February, 2014:

COINCIDENCES…SYNCHRONICITY

Life is full of Spider Webs…

 

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. This is a famous quote by Chief Seattle, a Duwamish/Suquamish Indian, for whom Seattle, Washington, is named.

I’ve remembered this famous quote for decades, and think of it especially now because of the Internet. What is the Internet but a spider web? The web analogy applies to us all and helps explain to some extent the mysteries of connections. How does anything happen except through these unexplainable forces? For lack of a better term, is this “God?”

I would venture to say everyone experiences amazing connections of one sort or another: meeting someone who became special in your life because you made a decision to go to a certain party, for instance. I particularly enjoy these synchronicities because they have happened to me so often–as I have discussed in past blog posts. Some coincidences are very important and others are just fun. If I hadn’t decided to join my parents in Germany after college graduation, I wouldn’t have met my ex-husband and come to California.

Not long ago, my daughter and I went to a nearby laundromat for our monthly load of wash; their huge machines are more efficient than the small machines in our apartment buildings. Even though it’s a chore, it’s a pleasure to meet and perhaps chat with a variety of people who’ve chosen to live in Southern California.

Sometimes, these folks can be eccentric. I can still picture the skinny frenetic musician who resembled rocker Mick Jagger. He was doing laundry for his children and he had a bizarre system. Rather than fill one of the giant machines with one large load of clothes, he had filled up about 14 small machines and then enthusiastically raced around putting in his quarters. When they were ready for the dryers, also huge, he also split up the clothes into small loads. No wonder he stayed bone thin. I also wondered how much money he wasted.

While Heidi and I removed the laundry from the dryers, I started talking to a woman around my age, who was finishing up 9 loads of laundry! My journalism experience in interviewing has made it very easy for me to talk with people, and they feel  comfortable sharing their lives with me. Consequently, I have discovered many coincidental things in my conversations.

Perhaps because I grew up an Army brat in many parts of the world, I attract unique people. I discovered initially that my new acquaintance’s 40 year-old son was a writer like myself and had self-published a novel on Amazon, like I have. This charming woman was born in Punjab, India, but has lived most of her life in the US. I have Indian connections: an old friend who was born and raised in Mumbai, and now an editing client who comes from the southern part of India. As we talked further, she told me she had lived in Northern Virginia, specifically Alexandria, and her son had attended Hammond School. I was delighted with the synchronicity: I had lived in Alexandria for several years and graduated from Hammond, then a high school and now a middle school.

But there were more coincidences. The mother of a daughter and son, as I am, she was also divorced and makes her living with business writing. Her married daughter is now living in my old neighborhood in Agoura Hills, California, where Heidi had grown up. My former home of 15 years is only a couple of blocks from her daughter’s present residence.  Oh yes, and we both liked Indian Bollywood movies!

 

WHEELUS AFB – BRITISH POINT OF VIEW

Terence Sharkey, a teenage British actor in the 1950s, sent me an entertaining story of his adventure at Wheelus Air Force Base in 1955. He meant it as a Comment, but it was too long and too interesting not to include it as a blog. I made a few minor changes (like American spelling) for clarity. I hope Terence gets in touch since his Email address didn’t work on my first attempt. Enjoy!
I was a guest at Wheelus almost sixty years ago and I still recall the warmth of the welcome which matched the 90 degree heat everywhere. In 1955 food-rationing from WWII in England had only just ceased, and for an English youth, my eyes had popped out at steak sizes I’d never seen, breakfast portions undreamed of, and chocolate bars in abundance. (I’d never heard of Hershey bars –but I soon learned). Suddenly England seemed even more austere when I saw the goods on offer in the commissary.

I was sixteen and had gone to Libya as a young actor for desert location scenes for a movie we were making at Pinewood Studios back in England.
A couple of days after my arrival at Idris airport the once daily flight from London’s Heathrow ended in tragedy when a BOAC DC4 Argonaut crashed in flames on landing,  killing fifteen and badly injuring many of the forty-seven on board. Idris facilities were about what you’d expect of one of the world’s poorest nations with an international terminal that looked like it was the film set from Bogart’s “Casablanca” and the boys and girls at Wheelus had mobilised immediately, with helicopters ferrying the injured to the military hospital.

