Exclusive Excerpt from Three Wrong Turns in the Desert by Neil Plakcy

Exclusive Excerpt:

As Aidan unlocked the front door Liam said, “Not bad. Though I expected you to be staying in a hotel.”

The tiny, metal-grilled elevator had been out of service since Aidan had moved in, so they climbed the two flights to his apartment. Aidan’s pulse was racing, all thoughts of the dead man in the street gone. He imagined how quickly he and Liam would strip their clothes off, how good it would feel to be in the big man’s arms, how much he wanted to kiss those full, dry lips.

The skinny brown dog was lying in front of Aidan’s door, as she had been every time he’d come home since he moved in. He wondered if she had lived with whoever had the apartment before him, or if she’d adopted him as a soft touch.

“Your dog?” Liam asked, as Aidan bent down to scratch behind her ears, and she rolled over.

“I guess. I feed her, and she sleeps with me, but she’s on her own during the day.”

“Dogs are good,” Liam said. “She bark?”

“Don’t know,” Aidan said, opening the door.

Liam’s cell phone rang as they walked inside, and he stepped over to the French doors that led out to a narrow balcony to take the call. While he did so, Aidan pulled bottles of cold water from the half-size refrigerator. He poured some water into a bowl for the dog, and she lapped it up eagerly.

His dick strained against his shorts and he felt trapped by his T-shirt. He was ready to strip naked and offer himself up to Liam as soon as the big man got off the phone.

As Aidan returned to the living room, Liam snapped his phone shut and looked at him. “Who the fuck are you?” he asked.

Aidan’s romantic fantasies evaporated in an instant. They had been too foolish to come true anyway, he thought.

What kind of mental case was this guy? First the take-charge attitude, now this about-face to anger. And Aidan had done the stupidest thing imaginable. He’d brought this stranger back to his apartment. This was what being out of the dating pool did; it dulled your senses, let you get caught up in a moment too easily. You wasted your time on fantasy when you should have been alert.

Aidan remembered a personal safety training course he’d taken at one of the colleges where he’d taught. If a student became angry or violent, you had to talk to him calmly, try to defuse the tension.

“I’m sorry. I guess I never told you my name. Aidan Greene. I’m from Philadelphia, and I just got to Tunis three days ago. I start teaching ESL at the École International on Monday.”

“Fuck me,” Liam said, but from the tone of his voice Aidan could tell it was an expletive rather than an invitation. “No chance you’re also a courier from New York planning to head out into the desert? Go by the alias Charles Carlucci?”

“I think you should go,” Aidan said, trying to keep the tremors out of his voice. He walked over to the door and put his hand on the knob. “I won’t say anything or do anything. I promise. Just don’t hurt me.”

Liam looked disgusted. “I’m not going to hurt you,” he said. “I’m a bodyguard, and I thought you were my client.” He stood framed in the bright glare from the French doors.

Light cascaded off his perfect body, and Aidan could see his square chest under the loose vest. He even thought he could make out the shadow of a semi-erect dick beneath the loose cotton of Liam’s shorts.

Aidan stepped toward Liam. The light in the living room was beautiful, dazzling and slightly yellow. Behind Liam, through the French doors, Aidan saw sunlight glinting off the dome of the Zitouna mosque. In the distance he heard a muezzin calling the faithful to prayer.

“You always meet your clients in bars?”

“This one was twitchy. He wanted to meet me on my turf. Didn’t trust anybody.” He grimaced. “Turns out he was right. That must have been him who got shot in front of the bar.”

Aidan was confused. “Then you’re not gay?”

Liam snorted. “What the hell does that have to do with the situation?” He looked at Aidan, and then burst into laughter. “You thought I…” He laughed again.

Aidan thought he would fall through the floor with embarrassment. What a fool he’d been to consider that this god of a man was gay—and interested in him. Not only had Blake betrayed him—now he knew for a fact that he couldn’t even trust his own body, his own instincts. Look at how he’d narrowly escaped danger the day before, running from those boys.

He needed to lock himself up in his apartment, play with the dog and teach his students, and shut down everything else. “Thank you very much for that charming opinion of my sexual attractiveness,” he said. “And now, like I said before, I think you should leave.”

Before Aidan realized Liam was moving, the big bodyguard was right next to him, his arms wrapped around Aidan, his lips on Aidan’s lips.

