Further Adventures of the Vasquez and James Family—Fry Bread, Canoes, Otters, and the Freedom to Owl Dance

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Hi, I’m Lou Sylvre and I’m back, taking up some space on Rhys Ford’s blog again. So, first order of business, thank you Rhys!

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.
VJ 4 covers by Monique

Now for our story: Continue reading “Further Adventures of the Vasquez and James Family—Fry Bread, Canoes, Otters, and the Freedom to Owl Dance”

Saving Sonny James Road Trip Blog Tour Stop: San Diego Drag, double the prizes!

SavingSonnyJames400x600 finalHi, Lou Sylvre here, invading Rhys Ford’s blog by invitation for the last stop before home on the Saving Sonny James Road Trip blog tour. Yep, that’s right. Vasquez and James book 4 relaesed 11/18, and three weeks later I’m still celebrating and Luki and Sonny are still traveling. Thanks Rhys, for letting the guys visit San Diego, and letting me camp on your web. I’ve decided not to put the blurb here, but I hope some blog readers might be interested enough to read it at the Dreamspinner Store, where you can also read an excerpt and buy the book, if you like. 🙂

This post is sooooo late. So, to try to make amends to readers who have been patient I’m offering not one, not two, but four chances to win. Two prizes of Saving Sonny James signed paperback, two prizes of any Vasquez and James ebook. You see, I and my characters Luki Vasquez and Sonny James were supposed to be here days ago, but… well, they stayed in San Diego, lollygagging while I went to Bent-con, meeting up Rhys and a lot of other wonderful Dreamspinner Press authors, readers, and great people who stopped to talk at the booth. The boys (Luki and Sonny) didn’t join me there until the very last hours of my stay. Sonny pleaded with me—he really loved San Diego, Rhys’s town—and Luki was looking at me threateningly, so … how could I refuse?

You may recall they were in San Antonio, where they had a lovely romantic time, but the Mustang needed work on the way in—Sonny had to drain the fuel and replace the fuel filter. He figured the fuel line got clogged in all the dust when they hit that anomaly on I-90, on the way to Ohio. (Their earlier adventures on the Saving Sonny James Road Trip Blog Tour are chronicled. See http://www.sylvre.com for links to read about it!)

So they were late getting to San Diego, but they’ve had nothing but good times there.

They went to Cabrillo Beach.
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And the art museum…
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…because Sonny wanted to. They almost had a little tiff about that. Not because Luki didn’t want to go, but because Sonny was convinced Luki was only saying he’d go because he’d do anything Sonny wanted.

“That’s right, baby,” Luki responded to the accusation, “I’ll do anything you suggest.”

They were in the Hillcrest neighborhood—an “historic gay community” in San Diego, after a self-guided walking tour of the various bars and joints—including the oldest gay club in the neighborhood (or so the write ups say), The Brass Rail. They had decided to forego all of them for the Top of the Park later in the day, and Sonny had been leaning on the fender of the Mustang—parked streetside—until Luki popped up with that response. At that point, Sonny stood up straight and put both hands on his hips. “Well, why the hell do you say yes when you don’t want to go.”

Luki, for once, decided not to give in to Sonny’s hand-on-hip scare tactics. He dropped the volume of his voice until it was but a rough whisper. “You’ll notice I didn’t say I didn’t want to go. I said I’d do what you wanted to do. Three reasons: one, when I do these things with you, I always learn something I’m glad to know; two, you always have this wonderful look on your face—intelligent, interested, stunning, and I like seeing it; and three, you know so much more than me about what makes an object beautiful and meaningful, and I like to stand with you and try to see what you see.”

Sonny rolled his eyes and heaved a very Sonny-like sigh. “How the hell am I supposed to argue with that?” He glared, but it wasn’t long before that turned to a smile and an unsuccessfully repressed giggle. Luki’s kiss shut that off, and it wasn’t long before they were leaning against the Mustang’s fender making out like teenagers. A few catcalls from passersby and they quit, laughing again, and breaking apart to get back in the car and on their way to their destination.

So they went and looked at the art, and all those things Luki described as usually happening with Sonny did indeed happening. While they were there they went through the exhibit on torture tools—the horrifying stuff, not playroom toys—in the Museum of Man. But Sonny couldn’t quite find beauty in what he saw there, and Luki had to go to the men’s room to vomit, so they left. After that, they visited an exhibit of Edward S. Curtis photographs documenting the lives of Native American (Indian) people in the 19th century.


Sonny didn’t say much. Luki held his hand.