Terence Sharkey's Book Cover

Terence Sharkey’s Book Cover

A few days later, at a break in the filming schedule, I visited the base with Rosemarie, a young woman survivor of the crash. American helicopter pilots honored her with a bouquet. Their tears turned to laughter when Rosemarie discovered the bouquet  was swarming with ants, which had joined the consignment somewhere locally. (Where had they had come up with fresh roses in such a desert?).

The base was enormous. I had been fearful that the sight of aircraft so soon after the tragedy at Idris airport on the other side of the city would be upsetting, but my companion was enjoying the tour  as much as I was. At one stage our jeep rattled its way over the tarmac beside twenty or more very business-like looking fighter jets with US Air Force emblazoned on each silver fuselage together with the big white star.  “F-86 Saber jets” our driver told us proudly. “See them swept-back wings? They’ll take-on anything those Commie-bastards can throw at us – they’ll out-maneuver any of Joe Stalin’s boys.”
Stalin had died two years before and his successor, Nikita Kruschev, had appeared to adopt a more conciliatory attitude towards the West in an attempt to end the Cold War.  Our driver, if he knew of the demise of the despot, cared little for the changes and continued to extol the superior virtues of the Saber jets over the Russian MiG-15s, which he told us he had seen in dogfights in the Korean war a couple of years before.

An international incident was narrowly avoided when this naïve British visitor took a photograph of his beautiful companion. I had not noticed that the background included some tents and several large aircraft. I still have the Zeiss camera, which I had bought cheaply a couple of days before, just a museum piece now in our age of digital photography, but I will always remember that day when I had to hand over the film to the fierce military policeman declaring us off-limits.

Actually, he turned out to be quite an affable sort who, having executed his official task, seemed more than happy to assist my companion, who had discovered that the ants were now invading her blouse. Uncle Sam’s Military Police are clearly up to anything the day throws at them and the fellow produced some magic mosquito cream, which he applied liberally to her neck. His enthusiasm for the task knew no bounds and soon it was the turn of the female visitor to gently point out what was off limits.

Apart from the loss of my pictures it was a memorable day with hospitable hosts, an air-conditioned day that offered a welcome contrast to the sweltering Sahara filming days that lay ahead.
Happy days! More are captured at http://www.lovelifeandmovingpictures.com/
Terence Sharkey

WRITING ABOUT SEX

Sex may make the world go round and the population go up, but how do we approach it in writing? Gingerly or full bore?  Interpret that as you wish!

Sex affects us all in one way or another, obviously. We spend enough time figuring it out–in life or on the page: what’s our invented character’s sexual preference and can he/she or we be put so easily into the box (label) of heterosexual or homosexual or something in between? Didn’t Kinsey, and Masters & Johnson open the door to open-mindedness and acceptance? Yes and no. Consider the fairly recent Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Not to mention the Catholic priests’ scandals, etc.  The subject of sex is always an attention getter. Look no further than the Winter Olympics in Russia and Putin’s close-minded attitude toward homosexuals.

I’m a person of mixed beliefs about sex and about sexually-oriented books, films, and TV, as I’ll wager most of us are. No tidy preferences for many of us; emotions can be jumbled. As a voracious reader, I can enjoy a book that hints at sexual dalliance as well as one with specifics. I’m not a prude but I can also be quite conservative. I speak or write more bravely than I act. I’ve seen a few porn films but prefer soft porn, which excites without being as explicit–“The Story of O,” for instance. That preference extends to books, for the most part.

Yet, I wrote two fairly graphic sex scenes for my book, Melaynie’s Masquerade, and enjoyed the process. It was my first novel and my first attempt at a genuine sex scene. All the newspaper/magazine articles I wrote over the years steered clear of sex. Except one: when the Chippendales craze hit, I wrote about women attending a show featuring men dancing and stripping provocatively. Most of the female audience at one of these early shows responded with glee, then went up to the stage to tip the entertainers by inserting a bill into his skimpy underwear. Some fondled a favorite dancer and a few were rewarded with a kiss.

Since I was writing my article for a family weekly newspaper, I chose to keep it humorous and friendly. Besides, the whole act just hinted at what could happen. At that time there was no “full monty.”

As a child of the 50s, my sexual education was a definite mix. Don’t get pregnant was the big fear before the 60s ushered in free sex. As we learned in no time, nothing is free! Sexual diseases, the usual STDs and then AIDS, soon took over. I’ve been married and single and not always prudent, but I’ve escaped dire consequences. Experience, however, does provide an edge in writing about sexual subjects. Imagination goes only so far!

