Skateboard – a Colin and Josh short story –

It was morning in Glencoe and Colin stood at the dresser shrugging into a T-shirt. “C’mon, bud,” he said over his shoulder. “Throw on some clothes. I’m starved, and Jess promised me waffles.” A scuffling sound from behind him caught his attention and he turned to see Joshua half-way under the bed, struggling to pull something free.

“What the hell are you doing?”

Joshua clambered to his feet, a huge smile lighting up his face. In his hands was a large, beautifully decorated skateboard. “I forgot this was here!” he crowed.

“Pretty fancy.”

“It’s a Designarium,” Joshua said, holding the board at arm’s length, looking it up and down. “I’m gonna go out back and see if I can land a few.”

“What are you going to jump?” Colin asked, following close behind him.

“The steps out back,” Joshua said. “When I was in college, that’s how I relaxed when I came home for the weekend.”

“By risking your neck on a skateboard?”

“You mean to tell me you’ve never taken air on a skateboard?” Joshua questioned as they strode through the kitchen and out the back door.

“Yeah. When I was a teenager in Scituate me and some of my friends used to go to Skateboard Park.” He shrugged. “I was really into Little League though,” Colin said, “and it didn’t leave much time for other sports.”

“Were you good at it?”

“C’mon, Josh,” Colin said with a smirk. “I’m good at everything.”

Joshua snorted out a laugh. “Sorry. Forgot who I was talking to for a second.”

Colin chuckled and threw Joshua a wink. “I never really worked at it. I could have been good probably.” He shrugged and watched as Joshua began to ride the board around him in a slow circle. “I could do jumps. Easy stuff. Nothing more. I didn’t want to get injured and have to sit out the season.”

Joshua nodded and grabbed the board. “Watch me!” he said, bounding up the steps which ascended the small hill crowning the Abrams backyard. “I’ll be right down!”

“Josh!” Colin called. “Wait a second. Are you sure…,”

“Might as well let him go,” a female voice advised.

Colin wheeled to see Joshua’s mother, who had wandered out behind them carrying two mugs of coffee. “Mom, he hasn’t done this stuff in years. He could get hurt!”

Bracha sat down on the garden wall and eyed Joshua as he stood at the top of the hill spinning the skateboard’s wheels as if testing them. “I suppose he could,” she agreed. “But you won’t stop him. Believe me, I tried. Many times.” She smiled up at Colin. “He rarely ever fell. And he never hurt himself. He’s good at it!” She indicated the top of the hill. “See?”

Colin wheeled just in time to see Joshua speeding down the steps, jumping from one level to the other as he descended from atop the hill. His knees were bent, and he controlled the skateboard with effortless ease.

“Dammit!” Colin sputtered. He strode forward to meet him as Joshua reached the patio and slid to a stop.

“Stuck it!” Joshua crowed. With one foot, he began to push the board forward, circling the spot where Colin stood scowling.

“Josh, you could get hurt!”

“Nah,” Joshua replied, then flipped the board up into his hands. “I’m going again!”

“Josh!”

“C’mon,” Joshua drawled, walking backwards toward the steps. “I never tried to keep you off your motorcycle.”

“Josh, you…,” Colin began, then hissed out a frustrated breath as Joshua turned and trotted once again to the crest of the hill.

“God damn it,” Colin muttered, watching with a furrowed brow as Joshua knelt and adjusted something on the bottom of the board.

“He’ll be OK, Colin,” Bracha said. “Come have some coffee. Josh knows what he’s doing.”

Colin slunk back to the wall and sat down beside his mother-in-law who handed him a filled coffee mug. “He could get hurt,” Colin muttered again.

“Doubtful. He’s skated down those steps five-hundred times.”

“Only takes once,” Colin grumbled. He sipped his coffee, watching as Joshua started down the hill again.

“Ya hoooooo!” Joshua cried as he careened down the concrete steps, laughing aloud every time he took air, sending the board to a lower level. Colin watched him, his heart in his throat. But at the same time, the delight in Joshua’s laughter and the exuberant grace with which he rode filled Colin with a kind of awed wonder. He had fallen in love with Joshua’s sweet smile even before he knew his name. And now his heart nearly burst with love as he watched the man he adored fly down the hill on his beloved skateboard. Completely given over to the childlike joy of the moment, Joshua seemed almost magical.

Bracha heard his breathing falter. “Jesus, Mom,” Colin whispered, then swallowed hard and swiped a hand across his cheek. “He doesn’t have a clue how much I love him.” His eyes returned to Joshua, watching as he flipped the board into his hands and once again jogged up the hill.

“Not a fucking clue,” Colin whispered.

Bracha watched him but gave no response.

“If I lost him…” Colin said, his voice choked. He shook his head then turned to face his mother-in-law. “He’s my whole life, Bracha. If anything happened to him…” he shook his head again.

“Sweetheart,” Bracha murmured, reaching to lay a comforting hand on Colin’s shoulder, “I think he does know how much you love him.”

“I don’t know how he could, Mom,” Colin whispered, his eyes once again fixed on his husband. “Hell, I’m not even sure I realize how much I love him. Then I see him in a moment like this and, Jesus, he’s so perfect and beautiful and his smile just…,” Colin’s breath caught. “It damn near stops my fucking heart.” He turned to face Bracha wincing comically. “Sorry ‘bout the language.”

She waved away his apology, then her eyes widened. “Wait a minute! He does have a helmet.”

“Where is it?” Colin cried, leaping to his feet.

“I think….,” Bracha replied. “I think it’s in the garage. On a shelf near the door.”

Colin bolted to the garage where he spotted the helmet at once. Clutching it tight in his hand he trotted back to the garden. “Josh, get over here!”

Joshua laughed and rode the board to where Colin stood, the helmet held out in his hand.

“Put this on.”

“Colin, I was in college when I wore that. It won’t fit me anymore.”

“Put it on!” Colin demanded. He shoved the helmet toward Joshua. “Wear it, Josh. Or I’ll take the skateboard.”

“Colin, come on!”

“Don’t think for a minute I won’t do it.”

“Oh lord god,” Joshua groaned. He took the helmet from his husband and pulled it on, twisting it slightly to fit it over his dark curls then turned back to Colin, arms outstretched. “Happy now?”

“No. But I’m happi-er!”

“Talk to him, Mom,” Joshua entreated, as he scooted the board to where his mother sat watching. “Tell him I do this all the time.”

“Yeah,” Bracha replied, her voice dry. “Seven years ago, you did. And I insisted that you wear the helmet then too.”

Colin returned to his seat beside Bracha and sipped his coffee once before squinting up at his husband. “Keep it on, Josh. Or I’ll put that board where even Scotland Yard couldn’t find it.”

“Sheesh!” Joshua griped. He flipped the board into his hands and trotted back up the hill.

“Would you really?” Bracha asked, smiling at him.

Colin cocked an eyebrow in her direction. “What do you think?”

***

Later that evening, Bracha drew Joshua into the dining room. “You know,” she told her son, “you scared the hell out of Colin today.”

“You mean with the skateboard?”

“Yes.”

Joshua frowned and shot a glance at his husband, who was engaged in a vigorous chess game with Abel, Joshua’s brother. “I know he was concerned…,”

“No, Joshua,” Bracha interrupted, “he was way more than concerned. The thought that you might get hurt scared him to death.” Her grip on his arm tightened. “Just wear the damned helmet if you’re going to ride that thing. You’d never let him ride a motorcycle without one.”

Joshua nodded. “You’re right, mom, and I will. Never occurred to me that he’d be that worried.”

“He adores you, Joshua,” Bracha said, her voice soft. “It was…,” she drew in a breath and shook her head. “It was actually quite touching, hearing him talk about it.”

Joshua’s eyes remained locked on Colin, but he nodded again. “Thanks for letting me know, mom.” He sucked in a quick breath and bent to kiss his mother.

He heard Colin and Abel laughing and moved to Colin’s side. “Did you kick his ass?” He asked, draping an arm around Colin’s shoulders.

“Split,” Colin said, smiling broadly. “He won one, and I won one. But mine was the better win!”

“Naturally,” Joshua said, pressing a kiss to the top of Colin’s head.

“Smug bastard,” Abel grumbled, getting to his feet. “But that’s it for tonight, bro. I’ve got to be in Chicago early tomorrow morning.” He and Colin bumped fists, then he laid a hand on Joshua’s arm. “Night, you two.”

“Night, Abe,” Joshua murmured.

Colin stood up and stretched, then dropped both arms around Joshua’s neck. “You ready to go up, bud?”

Joshua nodded and they moved to climb the stairs, Colin’s arm still around Joshua’s neck as his arm encircled Colin’s waist. “You ever notice that we go to bed earlier when we’re here?” Colin asked.

Joshua nodded and laced his fingers with Colin’s hand as it dangled around his neck. “I have,” he replied as they stepped into their bedroom.

Colin moved forward and began to strip off his clothes, dropping them on the floor as he walked. Joshua smiled as he disappeared into the bathroom and bent to retrieve them, dropping them onto a chair before beginning to undress.

By the time Colin emerged from the bathroom, Joshua was in bed. “You’re fast,” he said with a grin, then crawled into bed beside Joshua and gathered him close in his arms.

“Mm,” Joshua moaned softly. “God, you feel good.”

Colin kissed the top of his head. “So do you.”

Joshua shifted in bed nestling closer to his husband’s body, his hand moving across Colin’s chest, sighing in bliss as the firm, warm muscles bunched beneath his fingers. “Listen,” he murmured, “I want to apologize to you about today.”

“Why? What did you do?”

“As my mother was quick to point out to me, I started flying down that hill without even considering how you might feel about it.”

Colin’s lips pursed and he drew in a long breath. “I confess it made me a little nervous. You haven’t ridden the skateboard for years. You could have been a bit rusty.”

“I should have found the helmet before I started doing jumps. I was stupid.”

“You weren’t stupid. You were excited.” He turned toward Joshua and drew him closer. “Seeing you flying down that hill today…,” He breathed out a soft laugh. “You were so happy, Josh. Like an innocent child. Fearless… filled with joy. Your smile was just…,” he stopped, then gave a half-embarrassed shrug. “You were so beautiful you took my breath away.”

His honeyed-green eyes met Joshua’s. “I loved seeing you like that.” He traced the arch of Joshua’s cheekbone with his fingers, then slid them to his chin and lifted Joshua’s head until their eyes met. “But wear the damned helmet, would you?”

Joshua nodded and whispered: “I promise” just seconds before Colin’s lips captured his in a fierce, passionate kiss which he repeated again and again. They both tightened their arms, pressing their bodies close under the covers, savoring the exquisite sensation of smooth skin sliding against smooth skin.

Joshua drew in a shivering inhale. “I love you so much, Irish, and I do apologize,” he whispered. Then threw Colin a puckish glance and slid his palm down the length of Colin’s body. “And I think maybe I could come up with a good way to make it up to you.”

Colin laughed out loud and kissed Joshua again. “I love you, my beautiful Jewish boy. And as far as making it up to me goes, we’re both here in bed stark naked. God knows that opens up a ton of wonderful possibilities. So, have at it, bud! Take your best shot!”

Joshua pressed his face to Colin’s bare shoulder and giggled. “Sounds like we have the makings of a great evening ahead of us.”

Colin turned to his back, grinning, and drew Joshua on top of him. “Of that I have absolutely no doubt.”

 

Keep Him Safe – A Colin and Josh short story.

Scowling, Colin snatched up the TV remote and hit the power button. “Stop watching MSNBC! You know that crap just gets you upset.” He husked out a heavy sign and tossed the remote onto the coffee table.

Joshua sighed and flopped back against the couch. “I know.”

“Just sitting here, I can see your angst and depression growing. It’s palpable, Josh. Don’t do that to yourself! It’s bad for you. It’s bad for me. It’s bad for us!” He fell onto the couch next to Joshua and turned to face him. “Stop!”

“Wow! And now for something completely different. You saying this to me!”

“I’m not kidding.”

“I know, babe,” Joshua replied, then sighed. “I’m worried about that new justice that Trump put on the court,” Joshua mumbled. “It scares me. She hates the very idea of gay marriage.” He turned to Colin and lifted a hand to caress his face. “It scares me,” he repeated, his voice soft.

“Why?” Colin asked. He pressed Joshua’s hand to his cheek, then turned his head and kissed the palm. “You think she could get them to overturn the ‘marriage equality act’?”

“The conservatives have a majority now,” Joshua replied. “They could do it.”