Aidan hadn’t kissed anyone but Blake in years, and it had been a long time since Blake had really kissed him. Liam’s lips were chapped, and his beard was rough, but there was such passion in the kiss that Aidan’s head spun. With his big hands, Liam pulled Aidan close, their bodies meshed together, and Aidan felt the smooth leather of Liam’s vest, the heat rising from his bare chest.

Aidan understood the meaning of the word swoon. He felt light on his feet, his heart racing, all sensation gathered at those points where his body met Liam’s. Inhaling Liam’s lavender scent, mixed with sweat and musk. Those lips! Pressed against his own, at first confused, now yielding, his mouth opening a little against the assault. Liam’s arms wrapped around him, pulling their bodies close.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2wUBom9  

Other vendors: https://www.books2read.com/threewrongturns

More About author, Neil Plakcy

Neil Plakcy has written or edited over three dozen novels and short stories in mystery, romance and erotica. To research the Angus Green series, he participated in the FBI’s sixteen-week citizen’s academy, practiced at a shooting range, and visited numerous gay bars in Fort Lauderdale. (Seriously, it was research.)

He is an assistant professor of English at Broward College in South Florida, and has been a construction manager, a computer game producer, and a web developer – all experiences he uses in his fiction. His website is www.mahubooks.com.

Exclusive Excerpt: A Body on the Hill (A Mitch O’Reilly Mystery Book 2) by Brad Shreve

Exclusive Excerpt:

A Body on the Hill (A Mitch O’Reilly Mystery #2)

I paced from the entrance to the office to the side of his desk. He kept looking over like he was distracted, but never said anything. Each time I walked, I’d go a little farther past his desk and a little closer to the exit door, so I could unlock it.

I broke the silence. “Do you mind if we talk while you work?”

“As long as it’s not too distracting. It’s not more about your investigation, is it? I don’t know how much more I can tell.”

“This is about Rachel Roundtree.”

He swiveled his chair toward me and crossed his arms. “I know Rachel very well.”

“You do?”

“Yes, every six months to a year she performs here. I make out her checks and hand them to Luna to give to her. In other words, I know how to spell her name and that’s it.”

“You’ve never met her at all?”

“No.”

“How about Zach Pickering? What do you know about him?”

He dropped the pen in his hand on to the desk. “The answer to that is even more of a nothing. I don’t know anyone with the name Zach, or with the last name Pickering. I don’t think I can help you further, do you?”

It was at that moment my opportunity arose. Wesley stretched out his arms to crack his knuckles, knocking his inbox to the floor in front of his desk.

I asked, “Do you need a little help?”

“No, thanks. Everything goes in a specific order.”

While Wesley fumbled with his paperwork on one side of his desk, I cautiously backed up on the other side until I reached the exit door. I stepped forward when he was half standing, but papers slipped out of his hands and back to the floor.

This time I wasn’t so hesitant. I looked around and turned the tiny lock on the doorknob. A glance over my shoulder showed me he was still scrambling on the floor, giving me enough time to unlock the deadbolt. I slid back beside his desk just as he stood again.

“What a day this has been,” he said.

“Maybe it’d be good for you to relax at home.”

“You know what?” He smiled and smacked his hand on the desk. “I think you’re right. It is time for me to go.” His cell phone rang.

“Hello? Yes, it’s Wesley…I don’t need to come up there. It’s not my responsibility… …No, Luna is not here…No…No, I will not come up there…No…No, I will not…I’ll be right there.”

“Trouble?” I asked.

“It sounds like an employee, or likely a guest, got their hands into one of our tills upstairs and the supervisor is out of his mind. Says he doesn’t want to go to jail for the missing money.”

“Happen often?”

“It’s rare, but no time to talk. I need to get up there.” He grabbed my elbow. “Why don’t I notify the bartender that you’re waiting for Luna, and you can have a couple of drinks on the house. How about we leave a voicemail for her to find you there?”

Wesley left Luna the message and escorted me through the restaurant to the front lobby. Josie jumped from her seat and followed several paces behind. When we reached the seating station, the young woman who chastised me earlier spoke up.”

“Wesley, this man—”

“I’m in a rush, Anna, would you please escort Mr. O’Reilly to the lounge and set him up with some drinks.”

“You know who he is?”

“Of course, I do. Please tell the bartender the drinks are on Luna.” He trotted up the stairs to the club.

“Goodnight, Wesley,” I said.

“Follow me, sir,” the attendant said. “I’ll talk with the bartender.”

“One moment, please, miss. I need to have a discussion with my cohort.”

She backed away, grabbed some menus, and escorted a family of five to a table near the front window.

“I’m going outside, Josie. I need you to stay back and ensure Wesley does not get into his office before I get out.”

