Henry and Isolde
JUICY SAMPLER ~ Meg Amor ©
I’ve always believed in love and romance. I write deep, sensual, romance stories about heartfelt connections and deep soul relationships. Passionate sex, as well as the character’s inner workings—their vulnerabilities, emotions, and thoughts—are what make a love story exciting and real. I love to write sensual, erotic romance, with committed poly, and gay male/male relationships.
When I was eleven, I hand-wrote and "published" my first book about my parent's separation. Constantly told as a child I had a vivid and (over) active imagination, the dawn of the computer era meant I could now take dictation at speed from the interesting characters galloping around my head.
I grew up in New Zealand, and temporarily live in California with my American fur child Leo Ray Jr., the Ginger Ninja. But my heart and soul are split between my American home state of Hawai'i in Kona on the Big Island, and the sultry, steamy Southern city of New Orleans. Nearly all my books are set in Hawai'i or New Orleans, along with snatches of New Zealand for good luck.
I’m a bohemian and gypsy at heart, and love to travel all over the world. One of my great loves are open cockpit biplanes and the gentle waft into the air from a grass strip. Given a choice, I’d eat out most nights. Fine dining, French, Fusion, Afghani, and Burmese food are some of my all-time favorites. But my fav junk food is New Zealand fish and chips cooked in pure fat. Never one to do things by halves, I believe in the motto "Amor Vincet Omnia"—Love Conquers All.
“Do you paint there or have a studio?”
“I paint there. You’d have to be a brave person to cope with the smells of paint, linseed, oils, and turps.” I grimace. It’s a bit of a shithole, actually. When I look at this place, it’s aesthetically pleasing, not gay. Yes, I know, I’m a disgrace to the brotherhood or whatever we’re called. But I’ve never been into Marilyn or any of the other gay clichés. I’m not camp. I don’t flounce. Neither does he. He’s gentle, but that’s different. I like that.
I hand him his wine, and we clink glasses. He has decent glassware too. I was brought up like this, and it does appeal to me. Mum always has an eye for fine things. Silver, crystal, nice china and decor. Perhaps I could hang some of my own work when I get back to LA. The thought hits me in the gut. I don’t want to go back to LA. Shit. I’ll deal with this later. Tonight, I’m having a nice dinner, in a nice place, with a really nice man. This time I’m speared in my chest, and I gasp.
“You all right?” he asks, concerned.
“Yeah, sorry, just ah…caught my toe. Ow.”
“Sorry. Slate floors. Rough in places.”
I nod. I’m rough in places too and out of practice at behaving like a civilized human being. Or being emotionally open…
He slides the door across, and we go out onto the lanai to get the barbecue going. It’s a wee hibachi grill, not what I’m expecting.
“Where’s the big masculine he-man American grill? I’m a Kiwi—we conquered Everest, you know. And I’m supposed to cook on this wee thing?”
He’s unsure how to react to me. Confusion on his face.
“I’m teasing. Sorry, bad Kiwi habit. You’ll get used to it.” I give myself a jolt. That sounded slightly permanent.
He starts it up, and it’s actually a perfect thing to do something like fish over.
“Hey, this is pretty nifty. I wouldn’t mind one of these.”
He checks to see whether I’m teasing again.
“Seriously, very choice. Where can you get these?”
“You probably haven’t heard of it; it’s called a hardware store.”
We grin at each other.
Again, those eyes look me up and down, scanning my face. He maps information, studying me. I stand still so he can look. Watching him, watching me. “See anything you like?”
“Yes,” he replies softly.
Sometimes he almost gives me the impression he doesn’t quite know what he’s doing with me. Like this is new for him or something. I flash on the truck he got picked up in the other day.
I turn the fish and try to casually ask, “Who’s that woman I saw you with the other day?”
“My ex-wife, Mikey.”
The statement hangs between us. I have to digest that.
“How long have you been out?”
“Not long. Just last year.”
“All my life. Always knew I was gay.”
“What did your family say?”
“I told Mum first, and all she said was, ‘Goodo, darling, bring your boyfriend home for tea one night if you like. It’ll be nice to meet him.’”
He laughs. “Was she really that relaxed about it?”
“Oh yeah. Mum’s an actress—she’s used to different people, so she takes things in her stride. She just wanted me to be happy. One of my uncles kicked up a fuss, and Mum said, ‘For God’s sake, Ron, I don’t give a wit about my children’s sexuality, as long as they’re happy and not on drugs or in jail.’ That ended that convo—my Uncle Ron’s kids have been in all sorts of trouble.”
I smile at him. I’m fascinated by the way he says it, like it was no big deal. “I was glad my mom had passed, so I didn’t have to tell her. I’m hoping that in spirit, she’d be more forgiving of me. I wasn’t sure how she would’ve taken it if she’d been alive. I don’t talk to my father, so that’s a no-brainer. I doubt he’d speak to me anyway. When Mom died, I cut myself off from him. I’d had enough.”
“Sounds like you had a bit of a rough upbringing,” he says.
“It wasn’t the best.” That’s an understatement.
“What made you finally come out?”
“Mikey presented me with a divorce one day. Said she needed to find a nice man and thought I did too.”
“Bugger me,” he laughs. “Did she really do that? She sounds like a character.”
“Yes, she is. She’s a nice woman. We’re friends.” I sound defensive.
“That’s cool. It’s always nice to still be mates with your exes.”
He accepts it so readily. Some of my gay friends find it weird I’d still be friends with her. I always feel caught between two worlds when that happens. This island’s small when it comes down to it. Everyone knows everyone else’s business.
“Do you want to eat out here or inside?” I ask.
“Let’s eat out here. It’s cooled off a wee bit.”
I light the citronella torches, then go inside for the salad and pilaf. This is nice. I haven’t had this with anyone for a while. I lean against the kitchen counter and take a sip of my wine. It’s good. He’s good. Can I let him get under my skin? I hope so.
We sit down and help ourselves to everything. The fish is ono. The sauce just right—a perfect balance between the butter, cream, garlic, wine, and lemon juice.
“This is really good. Thanks.” He holds up his wineglass, and we clink. I like the intimacy of the dinner out here on the lanai. He seems at home, relaxed. We talk all through the meal, easy and flowing. He sprawls out in the chair after the meal. He’s eaten everything. A good appetite on him. “That was delicious, thanks. Any pud?” I frown. I’m not sure what he’s asking.
He sees my face. “Pudding. Dessert?”
“Oh, got you. Yes, there is.” I laugh. “I have to listen hard sometimes to some of your words. Some I don’t understand.”
“That’s all right. Just ask. I’m happy to explain.” He reaches across the table to take my hand, pulling it to him and kissing my palm. “Beautiful meal. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Anytime.”
He studies me. His head to one side, those electric-blue eyes sparking and flaring. God, I want him.
“Shall I get the pudding?” he asks, all eager and peppy.
“Okay. It’s, um, mango crème brûlée, not chocolate, made with all cream.” I feel like I have to apologize for that.
“Okay, sounds good.” He nods. “Do they need torching?”
“I’m allergic to dairy products,” I blurt out.
“Oh, are you? That sucks. My mum is too. She gets the most shocking sinus headaches from it. She takes Lactaid, but if she forgets or doesn’t take enough, then she’s as sick as a dog. It really knocks her.”
“I should try that sometime, see if it works for me.”
“Worth a shot.”
Okay, well, it’s now or never. “Does it depress her or anything?”
He thinks about it. “Yeah, actually, it does. She calls it the ‘black dog’ barking at her heels. Do you get that?”
He’s genuinely interested, and I know I have to start as I mean to go on.
“Yes, I do. Sometimes it just descends on me.”
I’m waiting for the judgment or for him to pull back, but I don’t feel him do any of that.
“Mum’s the same. Drives her nuts. Especially in my country. We’re known to have one of the toughest sports teams in the world—be a man, harden up—all that shit. The All Blacks, our international rugby team, define our country. The sport’s practically a religion. We had an All Black that ‘came out.’ Not for being gay, but worse, for having depression. Bloody disgusting. God forbid New Zealanders should let themselves feel their feelings. Do you know New Zealand has one of the highest young male suicide rates in the world? It’s shameful. I’m embarrassed to be a Kiwi sometimes, when stuff like that comes up.” He toys with the napkin ring.
“I didn’t know that. We have a lot of young Hawaiian men who get into trouble of different kinds too.”
“We men—I don’t think we’re getting the best deal in some ways, with this new millennium.”
“What makes you say that?”
“We’re on the arse end of the women’s lib movement, but I feel we’ve gotten lost in the shuffle a wee bit. What’s our role? Where do we fit now? I mean, it is a bit different for gay men. But even that’s changing. I remember the dreadful old queens that used to roll up at our place sometimes. Flaming! We used to have to keep the fire extinguishers at the ready.”
I bark with laughter. He’s funny. Very dry. I like it. I could get extremely used to his style and energy.
He grins, biting his lip and being flirty with me. God, he’s stunning. I want him, but does he want me? I turned him down earlier. I hope I haven’t screwed it up. He’s quite casual in the way he talks, but he’s got a sharp brain, and it’s highly appealing.
“I’ll get the pudding. Just point me in the right direction.” He gets up and quickly kisses me as he heads inside to the kitchen.
“The blow torch is on the bench.”
“No worries. I’m good at this.”
He fires up the torch and sprinkles sugar over the desserts.
“No, I’m not good at this. I’ve set the bloody thing on fire. Fuck.”
The dish clatters to the counter, and I leap up to help him. “Are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine. A bit singed, but I’ll live.” He grins.
He’s so engaging.
“I think my manly skills might be a bit lacking.” He laughs, like it’s the funniest thing. He sets me off, and he’s so gorgeous, I reach out for him.
“Ohh, yes, yes, yes, fuck, I want you,” he groans, kissing me, plunging his tongue into my mouth, making me sigh deeply with pleasure. “Take me to bed,” he commands.
Hot blue eyes sear into me. His mouth grabs my lips, tugging, sucking, tasting.
His hands frantically unzip my shorts, pushing them down abruptly with my briefs. My penis springs free, and his hand automatically slides onto it. I grunt. I’ll come too fast at this rate.
