Title: Two Natures
Author: Jendi Reiter
Release Date: September 15th 2016
Genre: LGBT fiction, MM Romance
Two Natures is the coming-of-age story of Julian Selkirk, a fashion photographer in New York City in the early 1990s. His faith in Jesus helped him survive his childhood in the Atlanta suburbs with an abusive alcoholic father, but the church's condemnation of his sexual orientation has left him alienated and ashamed.
Yearning for new ideals to anchor him after his loss of faith, Julian seeks his identity through love affairs with three very different men: tough but childish Phil Shanahan, a personal trainer who takes a dangerous shortcut to success; enigmatic, cosmopolitan Richard Molineux, the fashion magazine editor who gives him his first big break; and Peter Edelman, an earnest left-wing activist with a secret life.
Amid the devastation of the AIDS epidemic and the racial tensions of New York politics, Julian learns to see beyond surface attractions and short-term desires, and to use his art to serve his community.
Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | Saddle Road Press
**Kindle Price $0.99 from February 20th - March 17th ** (normally $9.99)
2016 Rainbow Awards: First Prize, Best Gay Contemporary General Fiction; First Runner-Up, Debut Gay Book
Named one of QSPirit's Top LGBTQ Christian Books of 2016
Because my life wasn't insane enough, I decided we had to throw a dinner party for my parents. Sure, this was New York, city of eight million restaurants, but did any of them serve Daddy's favorite chicken-fried steak with marshmallow sweet potatoes? Did Mario Batali know how to skin a squirrel?
As kids, we'd frightened each other by reading aloud from the less well-thumbed pages of my mother's copy of The Joy of Cooking. "Skin, clean and soak overnight: 1 raccoon." "Beaver tail: Hold over open flame." Mama, by contrast, had made her reputation in the pages of Southern Living with more highbrow cuisine, the kind that involved putting little paper frills on the meat after you'd killed and roasted it.
Of my family, she alone looked forward to bragging about my future Vogue byline. Daddy had put my brother, fresh out of the University of Georgia with a C average, in charge of a townhouse building job in Smyrna. Carter was tooling around Cobb County in a brand-new silver Buick and cultivating a taste for single-malt scotch, hopefully not at the same time. As for my shy, serious little sister, though Daddy typically thought of women as coffeemakers with tits,
he was pretty puffed-up that one of his offspring had a shot at a top-tier college. Falling below Lulu in the pecking order was too much for me to bear. Daddy didn't know how to praise one person without putting down another. Hence my vision of showing them the life of a successful fashion photographer, with wine and good food, an apartment overlooking Times Square, and maybe a lingerie model or two to feign attraction to me for the price of a meal.
If I'd said any of this to Phil, he would have talked me out of it, so I went to our friend Tomas. He wasn't making much money as a line cook at a French restaurant near Carnegie Hall, but he'd hooked up with an older guy, a violinist, who was letting him live rent-free in his apartment while the guy toured with the Romanian Philharmonic.
"What do I have to do for you to let me use your place for one night?" I asked Tomas.
"You could do me." He slid closer to me on the white leather couch.
"Thanks for making me feel like a whore." I didn't move away, though. "What is it with fags, why does everything have to be about fucking? It's so predictable."
"Fine, I want sex and a pair of Bruno Magli shoes." Tomas pouted, half-seriously, knowing I wouldn't deliver the one and couldn't afford the other. We'd had fun together a couple of times, but sleeping with two people I saw on a regular basis would get weird in a hurry. Phil acted like there could never be too much sex. He would scope out a nightclub like a football player honing in on the strategic spot in a scrimmage. A few hard knocks and you were all pals afterwards. Tomas, I surmised, would be more of a champagne-and-roses guy, which I suppose I am too, but two of us in the same household would fight like cats in a handbag.
"Look, Tomas, this is your opportunity to show your creativity. You're always saying how bored you are, chopping vegetables all day. Imagine the possibilities — coq au vin en croute! Parfum de volailles printanière!"
Tomas snickered. "That's not even a real dish."
"Ah — but it could be."
"Spring chicken perfume?"
"Whatever. You're the detail man. Just give us the list, Phil and I will buy the groceries and take care of the washing-up. It'll be great."
The day before my family was due to arrive, Tomas played master chef and Phil and I hauled groceries up to his apartment. He had planned an elegant menu: Cornish hens, scalloped potatoes, a fine Bordeaux, and a dessert that he was keeping secret. I hoped it didn't involve open flames.
Unable to take me for a spin in the violinist's Jacuzzi with Tomas watching, Phil had to wait for his consolation in our modest bathtub. We dimmed the yellowish ceiling globe to a flicker, the poor man's candlelight. He dug his heels into my back and shoved my face down into the foamy water between his legs. I stuck my soap-slick fingers inside him, grazing his balls with my nails. We splashed and bumped around, ignoring our bruised knees as we rubbed our hard, impatient
Afterward, in the cooling water, he washed my hair so gently that I almost said I loved him. Words were hard for us, our own words. Schwarzenegger's memoir didn't quite provide the relevant bon mot.
"Failure is not an option," I read aloud from a page Phil had bookmarked. "Everyone has to succeed."
In response, he rolled onto his side of the mattress and stubbed out his cigarette in the ashtray on the floor by his pillow. "If everyone succeeds, what's success? You got an answer for that, Ah-nuld?"
"Maybe everyone succeeds at different things. Like, right now, you're succeeding at being an asshole."
"Yeah, but I'm your asshole." He laughed, sunshine after rain, and pulled the blanket over us. I expected more, but he lay still, his head tucked under my chin, the way he liked to sleep. I reached up for the switch that shut off the overhead light. One thing I could say for this apartment, everything was in easy reach. I could have cooked breakfast while sitting on the toilet.
Awhile later, in the dark, he said, "You wouldn't lie to me, Julian, right?"
"What would I lie about?"
"Phil, you know, if you really wanted to be exclusive, I'd give it a shot. Otherwise, please let's not dish the details."
"You're lying to them." His voice sounded mad, but his thick fingers were entwined with mine, warm and strong, squeezing my hand.
"Lying is my family's preferred form of communication. It's traditional and cultural, like chopsticks."
"But you're different."
"When I'm with you, I am." I kissed his blond hair. He liked that, but the questions weren't over yet.
"Who are you going to say I am?"
"You're my roommate," I said firmly. I've always tried to avoid pointless arguments, and since it seems to me there's scarcely any other kind, I consider myself a fairly easy person to live with.
"And my bed-mate." Phil climbed on top of me and tickled me unmercifully. "And my soul-mate, and my…mating mate."
We tussled a bit before settling down to sleep. Could I have bargained with him then, traded my coming-out for his fidelity? How terribly serious that would have been, all of a sudden, how much like buying the ring and booking the chapel. Like the readers of Woman's Day, I wanted to have it all: "Five Delicious Cake Recipes!" and "Thin Thighs in Thirty Days."
Giveaway: WIN a $10 Amazon giftcard
About the Author
Jendi Reiter's books are guided by her belief that people take precedence over ideologies. In exploring themes of queer family life, spiritual integration, and healing from adverse childhood experiences, her goal is to create understanding that leads to social change. Two Natures is her first novel; a sequel is in the works. Her four published poetry books include Bullies in Love (Little Red Tree, 2015) and the award-winning chapbook Barbie at 50 (Cervena Barva Press, 2010). She is the co-founder and editor of WinningWriters.com, an online resource site for creative writers.
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter