Merry Christmas, gang!
It’s that time of year again. The Smashwords sale starts today and runs through January 1st.
All of my eBooks that are published on Smashwords are available as FREE downloads, in all eBook formats until New Year’s Day.
Twilight of the Immortal;
The Muse Revisited, Volume 1: Early Erotica;
The Muse Revisited, Volume 2: Erotic Novellas & Longer Works;
and The Muse Revisited, Volume 3: More Early Erotica.
Since today is Christmas, I thought I’d post an excerpt from Freak Parade, wherein our 2 main love interests – Eugenia Sharpe and Eddie Ramirez – resume that tortuous process of falling in love, and it takes place on Christmas Eve.
Freak Parade was sort of the turning point in my career, in that it came along in 2005, just as the publishing industry was starting to have some huge financial upheavals. Even though I was a steady seller in a niche market, publishers were shying away from niche markets in droves.
(That’s sort of an interesting image, isn’t it? To shy away from something in droves?)
Anyway, my agent shopped Freak Parade for 5 years. Every publisher except one loved the book but would not publish it because it was impossible to pigeon hole it; to label it. And they only wanted easy, massive sales.
Freak Parade is not an easy sell. It is literary with tons of graphic sex. It’s a romantic love story but it has rape, drugs, and violence in it. It has lots of gay, lesbian, and bisexual BDSM sex in it, even while it is primarily a heterosexual love story. And it’s also a book about how racist New York City is towards Puerto Ricans.
So, 5 years into it, I told my agent to stop shopping it and that I would publish the book myself. Even though it primarily sells as an eBook nowadays, when I published it in 2011, it was primarily a trade paperback book. It was my first time involved in the editing, formatting, designing, and packaging of a print book from start to finish. And, to my delight, Freak Parade took home the Silver Medal that year at the Independent Publisher Book Awards in New York.
So here is an excerpt from Chapter 15, it runs about 8 pages.
Merry Christmas, everybody and thanks for visiting! I love you guys!!
When I got down to the street, Eddie Ramirez was waiting in the falling snow, in a black cashmere coat and faded blue jeans. He looked too sexy, too indescribably tall, dark and handsome. It all came back to me now of course, just how handsome he was. I recalled him perfectly now, every chiseled angle of his face and the spark of fire in his gleaming brown eyes.
“Look at you, mami,” he cried. “I didn’t know you had such long hair. You’re such a little white girl – like an Ivory girl. You’re even prettier than I remembered.”
He held his arms open for me and I went right into them, effortlessly, like I’d done it all my life, like I hadn’t agonized over how he’d slipped right through my fingers every night for a tortuous week. He kissed me right on the mouth. “I didn’t think I would ever see you again, Boo.” He squeezed me tight. “No,” he corrected himself, “no that’s not true. I knew I was going to see you again. I wasn’t gonna have it any other way. But I couldn’t understand why you left me like that; I couldn’t make sense of it. And that Frankie – shit. She is so hard to reach on the phone, have you noticed that about her? I don’t have a phone of my own. I gotta go down to the street to the payphone if I want to call somebody, and then she never picks up. So tonight, I’d had it. I went over to her apartment and I waited in front of her building until somebody let me in. Then I pounded on her door until she opened up. I knew she was in there. She was in there with Pablo so I don’t have to tell you what they were doing – and I don’t mean fucking, excuse my language. Give it a rest already with the eight ball, you know? All I wanted was seven little numbers. How long can that take?” He finally paused to take a breath. “I called you twice, mami, but the first time, nobody answered. I’m so glad I tried again.”
Held in his arms like that, the scent of his incredible cologne was soon permeating my brain again, edging me into a swoon in record time.
“And how was your week?” he asked.
I didn’t even want to think about my week. I wanted to pretend my week had never happened. I was afraid it might break this phantom spell, this spell of Eddie Ramirez filling my senses. “It wasn’t so good, but it’s over. I just want to move on.”
“Whatever you say, mami.” He took my hand and we started walking. “Starting now, we’ll just move on.”