“How are you getting in there. He locked it.”

“No worries, I can get in from outside.”

“How do you expect me to stop him if he comes back?”

“Trip him.”

“What?”

“I don’t know. Anything. Tell him you want to apply for a job. He’ll tell you he’s too busy, and you’ll need to demand the right. Be crazy. You know, act normal.”

“Not funny, Lil’ Bro.”

I told the woman at the front desk that I was leaving for a while, but Josie was staying behind to wait for Luna. I exited the building and strolled around to the small alley between the club and the bank building next door. As expected, the door opened with no hesitation when I turned the knob.

Wesley’s mad rush out of the office left a nice unprotected computer for me to get my hands on. My biggest concern was that a lock screen would have been timed to close before I got there, but apparently, he didn’t have one on. I threw my finger down on the space bar the instant I hit the room just to be on the safe side.

Having no idea what I was looking for, I put in my thumb drive and dragged every spreadsheet I saw into it. Wages, invoices, profits and losses, tips, and more.

As I waited for a file called Inventory 2, Wesley started clamoring in the hall outside the office.

“Young lady, I told you, I do not take applications. The people at the front counter will be happy to help you. Now let go of my arm.”

I dove behind a file cabinet when I heard a key going into the lock.

“Oh, Wesley, please don’t be so mean to me,” Josie cooed.

“Excuse me? Who are you?”

The file completed downloading, so I dragged the next one into the thumb drive.

“You don’t recognize me, Wesley? I’m so hurt.”

“I’ve never seen you before.”

“I sure have seen you. I see you a lot.”

“What on earth do you mean?” Wesley was flustered.

“I sit right over there, at that dining table several times a week, so I can watch you come and go.”

“Are you a mad woman?”

“I don’t know about mad, but I’m crazy. Crazy for you.”

There was a loud thud against the door. I believe it was Wesley’s back being pushed against it.

“Dear God. Is this your insane way of finding a job?”

“It’s you that I want to give a job, but not the kind that has you waiting tables.”

I clenched a hand across my mouth to keep from laughing out loud. Fear and hysteria were battling inside my head. Josie was doing a great job of stalling the man, but she was going to get me caught if I couldn’t hold back from cracking up. There was another bang against the door. It was softer this time.

Wesley said, “Move away from that door before I call security. I’m giving you ten seconds.”

“Don’t you find me attractive?” Josie wept.

“Oh, for the love of God! I think you’re a lovely young woman, but I’m a married man.”

“Happily?”

“Yes, very happy.” His voice had gotten more tense and stern.

“I’m happy that you’re happy, but I have no doubt I can make you happier.”

“I’ve had enough of you. I’m calling security. You need to be in an institution.”

There was a smack followed by a crack.

“Look what you did to my cell phone?”

“I didn’t mean for you to drop it.”

“What on earth do you mean? You slapped it right out of my hand.”

“Janet,” Wesley called out. “Would you call security immediately.” His voice quivered with a mix of fear and anger. “Now you’ve done it. Security will be here any second.”

“I’m giving up, Wesley! It’s obvious you’re unable to love me the way I love you.”

The sound of Wesley hitting the door happened again. “Let go of my shirt. What are you doing?”

“I want a kiss goodbye, but I know you won’t give it to me,” Josie sobbed. “I guess I should go.”

“That would be a good idea. Let me escort you out.”

“You’re going with me?”

“Right out the front door.”

While they walked away, I took the chance to download at least one more file. I wanted to ensure I got as many as I could to Harold. Once it completed downloading, I locked the deadbolt and doorknob, and cautiously stepped into the hall. I locked the office door behind me as Wesley came around the corner.

“What are you doing here? You were going to wait in the bar for Luna to get back.”

“I was, but I need to get going. I was just going to leave her a note.”

“I need to get out of here. Call and leave her a voicemail or send her a text.”

“Good idea. I’ll try that.”

Wesley unlocked his door and stomped into his office.

“Good night, Mitch.” He slammed the door.

“Good night, Wesley,” I said under my breath as I walked to the lobby.

I forwarded the files to Harold that night.

Blurb:

PI Mitch O’Reilly is hired by big-time Hollywood director T.J. Mooney to follow his son Austin who is starting an acting career without riding the coattails of his powerful father. T.J. isn’t happy his beloved son has changed his last name and chooses to live in a sketchy apartment and not the family mansion in Bel Air.
To Mitch, it’s another routine stakeout until Austin’s body is found on the hill below the Hollywood Sign. Was the body left there to send a message? If so, deciphering that message could lead Mitch to solving the crime.

