Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

a harrowing journey of love - Paris, Adrift (Juliana #3) by Vanda

18++ "An engrossing, soulful, deliciously seductive heart-grabber; it was hard to put down! I’ve been captivated by this enthralling historical storyline with its enchanting and adorable characters." Stephanie, Goodreads


Published: May 9th, 2018

She wanted a safe harbor for their love. But rough waters could destroy any hope of starting over…

Paris-bound, 1955. Alice “Al” Huffman can’t wait to reach the City of Light. As soon as their ship arrives, Juliana’s singing career will get the spotlight it deserves and the two women will finally bring their relationship out of the shadows. Or so Al thinks.

Before the SS United States hits land, a stranger approaches Al with a Broadway contract for Juliana. But the offer comes with a threat that can’t be ignored. And unless Al can find a way out, Juliana’s comeback could come crashing down before it even begins…

As she hides the awful truth from Juliana, Al searches for an answer before another obstacle destroys their last chance for happiness…

Paris, Adrift, 1955 is Book 3 in a breathtaking LGBT historical romance series. If you like pulse-pounding suspense, characters who tug at your heartstrings, and true-to-life portrayals of 1950s Paris, then you’ll love award-winning writer Vanda’s stunning series of novels.

Buy Paris, Adrift and set sail on a harrowing journey of love today!


