Hi guys, we have Michael Halfhill popping in with his upcoming release Sparkles, we have a great guest post where Michael chats about his life experience & writing, and we have a great excerpt, check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
A life cut short; unsolved robberies plaguing Philadelphia’s Jeweler’s Row; a cryptic message scrawled on a paper napkin; a Romanov prince; a young man held captive in Iran; a terrorist cell bent on revenge; and an opera company due to mount a rarely performed production of Handel’s Alexander’s Feast. What do these have to do with Jan Phillips?
One plunges Jan into a prolonged sadness. One leads him on a race to prevent a nuclear disaster. One offers Jan the promise of renewed love. One leads him to reluctantly wield his power as a Mundus master. One is bent on shattering thousands of lives beyond repair, while one unknowingly holds the key to the mystery that has baffled Philadelphia’s finest. Follow Jan as he untangles this Gordian knot that will alter his life in a way he never thought possible.
(What Ever Happened to Jan Phillips? contains books 1&2)
People have asked me why I write and more to the point how I come to write m/m stories that have strong plot lines that are not strictly in the romance category. I’m sure the era had something to do with it. I was born in West Virginia, just as WWII in Europe was coming to an end. After high school came college at the University of Baltimore and then a stint in the US Army. After building a thirty-seven year career in analytical science with the DuPont Company, I retired in 2001. I began writing essays, short stories and novels in 2002 for the reason is simple after the usual year of idleness that most retirees allow themselves, I became bored, and so I started to write. What began as a distraction has become a passion. Living through two hot wars, and one very long cold war, with all the sorrow and intrigue they brought to the world gave me something to say.
As a single man I’ve loved often, and lost love almost as often as I found it. I’ve traveled quite a lot, in Europe, Asia, and Central America. In short, I’ve been around, but it hasn’t been all romantic rickshaw rides, or sitting at dusk on the steps of Montmartre and watching Paris begin to light up below. I once interviewed a Nicaraguan journalist who was in hiding from the Sandinistas. His fear of being killed was clear, and I felt it. I was in Costa Rica when some people who wished him ill, tried (unsuccessfully) to assassinate the former vice president. I was on Gibraltar when the IRA attempted to attack a police station. The eight terrorists got shot up in front of an orphanage—one of them was a woman. That spreading out of emotions as they occurred is fertile ground for anyone who writes fiction. I couldn’t resist it, and so my Jan Phillips stories came to life. Sparkles is the fourth book in this series.
I’m also asked who among the many characters in my stories do I like most. The answer is Amal. Amal is an Egyptian Arab. Amal is not merely a supporting character. He is Jan’s devoted friend and companion. That’s why I included him in this excerpt.
Thank you for giving the opportunity to discuss my book on your blog today.
The rap at his door startled Jan. He’d been thinking about Stephen the better part of two days. He found the fact that he was drawn to him startling. It’d been a long time since he felt interested in anyone. Jan wasn’t sure if Stephen was the kind of man who would be happy with Jan, and only Jan. Yes, there was sex. That could be had easily enough, he was sure. But would the young Romanov be content with more? Jan checked the clock on his study desk. 11 o’clock. Who could that be at this hour?
“Is it too late? I can come back tomorrow.” Unshaven, unwashed, Stephen stood at Jan’s doorstep.
“Of course not!” Jan said without hesitation. “Come in.”
Once Stephen was in the light, Jan gasped. “Stephen! You look awful! When did you sleep last? More to the point, when was the last time you had a bath?”
“Got anything to drink?” Stephen asked.
“I have hot tea, or warm milk.”
“Under the circumstances, I don’t think you need anything stronger.”
Stephen lifted his arm. “I guess I do smell a little ripe.”
“Ripe enough to make a pie,” Jan said without mirth.
Jan took Stephen’s hand in his. It was the first time they had touched since meeting at the Sinclair party. “Come on upstairs. You take a shower. I’ll get some tea on to brew.”
“Why Mister Phillips,” Stephen slurred, “are you trying to get me naked?”
