THE PASSION STROLL...
a blog by author Ashavan Doyon
Sheltering for the night in the wood, a worried prince of Zaharoth weighs on the mind of Thommas. He has a quest, and he has made an oath in haste that he cannot break. Perhaps he does not even want to break it. Now he must begin to face the feelings that skitter below the surface in Chapter 9 of the The One That Feels.
If you haven't yet discovered the serial, it's posted mid-month and at the end of month, usually on a Monday. You can find the original blurb or start at chapter one if you haven't yet made the leap to follow the story. In addition to the blog, you can also follow my activities on ARDOR, my newsletter--subscribe and get a chance to win Becoming Rory! (click on the Read More link to view full post)
The night in the primeval wood of the realm was oppressive even with the small fire on which we’d roasted the rabbits that the young prince of Zaharoth had presented me. He’d come to me rather gruffly with a demand that since he had caught the creatures, surely it was my duty to clean them. It only took a glance for me to know that he had no idea how.
I watched as Nem delicately nibbled at his dinner, clearly appalled at the demand that he eat the spitted creature with his hands. He was compensating by trying to take delicate bites, and failing badly. I kept back the urge to laugh. The look on his face, combined bewilderment, disgust and a little thrill at the experience of something new, made him look… I covered a sigh with a quick bite of my own, chewing fiercely with none of Nem’s delicacy.
He was quiet throughout dinner, his fascination and frustration breaking down finally into feverish biting and chewing of his own. He didn’t speak, and his gaze was frequently on the shadows outside the light of the fire.
It's August—a time of frustration and craziness. A time when I admit I am stretched well beyond my limits. This week I have a final galley proof and 2nd edits on two novellas. This has affected my schedule in terms of posting, for which I am sorry, but it won't be permitted to delay the posts of the serial. Today we have Chapter 8. Nem has wrested a promise from Thommas, a promise spoken in the Realm that binds them together on the quest to rescue Jordan's mind and return it to his body in the Real.
If you haven't yet discovered the serial, it's posted mid-month and at the end of month, usually on a Monday. You can find the original blurb or start at chapter one if you haven't yet made the leap to follow the story. In addition to the blog, you can also follow my activities on ARDOR, my newsletter--subscribe and get a chance to win Becoming Rory!
The grumbling started quickly. Not that this surprised me.
“Why can’t we just take the road?” asked Nem, for what seemed like the hundredth time.
He’d started before we’d even exited the hospital. I couldn’t really blame him. He was a prince, of sorts, and the road offered comforts and familiarity that trudging through the great wood of his realm did not.
I turned and looked at him. “You can go,” I said. “I am content to travel alone.”
His eyes were mercurial, gray that burned with a silver fire when he was irritated, as he was now. “Trying to get out of our bargain?” he spat.
I shook my head and glanced around, choosing a rather large stone as a seat. As I pulled myself up onto it and let my legs dangle, I looked at the young prince of Zaharoth. “I honor my bargains, Nem,” I said, meeting the gray, swirling gaze. “But the bargain was to accompany me. That does not mean dictating the route. Jordan will be difficult enough to find without wasting time by going around the wood.”
Work on the super secret work in progress continues. That had impacted the rest of my posting pretty much everywhere, but I refuse to get behind in posting my serial for readers.
So today we have Chapter 7. When I first started writing this story, I didn't know it was going to be fantasy. I had imagined some tangled web of emotional struggle between Brian and Thommas and Jordan. When Thommas stepped into Jordan's mind in Chapter 4, I thought for sure, that was the story, Thommas searching Jordan's mind.
Then Janice demanded something, and I learned of Om, and of the Realm and the story took a rather different turn than I expected. But still, I thought this was Brian's story as well as that of Thommas.
I was wrong. Soon I would learn the story belonged to the Prince of Zaharoth.
Feeling lost? Need to start at the beginning? Check The One That Feels out from Chapter 1!
By the time we returned to the hospital room, Mrs. Blackmun had grown more than a little pale. There was no easy route through the realm of Zaharoth back to the real, and she had come to understand how dangerous a little knowledge could be, and also how much she appreciated the real.
