to leave. Her eyes kept drifting to the farmer’s son packing her mother’s order. Accompanying her to the wet market was the closest we ever came to a date. Every few days, I accompanied her and carried her family’s meat and vegetables back to their house.

She treated me more like a pack animal than a boyfriend.

“Did you hear me? I’ve decided to go to Suzhou.”

She nodded her head and flipped her long hair like a movie star, but she didn’t spare me a glance. Her gaze seemed glued to Cong’s shirtless body as he selected the best produce for her.

“Um, how long will you be gone?” Her disinterested tone spoke volumes.

Cong’s head snapped up as if waiting for my answer.

I shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess three to five years.”

I figured three to five years was the average time most people escaped to a city before being forced into beneficial marriages.

“Oh, is that all?” She sounded dismayed.

“Yeah, I’ll probably come home when I can for the Spring Festival.”

“Oh, you don’t have to come back to visit me.”

Bi Yu made puppy eyes at Cong. He put extra carrots in her bag and winked.

“Thank you. That’s sweet of you.” Bi Yu batted her eyelashes at Cong.

She pushed the overflowing bag in my direction. It hit my chest with a thump. Bi Yu leaned toward Cong as if she longed to be closer. Her voice turned husky. “Cong, give my best to your parents.”
“Of course, Bi Yu, and extend my wishes of health to your family.” He frowned at the need to acknowledge the fact I stood there.

“Oh, hey, Jun Tai.” He’d known since middle school I hated my given name. My friends called me Styx. By calling me Jun Tai, he indicated we were something else.

I acknowledged him. “Hey. I hope you’ll keep Bi Yu company while I’m gone.”

Cong’s eyes widened.

Bi Yu coughed and choked.

I glanced between them. “What? You shouldn’t sit home alone.”

Neither said a word.

Days later…
I sat next to Jin on the train to Suzhou. I traveled with my family’s support; they were happy in the belief I’d left to make more money to get married quicker. The sooner I married Bi Yu, the sooner the family would be secure in their future.

Bi Yu was happy for the freedom my departure afforded her.

The train made the scenery zip by us. We had never even left the Anhui Province before now. This was a huge deal. Opportunities like this weren’t an option until the government recently loosened its regulations on travel within the country. The prospect of a new place, a new job, and a new city to explore excited us beyond anything we’d yet experienced.

Ten months ago
I should’ve been happy. The huge luxury apartment was beautiful. Suzhou was much bigger than my hometown and boasted many more conveniences. The job running the spa wasn’t everything I hoped, but I made decent money and sent most of it home.

Living with Jin was both heaven and hell. I got to see him all the time, but it made the emotions I strove to suppress bubble to the surface. I feared I would act on my thoughts and it would destroy our friendship. I put my desire on lockdown.

I had problems getting off. Sadness and exhaustion overwhelmed me. The sadder I got, the harder it was to get an erection, let alone actually come. It was crazy! I was only twenty-two years old, and could barely get it up.

Of course, whom could I tell? I went to the clinic, talked about my tiredness, and answered some questions. No one asked about the male inadequacies that plagued me. The doctor diagnosed me as ‘depressed’. They gave me two bottles of different anti-depressants and sent me on my way.

I took the medicine as prescribed. I was still lost, but I found if I took both pills the doctor gave me, it distanced me from my melancholy. The medicine allowed me to be Jun Tai, the good Chinese boy who put his family’s best interest first. It helped me bury Styx and his dreams of music, freedom, and Jin.
But the medication made it even harder to orgasm. Sometimes, I went days without relief. I hurt. It made me even less of a man than my wayward thoughts toward Jin.

Six months ago
As my out of body experience continued I watched as I found the first site on autoerotic asphyxiation, anger spread through me at my stupidity. I was surprised China’s Internet filters allowed access to this site but not to regular pornography. The fact a regular pornography site might have helped me was not lost on me.

Even then, I knew asphyxiation was a bad idea. I didn’t care. Asphyxiation had once been used to treat people with impotence. I ignored the fact the treatment occurred in the 17th century. Desperate for the comfort only climax brought, I did what I had to do.

The first time, it worked like a charm. I came without dwelling on inappropriate thoughts. The release was strong. After I climaxed I pretended I wasn’t a complete wreck. I was in control of my body again.
To be smart, I devised a schedule and did it once every other week on the only night I had off which Jin didn’t. Each time the appointed day rolled around, I shook with lust at the knowledge I would finally get some relief…even though Jin had begun to seep back into my fantasies.

As darkness encroached, a replay of perhaps my last day flashed through my mind. I couldn’t wait for Jin to leave for his late shift at the spa. My hands shook a little as I set up in the bathroom, the delicious anticipation racing through me alongside guilt at doing something I shouldn’t. Through trial and error, I’d found the towel bar in the bathroom gave me the right support. I tightened the twisted towel with a wooden dowel.

With my defenses down, my mind sprinted to the one thing that guaranteed I’d blow my load: Jin. The thoughts I avoided every other moment of my day made me come perfectly.

I tried to loosen the towel, struggling to remain conscious but I wasn’t able.

Before the blackness descended, bitter regret crashed over me. My life would end before I’d lived it, before I explored the connection I had with Jin.

As I watched my pathetic life play out, fingers scrambling uselessly against the stuck dowel, I realized he might have returned the affection, but now I’d never know.

Anguish rushed to the forefront as every missed opportunity mocked my fading existence. I despised myself for not taking all those opportunities and not taking a chance to find a bit of happiness. I would die having buried who I was.
 Here is a link to a site dedicated to translations of Yaoi into English (scanlations). However, it is expected you will buy it in English when it is available. Please heed the sign… It would be a tragic outcome.

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