“As much as I’d love to see you cocked and ready for action, I think getting you clean and refreshed would suit the moment better. Besides, we need to talk. I assume that’s why you’re here.”
“I… I’m not sure why I’m here.”
“Then let’s find out, shall we?”
Jan turned down the bed and waited just outside the guest bathroom door with a mug of hot tea and two aspirin.
Stephen emerged wearing a thick towel around his waist and another draped over his head. Jan looked at him for a long moment.
“You look as if you’re about to perform a ritual sacrifice in some ancient temple.”
“I feel as if I’ve been the one sacrificed.”
“Well rouse yourself—you’re still alive.” Jan handed Stephen the aspirin and tea. “Drink this. You’ll feel better.”
Stephen downed the drug and drink, and then fell back onto the bed. He let the towel fall away from his groin. Jan reached out and carefully replaced it.
“Too obvious?” Stephen asked.
Jan smiled. “Too soon.”
Stephen closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “I didn’t realize I was so tired.”
Pulling the damp towels off, Jan flipped the bed covers over Stephen. He allowed himself a brief glance at Stephen’s soft cock. Impressive, these Slavs.
“Sleep,” Jan soothed as he switched off the light.
“Goodnight…. Jan… and Jan, thanks.”
Jan turned at the door. “For what?”
“For making this easy.”
The following morning
Philadelphia woke to a fiery sun burning through a halo of thin clouds. A remnant of a light fog clung to the ground making Camac Street’s uneven brick paths slippery. This, the weatherman predicted, would soon be replaced with a steep drop in temperature and an early in the season snow, significant accumulations possible. His early morning prayers said and shopping done, Amal changed from his western clothes into a traditional cotton thwab woven with black and silver threads. He had begun preparing a mid morning meal for Jan and the man in the guest room when Jan entered the kitchen.
“Yes, Effendi?” Amal said, turning.
“I’m going out for a walk. I’ll be back in about half and hour. What are you making for us?”
“Quiche with asparagus.”
Amal nodded without further comment. After he heard the front door close, he picked out a bottle of pink Champagne from the wine rack. Putting the wine in the refrigerator, Amal shook his head in disapproval. My master will never see paradise if he keeps drinking this stuff!
* * *
Startled, Amal turned. Stephen stood in the doorway dressed in a long robe of black Thai silk. “Oh, good morning sir. Forgive me. I did not hear you. My master has just gone out for a walk. May I get you some coffee, or tea?”
“Tea, please,” Stephen said, as he sat at the kitchen table. “I found this robe on the bed. I assumed it was for me.”
“Yes sir,” Amal said, “I put it there while you were still sleeping.”
“Forgive me if I’m being rude but, who are you?”
“My name is Amal.”
“Do you live here, Amal?”
“Oh yes. I have been with Mister Phillips for many years.”
Curious, Stephen asked, “Just what do you do for Mister Phillips? I mean, are you a servant?”
Amal placed a china teacup on the table. Filling the cup with green tea he considered the question. “I have never thought about it, sir. It’s true I serve my master, but I am not a servant. He is my master, but I am not a slave. Our relationship is rather formal, yet I am a trusted friend.” Amal looked at Stephen for a moment, then continued. “Pardon me, sir. You look confused.”
Stephen smiled sheepishly. “I suppose I am.”
“My master will be home soon. I have an asparagus quiche in the oven. It is his favorite breakfast.”
“Smells delicious… With mimosas?” Stephen said.
“Yes, sir, with mimosas.”
“Great! I love mimosas in the morning!”
Amal shook his head. Another one!
After building a 37-year career in analytical science with the DuPont Company, Michael retired in 2001. In 2002, after a year of hectic boredom, he produced the first of three novels. What began as a distraction has become a passion. Michael Halfhill was born in West Virginia, just as World War II in Europe was coming to an end. After high school came college at the University of Baltimore and then a stint in the US Army. Michael has traveled widely in the USA, Europe, Central America, and Asia. Michael currently lives in northern Delaware. When he’s not writing, Michael, along with his longtime partner Peter, shows borzoi at local AKC dog shows.