When he took my hand in his the thrill of it shot down to the center of my womb, the spark was that primal. He had such masculine hands. I wanted to be naked and at the mercy of those hands. But I couldn’t say a thing like that. I had to keep a lid on all the shooting sparks. I didn’t want to blow this chance again. Yet I wanted to say something – something extraordinary – but I had no words that could match the crackling sound my whole body was burning to make.
What was with this guy, I wondered. Why did he make me feel so breathless? At least it hadn’t been a figment of my imagination, I thought gratefully; that hypnotic trance we’d been in at the Sidecar Lounge had been real.
“So,” he said.
“So?” I looked up at him expectantly. Specks of snow had fallen into his thick brown hair and were melting there.
“You and me, we have some unfinished business, don’t we, mami?” He said this with such quiet authority, it made my pulse jump. Wow. He definitely had that daddy thing going on. I hadn’t counted on that. My electrified womb was quickly turning to a big quiver of Jell-O.
“What does that mean,” I asked; “Unfinished business?”
“We had something going there and you left me.”
Which reminded me: “Hey, did you really bring me flowers?”
“Yes I did, and do you know how far I had to walk to find a store that was selling flowers at that hour? Why did you leave me, mami? We hadn’t even said goodbye.”
“Well, I didn’t know you were buying me flowers. I thought you’d ditched me.”
“How could I ditch you? Mami, you were making me crazy. Don’t you remember what you were doing to me? I couldn’t hold you close enough.”
“Yes,” I said. “I remember.”
“And you think I get crazy like that for just any female? I can have my pick of the females on a Friday night, mami, trust me. And none of them get me as worked up as you do.”
Wow. What was he saying? I was almost afraid to find out for sure. I didn’t want this little bubble of delight bursting right in my face. “But you didn’t say where you were going. You were the one who left me sitting there all by myself. And besides,” I added half-heartedly, not wanting to remember but needing to plead my case, “my ride came.”
He put his arm around my shoulders and pulled me closer to him. “Your ‘ride’ came. Right.” He looked down at me disapprovingly. “And I hope you enjoyed your little ride because it certainly wasn’t a ride home – we found that out right away. You better be careful on those little two a.m. rides, mami, there are some freaky motherfuckers in this town.”
Ouch. No way on earth did I ever want him to know how right he was or how much I regretted that ride; now more than ever, I wanted Taddeo Fischetti to be a past chapter in a closed book. A book I was going to douse in gasoline and set on fire.
“I guess you think it isn’t any of my business,” he went on, “and maybe it isn’t. It’s just that I’ve been around, in places that pretty white girls like you shouldn’t even know about and I’ve seen some sick shit happen to females who were too stupid to be careful. It’s no joke what goes on out there.”
“I know,” I said.
“Right – you know,” he said doubtfully.
We walked as far as Fourteenth Street then we crossed Second Avenue and headed back down towards Chas’s place. The snow was beginning to stick. With so little traffic out, even the streets were taking a light dusting of pure white snow and holding it. I knew it wouldn’t last long, that purity. But for now, it was beautiful. The entire night was beautiful. It was Christmas Eve and for once, it actually felt sacred. The twinkling Christmas lights strung on all the fire escapes were ethereal now in all that snow. It was snow that was coming straight from heaven.
“So what are you doing tomorrow,” I asked. “Are you going to be with your family?”
“No, moms isn’t exactly speaking to me these days so I’m steering clear of her until she gets over it. And she’s pretty much all I got.”
“But what about your kid? Aren’t you going to see him on Christmas?”
“I already saw him. His mother gave me about five minutes with him this evening before she started picking a fight with me, so I had to clear out of there. It always gets ugly with her and then the kid starts crying. It’s almost better to not even go.”
“That’s sad. Where does he live, your son?”
“Over in the projects, on Avenue D. I seriously doubt you’d be familiar with it.”
I wondered if that was where Pablito lived, in the projects on Avenue D.
“And what are you doing on Christmas?” he continued. “Where’s your family, mami?”
