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Short, Short Ebooks

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Just trying something different

I've begun what I hope will be an ebook I can sell to a popular website for downloading. The story will be erotic as well as romantic, and I'm pushing the envelope here with a transvestite hero, which might be beyond a lot of people's comfort zone. But I want something edgier than just a conventional pairing. I actually got the idea for Neil from the 80's anime show Robotech which featured a beautiful singer named Yellow Dancer who in fact was an undercover male spy named Lancer. The character stayed in my mind all these years and I thought it was finally time to do something with it. Here is the first chapter. Let me know what you think.

Chapter 1

Raine shifted in her seat as the lights dimmed on cue, leaving the stage spotlight the only illumination. A mellow sax moaned and the rest of the quartet moved into a smooth intro, something unfamiliar, jazzy and soft, a come-hither strain that lulled the audience and silenced the specter of voices. A tinkling of glass at the next table (a toast?) was the only intrusion. A few moments passed, and the emcee stepped into the spotlight two feet away from a grand piano. Tall and svelte, the emcee’s pomaded dark hair and tuxedo beckoned an era of furs, champagne and diamonds, of Silver Cloud Rolls Royces and a collective innocence yet unsullied by wars and devastation.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the Chanel Club welcomes the fabulous Cintra Wells just back from a smashing European tour where she dazzled the audiences around the continent. And she's here to dazzle us tonight, so let's give her a round of applause." The wave of clapping interwove with whistles and exclamations of "Cintra!"

The emcee stepped off the stage and the show's headliner sauntered to the waiting spotlight. Cintra Wells' motion was fluid, her evening dress a thousand sparkles on silver mesh that clung to lithe curves. A deep red outlined a pair of sensuous lips out of synch with the angular lines of her face. Her blonde hair was reminiscent of Veronica Lake's, covering her left eye, flowing past her shoulders. She was a declaration of elegance. As was the smoky voice that moved into the melody laid out for her.

Raine had come to the club with a dose of cynicism and more than a measure of curiosity. But her assistant Terri hadn’t lied. Here was a voice worth bargaining over. It hovered above a sultry whisper, than rose with a clarity that cried out for a lost love. And it trilled to her soul as though it were calling out only for her. She shook the thought away.

The song died softly, leaving an expectant pause which a wave of enthusiastic ovation filled. In the midst of the clapping, the pianist struck a chord, cueing in another song, signalling the audience to silence again. Cintra’s voice took over, was less throaty, lighter, but still rife with a sadness that overwhelmed Raine.

No matter the cost, she had to get this singer for her club. She already had a line up of two jazz singers, but needed to build. Earlier in the afternoon, she’d sidled up to one of the band members to get more info; their gig here was up in another few weeks with nothing lined up after. Even then, she wasn’t sure they would do, but now her uncertainty wailed out on the riff of the ballad. Cintra Wells would pack them in.

Not because she was a beautiful woman with amazing pipes.

But because those amazing pipes didn’t belong to a woman at all. Beneath that gorgeous façade beat the heart of one Neil Williams, transvestite extraordinaire.

The audience were conspirators in the illusion. To them, Cintra Wells was a chantreuse who could break the hearts of men and make women question their femininity.

Her eyes fixed on the illusion, Raine felt underdressed in her own black dress. She sat silently, an elbow on the table next to her glass of Tangeray and whispered beneath her breath, "Beautiful." Even as she allowed herself to be entranced by the fantasy, she wondered at the pull. It was almost Sapphic.

She hoped that she...he...that Neil Williams would be able to meet with her soon to discuss business.


Neil sat at the mirror contemplating the lines in the powder covering his five o’clock shadow. They were cracks in the façade, a peek behind the illusion. He wiped his face with a tissue doused with aloe cream, removing the last of the mask and stared at the reflection of a twenty-nine-year-old man, all hard lines and dead eyes. He peered at the blue irises; well, not exactly dead, but eyes tired of a world they’ve been forced to look at too long.

