As many of you may know this is part of my blog tour celebrating the release of the latest Vasquez and James novel, Because of Jade, which was released by Dreamspinner Press on May 23rd. I’ve themed this blog tour, The Further Adventures of the Vasquez-James Family and you can find the first installment at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews. I’ll get on with installment two a bit further on, here, but first, a word about a raffle.
In the spirit of celebration, I’m hosting some giveaways. This week, starting today, a brand new rafflecopter. As this is a WordPress blog, I can’t use Java Script, so click this link [http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4059d63/] to get to the rafflecopter page and enter. You can stack up your chances by entering a number of ways, but one way is by making a comment on this post to answer this question: If you could spend a day with Sonny, Luki, Jade, or all three, who would you choose, and what would you do? Your answer can be as wild or sweet or mundane or dreamy as you want it to be, but creativity is encouraged. It doesn’t have to be long, a few words are plenty. Just surprise me!
For prizes, something a little different. 1st prize, an ebook copy of the new release, and an ebook of the collected Vasquez and James blogs—these “further adventures,” the road trip, gay romance university, character interviews, whatever. Of course I’ll have to wait until the current tour is done before I put it together, but it should be done around the end of June, and the only way to get the ebook is to win one. 2nd prize gets the collection, too, but with a copy of any earlier Vasquez and James book—winner’s choice.
Now for our story:
A Tribal Kind of Day—Fry Bread, Canoes, Otters, and the Freedom to Owl Dance.
Every year in August, the Suquamish people host a huge gathering called Chief Seattle Days at the Port Madison reservation, but Sonny had been only once—at the invitation of an aging auntie—for a brief afternoon, since the year before Delsyn died. He and Luki had eaten more than they should, bought some beautiful coastal style wood carvings, and watched the dancers, but Sonny had felt at odds, and Luki had been well aware, and they’d left after only a few hours.
Suquamish had been allowing same-sex marriages since 2011, and that made Sonny feel a kind of acceptance he wasn’t used to feeling. But acceptance clearly hadn’t become universal. They’d avoided any display of affection—PDA’s are uncommon in Indian Country even for heterosexuals—but apparently their relationship had become readable at fifty paces.
1st same-sex wedding at Suquamish[/caption]Nobody acted or spoke rudely, but most Natives can communicate disapproval without a word or even an obvious expression if a person knows what to look for—and Sonny did. He enjoyed seeing his relatives and spending some time in the long-familiar atmosphere, but it saddened him, too, and when the time came for an owl dance—the traditional sweethearts dance—Sonny realized that, married or no, he couldn’t take Luki out into the arena and guide him through the simple steps without causing a stir.
Sonny’s not much of a rebel.
Not long afterward, Luki had said, “Thanks for bringing me here, sweetie, but I think we should go. Agree?”
“Yeah,” Sonny had answered quietly. He’d wanted to say something more, but in the end only added. “’Kay,” and nodded. He’d fallen in step with Luki as they headed back to the car, and raised no objection when Luki got in behind the wheel. Luki had kissed Sonny once at the stop light in Indianola (where there are very few Indians), and then driven them to the Chimacum Café for hamburgers and pie, and soon had Sonny smiling again. Sonny remembered their lovemaking once they’d arrived home that evening as special, one of the times when Luki had been especially attentive, tender and passionate in turns.
But he’d not wanted to repeat the pow wow experience since then.
Yet, in the first summer Jade was with them, he found himself wanting to share a little bit of himself with the child he’d come to think of as “our little girl.” He’d been following the progress of the annual Full Circle Canoe Journey, and knew it was ending with a landing at Suquamish that year. At the kitchen table over coffee, he suggested the outing to Luki, feeling a bit shy about it for some reason he didn’t fully understand.
“I think it’s a fabulous idea, Sonny!” Luki had broken into one of his still-rare full, generous smiles. “And she’ll love it. I will, too.”
Sonny nodded, sort of smiled back, but looked down at his flip-flop clad feet.
“Baby, it’ll be different. Jade will be excited, and you know… times have changed, a little, right?”
“My feet are really big,” Sonny said, and looked up in time to see Luki’s champion eye-roll.
“Yeah,” Luki said. “Gigantic. Sometimes I think we should take two cars, one for the left, one for the right.”
Sonny laughed, despite himself, and then said. “If we go tomorrow, get there early we can do the museum before the canoes come in.”
“Let’s do it.”
“It’s not a pow-wow. There won’t be owl dances. Luki. I still want to owl dance with you.” He looked into Luki’s eyes, which had grown so much warmer, for Sonny and Jade at least, since they’d first met. “Right out in front of all the people. You’re my husband. I should be able to take you out into the arena and show everybody how an owl dance looks when people love each other.”
“Baby, we’ll do that someday. Until then, we’ll owl dance at home. If you don’t have music, we’ll buy some, and then we’ll do it right there in the front room. And after Miss Jade’s asleep, you can owl dance me all the way to that big bed we share. ‘Kay?”
Sonny let true happiness stretch his smile wide, “’Kay.” Then he added, “And I’m holding you to your word, husband.”
Come morning, Sonny brushed Jade’s hair to a shine, had her dress in lightweight, serviceable shorts and the purple shirt she chose, slathered her with sunscreen and put a wide-brimmed straw hat on her head, hoping to keep her paler skin from burning. She then borrowed a pair of Luki’s shades, and ran out to the van, waiting for her uncles to catch up.