Bio:

After growing up in Michigan and North Carolina, I crisscrossed the country while working in the hotel industry. In addition to working in hotels as a bellman, front desk clerk, and reservation call center director, I managed coffee houses, waited tables, sold potato chips off a truck, and even hawked pre-burial funeral plans.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak developed my first interests in art and storytelling. I’d spend hours on the floor sketching and painting and writing stories.

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George gave me my first inklings that I’d like to be a novelist someday. Authors Lawrence Block, Sue Grafton, Gregory Mcdonald and Robet B. Parker, influenced my love of mystery.

I was delighted when I discovered the gay mystery subgenre and the list of writers who inspired me to follow this more comfortable direction are too numerous to mention.

Though my interest in writing began at an early age, entering the hotel business soon after graduation steered me in a different direction. The secretary, the big office and a prestigious title were great for the ego but weren’t all that fulfilling.

As a grownup I was thinking of what I wanted to do when I became a bigger grownup and the answer was obvious. My fingertips have been on the keyboard ever since.

I’m a proud dad, beach bum, and coffee house squatter.

I currently live in the Los Angeles South Bay with my husband, Maurice.

Links:

Book:

Kindle available on Amazon

Paperback available everywhere

https://bradshreve.com/

7-Year Anniversary Celebration: Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Facebook Group Giveaway!

In celebration of the upcoming SEVENTH Anniversary of the GAY MYSTERY-THRILLER-SUSPENSE FB Group, we’ll be drawing for lots of FREEbies that include e-books, audiobooks and signed copies of previously featured LGBTQ+ Mystery/Thriller/Suspense novels exclusively offered to our devoted members! 

word murder written with an old typewriter

Everyone gets a chance to WIN! Either via frequent drawings held beginning on June 13th, 2020 through December 31st, 2020.

Random items to be offered via drawings:

  • e-books galore!
  • Selected Signed Print Books
  • Paperback Books
  • Omnibus (first three books of a series) – choice of e-book or print
  • FREE Audible Audiobook Codes (US/UK)
  • Lots of $10 Amazon Gift Card(s)
  • Entire Set of a Series – choice of e-book or print
  • Cover Design – (offered to an Author winner)
  • PRIDE SWAG (trinkets/small gifts)
  • Limited-Edition Sheet of USA Dinosaur Stamps (hologram!)

Contributing Authors & Members: Authors John Morgan Wilson, Mark McNease, Rick R. Reed, Ann Aptaker, Garrick Jones, Marshall Thornton, C.S. Poe, Jeffrey Round, Gregory Ashe, Barbara Winkes, Joe Cosentino, Neil Plakcy, Brad Shreve, Jon Michaelsen, Frank W Butterfield, John Copenhaver, cover artist Dawne Dominique of DuskTilDawn Designs and LGBT Imprint ReQueered Tales (w/Matthew Lubbers-Moore, Justene Adamec & Alexander Inglis) have contributed to this year’s Special 7-Year Celebration giveaways!

HOW TO WIN – RULES & REGULATIONS

It’s so easy to win!

Just follow the Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Facebook Page for numerous DRAWINGS to be offered FREE from now until October 31st, 2020. Lots and Lots of giveaways, including author swag, GLBTQ+ retail items celebrating PRIDE Month of June, trinkets, e-books, FREE Audible audiobook codes, and SIGNED copies of some fantastic print novels by our author/members!

Enter to WIN! 

Entering a drawing is so simple by following the posted link for your chance to WIN! Winners are selected randomly by Rafflecoper at the end of the posted drawing. All entrants agree to provide a valid e-mail address and mailing address for raffle winnings delivery and/or mailing of the winning prize. 

PLEASE NOTE: – Your entry also authorizes Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense FB Group and ReQueer Tales permission to use your email and/or mailing address for the purposes of sharing new releases, promotions, and mailings. Not providing your information will void your entry. Your private e-mail and mailing address will remain secured, private, and exclusionary. Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense FB Group and ReQueered tales will never sell, gift or provide your private information to third parties. 

IT’S THAT SIMPLE!

How Long Before the Winner is announced?  

There are over 80+ novels (e-book, print & audiobook) to be given out from now and leading up to the 7th anniversary of Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense FB Group in September and beyond until the end of the year. We want to give every member in the group to have the chance to see all drawings posted, so typically giveaways will last two to five days, depending on the activity in the group. Following the group closely between now and the end of the year will provide you with the most chances to win! 