Colin leaned back and laughed out loud. “Bullshit!” he spouted, then turned back to face Joshua. “First off, if Biden wins, they’ll never, ever get away with it. He won’t let it happen. Second, even if it did happen… who cares?”

“Colin!”

“Josh, I mean it. I don’t give a flying fuck what some politician in DC says. Couldn’t fucking care less!”

Joshua shook his head. “Colin, they could mess up our life.”

“I don’t see how, Josh.” He grabbed both of Joshua’s shoulders in his big hands. “Listen to me! I’m not married to you because some law says I am. I’m not married to you because some fucking judge says it’s OK. I’m married to you because you are the only person on Earth who I could ever imagine loving. And mean loving with every fiber of my being every day of my life for as long as I fucking live!”

Joshua tried to speak but couldn’t. Overcome with emotion he lowered his head, feeling his eyes fill with scalding tears. But Colin wouldn’t have it. His hand cupped Joshua’s chin and lifted his head until their eyes met, Joshua’s now overflowing.

“I’m not married to you on some piece of paper,” Colin whispered. “I’m married to you here!” He placed one hand over his heart while his other hand fell onto Joshua’s shoulder. “And here is where I’ll stay married to you. A lot of people may think they can say yes or no to our marriage. But they’re full of shit, Josh.” Colin grinned and shook his head. “They’re so full of shit! We say whether or not we’re married. We do. You and I, bud. I was married to you long before we stood in that church and exchanged those vows, and I’ll stay married to you no matter what any fool lawmaker in D.C. might say. Married to you, Joshua. Married to you now and forever.”

Joshua fell forward into his arms, clutching his sweatshirt with both fists. “God, Colin,” he moaned, choked by tears. For several minutes they sat together in silence, holding each other close. Then Joshua lifted his head and swiped a hand over his tear-streaked face. “You are so wonderful. It’s no damn wonder I fall more in love with you every single day.”

“Mm,” Colin hummed in soft appreciation. “Just imagine how much you’ll love me in twenty years.” He grinned and kissed Joshua, sliding his thumb over the soft skin under Joshua’s eye, wiping away the last remnants of dampness. “It’s terrifying.”

“Not to me,” Joshua whispered, both arms tight around Colin’s neck. He drew in a deep breath. “Thank you, my yedid,” he whispered, using the Hebrew word for beloved. “No matter what the world hands to us, you always find a way to make me feel safe.”

“And I always will,” Colin murmured. “Now think of something we can watch that’ll make us smile!”

“Deadpool?” Joshua suggested, eyebrows raised in question.

Colin barked out a laugh. “Perfect!! I’ll find the DVD. You go make some popcorn.”

Joshua caught his hand as he rose. “One more kiss first?”

Colin bent over him and kissed him tenderly, then kissed him again. “Always time for one more kiss.”

“I hope so.”

“You OK now?” Colin asked, his palm still pressed to Joshua’s cheek.

“Absolutely.”

“Deadpool,” Colin said, tilting his head in the direction of their DVD collection.

“Popcorn,” Joshua replied, rising and moving toward the kitchen.

Colin pursed his lips and followed Joshua with his eyes, then shook his head and moved toward the DVD’s. He felt resolve tighten his chest. “Always keep him safe,” he muttered as he flipped through the DVD’s. “Always.”

Halloween – Between the Sheets! A Colin and Josh Halloween story!

Joshua clutched Colin’s shoulders in an iron grip. “Colin! Oh fuck! God!” He desperately gulped down air as his orgasm repeatedly ripped through him, jolting every nerve ending, and sending electric thrills of heart-pounding bliss throughout his body.

“Josh,” Colin moaned, shuddering in a mindless ecstasy that matched Joshua’s in its intensity. “Oh, God, baby, so good. So perfect.”

For a long time they lay together, gasping for breath, feeling each other slowly relaxing, molded against each other’s hot, sweaty body.

“Jesus, Colin,” Joshua murmured finally, “that was fucking incredible! You been practicing or something?”

Colin chuckled, burying his face against the damp skin of Joshua’s throat. “All I do is get in bed with you and let nature take its course.”

Joshua gave a low moan as Colin’s now-flaccid cock slid slowly out of his body, and then he wriggled a bit to ease the pressure of Colin’s weight.

“Am I too heavy, babe? I’ll move.”

“No. Not yet.” He tightened his arms around Colin’s neck, holding him close, shutting his eyes to better savor the warm, comforting weight of Colin’s body. He smiled and slid his fingers through Colin’s unruly curls, wriggling again. “I like how you feel, but, OK. Now you can move. I need to cool off.”

Colin slid slowly off Joshua’s body and half turned to reach toward the bedside table. When he turned back to Joshua, he had a towel in one hand. “Clean up, sir?” he asked with a grin.

“Love it!” Joshua replied, laughing as Colin dabbed at his naked body with the towel, eagerly blotting up all traces of semen and sweat. “What’s this? I don’t usually get this kind of service.” The towel was soft, and Colin slid it, tenderly, over his body, then used the other end to wipe at himself before tossing it to the floor.

“Now,” he said, grinning down at Joshua. “It’s time for a Halloween treat.

Josh stretched languorously. “A Halloween treat? What kind?”

“Next year we should dress up,” Colin said, bending over him.

“As what?” Josh asked. “A cop and his prisoner?”

“No,” Colin said, shaking his head. “Though, I do have some ideas about that.” He placed something on Joshua’s chest.

“What’s that?” Josh asked, lifting his head to peer down. “What did you put on me?” Then, spotting the small item, he burst into laughter. “Oh my god, Colin!” A piece of candy corn was resting close to his nipple. “Please tell me you didn’t steal that from Sarah and Deborah’s Halloween bags!”

“I’ll have you know,” Colin said, faking an offended tone, “that I did not steal Halloween candy from David’s daughters. I bought this candy corn myself especially for this occasion.” He bent and ate the candy from Josh’s chest, his wet tongue gliding across Joshua’s nipple many more times than was necessary to accomplish his task.” Mmmmm,” he sighed. “So good! This is just heaven.”

“You,” Joshua observed sadly, “are totally bat-shit crazy. Do you know that?”

“Really?” Colin said, laying a piece of candy a bit lower on Josh’s chest. “You think so?” He bent and licked the treat from Joshua’s smooth, olive skin.

Josh shivered a bit as Colin’s tongue caressed his chest. “Well,” he admitted finally, “I have to admit, this feels pretty damned good.” He sighed, closing his eyes, then abruptly opened them again. “Hey, what ‘thoughts’ did you have about Halloween costumes?”

Another piece of candy corn landed on Josh’s body. This time the sweet treat fell right next to his navel.

“Mmmm,” Colin hummed appreciatively. “Now that’s a beautiful sight.” He bent and licked the candy into his mouth. Then, unable to resist, he swirled his tongue around Joshua’s navel.

“Mmmm, yourself,” Josh moaned in response, feeling his dick begin to respond to the moist caress of Colin’s lips and tongue. “Costumes, Colin?” he said finally. “Your thoughts on costumes? And if you put one of those on my dick I’ll…” his voice trailed away leaving his threat unfinished.

Colin grinned, nuzzling Joshua’s smooth belly. “You’ll what!” he demanded.

“Just the visual, Colin,” Joshua said, choked with laughter. “C’mon, Irish! The visual!”

Colin pressed his face to Josh’s naked belly, his whole body shaking with laughter. “Mean!” he said finally, recovering a bit. “That’s just mean, Joshua.”

“Costumes, Colin,” Josh reminded him.

“Well,” Colin said, placing another piece of candy corn on the crease where Josh’s leg met his body. “What I visualize is this.” He lifted his hand and moved it across thin air as if setting a stage. “YOU,” he said dramatically, “dressed as a slave boy.”

Joshua choked with laughter.”

“A red leather thong firmly in place,” Colin continued, staring into space as he described his vision. “The straps of leather attached to the thong are wrapped – seductively wrapped mind you – ” he added, “around your thighs.”

Joshua screamed with laughter as Colin lowered his head and licked up the candy leaving a wet trail on Joshua’s thigh.

Then he lifted his head and continued: “A matching red leather harness is twined around your chest, extremely hot, and yet…” he inhaled and paused for effect “tasteful. It displays your pectoral muscles and nipples in a daring peek-a-boo manner, guaranteed – guaranteed mind you – ” he said soberly, waving a forefinger in front of Josh’s face for emphasis… “to make a grown man – who would be me – ” he added in a stage-whisper, pointing to himself, “positively weep with joy.”

Joshua gasped for breath, still shaking with laughter.

“And,” Colin continued, seemingly unaffected by Josh’s shrieks of mirth, “around your neck is a gold collar to which is attached…” he paused for emphasis. “…a red leash.”

“You don’t say!” Joshua choked, still laughing.

“I do say,” Colin continued. “And I’ll bet you can’t imagine who is holding that leash!” He paused and peered down at Joshua, eyebrows raised questioningly. “Care to venture a guess?”

“Would that be…” Josh paused and rolled his eyes, as if thinking the question over, “… YOU, perhaps?”

“Me, indeed!” Colin replied. “And may I say you are VERY intelligent for a slave boy.”

“And how are you dressed, Colin?” Joshua asked him, grinning from ear to ear. “Or should I refer to you as master?”

“Not until you’re wearing the costume,” Colin informed him. “Me? How am I dressed?”

“I can’t wait,” Joshua said, chuckling.

“Well,” Colin said conversationally, leaning on his arm as he stretched out next to Joshua, “as you might expect, I’m dressed entirely in black leather.”

“Looking ever so hot!” Joshua added.

Colin laughed. “But of course!” he said, laying another candy corn on Joshua’s belly. “You know I always look hot in leather.” He dipped his head to lick the candy corn from Joshua’s body.

Joshua wrapped an arm around Colin’s neck and tugged him closer until their bodies were once again molded together. “It’s one of the very first things I noticed about you,” he murmured seductively. “That you look hot as fuck in leather.” He captured Colin’s lips in a long, lingering kiss.

Colin returned his kiss, snuggling closer. “Mmmm…” he moaned. “This is heaven.”

“I thought you said eating candy corn off my body was heaven,” Joshua reminded him, still grinning.

“Anything that has to do with your naked body is heaven,” Colin replied.

“You got any more of that candy corn?” Joshua asked, trying to peer over Colin’s shoulder toward the bedside table. “You’ve been hogging it. And what’s in that huge bag you brought in with you tonight? You shoved it into the fridge before I had a chance to peek at it.”

Colin turned and plunged his hand into a small, brown bag that sat on the nearby table. It immediately emerged filled with candy corn. “Here you go,” he said, pouring half the candy into Joshua’s hand and then popping a few into his mouth. “Far as the bag goes it’s got more candy, a quart of cider that’s just dying to be heated up in the microwave, a pumpkin pie with whipped cream for the top, aaaannnd,” he drawled, “… a DVD!”

“What’s the DVD?”

“BWAAA HAAA HAAA!” Colin fake-laughed “I stopped and borrowed it from Jeff! It’s The Thiiiiiiing!”

“Brilliant!” Joshua exclaimed. “You are the perfect Halloween date!”

“Then later, maybe, we’ll have hot cider and pumpkin pie with whipped cream.”

“And when we do,” Joshua said, nuzzling Colin’s cheek, “I’ll have something interesting to lick off your body!”

Colin snickered. “I’m willing to bet that I’d be totally …” he inhaled deeply and waggled his eyebrows in a wickedly suggestive manner, “up for that activity.”

“I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised,” Joshua said, grinning. “And hey,” he added in a softer voice, “Happy Halloween, baby. And thanks. You always make me feel so special.”

“That’s because you are special.” He returned Joshua’s kiss and smiled. And besides, I love you, my little Jewish slave boy. Now let’s go watch The THING!’

Joshua grabbed the candy bag and, cackling like a couple of witches hovering over a boiling caldron, they dashed downstairs to the living room where pie, whipped cream and ‘The Thing’ waited.

 

The Anniversary: A Colin and Josh short story.

The Anniversary

Colin had been unusually quiet all through dinner. He responded whenever Joshua spoke to him and smiled when it seemed to be called for, but he initiated no conversation and left the table as soon as he was done eating.

Joshua frowned and called after him: “Colin, do you want dessert? There are a couple slices of pie left from last night and a bit of ice cream in the fridge.”

“Nah, babe, I’m good,” Colin replied. He pulled his phone from his pocket and, as Joshua watched, he hit a speed-dial number as he moved through the kitchen and out the back door to the porch where his exercise equipment stood silent. Joshua heard him say: “Hi, mom. How’re you doing?” Then his voice faded as he continued outside.

