THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED
Blurb: James Ellsworth is a bit jaded, especially for his young age. He hates school and longs for his parents’ estate, where life is far more pleasant. Meeting new schoolmate Daniel Courtney is a much-needed distraction, one that will prove more and more engrossing as James and Daniel grow older.
When his father dies, James is thrust into a position of responsibility, not just to his estate, but to his mother and sister as well. He leans as much as he can on his friendship with Daniel, but young Courtney has his own problems. His brother, George, is all Daniel has left in the world, and when he loses his brother to a freak accident, Daniel is left alone and without prospects.
All the while, the two young men are discovering a relationship that their Victorian world will never approve of. Trying to deal with their loss and their love drives them apart — James to a life of debauchery, Daniel to a life of study and work.
As they grow older, James and Daniel discover that life is not what they thought it would be when they were schoolboys together, and that, even as they try to make their own way, they always come back to one another.
Icarus in Flight (from Chapter 24)
James managed to learn more about Rafaele. It took a series of private parties and furtive exchanges between him and two fellow exiles whom he’d long known.
They were young Oxford men “of his sort” who skulked in the shadows as he did, fumbling in the dark for a happier turn of fortune for themselves in their intimate lives.
To one friend, Charles Brandon, he usually repaired for more open conversation.
Charles had taken up residence near the Campo del Traghetto, opting for San Marco and the Dorsoduro’s “religious orgy of churches dedicated to saints of every persuasion, all outbidding each other for a chance to raise their voices the loudest heavenward,” as he so dryly described it. James found his friend’s situation a source of endless amusement—a condemned soul living comfortably within the shadows of all these churches. Charles also took perverse delight in throwing his windows wide open against the night air and standing a few feet within, arms spread. He’d be naked and brazenly challenging La Salute’s silhouette across the Grand Canal, her volutes breaking the night sky with their exaggerated scalloping. He often called these exhibitions “sensual cleansing.”
James himself opted to stay where he’d hoped to find permanent settlement, temporarily taking up lodgings with a Signora Turrini in Castello. He made frequent visits to Charles. The two young men often wandered off to various parts of Venice.
“Still pining after Ganymede, are we?” Charles noted with a sidelong glance. James sat across from him, slouching on a satin and lacquer armchair with stiff cushions.
“Curious is more accurate,” James replied, unfazed. “I was his, uh—”
Charles threw his head back as he laughed. “Protector!” he echoed. “Yes, of course! Protector.”
James watched him, a touch irritated. “Have you any news of him? It’s been a year at least.”
Indeed, Charles had news of the boy. Rafaele, he claimed, was set to marry a young lady on whose moneyed shoulders hopes for his family’s advancement were placed.
James listened to all these in some surprise. “Are you certain?” he asked.
“His story’s known around here. Well—save for his old habits, thank God.” Charles smirked over his wineglass. “One can’t help but spread the word, I suppose, with his story being the stuff of vapid romances—abandoned mother and son, poverty, beautiful girl and charming boy, love amid the lire—”
“He never said anything about the lady.”
“I don’t believe he even considered an attachment to her when you were here. One can only presume that his schedule since you left was quite—filled.”
“An attachment! What, in a year’s time?”
Charles nodded, refilling his glass with an air of tired detachment. “I’ve seen shorter engagements. This is nothing.”
“How long have they known each other before this?”
“About half a year, I think. No, wait. I believe it would be closer to three months. That is, if one were to believe wrinkled old gossips with far too much time on their hands.”
“This is absurd!”
Charles emptied his glass in two massive gulps. “Let him be, James. He was a whore once. He seems happy being where he is now.”
“I’ve no intention of chasing after him, knowing his plans. I find the mere suggestion offensive.”
“All the better for everyone, I daresay, blunted hopes and all.”
“You think me desperate.”
Charles eyed him, his gaze steady and probing. “I think you naïve, actually, which can be exasperatingly charming at times.”
James stared at the wine in his glass. What a preposterous situation, he noted, for Rafaele to mimic Daniel even to this point—a marriage of convenience. A perfect doppelganger, indeed.
About Hayden Thorne: I’ve lived most of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area though I wasn’t born there (or, indeed, the USA). I’m married with no kids and three cats, am a cycling nut (go Garmin!), and my day job involves artwork, great coworkers who specialize in all kinds of media, and the occasional strange customer requests involving papier mache fish with sparkly scales.
I’m a writer of young adult fiction, specializing in contemporary fantasy, historical fantasy, and historical genres. My books range from a superhero fantasy series to reworked folktales to Victorian ghost fiction. My themes are coming-of-age with very little focus on romance (most of the time) and more on individual growth with some adventure thrown in.
ON GENRE FICTION FOR LGBT TEENS:
LGBT teens have all sorts of stories to tell. They’re heroes not only of contemporary adventures or of fantasy and magic, but also of history. The rules might be different – stricter, a bit more frightening given 19th century laws, for instance – but there are still dreams to be shaped, character to be developed, and all of these done within the parameters set by the genre. It’s going to be a challenge, sure, but if it means allowing LGBT kids their own time in the “limelight” of, say, the Victorian stage, I’m game.