A FEW (BORING) RULES:

  • Only Members of Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense FB group can enter drawings; all members are eligible, including authors, as they are readers/fans of the genre, too! 
  • Members can enter as many drawings as possible, but please be mindful our goal is to reward as many members as possible throughout the celebration, so multiple-winning members may be avoided unless participating in a particular giveaway dictates otherwise. 
  • Please Do Not Forward this announcement or the rules of the FREE giveaways/drawings to non-members, as they are not eligible to participate–even in joining the group the same day. Though I welcome all new members to the group, the 7th-anniversary celebration is meant to thank and reward all the current and active members who have been loyal to the group over seven years. New members may be eligible on a case-by-case basis when taking into consideration the date of membership. 
  • Non-USA contiguous members may receive an e-book alternative in substitute for a print version of a book due to the costs of postage. Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense FB group is a non-profit, non-revenue fan-based group. We do not have the funds for postage outside the country of origin and/or where the author has advised. Winners may offer to cover postage costs of print books if preferred. 
  • Substitutes may be available but are not guaranteed. Any remaining print books on hand will be donated to the library of Lost-N-Found Youth, an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization whose mission is getting homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths up to age twenty-five off the streets and transition them into more permanent housing.

TITLES OF ALL BOOKS FOR DRAWINGS/Giveaways!

(1) signed copy of Simple Justice (Benjamin Justice #1) by John Morgan Wilson

(5) e-book copies of Beautiful Corpse (a Marshall James Thriller) by Mark McNease

(1) e-book copy The Man from Milwaukee by Rick R. Reed

(1) A signed copy of (voucher) Cantor Gold book, MURDER AND GOLD, releasing for Spring/Summer 2021 by Ann Aptaker

(2) Signed copies of Pretty Boy Dead by Jon Michaelsen

(2) Signed copies of The Deadwood Murders by Jon Michaelsen

(1) A signed copy of Time’s Rainbow: Writing Ourselves Back into American History (Volume 1) – ed; Lori L Lake & Christopher Hawthorne Moss

(1) A signed copy of a new psychological thriller by Garrick Jones

(5) FREE Audible codes for Desert Run by Marshall Thornton

(2) FREE Audible codes for The Mystery of Nevermore (Snow & Winter: Book One), US & UK code by C.S. Poe

(2) FREE Audible codes for Southernmost Murder, US/UK code by C.S. Poe

(1) A signed copy of a novel by Jeffrey Round

(3) Audible codes (US or UK) – Book #1 Borealis Investigations, ORIENTATION – Gregory Ashe

(1) FREE Audible code (UK Only) for Killer Instinct by Barbara Winkes

(1) FREE Audible code (UK ONLY) for The Amnesia Project by Barbara Winkes

FREE e-book for every member to download by Barbara Winkes

(1) FREE Audible code for Drama Queen (#1 Nicky and Noah Mystery) by Joe Cosentino (US/UK Only)

(5/5) FREE Audio copies of Three Wrong Turns in the Desert (US/UK Only) by Neil Plakcy

(5) FREE copies of the omnibus version (first three books) Mahu Mystery series) – reader’s choice of format (choice e-book or print) by Neil Plakcy (the US Only)

(5) FREE copies of the omnibus version (first three books) Have Body, Will Guard Thriller series – reader’s choice of format (e-book/print) by Neil Plakcy (US Only)

(1) A signed copy of A Body in a Bathhouse by Brad Shreve

(1) A signed copy of A Body on a Hill by Brad Shreve to the same winner

FREE e-book cover design for an author by cover Artist Dawne Dominique of DuskTilDawn Designs 

(1) A signed copy of Dodging and Burning by John Copenhaver

(1) FREE Audible code (US Only) of Dodging and Burning by John Copenhaver

(1/1) FREE Audible codes (US / UK)) of The Mystery of Nevermore (Snow & Winter: Book One) by C.S. Poe (Carroll Poe)

(1) Complete signed copy of the entire Snow & Winter (Books 1-4: US Only) by C.S. Poe (Carroll Poe)

(1/1) FREE Audible codes (US / UK) of Southern Most Murder by C.S. Poe (Carroll Poe)

(2) Signed copies of Prince of the Sea by Jon Michaelsen

(5) FREE Audible Codes Pretty Boy Dead by Jon Michaelsen

(5) FREE Audible Codes Prince of the Sea by Jon Michaelsen

LGBT Imprint ReQueered Tales – (1) copy of STEAM by J.B. Laws; (1) Copy of Like People in History by Felice Picano; (1) Copy of Let’s Get Criminal by Lev Rapheal; ONXY by Felice Picano