“Slow down,” I beg him.
“I can’t,” he cries out, frantically unzipping his shorts and pushing them down.
I go with it because my own fierce passion is just as intense. The sight of his thick shaft swinging makes mine jerk and harden even more. We kiss and fondle. Gorgeous warm skin. I grab him by his cock and pull him upstairs with me. After more groping, we tumble onto the bed, and he pins me down. Suddenly, it’s going too fast for me. It’s lost its seductive, sensuous edge. I want to make love, not have sex. His energy feels frantic and frenzied, like I’m not even here. I don’t like it.
“Slow down,” I repeat.
His cock grinds into me. As turned on as I am, I’m feeling pushed and like an object, a vessel for his compulsion. He’s going to get his rocks off whether I’m with him or not.
“What the fuck is with you?” I shove him off me.
“Don’t slow me down, please.”
“What’s going on?” The change in pace and energy has thrown me. I don’t know what’s happening. The aggression bothers me. I want to make love, not fuck with someone.
His chest is heaving. He looks everywhere but at me.
“What’s going on?” I ask him gently.
He shakes his head. His eyes plead with me.
“Talk to me, please. I want you, but I want to make love. I don’t want just sex. If you want that, maybe you need to go home.”
“No.” He buries his head in my chest, and I wrap him in my arms, kissing and stroking his thick hair. I love the feel of his warm body against mine. His cock rubs mine, sending a sharp spike into my balls.
“Baby, what’s wrong?”
Oh God, fuck it all. How do I explain this? I can’t even talk. I’m about two seconds off bawling my eyes out. What the hell will he think of me then? All the emotions well up in my chest, choking off my breath and speech. He lifts my chin, and fuck, I’m shaking badly.
“It’s okay, I’m here,” he whispers.
Shit, tears stream down my cheeks. He pulls me to his chest and soothes. His big hands stroke my back. He kisses my hair, and his soft mouth nuzzles my neck. All the tenderness I crave, but it’s unraveling my defenses. I want to stop crying. What a fuckwit.
“Don’t try and stop it; just let it come. I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere,” he says quietly.
And I bawl. Blubbering all over him, snotting up his chest, unable to stop. No kidding on the leaving my manly skills somewhere. God, he’s going to think I’m a real dick.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I keep repeating between crying jags. What a wanker. I finally start to slow down and struggle for breath. “Can’t breathe.” I push myself off him and sit on the side of the bed, embarrassed, feeling about an inch high. Shit, where are my clothes? I need to get dressed, get out of here. He moves on the bed. Probably getting up, escaping from me.
So I’m surprised when he slides in behind me, his legs either side of mine. He pushes tissues into my fingers and wraps his large hands around my chest, rocking me gently. Then he starts a soft chant. I try to get up, but he holds me to him. Rocking, the drumbeat tattooed on my chest with his fingers, and the soft lullaby lulls me into calmness. I blow my nose about a hundred times. His hand leaves me for a moment and pushes the tissue box forward. Then his arm wraps around me again, and he continues to rock us. The soft Tahitian chant relaxes me.
When I can breathe and have stopped crying, he says, “Come back into bed. I don’t want you to go.”
What? I’ve just bawled my fucking eyes out, and he wants me to stay? What the fuck? I bet I look ratshit too.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper.
“Bawling, being all emotional on you.” I can’t look at him. I feel like a bloody idiot.
“It’s good to cry.” He strokes my hair again.
“Not in my country. Kia kaha. Stay strong. Toughen up.” I almost spit.
“I thought your mom would have been good with feelings.”
“She was. Dad wasn’t great. Half the time, I think that’s what put him in an early grave. All that holding in of emotions. It reminds me of an old ad we had in New Zealand for Tanalised fence posts. They were treated with a preservative, Tanalith, and their tagline was, ‘They’re tough, rugged, and durable.’ It’s a legacy all New Zealanders are brought up with, including the women. My sister Rach hates it. She won’t live back there because of it. I suppose, in a way, that’s why I don’t go back either.”
This is a lot for me to admit.
“Come here, baby. Get into bed. We’ll cuddle and talk.”
I realize he’s just called me baby and I don’t want to kill him. I let him ease me back into bed and spoon himself around me. Shit, it feels good. He gently kisses the back of my neck, and I want to give in to him. Just let myself be loved and cared for. I turn around in his arms and finally face him. “I’m sorry. I fucked up a great evening.”
“I don’t think so,” he says simply.
I shake my head in disbelief. “What do you mean? I just pushed you with sex. Then bawled my fucking eyes out.”
“You let me in. You opened up to me.” He shrugs. “I like that.”
I look into his eyes, and all I see is care.
“It’s hard for me to do, you know.”
“It makes me feel really vulnerable.” My voice catches again.
“I don’t mind. What got triggered?”
“I don’t know. I think just you being gentle with me. Caring, loving…” I shrug. It’s embarrassing how much I crave that.
“Well, that’s kind of who I am.”
I consider what he’s told me. Trying to sort it out in my head. I feel the pull of his gorgeous body again. Our cocks pressed together, balls getting nicely squished. I slide my hand down and touch him, running my fingers through his black pubic hair.
“Hey, you have pubes—what’s up with that? It’s un-American.” I try for lighthearted, distracting him and me away from my intense display of emotions earlier.
He laughs. “I’m still a man,” he says, echoing my earlier sentiments this week to Roberty Bob.
“Yes, you are. A very nice man.” I kiss him slowly this time. Feeling shaky with the barrier I’m taking down but wanting to do it. The reality is—I need to.
I slowly kiss down his neck, planting soft, small kisses along the lei lines on his chest. Feeling his center, tugging on the big brown nipples. They pucker and point under my tongue. I lick down his taut belly to bury my nose in the tangy scent of him. He’s thick and uncut, just how I like them. A thick vein throbs and begs for a tongue. His balls are already high and tight. I slide him into my mouth for the first time and groan with pleasure.
I love to suck cock. He’s thick and juicy. Meaty. His foreskin is full and velvety. Fuck, yes. I want this.
“Yes,” he sighs. His hands tug the hair on my head, pushing my head down onto his dick.
I get lost in the sensations of licking and lapping the smooth, velvet head. His balls are shaved, but I can live with that. They’re plump and sensitive to my touch. I part his thighs, spreading his legs so I can get at the delicate pucker I want to be buried in. His legs jiggle. I reach over and grab the lube from his bedside table. Flicking the lid, I drizzle the silky lube slowly down the side of his balls, watching it slide down his perineum and onto his arse.
He groans as his hands clutch my hair. I suck a ripe nut into my mouth. His musky male scent fills my nostrils. With my finger, I ease open the place I want to be. I desperately want to be inside him, fucking his brains out, until he can’t talk, can’t move.
He reaches down to turn my body around. I know what he wants. I straddle his face and lower my hard cock to his waiting lips, watching his tongue flick and lick. His mouth opens wide, and I thrust into his warm wetness, my length scraping his teeth as he adjusts to my size. I slide the lube down to him, our hands connect, and he squeezes my fingers.
His long hair is spread on the pillow. I keep kneeling on it, tugging it by accident. He gathers it into bunches and wraps it around my cock and balls. It’s the most exotic sight.
I’m so caught up in what he’s doing, I’m neglecting him, but I can’t concentrate on two things at once. I rest my head instead between his thighs, caught up in the scents and sensations at every end of my body.
Oh God, I want to come. My balls tighten, and my shaft is rigid, pulsing with need. His hot mouth leaves my dick and slowly licks my arsehole. I cry out. I’m throbbing everywhere, all the nerve endings alive and scorched. He works his tongue into my pucker, and I nearly lose it. More lube. A thumb, and the sensation takes me to guns zone straightaway. I nuzzle his cock, sinking my nostrils into his ball sac. He takes me back into his mouth and fucks my arse with his thumb. Jesus.
I can’t help it; I thrust into his mouth, my balls burying his nose. He slides out of my pucker, and I want to scream. But the sensation is back as he slides in two fingers. I like watching him finger fuck me as my cock fucks his mouth. Jesus, I can’t wait.
He’s moaning in pleasure. I’m whimpering; the deep sensations and tugging are close to taking me over the edge. I pull away, but he holds me there, increasing his rhythm, and I let my body go there. Pumping his mouth as he stretches my arsehole, through the sphincters, hitting the pleasure nerves.
“Shit, shit,” I pant. I’m coming.
He holds me tightly, increasing the fucking motion inside me and on me. The push comes up through my balls, the tight tingling, and I press down into his throat. He gags and pushes my dick into his cheek, holding me there so I can jet into his mouth and down his throat. Long fingers plunge deeper inside me, hitting the sweet spot. He tightens his mouth on my shaft, and I orgasm.
I shoot into his mouth, look back, and watch the saliva-laced cum dribble down his chin. His eyes are closed with an ecstatic look, biting his lip, shaking, as my cock rests on his face. The glisten of cum trails across his beautiful brown skin. He slowly withdraws his fingers and kisses each arse cheek tenderly. My stomach clenches when he does it. It’s so intimate. Loving.
I roll off him, and he pulls me up to his chest.
“You taste good,” he says, those sultry, shy eyes soaking it up. He sticks out his tongue, and I lick it. We smile at each other.
“Fuck, that was good. I came hard.” I moan softly, burying my face in his chest.
“I’m glad, baby—I wanted you to.” He strokes my hair, nuzzling my head. It’s the same sensation I use when I want to come quickly but the guy I’m with isn’t quite getting me there. I soak it in, even though I’m quivering with feelings on a level I can’t place my finger on.
“Can I make love to you?” he asks gently, and my heart catches in my throat.
I nod into his chest. I’m caught in the sensations I don’t usually let myself feel. I release my hold on the armor plating slowly. I’d pulled it up sharply after bawling before. It had left me shaky and exposed. But he’s got to me. The gentle caring, his mellow energy.
I squeeze his hand and slide off him onto my stomach. The click of the lube bottle, the foil on the condom packet being torn, and I push up onto my knees, offering my arse. He fingers me, scissoring. His big hand slides down to my balls to fondle and play with them.
“I like your balls. Your cock’s thick and uncut. You’re beautiful,” he says slowly, and I nearly bite through my lip.