Her husband grunted when we returned, but Brian looked at her face for a few moments, examining the shock that was plainly written there. “You showed her, then,” he said.
I met his gaze. “I had little choice.”
Brian sighed and nodded, then glanced back at the half-dead sleeping form of his lover. His voice was pained and soft, and it came out as though he had to push to get the words out. “He isn’t any better,” he choked out.
“I didn’t expect he would be,” I said, setting a hand on Brian’s shoulder, “but there was always the hope he might find his way back to you on his own.”
This is where the fantasy starts to get real. Thommas has entered the realm with Janice to show her the shadow of the world that her son Jordan sees, taking her to see her son face to face as he exists in the realm: a child of Om. This chapter also brings the introduction of the Prince of Zaharoth.
I know the story takes some time to get rolling; this is where the shit starts to really hit the fan.
Behind? Check out chapter one of The One That Feels. Confused? Want to know more about one of the characters? Let me know in the comments! (Don't forget to click on the "Read More" link to read the whole chapter)
Janice clutched my hand tightly and I heard her begin to form words several times, but each time she thought better of it and simply followed me through the dull gray existence that made up the realm in this place.
When we finally walked into Jordan’s room, I heard a little gasp from her as she pulled her hand away from mine, but I did not let her go. I pulled her into the room and then I closed the door and upon its surface I drew wards of power. And only then did I allow her to slip her hand away.
The only light within came from the radiance of her skin, that infusion of life and power that I had made to sustain and protect her in this place, for few in the world of the living have such a love of life, not now, not in the modern age. But in that glow she saw something very different than the mortal world, for Jordan lay on a great bed of pillows, silk, and over him there was no roof, but only the shade of an immense tree whose branches rose above the room in a great canopy. And the walls, the walls were stone and etched, so carefully etched with runes like those I had scribed upon the door.
This month chewed me up and spit me out, but I was determined to get this piece out. It's easy to miss early on how The One That Feels is also a fantasy story, and this chapter really makes the fantasy element plain even more than Thommas's journey into Jordan's mind from Chapter 4.
After speaking with Jordan's mind and determining that Jordan is alive, barely, Thommas finds himself face to face with a determined mother, who wants to know the truth about her son.
New to the story? Pick it up from the beginning. New chapters are posted in the middle and at the end of each month.
*for the record, I've had someone ask and I'm sure I did say this already, but this story is complete and I intend to continue posting until all chapters have been posted.
I woke to Brian’s anxious eyes and the harsh odor of smelling salts. I turned to Brian, ignoring the hovering nurse as I pulled myself up on my elbows. “The ties are tenuous, Bri.”
“You can bring him back…”
“Perhaps,” I said, catching the eyes of the nurse as she glared at me and grasped my wrist to check my pulse. I sighed and looked back at Brian. “He is very broken, Bri. You might want to consider—”
“No,” said Brian, shaking his head vigorously. “I didn’t bring you here just for you to let him go.”
“But you gave me the authority.”
I've been behind on a lot of things over the past few weeks, and I'm sorry. I've tried to keep folks up to date on social media, but the gist is two things. First, I spent four full weeks, including my one week vacation, sick. Then Orlando happened, and with it the realization that I'd lost a colleague in the shooting. I'm pretty good at keeping distance between horrible events, it's part of my coping mechanism. But knowing someone who died that night has made it really hard for me to function. I'm frozen between grief and fear and it makes being creative very hard.
So I gave myself the week to try to process, as best I could. Now I'm full catch up mode. Part of that is the serial. While this episode is late, I want to be clear that the end of the month post will still be happening on schedule (so there will be a shorter wait for chapter 5!)
Here it is, chapter 4 of The One That Feels. I'll be posting chapters twice monthly, once in the middle of the month and once at the end. (note, only the first three paragraphs appear in blog view, you need to click "Read More" at the bottom right for the full text of the chapter)
Chapter 1 can be found in an earlier entry if you have not yet started the story, and there is also a prelude to The One That Feels in the April 2016 issue of ARDOR. I also encourage you to sign up for the email version of the newsletter.
