Farewell from the Bookshelf!

Please note that GLBT Bookshelf -- the community wiki which was the parent to this fiction blog -- went offline on May 31, 2016, after seven years' service to members.

All Gay Romance will remain online till the end of 2016 in order to give contributors every opportunity to recover materials uploaded here.

Many thanks to all who contributed over the years, and good luck to everyone in your future works!


RIDING SHOTGUN by Claudia Dante

Sonny Goss has everything going for him. He's still not 22 years old, and already he's a rising star in red-hot niche movies, and working for an ambitious director-producer. Paul Jordan's films are still in the zone of soft-core, but Paul has big plans to evolve into 'erotic fantasy' catering to the gay DVD market. His company -- Take A Chance Pictures -- is expanding fast, and his current project, Howl of the Black Wolf, is the biggest, most expensive movie yet to issue on his label. Sonny Goss has the starring role of saddletramp and gunfighter, Matt Ridley, who's in love with a shapeshifting young shaman, John Black Wolf.

Sonny's starting to get noticed, and the future looks bright ... save for one thing. He's alone, and he wants so much more than one night stands with beautiful guys he meets 'playing cowboy' in a notorious LA club know as The Corral. It can be a dangerous place to play, but Sonny turns on to the 'midnight cowboy' fantasy, even while he envies his friend, gorgeous First Nations actor Jeff Lucas, who's costarring with him in the gay Western that's tipped to kickstart a whole new genre.

The incredible fantasy of John Black Wolf haunts Sonny -- as does Jeff. But Jeff is secure in a happy, settled relationship, leaving Sonny stranded and falling back on The Corral, where he goes just to watch, to let off steam. The fantasy is piquant, powerful.

Meanwhile, there's a very real half-wolf called Jason ... a soundstage at Universal where the Western action is rather more intimate than the usual spurs'n'saddles ... and there's a stalker menacing Sonny. Crazed fan, or vigilante on a personal quest against out gay actors working in fringe movies...? Sonny's starting to run scared, and calls his producer. Paul Jordan has the reputation of a 'fixer,' and he knows everybody in the gay side of the industry...

Enter Jim Colby -- ex-cop turned Hollywood P.I., who walks into Sonny's life as a hired gun, a bodyguard, and turns his world upside down, inside out. Jim is Sonny's dream, walking on two legs ... but Jim is hiding a secret of his own, and it won't take Sonny long to find out about it. It's fireworks between them from the first moment: the cowboy fantasy is about to become a sizzling, delicious reality, and for Sonny, nothing will ever be the same. Jim Colby is about to take him places he only daydreamed about.

He's about to get what he's wished for ... with interest!

ISBN: 978-0-9872328-2-3
Publisher: DreamCraft
Length: 42,000 words
Format: PDF, Epub, Kindle
Heat rating: 4
Price: $3.99
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Read an excerpt

Chapter One

Hot water felt so good after a day in the dust and heat. Sonny Goss turned, let it pour over his back and ass while he listened for the phone. He spread his legs, leaned his palms on the shower glass, let the water do wonderful things to every nerve ending in the center of him. The flood of sensation made him think of the night ahead. From the shower, he could see the foot of his bed, and the clothes laid out there.

Crisp black denim waited for him, and hand-tooled Lucchese boots, a black linen shirt, bone-bead belt and Diamond Jim Stetson -- all genuine, no cheap knockoffs. The ensemble had set him back a cool grand, with the diamond studs in his lobes and the Ambre Topkapi that would be shimmering on his skin -- hot, sweat-slick and lustrous with pheromones by midnight.

The best thing about being Sonny Goss was, he could afford it all -- and the cherry red '71 Mustang Mach 1 in the garage under the apartment building. Often, he had to pinch himself, make sure he was still awake, not dreaming while he killed time, crashed on a friend's couch, where he had been just twenty months ago.

A chance audition changed everything. The part had looked bad, but he was desperate enough after six months on Nick's couch, eating noodles three times a day, to go read for anything. He was the thirteenth guy in line, and there were twelve chairs.

He sat on the floor, read an old car magazine, and by the time he made it into the hot, dark little cubbyhole they were using for an audition studio, he could not have cared less about actually getting the part.

Maybe that was what Paul Jordan was looking for -- he saw the character of Tommy Hathaway, in Dirtwater Duke, as a badass with attitude to match. A twenty-year-old drifter with a smart mouth, a fast gun, and a taste for ripe young cowboys who very soon learned what the words 'hard ridden' really meant.