Chapter 2

“I can’t do this. I can’t. I can’t.” I threw down four of my hats and three single mismatched gloves.
“What’s the matter?” Juliana asked, stepping into the bedroom.
“Look at you. You’re dressed and beautiful. It was a piece of cake for you, but me? Look at me.” I was still only in my bra and girdle. One stocking was hooked, while the other wilted around my ankle. I looked down at the mass of clothes I had spread over the two beds, the floor, and the vanity. “What’s supposed to go with what? Do I have to do this every day?”
“Most nights, dinner will be formal. A cruise ship is a pretty formal place. I’ll help you.” She took off her gloves, dropped them on the vanity, and sorted through the mass of gowns that I’d thrown all over the place; she hung most of them in my trunk. Our trunks stood five feet tall and were pressed against the wall; they opened outward like closets. She pulled a gown from its hanger and gathered up a hat and a pair of gloves. Magically, every item matched the way it was supposed to. “I don’t understand why this has you all upset,” she said. “You’ve been to formal dinners before.”
“Yes. And Max always told me which one dress went with which one hat and one pair of gloves. I’ve never had to deal with this many dresses all at the same time, along with all these gloves and hats. And shoes! I forgot shoes.” I ran to the trunk, yanked open a few of the bottom drawers, and threw shoes into the middle of the room. “Which shoes? Which ones, Jule? I can’t figure it out. There’s something wrong with me.” I plopped onto the bed with a thud.
She laughed. “There’s nothing wrong with you. Here, put your gown on; I’ll lay your gloves and your hat on the vanity, so you can find them. These shoes will go perfectly with this outfit. Lavender is a good color for you. You’ll look lovely. But hurry. Scott will be here soon.”
“Let’s open our present from Shirl and Mercy,” I said, pulling a slip over my head.
“I don’t think there’s time. Scott will be here in a minute.”
“So? He’ll wait while we open it.” I hooked up my second stocking.
“I have a feeling it’s something we wouldn’t want to open in front of Scott.”
“No kidding?” I pulled my dress over my head and stepped into my shoes. “Then we definitely have to open it now.”
“I don’t know, Al.”
“Oh, come on. How can you stand it?” I ran into the other room to get it.
“No. Let me,” she said, following me into the other room. She picked up the package.
I sat beside her on the couch. “Do you know what it is?”
“I have a pretty good idea.”
She slipped off the ribbon and pushed a fingernail under the seal of the wrapping paper. I noticed that she’d let her nails grow long. That seemed strange since we were going to have lots of time together. Oh well, she’d file them later that night. Inside the box, the gift was covered with white tissue paper. Juliana turned away from me, looked in the box, and closed it again. “Yes. I was right. Stand up so I can see how you look.”
“What is it?”
“Not something you’d be interested in.”
“How do you know? Tell me what it is.”
“A dildo. All right?”
“You mean one of those, uh, uh. . .” I made a gesture depicting a, well, you know, with my hand.
“What’d they give us that for?”
“What do you think?”
“Yeah, but we never. . .”
There was a knock at the door.
“That’s Scott. Answer the door. I’ll put this away.”
“Can I see it?”
“Not now.” She walked into the bedroom.
“Have you ever. . .?”
“Are you going to leave Scott standing in the hallway? That’s rude.”
I opened the door.
* * *
The dining room was quietly opulent with white columns and a two-story vaulted ceiling. The floor was a glistening polished black. Each table had three red roses in the center, along with highly polished silverware and folded linen napkins with the imprint of the ship’s logo. A huge sculpture of four women who looked like they might be goddesses extended toward the high ceiling. I’d heard that the art work and the furnishings had all been designed by two women. Women! The thought made me proud. The orchestra in the balcony played softly in the background.
Our waiter guided us toward a table, but before we reached it, a few people hurried over to Juliana. “Oh, Juliana,” one chubby woman in a pink gown that showed too much cleavage said. “When I heard you were going to be on this ship, I thought I’d perish, just perish. I told my husband, Oscar—oh well, you don’t want to hear about him. Will you be singing on the ship?”
“No, I’m a passenger like everyone else, and right now I’m a hungry passenger, so if you’ll excuse me. . .”
I tried to get between Juliana and the woman, but the woman’s elbow somehow made its way to my stomach. “I must have your autograph,” she oozed.
“Certainly,” Juliana said. “Do you have something you want me to write on?”
“Of course,” the woman giggled. “You’d need that, wouldn’t you? Can’t write on the air. But I don’t seem to have . . . I left my purse back at the table with Oscar.” She flapped her arms around. “Oh, there must be something, something . . . Yes!” She whisked a folded linen napkin from one of the tables. “This.”
“Oh, uh, well, mightn’t someone need that?” Juliana asked.
“Oh, poo, they can get another. When do I get a chance to have the real Juliana give me her autograph? Won’t you, please?” She held the napkin toward Juliana.
“A pen?”
“Here you go,” Scott said, taking one from his inside pocket. What a terrific idea inside pockets were.
Juliana quickly scribbled her name across the napkin, trying to stay calm when I knew she would’ve rather bopped the woman.
“I loved you at the Latin Quarter two years ago,” the woman said, taking back the napkin.
“Thank you.”
“And so did Oscar.” She flexed her eyebrows up and down. “If you know what I mean. You gave us a such a nice night that night.”
“Glad I could be of help,” Juliana said. Scott took Juliana’s arm and moved her away from the bottleneck of people who were beginning to gather.
We had almost made it to our table when the captain of the ship appeared. “Miss Juliana,” he said, standing at attention. “I’m Commodore Jonathan Black.” He was a slender man, not too tall, with gray hair. His uniform was an impossibly spotless white. “I wonder if you would do me the honor of joining me at my table tonight.”
“Well, that’d be lovely,” Juliana said, “but I’m here with . . .” She turned toward us.
“Sir,” Commodore Black said, eye to eye with Scott. “Would you mind terribly if I borrowed Miss Juliana for a mere hour or two?”
“Uh, me?” Scott said, shrugging. “Sure. Why not?”
“Thank you, sir.” He nodded at Scott and me and put out his arm for Juliana to take. “I saw you, my dear, at the Copa last year and I was whisked away.” Then he whisked Juliana away.
“Why’d he ask you?” I said to Scott as we were about to take seats at our assigned table.
“Because I’m a man. Sit down. The waiter’s waiting.”
“But I hired you.” I said as the waiter pulled out my chair for me. “Doesn’t that make me your boss and Juliana’s, too? Shouldn’t I be deciding these things? She needs rest.”
Scott shrugged his shoulders as he sat and opened his menu. “Technically my boss is Richard. Juliana’s too. He’s the one who signs the checks.”
“But you know it’s me who does the work.”
“But Captain Black doesn’t know that.” He studied his menu.
“So, he assumed you, of course, were in charge.”
“Of course.”
“That makes me livid.”
“Al, forget it. It’s not a big deal.”
“Not to you, it isn’t. You’re a man, but . . .”
“Calm down. You’re going to burst something. Look at this delicious menu. It’s just the way things are. You can’t change it. Be glad you’re on this beautiful ship with this wonderful air-conditioning and not sweating in New York.”
The waiter still stood at our table, waiting—I guess waiting for us to take a breath. He turned toward Scott. “Would the lady and gentleman care for an aperitif?”
“You want something, Al?”
“Not now.”
“No thanks,” Scott said to the waiter. “We’re going to look over your entrèes.”
“Very well, sir.” He nodded his head and left us.
“The smoked Irish sturgeon might be a nice appetizer,” Scott said. “What’s important is that Juliana is getting noticed. Isn’t that why you put this whole thing together? To rebuild Juliana’s confidence and career?”
“Yes,” I sighed, taking off my gloves. “You’re right. That’s what’s important.” I opened my menu. “What do you think about the braised smoked ox tongue?”
“It makes me want to be sick,” Scott said.
“Well, that’s not good.”
“No. I’ll stick with something I know like the salmon steak.”
I watched Juliana flirting with all the men at the captain’s table. I worried she wouldn’t pay enough attention to the women, but they were oohing, aahing, and giggling over her, so I figured she had the situation under control.
“Is that Cary Grant sitting at the end of the captain’s table?” I asked.
Scott turned in his chair to look. “I think so.”
* * *
The Meyer Davis Orchestra played “Autumn Leaves” as we entered the ballroom with its crystal chandeliers glistening down from the ceiling like raindrops. Women in a bouquet of reds, yellows, greens, and blues floated across the floor on the arms of men in black tuxedos. We’d left Juliana in the dining room still talking to the entranced Captain Black at his table. Cary Grant had left.
“Do you think she’ll sleep with him?” I whispered to Scott.
“Who? Cary Grant?”
“No. From what I hear, he’s one of the few who wouldn’t be interested. I meant the captain.”
“No. Stop thinking like that. She’s married. Dance with me.” He scooped me up in his arms and foxtrotted me out to the center of the crowded dance floor.
“How are you, Scott?”
“Did I step on your toe?”