He slowly massages my bum, working his thumbs into me, kissing my back. With my cheeks in the air, I can see his dick swinging. I want that juicy cock inside me, fucking me to death.
Involuntary groans leave my lips. He’s teasing me, pushing the head in and then leaving me empty again as he pulls out. I glance at him over my shoulder, and his eyes meet mine. There’s deep caring in them. I can’t look anymore; too many intense feelings course through my body. I’m panting and rasping for breath. He slides partially into me again, and I cry out. Fuck, enough. I reach back and pull his arse into me.
His fullness stretches me, the base of his shaft in as far as it will go.
“Goddd…” I cry out in pleasure, clutching fistfuls of the feather pillows on his bed. He pulls me onto my hands and knees to ream his dick into me. My cock flops between my legs, creating little currents each time it touches my thigh or balls.
He slowly pulls back from me, and I cry out with the delicious sensations. He pulls all the way out, and I hiss, “No.”
He tumbles me over onto my back and swings up on his arms to kiss me slowly. Our tongues entwine, lingering, while his cock brushes mine. Long, silky hair feathers my chest. His sensuous eyes smile as I suck his tongue into my mouth.
“I want to see you,” he whispers.
I close my eyes. Already this is way more intimate than I’m used to.
His warm mouth kisses and licks down my stomach as it contracts and aches with desire. He pushes my legs over for me to hold. It’s the most exposed position. One hand holds my penis and balls out of the way. The other positions his cock into my hole again. Fuck, yes. The big tip slides in, and I’m going crazy with this.
He steadily pushes into me, watching my face the whole time. I want to look away, but his gaze holds me there. It’s like being stripped bare, having my insides eviscerated, on display for all to see. I start to lose it and break eye contact. His cock completely fills me now. He stops, and I want to scream. This is like being on a rollercoaster, but weirder sensations.
He nuzzles my ear, licking the shell, nipping lightly along the lobe, then a firm pump into me. He finds his rhythm, thrusting his hard, thick cock in and out. I let go. Closing my eyes and letting him fuck me hard. It’s what I want.
I relax my legs and play with his long hair, burying my face in it, getting myself reamed good and hard. Fuck, this is good.
He’s grunting, and we’re both panting hard.
“Baby, baby,” he cries out, and I don’t want to tell him to fuck off.
“Come, babe,” I whisper, and a strangled gasp ripples through the air as he orgasms, collapsing onto my chest. Our sweat rolls and mixes as it courses down our bodies.
“Fuck, fuuuckkk,” he hisses in my ear.
His head comes up, and we nuzzle and kiss. His eyes are glazed and dreamy.
I did that to you, I think. I made you feel that good. It dips into a deep pit in my stomach and worms its way into my heart.
HAWAIIAN LEI ~
Beau Toyama, biplane pilot and flight instructor on the Big Island of Hawai’i has only been out for a year. His last relationship with a man was a disaster. When he meets Matt Quintal, who’s visiting his sister, he’s stunned by the instant attraction to him. But Beau’s afraid to ask for what he needs in a relationship; his anger frightens him. The “mixed plate” Hawaiian/Japanese/Tahitian man works on being Zen calm but Matt brings all his emotions to the surface. It uncovers a devastating secret from his childhood and deep shame that needs healing.
Matt Quintal, New Zealand painter has been living the wild gay life in LA. After one more night of soulless mechanical sex where his body is engaged but his emotions aren’t—he knows he needs a change. His sister wants him to come to Hawai’i for a visit; another big rock in the middle of the Pacific doesn’t seem like a solution but he has to do something. When he flies with Beau in his biplane, he feels a strong pull toward both man and plane that he can neither explain nor deny.
Matt’s a New Zealander, they’re encouraged to be tough, rugged and durable. He is, but he's emotionally a wreck, afraid to show his emotions, so he’s surprised when Beau encourages him to be all of himself. Has he finally found the freedom to be the man he wants to be? The heat between the two men is like watching Pele let her hair down, releasing her hot, molten lava. Will the gorgeous Hawaiian with his long silky black hair and soulful brown eyes finally convince the gypsy nature in Matt to put down roots in another island culture?
Hawaiian Lei by Meg Amor
Edited by Heather Hollis
Cover Art by Syneca Featherstone
Published by Loose Id, LLC
Barnes and Noble
I come back into the here and now. Kulani’s waving one hand in front of my face, his other laced through mine, squeezing firmly. “You okay?” he asks me quietly.
I can’t speak. I just nod, tears aching in my throat. He pulls me gently into his arms, and for a brief moment, I feel his heart energy open up and engulf me. Then it withdraws, like a hand jerking back abruptly from a hot stove. He stands back and softly strokes my hair back on either side of my face. Two wounded men trying to find a middle ground, an even keel.
I exhale some of the tension I’ve built up, and he holds my hands, running his eyes over me, checking me emotionally on some level. He nods and steps back, dropping my hands. He leans in and kisses me softly on the lips, and I realize he’s given me a gift. A piece of him he doesn’t let many people see.
“Thank you,” I say quietly.
He nods again, his deep brown eyes opening the shutters to his soul for a moment. He knows the pain. That’s why I’m finding it hard to tell him to fuck off when he’s being a wanker.
“It’s a good day to be on the water,” he says.
“Too right,” I agree.
He nods again, and we both work to get her underway. I let Kulani take her out through the breakwater. His energy is a wee bit steadier than mine at the moment.
“You’re a natural on the water,” I tell him. “I’d trust you anywhere on a boat.”
“Yeah, well, don’t get your confidence in me too high. I come from an oceangoing family that lost one of its own.”
“I’m sorry, what happened?”
“You heard of the Hokule’a?”
“Of course, the double-hulled voyaging canoe that does the ancient sea routes between here and all over the Pacific by starlight navigation. The zenith star that rises above Honolulu is Arcturus. You guys call it Hokule’a.”
“Yeah.” He smiles, looking pleased.
“The only guy I know who lost his life was Eddie Aikau when she capsized in
‘78 off Molokai.”
He nods. “He was my grandfather’s cousin.”
“Wow… You wouldn’t have even been born then.”
“Yeah, I know. But you grow up here. The legend lives on. My family still goes over to ‘the Eddie’ surf champs at Waimea Bay on O’ahu every time the conditions are right and they run it. I’ve competed once.” He smiles shyly, and I’m intrigued.
“That means you’re a big-wave rider. You have to be invited to surf in that.” I’m slightly in awe. Holy moly.
He nods, grinning, proud of himself. And rightly so. They don’t just let anyone go out there in thirty-foot waves. Pretty bloody gutsy.
“I’m a ‘regular foot’ like he was.” He grins shyly again. Hell, he’s appealing. Dangerous too, if he goes out surfing in waves that big. The adrenaline rush would be off the charts. I can just see him on a board, that long, curly hair blowing in the surf spray. Pinup poster boy—Hawaiian surfer hunk.
What the hell does he want with me? I’m twice his age, and starting to get that weather-beaten look, life-beaten maybe.
I’ve got two inches on his six feet, my hair’s dark brown with touches of gray and slightly long on top, but without his length. It’s thick and just long enough to spike up a bit. Brown eyes, olivey skin that tans relatively easily. I don’t think I’m anything to write home about. I’m no Pierce Brosnan, despite having a Black Irish background. A bit more of a rugged Colin Farrell apparently. But I think you’d have to be half-cut, squinting slightly, and have a rabid imagination to reach that conclusion. Despite tanning well, initially I still have to keep the sunscreen companies in holiday homes for the next hundred years. It’s a pain in the arse.
He watches me spraying myself down for the second time today, like I’m trying to kill some infestation of lice. I have a low burn time, but once I get a good layering of tan, I do better. It’s been a while since I’ve been out on the water all day. He takes the can from me and sprays the backs of my legs and arms. His hot eyes strip me down, and my cock gives a twinge. I grunt slightly, and he laughs.
Once we’re out in open water, I take the helm and let him run around doing the sails. He’s younger than me and just watching him move gives me a nice semi-hard-on. His brown limbs and hard muscles coil and uncoil with ease. His hair’s tied back in a loose bun with a bone comb, so it’s not streaming around his face. We sail hard for Maui, the wind with us all the way, and it’s exhilarating, freeing.
A pod of spinner dolphins runs with us half the way, enjoying the company. Kulani lies on the deck with his arm in the water. They brush against him as they plow under the bow, before racing back to take another pass. They’re playing a game. When we start the tack for Maui, they jump out of the water, almost en masse saluting us, and head back to the Big Island.
“Friends of yours?” I ask.
“Yep.” Kulani grins, lightly springing up from the deck. He comes and stands with me at the wheel and some impulse makes me pull him in front of me, wrapping my arm around him as I steer the boat. He leans his head back on my shoulder, and we stay like that until we’re closer in to the island of Maui and the sails need trimming.
We drop anchor in Hamoa Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in the Hawaiian Islands. A golden sand-swept beach that’s accessed from a steep set of steps, but it’s worth it. Nice shelter and smooth, creamy sand. Though, truthfully, we have some pretty gorgeous ones on the Big Island too.
Kulani pulls out his comb and dives straight into the clear blue water. I throw on a rash guard, toe my boat shoes off, and do the same. He’s like watching a seal in the water, powering through it slickly. Diving and swimming, he darts down between my legs to palm my cock. Coming up for air, laughing and teasing, flicking those luxurious curls out of his face. He’s really quite beautiful.
He pulls my body into his and kisses me hotly, rubbing his groin invitingly into mine. His hot eyes, black now from arousal, spear me in the balls. We roll around in the water, acting the goat and playing. He makes me feel young again. I still wonder what the hell he sees in me.
Man, I’m enjoying this. Out here with Rob, just us. Shit, he pushes some buttons in me, though. He asks really personal questions and deep probing ones. I’ve felt put on the spot a few times. I’m trying to not be defensive, but shit—it’s like someone taking a filleting knife to my gut. I’m not sure whether he’s doing it on purpose or what. It pisses me off sometimes. As if I want to dig up my shitty fucking past. Spill my guts and show someone my broken bits. He catches me off guard all the time, though.
The thing is, I like him.
I like him a lot.
