Gay Pride: FREE Excerpt Pretty Man
Here’s another free excerpt from my novel with Riverdale Avenue Books, Pretty Man. They ask me to do these movie tie-in parodies and I never say no when a publisher asks me to do something. I like working with them and I always learn something new. I also like working with a publisher because I like the direction. When you indie publish like I do all the time you get total freedom, but you don’t get any direction.
This is erotic gay romance and I’m only posting the G-rated parts here in this excerpt. I’ll post links if you’re interested in reading more.
As you can imagine, not all reviews for this book have been positive. I guess there are some straight people who don’t like the idea of a beloved straight story line that’s been done time and again (it’s the basic Cinderella trope) parodied with (real) gay erotic romance, from a gay POV. But there were some nice reviews, too. And the book did well in sales when it was first released. It’s always especially nice when someone actually “gets” what you’re trying to do. This book was, indeed, meant to be a light read…fun, satire, silly at times. It was never supposed to win a Pulitzer. It’s a shame not everyone understands that.
Reader Review: There’s some over-the-top commentary and events, but all in all it’s a fun read. Recommended for light entertainment. Thanks to Riverhead Books and Netgalley for my copy of this eBook. The views expressed are my own.Ma
Here’s a link for more. And I’ll post the excerpt below.
Jim Parsons On Coming Out and Hating Pride Parades
I like these personal stories from gay men because most are usually a little different. In other words, even though we share a great deal with respect to feelings, everyone’s personal experience is slightly different. This one is about actor, Jim Parsons, whom I love.
Before he met his would-be husband in 2003 — Todd Spiewak, who Parsons married in 2017 — Parsons said the sight of Pride parades frightened him, because he knew there were plenty of people both in his life and within society in general that expressed contempt and ridicule for public displays of gay pride. He also didn’t like crowds, so he tended to avoid them.
Here’s a link for the rest. I think a lot of gay people could relate to that, and then there are many more who couldn’t. It’s always a little different.
FREE Excerpt Pretty Man
When Roland Marcus decided to return New York for the first time in more than a year, he had no idea his entire life would change in less than one week.
He’d just turned 45: ancient in his eyes. Though his short, wavy hair was still dark brown and his waist size remained 32, his right shoulder ached after working out and his feet bothered him if he jogged more than five miles. When Roland looked in the mirror late at night, he noticed the right side of his face seemed to be aging faster than the left. There were a few faint laugh lines at the corner of his left eye, while the corner of his right remained smooth and tight. From a distance he could still pass for 30; but up close in broad daylight, you could tell he was closer to his true age.
Roland wasn’t obsessed with his looks, even as most gay men his age underwent Botox injections and eye tucks. “We’re going to fight getting old all the way,” they would say as they ran to their plastic surgeons. He knew one man who mortgaged his home so his ass could look 10 years younger. Roland could have easily afforded the most expensive plastic surgeon in the world without a second thought; but thanks to all those years of jogging and dieting, his ass was still as round and firm as it had been when he was 25.
On the night everything began to change, Roland walked down Bleecker Street in Manhattan’s West Village near Magnolia Bakery. It was a warm, humid Friday in early August, and he’d just arrived in town to attend a few fundraisers for his favorite charity, the Ashley Foundation for Men and Women with HIV/AIDS.
The Village was so crowded that night it looked like there was a street festival going on somewhere. Groups of college kids from New Jersey stippled the sidewalks; young girls wearing tube tops and low rise jeans giggled and chirped about offensive prices as they passed trendy little boutiques; and young couples walking hand in hand searched for outdoor cafes in which to sit and talk. The locals, dressed mostly in black, weaved in and out of the crowd as they crossed from one side of the street to the other. Their eyebrows were lowered and they turned their shoulders quickly so they wouldn’t have to make physical contact with the tourists.