“Far away from here; I almost never see them anymore.”
“Have you lived in the city a long time?”
“Long enough – fifteen years.”
“That’s definitely long enough. So you came all the way out here from wherever you came from just to work in a store? Isn’t there something else you’d rather be doing?”
“I don’t know what I want to be doing, but no I didn’t come out here to work in a store. I came out here to be a singer, I wrote songs.”
“So what happened? Why aren’t you doing that?”
“I already did it.”
“You did? Weren’t you any good at it?”
“I was. I just didn’t like it.”
“Really? You were good at it? Did you make CDs and shit like that?”
“Yeah, shit like that.”
We’d reached St. Mark’s Church now. It looked idyllic in the falling snow. We stopped and leaned against the iron fence. He said, “You made CDs, really? Anything I would have heard of? I listen to white music, you know. I listen to all kinds of music.”
“I only made one CD and you probably have heard of it. It was called Alarmed at Carnegie.”
He looked at me, puzzled, like it was ringing a distant bell. Then he said, “Hey, I know that one. That was you, mami?”
“That was me. My real name is Eugenia Sharpe.”
“That’s you, mami? Shit, you’re famous.”
“Well, I was.”
“How come somebody famous like you knows a female like Frankie? And what are you doing living downtown, taking a walk with a poor Puerto Rican like me? You’re one of those uptown girls. I can tell.”
“Sure you are, mami,” he said. “You might not be living there right this minute, but you’re still an uptown girl. Put it this way, you ever want to move back uptown, you can, like that.” He snapped his fingers. “In a heartbeat. Me? I want to move uptown? It’s not so easy. Maybe as the super of somebody’s building, they’ll let me move uptown. I mean, I’m a plumber. I work on boilers and shit. I know my way around steam heat. But just to live uptown and enjoy myself? It’s not gonna happen.”
“Why do you say it like that, Eddie?”
He made a face, like he couldn’t believe his ears. “Well, you think about it. When you were living uptown, how many of your closest neighbors were Puerto Ricans?”
I’d never actually thought about it and now I was kind of appalled. He was right. There were plenty of Puerto Ricans uptown, even in Darryl’s building – Carlos, for instance. But none of them actually lived there; they lived farther up, thirty or forty blocks up. Strange that I’d never noticed that before. Where the hell had I been? All that time on Central Park West and my brain had still been living in a downtown world.
“What’s that look for?” he said quietly, his finger tip landing gently on the tip of my freezing nose. “Don’t feel bad about it. You didn’t make the rules.”
“There aren’t any rules, Eddie. Times are different now. You can live wherever you want to, if you can afford it, I guess.”
He leaned up against me, pressing me against the iron fence. There was that scent again, right up my nose, filling my head. The pressure of his body against mine felt so comforting, so full of promise. I wanted to make love with him, for sure. It was going to have to happen at some point. I was going to be naked with this man somehow, some day.
He kissed my mouth tenderly and smiled. He said, “You’re living in a dream world, my little white girl. There are rules. Trust me. And they are written in stone.”
I simply didn’t agree with him, but I didn’t want to argue. I wanted to be kissed some more.
I put my arms around him. “Nice coat,” I said.
“I know. Cashmere. But it’s old. I used to have a lot of nice things.”
“Yeah. I had money once. Lots and lots of money.”
That sounded familiar. “Really? You, too? You’re kidding?”
“No, mami, why would I kid you?”
“Well, how did you get all that money, as a plumber?”
“No, mami, not as a plumber.”
“Just think about it. Where does a poor Puerto Rican living in the projects ever get lots and lots of money?”
I didn’t understand, or maybe I just didn’t want to.
“It’s an old formula,” he explained patiently. “You get rich quick but it doesn’t last. You wind up either dead or in jail.”
I stared at up him blankly, losing track of what he was saying, enchanted yet again by his perfect lips, his sensuous mouth.
“Drugs, mami. But that’s over now. Now I work for a living, so I have no money at all. Funny how that works out.” The tiny diamond in his left ear winked at me.