He’s older and sexy. He’s got this rangy, hard-ass, Colin Farrell thing going on. Cute accent. I’ve always enjoyed hearing that Kiwi accent in my travels around the globe. Not the hard American Mainland sounds. He says things like “cah,” for car. But my cousin’s a Kiwi too, so I mostly understand Rob. When I don’t, I just nod like an idiot. He talks faster than Mattie, but I don’t want to say I don’t understand him. He’ll think I’m a dick.
I think he already does a bit anyway.
When I get around people I like, I act out. Get stupid.
My counselor and I have been working on it. But it still has a ways to go. I don’t think we’re getting anywhere sometimes, but my kahuna elder won’t let me continue training as a healer without it. I see his point. I can’t help others if I can’t help myself or don’t look at my own stuff. But it hurts.
Sometimes it’s like a knife through my gut. The sharp edge slicing into my fucking soul.
He says I’m confrontational and won’t face things.
I’m too fucking scared to.
Now, I’ve just found out Rob’s a therapist by training. Joke’s on me, Universe.
Still, I like him. He’s interesting. I think he must have had something painful happen in his life. This morning on the boat, when I first got there, he went stock-still, staring off into space, a million memories playing across his face, the pain etching into the corners of his mouth and eyes. I wanted to ask, but I was too scared. I didn’t want to upset him further, although maybe he needed to talk. I was frightened of my own reaction. Now, I feel bad I didn’t take it further. I don’t know how to bring it up; I’ve been trying to think of some way to do it, but I’m out.
Instead we’re playing around in the water, and I’ve got a throbbing hard-on. He’s sexy, fuckable—except I’m not sure he’s a bottom. I’d do him, though. Just thinking about fucking him makes my cock jerk. We clamber back on board the boat, and I strip my board shorts off in the galley. He turns around from taking his rash guard off, and his eyes widen. He swallows hard, and I stroke my cock, walking toward him.
I mouth his lips, licking the salt off, trailing down his body to the tight pink nipples. Tugging them hard with my teeth and pushing his sexy blue bikinis down at the same time.
He groans. “You’re a wee bit too sexy, you know that?”
I come back up to his ear and whisper, “So are you. Suck my cock.”
I push him down onto the banquet seating and lean into him, placing my hands on the wall behind him. He clutches my ass cheeks, slurping my dick, the cute little earring jiggling as his mouth devours me. His thighs are spread, and his cock jumps up and down. I want him too.
I pull him up, and we dance our way back toward the stateroom cabin. It’s not big, but we can lie side by side on the bed, mutually blowing each other. His cock’s long with a good knob; his dark pubes stand out starkly on the sexy olive skin. The split line on his nuts is taut and tight, already high and tense. His scrotum is goosed. I smooth it out with long, flat laps of my tongue, sucking the soft skin into my mouth while thrusting my cock between his eager lips and down his throat.
He’s uncut, with a thick foreskin, which I love. I roll it back and forth over the head, slowly licking the drips from his dick, catching the squirts in my mouth. I hook his leg over my shoulders and bury my nose in his ass. Nuzzling his pucker, I push my tongue into him, licking him hard between his balls and butt. The smell and taste of him makes my dick jerk.
He’s always given me an instant hard-on. When I saw him at the restaurant last night, I couldn’t believe my luck. Made a dick of myself, of course. Every time I’ve run into him, I’ve been tongue-tied and awkward. The only time I’ve been smooth was when I was out with some friends, and I was pretty wasted. I’d managed to get his number in my phone, but the next day I was too shy to call him.
Now I have his meat rubbing my throat, and it’s epic. I trail along his taint, then slide my mouth back onto his cock. We’re crying out, moaning and pleasuring each other. Shit, hope we dropped anchor far enough from shore. I nearly laugh, but he’s sucking my dick hard, and I lose myself in the arousal. My balls are tightening, his finger wriggles into my ass, and I contract my back, twisting as I shoot my load into his mouth. I’m panting so hard I can’t suck him.
All I can do is rest my head between his thighs, inhaling the pure masculine aroma of Rob. “God, babe,” I moan. He opens a side drawer, extracts lube and a condom, then crawls up to me and rolls me onto my stomach. Oh fuck, yes. When he finally penetrates me up to his balls, I’m completely gone. I surrender to him. He puts a pillow under my stomach and fucks me smoothly, pumping between my thighs, kissing the back of my neck.
“I love your long cock in me,” I whisper, and he releases a high-pitched cry. He likes the sexy talk. “Fuck me harder, baby.”
“Yes,” he grunts, rutting into me, hitting my pleasure spot over and over, until I’m nearly speechless.
“Love your big cock fucking me up the ass.” I hiss, and he comes, bellowing out. I milk his balls gently. He hangs over me, rasping for breath, sweat dripping onto my back. It’s fucking awesome.
“Fuck, babe, good,” he pants, collapsing his weight on me. “Hot, sorry,” he gasps.
“Don’t care. Love you here with me.”
He brushes my hair aside and kisses the back of my neck, coming around to my face. Our eyes meet, and he looks completely chilled out, happy. We smile at each other, and I want this day to not end. I’m already a little bit in love with him. Ever since I first saw him, I’ve had a bit of a crush going on. Now I’ve gotten to know him even a small amount, I know I’m going to be a lost cause. I should slow it down, but fuck, I really don’t want to. I want this man. I haven’t felt like that about anyone for a long, long time. Now I just have to not fuck it up by being a hot mess.
When he rolls off me, he doesn’t completely leave me. One leg still draped over my ass. We’re sweating like pigs, but I don’t care. I want his touch and him as near me as possible.
Holy mother of God… This man blows my nuts off. We doze for a while, waking up in a pile of sodden skin and bed sheets. The cabin’s damn hot. We stagger up and throw on the wet togs, diving straight into the water. I stay in the shade of the boat until Kulani makes me get out.
“Even in the water and no sun, you’ll get burned with your skin. Come on, out you get. You can get back in, but I have to spray you down.”
He’s oddly maternal at times.
We haul ourselves out. He quickly dries me off and sprays me down from head to toe. Then we dive back into the clear blue water. A nice wee breeze keeps it from being too hot and sticky. We snorkel for a while, then get out for a bite to eat. Sitting on the deck under the awning, we open up containers and bags. He laughs, and I look up to see what’s amusing him.
“There’s a half-eaten sandwich in here.” He grins.
“I was test driving it to make sure it had enough seasoning. Don’t eat that one if it’s yucky.”
He leans into me. “Baby, I had your juicy cock in my mouth. I don’t think a halfeaten sandwich is anything to worry about. You sex me up.” His eyes twinkle, and damned if I don’t want to fuck his brains out again.
“You’re a turn-on and incredibly gorgeous,” I tell him.
“So are you.” He smiles again, and I suddenly realize we’ve had a few hours now of Kulani not snarling or spitting or hissing at me. It’s lovely to see him relax and start to trust me possibly a little.
HAWAIIAN ORCHID ~
Kulani is “The Orchid,” a young, insecure, pro-surfer who comes from a rough background on the Big Island of Hawai’i. He’s Beau Toyama’s cousin from Hawaiian Lei. But he’s also a healer and has a heart as deep as the ocean he’s part of. Like the great Hawaiians, who have gone before him, warrior Kulani Mahikoa epitomizes the spirit of aloha and love. Kulani’s not only healing his own wounds, but “The Lost Boys”—young, homeless, abandoned and abused gay boys he’s taken under his wing.
Rob Masterson is a wounded psychologist who’s trying to come to terms with his husband Tony’s death. When he died, they were separated but still living together. Can the lone and lonely New Zealand widower reconcile all the pieces of guilt and love, to heal and fall in love again? When he drops anchor in Kona Harbor and meets the exotic islander—young, bolshie Kulani—explosive heat makes sparks fly between them.
Is the age difference between them a barrier or something they’ll get past? Kulani has more layers than Rob ever bargained for. And Rob’s tangled knot of responsibility, grief and guilt with his New Zealand heritage and past life is something he needs to untangle.
Two wounded men have to learn to trust and love one another. Traveling between the South Sea Islands of beautiful New Zealand and the exotic Hawaiian Islands—they forge a sea change, finding a home for their shrapnel laced souls.
Hawaiian Orchid by Meg Amor
Edited by Heather Hollis
Cover Art by Syneca Featherstone
Published by Loose Id, LLC
Barnes and Noble
God, I feel antsy. I tell myself, you’re an adult for God’s sake, a sixty-eight-year-old man. I feel more like an extremely gauche teenage boy, though.
I get in the car; then out. I try to appear casually waiting in the sticky, pervading heat that is New Orleans.
Giving up on my cool image, I end up back in the car, cranking up the AC. I’d put on a suit and tie to give a good impression to Izzy’s family. God knows why because Izzy certainly never expected this of me.
Today I’m playing chauffeur because I can’t wait to see her.
We have a stretch town car from a friend on permanent loan from when Izzy took a tumble and snapped her ankle. Getting in and out of my tall truck and her sports saloon with a cast on her leg had been impossible. She usually rode up front with me but the few times she rode in back, when her leg ached, she’d teased me. “You can call me Miss Daisy today, Henry.” An infectious giggle would erupt and her big eyes would spark, dancing across my soul. Hazelnut she called them. She meant hazel.
Hell, she makes me laugh, the sound that joy makes. Ms. Izzy. She’s not some Southern belle, though, she’s a New Zealander. Despite being in the States a long time, her view on the world is different. More accepting. More broad. Less conventional. I love that about her.
In fact, here’s the hard part, I love everything about her.
I’d looked at myself in the mirror this morning and thought—you’re an old fool. I’m still tall. Thank God. I still have all my own hair with traces of black. The darkness doesn’t extend to my pubic hair, though. Nothing like seeing gray down there to feel the grave beckoning, but on the up side, I still have all of mine.
My body’s still fit; the job keeps me pretty active. But my face, with its creases, age spots, and lines on my neck, shows my age. I have “freckles” on black skin, like one of the distinguished black actors—the one people say is sexy. Guess he is, even if he’s older than me. I think about weird inconsequential things like this a lot and wonder if it’s a feature of getting older.