The movie was crap, but as Paul predicted, it made money. Sonny liked to think he owned an 'ear' for dialog, and Paul Jordan might have been a good director with a talent for raising movie bucks from starry-eyed wannabe investors in California's gay community, but he was a lousy writer. So Sonny adlibbed most of the words coming out of Tommy Hathaway's mouth, and after that, let his body do the talking for him.

Twenty months later, he had eight movies to his credit -- two had been screened on Starz, one was top-selling on the gay DVD list, and Sonny Goss's face was looking out of posters and video trailers on forty websites. He had been featured in The Advocate, and here! was getting interested.

He looked up into the mirror opposite the shower and gave himself a grin. Even to his own eyes, it looked like a damned smug grin. Then again, he had a reason to be smug. He had done it. He had gone from being the gay kid kicked out by his father for bringing home a boyfriend and daring to fuck in the sanctuary of his own room, to being the poster boy for Take a Chance, Paul Jordan's company.

They were filming on a stage at Universal this week, headed out on location in another four days. Sonny could not wait to get out of the soundstage, back into the open air. One corner of the vast area was currently set up as the barn, for the night scene where one of the movie's eight sex scenes was being filmed.

The set was closed, and guarded to keep out visitors. Yesterday, the same space had been set up as the interior of the cabin belonging to John Black Wolf, with the big brass bed and the quilt made of patches of every color of rabbit skin. Wrestling there with Jeff Lucas, who was playing John, was fun. Understatement, Sonny thought as he turned off the water and stepped out of the shower.

He grabbed for a towel, flicked off the bathroom lights and headed into the bedroom, where the lamps were on, illuminating the room in a dull gold. Jeff was Canadian, half Native, from someplace in upstate Ontario. He was 22, a year older than Sonny, with long limbs and dark eyes, and hair so long, he could almost sit on it. He was perfect for the part of John Black Wolf, and Paul Jordan was gambling on the chemistry between him and Sonny.

Howl of the Black Wolf was the most expensive movie Take a Chance had ever produced. This one had horses; it had location filming, and two actual stunts -- as distinct from the sex scenes, Sonny thought with a chuckle while he toweled down -- as well as fourteen digital special effects shots, which were being done by a studio in Malaysia.

That handful of shots was costing more than the rest of the movie combined, and Paul was shitting bricks over them. He knew they, plus the stunts and location work, would make the difference between Howl being just another glossy gay soft-core flick, and a real movie with a fantasy twist.

Sonny had fallen in love with the project as soon as he read the script, even though Paul's dialog was as crappy as usual, and would have to be rewritten on the set, probably with three minutes left before shooting started. The dialog in Paul Jordan's movies was the least important element. The sex was usually the first thing anyone looked at -- 'tastefully explicit gay love scenes,' as Paul called them.

But Howl was more than soft-core. John Black Wolf was a skinwalker. He shifted shape between human hunk -- a six foot two, broad-shouldered young stallion who had had Sonny drooling since day one -- to a big black wolf with blue eyes and fangs the size of steak knives. The digital effects shots were essential -- these days, nobody would buy simple cross-fades or stop-motion animation. Jeff Lucas had to really turn into the wolf right before the eyes, and take the audience's breath away.

Actually, Jeff was changing into a wolf-cross called Jason. The animal trainer was another Canadian, Cooper Barlowe from Vancouver. He had actually bred Jason, who was half timber wolf, half Belgian Shepherd, black as midnight, with the bluest eyes Sonny had ever seen.

Jeff had already filmed one half of the scene, three days before. He stood under blue lights, made to simulate moonlight, and tore off his clothes. Naked, glorious, from the great slabs of his pecs to the cock and balls that hung like rich fruit between the big, football player thighs -- he spread his arms and legs and arched his back -- and froze right there. A Malaysian studio called Hydraulic Frog (where the hell did they get these names, Sonny wondered) was doing the 'bridge' between the human end of the shot and the other, wolven, end.

Cooper had brought in Jason, and the wolf was perfectly behaved. He stood on his mark while the lights were reset, then looked right at his handler and, on cue, like a proper actor, bared his huge fangs, threw back his head and howled.

The sound made Sonny's hair stand on end. Like Paul, he was dying to see the finished scene, where Jeff ripped off his clothes (the rushes of that part of the scene gave Sonny a huge boner, so it was a safe bet, this part of Howl was going to become an Internet legend) and morphed into Jason, howling at the moon, before he loped up to the camera and away out of frame.

It was the first time Sonny had ever been enthusiastic about a project he was filming. The others were all 'work.' Each low budget job was shot in a week or two, usually using a warehouse in Anaheim as a 'stage,' and they were mostly about a group of great looking young guys having a lot of sex. Paul wrote them, as well as producing and directing -- and what sent the Take a Chance movies apart from the bulk of soft-core was that Paul could usually find a really good excuse for the sex scenes.