The wig sat askew a head mannequin sitting on the corner of the small dressing table already overrun with makeup and paraphenalia. The accommodations here were cramped and inconvenient. He reached behind his head to release the rubber band that had been holding his blonde hair in a loose ponytail; the hair fanned out over his shoulders. Hell, pretty soon he could wear his own hair but the idea was.

The door opened and Max stepped in, shutting it behind him. He still had his sax strapped on, even though their last set was nearly forty minutes ago.

"Cin-man, gotta talk to you."

"What about?" Neil swiveled his seat and leaned back in his chair as his bandmate sat his lanky six-foot-three frame on the dingy blue loveseat and finally unstrapped the sax. He lay his precious "Sexy" on the floor.

"Another gig. Some woman came up to me tonight, said she's got an opening at a blues club called Raine's. Said she's looking for something different, something to spice up her lineup." Max smirked at that.

"Yeah? What else did she say?"

"Asked what it'd take, and I told her. Actually, I padded it a little. She didn’t even blink an eye."

"For how long?"

"She says a month to start, then we talk extension later on if things work out. Look, Europe was fine for wine and song, but that money's long gone, man, and Kieran ain't paying up like he promised. I'd like to know if I'm gonna have a roof over my head come November." He reached inside his pocket, pulled out a card. "Here, she left her number. I think we should at least talk to her." He reached over to hand the card to Neil.

Neil read the name. Raine Gayle, proprietor of Raine's Blues, "where rainy day blues are sung away" Phone: (312) 552-6889.

"Is she for real?"

Max shrugged. "Can't help what folks name their kids. She seems legit, though. All I'm saying is just let's talk to her. We got nothing to lose just talking."

Neil sat motionless for a second. Then he folded the card and tossed it over his shoulder. It landed on top of the wig.

Max stiffened. "So what? You’re not gonna even consider it?" Neil saw the tell=tale tic above Max’s left brow, a sure sign his temper had surged.

Neil drew in a deep breath, sat forward. He'd planned to the talk with the guys after the gig, but Max was forcing his hand with this new offer.

"I know this is a bad time to spring this on you and the guys, but look, this just isnt working for me anymore. I’m tired of this freak show, man, tired of the wigs, the dresses. Tired of singing like a bitch. That just ain't me, man."

Max sat immobile a few seconds, but didn't stay stunned for long. That tic was doing double time.

"Look, I know the show's getting old. But it's working for us right now. And we gotta work, no matter what. If we go back to the way it was, with just a jazz quartet and nothing more, we're just four more bodies out there doing the club circuit. I know this is a freak gimmick, but it's a good one and it gives us an edge."

"Yeah, some edge. Yet I'm the only one getting cut here. Look, I don't want to shaft you and the guys, so I'll give you time to find someone else. But after that," he shrugged, "I'm gone."

Max's brow were knit together, the lines above them deep grooves. "Man, this is so fucked, you know that? You're leaving us ass up, hole wide open. Who the hell is going to take your place? Your name’s a brand and the audience expects Cintra Wells - nobody else - to front when we step on stage." He stopped, his expression changing as something began dawning. "You're planning on filling another spot, aren’t you?"

He hadn't counted on anyone figuring out his game plan this early on. It put him in the uncomfortable position of having to lie.

"No, there's no other spot. I'm just tired, man. Can't you accept that at face value?"

"Neil, the one thing I've learned working with you these five years is that nothing is just face value with you. There's always something else going on. You know what? I'm done. Fine. You're leaving, you tell Stevie and Janyx. You're finishing out the contract, at least, right?"

Neil nodded. "Yeah, I wouldn’t do you like that."

"Do us like what, man? Oh, you mean stab us in the back. No, we'd never think that of you. You always do us right as rain, man, right as rain."

Max sighed, picked up his sax and stood. "You do what you gotta do. And we'll do what we have to to survive without you. Like you said, you're not the only bitch out there."

The last words were a deliberate kick to the groin. Well-deserved.

Neil swiveled his chair back to the mirror, looked into the eyes of someone he barely knew.


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