“Now that’s damned odd,” Joshua muttered as he began to gather up their dinner dishes. He doesn’t want pie? Since when? He’s been awfully quiet. And now he calls his mom and doesn’t let me talk to her? “Yeah,” Joshua said as he sat the dishes in the sink. “Something’s wrong.”

He wandered to their enclosed back porch and looked out the window. Colin stood in the middle of the yard with his back to the house, still talking on the phone. He spoke for a long time, then lowered his phone and began to turn.

Joshua moved away from the window but was waiting in the kitchen when Colin re-entered. “How’s your mom?”

“Oh, she’s fine. She says ‘Hi’.”

“Why didn’t you let me talk to her?”

Colin shrugged and moved past him. “I dunno. Didn’t think of it.”

Joshua followed him to the living room and sank down on the couch next to him. “Colin, you know how pissed you get at me when you know something’s bothering me and I don’t talk to you about it?”

Colin shot him a sideways glance. “Yeah?”

“Well I’m getting that exact same feeling now.”

“You think I’m pissed at you?”

“Stop it.”

Colin dropped his eyes and drew in a long, deep breath. “Josh, it’s not a big deal.”

“Then you should have no trouble telling me about it.”

Colin coughed out a short, mocking laugh and his head gave a quick flick. “Clever boy.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Josh, it’s…,” again, he breathed out a short, pained sigh, then turned to face his husband. “There’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.”

“That doesn’t justify keeping it to yourself.” He grasped Colin’s arm. “Please, Colin. Please don’t shut me out. I’m the guy… remember?”

Colin’s head dropped, but a small smile touched his lips. For a moment he said nothing, simply stared down at the floor drawing in long, slow breaths. Then his head rose, and he met Joshua’s eyes. “Today is the anniversary of Kathy’s death.”

“Oh god, baby,” Joshua whispered. “I’m so sorry. I wish I’d known.”

“Why?” Colin asked, falling back against the couch, his eyes lifting to stare at the oaken beams crisscrossing their ceiling. “Nothing you could have done about it. It’s just a day. I’ll get past it.”

“How’s your mom?”

Colin shrugged. “She’s coping. She’s going out with some friends tonight. But, it’s on her mind of course.”

“Of course, it is.” Joshua pressed his forehead to Colin’s shoulder, hugging his arm. “And you’re wrong that there’s nothing I can do about it. This day is important. It deserves some memorial.”

“Josh, I don’t want that. I just want to get through the day and think about it as little as possible.”

“How’s that working out for you so far?” Joshua asked.

“Not that great.”

“May I suggest something?”

Colin shot him a sideways glance. “What?”

“Trying to ignore days like this seldom works. It’s too big. It’s too much a part of everything you are.”

“I keep reliving it, Josh. Opening that damned bedroom door and seeing…,” he shuddered, and his voice trailed off.

“OK. Let’s do something to honor her life. Then maybe you can stop thinking about her death. Let’s do some small – I dunno – some small ceremony.”

“Like what?”

“Nothing big. Let’s light a candle for her. And… and… I’ll say the Kaddish. The Jewish mourner’s prayer. It’s short. Only take a minute. Kaddish means ‘holy’. Let’s sanctify this day. Let’s let some light into this dark place.”

Colin stared into Joshua’s eyes for a long time, then leaned forward and kissed him. “God, I love you, Joshua,” he whispered. “I love you so damn much.”

“Then you’ll do it?”

“Yes, my love. I’ll do it.”

Joshua nodded, then kissed Colin’s cheek. He rose and went to the kitchen, returning moments later with small, glass candleholder. “This is just a little voltive candle. I keep it in the kitchen in case we lose power. But… it’s pretty. Will this do?” he asked, holding the candle out for Colin to inspect.

Colin nodded. “Of course, it’ll do.” He rose and moved to Joshua’s side as he sat the candle on their mantle.

Joshua lit the small candle, then turned and extinguished the living room lights. The candleholder was adorned with small Jewish symbols and its light danced over their faces illuminating the space around them with a radiant glow.

Joshua reached for Colin’s hand as they stood together before the flickering flame. Then he spoke in a voice as soft and low as the candle’s light.

Glorified and sanctified be God’s great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will.

May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.

He heard Colin murmur: “Amen.”

May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

Both men said “Amen” then for a moment there was silence. Joshua looked up and saw that Colin’s cheeks were damp. He took his husband in his arms and pressed his face against Colin’s chest. “I love you too,” he whispered, his voice fierce in the darkened room. “With my whole heart and soul, I love you.”

Colin nodded, his arms tightening around Joshua’s body, pressing them together until not a molecule could have passed between them. “Thank you. Thank you for this.”

“Thank you for letting me do it,” Joshua replied. He led Colin back to the couch. “Do you want the lights on?”

“No,” Colin said. “Let’s leave it like this for a little while.” He lifted Joshua’s hand to his lips and kissed it. “Hey, did you notice that your mourner’s prayer doesn’t say one word about dying or death?”

Joshua laughed. “It’s a weird thing,” he muttered, then glanced at his husband. “But you know how weird Jews can be.”

Colin laughed. “Yeah, I learn something new about that nearly every day.”

“Kathy brought her own special blessing into the world, her own special holiness. And it’s hard to heap praise on God after he’s taken that special holiness away from us.” He slid his thumb across Colin’s damp cheek. “The prayer changes our perspective. It turns our eyes away from ourselves. From our internal grief and anger… from our inner darkness and points us outward toward the future, toward the light and the blessings of God. And in that light, there is redemption and healing.” He shrugged. “Or at least that’s what my grandfather taught me.”

“Samuel,” Colin murmured.

“Yes. Samuel. He said the Kaddish five times a day for all the people in the camps who didn’t make it out like he did.”

Colin nudged Joshua. “Turn around.” He drew Joshua across his lap and into his arms, then nestled them close together, kissing his hair and then his lips. “I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet him.”

“And I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet Kathy. But I honestly feel like I’ve come to know her through you. And you know gramps through me. We carry them both inside us. They’re part of who we are.”

Colin made no reply, simply held Joshua closer in his arms, staring in silence at the flame which danced and flickered on their mantle. “I liked the part about creating peace for us.”

Joshua nodded, his head resting on Colin’s chest. “Peace is the opposite of grief, I think. It comes with the last stage of grieving. Acceptance.”

“I’ve felt guilty about that part… the acceptance. It’s like not caring that she’s gone.”

“No, my darling, it’s not. It’s accepting that she’s gone and that you may always feel sad about losing her, but at the same time realizing that her spirit moves forward with you as long as you remember her. That’s why little moments like the one we just shared are important.”

Colin squinted down at him. “Thank you, Dr. Josh.”

“Hey,” Joshua huffed, elbowing Colin’s ribs. “It’s not bad advice just because it comes from a psychologist.”

Colin chuckled softly. “I never would have believed it,” he murmured against Joshua’s hair. “That on this day of all days I could feel peace. And even a little joy.” He lifted Joshua in his arms until their eyes met. “But I do and it’s because of you. Because you’re wonderful. Because you’re loving and giving and wise. You take me to places I could never, ever reach without you.”

“Colin,” Joshua whispered, his voice choked.

“It’s the truth. Your love has done more to heal me than any amount of therapy could ever do.”

Joshua touched Colin’s cheek and kissed him tenderly. “Thank you. My love – my life,” he whispered. “But the therapy is still a good thing.”

“Maybe,” Colin murmured, nuzzling against Joshua’s dark hair. “But it’s sure not the only thing.”

“Did Kathy like pie?” Joshua asked.

Colin snorted out a laugh. “That’s a damned weird question.”

“Well we’ve already discussed Jewish weirdness so…,”

“Yeah. She loved pie just like I do. We’d ask for birthday pies instead of birthday cakes which drove our mother nuts.”

“Then let’s finish off the pie in her honor.”

Colin nodded, his face still pressed against Joshua’s dark curls. “If you like.”

“Makes me nervous when you say ‘no’ to pie.”

“Well, I don’t want that,” Colin said, then lifted Joshua in his arms. “OK, bud. Get up and we’ll go polish off the pie.” He got to his feet then turned to Joshua and took his hand as they stepped toward the kitchen. “I think you want pie,” Colin teased as they walked, “and you’re using me to get it.”

“As you already pointed out, I’m a clever boy.”

They sat at their small kitchen table as they ate their pie and ice cream.

“Feels odd,” Colin muttered.

“What does?”

“Celebrating this day. I’ve always kind of felt like it was my…. I dunno… brotherly duty to feel sad on this day.”

“And I’m sure you do. So does anyone who remembers what happened to her on this day. But is that what you think Kathy would want? For you to be sad? For you to turn away a moment of joy and peace? For you to turn down pie?

“No. She wouldn’t want me to be sad. And she REALLY wouldn’t want me to turn down pie!”

“Then here’s to Kathy,” Joshua said, lifting a forkful of pie.

Colin echoed his gesture. “To Kathy,” he murmured. Then he cocked his head and stared at Joshua, his gaze thoughtful. “Tell me, Dr. Josh. Do you think she’d mind if I ended this day by making love to the one I love more than life itself?”

Joshua smiled and took his hand. “Well, I didn’t know Kathy. But my educated guess is that she’d be happy you had someone to make love to who you loved more than life itself.”

Colin stood and used his hold on Joshua’s hand to draw him to his feet. “Then let’s blow out the candle and go upstairs,” he said, his voice barely a whisper as he drew Joshua close to him. “Because what I’m feeling right now is a ton of gratitude and a very powerful need to make someone I love very, very happy.”

“I doubt you’ll have to look far to find that someone,” Joshua whispered in reply.

They moved together toward the stairs and as they passed the mantle, Colin blew out the candle. “G’night, sis,” he muttered. “I love you.” He slid his arm around Joshua’s waist, and they moved up the stairs together.

Love Letters – A story for Colin’s Birthday

“What’s your most prized possession?” Joshua asked.

“My wedding ring,” Nate replied without a moment’s hesitation.

“I’d have to say that too,” Colin echoed. “Followed closely by this.” He pulled a pendant from around his neck, extending it for all to see. “It’s the emblem that was on our Chuppah. The Star of David wrapped in the Celtic Cross. The one his mother had designed for us.”

Joshua nodded. “I’m with Colin 100 percent.”

“Hmm,” David mused. “Well, I love my wedding ring. But my most prized possession—or rather possessions,” he amended quickly, “are the letters Nate wrote to me when he and I lived on opposite coasts. I treasure those letters beyond anything else in my life. I came to know him through those letters; we grew close though writing to each other.” He paused for a moment then continued. “Maybe the distance made it possible for us to be more open, more honest. But I can follow the path of our love’s growth just by reading them in order. They still give me a thrill.”

Nate leapt to his feet and pressed a kiss to David’s cheek. He whispered something into his ear, then settled on his lap. “Well, I am a good writer.” He kissed David again, then turned to Joshua. “You must treasure Colin’s love letters the same way.”

“I don’t have any,” Joshua replied. “He never wrote me a love letter, or any other kind of letter, come to think of it.”

“I don’t like putting things in writing,” Colin mumbled.

“What!” Nate spouted. “You afraid he’ll sue you?”

“Hey!” Colin responded. “He never wrote me any either.”

“Well, none that I actually sent,” Joshua murmured, drawing a darting glance from Colin.

“You wrote me love letters but didn’t send them?”

Joshua shrugged. “I wrote them more for me than for you. To, well… vent my feelings, I guess. Given the way we parted I didn’t think you’d care to read them.”

Colin growled out an unintelligible response and turned away scowling, staring into the fireplace.

“Give them to him now,” Nate suggested, noting Colin’s somber expression.

“Do you still have them?” Colin asked, spinning toward his husband.

“I think they’re in Glencoe,” Joshua told him. “In my dresser drawer.”

“I want those letters,” Colin blurted out.

“Oh, Lord god,” Joshua moaned.

“What?” Nate asked. “You don’t want him to read them?”

“I was pretty—well—emotional when I wrote them. They might be a little,” he squirmed, his face flushed, “embarrassing.”

“For whom?” Nate asked. “Him? Or you?”

“Me mainly,” Joshua admitted. “I honestly didn’t think anyone would ever read them, so I was pretty, umm…” he shrugged, his voice trailing off.

“Open and honest?” David suggested.

Joshua grimaced. “More like blunt and explicit.”

“I want those letters,” Colin repeated.