A tall guy with salt and pepper hair walked two enormous Afghan hounds near a shop with an obnoxious zebra chair in the front window. The man’s snakeskin boots were outrageously long, and so pointy the toes curled up. He wore tight, low-rise jeans with a wide leather belt, and a tight black shirt that floated an inch above his thin waist.
Roland wore tan slacks, a white polo shirt and brown loafers. He walked slowly, his hands tucked so far into his pockets his Rolex was hidden. This was the first time he’d actually walked through his own neighborhood in years, and he felt like a tourist. Though he’d owned his brownstone on West 11th Street for almost 25 years, it hadn’t occurred to him how much things had changed while he was off building the family skincare business. Grim-faced artists with wild hair two decades earlier carried frayed portfolios down the street, while rough-looking men with exaggerated mustaches and black leather chaps cruised for sex.
Roland stopped in front of a used bookstore and tightened his fists. Across the street in the cupcake shop, he saw his ex-lover Kenneth Rhodes on line. Worse, Kenneth had already spotted Roland. There was no place to run. Kenneth smiled and waved his arms back and forth as the man he was with—Roland recognized him as Kenneth’s new lover—leaned forward to see who Kenneth waved to.
Roland smiled and waved back. The men hadn’t seen each other since Roland left New York to live on his yacht off the coast of Florida. Kenneth motioned for Roland to cross the street. Roland lifted one arm and raised his index finger before ducking into the used bookstore. He took a deep breath and wrinkled his forehead at the distinct smell of rich, smooth chocolate. He looked to his right, beyond shelves and tables stacked with books, and saw a glass counter filled with delicate, handmade chocolates. Above the counter was a long, narrow sign: “Vous avez le chocolat sûr votre dent.” The background of the sign was off-white, and the words were written in dark brown, with thin, delicate wisps and curls. Roland laughed. He knew enough French well enough to roughly translate the sign: “You have chocolate on your tooth.”
On any other day, Roland wouldn’t have been able to resist the aroma; but chocolate was the last thing on his mind. His heart raced and his mouth felt dry. He knew he’d have to see Kenneth at the charity events that week, but he hadn’t expected to run into him elsewhere. Kenneth now lived full time in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where he owned and operated a trendy floral shop in a town called New Hope. He called the shop Apro-Posie. After their 23-year relationship ended (because Kenneth fell in love with a 25-year-old), Kenneth got the house in Bucks County and opened the flower shop. Roland had always been the primary bread-winner, and could have kicked him out on the street. But he hadn’t.
When Roland leaned to the right to look out the window for Kenneth, his elbow accidentally bumped into someone and a pile of old books fell to the floor. “Excuse me,” Roland said, “I’m so sorry.” He bent down to pick up the mess.
“Ah, well,” a man said, “I guess it’s not safe anywhere these days.” He placed his hands on his slim hips and shook his head, smiling. His voice was deep and strong, but friendly.
Roland stood up and placed a pile of books neatly on the shelf. He pressed the corners together and lined them up perfectly. When he looked up, the good looking young guy, with sandy blond hair and pale blue eyes, was still smiling at him. “Sorry about that,” Roland said, shrugging his shoulders.
“Don’t worry about it, man. The guys that usually bump into me are over seventy and have false teeth. Youcan bump into me anytime.” He wore tight jeans that made his crotch bulge. The jeans were torn and there was a large section of hairy thigh exposed up near his groin. His white cotton shirt was tight and his chest muscles popped like halved grapefruits.
Roland raised one eyebrow and smiled. This new generation of gay men certainly was bold. “I’ll have to remember that,” He said. Roland inhaled again. The intoxicating smell of chocolate made him light-headed.
“You do that, Baby.”
Roland suddenly had a brilliant idea. “How would you like to make five hundred dollars in cash, for a few minutes of work?”
“Ah, well,” the guy said, “I usually only make two hundred an hour. What do I have to do? I’m not into any weird, kinky shit, man. And I only top.”