They had an early dinner after that, at Top of the Park, overlooking Balboa, the water, and the city. They took advantage of the opportunity to dine outdoors enjoying the warmth of Southern California in fall, as compared to the November chill at home, and watching the changing view. As they sipped coffee after the meal, the sun fell low over the water and began to transform the world’s colors.
Panoramic of the San Diego skyline at surnrise, California.
Sonny seemed distracted by that show, and Luki had an idea. He reached into Sonny’s jeans pocket—not an unpleasant experience for either, though Sonny flinched a bit, taken by surprise. But Luki only took Sonny’s keys.

“Let’s go now, baby. You look at the sunset; I’ll drive you to the beach. I think you need to collect some colors in your head for a tapestry. Am I right?”sunset%20carlsbad%20beach (288x276)

Sonny just smiled and said, “You love me, don’t you?”

After blue twilight, night fell, and Sonny reclaimed the keys and drove them back to the hotel. A long night of sex followed (no details here, but imagination is encouraged) and then sleep. Luki woke up the next morning looking straight into the waking reality of Sonny’s wide, loving eyes, and promptly forgot his dreams.

The next morning, they went to Sea World. Yes, Sea World. They were splashed by whales and serenaded by seals.gao gao panda At the zoo they met the famous flirting and procreating pirate panda, Gao Gao, who has made quite a name for himself.
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Luki bought a key chain with a polished amber stone holding a perfect little mosquito from some millions of years ago.

Sonny said, “Thanks. Beautiful. Why?”

“So you’ll think about the way I buzz kisses in your ear, like this,” Luki demonstrated, “every time you start the car or unlock the door to our home.”

“I think I’m about ready to go there. Our home.”

“Me too, but we can’t. Ms. Sylvre wants us to go to Bent-con.”

“I don’t want to go there.”

“I know, but she’s the author.”

“And she did get us out of that mess in New Zealand.” Sonny added.

“Yes, she did,” Luki agreed. “And she sent us to San Antonio. I really liked, um… some of the stuff we did in San Antonio.”

Sonny smiled. “Here too, right?”

After Sonny nodded, he bluntly changed the subject, only about a ninety degree turn this time. “I want to go to… maybe Macy’s or something. An upscale department store.”

“Okay.”

“I’ll drop you back at the hotel.”

“What?”

“Luki, you heard me, why ask what?”

“Fine.”

“Don’t pout,” husband.

When Sonny came back to the hotel, he passed Luki, who was laid out quite sexy on the bed—though that certainly wasn’t his intent—and went straight into the bathroom and closed the door. When he came out, he had applied mascara and, Luki thought, maybe eyeliner, and his smooth skin was even smoother, and his lips had a shine suspiciously like that which comes from a tube.
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“Am I beautiful?” he asked Luki.

“Of course your beautiful.” Luki felt completely knocked off balance—Sonny had never done anything like this before.

“And?”

“And… I don’t understand. Why?”

“I want to go to Lips—hot drag dinner club. I already made the reservations. But in case you get there and start thinking the ladies in the drag show are sexier than your average weaver, I want to make sure you know that I’m right there to take care of any alternative fantasies needs that might arise.”

“Um…” Luki tried to think of something to say that wouldn’t get him in trouble?

“Let’s go, husband. We’ll be late for our reservations. As much as I love the way you look right now, you’ll have to put on a shirt.”

Luki did as directed, and got spiffed up a bit so the newfound Sonny-in-lipstick would walk proudly on his arm.

As they left the hotel, Sonny stopped and looked at him, and smiled a gorgeous smile. It was admittedly a little more clearly visible with color on the lips, but not more beautiful—Sonny’s smile could not be improved upon in Luki’s opinion. But Sonny said, laughing a little, “You still love me even though you know now I’m a little crazy?”

“Sonny,” Luki said, “sweetie. I’ve always known you’re whacked, and it’s kind of fun finding out all the ways in which that’s true. Of course I still love you.”
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They went to Lips, where the food and show was fabulous. But when they got back to the hotel, Sonny asked, “So which of those drag queens did you like the best?”

Luki, who truthfully had kept his eyes only on Sonny, as usual, responded, “There were Drag Queens?”

Sonny took off his impulsively but artfully applied make-up and took his husband to bed, rewarding him very well for saying the right thing at the right time.

Comment on this post to enter the prize drawing!I’ll award it on 11/18, one month anniversary of Saving Sonny James release.

Brief interrupt of Rhys’s blog: And the winner is… plus a nice Saturday visual

Crissy M wins the copy of Finding Jackie! Sorry, I drew it last night but was too tired to post it. I’ll be in touch, Crissy!

Also, while I’m here: sharing this image, on e of a few created by Monique Lehane at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews to express her vision of Luk and Sonny. She has nice vision!

Monique's Luki and Sonny Three

And now back to you, Rhys and your sweet, sexy stuff. Love the water games! Oh yeah!