“Honey, why?” Joshua said, leaning toward him. “I was pretty upset when I wrote them. I was just… spewing. Trying to ease my broken heart. They weren’t really meant to be read. They were…” he shrugged again, “… therapy.”

“Did you go into detail about what a dick he was?” Nate asked, nudging Colin with his elbow.

“No!” Joshua said. “Of course not! He wasn’t a dick.”

“I was a dick,” Colin disagreed, leaning forward to poke Nate back. “I was a huge dick.”

“Now you’re just bragging,” Nate teased.

Colin reached for Joshua’s hand. “I won’t read them if you’d rather I didn’t,” he told his husband. “But I will say this. There’s no amount of emotional openness and honestly, even blunt and explicit honesty, that you need ever find embarrassing. Not with me.” His hand tightened and he drew Joshua closer. “And I’d genuinely like to know what you were feeling back then.”

“Oh god, Colin,” Joshua groaned. He grimaced and bowed his head, then felt Colin’s hand tug him closer.

“I want to read them,” he repeated.

“Fine!” Joshua said, sagging in defeat. He husked out a noisy sigh. “Next time we’re in Glencoe I’ll give them to you.”

“Oh, I cannot wait to hear what’s in those letters,” Nate said with a grin.

“You honestly think I’d tell you what’s in them?” Colin asked him, then dunked two fingers into his glass of beer and flicked the liquid onto Nate’s face. “Forget it!”

Nate wiped his face, laughing. “You don’t know that. Wait ‘til you read them. You might want to broadcast them to everyone you know.”

“Not unless he wants to spend a month eating bread and water for dinner,” Joshua muttered, slumping in his chair. “I don’t even want him to read them let alone anyone else.”

“Unless you absolutely forbid it, I’m reading those letters,” Colin declared.

“Well, I won’t forbid it,” Joshua said, his voice heavy with reluctance. “But I won’t be doing the dance of joy either.”

“How many are there?” Nate asked.

“Only a few, three or four. I may have thrown some of them away.”

“Josh!” Colin protested.

“Well, dammit, Colin, I never expected you to read them! I told you. They were just… therapy.”

“We gotta’ plan a trip to Glencoe.”

“Oh god help me.”

***

But it was weeks before they even discussed a trip to Glencoe and only then because Colin’s birthday was approaching, and Joshua’s family wanted to celebrate it with him. Much to Joshua’s relief, Colin hadn’t mentioned the letters since they’d first discussed them with David and Nate, and he secretly hoped they’d slipped his mind. Maybe I can manage to avoid this whole embarrassing chapter, he thought.

When they finally arrived at the Abrams family home, Joshua carried his suitcase up the long staircase which led to their bedroom while Colin lingered behind in animated conversation with Joshua’s mother and brother.

“Jessica baked you the most beautiful cake,” Bracha told him. “I can’t wait for you to see it!”

“You guys are so good to me,” Colin said, then kissed her cheek. “Thank you.”

“And I might even let you win a game of chess this trip,” Joshua’s brother teased. “As a birthday present, you know.”

“Oh, Abel, please spare me your bull…” he glanced at Bracha and hastily changed the ending, “…crap. I kicked your Jewish butt last time we were here. You leaned too hard on the ‘King’s Gambit’ and it cost you, bro.”

Joshua looked down at them from the top of the stairs and smiled, then lugged his suitcase into the bedroom. He tossed it onto the bed, then on impulse moved to the dresser. For a moment he stood before it in silence, then slid the top drawer open. Tucked far in the back underneath a pile of socks lay a packet of papers wrapped in a red ribbon. Joshua hesitated, then drew them out and stared down at them, startling when the bedroom door burst open, admitting an excited Colin.

“Hey bud, guess what!” he blurted out, tossing his suitcase next to Joshua’s. “Jessica baked me a cake!”

“Well, you had to know she would,” Joshua replied, laughing. He shoved the letters to the back of the drawer and shut it before Colin could notice. “Do you want to unpack now?” Joshua asked. “Or wait ‘til after dinner.” He turned toward Colin and glanced at his watch. “Probably won’t be long ‘til we eat.”

Colin flopped onto the bed and sat motionless, staring at Joshua. “What I want, my dearest husband, is for you to stop sandbagging me and give me those letters.”

Joshua winced and let out a frustrated sigh. “Dammit, Colin!”

“What! C’mon, Josh. How bad can they be?”

Joshua wrinkled his nose. “Have you ever done anything deeply embarrassing?”

“Well, there’s the time I puked on your shoes in McCafferty’s parking lot,” Colin admitted with a grin. “But, shit, I don’t dwell on that kind of stuff. Everyone does embarrassing things at some point in their lives. And anyway, why should love letters embarrass you?”

“Because they’re not just love letters,” Joshua told him. “They’re me having an emotional breakdown in writing because the man I loved broke my heart.” He shot Colin an exasperated glance. “God, I’m sorry I ever mentioned them.”

Colin frowned and got to his feet. He walked to where Joshua stood and laid both hands on his shoulders. “Look,” he said, “I don’t want you upset. If you’d really prefer that I not read them, then I won’t.” He shook Joshua gently. “We’ll have a ritual and burn them in the fireplace or something. Just to mark the occasion.” He pressed his lips to Joshua’s forehead then flashed his dimples in a quick grin. “It’s my birthday, baby! I want you to be happy!”

“Actually, your birthday was last weekend. We spent it in Situate at your mother’s house, remember?”

“This is my ‘second’ birthday.”

“How many do you get?”

“As many as I damn well please.”

Joshua leaned against Colin’s chest and was enveloped in two strong arms which pulled him close. For a long moment he rested there, drawing in long, deep breaths, luxuriating in the feeling of Colin’s body pressed tightly against his own. He’s so damned good to me, Joshua thought.

He leaned back and stared up at Colin for a moment, then abruptly spun to face the dresser. He pulled the drawer open, grabbed the packet of papers, wheeled back to face Colin, and held them out. “Here.”

“I thought you didn’t…”

“I changed my mind.”

“Why?”

“Because I love you. Because you’re wonderful. And because it’s your second birthday and I don’t have any other gift to give you.” He extended the letters toward Colin. “Take them.”

Colin frowned and tilted his head, gazing at Joshua, his expression thoughtful. “Are you sure?”

“Take them,” Joshua said, jamming the letters into Colin’s hand. “Now go sit on the driftwood and read them cause I don’t want to be around.”

Colin tapped the letters against the palm of his hand, still gazing at Joshua. “OK. If you’re sure it’s what you want.”

“Go,” Joshua told him, then pushed him gently toward the door. “Just be sure no one else sees them!”

“I didn’t think I’d get to see them,” Colin told him, moving out of the bedroom and down the stairs. “I sure as hell wouldn’t let anyone else read my letters.” At the bottom of the stairs Colin turned and looked up at Joshua who stood at the top of the steps, leaning on the railing. For a long moment he didn’t move, then he threw Joshua a salute and strode toward the front door.

***

Darkness was falling by the time Colin returned to the house. Joshua was helping Jessica set the table for dinner, engaged in a lively discussion over whether or not Jessica would sit with the family on this occasion.

“You know Colin will want you there,” Joshua said, placing silverware next to each plate.

“What that sassy Irishman wants and what he gets are two different things!” Jessica snapped.

“C’mon, Jess,” Joshua coaxed. “It’d really make him happy if you sat with us. You know you are part of this family.”

The housekeeper scowled at him for a long moment, then sighed. “I’ll sit with you after I serve,” she conceded. “But only because it’s Colin’s birthday.”

Joshua smiled and hugged her just as Colin strode into the dining room. “You making him work for his supper?” he asked, hugging Jessica as well.

“He’s been setting the table for me since he was this tall,” Jessica told him, her palm nearly level with the floor.

“Give a call when you’re ready to serve,” Joshua called after her as she moved into the kitchen. “I’ll come help.” He turned back to Colin. “You hungry?”

“When am I not hungry?” Colin asked, then extended his hand. “Come with me for a minute.”

“Oh god,” Joshua moaned softly.

“What?”

“Are you going to make me talk about those letters?” Joshua asked as they strolled into the living room. “Do you have a million questions?”

Colin fell onto a sofa and pulled Joshua down beside him. He huffed out a noisy sigh and for a moment simply gazed into Joshua’s eyes. Then he pulled the packet of letters from his jacket pocket and held them out. “No. I don’t have any questions. And I’m not going to make you talk about them. But I do want to say that I’m really sorry for how badly I hurt you with my stupid Irish temper tantrum.”

Eyes lowered, Joshua reached with tentative fingers to accept the packet of letters. He caught his upper lip between his teeth and lifted his eyes to meet Colin’s. “Colin, you don’t have to…”

“I know,” Colin interrupted. “I know you don’t expect an apology and would never ask for one. But what I did to you back then was just plain wrong.”

“It was a reaction to the emotional pain you’d been suffering for twenty years,” Joshua replied, his voice gentle. He stretched out his hand and his fingers traced a slow path along Colin’s cheekbone. “The O’Malley case brought back all the feelings you had when you lost Kathy. The feelings you’d been suppressing since her death.”

“Didn’t justify verbally beating the shit out of you. You didn’t deserve that.”

“It’s not about that. It never was. It wasn’t personal. It wasn’t me you were yelling at. I was just a stand-in for all that you’d been through.” He shrugged and feathered his lips across Colin’s. “I didn’t take it personally, Colin. Even then. I knew there were other factors at work.”

Colin nodded. “Thanks for letting me read them.”

“I’m not sure I did you a favor.”

“No, Josh. I’m glad I did. There were consequences to the actions I took that day, and I needed to recognize them.” He hesitated for a moment, then kissed Joshua’s cheek. “And I needed to apologize for them.”

“Some fucking love letters,” Joshua muttered, his voice husky with sorrow.

“Those letters were overflowing with love,” Colin insisted. He laced their fingers together and fell back against the couch. “Didn’t you tell me once that with great love comes the possibility of great pain?”

Joshua arched his brows and shrugged his agreement. “I prefer to demonstrate my love painlessly.” He leaned against Colin’s body and felt his husband’s arms tighten around him. “Happy fucking birthday,” he muttered and glanced up when Colin laughed aloud.

“Oh, stop it. Those letters didn’t hurt me. Just made me realize how lucky I am.” He shook himself, brows furrowed in aggravation. “I should have listened to my heart rather than my pride and come to Glencoe the minute I had your address. Would have prevented a lot of the pain you went through.”

Joshua grunted his acceptance of Colin’s words, then sat up when he heard Jessica’s voice coming through the house intercom.

“Joshua I’m about to serve. Everyone else, come sit.”

***

The birthday dinner was a joyous success. Jessica’s green and white multilayered cake was a celebration of all things Irish, and Colin couldn’t stop praising it. And when the family sang “Happy Birthday” to him, tears welled in his eyes.

“I’ll get the ice cream,” Jessica said after the song. “You can cut the cake.”

“Wait a second, Jess,” Joshua said, rising to his feet. “I have something to say first.” He drew in a deep breath then smiled down at his husband. “In Jewish tradition,” he began, then bent towards Colin, “which I know you love so well, a birthday psalm is usually read to the honored guest.” He swallowed hard. “The psalm used is the one which signifies the year the birthday boy is entering…” Again, he leaned towards Colin, “…which for you would be your thirty-sixth year.” He lifted a piece of paper, then glanced around at his family. “I’m only going to read part of the psalm because David does tend to go on and on, but to me this is the most fitting part. “And,” he added, “this a modern rendition.” He glanced down at Colin and read:

“God’s love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic,
His purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic.
Yet in his largeness nothing is lost;
Not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks.
How exquisite your love, O God!
How eager we are to run under your wings,
To eat our fill at the banquet you spread
as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water.
You’re a fountain of cascading light,
and you open our eyes to light.
Keep on loving your friends;
do your work in welcoming hearts.
Don’t let the bullies kick me around,
the moral midgets slap me down.
Send the upstarts sprawling flat
on their faces in the mud.”

He laid the paper down as everyone except Colin applauded. He sat, gazing up at Joshua, tears now sparkling on his cheeks.

“I know it’s probably blasphemy to say that, to me, this psalm speaks with perfect clarity about how I experience your love, but that’s exactly how I see it, Colin. Your love and protection are the banquet you offer, not just to me, but to anyone you care about. Your love is exquisite, and I am always, always, always eager to run under your wings. Your love opened my eyes to cascading light, a I hope you do your work in my welcoming heart for as long as you live.” He bent and kissed Colin who slid his fingers into Joshua’s curls. “Ani ohev otcha,” Joshua whispered. “Happy birthday, my magic man.”