I’m grateful not to be his age, as if there’s actually a difference. Some days I feel so old I wonder if I’ll make next month, let alone next year. People tell me I look and sound a little like that actor too, which makes me laugh. I suppose it’s a compliment. My voice isn’t as deep, though.
Ms. Izzy agrees.
She’s my boss.
Some days, though, it doesn’t feel like that.
Anyway, I was up early, filled the wet bar in the car, unfilled it, swiped at imaginary dust, refilled it, fiddled, and paced. I’d checked my watch every five minutes until I was finally able to drive to the executive jet airport here at Lakefront.
Now what seemed like a good idea at the time is catching up with me. The suit and tie feel like an iron lung I’m slowly being compressed and squeezed to death in. For reasons I can’t fathom, I’d taken out my earrings. Usually, either my ears sport thick gold hoops or square cut diamonds. I feel naked without them.
She’s been gone a month. We talk on the phone every day, but it’s not the same as seeing someone in person. What if she’s different when she comes back? I don’t want to think about that and push the thought aside.
God, I’m nervous. I feel about fifteen years old on my first date, wearing a borrowed, badly fitting suit, and offering up a nasty pink carnation corsage.
I see their plane flying the pattern on final approach. Here she comes. Sweat rolls down my body. My shirt sticks to me, and my underwear’s clammy. Scared and sick to my stomach, the urge to cry overwhelms me. If I could, I’d drive off right here and now.
I rip the offending shirt and tie off, stuffing them in a carrier bag. In record time, I open the new shirt I’d brought, just in case. Jesus. One of the many thousands of pins they put in these damn things sticks me.
Looking down, the crease marks stand out. Oh, fuck.
Their plane has landed and is on the taxiway. I’m as nervous as all get out.
They park on the ramp, the jet engines roaring. They start to lose some of their high pitched whine and the aircraft door opens. Izzy waves madly from the doorway, bouncing around, urging everyone to hurry. I start the longest walk to the steps to greet them and help with the luggage. She watches me walk toward her, and we both smile at the same time.
“Izzy,” I barely whisper. Her eyes hold mine, and I see the longing, the joy in seeing me. I don’t think I’m imagining it.
She rushes down the steps, and throws herself into my arms.
“Henry, I’ve missed you so much.”
I twirl her around, laughing, breathing her in. She’s wearing her signature Jessica McClintock perfume, a sensuous plumeria scent reminiscent of the islands. The feel of her, oh God, her warm sweet body in my arms, giggling in my ear. Beautiful.
Still in my arms, she pulls back from me. “Oh my God, have you been to a funeral?” She looks aghast, concern written all over her face, her small hands clutching at my lapels.
It breaks some of the tension I’m feeling, and I laugh.
“I was trying to make a good impression.”
She frowns and strokes my ears gently, running a soft thumb down each lobe.
“Henry, your earrings?”
My breath feels caught in my throat. And it’s not the damn weather doing that. “I was going for professional.”
She bursts into laughter, her eyes dancing. “Oh, Henry, never take your earrings out, they’re so sexy.”
I think I just blushed down to my toes.
No, she hasn’t changed. This is pure Izzy. Never afraid to say what’s on her mind.
God, I love having her home.
Sexy? Does she actually think I’m sexy?
I mull that over, finally putting her down to meet the rest of the family. I’ve stopped sweating and begin to breathe again as I realize Izzy has missed me. Izzy’s father Brian and I handle the bags, stow people, and open bottles. I’m so busy savoring my moment with Izzy that I don’t realize Brett’s missing.
“Iz, where’s Brett?” I ask her quietly.
“Still in Vegas, on the slots.” She shrugs.
“Okay,” I say softly, touching her arm.
“He’s coming home later with some friends on their plane.”
This is nothing new, Brett does his own thing a lot.
Then breathing in deeply, she exhales and a mischievous grin spreads across her face. “I’ll sit in the front with you.”
I arrange her skirt, click her seat belt, and hand her a mimosa. She nearly drops it when my hand brushes hers. Maybe she’s as nervous as me. I wrap both of my hands around hers.
“Do you have it?” Our eyes meet and hold.
“Yes, Henry,” she whispers softly as though she isn’t talking about the drink.
Hell. A twinge of hope passes through my old body, and I pray this isn’t the day it decides to return the call of the siren.
Izzy gets even more animated after only one sip of a drink. Soon she’s wriggling, legs up on the seat, legs down. She twists around to talk to everyone in the back, flashing black lace panties and a raspberry lace, Simone Perele bra.
I know this—because she opens the parcels on the kitchen counter to show Marie. She only orders the French line in the hot colors. I’ve watched her trace a polished purple fingernail over red poppy flowers embroidered on sheer black fabric. The green one with orange satin ribbon threaded through the bra straps and orange embroidery on the cups is also a favorite of mine. They’re pretty and yes, sexy.
She’ll say, “What do you think, Henry?”
I usually think I might have a heart attack right there and then.
She always wears dresses, never jeans or pants. Exciting, sexy sundresses in hot tropical colors, a nice show of cleavage, and what she calls “fuck me” shoes, with lots of fun hats. She’s a breath of fresh air in a world full of mediocrity—one that attracts me like no other.
In my fantasies, I whisk her away to a life with me. Crashing back to earth with the realization I’m her employee, an old man, and a black man in the South for God’s sake. Let’s face it; I can’t keep a hard-on going more than a few minutes at best. I tell myself I’m bored, and lonely. It’s natural to daydream. However, even in private moments, in the shower or bed—I don’t touch myself or stroke myself to climax. It would only make it too real and increase the longing.
I do touch Izzy whenever possible, though. But it leaves me feeling like a dirty old man afterward. She’s thirty-eight, a grown woman, but still—that’s thirty years’ difference. Movie stars do it all the time, but real people? Do they? I don’t know.
I’m tall and she’s nearly a foot shorter than me. My transport’s a big pickup truck. Listen to me, trying to justify it. Anyway, I began helping her up into the truck.
Sometimes she’ll say, “Henry, are you going to get me down?” She’ll wear that big smile and her eyes will twinkle.
My hands will slide down her body, occasionally touching her breast or skimming across her fanny, and God…it gives me the odd twinge, a slight quickening. In truth, I don’t know when I last had a really hard erection that lasted more than a few minutes. Probably a good ten years.
Like most things about getting older, you tend to go with it after a while. It’s not for the faint of heart.
Truth be told, at one point, I thought I was probably near the end of my days and that had been okay. When my wife died a few years back, my life kind of fell over. The stupid thing was—I didn’t even miss her that much, which sounds like an awful thing to say. We were friends, I suppose, but never really lovers or partners at the end of the day.
There was no animosity with it, but somehow her death felt like another blow to me, in a life already lacking in real meaning or purpose.
I’d been adrift.
Then we met Izzy… Oh God. I grin like a stupid bastard, thinking about that first day. Her wild red curls escaped from under a huge hat. That smile, hmm…hmmm. My heart nearly stopped beating. I felt such a fool, barely able to speak. Izzy touched my arm and this sounds crazy, but it was like part of me that had been missing for sixty-seven years, got plugged into the life-force, and I clicked into being.
She took me around the garden, gently touching my arm. “What do you think, Henry?”
I couldn’t think much of anything. All I wanted to do was enclose her small white hand in my huge brown one and not let go for the rest of my life.
To be honest, that hasn’t changed or gotten any better. I fell in love with her that day and continue to love her more every day. We do a lot together, field trips for plants, fried chicken, Welsh dressers, and door handles for the old house. We went on trips for everything. She has boundless enthusiasm, always hugging me spontaneously and kissing me on the cheek. “Thank You, Henry!” She tends to speak like that, full of energy and fun.
All the way home, she’s been giving a running commentary on the city. You’d think she was born and bred here. Her love for this city probably equals my own. We like the steam and heat. The sultry air of this soulful Southern city. She laughs loudly and often; her enthusiasm is infectious. She fits right in.
“Oh, Henry, please can we just stop at La Petite Grocery. Guess, what I’m dying for? I have so missed them.” She’s grinning madly, and I laugh. I’m surprised she hasn’t made me stop already. Food and Izzy go together.
I head over to Magazine Street and everyone goes in for a look see, while I wait in the car. They pile back in with Izzy already conveying a lobster beignet, dripping with remoulade to her mouth. She offers me a bite, and I hold my hand under hers to catch the drips. I don’t know what I enjoy more—the rich taste of the beignet or the feel of Izzy’s soft hand in mine. But she’s home where she belongs, and I feel like the world is turning properly again.
“We’ve got blue crab as well.” Her hand proffers another light and fluffy seafood ball.
“Good?” she asks; her sultry eyes light up as she wraps her sensuous lips around another bite. Her pink tongue licks the tangy sauce enthusiastically from her lips. God, she’s sexy.
“Hmmm, hmmm.” I nod, using my thumb to wipe a small piece she’s missed from the corner of her mouth. Our eyes meet and hold. We slowly smile at each other, eyes locked, hers warm and intense.
“Where’s this cornstalk fence you’ve been telling us about?” says Brian, and I’m jolted back to the here and now.
Izzy rolls her eyes and grins.
I put the car in gear and drive over to Royal Street, stopping at the Cornstalk Hotel. Izzy has listened to me enough times on the history of various places here in New Orleans and makes it come alive, as only she can do.
“Look at these French fountains everywhere,” says Mea. “All the amazing wee hidden courtyards too with their cascading vines and flowers off the balconies, it’s so beautiful. It’s like being in France. No wonder you love it here.”
“Beautiful wrought iron in this city,” says Brian, his hand tracing the yellow corncobs perched on the fence with their green stalks in the ironwork railings.
“This particular fence is cast iron. Wrought iron started being replaced with cast iron in the 1840’s or so,” I say.
“Really? Is that right? It’s still in remarkably good nick for its age. It even has blue morning glory. That would save me a lot of work at home if we had this rather than the hedge I have to cut back every year. It’s really quite gorgeous,” says Brian who’s a tool-and-die-maker by trade.
It took us a while to get home. Just when I thought we were going to get a straight run at it, Izzy would say, “Henry, go up this street. I want to show them that house you worked on. We’ll just have a wee tiki tour.”