Finding Jackie: Luki’s turn to dance, and another way to win!

Hi, I’m Lou Sylvre, and I’m back again talking about Luki Vasquez, Sonny James, and their latest adventure in fiction, Finding Jackie. Yesterday, I started a contest: tell me what kind of shirt Sonny wore to his wedding, and you’re entered to win a copy of Finding Jackie!. Today, the contest continues, and I’m adding a second way to win: comment here, and tell me what Luki gave Sonny as a Wedding present. The info is in the excerpt posted at Dreamspinner, at this link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3812

In yesterday’s post I showed you some stuff about Sonny’s origins. Today, I’m going talk about Luki. In case you werent’ sure, he’s the badass with the gun on the cover. Here’s a close up of his lips, his hands, and his weapon. What else would you want?

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You know Sonny’s marriage proposal I recalled from Delsyn’s Blues in yesterday’s post? It was sweet, characteristic of Sonny, right? Well, Luki’s reply is sweet too, and characteristically badass, since he’s just been shot:

“Shit, Luki, he shot you!”

“Don’t worry, sweetie. It’s just a flesh wound. And… um… yes.”

“Don’t give me lip, Luki.” Sonny had taken some of his always handy silk strips out of his pocket and bound the wound, tight. “Besides, you sound like you’re in a John Wayne movie. Flesh wound or not, it’s bleeding way too much. Does it hurt?”

“Sorry for the lip. Shallow wounds bleed. And hurt. And yes!” The last words came out halfway between a shout and a grunt, in response to the extra pressure Sonny was applying to the wound with stronger-than-usual hands.

Luki’s lips had begun to feel a little thick. He worked them into the shape of words, but he thought he sounded a bit like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. “What did you do when the shooting started?” he asked, then added, “And yes.” He tried to enunciate that last very clearly.

“I did what any brave badass would do. I rolled over behind the wood rack and put that Maryanne on top of me. I figured nobody could shoot me without shooting through her.”

“Huh! Good tinkin… thinking. Yes, Sonny. Yes.” He took a few breaths, closed his eyes to clear them of sweat. “Listen, serious… people tied up… guns, I’m… shot. He opened his eyes wide, forced himself wide awake, needing to make Sonny understand. “We have to call the law—”

Footsteps charged Luki so fast he would have rolled and come up fighting—or tried to—if Sonny, who seemed to be getting stronger every minute, hadn’t held him down. “It’s just Ladd,” he said. Meant to be reassuring, Luki thought, but he caught the distaste that Sonny reserved for Ladd lately.

“Luki.” Ladd was breathing way harder than he should have been.

Luki had started to fade again, but he had to comment. “Gettin’ out o’ sape… shape.”

“Truth. Margie’s cooking. But listen, Luki, wake up a bit. This is important. I’m going to take these people off your hands. You can’t afford to bring the law in here—they’ll have you and Sonny in prison so fast you won’t hear the bars clang until after you’ve seen the light. I’ll take them out of here, call Katie. She’ll help work it out. That’s just a flesh wound—”

“It’s still bad—”

“Yeah, Sonny, but—”

“And he’s got a fever, makes it worse.”

“Good, good.” He must have caught the glare Sonny blazed his way. Even Luki felt he was melting in the heat just by proximity. Ladd back-pedaled a bit. “What I mean is, take him to the hospital, and he can say it was an accident. The fever will make it more believable. Truth, otherwise they might not believe he could be that clumsy. Right, boss?”

“Fuck you, Ladd.” Luki was proud of his clear enunciation.

“In your next life, perhaps. For now, though, I’ll take that as agreement and get started.” He stepped away so fast he kicked debris from the rotting cedar into Luki’s eyes.

“Shit, that hurts,” Luki said. The sting had rolled back the haze a bit. “And yes, Sonny.” He brought his hands to his face to wipe the grit away.

“Not like that,” Sonny said. “Your hands are filthy; they’ll only make it worse.” He brought another pair of long silk strips out of a pocket and gently wiped Luki’s tearing eyes.

Where does he put all those silk strips? He never seems to run out. “You’re like a magician, Sonny. And yes, damn it.”

“Thank you. You definitely have a fever. And why the hell do you keep saying ‘yes’?”

“I do have a fever… wish… cigarette… doesn’t matter,” Luki said. He felt cold now; he’d started to shiver. He felt like he was drifting but sinking fast. Wait! He doesn’t understand! What if I die before I can tell him? Drama queen, Vasquez. Despite his self-scolding, he thrust himself forcefully back into consciousness, latched onto Sonny’s arm so fast and hard Sonny went as wide-eyed as if he was in a scene from The Exorcist. “Yes. Sonny, I will! I’ll marry you.”

