Death brings singer Tessa Owens home from Nashville to her native Ozarks. But she’s not planning to stay. Tessa turned her back on the old ways of life for the modern world long ago. She didn’t expect to meet her first love, Lucas Rowlands, at the visitation. Seven years wasn’t long enough to forget him and sparks ignite when they meet again. Even worse, Tessa learns Lucas isn’t the simple country farmer she left behind but the sin eater, an ancient position handed down to him from his grandfather. As she struggles to understand Lucas’ life and role as a sin eater Tessa admits she loves him and there’s no doubt what he feels for her. The devil wants Lucas’ sin-heavy soul and if they don’t come up with something, Lucas is hell bound on an express ticket. If there’s any chance at a future, it’s up to Tessa.
Friday, April 19, 2013
Monday, April 15, 2013
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Monday, March 4, 2013
Friday, February 8, 2013
Ruby Slippersby Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Marcus always imagined that he would teach in a large suburban high school, one of those with a sprawling campus and perks like an indoor swimming pool. He had envisioned that perfect classroom so many times that it seemed real in his mind, complete with a bank of energy efficient windows and a Smart Board. Even though he graduated with his teaching degree magna cum laude, he found out that the good jobs, like the one he dreamed about, were scarce. New teachers, he learned, did not get those positions. Instead, veteran educators fought over them, presented resumes with after school activities and additional classes in their field.
New teachers were lucky to get a job in one of the inner city schools, the ones with broken gym windows and crack sales going down in the parking lot. That didn’t appeal to him so he looked for an alternative and found it, he thought, in the small towns of Middle America.
He adored the place he settled, a little city called Osage, a town with Norman Rockwell like streets and a downtown that seemed snatched out of some vintage movie. In Osage, the 1950’s seemed to be ongoing and he bought into the entire fantasy.
Marcus thought the chili suppers held each Friday night in the high school cafeteria before football games were so retro and thus cute. He found potluck suppers adorable, like something out of the past and he delighted in the way people really sat out on their front porches in the evening cool. Everyone waved all the time with big grins and he felt like he came home.
Just one thing bothered him and that was the attitude toward gays. Back home, he’d found not just tolerance but acceptance but in Osage, he found himself hiding back in the closet, something he’d thought he would never do. But Marcus realized that to be himself, to show gay pride, would result in not just ridicule but possibly the end of his career. And since he concealed his orientation, it seemed like everyone he met pimped their younger sister, their unmarried cousin or the girl next door in his direction.
He enjoyed evenings out at the little local movie theater, a relic from the heyday of Hollywood and the meals in the Osage Diner but the dates were not really dates, just a night out with friendly people. At the end of each, he forced himself to offer up a single chaste goodnight kiss and nothing more.
The school year began early, in mid-August, some rural custom that related to the local farming in a way he couldn’t fathom. By mid-year, Marcus still liked the town but he was very unhappy. He hated the way that he lied by not being openly gay and he missed having a lover who got him, who understood.
He knew there must be other gays in the community but he had no idea how he might find them but if he didn’t soon, he would just spiral into a dark, ugly depression. So when the high school principal announced that there would be a masquerade ball, Marcus summoned up what courage he had left and volunteered to chaperone. During his conference hour, between blocks of teaching English grammar and modern Literature, he planned his costume – one he hoped would rip open the closet door and reveal his reality with no more lies. Once outed, if the town hated him, he’d just resign and go back to civilization.
Marcus’ costume came from one of his favorite classic movies, The Wizard of Oz. He toyed with the idea of attending dressed as Glenda the Good Witch of the North but he settled in the end on dressing as Dorothy. His blue and white checked gingham dress with the white apron, ordered online, fit like it had been tailor made. The wig with brown braids fit snug and looked realistic. He even found a wicker basket and a little stuffed dog that resembled Toto. Once he bought the ruby slippers, Marcus knew that this costume would be awesome.
He figured dressing in drag would signal the community his true sexual orientation and everything would be fine. Maybe they would just accept him and everything could go on, he could settle into his new life without hiding and he could find a special person to love.
On the night of the masquerade, held at the local auditorium, a big and old building just off the picturesque town square, however, his hopes faded fast when he realized that dressing up as a woman was apparently acceptable when it was part of such a ball..
The principal, a bald middle aged Baptist, arrived dressed as Marilyn Monroe from The Seven Year Itch complete with the white dress with a billowing skirt. One of the coaches showed up as Hannah Montana, long blonde wig and guitar in place. Even some of the students came in drag and no one thought his costume was anything but cute. No one got that he wore it because he identified with Dorothy or guessed that he was gay.