She and I often go on “tiki tours.” It means, we’re either taking the scenic route or going nowhere in particular.
When we arrive home, her exuberant self is all set to rush out of the car and up the path.
“Wait, Ms. Izzy, it’s a surprise.” I chase after her.
“Oohhh.” She sighs. “I love being home, Henry. I missed you.”
She flings her arms around me. I give her a quick squeeze and release her. Holding her arms, I look into her eyes. “I’ve missed you too, Ms. Izzy.”
We smile. A secret shared. What secret, I don’t know. But that’s what it always feels like.
I get everyone inside, luggage piled up in the entryway. Izzy dances around, having already stripped off her shoes. She’s left them in the danger zone to trip up some poor unsuspecting person, dying to get to the garden.
“Come on, Henry, come on.”
As she rushes down the hallway, I grab her waist, and my other hand covers her eyes.
“Stop, Ms. Izzy,” I say quietly.
“Okay, I trust you.” Her tense body softens in my hold.
She and her husband Brett bought this big old grande dame of a house in the Garden District when it was nearly a shell. The pool leaked, the tile all cracked, weeds growing creatively through the grouting. A dead bird at the bottom, along with the slime which apparently didn’t see fit to leak through the hole. Izzy was distressed over the bird—my first burial.
The garden was completely overgrown. The house… Well, put it this way, Izzy had a vision for it, the pool and the gardens. She saw what the rest of us struggled to see.
I’d worked on restoring some pretty run-down homes in my time but this one had needed every ounce of Izzy enthusiasm to turn it back into the Duchess she was. Once I’d gotten beyond the initial knee-jerk reaction, I could see her vision.
The house is a Greek Revival, wide centerhall. Typical of its time, half a dozen steps lead to the five openings across the front. The central entrance is flanked on either side by a pair of black shuttered French doors. White columns hold up double galleries trimmed with fancy black ironwork, extending around the whole house. Painted in a crisp white, she has black trim on her doors and pelmets. The frontage is complemented by a thick, black ironwork fence and pretty, low box hedges with abundant tropical greenery. It’s a striking house.
Inside is just as grand but it’s comfortable and welcoming. Izzy doesn’t like a stuffy house. She’s turned it into a light, airy place that always makes me feel instantly at home the moment I walk in the door. Vibrant red, green, yellow, and blues on the walls lift my mood on any given day. Interesting art everywhere, bookcases filled with every subject imaginable, and objet d’art she’d collected on her travels.
Out back, I’d been able to really let loose and create a garden that Izzy and I had both planned. It framed the pool, which was an old Hollywood extravaganza a previous owner had seen in a magazine back in the ’40s and decided it was a must have. I’d heard about this pool, but when I’d first laid eyes on it, well…speechless, and not in a good way, would have best described it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many tacky spouting dolphins and carved turtle fountains in one place.
Instead of pulling it out, though, Izzy said, “It’s fabulous! I love it! Let’s recreate this gorgeous old pool.”
We had, and now it was glorious.
I just hoped that my past months work on it had brought about the vision we had both seen for it. I loved it. But would Izzy? We’d worked hard to get it finished before she came home.
At the French doors, I carefully walk her down the steps into the pool area. Everyone troops down behind us, already sounding appreciative of what Izzy is about to see.
“Open your eyes.” I whip my hand away. Probably stupid as she blinks and squints in the sunlight.
“Oh crikey, it’s bright.” She winces.
Her eyes adjust and it’s easy to follow her expression as it slowly comes into focus. The pool I’d mosaicked with decorative turtles, dolphins, and the French fleur-de-lis. Along with the now working, gushing sea animals, it was truly beautiful.
I’d replanted the ferns, and probably gone a little overboard with the orchids, but Izzy loves them. The twin waterfalls drop into the pool, adding another touch of the exotic.
Brian, seems hugely impressed, which I know is a big compliment. Izzy says he can be grizzly and snide about “flashy” things. It’s the “Tall Poppy Syndrome” in her country—where people who have done well, who stand out, are often disparaged. His comment on entering the house and seeing the sweeping double staircase had been,
“Marble? A bit pouncy, isn’t it?” Izzy had just flapped a hand at him and rolled her eyes.
Despite being extremely wealthy from—of all things—a huge win on the lottery, she’s unpretentious and down to earth, like most Kiwis. Culturally I’d had a big learning curve when I first met her.
Her accent, is extremely pretty, but sometimes hard to understand if she’s speaking fast, which they all seem to do. Coupled with our slower speech, it makes for some interesting conversations between us sometimes. “Talk faster, Henry, get to the good bit.” She’ll tease me.
“Well, you just need to slow down, Missy. This story’s not going anywhere.” I’ll tease her back. Then we’ll grin at each other.
Though, now, I’m used to the lyrical cadence and light tone of her New Zealand accent. She uses different words that took some deciphering initially.
I hadn’t known her long when we all went to the beach one day. When she said, “Crikey dick, move you bum, Henry. These mozzies are driving me mad. See if there’s any mozzie spray in the chilly bin, will you? I can’t find it in my handbag. Bugger.” I think, I’d just stood there with my mouth open.
“Would you care to say that in English, Ms. Izzy,” I’d teased her.
“I speak English.” She’d pointed to herself. “You speak American,” she’d said, a naughty Izzy grin on her face. “I’ll speak slowly too, would that help?” We’d both laughed.
“Okay, in American. Hell’s bells, move your backside, the mosquitos are driving me insane, the spray might be in the cooler. It’s not in my purse. Damn.” And she cusses like a sailor. Izzy says most Kiwis do.
Another confusing thing—the term Kiwi.
“We’re not named after the little, round, brown, fuzzy fruit. We’re named after our national bird, the Kiwi, a flightless, blind, flea ridden, oversized chicken—not like your American eagle.” She’d laughed.
“You Americans have it all wrong. The fruit is a kiwifruit, not a Kiwi. We’re Kiwis.” She’d grinned which was infectious too. Kiwis have the ability to make fun of each other and themselves, taking it with a grain of salt.
Now we have an influx of Kiwis.
Her girlfriend Kamea, who everyone calls Mea, I’ve met before. Like Izzy, she’s full of enthusiasm. “Wow, isn’t this amazing! Look what you’ve done to that sad, old pool, so groovy!”
But Izzy just stands there, saying nothing, and my heart sinks.
She turns to me, and slowly shakes her head, swallowing hard. She mouths “thank you,” fiercely hugging me. I cup my hands on her face and kiss her forehead as I’ve done a million times before. “You’re welcome, Ms. Izzy.”
We fan out behind her. I want to show Izzy the orchids and plumeria she loves. Also a special garden I’ve made away from the pool area, behind the big palms and hibiscus hedges.
“Oh God, I want to swim,” says Mea.
My daughter Marie opens the screen doors. “Y’all come on in out of the heat.”
“Good idea, it’s like a bloody sauna,” says Brian.
“I’ll fix some iced tea, and snacks,” says Marie.
“Food sounds good. I don’t know about cold tea, any chance of a cuppa?” asks Brian. “Isolde?”
“Oh, Henry and Izzy will be ages, inspecting every single plant; we’ll leave them to it.” Marie rolls her eyes, laughing as she ushers everyone inside, leaving us alone in the gardens.
Izzy walks with her arm through mine, which I love, the sweet feel of her arm touches mine. As we talk, I relax, rolling up my sleeves and opening the neck of my shirt more.
Despite the tropical climate, Izzy loves roses. I’ve created a rose arbor, laid with gravel paths around a grass labyrinth circle. It leads to the secret garden. Large, wide wrought iron gates, and tall hedges enclose the garden.
She’d known about the arbor, but seeing it laid out, the roses bedded, she looks thrilled. I’m extremely pleased.
“It’s gorgeous, Henry.” She went from bloom to bloom, smelling the sweet and spicy scent. We’d only bought heavily perfumed old-fashioned roses. She has a huge love affair with them and collects chintz china, and feminine pretty things for her rose tearoom. The big white hutch dresser that lines one side of her tearoom came from an old house up country someone had put me onto. And the other day at an auction, I picked up some particularly nice looking, vintage Redoute botanical rose prints which she’ll love. I’m always overjoyed when I find something special for her.
“You know me so well,” she’ll always say, her soft lips kissing me on the cheek.
We walked over the gravel path through the hedge alley into the jungle haven, a fragrant, wild looking place. With the heat of the day, the sweet perfume of the tropics hits us—ginger, plumeria in every color, and heavily scented gardenia. As well as every tropical plant I know she loves.
To the right is a large screened gazebo, my friend Tony helped me build. A queen-size daybed gives a panoramic view of the jungle garden. In my heart, I see Izzy, reading or sleeping, at home in the tropics, like her days in Hawai’i.
She jumps onto the bed, her eyes shining and looks like a princess. Well, to my tired old eyes anyway. She gasps. “Wow.”
“You like it, Izzy?” I know she does, but I want to hear her say it again, to see the joy in her face. I can’t take my eyes off her.
Izzy wriggles off the bed, never breaking eye contact. She holds my hands, then slides her arms around my waist, her warm forehead on my chest, whispering, “Thank you, Henry. This is exquisite, it’s gorgeous.”
I naturally hug her back, feeling her warm skin in her backless sundress, her long hair halfway down her back tickles my arms. My body starts to shake, my control slipping away. This isn’t the usual exuberant arms flung around me, thank you.
It’s achingly slow, sensuously alluring. Usually I know when a hug is over or needs to be released. While I think I should—my body says no. She isn’t letting me go either. Sighing softly, her breathing deepens, and her face nuzzles into my chest.
My hands move over her bare skin, gliding up her back. I’m trying not to be sexual, but my body of its own volition, sinks forward into hers. Rather than pulling away, she pushes into me, and to my intense embarrassment, I’m becoming aroused.
I run my hands up into her hair, lifting it from her neck and face. On some level, my intention is to kiss her on the forehead and step away.
Then one of us groans, and my penis takes on a life of its own, growing and thrusting through my underpants against her. I’m mortified and pull my lower body away slightly, not wanting to break Izzy’s embrace. Nor act like some hormone laden teenage boy or worse, a dirty old man.