The world was a featureless plain, pure black below with a sky of dusky gray above. So it was going to be like this. Had I known Jordan better, I would have had a better idea of which way to go. Instead, I studied each direction briefly, but the defenses of a drug addict were powerful things, and this featureless plain… I had to think that I knew what it represented. I just couldn’t focus. I felt so week, muddled. It was the drugs. The ones that had tortured him and the ones that they had pumped into him. I had absorbed too much of the toxins within his body to be completely rid of them, and then given of my own strength to make his body well.
What remained of his mind, that part that was tied to his body in the real, was laid out in the blank landscape. It couldn’t all be gone. I had to hope it wasn’t all gone, for if he had truly fled completely leaving only this, there would be no bringing him back. Lacking any waypoints, I picked a direction and walked, thankful for the fact that at least the emptiness upon which I walked was acting like solid ground, at least for the moment.
Brian loved this boy. I needed the reminder. There was very little else about Jordan for me to like. He was young, and beautiful, and stupid. No, that wasn’t fair. I just liked to think of him as stupid, because I resented losing Brian. He was hurt. He hadn’t started on drugs out of stupidity. He had done it because he was hurt. I had my suspicions as to why, but if I knew for certain I might fathom why he’d risk the one stability in his life, Brian, and overdose. Brian had said it was an accident, but Jordan had been a druggie for a long time, far longer than the five years they’d been together. What had Jordan seen? What had driven him to the brink of loss? Why would he give up Brian, who had long since committed to the relationship, to being with Jordan no matter what. They had dealt with scares before. Did Jordan really hate himself that much?
As those who follow me on social media are no doubt aware, I've been sick all holiday weekend. But I've been running late releasing these chapters, and I didn't want to be late again. So here it is, chapter 3 of The One That Feels. I'll be posting chapters twice monthly, once in the middle of the month and once at the end. (note, only the first three paragraphs appear in blog view, you need to click "Read More" at the bottom right for the full text of the chapter)
Chapter 1 can be found in an earlier entry if you have not yet started the story, and there is also a prelude to The One That Feels in the April 2016 issue of ARDOR.
Exhaustion rolled over me in waves as the drive neared completion. I’d driven all night and once we had reached the cabin, well, there was very little sleep. Continuing so immediately on to another lengthy drive had stressed my already low reserves. Also, I had this gorgeous man with puppy dog eyes staring at me the whole drive, and it was all I could do to keep from looking into those eyes and sinking into melancholy—I was going to lose him, probably forever this time, and I knew it. I think there might have been some relief there too, but I couldn’t be sure. I was very conflicted as it was.
I didn’t ask about Jordan’s parents, or about what Jordan had taken. I also stayed far away from questions about why Jordan still felt the need to fill his body with narcotics. Brian would get to those details when he was ready. Besides, for what he was asking me to do it scarcely mattered. Underneath the coma induced quiet, there would be something else. Something modern doctors couldn’t or wouldn’t sort out. Something that, worse, they would not even acknowledge.
The hospital campus was large and filled with modern looking glass buildings and construction, never ending construction, that made finding a parking space an exercise in frustration. Never-the-less, I found a spot and walked as calmly as I could into the building. It struck me just then that it would have been easier to do this in a suit, not that I kept suits at the cabin. Confidence didn’t come from clothes, that just prompted others to react appropriately. But the clothes would have helped, and… well, this was going to be difficult enough.
So this was meant to be posted Monday, and is a few days late courtesy of whatever stomach bug has had my husband puking his guts out this week. My apologies. Without further ado, Chapter 2 of The One That Feels. I'll be posting chapters twice monthly, once in the middle of the month and once at the end. (note, only the first three paragraphs appear in blog view, you need to click "Read More" at the bottom right for the full text of the chapter)
Chapter 1 can be found in an earlier entry, and there is a prelude to the story in the April 2016 issue of ARDOR.