(1) FREE e-book copy of Fire on the Island by Timothy Jay Smith

(1) A signed copy of Fire on the Island by Timothy Jay Smith (Europe Only)

(3) $10 Amazon Gift Cards offered by Meg Perry (Rachel Owens)

Exclusive Excerpt: FIRE ON THE ISLAND By Timothy Jay Smith

Excerpt:

They stripped, and Nick followed the naked young man onto the beach. Moonlight fell across his shoulders and showed his buttocks flexing as he picked his way across the pebbles. In a short distance, they came to the whitewashed walls of an ancient hammam. Oblong, it had a vaulted roof and a rounded snout that jutted into the sea. The wind-driven waves crashed against it. Takis planted his hands on its side and stepped into the cold rough water.

“Where are we going?”

“Just follow me!”

Immediately drenched, and quickly waist deep in the churning sea, they had to struggle to stay upright. The water knocked them one way while the undertow dragged them the other. When they’d worked their way around to the other side, they crawled onto a stone landing and collapsed, wracked with shivers, elbows tucked under them for warmth. “You call this a hot bath?” Nick finally managed to say.

Takis blindly dropped a hand on his back. “Just wait.”

Nick shook his hand off, and Takis, wondering why, saw his scars. “You were in a fire?” he asked.

“I should’ve warned you. It’s why I usually don’t get naked on a first date.”

“Your scars won’t bother me.”

“They bother me.”

“Maybe a hot bath will change that.” Takis stood up. The hammam’s short door was unlocked and he stooped to step through it.

Nick followed him.

Warm dank air instantly enveloped them.

“Don’t move until your eyes adjust to the light,” Takis cautioned as he closed the door behind him. “You don’t want to fall into it.”

“Fall into what?”

Moonlight streaming through round vents in the curved ceiling revealed the black pool. Rectangular, it stretched the length of the hammam, and the steam rising from it smelled faintly of minerals.

“I promised you a hot bath,” Takis said. “I also promise, you’ll never take a hotter one.”

He sat on its edge, stuck his legs out and bobbed his heels in the water.

Nick sat next to him. The flagstones felt cool on his bare skin. He copied Takis and stuck out his legs, but the first time he bobbed his heels, he retracted them. “Holy shit that’s hot!”

Takis laughed.

“You actually put your body into this?”

“The trick is to go in slowly. Very, very slowly.”

“The trick is not to go in at all!”

“That’s the problem with very very slowly.”

“What’s that?”

“You’ll end up not going in at all.”

In the next instant, Takis slipped into the pool up to his neck. His chest heaved from the shock.

“How did you do that?”

“You have to come in, too.”

“No way.”

“If you want to have sex tonight, you will.”

“What? Are you blackmailing me?”

“I won’t sleep with a man who hasn’t had a bath.”

“I have a shower back in my room.”

“We’re not going back to your room.”

Again Nick tested a heel in the water. “I can’t believe this doesn’t melt flesh.”

Without warning, Takis grabbed his foot and pulled him into the water.

Nick flailed, and yelped.

“Are you okay?”

“No! I feel like the meat in cannibal soup!”

“Sit very still. The more you move, the hotter it feels.”

“I’m surprised I can move at all. You’re used to this?”

“I know what to expect.”

“And you’re crazy enough to still do it?”

“Afterwards, you feel great.”

“Afterwards, I’m not sure I’ll be able to feel anything.”

“Run your fingers over the water. You’ll see how it feels even hotter.”

“Who wants it hotter?”

“Just try it.”

Nick did, and it did feel hotter, but he was getting used to it. Takis, too, drifted his fingers on the water’s surface, and their hands touched. Fingers entwined, they pulled each other into a tentative kiss that became a long one. With lips trying to stay together, they crawled onto the cool flagstones, hands venturing where their mouths would later explore.

Blurb:

FIRE ON THE ISLAND is a playful, romantic thriller set in contemporary Greece, with a gay Greek-American FBI agent, who is undercover on the island to investigate a series of mysterious fires. Set against the very real refugee crisis on the beautiful, sun-drenched Greek islands, this novel paints a loving portrait of a community in crisis. As the island residents grapple with declining tourism, poverty, refugees, family feuds, and a perilously damaged church, an arsonist invades their midst.