Roland blinked. “You only top?“
“Yeah, man,” he said. “I’m not into being a bottom, no matter how much the guy wants to pay. It’s just not my thing.” He stepped back and raised his hands; they were large and wide, like dinner plates.
Roland laughed. “You’ve got it all wrong. I don’t want to pay you for that sort of thing; I don’t want sex from you. I just want you to stand across the street with me for a while and pretend to be my new boyfriend. My ex is over there with his new boyfriend, and I don’t want him to see me all alone on a Friday night.” Roland didn’t beg, and his voice wasn’t desperate.
“Sure,” the man said, shrugging his shoulders. “Why not? Just let me tell my friend what I’m doing. She’s over there, at the back of the store.” He pointed toward an attractive young woman with long brown hair and large dark eyes standing under a black and white sign that read “Biographies.” From a distance, she could have doubled for Angelina Jolie.
“I’ll wait here,” Roland said. He watched the man walk across the store, admiring his wide shoulders and muscular legs. Roland watched him say something to his friend. She looked back at Roland and frowned. He walked back to the front of the store.
“Your friend looks upset,” Roland said.
“Ah, don’t worry about Hillary,” he said, “She’s fine.” He looked back at her, smiled and waved.
“Okay,” Roland said, “What’s your name?” He spoke fast, with determination. “Josh Holden.” “Okay, Josh,” he said, “My name is Roland Marcus. Now, all you have to do is walk across the street with me, let me introduce you as my new boyfriend, and then we get lost as fast as we can. I don’t want to stand there and talk all day. The faster we leave, the better.”
“And I get five hundred bucks for doing this?” Josh asked.
“That’s right,” Roland said, “I live on West Eleventh, not far from here, and we’ll go back and I’ll get you the money.”
When they crossed toward Magnolia, Roland found Kenneth and his new partner near the entrance, still in line. Kenneth lifted his arms in the air. “Well!” he exclaimed. “I thought you were trying to avoid me, Roland.” He stepped out of line and gave Roland a hug and kiss on the cheek. Kenneth was extremely tall; when he leaned forward and pressed his knees together he appeared about to curtsy.
Roland stood back and shoved his hands into his pockets. “I had to get Josh. He was in the bookstore.” He noticed that Kenneth had gained a few pounds around the middle, and wore loose, baggy jeans too young for him. Nothing else had changed. His hair was still puffy, stiff, and dyed jet black. His eyebrows were still tweezed, and he still wore a hint of eyeliner. Kenneth had never been able to lose the style of the l980s.
“You already know Marty,” Kenneth said. His voice went high and his gestures were overly animated. He didn’t seem to be ashamed in the least that Marty was the reason they ended their long-term relationship.
“Yes,” Roland said, “We’ve met.” He smiled and nodded toward Marty. How could I forget Marty? he fumed. He slept with Kenneth for a year while we were still a couple.
Roland introduced Josh to everyone, but didn’t go into details. Kenneth looked at Josh and raised one eyebrow; Josh flashed a quick, nasty smile and leaned into Roland’s side. And after they’d all been introduced, Roland said, “Well, it was nice to see you. We have to run now.”
Kenneth pressed his palm to his throat. “I’m sure we’ll see each other over the next week at the Ashley Foundation events.” Though he didn’t actively participate in anything for the foundation, Kenneth still sent in his annual $25 membership fee so he could attend all the events. Kenneth hated to miss social events—the charity aspect was always a second thought. “Will we be seeing more of Josh this week, too?” he asked.
Josh smiled. “Oh, you’ll be seeing more of us both, I’m sure.” He reached back and slapped Roland on the ass so hard Roland’s entire body jerked forward. “That is, if Roland can still walk tomorrow after I get done with him tonight.”
Roland took a deep breath and smiled. He wasn’t fond of public displays of affection. “Ah, well, good seeing you.” Then he reached back and yanked Josh’s hand off his ass. “Down, Boy.”
