Bomber’s Moon by Paul Alan Fahey è la prima novella della serie storica Lovers and Liars. L’autore è stato così gentile da offrire una copia gratuita ai lettori del mio blog 🙂 Se volete partecipare all’estrazione di una copia di Bomber’s Moon, lasciate un commento a questo post e l’autore estrarrà a sorte il vincitore!
Thank you, Paul!
During the Blitz, LESLIE ATWATER sets out to discover the truth about his artist lover’s death. His investigation takes him to a desolate lighthouse under siege from enemy aircraft where he confronts a group of Nazi spies and learns that following your heart can indeed be hazardous to your health.
The Country Cousin
It was a lovely sunny day and while Caroline poured tea from a silver service, Leslie enjoyed the view through the French doors: a lush country garden with a small gazebo at the center. Leslie had made the decision to get away from the city and spend a day with Edward’s somewhat distant cousin, Caroline. Now, sitting in her living room in her spacious cottage, he felt the tension of the past few weeks and months drain away. Was it the fact he was far-flung from the horror of the Blitz, or just the lulling sense of being in the country surrounded by nature? Whatever it was, he decided to go with the mood and embrace it. Completely.
He and Edward had visited Caroline many times before the war, and she became their close confidant and great friend. It didn’t hurt that she was delightful to be around, quick witted and sophisticated. There was never a dull moment with Caroline.
Leslie was feeling he could curl up right there in comfort and peacefully sit out the war when he heard Caroline talking. He wondered how long he’d been soaking up the atmosphere, oblivious to anything other than the beautiful silence.
“Sorry, I was daydreaming, love.”
“Right. I’ve been talking since I picked you up at the station and you’ve barely said a word, Leslie. Other than that claptrap about living in the country sans the war.” Caroline sported the current hair fashion, parted in the middle with long wavy curls; she reached up and poked an errant strand behind an ear while she spoke. With her creamy complexion and sultry, dramatic looks, Leslie thought she was a dead ringer for Margaret Lockwood, one his favorite film stars.
He glanced down at his hands and saw they were shaking. “You’d hardly know there was a war on out here in the country.”
She gave him his tea and though he grabbed the saucer with both hands, he still managed to spill some on the table. He rubbed the wet spot with his napkin. Caroline didn’t seem to notice. She just kept jabbering away about evacuees from the city.
“What?” he said.
“It’s a Duncan Fife.”
“The table, silly. I thought you were polishing it.”
She noticed. “I wasn’t.”
“Hmm.” She flashed a quizzical look that quickly turned to a dazzling smile and offered him a plate of biscuits. “Take two. You look like you need them. The baker went all out and I used up most of my rations. Don’t let it be for nothing.”
He refused and said he’d eaten on the train.
One of her eyebrows flew up, and he knew she knew he was lying.
He took one and lit it, then inhaled deeply. “What were we talking about?”
“We were talking about the joys of country living,” she said, “but I must tell you, we do feel it. The war, I mean. Not the devastation and loss you see every day in the city, but it’s here nonetheless, even embedded in the air we breathe. We all experience the effects of war at the grocers, the butchers, even the local dress shops. Can’t find a decent frock…”
“Now that is a tragedy.”
“Behave! And what about the daily influx of people? Londoners are leaving the city in waves, and ending up out here. We’ve got more evacuated children to deal with than the Pied Piper.” She paused apparently to think. “You don’t know one, do you, Les?”
“A Pied Piper, silly.”
She laughed. “I knew I could get a rise out of you.” She got up from the sofa and went over and perched on the arm of his chair. She gave him a light hug about the shoulders. “I’m worried.”
“We all are,” he said.
“No, I mean about you, honey.”
“This life you lead in London, especially now. I can see it’s taken a toll. How anyone can-“
“I’m fine, Caroline. Fine.”
Caroline covered his hand with hers in an attempt to still a tremor. “You’re not. So spill.” Then she went back to the sofa, sat down and crossed her legs. “I’m waiting.”
Buying time, Leslie sipped his tea. “Hmmm. Good this.”
“All right. All right. I see Edward.”
“Grief does that,” she said.
“My brother would agree. He said as much the other day in confession.”
“What have you got to confess, love? Surely anyone living through this hell and losing a loved one would act the same. It’s perfectly natural.”
Gaining a bit of courage, Leslie continued. “I talk to him, too.”
“Uh—huh. Again perfectly natural.”
“And he talks back.”
“Next time you bring him to tea.”
He sighed heavily. “You don’t understand.”
“Sorry, Les, I meant well,” then, “Maybe you are just a bit round the bend.”
“Robert said the same.”
“Listen, with what you’re going through, have been through in the past, losing both your parents, you and Robert in that ghastly orphanage—”
“Well, at least we were together.”
“Yes,” she said, “I’ll give you that. But anyone would feel the same, especially when you finally meet someone like Edward, who comes along like a prince in a fairy story and—”
“You know what I mean,” she said. “I’m the last person to disapprove of your relationship with Edward.”
Leslie knew that was true. Caroline and Robert were aces, plain and simple. Far and away two of the most accepting people on earth.
“This is just another rough patch,” she said. “You’ll make it through. It’s bound to get better,” and then wistfully, “won’t it?”
Leslie was doing his best to keep his emotions in check, but he was almost in tears and he could tell she sensed it. “I’ve been looking at his sketches lately.”
“And you feel closer to him then, right?”
He nodded his head.
“Well, then, that explains it,” she said. “Is this when you think you see him?”
“But not on the bus or at night when you’re watching over…what do you call those poor souls?”
“My flock,” he said. “No, not at any of those times.
“Right,” Caroline said. “Well that’s it. There’s your answer.”
“What’s the answer?”
“You only see Edward when you’re at home going over his sketches.” Caroline reached across the coffee table and took his hand in hers. She gripped it tightly. “It’s the sketches, love. They’re the connection that sparks those memories.”
“Memories, yes, maybe.” Leslie had the impression Caroline truly believed this theory, but he wasn’t sure. Something else was going on. He could sense it, feel it. It couldn’t all be his imagination. It’s so real. “You may be right,” he finally said, in an attempt to mollify her and put paid to this conversation about Edward that was deeply troubling. He reached for a biscuit and swirled it around in his tea. “Maybe I’ll have one of those cream filled things as well.”
“That’s my boy. And you’ll have two of each. No arguments.”
* * * *
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PAUL ALAN FAHEY writes for JMS Books. He is the author of the Lovers and Liars gay wartime romantic suspense series, and the editor of the 2013 Rainbow Award-winning anthology, The Other Man: 21 Writers Speak Candidly About Sex, Love, Infidelity, &Moving On. His first LGBT novella, The View From 16 Podwale Street, published by JMS Books, won a 2012 Rainbow Award. Over the years, Paul’s writing has appeared in numerous literary journals such as Byline, Palo Alto Review, Long Story Short, African American Review, The MacGuffin, Thema, Gertrude, Kaleidoscope, and in a variety of fiction and nonfiction anthologies from Carry the Light, Cup of Comfort, My Mom’s My Hero, to Writing on Walls, and Somewhere in Crime. He lives on the California Central Coast with his husband, Robert Franks, and a gaggle of shelties.