Nick Damigos, the FBI agent, arrives on the island just in time to witness the latest fire and save a beloved truffle-sniffing dog. Hailed as a hero and embraced by the community, Nick finds himself drawn to Takis, a young bartender who becomes his primary suspect, which is a problem because they’re having an affair. Theirs is not the only complicated romance in the community and Takis isn’t the only suspicious character on the island. The priest is an art forger, a young Albanian waiter harbors a secret, the captain of the coast guard station seems to have his own agenda, and the village itself hides a violent history. Nick has to unravel the truth in time to prevent catastrophe, as he comes to terms with his own past trauma. In saving the village, he will go a long way toward saving himself.

A long time devotee of the Greek islands, Smith paints the setting with gorgeous color and empathy, ushering in a new romantic thriller with the charm of  Zorba the Greek while shedding bright light on the very real challenges of life in contemporary Greece.

More about Author Timothy Jay Smith

Raised crisscrossing America pulling a small green trailer behind the family car, Timothy Jay Smith developed a ceaseless wanderlust that has taken him around the world many times. En route, he’s found the characters that people his work. Polish cops and Greek fishermen, mercenaries and arms dealers, child prostitutes and wannabe terrorists, Indian Chiefs and Indian tailors: he’s hung with them all in an unparalleled international career that saw him smuggle banned plays from behind the Iron Curtain, maneuver through Occupied Territories, represent the U.S. at the highest levels of foreign governments, and stowaway aboard a ‘devil’s barge’ for a three-day crossing from Cape Verde that landed him in an African jail.

Tim brings the same energy to his writing that he brought to a distinguished career, and as a result, he has won top honors for his novels, screenplays and stage plays in numerous prestigious competitions. Fire on the Island won the Gold Medal in the 2017 Faulkner-Wisdom Competition for the Novel (for unpublished novels), and his screenplay adaptation of it was named Best Indie Script by WriteMovies. Another novel, The Fourth Courier, set in Poland, published in 2019 by Arcade Publishing, was a finalist for Best Gay Novel in the 2020 Lambda Literary Awards. Previously, he won the Paris Prize for Fiction (now the Paris Literary Prize) for his novel, A Vision of Angels. Kirkus Reviews called Cooper’s Promise “literary dynamite” and selected it as one of the Best Books of 2012. 

Tim was nominated for the 2018 Pushcart Prize. His stage play, How High the Moon, won the prestigious Stanley Drama Award, and his screenplays have won competitions sponsored by the American Screenwriters Association, WriteMovies, Houston WorldFest, Rhode Island International Film Festival, Fresh Voices, StoryPros, and the Hollywood Screenwriting Institute. He is the founder of the Smith Prize for Political Theater.

Exclusive Interview with Randy Fair, author of Southern. Gay. Teacher: a Memoir

Where do you live throughout most of the year?

Wilton Manors, Florida. It is sometimes called “the gay village,” and The New York Times dubbed it, “Gayberry”.

Without getting too personal (of course, we’ll never stop you!), will you share some of your life’s history?

I grew up in Weaver, Alabama, a town of around 2000 people. As a gay boy, I did get some unexpected help from my teachers. I tell the story of my tenth-grade teacher. One day during a discussion of Julius Caesar, a student asked, “Were these people homosexual?” My teacher told us that in Rome bisexuality was commonplace. Someone said, “That’s disgusting.”

Instead of just continuing on with the lesson, she told us about her roommate in college who was a lesbian. I will never forget that someone asked, “Weren’t you worried that she would look at you while you were undressing?” Her simple answer was ground shaking for me. She said, “If she looked at me and thought I was attractive, I would be just as happy as if a man looked at me and thought I was attractive. I know who I am, and I am comfortable with my sexuality.” It was somewhat of a lonely place for a gay man when I graduated from Jacksonville State, I moved the very next day to Atlanta. I have never lived out of the South.

Randy Fair circa 1984

Writers rarely like to toot their own horn. Indulging our readers, how would a gay man of a certain age describe your proudest accomplishments to date?

I do have some things that other people would consider traditional accomplishments like my Ph.D. and the founding of the Atlanta Chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Teachers Network, but what I would consider being my greatest accomplishment is the storage box I have of notes and letters from former students telling me that I contributed to their lives.

What on earth possessed you to write your memoirs in your mid-to-late fifties?