Silence. Sweet and warm. Sonny’s strong, beautiful fingers lifted his head away from the log, dropped St. Christopher’s medal over it, then cushioned his skull as he let it fall back. He placed a cool hand on Luki’s forehead, then on his chest, a welcome weight pressing St. Christopher’s silver promise over his heart. Quietly, maybe even tenderly: “You’re going to pass out, Luki.”

Once again he forced consciousness into a narrow focus, this time only as high and wide as Sonny’s eyes. “I am,” he said, “I know. But can we have the wedding in Hawai’i?” His vision had narrowed down to a speck of light by the time he heard Sonny’s answer.

“Yes.”

See? Sweet. And they do of course have that wedding in Hawai’i, you can read all about it in Finding Jackie. As I mentioned yesterday, however, Luki’s pre-wedding talk with his uncle Kaholo can’t be found in the novel. Read it right here! I was able to shimmy up a palm tree and sit in the fronds on top, and record their conversation from my perch. (The firemen had to get me down after dark, but that’s neither here nor there.)

They are sitting on the beach—on their surfboards—soaking wet and letting the breeze and sun dry them off.

Luki says, “I didn’t know you could surf, Uncle.”

“Aw, Mili. This ain’t much. You should have seen me when I was young. Had half the island watching me sometimes.”

“Giant waves? Why do you call me Mili?”

Kaholo  gave Luki a puzzled look. “It’s your name, boy! I think you know that!” It wasn’t nearly as stern as it sounded, and he broke out into his deep, bass laugh at the end. He reached over and actually ruffled Luki’s hair—something many might try and not survive.

Luki actually laughed, too. “Yes, Kaholo, I know that Mililani is my middle name. But most people don’t think of  me as anybody’s “heavenly embrace”—

“I do.”

“And nobody else has ever called me that.”

“Your mama did.”

Luki looked away,  racking his brain. Finally he shook his head and turned to look at Kaholo again. “I don’t remember that.”

“Well,” Kaholo said, pursing his lips. “I suppose she called you Mili, or Mililani, more when your were really small. Before school age. Your dad didn’t like it.”

Luki chewed his lip for a moment, studying is old uncle—the man that had done more to raise the child Luki than any other person, truth told. He asked a question he’d wondered about many times but never asked. Now, in Hawai’i, seeing how Kaholo remembered himself—even surfing like he’d last done it yesterday—he couldn’t make himself not ask. “Why’d you stay, Uncle? After my mom died, why did you stay all those years? You never went home once.”

Kaholo shook his head, dismissing, Luki thought at first. But maybe he was just lost in his own memories. “I just couldn’t make myself leave you, and your dad wouldn’t come to Hawaii even for a minute—his heart never healed after he lost your mom, you know. And he wouldn’t let me bring you here, either. He was afraid I’d lose you, somehow.”

“So you stayed for me?”

“Well, partly. The other part—I stayed for me. Don’t even go off into this guilt thing I can see rising up in you. I stayed with you and your dad because I loved you both, and I wanted to be there. Your dad loved you, Luki, whether you believe it or not, but there wasn’t any… softness, no give in him. A child needs more than a full belly, a bed to sleep in, and a passel of rules and scheduled activities.  Especially after you got cut, I thought you needed me.”

Luki ran his hands through his curls. Now that they were mostly dry, he thought they should be set in something close to order. He stood up to dust off the sand and, not facing his uncle, said, “I’m sorry.”

“For?”

“Being your burden.”

“I told you not to go there Mili, and that’s a lie. You were never a burden. You were, and still are, a gift.”

“Mm.”

After a few minutes, Kaholo laughed again. “Besides, who would have taken you to halau and made sure you danced  on stage wearing your flashy malo.”

Luki smiled, quietly. He remember the drives with Kaholo to Lincoln for his classes and practices at the halau. Sometimes they drove all the way to Omaha for competitions. “I liked dancing,” he said. “But I don’t think I was very good. My kumu was kind of mean.”

“Your kumu grew up with your mama and me, and he wanted to marry her. He never forgave her for marrying a haole. He was mean, but it had nothing to do with your dancing. He also got angry because he wanted to take you to Hawai’i for the Merry Monarchs festival to dance, but your dad said no.”

“Oooh. I could have watched those men.”

Kaholo rolled his eyes. “Well you can come back and watched them now.”

“Good idea! No wait. Sonny will want to watch them, too…”

Finding Jackie: Some bits about Sonny James, Native American groom, and a chance to win!

Answer this question to enter the drawing for a paperback copy of Finding Jackie (if in the US, ebook if you’re in another country).What kind of shirt does Sonny have on at the wedding? Comment below to enter!  (Hint: The answer can be found  in the Dreamspinner catalogue listing–just expand  the excerpt.