It’s fun to debate the issue: to write or not to write the sex scene. A few years ago I edited a highly sexual book–Sexcessful Failures by Dave Glenn— and found it to be a pleasurable experience and sometimes titillating. Despite finding it salacious when I first read a sample, I changed my mind when I discovered it was very humorous. It was written by a young math teacher in his 30s and he didn’t have outdated compunctions about sex. When I’d grown up, sex was a sinful thing to be hidden and whispered about. The majority of us were not so innocent but pretended we were pure. Lots of hypocrisy exists concerning sex and that will probably never change. I went through a time in college when I was asking girlfriends if they were still virgins! I wonder who was lying, but some of us still were in the early 60s.

I admired Dave’s easy way of writing about his adventures; he’d already put them in a blog; in case you’re interested—www.daveglenn.com. His writing is quite explicit; he doesn’t mince words. And he didn’t treat himself as the stud king. He described his mistakes, his rejections, and the hilarious escapades from meeting all sorts of women, both young and older, in bars or online, as well as encountering foreign girls available on travels to Europe, Australia, etc.

Dave told me he thinks casual sex and having sex buddies is fine, if it’s done responsibly so that no one’s feelings are hurt. He’s not averse to masturbating but having the real thing is more fun. And he doesn’t need a commitment or marriage to sanctify his sexual urges.

Editing his book brought me up-to-date. My, my…Sex was treated as a perfectly natural part of life (Kinsey had thought so in the early part of the 20th century: wish I’d read him earlier!) Modern girls are just as anxious as guys to crawl into bed or wherever the assignation might be, despite emotional or sometimes physical risks. One night stands.

Sex may be freer and more open now in the Western World but, being humans, there are usually emotional strings of one sort or another, especially for women. I must conclude I’m still betwixt and between. At least many of us can read about sex these days without having apoplexy.

Meeting a Seven-Foot Lizard

A Monitor Lizard ready for his close-up!

A few years ago when actress Sharon Stone was married, she treated her husband to a special tour of the Los Angeles Zoo. He was in the reptile enclosure for a Komodo Dragon (the world’s largest lizard, also known as a Monitor Lizard)  when this very large creature bit him on the foot; the injury was serious and quite painful. Ironically enough, they didn’t stay married long after the painful incident.

The incident reminded me of my former neighbor, Jules Sylvester, owner of Reptile Rentals. One of Jules’ favorite creatures about 20 years ago was a 7-foot long reptile he named Brutus. Brutus was a Monitor Lizard,  and was one of the stars of “The Freshman,” a 1990 film featuring Marlon Brando and Matthew Broderick. Broderick’s youthful character was helping to provide exotic million-dollar meals consisting of endangered species for a group of wealthy gourmets. Brutus was supposed to end up on a plate!

Jules worked at getting the best performance from Brutus, especially for the lizard’s primary scene: an escape from the back seat of a fancy car onto the pavement of a gas station. I’ve seen the movie a couple of times and always enjoyed the hilarity of watching this monstrous reptile coolly make his exit and scurry away as Matthew Broderick chases him. Reptiles may look clumsy but they can move extremely fast, as Sharon Stone’s former husband can testify.

I got to “meet” Brutus when I drove out to the Animal Actors of Hollywood Ranch in Thousand Oaks to interview Jules. I was writing my story for the Daily News and our photographer came with me. She took a photo of me and Brutus, but never sent it to me, alas.

Seeing Jules’ trailer with all the snakes, mice, spiders, cockroaches, etc. was entertaining but insects and snakes were never my passion.  In listening to Jules’s adventures and absorbing his positive energy, I couldn’t help but feel enthusiastic about it all.

In my opinion, I think Brutus must have known somewhere in his reptilian brain that his keeper really cared for him. Jules took Brutus to his young sons’ nursery school for photos: imagine the wonder on the faces of those youngsters  getting a close peek at this unusual creature.

One year I Jules and his wife sent out a unique Christmas card. The setting was professional–a well-lit background showed a grinning Jules, who was over six feet in height, standing with his arms around Brutus, as if they were ready for a dance. They were head to head, the reptile’s long tail slightly curled on the ground.