Sometimes there was a thread of unrequited love, or it might be a forfeit for unpayable gambling debts, or a joke being played on a straight dude who rapidly discovered that he was nowhere near as straight as he had thought he was. And when the guys got down to business, it was always shot with taste and style. That was Paul Jordan's magic.

Howl of the Black Wolf had just as much sex, but a whole lot more story, and Sonny was excited to be heading out on location Tuesday morning. The company would be in a flyspeck town in northern California called Weott, on the Redwood Highway east of Avenue of the Giants.

The scenery was guaranteed to be superb. Four trained horses were coming down by truck from Oregon. Jason would be filmed loping through the redwoods in shots processed later to look like moonlight. And Jeff and Sonny would get naked and make out in places that would render the video sex shiveringly exotic.

Mostly dry now, he threw the towel back in the general direction of the bathroom. He was still waiting for the phone -- it was on the chest by the bed, mocking him with silence. Not even a text. Sonny gave it a glare, but he was not surprised. He had left voicemail for Jeff an hour before, when he got home.

'Hey, man, you want to get out tonight? Thank God it's Friday, or whatever? I'm going to The Corral, if you're interested. Call me, okay?"

Three or four times a month, Fridays or Saturdays, Sonny went to The Corral. The nights all started like this, with the daylight faded to colors of twilight and the sounds of evening traffic coming in through the open windows with the view of rooftops and dusty palm trees. LA smog would be hanging over the horizon like a brown pall in the sunset. He would shave, shower, grab a snack, change into the kind of threads that would get him through the door at The Corral --

Get him into the basement, where it all happened, much later, when the dancers were drifting on out in couples and trios and quads. The bouncers would be on duty at the side door in the muck and dark of the alley, and the real action would be starting. The Corral was aptly named, and just thinking about it gave Sonny an icy-hot thrill, a shiver down his spine.

He was a mere spectator, but part of the thrill was knowing, he could be in it. He could be a player, in there with the rest of them. One day; one night. Not today, but one day.

Maybe Jeff knew about The Corral -- it was no secret -- and maybe it was not his scene. Sonny might have been disappointed, but he was not surprised. Jeff had a lover stashed someplace in Toronto, a real estate broker who was always texting, calling, emailing, as if he did not trust Jeff not to sleep around while he was out here. Sonny had never even heard the guy's name, but the guy need not have worried. Jeff Lucas got a lot of offers, but he never accepted them. Not yet, anyway. He was as faithful as John Black Wolf was to his on-screen lover, Matt Rigley.

Sonny played Matt Ridley with a drawl, skin-tight blue denims, a Winchester over one shoulder, and a mouth always hungry to go down on John ... and he envied Matt, who was a fictional character right out of the head of Paul Jordan. Matt had the one thing Sonny had never had.

The worst thing about being Sonny Goss? Not being able to connect. There was always plenty of sex -- never any shortage of offers and, unlike Jeff, he never hesitated to take them. But the next morning was all about Pop-Tarts and coffee like black paint, and a door closing behind a guy who never looked as good in the morning light as he had at midnight or two in the AM ... and who always walked away.

He sighed, and gave himself another look in the mirror. A hard look. Naked. He looked good, and he knew he did, with long legs, hard-worked muscles, dark brown hair and eyes, from his Italian grandmother, smooth chest that barely even needed to be shaved, and a cock that was thick and golden when it was resting, and stood s good eight inches when it was interested. His skin was tanned evenly, with just the pale strip around his hips of the Speedos line. His hair was thick and long -- Paul liked it that way; he knew what suited Sonny, and the character of Matt Ridley.

The reviewers on Dirtwater Duke had called him 'surreal as an evil angel, with innocent eyes and wicked mouth.' Sonny pouted at himself, examined his shave and shook out the still-wet hair. It was rapidly drying in the warm evening air. The breeze was still almost hot, and getting heavy with car fumes. He ought to close the window.

He ought to be going through the pages for tomorrow's shooting, as well, but the dialog was hardly essential to the plot. If Paul was on schedule, he would be humping Jeff on a hay bale in the barn set, before the stagehands took it all to pieces and rearranged it as the cave interior, with a bunch of Styrofoam slabs that looked convincingly like rock. Some of them were so old, Charlton Heston was probably acting in front of them, in the original Planet of the Apes.

He had eight lines of dialog tomorrow, and they were bad. Paul was not getting any better at putting words into actors' mouths. If he was as good at putting words there as he was at putting his dick here, he would have been brilliant. The script was lying on the chair, on the other side of the bed. Sonny picked it up on his way to the window.

