Release Date: July 24, 2009
Publisher: Aspen Mountain Press
Publisher Link: http://www.aspenmountainpress.com/new-releases/julian-39-s-second-chance/prod_268.html
Blurb: When Alex and Julian meet on a trip to Sri Lanka, neither expect deep feelings to develop between them. Julian, however, fears the reprecussions of a homosexual relationship will have within his family and spuns Alex toward the end of their trip. A chance meeting brings the two men together six years later, older and wiser but has too much time passed to reignite the passion they once had, especially when Alex is involved in a relationship already? This story is a re-release of Masks of Emotion which received excellent reviews. 5 Stars,from Blondie at Rainbow Reviews and a grade of A at Simply Romance Reviews.
Alex stared out the window into the darkness of the subway tunnel as the train hurtled beneath the ground toward his neighborhood. When Richard had said he didn’t know what love was, it was as if something inside Alex had cracked. It wasn’t his heart—he was reasonably certain of that. It was more like all his reservations, the ones he’d squashed down and denied in order to allow himself to think he was part of a committed loving relationship, had broken out from their carefully sequestered corners of his mind.
What he’d thought of as masterful and compelling in Richard’s personality now seemed cold and controlling. After making his bald assertion about the meaning of love, Richard had stood staring imperiously at Alex, hands on his hips, daring him to respond. Alex was angry with himself when, despite himself, he felt his cock nudge in response to Richard’s sexy naked body. He ignored his cock and said, “I’m leaving.”
“No you’re not,” Richard said calmly, his mouth curving into the sardonic smile that had once so captivated Alex.
“You’re going to strip like a good boy and get on your knees and suck my cock. Then I’m going to fuck you and hold you in my arms and kiss away all your perceived hurts.” When Alex didn’t move, he continued, “Oh, come on, Alex. Don’t let’s make a federal case of this. It was no big deal. You’re the one I want, the one I want to fall asleep next to. He was just some guy.”
Alex shook his head, not trusting himself to speak, not even sure what he wanted to say. Instead, he edged toward the door, slipping past the naked man. Richard’s arm shot out, pulling him into an embrace. Alex, the stronger of the two, wrenched himself free. Richard’s face reddened, his eyes narrowing. “Fine. Act like the kid you are. Leave. I’ll be damned if I beg you to stay.”
Alex let himself into his apartment and fell into his recliner with a heavy sigh. Was he doomed never to find love? Had he been fooling himself the whole time with Richard? How could he have thought he loved a man who claimed not even to know what love was?
Did Alex know what it was? Could he honestly say he’d ever been in love? Since Julian, had anyone ever slipped past the girders around his broken heart?
It had been a long time since he’d thought about Julian. Was it no coincidence that just this evening, possibly at the moment Richard was fucking “just some guy”, Alex had permitted himself to reminisce about that wonderful, terrible time?
As much to distract himself from the fight with Richard as anything, Alex went to his closet. Reaching behind boxes of old letters and junk, he pulled out a teak jewelry box decorated with brass hardware. Sitting with it at his foldout kitchen table, he opened the box and took out the plastic bag he hadn't handled in easily three years. Inside was the mask Julian had bought for him all those years ago. Carefully he withdrew it, letting the memories wash over him.
The mask was made of dark blue felt with strips of silver and gold satin, silk and cotton sewn on in intricate patterns. The eye holes were almond shaped, rimmed with kohl and silver. The nose was formed to cover a real nose, the air holes carefully cut and stitched for ease of breathing. The mouth was the only variation to the gold and silver color scheme. It was of dark red velvet, the lips lush and full, curving upward in a hint of a smile. Julian had chosen a similar mask; its background red instead of blue.
Alex stood and went to the cabinet, finding and opening a bottle of wine. He poured himself a large glass and took it, along with the mask, to his recliner. He drank the wine and closed his eyes, drifting into memories more real than the lonely reality of his life…
There was Julian, his dark hair wet, his strong, lithe body gleaming as he dove into the crest of a wave. Alex sat on the wet sand, hugging his knees as he watched Julian swim, his stroke strong and sure. He could still hear Julian’s laugh as he resurfaced, shaking his hair from his face as he waved toward Alex. “Come on! The water’s great! Come swim with me.”
Alex ran into the waves, submerging himself as quickly as possible to hide the erection he was sure showed beneath his bathing suit. He swam toward Julian, who laughed again, ducking and disappearing beneath the frothing water, only to resurface several yards away.
They had stayed in youth hostels the first several nights. They spent their days traveling over the island, viewing magnificent temples and the ruins of ancient cities. They ate lunch one afternoon at the foot of Gal Vihara, an incredible rock carving of four serene and magnificent Buddha statues created from one massive slab of granite. They visited zoological and botanical gardens, and even an elephant orphanage. They took a tour of a tea plantation set among the lush rolling hills at the center of the island and went on a photographic safari tour in a rickety old jeep through jungles rustling with elephants and spotted deer.
It was in a tiny shop in Kandy that they’d stumbled across the unusual, beautiful face masks. Julian, with his artist’s eye, had selected them from a crowded display containing dozens of masks. He chose the blue mask with silver and gold fabric for Alex and a red one with strips of gold satin seeded with tiny pearls for himself. They’d tried them on, modeling them for each other and peering into the small handheld mirror the shopkeeper provided for them.
Alex could still smell the exotic scent of incense and sandalwood in the cluttered shop. It was eerie to stare at Julian’s masked face, transformed from its long, angular lines and large, expressive eyes to something primal and almost feminine, with the curve of the seductive mouth and the tilted, teasing eyes. In spite of his efforts to control his runaway imagination, a vivid image of Julian and himself, naked save for their masks, rose in his mind, their red velvet lips meeting as their erect cocks collided…