“Then why are you asking me that?”
“I worry about you.”
“Please, don’t. I’m fine.”
“Was it wrong of me to take you away from Max?”
“Of course, it was.” He smiled as he swung me around, stopping in mid-swing. “Did you hear that? That trill the pianist just played.” He sighed and started dancing again.
A dark-haired man in a tuxedo came up behind Scott and tapped him on the shoulder. “May I?” he asked.
Scott said, “Sure.” And backed away.
“But Scott, I should stay with you.”
“Have fun.” He stepped off the dance floor and my eyes followed him over to the bar. The man clasped me so tightly to his chest, I could hardly breathe. “Hello, I’m Dan Schuyler,” he said.
“Nice to meet you. Could we dance over that way? I want to keep an eye on my friend. He doesn’t know anyone here and . . . Oh, I’m being rude. My name is—”
“I know who are, Miss Huffman.”
“You do?”
“Yes. That’s why I cut in. You’re close to Juliana.”
A chill ran up the center of my spine. “I—don’t think I know what you mean.”
“Can we stop dancing a minute before I step on you? My wife says I have three left feet. I have a business proposition to make.”
“A business proposition, Mr. Schuyler?” He walked me over to the row of red, barrel-backed chairs situated around small round tables that lined the perimeter of the ballroom. “Schuyler? Schuyler?” I said, “Why does that name sound familiar?”
“Well, you may have heard of me in connection with The Miller’s Daughter. I co-produced that show with Martin Bilberbank.”
“You were with Martin Bilberbank? I’ve heard good things about him, but I’ve never met him. I wouldn’t remember you from that show, though, because it was before my time. I wasn’t in the business then.”
“No matter. I was merely in the background, co-producing.”
“But I did hear some talk about that show. Old-timer Broadway scuttlebutt. It was a hit and then something happened, I believe, that almost closed it. I’m not sure what. I’m afraid I don’t stay on top of Broadway gossip. I have enough to do keeping track of the supper clubs and cabarets.”
“Well, it’s best not to pay too much attention to rumors anyway. They can be so hurtful. Can’t they, Miss Huffman?”
“Excuse me?”
“Like for instance, it’s been rumored that I disappeared.”
“Disappeared? My goodness. I never heard that one.”
“Good.” He spread his arms out wide. “Because here I am. I did go away for a time to gather my internal resources. I went to India to meditate. Shall we sit?”
“Yes, of course.” He guided me into my chair. As I sat, I took in the measure of his thirtyish demeanor. He was slim in a well-made tuxedo, dark hair slicked back away from his brow. Nothing particularly distinctive.
“Meditation can put you in touch with your true self.” He sat across from me. “So, you see I did not disappear, Miss Huffman, rather, I appeared. After much contemplation, I appeared to myself. What would you like to drink?”
“Nothing. If we’re going to talk business.”
“I always find business goes down easier with a martini.”
“Then please have one, Mr. Schuyler. I personally find it best to have a clear head when discussing business matters.”
He signaled the waiter and ordered his drink. “Miss Huffman, I have a script I’d like to speak to you about for Juliana.”
“A script? But Juliana is a singer, not an actress.”
“You’re referring to that fiasco last season.”
“Well . . .”
“That part wasn’t right for her. I’m surprised you let her do it. The script I’m talking about is a musical. That’s what she does. Sing. Like an angel. From hell.”
“Well, I’ve never heard it put that way, but that description does sound apt.”
“The script I have in mind allows room for that wonderful presence she brings to the stage without sinking her behind some dull character. She is the character. You know what I’m talking about.”
“Yes, I do.”
He reached into his inside pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes; he slid one away from the rest and extended the pack toward me.
“No thank you. I don’t smoke.”
“Ah, but these are Gauloises. French. Serious cigarettes, more so than our American brands. I make this trip three or four times a year and I always stock up. Can’t I entice you to try?”
“I’m familiar with the brand. I have a friend who smoked these and Gitanes Brunes right after the war, but he found them both coarse, inferior to American brands.”
“Oh?” He put the package back into his pocket without taking one out.
In the background, a girl singer sang “You Belong to Me” with the orchestra.
“Things are changing, Miss Huffman.” He leaned close to me. “Can’t you feel it in your bones? That’s what I’ve been off thinking about. In India. Cabaret is changing. Music is changing.”
“You had to go that far away to think that?”