As the dance progressed slowly toward midnight, Marcus felt so discouraged that he slipped outside and stared up at the full moon. As it rose over the quaint little town, shimmering everything with silver light he wanted to howl his frustration. Instead, on impulse, he tapped the heels of his ruby slippers together but instead of the mantra that brought Dorothy back to Kansas, he thought There’s nothing wrong with me, I am who I am, over and over again. He prayed for understanding, acceptance, and for someone to love.
Eyes shut, he hoped for a little magic. Maybe he’d go back inside and someone would realize that he was gay. If they could and then just accept that he was the same Mr. Manfred they knew, everything would be fine again. When he opened his eyes, he saw a man standing a few paces away. The bright moonlight cascaded onto him, highlighting his almost white blonde hair, hair that fell to his shoulders and reflecting light from his pale blue eyes. He looked like a Nordic god come to life and since Marcus, dark himself, had always adored blondes, his heart and dick gave a little quiver of excitement.
He blinked, wondering if he had conjured up the image of his dream lover but the man remained, a half-smile teasing his lips as he stared back at Marcus. So Marcus took a step forward, then another, and a third until he stood just a few feet from the stranger.
“Hello,” he said, “I’m Marcus. Are you here for the school dance?”’
“No, no, not at all,” the beautiful creature said in a voice that reminded him of soft instrumental music, “I’m here for you, of course. I’m Lucien.”
“I’m pleased to meet you, Lucien,” Marcus said, “How did you come to be here?”
He looked about as if there might be something he missed, a different car, a white steed, a coach made from a pumpkin like Cinderella’s, but he saw nothing out of the ordinary. Surely someone this exquisite couldn’t have come by any normal means of transportation, Marcus thought and then wondered if one of the students had spiked the punch with hallucinogenic drugs.
“You conjured me,” Lucien said in the same musical voice. “You called to me and I came, sweet Marcus.”
“I conjured you?” he repeated, feeling thick-headed and slow. “I couldn’t have. I’m not a witch or a warlock or a wizard. I don’t have any power to conjure anything at all.”
“It’s the shoes, darling,” Lucien said with a trill of laughter in his voice. “It’s all in the shoes.”
“Do you mean the ruby slippers? They’re just costume shoes. There’s no magic in them.”
“Of course not,” the blonde beauty said. “But I doubt any heterosexual dudes would wear ruby slippers. I’ve watched you for a long time and longed to meet you but I just wasn’t sure if you were gay until I saw the shoes, sweetie. And I’m right, aren’t I?”
“You are,” Marcus said with wonder and growing delight. “But I don’t know you.”
“I’m a doctor at the local hospital,” Lucien said with a laugh. “And I’ve been just as shy as you, just as timid to be what I am but I saw you one day and the attraction almost swallowed me up. I almost hoped you’d get sick and come see me but you must be very healthy.”
‘I am,” Marcus replied with wonder.
“So when I heard about this dance I thought you’d come if you were gay and I’d know by your costume. I love the Dorothy motif but the shoes were the kicker. I laughed when I saw the ruby slippers. So, would you like to come home and have a drink with me, Marcus? I want to get acquainted.”
Marcus smiled. “I’d like nothing better.”
They departed together, talking back and forth and Marcus decided no more lies. No matter what happened, if he and Lucien got together or not, he wouldn’t deny himself again.
His ruby slippers sparkled in the moonlight as he committed himself to a future of truth, maybe even of love.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Friday, December 14, 2012
It's the season for sharing - here's a little Christmas story pubbed in a small anthology last year and presented here since the rights reverted to me after publication....happy holidays!
by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
The Wings of Christmas
Every morning she watched them, the four collie birds who swooped in to feed on the leavings of her garden. They ate the seed heads she’d left them and Anna admired the grace of their motion. Blackbirds, some would call them but she preferred the old name, collie birds because each appeared as dark as colliers from the pit, from the old days when they still mined beyond the village. In her girlhood she’d admired the men, so brawny and strong, never minded their faces grimed with coal dust, their hands permanently blacked. Anna enjoyed the ripple of their mighty strength and the aura of manhood each wore. She’d married one, too, a fine man, Willie, son and grandson of colliers. They’d been happy, so in love until a pit collapse took his life and left her widowed at the age of twenty.
She’d never found another man but now, aged past her prime, hands wrinkled, hair frosted like a December morning. Anna watched the birds in the winter dawn and wondered what they’d be like if they could become men. She dreamed about it in the long nights, sometimes now, if the birds could fly in, then land to shift into men, colliers all.
As the days shortened and moved toward winter solstice, nearer to Christmas, Anna thought more about the collie birds. They haunted her dreams and consumed her thoughts by day until one morning she stood at the window, frosted with cold and stared. The collie birds came from the east as usual with their wings spread out wide and landed. Few seeds remained in the barren winter garden and as they lit each one began to twirl and swirl. Anna watched with fascination as each collie bird’s form shifted and changed. Out of the spinning she saw four men emerge, one by one, colliers all, dressed in their work clothes but they didn’t head toward the long closed pit but walked in unison toward the house.