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3812)

Hi, I’m Lou Sylvre, author of the Vasquez and James series, including the most recent novel, Finding JackieFindingJackieFINAL. Thank you, readers, for coming by and giving Sonny, Luki, and me a read—I hope you’ll let us know your thoughts and reactions when it’s done. And, thanks Rhys Ford for letting us invade your space!

Before going any further, look to your left at the gorgeous cover Reese Dante made for Finding Jackie, and I’ll follow that with the blurb:

Luki Vasquez and Sonny Bly James finally have their Hawaiian wedding, and it’s perfect, almost. But their three-phase honeymoon is riddled with strife. Luki’s status as a working badass spells discord for the newlyweds. A former informant from Luki’s days with ATFE brings a troubling message (or is it a warning?) from a Mob hit man. When Luki’s sixteen-year-old nephew, Jackie, is lured into capture and torture by a sadistic killer, the honeymoon is well and truly over.

The couple put aside their differences and focus on the grueling hunt, which takes them from leather bars to dusty desert back roads, and calls on Sonny’s deep compassion as well as Luki’s sharpest skills. Their world threatens to fall apart if they fail, but their love may grow stronger than ever if they succeed in finding Jackie—before it’s too late.

Yes, the guys get married early on in the course of Finding Jackie, fulfilling the engagement that started so sweetly with Sonny’s proposal in Delsyn’s Blues. To refresh the memory, here’s how the last little bit of Sonny’s proposal went:

(This takes place in the mustang, which is parked in the “garage” or  “car barn,” where they guys are waiting out a sudden, torrential downpour. The reference to getting crude has to do with sexual innuendo, which should surprise no one.)

(Sonny said,) “Before we get crude, there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you—”

“Ask away. No time like the present.” What the hell has gotten hold of me,  Luki thought.  It’s like I’ve got two modes—smoking and stupid.

“Yes,” Sonny continued, “I’m trying to. Umm… why—”

“Do I keep smoking even though it’s stupid?”

Sonny took an exaggerated breath and blew it out. “No, no, that’s a very good question but—”

“You’re right. I’m quitting, Sonny, for real.”

“Good! But, damn it, that’s not what I was going to ask….” Suddenly wide-eyed, he turned and leaned to get a good look at Luki’s face. “Hey, maybe you really are getting a fever.” He put a hand on Luki’s forehead.

“Maybe. Doesn’t matter.”

“Matters to me.”

“Question?”

“Yes, if you’ll let me ask!”

“Ask away.”

“You are lucky I want to ask this so badly, or I’d be out of here.”

That sounded ominous to Luki. He didn’t know why it should, but he thought a lot more might be riding on that statement than a little half-serious afternoon spat. His head hurt, and he’d started shivering again. Maybe that made it seem more important. Maybe he did have a fever. Whatever.

“Marry me.”

“Pardon?”

“Luki, will you marry me?”

And the wedding in Finding Jackie is equally sweet and funny and emotional. Reading the book you’ll see them on a windy Hawaiian hilltop, dressed both in white and decorated with Sonny’s colors, Sonny’s creations. They’re guided through their vows by Luki’s uncle Kaholo, and attended by many friends. But what you don’t see is what happened before the wedding, when Luki and Sonny each, separately, were subjected to “that” conversation—the one usually full of sage advice on the eve of marriage.

Kaholo, as we would expect, talked to Luki, but I’ll get to that next. This post, shows us what Sonny talked about with Jim Standing Bear, his long ago reservation basketball coach.  I listened in on their talk as they were hanging out at an outdoor bar down the beach from the resort, keeping themselves busy while Luki and Kaholo are securing some rented surfboards and the services of an instructor for Luki. Sonny has a beer but he isn’t drinking it. Jim has coffee, black and boring, as Sonny has been known to call it.

“Sonny,” Jim said. “I wasn’t happy when you left the rez to go live with Melvern once and for all, although Thelma was. She thought it was great.”

Sonny laughed, which is what Sonny often does when confronted with a statement that resembles a catch 22. Finally said, “So… Thelma was glad I was leaving?”

“Sonny, despite the fact that you taught Thelma to be a cheater—”

“I didn’t, Jim. I taught her how one cheats at cards. She’s the one who decided to cheat every single minute of the game.”

“Oh, you don’t do that?” Jim looked incredulous.

“No, as a matter of fact I don’t,” Sonny said. Hand was now on hip, but he was smiling. “Ask Luki. I play the game and every once in while I cheat a little. All in good fun.”

“Anyway,” Jim said, bringing the topic back to Sonny’s history. “Thelma thought if you’d stayed on the rez you would have been lost for good—addicted, in prison, infected with awful things. She saw Melvern and Ida and their home as your hope. And, after some detours, turns out she was right.”