AN ARMY BRAT IN LIBYA

Americans living in foreign countries, especially those in the military or other government service, tend to keep or renew their ties over the years. At least that’s been my experience with the “kids” I went to high school with at Wheelus Air Force Base just outside Tripoli, Libya, in the 1950s. And since I’ve included experiences of living in Libya in my blog, students from  many classes, anywhere from the early 1950s to 1970 have gotten in touch to share their memories. We’ve all aged but the spirit of those long-ago days holds on and there have been many reunions of these students over the years. The most recent was last May in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In the middle 1950s, Tripoli was a bustling, cosmopolitan city inhabited by  Libyans, Italians, British, Americans and an assortment of other European and Middle Eastern nationalities. Both the British and the Americans had military bases, and international oil companies were drilling for the oil that would eventually make the country rich beginning in 1959. Libya, for the first half of the twentieth century under Italian rule, had only gained its independence in 1951, and that auspicious occasion had been marked by the renaming of a main thoroughfare, to be forever after known as 24 December Street.

Like many major events in the life of an Army brat, I wasn’t sure I wanted to uproot from the States and travel to such a strange land. I was shocked when my father received orders in 1955 to report to North Africa. We were stationed at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, at the time, and Africa couldn’t have been more distant from civilization as far as my twelve-year-old mind was concerned. Morocco was our first assigned destination, specifically the peculiarly named Nouasseur. Orders were changed when Morocco had violent political problems and a few Americans were killed. My dad was reassigned to Wheelus Air Force Base just outside Tripoli.

My Army Corps of Engineers father, a lieutenant colonel, would command a military group that had something to do with maintaining the strategic airfield, the closest large American location to Russia, an important fact in those Cold War years. He would also be traveling to mysterious places such as Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia.

 

To check on or download this Kindle book featured on my Amazon Author page, go to:   http://amazon.com/author/victoriagiraud

 

Our little family, which included Darby, my two-year-old brother and  Tupper, my six-year-old sister, boarded a military prop plane at Maguire Air Force Base in New Jersey the week before Thanksgiving, 1955. We left a snowy landscape and headed southeast over the Atlantic, our circuitous flight path leading us first to the tiny Azores Islands. Propeller-driven planes, not as efficient as jets, required refueling stops. We landed on the islands about 3 a.m. Azores time, were roused from sleep, and dependents and military personnel were herded off the plane onto waiting buses for a trip up a windy mountain road for breakfast in a non-commissioned officers club. A couple of hours later we were jammed back aboard, but mechanical difficulties kept us on the ground several more hours. When the plane was deemed airworthy, we were flown to Nouasseur Air Force Base in Morocco for another stop and finally on to Tripoli. Military planes, whether carrying troops or dependents, weren’t on fixed schedules. You landed when you landed.

What seemed like days but was more than likely some thirty hours later, we reached our new home. It was 9 p.m. in Tripoli, but after so many hours and so many time zones, who could tell? No snow on the ground here: the weather was temperate and probably no colder than 55 degrees. Only after a good night’s sleep would we regain our land legs and clarity of hearing – the noise and vibration of prop planes had a habit of disorienting the body, which included sight and hearing, for hours.

We lived in the Garden City area of Tripoli, not far from the King’s Palace, from 1955 until 1958. I loved all the contrasts that life in an ancient Arab city brought–camels and sheep, British Morris Minor cars mixing with American Fords, sandstorms called Ghiblis, the museum in the old Barbary Pirate fort, the lovely beaches at Georgimpopuli and Piccolo Capri, the vegetable man shouting out his fresh food, and the braying of donkeys and camels growling at night.

For more stories about life in Libya, order my book on Amazon. While you’re on the site, check out my other books.

A VERMIN WRANGLER IN HOLLYWOOD

Jules Sylvester & Sinaloan Milk Snake

Last December my niece Becky Jensen played a scary Santa Claus in a music video for Fearless Records–“Set It Off–This Christmas,” which is on YouTube. It’s a spooky take on Christmas with decorations mixed with spiders, scorpions and snakes and ends with everything burning. Santa wore a skeleton mask so Becky’s pretty face was invisible. So much for her film debut! When she told me about the critters used, I asked who took care of the spiders, etc. It turned out to be a former neighbor of mine–a fellow I had interviewed for newspapers and magazines over the years, Jules Sylvester. Becky had nothing but praise for his good humor and expertise.

Jules Sylvester, who owns and still operates Reptile Rentals, and his wife Sue lived above me in a very nice apartment complex in Agoura Hills. The complex was built on a hillside, right at the edge of the Santa Monica Mountains, a great location for nature lovers, especially someone like Jules.