Ta`mo chori istigh ionat,” Colin murmured in response, his voice choked with tears.

The family all applauded, and Jessica handed Colin a silver cake server. “OK. Now cut the cake and start putting the pieces on those cake plates. I’ll get the ice cream.”

They ate Colin’s magnificent birthday cake, accompanied by green mint ice cream, then Bracha handed Colin a wrapped gift. “From us,” she told him. “Happy birthday, Son.”

Still feeling a bit overwhelmed, Colin leaned close and kissed her. “Thanks, Mom.”

In the package was a beautiful set of silver cufflinks fashioned as a Celtic knot. “Wow!” Colin said as he examined them. “They’re beautiful! Thank you.”

Jessica’s present was a green Irish wool trinity cap, which Colin immediately donned, before jumping up to hug and kiss her in thanks.

“Spiffy!” Joshua said, laughing. “It looks perfect on you!”

After finishing their dessert, the family wandered into the living room. “Game of chess, bro?” Abel asked Colin as he and Joshua fell onto the sofa, but Colin shook his head.

“Not right now.” He turned to face Joshua. “I need to go upstairs and get something. OK?”

Puzzled, Joshua nodded and watched as Colin got to his feet. “I’ll be right back,” he said, then ambled toward the stairs.

“Where’s he going?” Bracha asked, glancing up from her glass of brandy.

“Dunno,” Joshua replied. “Said he needed to get something.”

The family chatted while Colin was gone, catching up on the latest happenings in their lives, and what they had planned for the future. Every few minutes Joshua glanced toward the stairs, but it was over a forty-five minutes before Colin returned.

“There he is!” Bracha said, smiling as her son-in-law entered the room.

“Took you long enough,” Joshua complained, laughing. “I was about to come looking for you.”

“Yeah, sorry,” Colin said, then held out his hand to Joshua. “Come with me for a minute.”

Surprised, Joshua shot a glance at his mother, then got to his feet and followed Colin as he led Joshua through the kitchen, stopping only to kiss Jessica who was clearing away the dinner dishes, before leading Joshua outside to the patio.

He hit the switch which bathed the area with soft golden light, then sat down on the stone wall which enclosed them, drawing Joshua down with him. For a moment he simply gazed into his husband’s eyes, then he breathed out a soft sigh and lifted Joshua’s hand to his lips.

“Colin, is something wrong?”

“No. Nothing’s wrong. I just have something to give you. Something I wanted to give you privately.” He withdrew a piece of paper from his shirt pocket and held it out. “Here. This is for you.”

Clearly puzzled, Joshua took the paper from Colin’s hand. “What it is?”

“Read it and you’ll see.”

Joshua unfolded the paper in his hands and read:

My dearest husband,

You let me read the love letters you wrote after I broke your heart, and it nearly broke mine to know how much damage my misplaced anger did to the most wonderful man I’ve ever known.

It’s not just that I blew my Irish top. It’s not just the awful things I said to you that day. It’s not just the terrible accusations I made. It’s so much more than that. Chief among my sins is the knowledge that I waited so long to come to you when I knew from the moment you left, that I could never, ever live without you. That I let my fear and pride stifle the voice of my love and need for you.

Josh, I was desolate after you left. I’d been fooling myself for months, trying to fight the feelings that grew more profound and intense every day we were together. Trying to pretend that they were something else. That they weren’t that one thing I feared more than any other: love.

But it was love, Joshua. Almost from the day we met… it was love. I was so lonely back then, Josh. I confessed this to you on our wedding day. So sad. My life was a failure in every imaginable way. I knew no joy. I knew no happiness. My only satisfaction came from those rare moments when I could bring some criminal to justice, but even those moments were overshadowed by the knowledge that there’d be another case the very next day, and that these brief flashes of fulfillment were external events that could never touch the man I was inside. I’d go home to that dreary little apartment and try not to think about how dark and lonely my life had become.

I tried to fight my feelings for you, Josh. But from the very first, being with you illuminated me. Not with bright flashes of light, but with a warm glow of belonging that I hadn’t felt since I was a child. You made me laugh! Me, who rarely ever cracked a smile. Who rarely ever felt even an instant of gladness. You taught me the sweetness of intimacy. Me, who fled from closeness like a devil flees holy water. Your sweet smile. Your gentle, kindness. Your dry, brilliant wit. Your constant, steady presence at my side, flooded my heart with feelings that both healed and terrified me.

You never asked for a thing. I knew you loved me. I could see it in your beautiful, brown eyes. I knew you wanted more. Wanted my love in return. But every time I saw the love glowing there in your eyes, I was gripped by a panic that nearly stopped my heart. What if I offered you my heart and you rejected it? What if I lost you and had to go through that heartbreak again?

So, I ran. I treated you with coldness and rejection. I know how much it hurt you, Josh, and there is nothing in my life that I regret with more bitterness.

Your love is my greatest treasure. You lifted me out of the darkness which had imprisoned me since the day my sister died. You healed my heart when I had long ago given up any hope that it could be healed. You brought happiness and love to a man who had long since turned his back on such things, thinking that they were not meant for him. You filled the emptiness inside me with the warmth of your love. And there are no words which could ever adequately express my gratitude.

I won’t ask for your forgiveness. I know I don’t have to. You understand. You always have. That’s one of the many blessings your love freely offers without me having to do a thing to earn them. Those blessings are just there, a part of the man you are. My love. My life.

I can’t promise you that I’ll never hurt you again. You know me well enough to know what an empty promise that would be. But I do promise you this: we will last forever, and I will love you every day of my life just as I love you at this moment… with all my heart and soul.

I will always be…

Your Colin

 Joshua lowered his hands into his lap with infinite slowness. He stared straight ahead of him, but Colin could hear his breath catching in his throat.

“I thought,” Colin whispered, “I figured… you know, that you deserved a love letter too.”

Joshua turned and pressed his face to Colins shoulder, his body shaking with sobs he tried hard to suppress. “Oh god, Colin,” he breathed out, dampening Colin’s shirt with his tears. “Oh god, sweetheart, thank you.”

“Well, I didn’t mean to make you cry,” Colin said, wrapping Joshua in his arms.

Joshua leaned back, wiping his face with his forearm. “Well, what did you think that letter would do to me, you big Irish doofus?” He swallowed hard and forced back his tears, though his breath still shuddered in his chest. “Now I understand what David meant,” he whispered, his hand lifting to cradle Colin’s cheek as he clutched the letter to his chest. “This is the greatest treasure of my life.”

“Awww,” Colin said, nuzzling against his cheek. “And here I thought my dick was the greatest treasure of your life.”

“It’s a close second,” Joshua said, knuckling Colin’s ribs. “And stop joking. I’m serious.”

“I needed you to smile,” Colin told him lifting his chin. “I don’t like to see you cry.”

“Those were tears of joy, my love. Of happiness and gratitude.”

“Well, in that case…” Colin muttered, then wrapped Joshua tight in his arms and kissed him, hoping that the tenderness of his lips on Joshua’s could convey the depth of the love he felt for this gentle Jewish man. He slid his lips to Joshua’s ear. “I meant every word,” he whispered.

For a long moment they stared into each other’s eyes, then Colin blew out a breath and got to his feet. “And now, my beloved husband, I’m going to give myself a birthday present by walloping Abel in a game of chess!” He drew Joshua to his feet and kissed his cheek. “Care to bear witness as I kick your brother’s weenie ass?”

“I’d love to,” Joshua told him. But as they wandered toward the house, Joshua drew Colin to a halt and turned to face him. “Happy birthday, my love,” he said. “I hope we’re still blowing out your candles when you turn eighty.”

“You can take that one to the bank,” Colin replied, then tightened his hold on Joshua’s hand and drew him toward the door. “C’mon. I want more cake!”

Valentine’s Day 2020 with Colin and Josh

Joshua Campbell-Abrams moaned out a soft breath, stirring in the comfort of their warm, cozy bed, reluctant to leave it and start his day. Eyes still closed he turned to his side and stretched out a hand, expecting to touch Colin’s solid, muscular frame, but instead his hands found nothing.

Opening his eyes, he saw one red-wrapped candy heart lying on the bed beside him in Colin’s accustomed place. He snatched it up, chuckling. “What’s he up to?” he wondered, swinging his legs over the side of the bed.

“Colin!” he called, as he wandered to the bathroom. “You here?” At the bathroom door he peered down the stairs but saw nothing. “Colin!” he called again, but silence was his only reply. He sighed and entered the bathroom, then burst into laughter. Taped to the mirror was a huge, red, paper heart and on it the words “Be mine!” had been written in Colin’s distinctive scrawl.

After using the bathroom, he moved down the stairs, still seeing no sign of his husband. Sitting at center of their dining room table was a beautiful arrangement of red roses. “Oh, Colin,” he whispered. The card attached to the flowers read: “We will last forever. I love you.” Joshua pressed the card to his lips, his breath catching in his chest with remembered joy. “We Will Last Forever was the song to which they had walked down the aisle on their wedding day, and it would always hold a treasured place in Joshua’s heart.

Holding the card and the candy heart he glanced around. On the coffee table in front of their couch was a heart-shaped box of candy and a card. He sat on the couch and opened both. Inside the card Colin had written: “Timeless. Priceless. Endless. Those are the words that best describe my love for you. Happy Valentine’s day, A thaisce. I love you with all my Irish heart.”

Joshua bowed his head and pressed the scrawled message to his lips, then drew in a shaky breath and looked around. “Colin?” he called. “Where the hell are you?”

“You lookin’ for me?” Colin said, strolling in from the kitchen a wide grin plastered on his handsome Irish face. “I was out back on my machines.”

Joshua gestured to the flowers, the candy, shaking his head, his eyebrows arched. “I’m – I’m speechless.” He got to his feet and walked into Colin’s arms, his own arms winding around Colin’s neck. “Thank you,” he whispered. “Your card and candy and gift are still hidden upstairs.” He leaned back and grimaced. “But I didn’t get your flowers yet. I was going to do that later today.”

“Ahhh, skip it,” Colin growled out, nuzzling Joshua’s cheek. “I’ll share yours. It already smells like a funeral home in here.”

Joshua snickered and pressed his face against Colin’s neck, holding him tight. “Let me go get your gifts and card,” he murmured.

“I’ve already got the gift I really want,” Colin said, rocking Joshua against his body before kissing him tenderly. “But… if you insist.” He released Joshua and plopped onto the couch. “I’m opening your candy!” he called as Joshua disappeared at the top of the steps.

“I bet you bought your favorite kind!” Echoed down the stairwell causing Colin to snicker and nod.

“You’re damned right I did.” Colin muttered, yanking the cellophane off the heart-shaped box of ‘Dove’s Assorted Chocolates’.

He heard Joshua above his head, moving around in the bedroom, then opening the sliding panel to their small attic. “Damn!” Colin muttered, his mouth full of chocolate. “I didn’t think to look there!”

“Close your eyes!” Joshua called down the stairwell. “And no cheating!”

Colin leaned back on the couch, still chewing, and put a hand over his eyes. “Not looking!” He called, then heard Joshua coming down the stairs.

“Keep those eyes shut!” Joshua said, and Colin heard him moving objects about on the coffee table, clearly arranging them to his liking. “OK,” he said finally. “You can look.”

Colin opened his eyes, then widened them in amazement. “Wow!” he said, leaning forward.

“All from Ireland,” Joshua said, sitting down next to him, reaching into the box of Dove’s chocolates to grab his own morsel.

“Josh this is gorgeous!” Colin breathed out. “I’ve never seen this much candy in one place before!”

Joshua laughed. “And it’s Irish candy!” he added, nudging Colin with an elbow.

“And what’s this?” Colin asked, picking up a gift-wrapped box.

“Open it and see.”

Colin opened the gift and gasped in surprised delight. “Josh!! It’s beautiful!”

“Hand made in Ireland,” Joshua mumbled around a mouthful of chocolate. “Your mom helped me find the Irish lady who makes them.”

Colin held it up before his eyes. “Jesus! It’s incredible!”

“You’ll look amazing in it. Now open your card.”

In Colin’s Valentine card, Joshua offered a touching tribute to their marriage. “I’ve fallen in love many, many times in my life, Colin. But always, always, always with just one person – you. Thank you for being my best dream, my best gift, and my best friend. I adore you.”