“Yeah, I took some detours all right.”

“Me, I was just pissed you weren’t going to be playing rez ball any more.”

“Oh, c’mon. You had lots of good players on the teams.”

“You were good Sonny. Not the best maybe, but good.”

“You’re a good coach, Jim, that’s all. You care about the people. Not just the game. Admit it.”

“And then,” Jim said, “I was afraid if you left the rez you’d quit dancing. Almost did, huh? But you went back to it, for a while. For Delsyn, I think.”

“You were quite the grass dancer, Sonny. And you really cared about that kid.”

Sonny nodded, lost in memories for the moment. “Yeah,” he said. “Somebody had to. He really pissed me off when he decided to be a fancy dancer.”

Jim shook his head, “I know what you mean—it had to hurt his knees! But he was good at it!”

Sonny smiled. “He was beautiful at it, until he couldn’t hardly walk, much less dance.”

Jim said, “You miss him.”

“I do. But at least now we’ve got some new nephews, Josh and Jackie!”

“Yeah. That Jackie is going to require some extra TLC, I think.”

“Yeah. So what are your words of wisdom?”

“What…?

“I thought you wanted t talk to me about being married.”

“Shit! When I figure it out I’ll let you know. Meanwhile just watch out… huh. Probably I should say that to Luki. You have a lot in common with Thelma.”

*Yes* characters blog tour–the characters answer questions!

Hi! I’m Lou Sylvre, author of the Vasquez and James books including latest release, Yes,  a novella. Although the other Vasquez and James books (all available at Dreamspinner Press) are suspense/thriller romances, Yes is a much more personal type of struggle/romance. So some readers had some questions. Here’s the interview with Luki.

When I caught up with these characters, members of Luki’s little, patchwork family, he’d only received the iron-clad cancer diagnosis a few days prior. I sat and talked with Sonny, Luki’s uncle Kaholo, and Ruthie—his niece-in-law—at Margie’s Cup O’ Gold coffee shop in Port Clifton, Washington. Outside the day was “froggy” as people sometimes say in the region, meaning the fog was thick and the temperature below freezing. It’s a treacherous kind of thing, because the fog freezes to things, like roads. Sonny kept looking at the door, and I knew he was worried about Luki. (Sonny doesn’t trust Luki’s driving even in the best of conditions.) I swallowed some very good raspberry latte (Sonny’s recommendation). Then I asked the first question, my own, and obvious.

Sonny, where’s Luki?

“I thought you already interviewed him.” Sonny’s expression was wide open and sweet, as usual. He’s obviously just curious.

I did. At Elzabeth Noble’s blog. But you seem worried.

“Yeah. Well, he’s just in Port Angeles, taking care of money things. He says it’s just routine, but he didn’t want me to go, and I suspect he’s wanting to make sure everything’s easy for me if… anything happens to him. I suppose I should do the same. I have some resources, and just because I don’t have cancer doesn’t mean I couldn’t….” Sonny was quiet for a while. I drank latte, and nobody else said anything. Finally he spoke up again. “Didn’t you have some questions from readers, or something?”

Sorry, yes I do. First, Angel wants to know if you ever think about taking up dancing again?

“No.” At first I thought that was all he was going to say, but after he asked Margie to bring us all more lattes—on his bill, he’s a sweetheart—he continued. “No, Angel, I won’t be dancing anymore, at least I don’t think so. First, I was a Grass Dancer, and that’s a young man’s dance. I’m not old, but mid-thirties is a ways beyond pushing it. Really I think I probably could still do it, but I’d stand out a bit in the arena. Even historically, if you believe the usual stories about the origin of Grass Dance, it was something the young man did to help create a habitable place for the tribe or band.

I interject, what about switching to Men’s Traditional?

“Well… I could. Actually you know Luki’d make a great traditional dancer. He’s good at looking kind of warlike and serious. I don’t… I really don’t want to. And not only that, but you know, Indians—Native Americans if you prefer—are often pretty conservative. It was not easy being gay on the reservation, which is why I eventually just moved in with my uncle Melvern. One of the reasons anyway. I still went to pow wows, but after Melvern died, and then my little Fancy Dancer Delsyn wasn’t around much, and I had school and then my work… well I just stepped out.  I stay in touch with a few people, but mostly, I’m just happy up here in my little corner Luki….” To my astonishment, Sonny stood up suddenly,  whispered, “I need a minute,” and walked toward the back door, clearly upset. There was nothing I could do but turn my attention to the others at the table.

Kaholo, Angel wants to know if  you ever think about going back to the islands?