“Distance brings perspective.” He took the cigarette package out again and quickly lit one, returning the pack to his inside pocket. Damn, those inside pockets are handy. Why don’t women have them? “Look what’s happening. The cabarets are bringing in solo comics to do a whole evening.”
“At both Max’s Mt. Olympus and The Haven, we still headline singers.”
“Yes, but how long can you continue doing that? People are coming less and less to hear singers. Even Swing Street is being infected with hoodlums and other unsavory elements. You must’ve seen that. That new rock ‘n’ roll music has a lot to do with making criminals out of the young.”
“Mr. Schuyler, I don’t think—”
“Audiences fearful for their lives are staying home. But, they still go to the theater where the grown-ups are.”
“Perhaps, but the theater has been limping lately, too.”
“True. But we’ve got some pretty good shows on the boards right now. Carousel, Peter Pan, Damn Yankees. They’re making money.”
“By busing in audiences from Ohio. New Yorkers are staying home to watch TV. I don’t know if you can consider that a thriving theater.”
“You wait. Theater will survive. And it will be musicals like the one I have in mind for Juliana, the big musical, that will bring back the crowds. Not those pesky social issue plays they’re doing on off-Broadway that depress everyone. Broadway is about to explode once again with new talent. And you know—Juliana isn’t getting any younger.”
“Don’t let her hear you say that.”
“I mean no offence. She’s maturing, which can work in her favor. Now is the perfect time for her to make the transition to something that doesn’t tie her to only singing in nightclubs. If she had a hit musical, I bet it wouldn’t be long before we were seeing her regularly on TV. Maybe she’d even get her own show.”
“I like the way you think, Mr. Schuyler. But finding the money for a musical these days is no easy task. That’s why fewer musicals are being produced. How do you purport to raise the money?”
“I assure you I can get the money, but you’ll have to trust me on that one. May I bring a copy of the script to your stateroom tomorrow?”
“Certainly not.”
“Or even better we could read it together on the deck after breakfast.”
“Read it together? I think it would be difficult for me to concentrate if you were reading over my shoulder.”
“I could read it to you.”
“Mr. Schuyler, did you write this script? Because you’re starting to sound like a writer and I don’t do business with writers.”
“Heavens, no,” he laughed. “I don’t write. My talent is like yours, Miss Huffman. I discover those with the savvy for writing, singing, whatever, and I exploit it.”
“Well, ‘exploit’ isn’t exactly the word I would have chosen, but your point is well taken. I would have used the word ‘support.’”
“That’s because you’re a woman.”
“Is that a problem for you?”
“Not at all. I very much like that you’re a woman. As the French say, ‘Vive la difference.’” He blew out a stream of smoke and winked at me.
“So—back to business, Mr. Schuyler.”
He leaned toward me. “I know this script is perfect for your client.”
“Richard Styles is Juliana’s manager and he’d have to approve any—”
“Come on, Miss Huffman, I know your secret.”
I felt the color draining from my face. “What secret? I have no—”
“Sure, you do. Mr. Styles is Juliana’s manager in name only. You are the creative force behind her. I’ve been studying you for some time. I leave nothing to chance. I know you, Miss Huffman.”
Sweat gathered around the waistband of my underpants. Was he playing a game with me or did he know something? I smiled. “I think I’ll take that drink now.”
“My pleasure.” He signaled for the waiter. “What’ll you have?”
“Uh, well, a side—no, a Manhattan.”
“You heard the lady,” he said to the waiter.
“Very well, sir.” The waiter nodded and dashed off.
“So, you’ve been observing me.” I tried to sound unconcerned. “Whatever on earth for?”
“To learn.”
“What would I have to teach an apparently savvy man like yourself?”
“Oh, Miss Huffman, there is so much I have learned from you.” He didn’t take his eyes off me, so I didn’t take mine off his.
“You are good at this business,” he continued. “And you know it. Not only with what you’ve done with Juliana, but with Lili Donovan too. I may have something for her in another property I’m developing.”
The waiter handed me my drink. I gripped the glass so hard I thought I might crush it, but I would not take my eyes off him.
“Your Buck Martin has a strong voice, but he was terrible in ‘Hey There, I’m Here,’ a ridiculous piece of fluff. Unworthy of Dame Margaret.”
“And Buck Martin,” I said. “Give him time and you’ll see what he can do.”
“Well, you do know how to choose your talent, so I’ll believe you. I’ve also got my eye on Patsy LaRue, but she’s got to change that name. It makes her sound like a stripper.”
“So, you’ve been observing me because of my work with singers?”
“No, Miss Huffman. That’s not the only reason.”