INT. NIGHT -- The Barn. Matt and John meet for the first time in a week. John wants to tell Matt about the roughnecks who suspect him of being a shifter, and are in the woods, laying traps for the wolf. But Matt is too hungry for John's body to listen.

"Save it -- tell me later," Sonny said in Matt's drawl. "You know what I want. I didn't come here to talk."

And Jeff would say, in that deep voice with the rich accent hinting of other cultures, other worlds, But this is important, Matt. You have to listen to what I'm saying to you.

"So I guess I'll listen real good when you can tell me the whole story ... but later, much later, after I've had what I came for," Sonny/Matt would drawl as he opened the buckskin shirt wide, shoved it back over John's shoulders, trapping his arms in it to hold him.

Camera closes in tight on his face as he stoops to John's chest, takes his nipple between his teeth and bites down. John gives a cry of pain and then a groan of pleasure, he tosses his head, and we hear the wolf howl in his voice. His fingers clench into Matt's arms and they wrestle down on a bale of hay ...

"Jesus, Paul, that's shitty dialog, man," Sonny groaned, "you're getting worse."

More likely, Paul was getting just plain lazy, because he knew Sonny and other bright, smart young actors like Jeff Lucas could adlib when they hit their marks; and in any case, the jeans were off in the next half minute, and all the talking was done with hands, lips, cocks.

It was like that at The Corral, in the hours after the front doors closed and the bouncers took station at the side door. The unsuspecting public was never likely to wander in. Every guy in the basement knew the score and was there for the thrill of it. Actions spoke louder than words.

Nobody cared where a guy was from, where he went to school, what he drove, what he did for a job. It was all about the broncs in the corral, and the cowboys outside of it ... who was going to get roped and ridden, and by whom, and how.

The old familiar thrill raced up Sonny's spine again and he dropped the script. The beer he had left on the table by the door, with his wallet and keys, on his way to the bathroom, was still cool enough to wet his throat. He took it to the window, intending to let the hot night air finish drying his hair before he slid into the black jeans, put his feet into the tooled Lucchese leather.

He was reaching for the window, ready to pull it across, shut out the car fumes, lock up for the night, when he looked down into the street. The streetlights were on. The sky was orange, reflecting the city lights. No stars -- not in LA, not inside of Sonny's lifespan. And down below, on the sidewalk right opposite, standing just outside the pool of blue brightness cast by one of the big streetlights, was that face.

That man. Again.

Always the same man, the same face, looking at him with the wide eyes, not even blinking, just staring, as if he could shoot lasers into the middle of Sonny, cut out his guts, or perhaps his soul.

The beer was forgotten and warm on Sonny's tongue. He swallowed with an effort as he saw the face, locked eyes with the man. This made forty times he had seen that face, in two weeks. At first he had assumed the guy was paparazzi, but he never seemed to carry any visible camera. He did not even have a phone that would take the kind of crappy shots few magazines would buy -- these days, digital was all about high quality.

It was an older dude -- he had to be at least fifty, Sonny thought, dressed in jeans and teeshirt and windbreaker, even though it was hot tonight. He just stood there with his hands in the pockets of the jacket, like --

Suddenly Sonny's blood turned cold and he stepped back from the window. Maybe he had seen too many movies, but the way the guy had his hands in the pockets of a jacket, on a night light this --? Gun in the pocket?

His heart thumped as he sidled around, grabbed the cord and yanked it hard to close the drapes over, and then continued on, back to the chest by the bed, and picked up his phone.

Still no text from Jeff, and no missed calls. This time, Sonny hardly bothered to notice. His fingers went through the ritual by themselves. Paul was top of his contacts list, and in seconds the phone was calling. Who else did you call, when you were scared shitless, and right in the middle of a major production -- or the most major production Take a Chance had ever undertaken? You called your producer.

Calling, and getting an answer, were not the same thing. "You have reached Paul Jordan," Paul's nasal voice said in his best level, casual but 'don't mess with me' manner. "I'm busy right now, but leave a message and I'll get right back to you."

"Hey, Paulie, man, call me. Soon." Sonny swallowed hard. He knew he sounded weird. "I think I'm ... I might have a problem," he said, hating voicemail. "Make it fast, all right? Thanks, man."

He hung up but kept the phone in his hand as he returned to the window. He slid along and looked through the crack between the drapes and the window frame ... and swore. The guy was gone. Or had he stepped back away from the light? Was he standing in the deep shadows at the side of the apartment building across the way? "Fuck," Sonny whispered. "Come on, Paulie, call, goddamn it!"

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