“Josh,” Colin whispered, then turned to kiss him. “Thank you, sweetheart. My gift to you isn’t nearly as spectacular.” He reached under the box of chocolates and pulled out an envelope which he handed to Joshua.

“What’s this?”

“Well, open it and SEE!”

Inside the envelope was a brochure for ‘Inn at Perry Cabin’ and reservations for a long weekend. “It’s on Chesapeake Bay,” Colin told him, pointing to the brochure, reading over his shoulder. “I got us a suite with view of the water.”

“Oh, Colin,” Joshua whispered, turning the pages. “It’s so beautiful!” He turned to his husband. “You got us a suite?”

“Nothing but the best, bud,” Colin said, nuzzling against his cheek. “The reservations are for this weekend, so I hope you didn’t have plans made.”

“None that I wouldn’t cancel to have this!” Joshua said, still peering at brochure. He laid the papers on the table and turned to face his husband. “Thank you,” he whispered, reaching to caress Colin’s cheek.

“Thank you,” Colin replied. He kissed Joshua tenderly, then stood and drew him to his feet. “Da-da-da-da-da-daaa,” he hummed, pulling Joshua into his arms, swaying with him in time to the song he began to croon.

Joshua felt his eyes burn with tears. No song meant more. No song could ever mean as much. And he tightened his arms around Colin’s neck as they danced to Colin’s lovely voice softly singing in his ear: “We can last forever….”

Joshua blotted his tears on Colin’s T-shirt then leaned back to gaze into his eyes.

“Colin and Josh,” Colin whispered, then kissed him again. “Colin and Josh will last forever. Happy Valentine’s Day. Ta`mo chori istigh ionat, my oak.”

Ani Ohev Otcha,” Joshua whispered in return. “Happy Valentine’s Day to you, my beloved magic man.”

And their arms closed tight around each other as their dance continued.

A Chrismukkah Story – The Star

THE STAR

Colin stood beside their Christmas tree staring up at the star which adorned the top. His hands were shoved deep into the pockets of his jeans and his lower lip was caught between his teeth. The multicolored tree lights cast a radiant aura onto his face as he gazed, making it glow with an unearthly beauty. Joshua drew in a quick breath as he stood unnoticed in the dining room watching his husband. A year ago, he had carried that very star to their home, a gift from Colin’s mother. She had told him the story of how his father would lift Colin onto his shoulder to place that star atop their family tree. She had told him how much this moment meant to the youngster Colin was then and to the man he grew to become.

Colin turned aside. His head was low, and he huffed out an audible breath, his lips pressed into a thin line. He glanced up and spotted Joshua watching him, then tilted his head toward the tree. “Looks pretty.”

“Were you thinking about your dad?” Joshua asked.

Colin tilted his head as he approached, and his eyebrows lifted in a gesture which expressed both agreement and a hint of self-reproach. “I suppose,” he said. “It was always kind-of our moment, you know?” His head dropped once again. “Can’t help but think of him.” He stood for a moment staring down at the floor. “Wish I’d been a better son.”

“Colin, he’d be so proud of the man you’ve become,” Joshua said, laying a hand on Colin’s shoulder.

“You think?”

“I know! A decorated police officer? Working now to become a lawyer? Everything you’ve been through? Everything you’ve accomplished? He’d be over the moon proud of you, Colin!”

“Might mean more if he wasn’t dead,” Colin muttered, then glanced up at Joshua. “And please don’t tell me that he’s looking down from heaven all happy and proud.”

Joshua squeezed his shoulder and breathed out a soft laugh. “I wouldn’t do that.”

Colin leaned forward and pressed his forehead to Joshua’s. “Sorry,” he whispered. “I guess seeing the star threw me into a bout of self-pity.”

“It’s not self-pity,” Joshua said, his arms winding around Colin’s neck. “It’s regret. Every human being on the planet has them, Colin. We’re all imperfect, every single one of us. And if there was a way to put our lives on ‘rewind’ and undo those mistakes, would we really do it? The man you are now was molded and formed by everything you’ve experienced, including those moments you regret. They made you the man I fell in love with. They made you aware of how your behaviors and actions affect others. That awareness is a gift from your father. It’s a part of him that lives on in you. So, my advice is, every time you look at that star say ‘Thanks, dad’, and keep on walking. That’s all you can do. That’s all anyone can do.”

“What’s the price tag for that little speech, Dr. Josh? About Seventy-five bucks?” Colin asked, chuckling.

“Very fucking funny.”

Colin laughed and rocked Joshua in his arms.

“It’s not just psycho-babble,” Joshua muttered. “I meant it.”

“I know,” Colin murmured, then captured Joshua’s chin in his hand and lifted his head. “And I’m grateful.” He kissed Joshua uplifted lips, then kissed them again. “You make me a better man,” he whispered.

“You make yourself a better man,” Joshua replied with a tart edge in his voice. “Me shooting off my mouth doesn’t mean shit if it falls on deaf ears.”

“It’s not every day that I admit to having imperfections,” Colin teased, nuzzling against Joshua’s neck. “So, do me a favor and keep my wimpy-assed confession to yourself.”

“Done… but it’s gonna cost you. You owe me for that ‘Dr. Josh’ comment.”

“Name your price.”

Joshua grinned and tilted his head toward the stairs.

“Oh, it’s like that is it!” Colin exclaimed laughing. He captured Joshua’s hand and tugged him toward the steps, and their bedroom beyond. “That’s one price I’m always happy to pay.” As they passed the tree, Colin threw it a salute. “Thanks, dad. Nollaig shone dhuit.” (Happy Christmas)


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Love’s Trials – Charlottesville and the ‘Unite the Right’ riots.

August 12, 2017 was a momentous day in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was the day that the ‘Unite the Right’ protestors marched their way into history. It was also a day that left most of American feeling disgusted, repulsed and angry.

But for the characters in ‘Love’s Trials’ the ‘Unite the Right’ protest was more than a social or political event. They weren’t simply spectators to the terrible events of that day, they were participants. It was a moment in their lives when they were forced to face some of their most deeply felt prejudices, prejudices rooted in racial and personal memories too profoundly painful to ignore. It was a day when they feared for the safety of the ones they love most. And it was a day of responsibility, duty, and service.

Love’s Magic is set in Charlottesville. Much of the Love’s Magic storyline revolves around the University of Virginia and the politics which are a fundamental part any organization as large as a top tier college. Love’s Trials is set in the same locale and features many of the same characters. Consequently, when the ‘Unite the Right’ protests took place in Charlottesville it was simply impossible for me to ignore an incident which was so fundamentally important to our nation’s history and to the lives of the men who inhabit Love’s Trials’ world. It simply had to be part of the storyline.

Colin, as a Sergeant with the University of Virginia campus police force, would be involved in this conflict as a professional law enforcement officer whose duty was to keep the peace to the best of his ability. But at the same time, because he is deeply in love with a Jewish man, he could not remain indifferent to the vile anti-Semitic tone of the ‘Unite the Right’ protestors. Joshua would experience this incident on an intensely personal level, both because the involvement of the neo-Nazi’s awakened deeply-held historical and family memories and because the man he loves is involved in every aspect of this conflict, a conflict which places him in constant danger.

Knowing Colin as well as I do, I knew that he would not only take great offense at the anti-Semitic rhetoric the Nazi’s were spewing on that day, he would also be frothing at the mouth with anger. One of the things he loves most about Joshua is his Jewish heritage. He believes that the deep reservoir of inner strength which he has always loved and counted on within Joshua flows from that genetic, spiritual source. Hearing the Nazi’s hate-filled, anti-Semitic chants would have set his Irish heart on fire with rage.

At the same time, I knew Colin would be required to remain in control of his emotions. Certainly, he would have longed to batter the Nazis to a pulp. But it’s not Colin’s way to use physical force no matter how angry he might be. He is experienced enough at his job to know that such a reaction would solve nothing. Responding with undue force would certainly have provoked a response from the supremacists in which innocent people could have been hurt. He had to try to stay calm. He had to try to react in a professional manner. He didn’t always succeed.

In Love’s Trials you’ll hear Colin talk about the day of the “Unite the Right’ riots. He’ll discuss what he saw and heard. He’ll discuss about how he responded. He’ll discuss how he felt. And he’ll discuss his thoughts on how well he feels the police force, whose job it is to protect Charlottesville citizens, responded to the dramatic events of that momentous day. However, although he was at the center of every incident which took place in Charlottesville on August 12th, 2017, those events remained very much out of his control. His point of view with regard to this emotionally charged day in his professional life is both personal and deeply felt, but he would certainly never claim that they were unbiased. Colin is at heart a deeply honest man. And as such he would be the first to admit that no one who was present at the “Unite the Right” riots that day could have been less biased than he.

Joshua’s point of view regarding that terrible day was also deeply personal. As a Jewish man who lost family members in the Holocaust, he possessed a unique perspective regarding the ‘Unite the Right’ march in Charlottesville. He overwhelmed with disgust and anger that the neo-Nazis had been allowed to march in his city in the first place, and his first instinct was to join the counter protestors and face down the white-supremacists. At the same time, he knew that his presence at the event would make it impossible for Colin to concentrate on his job. Colin’s concern for Joshua’s safety would have been a distraction which could easily have gotten him injured or even killed.

It was a dangerous situation for everyone involved and Joshua had to make a hard decision. Would he join the counter protestors? Or would he stay home in safety. His desire to be part of what happened that day was fueled by his genetic revulsion for anything connected with the Nazis. The grandfather who nearly raised him had been imprisoned in the camps. Both great grandparents had been Holocaust victims along with many, many other family members. And yet his presence at that ugly event would have placed the man he loved in danger, and Colin had made it clear he was vehemently opposed to Joshua being anywhere near the gathering. Any decision Joshua made meant facing a trial that could possibly change their lives forever.

They both made decisions on that fateful day that altered their feelings about their relationship and about themselves. Colin had been a police officer for a decade but he had never before faced a situation where he was confronted with hatred and bigotry this vicious which also posed a very real threat to the one he loved. Joshua had never before faced a situation which forced him to appreciate and accept how deeply connected he was with his Jewish heritage.

In the end, they both made decisions that would affect they way the lived their lives from that point forward. I won’t share all the details either of that day or of what came afterward for Colin and Joshua. I don’t want to ‘spoil’ you for the dramatic events that take place in Love’s Trials. But I can say this: While this incident doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what they’re go through in this book, it does lay a foundation of love and faith in each other that they will certainly need in the days ahead. And it is a profound chapter in what I hope you’ll feel is a profound story.

Love’s Trials is available on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited and ALSO available in audio format on Audible, narrated by the amazing Walker Williams! Colin and Joshua face many trials in the course of this book, the ‘Unite the Right’ protest being only one. And when the trial is deadly enough, love can lose its way.


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INTERVIEW WITH COLIN CAMPBELL!


Here’s an interview with
Love’s Magic’s irrepressible Irishman,
Colin Campbell!!

Note: This interview takes place during the time of Love’s Magic, but before its climactic ending.

What is your real, birth name? What name do you use?
Colin Michael Campbell. Call me Colin… or Irish.

Do you have a nickname? What is it, and where did you get it?
*laughs* I have lots of nicknames. I’m a campus cop. Students call me everything from ‘asshole’ to Colin McFuck and Colin McHardcase. Anything with a Mc in front of it. I got the names from being wild-ass Irish cop who breaks up drunken frat parties and arrests those accused of assault with absolutely NO hesitation or indecision. If they’re a dick or an abuser, I take them down hard and fast.

A lot of my friends call me ‘Irish’ because… well, because I am and damned proud to be. My Irish heritage is one of the most important parts of my life.

What do you look like?
I’m 6” 2”, 185 lbs. I’ve got sandy colored hair… it’s sorta curly. I’m 33. I guess I have a good build and a good smile. I don’t much think about how I look. I let other people worry about that.

How do you dress most of the time?
T-Shirts and jeans or my police blues.

How do you “dress up?”
T-shirt and jeans. Kidding. I can wear a suit now and then. But I’d prefer not to ‘dress up’. Not my style. Hard to wear a suit while you’re riding on a motorcycle. But I do own a tux and look damned good in it.

How do you “dress down?”
For what kind of occasion? Jeans and a T-shirt I guess… usually an Irish T-shirt.

What do you wear when you go to sleep?
Depends on who’s there with me. Usually I wear my underwear to bed. Briefs not boxers.

Do you wear any jewelry?
A cross around my neck which I keep under my T-shirt. My sister gave it to me.