Kaholo, who was wearing a loose Hawaiian print shirt, puka shell necklace, and flip-flops despite the weather, leaned back in his chair and laughed. His laugh, I realize, is like Luki’s, and so is his physique, age notwithstanding. His hair is coarse and curly, but short and salt and pepper gray. Of course, his eyes are nothing like Luki’s, dark chocolate brown and liquid. “Oh, Angel,” he says. “Lady I think about the islands all the time, but I never think about going back to stay. I didn’t even go back to visit ‘til these boys got married over there. Since then I do, I visit. I realized I missed my family—and it was too late, mostly! I’ve only got the one sister left.” He shakes his head and somehow it makes me think of a lion. “But when my sister married my best friend, I followed her to Nebraska. Cowboyed, some, worked as a hand. And in no time, we had Luki, and that little boy was enough to fill up anyone’s world. So I stayed. Then my sister died, and Luki—and Peli, too—they needed me, so I stayed some more. Then that shit happened to Luki down at the river, and by god Peli was bent on saving him. But I was afraid that if Peli was all Luki had, if nothing more gentle was around him, it would ruin him. So I stayed. Again. And now,” he shrugs, “I guess it’s a habit. But also there’s Josh, and Jackie, and… well, you get the picture. I think about it, Angel, but I’m not going to leave these people, because I love them.”

Kaholo, Kim has a question. You have been through so much with Luki, so many challenges and hardships and every time you have been a big part of his support base. But in a situation like this, where you are equally affected, who is your support base?

“Hmmm.” Kaholo starts with that and then is silent, stroking his chin as if he thought he could pull out an answer. Slowly, he begins to speak. “Well, I hadn’t thought of it like that. Yes, I’m affected.  I don’t think I have any… well, no that’s not true. Oddly, though they are the young ones, I think Josh and Ruthie, here, and Jackie are there, maybe not ‘for’ me but ‘with’ me.  And Margie, here at the Cup ‘O Gold. Though we don’t know each other well, we’re friendly, and we’re more or less of an age, and we talk. She’s a beautiful lady. Hm.” He purses his lips, thinking again. “And you know what? Luki. He supports me. At least for now. He’s strong.”

Ruthie, Kim also had a question for you. Or rather a couple of related questions: Do you find the challenges that have been going on in Josh’s family life pull the two of you closer together or pull you both farther apart? Because of the nature of the many of the family challenges, they are a family known for their distance from others, have you found this to be something you and Josh had to overcome while falling in love?

Ruthie is such a quiet soul that I was actually surprised she agreed to the interview. Once asked, though, she answered, and she talked on longer than I would have expected. The Appalachian rhythms I hear in Ruthie’s speech are slow and fluid like a deep stream, and they make me wonder if she ever gets angry. “Oh, Kim, I don’t know. Families are always a challenge, aren’t they? And then, I don’t have much family of my own to speak of. Maybe that’s why I don’t mind. Josh and Jackie, their lives have been hard. But they’re good people, maybe better because of the trouble. At least in some ways. And Kaholo has been a godsend—you know he’s not even blood-related, but he treats those brothers like they’re his own grandsons.” When she stops here, a smile spreads over her face so bright and sunny that I catch myself shielding my eyes. She speaks again and it’s clear why she’s happy. “You know, I love Josh so much, and we’re expecting, nothing could be sweeter. But Kaholo has taken me in, and every now and then when I’m feeling down, he gives me a hug. God, that man is the world’s champion hugger. No one could keep from feeling better after he holds you and sings you some old silly Hawaiian song. Him and Jackie, they’re my family, too. They make what me and Josh have even better. I’ve never felt so loved—never been so loved—in all my life. And Sonny, well the moment I looked at him I felt like I’d known him all my life, he’s just easy to be around. Mr. Vasquez… well.” She made a wry face and shrugged. “He’s what you call a bird of a different feather. But he’ll come around. And really, I know deep down that if I ever needed anything, if I was ever in danger, he’d stop at nothing to take care of me. He’s just like that. He’s going to beat this cancer, too. We’re all gonna make sure of it.

Luki came in the door just then, looking comfortable in his dark-blue, tailored, winter-wool suit and overcoat. He wore a hat. Was I surprised! I’m his author, you’d think I’d know if he wore hats, but I’d certainly never seen one. It made him look just a bit like a classic gumshoe from the fifties. “What’s the matter, Ms. Sylvre,” he said. “Never fucking seen a hat before” I decided not to answer, especially because I’d noticed his suit was just a little loose. And he coughed, several times, rather hard. “Where’s Sonny?” he asked, once he’d recovered.

“The head.” That was Kaholo, and I was rather glad he spoke up. Luki looked as though he thought about going back to find him, but he sat down instead.

Luki, while you’re here, I have a question for you.