When I was a teacher, I tried to be as vocal as I could on this subject. But while I did try to speak out, more often than not, I felt silenced. I think that there are many LGBTQ students, parents, and teachers who still feel like they can’t speak up. Many people aren’t aware that throughout the South there are states that have so-called, “No Promo Homo” laws that forbid discussions of LGBTQ Issues in the classroom. Even in the states that don’t
have these laws, the fact that the neighboring states do have them has a silencing effect. And it’s not just in the South. There are many schools throughout this country that still discourage students from starting Gay/Straight Alliance groups or threaten LGBTQ teachers in order to keep them from coming out. Because ENDA has never passed Congress, teachers can be fired simply for being LGBTQ. Now that I can’t be fired, I wanted to give a voice to the people who can’t speak up.

Retied Teacher Randy Fair

Had you always planned to write about your life as a southern educator in Southern. Gay. Teacher.?

I actually had it in the back of my mind for a lot of my career. At one of the first schools where I taught, I had an incident that put the idea in my head. We had an African- American teacher in the English department who always read her religious poems at the end of each department meeting. One day, I went to my mailbox, and someone had put a religious tract in there telling me that I needed to become saved. I thought it was this teacher, and I went to her room to confront her. She immediately told me to sit down. I had always thought of her as meek, but she was so forceful, I immediately sat down. She told me that she didn’t put the tract in my box, and then, she said, “Look, I know you think I don’t want you here, but that’s not true. I know what you go through every day. I was the first black teacher in an all-white school during desegregation. I would come to my room each morning, and I would see where the kids had written, ’N————— go home.’”. I remember thinking, “Why doesn’t she write about those stories instead of those horrible poems? That’s a story I would like to read.” I guess that’s the first time I realized that someone might want to hear what it was like to be a gay teacher.

Did you plan and strategize your writing process, or fly by the seat of your Florida shorts?

I worked on the book for about seven summer breaks. Each summer, I would reread what I had written and then continue adding to it. It became a pretty sprawling project, and when Nick Courtright at Atmosphere Press decided to publish it, he told me that I would have to cut it down significantly. That process took another six months because there were some changes that the editor I was assigned wanted that I didn’t feel comfortable with. We had to continually work out those issues.

Randy Fair

How did you deal with distractions (i.e., blogs, Facebook, promoting, and real-life, like that daytime job demanding your attention?

Luckily, I had the summer breaks to work on the book, and I didn’t have Facebook. As a gay teacher, I didn’t feel comfortable being on social media until I retired. The students get curious about their teachers, and they will go to great lengths to find out what is going on in a teacher’s personal life. I always felt like I could be fired at any moment, and so I didn’t want to add any other reasons.

Following the release of your memoirs as an out and proud gay southern educator, have you had to deal with any outright homophobia from fellow educators, past or present?

To be honest with you, I don’t think I recognized a lot of the homophobia I was experiencing even while it was clearly going on. I could be pretty radical and obnoxious for a teacher, so I never knew if they didn’t like me because I was gay or if they just didn’t like my personality. Since the book has been out, so far I have had nothing but positive responses.

I’m a good seventy percent complete with reading Southern. Gay. Teacher. I can share I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about your personal experiences, especially of those one-on-one relationships with the gay youth of the day. Much has changed in the LGBTQ+ society of acceptance during our lifetimes, and theirs, too. Having (recently reconnected with you) after nearly a forty-year friendship, is there anything you still hope to accomplish before taking that long journey across the Rainbow Bridge?

I feel like this book is one of my last contributions to the LGBTQ cause. I am open to other things coming up as time goes on, so I can’t really say. If I find new ways to help promote the cause, I will definitely pursue them.

Any guilty pleasures you care to share?

Not really. I am pretty boring. Wilton Manors is kind of wide open because it’s a tourist town, and I think most of my friends are surprised by how low key I have been here. I think I did surprise them all on Halloween. It’s a huge holiday for the town. They close the main street down and about 10,000 people show up. I dressed in my leather outfit, and now everyone here tells me that I have a dark side.

On behalf of the Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense FB Group, thank you for giving us a little of your time today by answering our (annoying?) questions…

Last request—What do you hope Southern. Gay. Teacher., can offer to the current generation of gay educators and/or LGBTQ+ kids navigating their way through the educational system of today?

I am especially hopeful of getting teachers and prospective teachers access to this book. I never had any training or discussion in my education programs on LGBTQ Issues, and I had to make it up as I went. I think it would be great for teachers to have a chance to think about these issues before they come up. I also think that the book is good for a general audience. I have been surprised by the number of people who have read it and said that they could relate to these experiences. Many of these people weren’t teachers, and some of them were not LGBTQ. Before the book was published, I guess I never thought that straight people would say, “I have had these same experiences.”