In your opinion, what is your best feature?
Hmmm.. I think probably my smile, which I’ve heard is nice. For me, my best feature is that I’m strong and am physically fit. I play baseball and tennis. I ski. So being physically fit is important to me. Plus, I’m a cop. I need to be strong and fit. I sometimes have to wrestle with drunk, doped up frat boys who are 10 years younger than me. I have to be able to handle them so I stay fit.

What’s your real birth date?
August 8th, 1985

Where do you live? Describe it:
I live in a one-bedroom apartment. It’s small and usually pretty messy because I’m not there much. I work a lot and then I go to McCafferty’s…. a gay Irish pub where I hang out.

Do you own a car? Describe it.
I own a *1983 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Limited Edition*, and no, I won’t sell it to you. I also own a red 2016 Suzuki HAYABUSA GSX13 anniversary edition with gold trim. Won’t sell that either! It’s sort of my trademark on campus.

What is your most prized mundane possession? Why do you value it so much?
I own a mandolin that my grandfather gave to me. He taught me to play it and I got pretty good at it. I have a fairly good singing voice. My grandpa taught me to sing Irish folk songs. I used to sing them with my sister, Kathleen. It means more to me than anything else I own.

What one word best describes you?
Irish.

Familial Questions
What was your family like?
Middle class working folks. Strong catholic upbringing. We were a close family. My mom still lives in Scituate.

Who was your father, and what was he like?
My dad was named Michael McLarin Campbell. He owned a small grocery store in Scituate, MA. He was quiet but very strong inside. I admired him a lot, though I sure gave him a lot of trouble when I was a teenager. He never hit me. Never yelled at me. He’d just look at me with very disappointed eyes. That was enough. Things happened in our family. Bad things that I won’t talk about. Things I honestly don’t think my dad ever got over. Things that eventually killed him. He never talked about stuff that happened. But I saw how he suffered.

Who was your mother, and what was she like?
My mom is Brianna Mae Campbell. She’s a typical housewife I guess. She’s a great cook and a wonderfully affectionate mom. Now she travels all over with her friends from the senior center in Scituate. She worries about me too much and subscribes to that damned University of Virginia newspaper which features stuff I do now and then. I wish she didn’t. It only gives her more reason to worry. But she likes seeing my name in print.

What was your parents’ marriage like? Were they married? Did they remain married?
They were married until dad died of a heart attack when I was 17. They were old fashioned in a way. Not all that openly affectionate in front of us kids, but we knew they loved each other. My mom called my dad. “Mister Campbell’ whenever she was mad. They were both deeply religious and went to mass every Sunday.

What were your siblings’ names? What were they like?
One sister, Kathleen. She’s dead. I won’t talk about her.

What’s the worst thing one of your siblings ever did to you? What’s the worst thing you’ve done to one of your siblings?
Won’t talk about that.

When’s the last time you saw any member of your family? Where are they now?
My mom still lives in Scituate. I call her once a week and go there as often as I can. I was last there about a month ago. She’s really active with the local Senior Center and travels with her friends. She’s in good health and happy… though she does wish I’d found work closer to where she lives. I worry about it a lot.

Did you ever meet any other family members? Who were they? What did you think of them?
I’ve met a lot of my family in Ireland. We’d go there every few years on vacation. I have cousins who were part of the IRA and when I was younger they intimidated the hell out of me. Now we’re good buddies. We get together and sing and drink Irish whiskey and enjoy the hell out of each other. I have an Aunt who lives in Killarney who I love dearly. My mon’s sister and a great lady. That’s where I stay when I go there to visit. She has a cottage near Dingle which is right by the ocean. We went there a lot when I was a kid. Most beautiful place on Earth.

Childhood Questions
What is your first memory?
Playing with my sister on the front porch of our house in Scituate.

What was your favorite toy?
A baseball and glove

What was your favorite game?
Baseball

Any non-family member adults stick out in your mind? Who were they, and how did you know them? Why do they stick out?
There was an Irish gangster in our neighborhood, Mick Delaney. He used to scare the crap out of me because we all knew he’d killed people. But at the same time I had a sneaking respect for the fact that NO ONE told Mick what to do. He was the undisputed boss. I admired that, though if I met him now I’d put him away in a split second. He was a criminal and I take criminals down.

Who was your best friend when you were growing up?
I ran with a gang of guys in my very early teens. An Irish gang with loose associations with ex IRA. Got into some trouble then. Some of those guys were friends, but it was a bad environment and my sister, Kathy, helped me move past it and into a lifestyle centered more on music and sports.
I guess my best friend was Dermot Parry. We hung out a lot and since he was also gay we made out and had did some experimenting sexually. It wasn’t a ‘love’ thing though. Just two guys foolin’ around. I still get in touch with Derm now and then. He’s a good guy.

What is your fondest, childhood memory?
My grandfather teaching me to play my mandolin and singing Irish folk songs with my sister, Kathy.

What is your worst childhood memory?
I won’t talk about it.

Adolescent Questions
How old were you when you went on your first date?
If you mean kissing behind the school… maybe 14. Didn’t date much in high school. I was already out as gay and there weren’t many ‘out’ gay guys attending there.

It is common for one’s view of authority to develop in their adolescent years. What is your view of authority?
My view of authority is that I AM the authority. I don’t let anyone tell me what to do, not even my bosses. The event that most affected my view on authority? I’m not sure. Seeing what those in authority DO in general I guess. Doesn’t leave much room for respect. I respect my own beliefs and values, not anyone else’s.

What were you like in high school? What “clique” did you best fit in with?
Ran with an Irish gang for awhile, but was led away from that life by my sister, Kathleen. I guess I was pretty much as I am now. I studied hard, but I also played hard. I took no shit. Guys tried to bully me because I was openly gay but they only tried it once. I beat the shit out of them and they thought better of doing it again. I mostly minded my own business but like I said… I took no shit.

What were your high school goals?
I really focused on getting good grades because I wanted to get into college.

Who was your idol when you were growing up? Who did you first fantasize about in your life?
I don’t go in much for idols. But I did have a bit of a crush on Jensen Ackles from Supernatural. He and I both like pie! If I fantasized at all it was probably about him.

What is your favorite memory from adolescence?
Christmas in Ireland when I was 13.

What is your worst memory from adolescence?
Won’t talk about that.

Occupational Questions
Do you have a job? I’m the Sergeant in Charge of the Special Assault Unit of the University of Virginia campus police force. I catch bad buys and do my level best to put them away for as long as the law allows. I don’t take any shit. When I walk into a frat, or a sorority house for that matter, they all know they’d be smart to cut the crap and give me what I want. I don’t get physical. I don’t usually have to unless some stupid frat boy gives me trouble.

Costs a LOT of money to go to the University of Virginia and most of them have parents at home who are footing the bill. All I have to do is wave their parent’s phone number in their faces and most of the time they get cooperative in a hurry. Don’t want to lose their ‘ride’.

What is your boss or employer like?
My direct boss is Lenny Hallman. He’s a great guy and a good friend. Mainly because he leaves me and my staff alone and lets us get on with our work. An out and proud gay cop wasn’t all that common when I started here a decade ago. Lenny gave me a chance to prove myself. He didn’t judge me for my sexual orientation. He judged me by the kind of job I did for him. And I never gave him reason to regret it.

What are your co-workers like?
I have four staff working under me. We get along fine. If I couldn’t trust them I’d get rid of them. I send them out to investigate open assault cases of all kinds… all the way from simple assault to felonious assault and rape cases. They’re all dedicated cops. They’re all dead honest. It’s the only way I would work with them. I get rid of goof-offs. Lenny knows better than to try to shove a sub-standard cop at me. I’d never put up with it and he knows it.

What is something you had to learn that you hated?
That you can’t beat the system. Sometimes it’s going to beat you and you have to let that go. I take every case personally so it’s hard for me to accept it when the system blocks my investigations or victims won’t press charges. I don’t blame the victims. I don’t try to pressure them to press charges. If they say ‘no’ back away. But it kills me inside none the less.

Do you tend to save or spend your money?
Spend. On my motorcycles, car.. stuff like that.

Likes & Dislikes Questions​
What hobbies do you have?
I sing and play the mandolin. I play ball and ski and run and play tennis and… well, you get the drift.

Who is your closest mundane friend? Describe them and how you relate to them.
Jeff Kerry. I’ve known Jeff for years. We went to bed together once a long time ago to pay off a pool playing bet, but that’s the only time. I don’t mess around with Jeff. I trust him. And that’s saying something. Most of my friendships are either with my fellow officers and with my staff at the station. And those are work related friendships.
Jeff and I can talk. I can tell him things I wouldn’t tell anyone else. He’s a smart ass and loves to mock and tease me and he’s the only one who gets away with it. I don’t know exactly what he does for a living but I do know it requires a very high security clearance.

Jeff has a way of seeing through my bullshit that I can’t help but admire… mainly because I’m an excellent bullshitter and it doesn’t usually happen. But not with Jeff. He calls me on it every time… and enjoys doing it.

Who is your worst mundane enemy?
In generally, university politics. The kind of politics that protects frat boys who’ve committed assault because their fathers are alumni and donate thousands to the university. Happens all the time.

What bands do you like?
I like the High Kings. They play Irish folk music. I also like some of the groups from the 2000s, Chicago, Green Day. But I didn’t follow pop music much.

What tape or CD hasn’t left your player since your purchased it?
Memory Lane by the High Kings Why? It has some of my favorite Irish folk songs on it and they’re sung damn well.

What song is “your song?”
Free Falling, Tom Petty

What’s been your favorite movie of all time?
Don’t go to many movies but I like watching DVDs at home. I liked the Departed and the French Connection. You know. Cop movies where the cop isn’t a jerk or dirty. I don’t watch romance movies and think superhero movies are stupid.

Read any good books? What were they?
Don’t have much time for reading. Read a lot in college just trying to make Dean’s list, which I did.

What do you watch on the Television?
Supernatural, NCIS, Blue Bloods stuff like that.

When it comes to mundane politics, do you care? If so, which way do you tend to vote?
I get accused of being right-wing because I’m known as a tough cop, but I’m NOT. Once you’ve seen someone get shot I don’t know how you can’t be in favor of gun control, especially when that someone is 18 years old. It’s not a pretty sight. Bullets do fucking horrible things to the human body so I really do care! I vote and I expect others to vote as well. I’d be real pissed if I thought they hadn’t and I wouldn’t be shy about saying so.

What type of places do you hang out in with your mundane friends?
McCafferty’s. It’s a gay Irish pub with a piano bar where I sing all kinds of Irish song and a few pop songs. They serve a strong Irish Stout which I love.

What type of places do you hang out in with your normal friends?
Same place.

What annoys you more than anything else?
Having to deal with university administrators. I usually try to foist them off on my Lieutenant. They’re full of shit and don’t care about anything except image.

What would be the perfect gift for you?
An Irish T-shirt… I’ve got dozens and I love them.

What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?
The west coast of Ireland.

What time of day is your favorite?
Night, because I’m off work.

What kind of weather is your favorite?
I don’t have one. I play baseball and ski so hot or cold is fine with me.

What is your favorite food?
Pizza.

What is your least favorite food?
All the salad that my mom made me eat at home.

What is your favorite drink? (Coffee, Coke, Juice, Beer, Wine, etc.)
Coffee. Cops subsist on coffee.

What’s your favorite animal?
Don’t have one.

Do you have any pets? Do you want any pets? What kind?
Don’t want one. I’m not home enough to take care of one.

What do you find most relaxing?
Watching TV. Singing relaxes me. I enjoy it. Running relaxes me.

What habit that others have annoys you most?
Getting clingy with me. I hate that. It only happens once, then you’re out of my life.

What kind of things embarrass you?
Too much emotion. I don’t know how to handle it so I get embarrassed and back away.

What don’t you like about yourself?
I’m too quick to judge at times. I think it comes with being a cop. You sometimes have to make split second decisions because your life could depend upon it. And I’m not always right.

How would you like to look?
Just the way I do. What the fuck would be the point of wanting anything else?

Sex & Intimacy Questions
Would you consider yourself straight, gay, bi, or something else? Why?
I’m gay. Why? Because I was born that way. Stupid question.

Who was the first person you had sex with?
Doug Hampton. When did it happen? I was about 15. He was a member of a gang I ran with. What was it like? It wasn’t all that great. He wanted a blow job and I happily gave him one. I had a bit of a crush on him. How well did it go? Went fine for HIM, not all that well for me. He was rough and stupid and damn near choked me to death. Who needs that? Especially your first time. But he did teach me how NOT to give a blow job so for that I’m grateful.