When I woke it was to the face of an angel nuzzled close against my chest and the touch of his naked body against mine. The warmth of his breath electrified me and I pulled him close to kiss him on the top of his full head of short, wavy, chestnut-brown hair. I wrapped my arms around him briefly and tried to forget that he had given this life up. I let him give this life up. Extricating myself from his embrace, I maneuvered myself out of the bed. I stood there for a few moments just to look at him.
Brian had lost his boxers in the night… and I had lost my war against his flesh. But I had known I would lose it as soon as I drove him here. I shook my head as I gazed down at him. Heavenly, still. I could spend a million nights in those arms and never tire of it. We were meant to be. I had always known it. It didn't make up for the guilt of enabling him to cheat. Lessened it, maybe.
I went into the bathroom and showered, washing the remnants of our exertions from my body. When I returned after my shower, I found him still soundly asleep, and I quietly dressed. I had no wish to disturb him, to disturb my fantasy of us being back together. That was easier than the thought that I had made his faithlessness possible, and not for the first time. A part of me wished I could just stand by the bed and look at him all day, but then… I didn’t need to. I had never forgotten what he looked like. That body, all of it, had haunted my dreams and nightmares ever since he had left me. The memories should be enough. Did I need to ruin someone else in the way Brian had ruined me?
It's been a little while coming, but it's finally here, Chapter 1 of The One That Feels. I'll be posting chapters twice monthly, once in the middle of the month and once at the end. (note, only the first three paragraphs appear in blog view, you need to click "Read More" at the bottom right for the full text of the chapter)
If you haven't read it yet, I encourage you to check out the short prelude to the story "When Love is Gone" in April's issue of ARDOR.
The club was quiet. Not in the sense of noise, for the beat of the latest dance tunes echoed through the club in a throbbing beat I could feel in my bones, but in the sense that it was early yet, and the echo was bereft of the usual din of people trying desperately to be heard over the noise. I watched for a while as the club slowly filled. A waiter, his shirt deeply open to show his chest, weaved through the burgeoning crowd, his denim cut-offs barely constraining what was clearly a significant endowment, drink tray held alternately by his shoulder and high over-head.
The waiter was hot and moved in a pulse with the dance beat, gliding and dancing and grinding as he held the tray and weaved through the crowd. His butt was nicely rounded and familiar, and I watched it with the barest hint of a smile as he slipped through the crowd, twisting every so often in a way that displayed his abs through the gap in his open shirt. A glass filled with bills reflected the effect his body was having on those watching as he took orders and made his way to the bar.
Shortly he returned in my direction with a short Stoli and a Diet Coke and winked. I smiled at him and held up my glass as I saluted him with a brief nod and downed the soda. I had been wrong. He only looked twenty something… he hadn’t aged a day. He chuckled slightly and then sidled past a couple of twinks, letting the bare skin of his chest rub against their skin tight shirts as he slid by. He’d probably end up in bed with one of those two tonight. I sighed. I had had my chance long ago and squandered it.
I promised to offer free reads in this space, and I'm going to offer up a favorite story. This one never found a home with publishers, but remains a story that I'm proud of. I'll talk a lot about the characters in later posts, and more, I'm sure, about why I am offering this one. But for now, we'll start with a blurb and a cover.
The One That Feels
Thommas Ashforthe should never have met his ex Brian at the club. Never able to refuse Brian’s pleas, Thommas enters the Realm to seek out the lost spirit of Brian’s dying boyfriend Jordan. The price of travel in that place of magic is steep and oaths spoken in the Realm cannot be broken. With time running out before Jordan’s body dies in the world of the Real, Thommas rushes through the Realm on a hopeless quest.
Nem is a prince of Zaharoth, and Thommas represents a hope of escape from the ruthless authority of his father. But when Nem binds Thommas with an oath as a price of passage through the forests of his homeland, can he dare to hope that the stranger from the Real will be truly bound by it?
Writer of the mysterious, fantastic, and the romantic. Sometimes sappy. Often angsty. Always searching for the sexy. Stories about men who love men.