Sonny drove on the way over, piloting them south to the Hood Canal Bridge, across the water, and out of the morning mist into a sunny day just as they entered the reservation. First stop, little girl facilities, and then the water. All was quiet yet, though things were in readiness for the arrival of the cedar dugouts that a number of nations would land on the beach that day. They spent a brief time looking into a holding tank with sea cucumber, urchins, and some other odd sea creatures. Jade commented on the unattractive look of the sea cucumber.
“It will be food. Someone’s expensive dinner,” Sonny said.
Jade scrunched up her face and in rising tones, asked, “Dinner for humans!”
Sonny nodded. “Yum, right?”
Luki chuckled and then offered the idea they should go to the museum. “Should be open by now, I think.”
They did, it was, and Jade seemed appropriately fascinated. She loved the clothing and hats made from cedar bark, red and blue or black button blankets, colorful baskets, masks and carvings, and especially with the toys children of the tribe had played with in times long past. The story of Old Man House—the nearby original home of the Suquamish seemed to confuse.
“It was a house?
“Yeah,” Sonny said. “Sort of. Called a Longhouse. Kind of like a village combined with an apartment house. Really long. Like, maybe ten of our houses long, or more.”
“It was a village?”
“Yeah,” Sonny said again. “A really long time ago.”
“Before I was born, long?”
“Mm-hm. Before I was born. Way, way, way before.”
“Oh! Like when Uncle Luki was little…”
“Right,” Sonny said. Ignoring Luki’s indignant snort.
“Can we go there?”
“Well, another day,” Luki said, “we can go where it used to be. But it got burned down a long time ago. Like before Uncle Kaholo was born.”
Sonny smiled, but Jade didn’t get the joke at all. Instead her face got a troubled, sad look. She looked from one uncle to the other, took their hands, and walked away. She didn’t really cheer up again until she saw the huge sculpture of six persons portaging a canoe. She like the whole thing but exclaimed, “Look,” when she saw that the last two figures weren’t men at all, but huge animals.
Sonny crouched down to be more or less eye level with her and said, “Otters!”
“You showed me otters in the water by our house!”
“They weren’t that big, though.”
“Not even close.”
It wasn’t long after that Luki noticed Jade flagging a bit. He picked her up, squeezed her, gave her a smacking kiss on the forehead, and asked, “Are you tired?”
“Of course not, silly. I’m not a baby!”
“Oh, I know. It’s just that I’m a little tired. I’m not a baby either. What about hungry?”
“Yes!” She pronounced that with such vehemence that several total strangers laughed and exchanged smiles with Luki.
By the time they got outdoors. Fry bread could be had, and even though it wasn’t the healthiest breakfast in the world, they all ate more than they should have,
slathered with butter, along with thick jam for Sonny and Jade, and honey for Luki. The guys also got a shot of caffeine, which helped wake up tired, not-a-baby Luki, so they went down to the water to watch the canoes come in.
A number of people waiting at the water’s edge recognized Sonny, and one older man seemed quite happy to see him. After a moment’s consideration he introduced his family.
“This is Luki Vasquez,” he said, and forced out the rest, “My husband.”
The elder, Ben, whose hair was white as snow and who had brown, crinkled skin that much reminded Sonny of his own uncle, Melvern, said, “Pleasure to meet you, then,” and shook Luki’s hand. Turning to Jade, he smiled, “And who is this?”
“Our little girl,” Sonny said, laying a reassuring hand on her head, “Jade.”
Ben made appropriate small talk with Jade, then stood and in a much more serious tone said. “I was so sorry to hear about Delsyn. He was quite a young man.”
Sonny thanked him, answered a couple of questions, and before long Ben had to go get ready for the welcoming.
Sonny’s spirits plunged a bit as he saw the canoes come into view, remembering that Delsyn had participated in the Full Circle paddles for two years, had reveled in the opportunity to develop some strength in his arms without putting too much strain on his knees.
Luki noticed, of course, though Jade was apparently hypnotized by the beaching canoes, the ceremonial request by the visitors to come ashore, and the answering welcome. There were songs and hand-held drums on both sides.
Luki nudged Sonny’s hand. “You okay?”
Sonny sighed, pointed out to the water with his chin. “They’re beautiful, huh? The canoes, the young people.”
“And you’re missing Delsyn a lot at the moment.”
“Yes,” Sonny whispered, and glanced at Luki’s face.
“Don’t be, Luki. I’m really glad we came. It’s a good thing. A little painful, but a good feeling in another way, to be here. And look at Jade!”
Just then, just as if she’d plucked their quiet conversation from the air, took Sonny’s hand and tugged, then looked up at him, very serious. “I’ll bet our little nephew would have liked this.”
She meant Delsyn, always called him that, even though she’d never met him somehow divining that he remained an integral part of their family, like Bear, like her mom and dad. “Our little nephew,” she said, not quite getting that he could be Sonny and Luki’s nephew but not hers, and that a nephew might not be little. It was endearing, always, to hear her say it, but this time it seemed almost as though Delsyn was there, as if she let him in to hover close to the land of the living for just a short, blessed while.
Sonny, looked at Luki, trying desperately to hold back tears and managing it fairly well. Luki smiled a soft, half-smile and simply nodded. Sonny crouched down, and even though his back hurt from all the standing, picked Jade up and said, “Yes, little one. Delsyn would have loved it—especially because you’re here. Now look, when you’re tall like me you can see way out over the water. Do you think there are otters out there pushing the canoes in?”
Thanks for reading my little story. For a little extra, here’s a YouTube video, Canoes coming into Suquamish 2009
If you’d like to buy Because of Jade,/em>, click this link for the Dreamspinner Press online store, and use code JADEBOOK for 20% off now through 6/7. You’ll also find a blurb there, and links to the other Vasquez and James books and my bio. You can also find it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance ebooks, and a number of other places on the web.