Fantasies Vol III

Monday, July 02, 2007

Phaze Fantasies III
with Mask
by James Buchanan
July 2, 2007
Buy it:

Can we have an "a-MEN", times six? Volume Three of our popular Fantasies series is all about the guys, with six hot stories of manlove from Phaze favorites and a few new faces. Whether tracking down criminals or training each other on the finer points of submission, engaged in a fashionable charade or conflicted by their feelings, you will fall in love with these hunky men who love men.

In James’ Mask, Don Hecto Luz Aritza and his mayordomo y compañero Martín have been lovers since they were boys. Now that the Don is to wed a Frenchwoman, Martín must use magic and love to fight of the woman who wants to tear the lovers apart. Set in Colonial Mexico, Mask weaves the mysticism, suppression and magic of legends of the old southwest into a tale of two men who must fight to be together.


Horses always ran faster when headed towards their manger, and Fiel was no exception. A wild ride through the bosque brought them to the edge of town where Hector reined him back to fast walk. Not more than a single lane, bordered by loose rock paths, drifted through the pueblo. Whitewashed adobes faced a zocalo filled with scraggly trees and beaten dirt. Holding tight to Hector's waist, they bounced through at a decent clip. When they hit the edge of the small cluster of buildings, Hector spurred the bay into a gallop, heading for home.

Stands of knife leafed agaves wove among saguaro and prickly-pear. Cactus ringed the perimeter of the hacienda, its red clay roof visible as the horse made a rise in the road. It kept all but the most determined marauder out. That, and the thick adobe wall with its broad grease wood gate and broken glass set into the top. Normally, the gates would be shut tight, only a little inset door left open for callers. Today, however, the entry stood open.

Rocks dropped one by one into Martín's stomach. That could only mean one thing. Even Fiel sensed it and, snorting, broke the pace himself. Slowing to a walk, they entered the hacienda courtyard.

As Hector reined their mount to a stop, Martín slid from the back of the animal, adjusting his vest and stamping tight-legged trousers back over his boot tops. He stepped aside as Hector swung out of the saddle and jumped to the ground. When standing together people joked they could hardly tell the men apart, although Hector's fair skin had not been browned by working in the sun, and he cropped his hair short as was the style among important men. Martín carried a few years that the Don did not. But their smiles and the light in their eyes hinted at an unspoken shared lineage.

A young boy, his loose white pants and open shirt billowing, ran to grab the bridle and led Fiel off to the stable. Martín tousled the boy's black hair as he passed, heading toward the crowd that had gathered around the perimeter of the courtyard. Under the eves of the outdoor kitchen, women in Indian blanket skirts, calico tops, and shawls thrown over their heads whispered to each other as they shushed their babies with bounces. Their husbands stood off in tight knots, trying not to look interested. At the center of their attention a carriage rested, its sides covered in tan dust, and a team of horses stood lathered from their pull. In front of that a woman they'd all been waiting months to catch a glimpse of paced. In her wake trailed a dowdy, older matron, fussing and fretting like a mother hen.

Fine, embroidered linen covered the young woman's head and draped about her shoulders. A fringe of ginger curls framed her high forehead. The traveling dress she wore was a demure dark brown, with a high collar for modesty and a cinched waist. Her face could have been beautiful if her expression had not been half so haughty. Lolita Moreau, the soon to be mistress of the hacienda, surveyed her tiny fiefdom as though the peasants might crawl forth and bite her. She snapped a command and her attendant jerked as though whipped.

Off to one side another woman watched. Doña Aritza, Hector's mother, pursed her lips and seemed to be almost in prayer. When she caught sight of Hector and Martín an honest smile broke over her face. Señora Aritza gathered her skirts and headed across the small court toward her son.

"Hector," Martín hissed out of the side of his mouth, "that's your bride?" It was both a question and a show of sympathy. They could only hope the long trip soured her and that it was not her normal disposition.

Hector swallowed. "The painting made her prettier."

"Artists will do that." He nodded, fussing with the scarf at his neck. "If she didn't seem like such a shrew she might fit the image."

With a sigh, Hector held out his hands for his mother, cupping her frail fingers into his palms. "I see the Señorita arrived safely." His tone indicated he rather wished she hadn't.

"Sí, mi'jo, she is here." Señora Aritza's voice echoed agreement with her son's. After a heavy pause, she continued. "Come, let me introduce you." Turning, she led them across the yard, her arm laced through Hector's, Martín following a respectful distance behind.

At their approach, Doña Lolita looked up and smiled. Martín shook off a vision of too many teeth, and reminded himself that Hector was liable to incite smiles in almost anyone. However, when the lady caught sight of Martín standing behind Hector, her dark eyes narrowed and her lips went tight. Apparently, she was not overly fond of the common Mexican. With a final glare in his general direction, Doña Lolita gave her attention back to Señora Aritza.

"My dear," the Señora began, pushing her son slightly forward, "my son, Hector Luz Aritza."

Hector dropped his eyes and stared at his boots. "Muy amable, Señorita. Welcome, I trust your journey was pleasant?"

"Is that any way for a groom to greet his future bride?" The words poured forth like rancid honey. "Staring at the dirt and unwilling to look her in the eye?"

Hector snorted and looked up. "No, you are correct." Turning slightly to catch Martín's eye, Hector raised his eyebrows in question. Martín shrugged. He did not like this woman. It went beyond her demeanor. It went beyond the irrational resentment he had for her…no woman could take Hector from him. Still, something cold slithered down his spine each time she breathed. For a moment the men held each other's gazes: Martín tried to cover his unease and Hector seemed to offer reassurance. Both broke the link at near the same time. Hector's smile tightened as he returned his attention to his bride-to-be. "Welcome to your new home. I hope you will be happy here."

Ignoring the pleasantry, Lolita called, "Tante!" Fingers curled, almost pulling the older woman towards her as with strings, "bring me the gift."

"Gift?" Startled, Hector shifted. His mother patted his arm. Martín stood, suspicion gnawing at his insides.

The wedding gifts had been exchanged months before between the families. Again he shrugged the unquiet off. It was not out of the ordinary for small presents to be exchanged between betrothed. He should have thought to have one prepared in this event. Such things went with his duties as Hector's mayordomo y compañero. Fingering the small, etched coin hung about his neck on a cord, Martín's brain scrambled for an answer. Hector gave him the trinket years ago as a token of his love. Absently, Martín's fingers traced the pattern of a hand holding a heart carved into the surface of the metal.

Ah, well, they hadn't known exactly when the Señorita would arrive. Martín would insure they procured something appropriate before dinner; maybe the crucifix which had belonged to Hector's great-grandmother might be proper.

A soft snick jerked Martín's attention back. The Señorita held the lapel of Hector's jacket with one thin hand. In the other she held a broach, with the pin back sprung. Two open witches' hearts, their tails turned to the left, were crowned in gold. Garnets glittered red. Lolita smiled and leaned in to pin the charm.

"Aye!" Hector jumped back, hand on his chest. Martín stepped to his side, glaring at the woman.

Fox-like eyes narrowed, Lolita stood and watched as a single drop of blood fell from the tip of the pin. Her gaze tracked it as it tumbled to the earth. Then she looked up. "How clumsy of me," she purred, "to stick my husband like that. I must be tired." She folded her hand over the broach. "Perhaps someone could show me to my room."


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