“We did the interview yesterday!”

I know. Sorry. This is an extra question from Treasure. She wants to know about your coping strategies for the days you have chemo?

He shook his head, his curls—damp from the fog—bouncing a little, giving him an odd, little boy look. “It hasn’t started yet, the  chemo, not for a couple more days. Fuck. I don’t know what the fuck I’ll do to cope. I don’t know what to expect. They told me some things—nausea, dry skin, fatigue, and all that, but that doesn’t really mean anything. The only plans I have are wait and see, and try to keep Sonny from making himself crazy over it. But you know he probably won’t. He’ll be perfect and strong and I’ll… I’ll lean on him, which I do a lot. More than anyone else knows. Maybe more than he knows.

As he finished speaking, Luki got up and walked over to the counter, sat on a stool and sipped at the cup of coffee Margie put in front of him. It looked like he and Margie were indulging in small talk, or maybe gossip. Sonny came back to the table, sat down blindly while watching Luki at the counter. I watched in utter amazement and yes, jealousy, Luki touched a finger to his sweet, thick lips and blew Sonny a kiss. I interrupted the torrid little mini-affair, loudly clearing my throat.

Sonny, Treasure wants to know what your coping strategies are for the days Luki has chemo?

Sonny didn’t answer right away. He gave me a look I can only describe as piercing. “Your jealous, aren’t you, Lou.”

Sonny, watch it. I made you, I can unmake you.

He shook his head, laughed mockingly. “No, Lou. That’s where you’re wrong. An author’s powers are limited. Once you make us characters, we’re here to stay.” I sat, squirming under his glare, and wondered why I never knew about this cruel streak. “It’s not cruelty,” he said as if he’d read my mind. “I just want you to face facts. Now about Treasure’s question, about chemo days. Well, I don’t know. We haven’t started yet—we just got the final diagnosis a few days ago. The first chemo is in— (he stopped, swallowed) in two days. They said I can sit with him. He might fall asleep. I think I might read to him… I don’t know. All I can think of is try to take care of him the best I can. If he’ll let me, you know?

As that answer died on Sonny’s lips, accompanied by hopeful, almost pleading eyes that looked like they had forgotten what they said about my limitations, a tall, slender young man entered the café. He looked around, then honed in on Sonny and then on me, and stepped over to our table.

“Excuse me,” he said. “My name is Sparkle, and I’m… Is this the fictional Cup O’ Gold café in fictional Port Clifton, Washington?”

“Yes it is, and I’m Lou Sylvre,” I said. “Nice to meet you, Sparkle. Allow me to introduce—”

“I’m in a hurry. I just have a question I need you to answer, Lou. Ms. Lou. Ms. Sylvre.”

“Lou’s fine, dear. Sit down. Ask your question.”

 

Well, I am curious, of the many sicknesses one can develop, why cancer? Is there some significance to you as the author, or a more deeper meaning that you’re symbolically tackling?

Luki speaks up, from across the room, “I can answer that Sparkle.” He walks back to the table and pulls a chair up from an unused table next to us, squeezes it in beside and a little behind Sonny, draping his arm across the back of Sonny’s chair. “That’s an interesting name by the way—Sparkle.  But the fact is, I got cancer because I smoked cigarettes non-stop. I’m pretty young to have cancer from smoking, but I recently found out… well, you know there’s a family history. That stuff is all in the book. So Ms. Sylvre—mind you, she and I don’t always see eye to eye, but even I concede she did what was right. She had to write the cancer, because my smoking, especially with my family history, it didn’t give her any choice.”

I was surprised, pleased that Luki supported me, but sad nonetheless, because it was a bitter-tasting recognition. I didn’t want him to have cancer. Not at all. Still, I spoke up. “Thank you Luki. Sparkle, he’s right. The more he smoked, the more I worried as I was writing him. Finally, it seemed inevitable. As far as symbolism, I don’t think I’m being that sophisticated with it. Luki smoked, he got cancer, he and Sonny have no choice now but to grow in order to keep living and loving. That’s what I want them to do.

You may already know this is one stop on a blog tour for me (Lou Sylvre) and the characters, with a contest–you can win an ebook of Yes. Here are the other links to follow.

First, go to my Goodreads blog to find out which links are live, as the blog owners are on various distant shores, and they won’t all go live at the same time.

The remaining links are Anne Barwell’s Drops of Ink Live Journal, Elizabeth Noblle’s Emotion in Motion Website/Blog, and my WordPress blog, Sylvre.com

To win the ebook, simply comment–say whatever you’d like–at each of the blogs in the tour. Your name will then go into the random drawing. Best of luck!  (And thanks.)

Last but not least, giant Thank You Rhys Ford, for letting me pirate your blog ship. 😉