If a wandering snake slithered down from the hills during warm weather, many of us might try to avoid it since rattlesnakes don’t make good friends, but not Jules. He’d add it to his creature collection in a temperature-controlled trailer he owned. He probably still has a freezer for what he laughingly called “ratsicles” and “micesicles” –frozen rats and mice to be thawed for snake food.  He also kept four species of cockroaches (movies require all sorts of props) that got fed dog food and lettuce.

Even insects have preferences about what they consume, and apparently don’t like too much sugar. Jules once fed stale Twinkies to his cockroaches. “They stared at it for three weeks before they finally ate it,” he said.

That was years ago, but I imagine he has a similar setup since he’s still in business providing various creatures for movies and TV. Jules grew up on a farm in Kenya where he was exposed to and collected all kinds of animals and insects, 10-inch wood scorpions, spiders and giant lizards, for instance. He remembers his school’s football field was so close to the forest that occasional leopards would run across part of it, even if games were being played.  At 16 he was already working as a student helper at Nairobi Snake Park.

In the mid 1970s, Jules met his mentor, Hubert Wells, the owner of Animal Actors. Wells was training lions for a television series based on Joy Adams book, BORN FREE. Adams was Jules’ Kenyan neighbor, and he was hired to handle lions, despite his lack of experience.

Jules came to the States soon after, lured by the circus, not Hollywood. He spent three years on the circus circuit before he got a job as assistant trainer for the television series, “B.J. and the Bear.” His business has grown ever since. He handled the snakes on the film Snakes on a Plane, for instance, and frequently brought creatures to Jay Leno’s Tonight Show.

My kids and I got to know Jules, a very tall and amiable fellow who loves his work with critters like snakes, alligators, crocodiles, frogs, toads, crabs, lobsters, insects, lizards, mice, rats, scorpions, spiders, tortoises, turtles, etc. His largest critter was a six-foot Monitor Lizard that made his movie debut in The Freshman starring Matthew Broderick and Marlon Brando.

As he told me in one of several interviews I did with him, he was a vermin wrangler, which meant he handled anything most people didn’t want inside their home. “I love it. You couldn’t give me a better lifestyle. This is my consuming passion,” he declared.

  

SAGA OF SELLING A SCRIPT

Before I wrote my novel, Melaynie’s Masquerade, I wrote a movie script. My screenplay, simply called Drake, went through many incarnations. Eight rewrites that I can recall. It got so good I had several people in the business (not any recognizable names) compliment me on the writing. But I couldn’t take that to the bank.

Portrait of Sir Francis Drake

Portrait of Sir Francis Drake

My friend and partner in the adventure to get a project on film was Dudley Hood, an Australian musician and writer. We had a wonderful time exploring all the possibilities—it even felt legitimate. For a time we went to monthly parties held at a fancy home in the exclusive hills of Brentwood to meet lots of aspiring actors, directors, etc. We were looked on as potential employers and were offered a buffet and drinks (all contributed by the hopefuls). A few days later I’d get a huge envelope of head shots in the mail. I held onto these photographs for a long time before I tossed them. The attendees didn’t know, but might have guessed, we had no money but plenty of hopes, no different from any of them.

We shopped our project, which we called Caribbean Kaleidoscope (historical tales of the Caribbean made for TV), created brochures—thanks to a very talented artist named Jon Wincek, had countless budgets put together by Fred Culbertson on a program called Movie Magic, if my memory serves me.  Fred, luckily, had his own transportation business, Hollywood Studio Vehicles. We attended various industry events like the American Film Market in Santa Monica. Searching for funding can be lively and frustrating—Dudley traveled to the Virgin Islands and New York City—but there’s no guaranteed pot of gold or happy ending. As is frequently said: life is the journey not the goal.

The Film Market was fun, however. Located at a couple of well-known hotels on the beach, it was full of aspiring players in the independent film world from everywhere (8,000 or more attended). Hundreds of films, from the expensive to the low-low budget, are shown and shopped from all over the world during this week-long event. What a place for people watching! I saw Roger Corman, king of low budget movies, and various star impersonators, like Michael Jackson (while he was still alive) and John Travolta.