Drugs. Shit. Well, since he wasn’t dead it only left one thing. “Does this mean you were in jail? In Ryker’s?”
“Mami, what would you know about a place like Ryker’s?”
“Nothing. But just tell me.”
“It’s Christmas Eve. Let’s talk about happier things.”
“Okay,” I relented, not wanting to know about anything that might spoil my vision of his perfection – not yet. “Kiss me again,” I said.
“That’s more like it, Boo.”
He kissed me again and his mouth opened this time, our tongues meeting with that sweet urgency, quickly becoming the focal point of the whole quiet, snow-covered world. He stopped briefly to unbutton his coat and then to unzip my jacket. “For later when I’m alone,” he explained, pulling our warm bodies up close, mashing us together. “It helps me to imagine you, you know? All your curves that are in all the right places; I try to picture what you look like.” Those large, capable hands of his held my face tenderly as he kissed me again. “When you’re naked,” he added, “you know what I’m saying? I try to picture what you look like.” He was already hard. He pressed up against me insistently. “God, I missed you, Boo. Did you miss me?”
That was putting it mildly. “I missed you,” I assured him, my head swimming.
“Sometimes it seemed like you were just a dream, I could barely remember you at all. But I couldn’t forget this, how your body made me feel, mami. That part was no dream. I wish I could take you home with me. I wish I had a home to take you to.”
“What do you mean? You don’t have a home?”
“Not a real one, not right now. I have a room in a sort of shelter. It’s a horrible place but it has heat – it’s mostly for homeless people who have AIDS. It’s run by a retired priest I know. He’s old now. I do plumbing for him, construction, odd jobs; things like that. So I don’t pay rent there. But maybe it’s better this way, taking our time. Maybe we shouldn’t rush, you know? I don’t want you to disappear again.”
“I’m not going to disappear, trust me. I won’t. I’d invite you upstairs for some wine or something, but my roommate has company. It’s his apartment. He’s letting me stay there for awhile so I don’t want to crowd him.”
“He has a lady up there, right now?”
“No, he’s gay.”
This news took Eddie off guard. “You live with a fag, mami?”
“He’s not ‘a fag,’ he’s gay. And he’s one of my best friends.”
“Forget it. I didn’t mean anything. I just don’t get along with fags, is all, or with gays. Whatever. They hit on me constantly. They’re aggressive about it and I’m not into guys. I just want to mind my own business, you know?”
“I know, but I can see why they’d hit on you.”
“And why’s that?” he asked. His dark eyes glistened in that promising, irresistible way. He rocked himself against me rhythmically. “Why do you suppose men are always hitting on me, Boo?”
I knew he was playing dumb, but I went for the bait anyway. “Because you’re gorgeous, Eddie. Who wouldn’t want to have sex with you?”
“Is that so? What about you, mami?” His cock felt rock hard now, pushing up against me. I was aching between my legs, totally aroused, going quietly mad for him. “Do you want to have sex with me?” he asked.
I couldn’t believe I was blushing but I knew I was, as if no one had ever asked me a question like that before. In fact, too many people had asked me that question and yet this time my desire to say yes, I want to have sex with you overwhelmed me.
“What did you say?” he asked softly. “I didn’t hear you.”
“What was the question again?”
“Do you want to have sex with me?”
I smiled but I didn’t reply.
“You want to know what I think?”
“Yes,” I said.
“I think I should get you back home. You’re covered in snow, you know. You should go in before you catch pneumonia.”
I moaned in disappointment. I wasn’t ready to let him go. He zipped up my jacket for me and headed across the street. With a heavy heart, I followed his tracks in the snow. He kissed me again when we were just inside the doorway. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“I promise,” he said. “I’ll make a special trip down to the street just to use the pay phone. I’m going to think of you tonight, you know what I mean, right?”
“Will you think of me?’
He shook his head. “You’re such a little white girl.”
“Merry Christmas, Eddie.”
“Merry Christmas,” he said.
© 2011 Marilyn Jaye Lewis