Probably even more embarrassing than my huge erection nudging into her soft belly is an uncomfortable sensation behind my eyes, and I want to cry.
I release her, turning away to hide the uncomfortable bulge in my pants, and the hot tears pricking my eyes.
“Henry,” Izzy says urgently and caresses my arm gently.
I feel like I might stroke-out on the spot, die from embarrassment, fear, love, everything at once. My hard-on aches. “Izzy…I’m sorry. I…” My brain stops working, and she moves back into my arms, pressing into me.
I’m shaking badly and notice—God knows how in the state I’m in—she is too. Her eyes are wet. Her hand reaches up to wipe my tears, gently kissing me on the lips. I nearly come on the spot.
Part of me thinks, get out of here, this is my employer. Another part says, hell no.
She kisses me again, and I part her warm lips with my tongue, plunging into her wet, welcoming mouth. I want to cry out in pleasure and terror, and push into another wet, welcoming part of her.
She tugs my shirt out; soft hands sear the skin on my back. I slowly kiss her face and throat, trailing down to her breasts. She shudders, gasping against me. Her hands slide to my chest, shakily opening the buttons on my shirt. She starts the smooth glide down my stomach to my penis, stroking the length through my pants. I’m trembling so badly; my head barely feels attached.
She kisses me again, running small, soft kisses down my neck onto my chest. Finding a nipple, she sucks gently, twirling her tongue and softly nipping the bud. A jolt shoots straight to my balls. She strokes me more firmly, increasing her speed, groaning softly. The first hint of coming wetness seeps through my pants.
I’ll come soon, but I want to touch her wet, secret place. The minute I do, it’ll probably be all over. Even feeling the skin on her back as I ran my hands through her thick hair is sending me over the edge.
She looks at me with her big eyes and whispers, “Please touch me, Henry. I’m so wet. I want you so much.”
“Oh god, babe.” I gasp, closing my eyes and resting my forehead on hers. The throbbing between my thighs escalates.
Weird thoughts race through my head like, thank God for the gravel path so we’ll have plenty of warning. And please don’t let my skin repel her.
I slide my hands down her fanny, lifting her skirt. Hooking my fingers into her delicate lace panties sends ripples of heat down my spine. I gently squeeze her rounded cheeks, pressing her into my erection. Slipping her panties down, I gently brush her secret hair with the back of my hand. By now, we’re both gasping and panting. We won’t hear anyone on the gravel. And the pool waterfalls are noisier than I realized or everyone just seems heightened.
She pushes against my hand. I gently ease my finger between her lips, the silky wetness sending another jolt to my groin. One finger slips up into her, then another, wanting it to be something else long and hard. She convulses around my fingers, squeezing hard. It’s been a long time since I’ve touched a woman. The feel of her is astounding; she’s extremely wet and tight, and I nearly lose it.
I’m lightheaded and close to passing out, but don’t want to move to the bed, breaking the moment. It’s doubtful I can walk anyway.
“There,” she whispers, positioning my thumb and rocking against me as I rub her swollen clitoris. I know I’ve gotten the right spot because she clutches at me, fingers digging in, panting, making high-pitched mewls as if she’s trying to hold in the escaping noises. I bury her head into my chest, bringing her to what I know would be a screaming climax if we were alone. I’m surprised I still remember how to do this, but Izzy’s body feels familiar to me. As if we already have the rhythm of lovers.
She stumbles against me, unable to stand, shaking as much as I am, it’s so beautiful. I hold her closely, gently stroking her back. The feel of her is indescribable.
She whispers, “Need you inside me. Now.”
My fingers can’t undo my belt or my pants. She has to do it for me. I’m trembling and crying, but don’t care. My only need is to sink into her warm wetness, get lost in her body and come. She undoes my pants, her hands exploring my penis, which embarrasses me. I’m a big, tall black man—all over.
But she says, “Oh God, you’re so beautiful.” She strokes me firmly, cupping my balls and gently tugging them. Her hand pushes my thick foreskin back to reveal the throbbing slick head. Her head bends to kiss the tip, sliding her mouth and tongue down my length. It takes everything I have to not climax, watching my dark thickness disappear between her pale pink lips.
She seems to realize how close I am, because she comes up to my stomach to caress me, bringing her beautiful mouth to mine.
“Please, I need you inside me,” she begs and my penis jerks against her stomach.
With shaky fingers, I skim her panties down all the way and lift her to my waist. She lowers herself onto me and my legs give out. I sink to my knees, spreading her out before me.
God knows what that does, but I slow slightly, scared of my ability to come. Then I think, hell, I’m coming right now.
She wraps her legs around my waist as I sink deeper; my balls nestle against her, and I pray this will go on forever. She squeezes me internally with her pussy muscles, gently, but firmly grasping my penis, then releasing it. The sensations sear into my balls.
I rock with her, sliding in and out of her slick wetness. “Let me see,” she whispers. I pull back, so she can watch my swollen length sinking into her satiny pussy, slick with her juices.
“So beautiful.” She moans.
I’m really crying now, so many feelings at once. Happy, terrified. So hard, the skin on my penis feels like it will burst. She begins to cry too, and it’s okay. We press back together. “Make love to me, Henry.”
Slowly, gently, trying to make it last, I pray my first long erection in years doesn’t give out on me. Or we wake up from the dream we seem to be in. Thinking irrelevant things like…it’s just like riding a bike, you don’t forget. God knows where that comes from.
She’s panting again, opening herself up more. My own breath is ragged. She drives my butt into her and bites my lip gently. I try to muffle my cry as the pure ecstasy floods my system. I come so explosively, that for a brief moment I think I’ll lose consciousness. My penis pulses as she squeezes it internally and my hot wetness trickles down our thighs. Out of politeness, I try to pull out, but she clamps me to her.
“My God,” we both pant, clutching each other.
Touching each other’s faces, we’re lost in the other one’s gaze. She wraps her legs more tightly around me. I open my mouth, and the words just tumble out. “My beautiful Izzy, from the first day I laid eyes on you, I’ve loved you more than I’m capable of expressing.”
She says nothing for an eternity—her big eyes search my face. Panic wells up inside me, and I want to snatch the words back.
“Oh God, Henry…” She says softly, pausing and I fight the urge to bolt.
“I love you more than life itself. This month away from you was hell.”
I let out such an explosive breath of relief that we end up laughing and crying— and hearing people on the gravel.
Her eyes widen, and we scramble up. I’m embarrassed to be hanging out of my pants at half mast, wet and disheveled. Wondering if she sees an old man with gray pubic hair and shriveling manhood.
She touches my face. “I mean it. You’re beautiful.” She’s being truthful.
We hurriedly stuff ourselves into clothes. I’m a mess. My crotch is wet. My shirt looks like it was last ironed in April 1973. Crap. Izzy’s birthday, what a time to remember that. She’s my daughter’s age for God’s sake.
Izzy whispers, “I’ll go out there, and you slip home.”
I have the overwhelming urge to tell her I don’t usually get an erection, haven’t had much of one in years, and don’t make love to employers. All said, hurriedly and stupidly.
She puts her hand on my chest. “I know, Henry.”
Voices are getting closer. I slip through a gap in the hedge, down to my house, feeling a million things and leaving her to deal with everything.
My God! I can’t believe I’m having some inane conversation about the bloody hedges with my parents. Seriously?
I stand back, I must reek of sex. Mea’s expression says what in God’s name have you been up to? Thankfully my parents seem oblivious.
“Where’s bugalugs?” asks Dad. He means Henry. Dad’s appalling on names.
“He went a while ago. I had a wee sleep.”
We all look at the unslept-on bed. I flap the cover to show it fluffs like new. Dad looks like he wants to examine how the daybed’s put together. I herd them back out to the pool area instead.
“Come on, drinks by the pool. It’s so hot. How are the rooms?” I waffle on.
Oh my God, I just had sex…no, made love in the garden—with Henry…
“I’m just going to the bathroom, won’t be long. Make yourselves at home.” Shit.
I rush into the bathroom and burst into tears.
A million thoughts swirl. I take in deep gulps, blow my nose about ten times and exhale. Bloody hell, did that really just happen?
Shit, I told Henry I loved him. Who said it first? Oh God, was it me? No, hang on, he did. Maybe he thought he should say that, some standard thing said when you’d unexpectedly had sex in the garden.
That doesn’t make sense. Gentle, kind, loving Henry.
He’s undressed me when I’ve been sick, washing me carefully and putting me to bed after a rark up at a stupid party. He held my hair back as I threw up in the toilet for God’s sake. I’ve fallen asleep in the car, and he’s carried me inside, gently removing my shoes, and looking after me with such care.
Now he’s built a garden of love for me.
I sit back so hard, the toilet lid nearly snaps. It’s the shock of realizing Henry…loves…me. He’s loved me from the first day he saw me. A rush of freedom blasts through me. The truth is, I’ve loved him just as long. Brett and I are good friends, but not much else.
Now I have to act completely normal. Face my family. Marie. Mea with her raised eyebrows. Brett. Shit.
My mind soaks up every look, gesture, word, touch, and moment of being with Henry. I’m startled out of my daydream with a knock at the door.
It’s Mea. “Are you all right? Everyone’s out by the pool.”
Shoving my sodden panties into the hamper, I usher her in. She hands me a glass of champagne, and I guzzle it down.
Mea’s known me since I was twelve, she knows me.
I tell her everything, and she’s not surprised.
But I am. “Why?”
“The last trip out here, you guys were really close.”
“Shit. Does everyone know?” I look like a startled hedgehog in the mirror.
She shakes her head. “He loves you.”
“Yes, he does…how do you know?”
“I know you. Henry adores you. He’d do anything for you. He’s completely besotted. So gentle and caring, a real honey. Nice looking too. Is he good in bed?”
“Yes.” I nod emphatically. Crikey. Today. Fuck. The enormity of the situation now making itself known.
“So, what’s he like in bed?”
A bolt of electricity shoots up my spine, and I flap my hands about. “Mindblowingly good.”
She grins. “Good kisser?”
“Ohhh yes…gorgeous. No, I’m not answering the next question. Not small, put it that way.” We both laugh and clink glasses.
“Bloody hell. I’m a walking cliché; I’ve just had sex with my pool man,” I say, trying to make a joke of it.