We met Stan Lazan, a friendly guy who had been a cinematographer for TV’s “Bonanza” years before. He was looking for work and was happy to offer his advice. He had lots of fascinating tales to tell of his years in the industry, not to mention some pointers on industry terminology. I hadn’t learned yet what P&A was, but it was the talk around the hotel bar. Prints and Advertising is a vital part of a movie budget: without prints of the film and advertising to sell the movie, nothing would move forward. I kept up with Stan and enjoyed his company for years afterward. He has since passed on. But “Bonanza” still plays on TV.

Dudley was very tireless and enterprising. He managed to get us a meeting  with a CAA (Creative Artists Agency) agent at their posh headquarters. The agent and his younger associate listened to our project pitch (I think we were “selling” Drake at that point) and seemed interested but there were too many pieces of the puzzle missing to make any kind of commitments. The two of us, however, were ecstatic and felt like real wheeler-dealers! Ha! CAA has moved from its unique modern building in Beverly Hills, probably to something more spectacular. That was then and this is now!

Not long after CAA, we managed a meeting with the VP of IMax Pictures. Dudley played his guitar to show him we were planning music for our huge production. It’s hilarious and a little bittersweet to think of all the gallivanting and all the hopes. You’ve got to be starry-eyed and innocent to a great extent to make your dreams come true in Tinsel Town. To make it happen,  you must never give up. To paraphrase a current ad, we may not have made any money but the experience was priceless.

MELAYNIE’S MASQUERADE–HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Every few weeks I must remind myself that one of the reasons I write this blog is to promote my books, long and short, especially my historical fiction Melaynie’s Masquerade. I’m offering a teaser about the first stirrings of romance between Melaynie, an English girl, and Bernardino, a Spaniard.  I published my book on Amazon as an Ebook. The link to Amazon is in the upper right of this page or follow the link which will also show the other small books I’ve written: http://amazon.com/author/victoriagiraud

My book is full of true adventure (Essentially, only my heroine and her family are fictional) and romance. I’ve even written a couple of sex scenes. After all, the 50 Shades books are all the rage!  Read below for a sample of the romance that develops:

 

With Drake’s humorous admonition to be careful with their guest, Melaynie carried a lantern to show Bernardino to his private tent at evening’s end.

In the light of a bright moon, whose rays poured through the wide opening of the small quarters, Bernardino found and immediately sat down on the portable cot. Tired from the day’s excitement and mellowed to the point of sleepiness by the wine, he languidly watched as the young captain’s boy placed the lantern on an empty cask, thinking as he watched of his young sister.  Why was he thinking of his sister; was it the way this young boy moved, or simply the beauty of youth?

He leaned back and began to remove his doublet, welcoming the cooler night air on his skin.  Remembering the music and the caress of the night breeze, he felt relaxed and sensual. Melaynie’s body and face were profiled in the moonlight.  What a lovely young boy, Bernardino reflected  as he studied the fine facial features and golden hair. He lazily watched the lantern’s flickering light, his feelings of arousal fanned by its glow. How agreeable it would have been to have a woman to love, an appropriate climax to a congenial evening.

Framed by the moonlight, the boy continued to stand, leaning toward the lantern, like a moth to the flame, his eyes mesmerized by the flame. From his angle lounging on the cot, Bernardino noticed the boy’s cream-colored shirt had flared outward as he stood there. The material was diaphanous enough that the lantern’s light revealed his naked chest. Bernardino smiled at the pretty picture it made, and then narrowed his eyes, looking again closely, as he sat up slowly, uncertain that what he saw was true.

The lantern had highlighted a pair of delicate breasts, whose outline was clear enough through the linen shirt. This was no boy; he saw the evidence. The breasts were small, but they were present. Had no one else in this English company noticed?  Men could be dense; he had seen how she had been treated as her costume defined her.  A turmoil of feelings assaulted him at this revelation, the excitement of the mystery of her only heightening his stimulated senses. He struggled to compose himself, to dampen his growing ardor, to quiet his racing mind.

Had he been intrigued because some instinct told him of her true gender?  Whatever the mystical reasons, she must not guess he had seen her secret. Searching his mind for clues, he quickly surmised her subterfuge had been well hidden until now and that she was probably older than he had supposed. What had caused this young woman to carry off this masquerade; was she possessed by some unusual traits, a woman who felt herself truly a man? Or was it simply an adventure she sought, a desire to break from the traditional female role in her society?  Did she feel he was a threat; was that why she had spilled the wine earlier? These turbulent thoughts raced through his mind in mere seconds.

Mel book cover 0

 

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