As they walked away, Josh reached down again and squeezed a handful of Roland’s ass. The entire line of people, including Kenneth, saw him do this. When they rounded the corner and started walking toward Roland’s house, Josh shook his head. “What a fucking bitch!”
“Kenneth isn’t that bad,” Roland said. “He has his good points.” People had been telling him Kenneth was no good for years, and he was always the first one to defend him.
Even though he knew their relationship wasn’t perfect, he’d been devastated when Kenneth dumped him for a younger man. Yet, he continued to defend him.
“It’s none of my business,” Josh said, “But I didn’t expect him to be like that.” “Like what?”
“Ah well, so flamboyant and in-your-face,” Josh said. “You seem like such a nice guy.”
Roland laughed. “I’m not that nice, trust me.”
“Did you see his face when I grabbed your ass?” Josh asked. “I thought he was going to drop dead right there on the street.”
Roland smiled. “That reminds me. You can take you hand off my ass now; they can’t see us anymore.” He didn’t even like holding hands in public, but found Josh’s wide hand on his ass strangely exciting. Roland felt a tug in his groin.
Josh removed his hand. “Sorry, man.”
Roland stopped a few minutes later in front of a large brownstone, where a flight of wide steps led to a pair of highly polished double doors with brass hardware. To the left of the stairs, a black iron fence led down to a small courtyard with a well-landscaped container garden. Roland reached down to open the gate. “Hope you don’t mind going in through the kitchen. We’re not very formal around here.”
Josh stared up at the large house, his mouth agape. “Man,” he said, “this place is something else. Hillary and I share a studio walk-up on Seventh Avenue South, above a little grocery store. But this is amazing.”
Roland smiled and extended his right arm. “After you.”
The kitchen was larger than Josh and Hillary’s entire studio. The cabinets were African walnut, the floors beige marble, and the countertops an unusual type of brown granite with large, thick veins. The look was complemented by stainless steel appliances and a coffee machine that looked unnecessarily complicated. The only imperfect thing in the room was an old aluminum coffee pot that looked like something found at a tag sale. An older man, wearing black slacks and a white dress shirt, stood in front of the sink stacking the dishwasher.
“I’m home, Russell,” Roland said. He spoke louder than usual so the old man would hear him.
“Ah, I see,” Russell said. But when he turned toward them and saw Josh standing next to Roland, one eyebrow went up. The old man pressed his lips together tightly.
“This is my friend, Josh,” Roland said, “and this is Russell. He’s been working for my family since I was in high school. He takes care of the house while I’m away.”
Russell stepped into the middle of the kitchen and looked Josh up and down. His eyebrow was still raised, and he bit his bottom lip.
“Hey, man,” Josh said to Russell. His hands were in his back pockets and he rocked back and forth on his heels.
Russell didn’t reply. He looked at Roland and shook his head. Roland smiled. “We’ll be upstairs.” He turned to Josh. “Follow me.”
“Catch you later, man,” Josh said to Russell. He followed Roland across the room and into a small hallway with a narrow wooden staircase. They ascended four flights of stairs, passing rooms with crystal sconces, white marble floors, and silver gilt furniture. When they finally reached his fourth floor suite, Josh said, “I don’t think your guy Russell likes me very much.”
“Russell is very protective,” Roland explained. “He got me through the rough times when Kenneth left me. Why don’t you have a seat? I’ll get your money.” He crossed through a pair of tall double doors.
Josh sat very carefully on a white settee next to a white marble fireplace. The polished, dark floors were adorned with thick white carpets in various sizes, and white silk draperies fell in neatly arranged puddles. The furniture was a combination of modern design and antiques, with mirrored tables that had square, blunt angles mixed with French antiques trimmed in gold. Josh spread his legs wide and folded his hands between them.
Roland returned carrying five $100 bills. “I really can’t thank you enough for tonight,” he said, handing the money to Josh. “I think we really surprised old Kenneth back there.”