“Oh?” I took a sip of my drink and switched my glass from one hand to the other, trying to appear at ease.
“You are a most fascinating woman. Are you married?” He leaned his elbow on the arm of my chair. Too close. Don’t react, Al. Keep calm.
“Well, if you’ve been studying me as closely as you claim, you must already know the answer to that.”
“You could have a husband tucked away in some dark closet, but I don’t think so. A husband would get in your way. Wouldn’t he?”
“And what does any of this have to do with the script?” I resisted turning my gaze from him.
“I’d like to invite you to afternoon tea tomorrow. Will you join me?”
“Mr. Schuyler, I am not married, but you are.”
He leaned back in his own chair. “Divorced. Three years. I know, immoral. However, you know what they say about people in our business. We’re all an immoral bunch. Aren’t we, Miss Huffman?”
“I am an ardent spinster, Mr. Schuyler. Totally dedicated to my work.” I couldn’t believe I’d said that. There was a time that admitting to being a spinster would’ve crushed me under a heavy weight of shame. Now, I used it as my shield to protect me from the truth of what others might suspect.
The orchestra played, “Sway,” the song Ethel, Lucille’s friend, had sung while she took her clothes off for me at The Haven.
“Call me Dan, won’t you?”
“No, Mr. Schuyler, I don’t think so. We have business—”
“Dance with me.” He hopped out of his chair and took my hand.
“What about the three left feet?”
“I lied.”
“Why would you lie about something like that?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “I had to get you to sit with me and consider reading the script. Sorry. Business. Let’s dance.”
“Mr. Schuyler. I manage with the waltz and the foxtrot. Not terribly well, but I don’t usually kill my partner. This is a rhumba.”
“You were fine before.”
“No. Divine.”
“I know I wasn’t divine, but I was hoping for a little better than fine.”
He pulled on my arm. “Come, you’re stalling. I’ll guide you through it.”
“My friend!” I practically shouted, pulling back my hand. “Where is he?”
My eyes shot around the room. There was no sign of Scott. I’d forgotten to watch him.
“He looked like a big boy to me. I bet he can take care of himself. Let’s go.”
“No, you don’t understand. I do need to find him.”
“Then I’ll help you.”
“No, no, I have to go. But I do want to see that script. Where can we meet so you can give it to me?”
“Your stateroom?”
“How about that afternoon tea tomorrow? It’s a real treat.” He put on a poor English accent. “Veddy British.”
I took his arm and guided him to the side. “There’s one thing. You cannot tell Juliana we’re talking about a script for her. If you do the whole thing will never happen. This has to be handled delicately.”
“Not a word.” He locked his lips with his fingers.
I dashed out of the room like Cinderella hurrying to catch her carriage before it turned into a pumpkin. I caught up with Scott on deck. He leaned on the railing, staring at the moon. As I walked toward him, the wind coming off the Atlantic almost knocked me over. Couples clung to each other and the railing as they made their romantic moonlight walk. One woman’s hat flew off her head and her beau tried to grab it, but a gust of wind took it higher into the air and plopped it down onto the dark choppy water.
I took my hat off and held it under my arm as I stood next to Scott. The wind rearranged my hair into a wild mess. “Are you all right?” I asked him.
“Could you stop asking me that all the time? It makes me nervous. I start thinking you know something I don’t.”
“I don’t ask you all the time.”
“Yeah, you do, and then you look at me like that.”
“Like what?”
“Like how you’re looking at me now. All sad and worried. Like I’m a sick person that you have to be really careful around. I wish you’d treat me like you used to—normal. Max is worse than you. He’s always got this stupid grin on his face and telling me to ‘have some tea,’ ‘put up my feet,’ ‘don’t work so hard.’ He even cuts the depressing stories out of the newspaper before I read them. It’s like trying to read Swiss cheese with advertisements. I won’t be able to stand this kid-glove treatment for the whole trip. And no, I wasn’t thinking of jumping in.”
“You weren’t?”
“No, I was thinking how beautiful it is. The ocean and the moon and the salt air. And I was thinking how beautiful you and Max were to me during that bad time. And how my grandma came all the way up from Lake Ambrosia. I caused everybody a lot of trouble, didn’t I?”
“Yeah, you did.”
“Thanks a lot.”
“Well, you asked.”
“You could have been a little more tactful, softened the blow some.”
“You were a pain in the ass, Scott, and we went through all that because we love you. You said you want me to stop treating you like a sick person, so I’m telling you the unadorned truth.”