Anna smoothed down her hair and sighed. If she could, she’d wipe away the years to be young so maybe they’d desire her. Maybe, she thought, if she could borrow a little scrap of the Christmas magic the collie birds used to become men, her face might smooth away the wrinkles and her hair might regain color again. She put on the kettle and opened the door to them.
“Morning to you, Missus,” they said as one.
“Come out of the cold,” she said, “I’ve put the kettle on for tea if you’d like.”
Before long her table loomed full with the men and she loved their presence. As she poured another round of tea, Anna caught sight of her reflection in the mirror above the kitchen dresser and gasped.
“What’s the matter, love?” one asked, the man reminding her most of her lost Willie.
“Naught,” Anna said. Her face no longer looked old, her hair renewed to burnished copper. She looked prettier than she remembered from youth. “I’m just surprised.”
“Well you might be,” the same collier said, “It’s not every day a bird becomes a man now is it?”
“No,” Anna answered with care. “I’ve never seen it before and I certainly can’t understand why.”
“It’s a gift,” he said. He turned his head from side to side and the others nodded. One by one they rose from the table and moved as if in flight out the door, back into the garden. Anna didn’t look after that, afraid she’d see them shift back into collie birds. “It’s a Christmas time gift for you. You’ve been kind to us and we know it so we wanted to give you something back, Missus.”
“Anna,” she said, “Call me Anna. What’s your name?”
“Call me as you like,” he said, “Willie will do.”
“I will,” she said, “but what will you give me?”
He smiled, the happiness behind it lighting his eyes and softening his face. Now he looked enough like her own Willie to be his twin. “I’m here to give you what you want, what you need, Anna.”
Her body quickened at that. Before she could protest or agree, Willie kissed her, his mouth as rich as her remembered husband’s, his lips warm and soft. Her mouth answered his kiss. She’d almost forgotten the kind of sweet fire such a kiss sent scurrying through the veins and the way her body readied, eager for something more. Hunger for what she’d long been denied, yearning for what she lost as a young widow encouraged her to put her arms first on his shoulders, then around his neck. One hand strayed upward into his hair, locks as dark and fine as her man’s were once.
This Willie’s hands touched her without any shyness at all. His big fingers caressed her breasts through the fabric of her dress and then undid the buttons with deft skill. As he fingered her nipples, they rose to his touch with the speed of rising bread dough but hardened like biscuits. His touch made them tender and Anna moaned with the delightful torture he delivered. When Willie reached inside her dress she adored the feel of his work worn hands against her flesh and before she could think, they moved out of the kitchen and into the bedroom where she’d sleep alone for decades.
In one swift motion she stripped off the dress, removed her camisole and her drawers so she stood naked before Willie, her collie bird, her body restored to youth, to the beauty she once offered her husband. Anna never saw him undress but Willie stood nude, proud and erect before her, his body like chiseled marble in the morning light. Like her husband’s, the coal dust blackening stopped at his hands, at his neck, and his body glistened white as fresh milk.
Anna raked over his body with her eyes, afraid she’d forgotten just what to do but instinct replaced doubt. Because he stood taller, she barely had to bend her head to take his nipple into her mouth and did. Anna suckled it, his groans of pleasure fueling her growing desire and when she stopped, he buried his face against her bosoms. His tongue laved over each breast with a combination of adoration and desire she enjoyed and then he nibbled, his mouth sharp as a bird’s beak, leaving little purple love bites over the soft tits. As he did that Anna grasped his cock in her hand and stroked the shaft of it. Although it already felt hard in her hand, it tensed tighter as she caressed him. His need stirred hers and without words they reached her bed.
He took her there, his proud erect cock plunging deep into her depths and filling the emptiness of years. Anna took him, tightened her passage to caress him and drive him deeper still. Willie, this Willie, worked in and out of her, powerful as a river surging through her body and she gloried in it. Her first spirals of physical delight morphed into an urgent need for release and he delivered it. They climaxed, body to body, with a wild rush of delight and she came back to earth, moon struck and sated.
“Merry Christmas, love,” Willie said and when she looked, he was her own Willie, her first and sole love she’d lost too soon. A wild joy erased the lonely years, leached out the bitterness of widowhood but still, Anna asked, “How, Willie? How?”
“Don’t question Christmas miracles,” he said, his voice as familiar and fond to her ears as it ever was. “Just accept them, love.”
Her young arms embraced him, stroked his dear face and Anna no longer cared if this might be real, a dream, illusion or fantasy. Whether or not they’d been restored to youth didn’t matter and should they be dead, this heaven, it didn’t make any difference at all. They were together and she celebrated it with all the joy of the season.
From Sweet to Heat: The Romance of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Blog: Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy/e/B004JPBM6I