“There’s more to it than that,” she says seriously.
I sigh. “I know. But what do you mean?”
“It’s like you’ve known each other forever, across many lifetimes, like some…”
She shrugs. “Eternal flame or something. He’s always been there for you.”
She’s right. The connection’s strong. We’d been guided to each other. I don’t know how many horrible houses Brett and I looked at before we came here. I’d finally thrown a wobbly, and we’d changed to another agent.
She’d sized me up immediately, and said, “Look, there’s a gorgeous old place in the Garden District, but…it’s a wreck. I have a feeling it’s right, though.” She’d grinned.
Tyrell warned us it was gutted. A hardware store’s wet dream—not in those words, but that was the gist of it. Brett looked a wee bit startled, but I’d perked up. “I’ll go with a feeling.”
As soon as we walked in the door, I knew. This was the place.
Brett looked like a stunned mullet when I said, “It’s perfect.”
She’s called Four Seasons, and I fell in love with her instantly. “I’ve always wanted to live at the Four Seasons,” I joked.
“Bloody optimistic person who named it that,” grumbled Brett. The heat drove him up the wall sometimes.
There are only two seasons in New Orleans, a mild winter, and a hotter than hell summer. There wasn’t much in between, but I like the steamy heat, so does Henry. I’d lived in Singapore, Queensland in Australia, the Big Island of Hawai’i, and Florida. The tropics sang to my soul and something had called me to the languid, sultry warmth of New Orleans.
Henry and this house…
Tyrell hadn’t been underselling it. It had been gutted, stripped down to studs. The outside walls, hallways, staircase, floors, and basic bathrooms remained. The kitchen was gone. The guy selling it had ripped out interior walls making the spaces larger and airier.
I love these old houses but they often had small rooms, decorated with ancient Victorian furniture, heavy drapes, and lace curtains. Or nasty uncomfortable French furniture, designed to keep chiropractors in business for years. The only reason they’re a bloody antique is because they’ve never had a chance to wear out or become matchsticks through overuse. A large clock often ticks sonorously in the background. It fits the period of the houses, but it depresses me.
The rubber plantation look always grabs me, though. Lots of cane, wicker, bamboo, and Asian black lacquer furniture. Interiors painted in light airy pastels or strong tropical colors. Every single piece of trim, door, and ceiling painted in boring Greek white, but it brings these lovely ladies into a fresh space with their high ceilings and days of grandeur feeling.
I’d asked Tyrell if she knew anyone who could help us. We needed someone handy, who knew contractors, and these big old houses, and you know…I’d trailed off, unsure what I was really asking.
She gave me the oddest look. I thought I’d offended her, but she scrolled through her phone, hitting an entry.
“Hey, Marie, Tyrell here, is Henry about?” She’d told him what we needed, then looked at me. Covering the phone, she said, “I don’t suppose you need a chef as well, do you?”
I’d thought about it for half a second. The thought of never having to cook a meal again unless I wanted to and having decent food on tap when we didn’t eat out was hugely appealing.
“Yes,” Brett and I said in unison.
She laughed, gave the address, and hung up.
“This is not how things are usually done, but this feeling is strong. I hope it’s okay. My cousin and his daughter are coming over. Y’all will like them. He’s a phenomenal sax player, but his wife passed a few years ago. He’s slightly lost, but he’s a house restorer, amazingly creative with these big houses and gardens. Marie’s a ball of efficient energy, and a fabulous chef. It might work for you.”
“Thanks.” I was impressed—my universal dollar, hard at work with things clicking into place already. It was right.
When he’d turned up, I felt I knew him. He was a tall, distinguished, rather arresting looking black man, with striking eyes. A wee bit shy, but my hand touched his arm, and we seemed to click. I felt like I talked a mile a minute, like a parrot on speed.
We’d gone outside to the pool area. Holy shit.
Brett said, “Fuck, let’s just fill it in and start again.”
“What a mess,” I said. It was revolting actually, but it had potential.
“Don’t let this bother you, Ms. Izzy.” It was the first time Henry called me that.
“I’ll re-tile this, take out the dancing dolphins, and re-rock the waterfalls.” But my mind hadn’t gone there.
“Oh no, it’s fabulous. So cool and kitschy, let’s restore it.”
Brett’s mouth dropped open. But Henry gave me one of his gorgeous smiles, and his eyes twinkled. “I’m happy to do anything for you, Ms. Izzy.” Oh God, what a lovely man.
In the briefest of flashes in and out, so quickly I barely registered it—I thought, and someone who knows me on a deep level. Mea’s right about us. There’s an unbroken connection over many lifetimes.
I can’t question it now. Donning a halter neck sundress, we join everyone by the pool. Conversation flows around me, barely touching me.
Dad notices I’m off with the fairies. “Earth to, Isolde, come in.”
I’m startled out of my daydream. “Oh sorry, I must be jetlagged.”
He gives me an odd look with his eyebrows raised. “A three-and-a-half-hour flight from Vegas?”
Thank God Marie announces Henry will start the barbecue soon. Oh shit. In my sex-hazed brain, I’d forgotten. We always do a Southern barbecue for visitors, and Henry always cooks it.
The call came to fire up the grill. How the hell will I do this? What’s Izzy thinking?
Maybe I should send a text to her and say what? Hi Izzy, how are you feeling? No… How was today? Worse.
How’s the get together? Awful.
I examine myself in the full-length mirror. Izzy says she loves me. What does she see in me? A crushing thought—what if it was said in the heat of the moment, a thing she’ll want to retract later. I give myself a mental shake. This is Izzy. She’s genuine.
But the idea bothers me. How will I act up at the house I pop in and out of several times a day?
I throw on causal clothes after my shower. Is this shirt dressy enough? My brain’s whirling, trying to find the normalness in my life. What would I usually wear? Things have tilted on their axis, and I’m at a loss.
I’m afraid to see Izzy, what if she’s changed her mind? I’m scared of what will happen next.
Here comes Henry, so beautiful, that long easy stride of his.
“Henry.” I do a half wave like I might be trying to stop traffic. He smiles and waves back, but he looks nervous too. He asks how everyone is. How are the drinks? Let me get the grill started.
He’s so normal! Maybe it isn’t that big of a deal to him? Part of me is outraged and hurt. It must show on my face because Mea whispers, “It’s okay.”
Henry doesn’t come over to talk to me, and I fight back tears. This is ridiculous. I tell myself off. Henry’s being “busy” with the barbecue, checking the gas, which he would have done earlier. He fusses, disappearing into the house, not looking once at me. Oh my God, he’s embarrassed about what happened, how awful.
I can’t stand it, and go in to “help” Henry. He’s in the butler’s pantry randomly folding and unfolding napkins, his back to me.
“Henry,” I say rather sharply.
“Izzy,” he states flatly, facing the wall, leaning his hands on the bench, exhaling abruptly.
My heart’s in my throat, and panic engulfs me. I touch his arm and long brown fingers shakily rub my hand. Someone comes into the kitchen area as I say softly, “Henry, please tell me today wasn’t a mistake.” “Izzy…”
He pauses, and my throat’s closing up with fear.
“If I could steal a moment in time…” His fingers drum on the wooden bench. “I would never let you go.”
I deflate with relief, nearly sinking to my knees. “And I would not go.”
He turns to face me, and I say softly, “Please talk to me.”
“Izzy, today was not a mistake…for me.” He pauses again, gently rubbing my arms, and looking into my eyes, breathing in, his nostrils flaring. “I love you, Izzy— always have and always will. The future’s unknown, but I know I need you in it.” A rush of air expels from my lungs in intense relief. Marie barges in. “What the heck are you two doing?” We both start guiltily.
“The meat needs to go on, none of the plates are out, come on, let’s go.” She swans off.
I look at Henry and start to laugh. His eyes dance and his rolling laugh is triggered, sending glee down my spine. He hugs me, kissing me on the forehead. “Can we talk?” I nod. “God knows when, though.” I’m just as desperate.
Before I can get out another word, Marie reappears; loading us up and no more can be said.
HENRY AND ISOLDE
~ New Orleans, city of soul, home to Henry and Isolde, the first in the Troika Trilogy series.
A coming of age romance, and heartfelt love story. Three souls reach across more than one lifetime to rekindle a deep and passionate love between them.
Henry Bovary, an older black musician and house restorer feels his life is nearing its end—until he takes on the restoration of a big old Grande dame of a house in the New Orleans Garden District. What he’s not counting on, is walking in the door and falling in love with the much younger, exuberant Izzy. She touches his arm and part of him that has been missing his whole life is plugged back into the life-force, and clicks into being. In his fantasies, he whisks her away to a life with him, but crashes back to earth with the realization he’s her employee, an old man, and a black man in the South for God’s sake.
Izzy Buchanan is a passionate, outspoken, New Zealander, with wild red curls to match her personality but she’s also lonely and isolated in her life. Some mysterious force draws Izzy to New Orleans, though, and the house. Despite the house being gutted and a hardware stores wet dream, she knows it’s right when she walks in the door. What she doesn’t bargain for is the instance connection to Henry when he turns up to inspect it—it's as if she already knows him.
Their friendship turns into a steamy, passionate relationship that astounds them both. Henry’s life goes from fifty shades of beige to a rainbow of textures, sights and sounds, but most of all— feelings he’s allowed to have. As their love grows, and inhibitions die, Henry comes into his sexuality for the first time in his life. Their deep friendship, love and breathtaking romance revitalizes Henry’s old bones. But will he be able to keep up with this achingly beautiful, younger woman?
Their growing relationship exposes family secrets. When Henry suffers an emotional crisis, a surprising World War Two lifetime memory resurfaces. It reveals Henry and Izzy’s intense connection to Henry’s best friend, Charlie Laralde, another musician from a wealthy Creole family. Charlie’s gorgeous and charming but he’s lost the ability to be vulnerable, and a connected lover with someone. He guards his heart, carrying deep wounds from a relationship that ended in tragedy. The only person he trusts is Henry.
But when Izzy comes into their lives, an old heart and soul connection between them all brings surprising desires to the surface. How does Charlie fit into their lives? It's complicated...
and Crime Fiction Writer