The ship bounced up and down with the waves, and I pulled my wrap more tightly around me. We went up, down and up, and down and up and . . . “Uh, Scott, I think . . .”
“Don’t look at the water. Look at the horizon.”
“I’m not feeling so . . .”
He took my arm. “Come over here.” He walked me into the glass-enclosed deck and sat me down on one of the chaise lounge deck chairs. He shook out a blanket that hung over the back of the chair and draped it over my legs. “Now look at me. Not the ocean.” He sat on the chair next to me. “The French call that green look on your face ‘mal de mer.’”
“You speak French?”
“No, I met a French couple on deck a little while ago. They’re on their way home. I used to go sailing with my father when I was small. He taught me all about avoiding seasickness.”
“How are you, Scott? Really.”
“You don’t look so fine.”
“Neither do you,” he laughed.
“Yeah, but I have a reason. What’s yours? Are you mad because I left you by yourself?”
“No. I like being by myself.”
“How are things with you and Max?”
“Well, you know.”
“No, I don’t. You never tell me anything. You don’t have to, but I thought we were friends. You never let me help you with anything.”
“You do help me, Al. By being around and saying nice things to me.”
“That obviously wasn’t enough.” I drew my wrap closer around my shoulders, trying to block out the cold.
“What do you mean?”
“You never told me that you were feeling so desperate that you wanted to—to die. Is that what you wanted? We were never sure if that was what you were trying to do or what.”
Scott looked away. “Do we have to talk about this?”
“Yeah, I think we do. You’re making everyone—me—feel so left out of your life. You went and did that, and you didn’t say one word, not one word about how bad you were feeling. When the doctors told me what had happened, I was so mad I wanted kill you.” I slapped my hand over my mouth, shocked at what I said. He laughed, and I joined him.
“I’m sorry, kid,” he said.
“How can you call me kid? I’m older than you. And I’m your boss, so show some respect.”
“Max calls you kid so. . . Look Al, you mean a lot to me, Al, and that was a lousy thing to do to you.”
“You’re not kidding, it was. What if you’d succeeded? Hah, that’s success? You have any idea how I would’ve felt?”
“I do now. It was thoughtless.”
“And your God,” I whispered, “may not care a whole lot for homosexuality, but you can be damn sure he hates suicide. There’s no love in that.”
“You’re right. But you don’t have to follow me around this ship all week. I’m not going to jump over the side.”
“Why was it so bad you wanted to die?”
“This is going to sound strange, but I didn’t want to die. I wanted to kill the pain. I went to this bar and ordered a drink because I was mad. Mad at me. Mad that I couldn’t stop wanting Max in that way. I wanted the alcohol to kill the pain, so I kept drinking and drinking. This guy, a cowboy type, propositioned me, and the anger and pain in me was so deep and the alcohol wasn’t killing it, so I went with him. We had sex. Please don’t tell Max.”
“I think he figured that out.”
“When it was over, I told the cowboy about Max. I went on talking and talking and maybe crying, and I guess I broke the empty scotch bottle we’d been drinking from and I think I tried to stab myself. But I know this for sure, that when I picked up that piece of broken glass and stuck it into me it wasn’t because I wanted to die. It was because I wanted to live. I’m okay now so you don’t have to worry. Standing out here breathing in this air makes me think that maybe there may be another way to look at things. And maybe God is bigger than I’ve been giving him credit for. That’s what my grandma says. So, go back to your stateroom and get warm. I’m fine.”

“No, I think I’ll stay here on this chaise lounge breathing in the salt air, hoping Juliana shows up soon. Tonight is going to be a special night for us.”

About the author:
Vanda has been writing since she was fourteen. She spent twenty years as a Playwright before she began writing her Juliana Series about LGBT modern history in New York. She has completed three books in the series and is hard at work on the fourth.

From 2014 to 2016, Vanda produced a show based on her novel, Juliana, at the Duplex Nightclub in which actors performed chapters from the book every month. The show included singing and dancing from the 1940s. There is talk about bringing this show back and expanding it.

As a playwright, Vanda has received numerous honors, among them an Edward Albee Fellowship. Her play, Vile Affections, published by Original Works, was a finalist for a National Lambda Award.

She is a professor of psychology at Metropolitan College of New York.

Author's Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

No comments: