I’m G.S. Wiley, writer of male/male romance stories (not usually highly erotic ones, although I do go there from time to time) as well as the very occasional menage story. P.D. very kindly lent me this space to publicize my novella “A Recondite Matter,” which will be coming out in a few weeks from Torquere Press. This is a time travel story, about a well-born Edwardian gentleman, Francis Holden-Burrell, who finds himself suddenly thrust (no double entendre intended) into modern-day London. He befriends an antiques dealer, Simon, who does what he can to help Francis adjust to modern life and find a way back to his own time. In this excerpt, Francis and Simon talk about Francis’ mentor, father figure and never quite lover, Sir Desmond Rivest, while Simon makes a confession of his own:
Simon…had read the rest of the Wikipedia article. Sir Desmond Rivest, apparently, had been one of those Victorian gentlemen explorers who’d paddled up the Zambezi, dined on yak blood with the nomads of Mongolia, and done just about everything in between. He’d written two books, both long out of print, but Simon had been able to download one for later reading. The title, Travels with the Dark Savages, left him little hope for its political correctness. “It seems like he accomplished a lot,” Simon said.
“Desmond was a truly remarkable man.” There was a dab of pizza sauce on Francis’ cheek. Simon ignored it. “I was so fortunate to know him. Very, very fortunate.”
A thought struck Simon. He hesitated about voicing it, but there was nothing to lose. “Were you partners?”
Francis shook his head decisively. “No. Neither of us has a head for business.”
Simon smiled despite himself. “I mean, were you together.” He emphasized the last word. Francis’ expression was still blank. “Lovers?” Simon hated that word, but he couldn’t spell it out any more clearly. Francis blushed, his face reddening beneath the pizza sauce stain.
“No. Not at all. I mean,” Francis licked his lips and looked away, staring over Simon’s shoulder at some vague spot in the distance. “I wanted that. I wanted to be. He didn’t.” In that case, Simon thought, Desmond may have been passionate about knowledge, but he must also have been stone blind. Before Simon could sympathize about failed romances, Francis went on: “He told me he valued me far too much to risk me ending up in prison. I can’t imagine he was that eager to risk it for himself, either.”
“Oh.” Simon hadn’t thought of that. Had never had to think of that. “Things are different now.”
“It’s not illegal. You can even get married, if you like. Well, to a certain extent.”
Francis blinked. “Married?” He sounded incredulous, as though Simon had told him that, here in the year 2012, you could turn on the kitchen tap and get liquid gold.
“I was engaged.” The words were out almost before Simon realized he was going to say them. He didn’t speak about this part of his relationship with Andrew. Not even Pam knew about it, and she thought she knew everything about him.
“To a man?” Francis was clearly still trying to get his head around the concept.
Simon nodded. “It was a big flash proposal and everything.” Everything that was quintessentially Andrew. A trip to the countryside, a picnic on a red-and-white checked blanket beside the river, a bottle of champagne and a basket of strawberries. There was no diamond ring, but Andrew had gone down on one knee and Simon, who’d had his doubts even then, had been so caught up in the moment he’d said yes.
“But you’re not married.
“It didn’t work out.” Simon didn’t really want to say anything more about it. “We didn’t want the same things.”
“Hmm.” Francis seemed to consider this. Simon felt a sudden flash of embarrassment. “Then not everything has changed.”
I’m also looking forward to my short story “The Conch Republic”, which is due out August 13 from Dreamspinner Press, as part of their highly anticipated “Animal Magnetism” anthology. Both of them mark my return to publishing after a bit of an absence, so it should be a great summer for me!
Of course, I always enjoy summer. My day job, teaching, means that I get a nice long break, which I always try to use wisely. I still somehow end up spending most of my time relaxing in the sun, although since I have a toddler this year, I think my down time will be more likely spent in the sandbox and the sprinkler!
As a beginning-of-summer gift, I’ve posted a free read on my website, www.gswiley.com. It’s a reprint of my first-ever published story, “The Holly and the Oak,” released by Torquere Press in June 2008 as part of their now-defunct “Taste Test” line. It’s a Second World War story set in Salisbury, the home of Stonehenge. An injured man has a memorable summer solstice encounter with an American soldier. I hope you’ll check it out, and while you’re there, make sure to see what else I have available.
Thanks for reading, and thanks again to P.D. for giving me the chance to share her space. Happy summer!