Have you ever had a same-sex experience?
That’s ALL I’ve had, though I made out with a few girls just to see what it was like. And for the most part it’s gone fine. I’m a damned good lover.

What is your deepest, most well-hidden sexual fantasy?
I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be submissive. And, no. I’ve never tried it and no, I never will. I’m just curious.

What was the wildest thing you’ve ever done, sexually?
Made love on a Ferris wheel. Me and Dermot Parry gave each other hand jobs while we were soaring high above Scituate. Best hand job I ever got. Laughed our asses off.

Is there any sexual activity that you enjoy and/or practice regularly that can be considered non-standard? (Bondage, Fantasy Play, etc.) Why do you like it?
I have a reputation around Charlottesville for being a bit promiscuous. Fact is, I’m not. I encourage the reputation, believe me. But the fact is that I take damned few guys to bed, and when I do the sex is pretty much of the straight-forward, meat and potatoes, non-kinky variety. Maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing, I don’t know. But I don’t like kinky sex. I don’t much like weirdness of any kind.

Is there any sexual activity that you will not, under any circumstances, do?
I won’t ever hurt a sexual partner, even if they want me to. No way. Jesus, I see enough pain and abuse on the job. People who’ve been raped and assaulted and had their lives ruined by it. The thought of being the kind of man who could enjoy inflicting pain another human being sickens me. If they want pain, they’ll have to find it somewhere else because they won’t find it with me.

Do you currently have a lover?
If you mean a romantic relationship, no. I don’t do those. I have friends at McCafferty’s who I take home now and then, but that’s it. One night only or very short-term liaisons. I’m attracted to guys who understand that, and don’t bug me for more. I’m honest with any guy I take home. I let them know up front that this is ALL they can expect and that if they start asking for more, that’ll be it. They’ll be done. I don’t want involvements.

What is the perfect romantic date?
One with no romance or clingy shit attached to it. I don’t do romance.

Describe the perfect romantic partner for you.
*laughs my ass off* The kind that doesn’t exist. I don’t want romance. I don’t want that kind of… closeness.

Do you ever want to get married and have children? When do you see this happening?
Uh.. no. Never. I don’t even want a dog. Too much responsibility.

What is more important – sex or intimacy?
Sex. I don’t want intimacy. I don’t want anyone getting that close.

What was your most recent relationship like?
I don’t have relationships. I’ve recently been… seeing, I guess, a guy named Joshua. I’ve actually seen more of him than is usual for me, but we work together so maybe that’s why. He’s quiet and intense. He fascinates me in a strange way that I can’t quite figure out. I feel… different somehow when I’m around Josh, and that both confuses me and makes me feel a weird kind of happiness.

Can you see a relationship developing between you and Josh?
Oh, hell no! He’s a friend. I work with him. We go to bed together now and then. He may have those kind of feelings toward me, at least that’s the vibe I’ve been getting lately. But he knows better than to say so or get clingy in any way. I won’t put up with it and Josh knows it.

It’s weird with Josh, though because usually I wouldn’t give a damn if some guy got a ‘case’ on me and got hurt in the process. I warn them all up front NOT to do that because it’s stupid and pointless. But I’d actually hate the idea of hurting Josh. I really hope he doesn’t make me do that. I don’t want to hurt him. I really don’t.

What’s the worst thing you’ve done to someone you loved?
Not recognize it when they were desperate.

Miscellaneous Questions
What is the thing that has frightened you most?
What scares me most is that I’ll miss something important in a case I’m working on and some motherfucker will get away with assault or rape simply because I screwed up. I’m afraid of missing something when I’m trying to convince the victims to prosecute. When they refuse to prosecute and there ends up being another rape or assault by the same assailant I am devastated. Nothing scares me more than that. I feel responsible. I AM responsible.

Has anyone or anything you’ve ever cared about died? How did you feel about it? What happened?
I won’t talk about that.

What was the worst injury you’ve ever received? How did it happen?
Broke my leg skiing when I was 16. I was being reckless so I’m lucky it wasn’t worse I guess.

How ticklish are you? Where are you ticklish?
Not at all.

What is your current long term goal?
Catch bad guys and put them away.

What is your current short term goal?
Catch bad guys and put them away.

Do you have any bad habits? If so, what are they, and do you plan to get rid of them?
I have a ton of them! Mostly they revolve around thinking I know everything and not being all that good at compromise. I tend to try to overpower people with my personality… at least that’s what I’ve been told. And I tend to be pretty good at it. If I can’t overpower them, I charm them into going my way. Works every time.

I’m told that I’m arrogant and prideful and I wouldn’t disagree. Goes along with thinking I know everything I guess. I have a bad temper. I get angry quick. But I cool off quickly too.

And no, I have no plans to get rid of my bad habits. Like me as I am or get lost. Keeps the riff-raff away.

If you were a mundane person, what would you do with your life? What occupation would you want, and how would you spend all your time?
I’m doing what I want to do. I want to catch people who rape or assault others and put them away for as long as humanly possible.

What time period do you wish you had lived in? Why? (Looking at this as an attempt to change history doesn’t count.) What appeals to you about this era?
I’d like to live in the 1600s in the American West. I think I’d have made a good Sheriff in a place like Tombstone. It appeals to me because it’s open, free, and anything’s on the table.

How private of a person are you? Why?
I’m a very private person. I crack a lot of jokes and am considered a pretty fun guy to be around, but not many people know the real Colin Campbell. The things that mean the most to me are the things that I can’t talk about… or won’t talk about.

If you were to gain an obscenely large sum of money (via an inheritance, a lawsuit, a lottery, or anything else) what would you do with it?
Go on a trip to Ireland for a few months. Buy my mom a new house, though I doubt she’d want it. I don’t know. Don’t think much about money. I make enough.

What would you wish for if you found a genie?
That I catch every single abuser or rapist on the University of Virginia campus and put them away for as long as the law allows.

What do you do when you are bored?
Sing or run. I run a lot.

What is the most frightening potential handicap or disfigurement you can conceive of? What makes it so frightening?
I’d hate any handicap that kept me from playing ball or running. Kept me from any of the sports that I love. I’m not sure what I’d do with myself if that happened. Not sure how I’d work off all the excess energy roiling around inside me. I’m afraid I’d go nuts.

Thanks for talking with us Colin! Hope you’ll come back again! 
No sweat!


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Colin and Joshua’s Tarot Cards!! A peek into their nature.

An interviewer asked me this: Tell me one thing hardly anyone knows about you.

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is that I spent 15 years reading Tarot cards and doing Astrological horoscopes for a living. Not only that, but I taught the very first online Tarot class in the history of the world and this was loooong before the Internet. It was on a service known as Quantum-Line, or Q-link which was the precursor to AOL. I taught classes there, led full moon meditations. It was great, GREAT fun!

And it was the beginning of what is now, of course, a world-wide phenomenon, the WEB. It was more fun back then because we were involved in ground-breaking activities and making our own rules up as we went… always MY favorite thing to do.

I enjoyed reading Tarot cards. I never saw them as a way to tell fortunes or predict the future. I used them much as a psychologist (Joshua?) would use ink-blots. They’re a great psychological tool, and a lot of fun.

I’ve always seen the Magician as the card meant for authors. The Magician lifts his wand toward the skies to call on inspiration and then uses the tools he has been given to make that inspiration manifest in the world. This is what authors do all the time. Even those authors who have yet to sell even one book have created something magical. They have drawn on the power of the Universe and manifested that power on Earth. I don’t care if it’s a children’s book, a cookbook, or a contemporary gay romance novel like mine… they are all a manifestation of what is most divine within each of us.

 

 

Colin’s card would have to be the Knight of Wands. Wands represents the element of fire, and I don’t think anyone would dispute me when I say that Colin is a man who overflows with fiery dynamism. He is the poster boy for primal energy, inspiration, and just plain life force. He’s enthusiastic and courageous. If you wanted to ‘light a fire under’ someone, Colin would be the perfect guy for the job. And as a Knight of Wands he wields that fire as any gallant Knight would… with courage, passion, and in a way that inspires all of us. Joshua likens Colin to Don Quixote since Colin’s quest in life, at least as Joshua sees it, is to defend the helpless and destroy the wicked. But for Colin it’s more than a quest, it’s the driving force of his life. The Knight of Wands is not someone who could ever back down or take a back seat to anyone. He’s at the forefront of every battle and in the thick of any conflict where his ideals are being challenged. Look at him holding the reins, totally in control of the wildly rearing animal with only one hand. And you can bet he makes sure there’s an audience there watching him do it. The Knight of Wands is a showoff!! He likes attention and applause.

I’ll also add that Colin absolutely sizzles with sexual heat. As Joshua noted from the moment they first met, Colin smolders with an almost dangerously seductive quality that makes him nearly impossible to resist. His is ever the ‘knight in shining armor’ charging off to meet whatever danger or challenge is foolish enough to cross his path.

The Knight of Wands will be your champion. But he can also be the chaotic force that dances through your life, leaving a tangled chaotic mess behind him. He’s a force to reckon with. Just ask Joshua.

I see Joshua as the King of Cups a card symbolized by the element of water. Emotional, healing, and always led by love, this card truly represents the rulership of the heart. But at the same time, he is a King and represents authority and responsibility. In this case, the King can feel responsible for the emotions of others and also be very much in tune with what others are feeling. This emphatic nature helps Joshua understand Colin better than Colin understands himself. During their very first get-together in Love’s Magic Joshua startles Colin by speaking with complete understanding about Colin’s most deeply held secret. See this excerpt:

 

“So,” Colin said, “I have a great heart, huh?”

“One of the greatest, I suspect,” Joshua replied.

Colin looked at him thoughtfully. “I’m afraid I may end up disappointing you, Josh. I’m really not all that noble.”

Joshua frowned and shook his head. “I disagree. There is something innately noble about you, Colin. Something beyond the ordinary. You’re not just a cop doing a job. It’s somehow greater than that.” He drew in a deep breath and when he spoke again his voice was low and warm with meaning. “I was serious when I compared you to Don Quixote. You seem to view your work as a personal mission. A way to right some terrible wrong. Like a knight on a noble quest.”

For a moment there was silence.

Joshua’s eyes dropped. “That’s what I see when I look at you, Colin,” he said. “A knight on a noble quest.” He lifted his head and met Colin’s eyes. “And, yeah. I know I sound like a hopeless romantic.”

Momentarily speechless, Colin’s stared at him, his heart stuttering in his chest, his honeyed-green eyes wide with surprise. Joshua knew no more about Colin than any other causal relationship in his life. And yet, without even realizing it, he had just spoken with eloquence and hair-raising accuracy of the most deeply hidden truth in Colin’s heart. “You’re…” Colin hesitated then drew in a quick breath, “…you’re damned insightful, Joshua.”

Joshua’s empathetic nature makes him a natural as a psychologist. And yet the King of Cups can often find that understanding his own emotions is a much greater challenge than understanding the feelings of others. Joshua suffered severe emotional and physical abuse as a child and the roiling waters of his emotions reflect the pain of those early years. Joshua still struggles to understand and overcome the damage done by those difficult years in his life. The King of Cups can be very introverted. He can internalize his feelings and find it difficult to trust others enough to establish real emotional intimacy.

Joshua’s King of Cups can sit on a very lonely throne. He can isolate himself to the point where it becomes difficult to reach out to others. And he can be totally prepared to flee at a moment’s notice when he suspects betrayal or abandonment may lie ahead. Joshua ran away from Colin after their first fight, convinced that offering his love to his magical Knight of Wands was a hopeless flight of fancy. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe in Colin. He didn’t believe in himself.

Colin, as Joshua’s ‘Knight in shining armor’ helps him find healing and peace but only after they both face the inner demons symbolized by their Tarot card. Colin must lay aside his devotion to ‘self-image’ and allow himself to be vulnerable enough to go after Joshua and seek his forgiveness. The cool, healing waters of Joshua’s presence quench the fires of Colin’s inner Knight.

Joshua must forget his childhood fears enough to trust in Colin’s love. He must lay aside the lack of self-worth he was taught in his childhood and come to believe that he deserves the love of the Knight and champion who has swept him off his feet.

Understanding the meaning of their Tarot card gives me insight into the motivation, goals, and needs of my characters! And… it’s a fun way to relax when I’ve spent too much time bending over the computer, writing!!

What Tarot Card do you think best represents YOU?


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