Character Interview: Ximena Godoy from Graciela Limón’s Novel ‘The Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoy’

ximenaWe’re thrilled to have here today Ximena Godoy, from Graciela Limón’s new novel The Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoy

It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Ximena Godoy.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers? 

“Well, I do believe that Graciela Limón portrayed me fairly most of the time, but sometimes she was unable to dig deep enough into the inner recesses of what I really am.  Based on what s/he reads, I think that the reader could accuse me of making poor choices, maybe even selfish ones. Yes, I made stupid choices, but I think that it was because there was a mysterious force that drove me from a very young age.  Could it have been a demon?  Maybe.  I think this is what baffled even the author.  What I really yearned for was freedom and space to breathe.  Do you know what I mean?”

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

“I’m not sure I understand what you mean by ‘colorizing my personality’ but I will say that I do believe that for the greater part Graciela Limón captured what I was like.  She was successful in portraying my personality with its many changes and moods, its unpredictability, and always doing what she, the author, would never do in her own life.”

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

“I’m determined and focused.”

Worse trait?

“I’m quick to take offense, but slow to forgive.”

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be?

“Salma Hayek would be my first choice.”

Do you have a love interest in the book? 

“I have several love interests in the book.  Perhaps you would say that this is one of my weakest points:  I love too quickly and too intensely.  But oddly enough, when the fire of passion burns out in me, it’s finished.  I’m able to walk away from that passion and get on with my life.  That is, except for the last love.  I don’t want to say more because I’ll spoil the novel for you.”

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out? 

“Because I didn’t know my own end, I never was nervous.”

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

“I would not want to be Concha Urrutia because she, above all else, feels the full brunt of my rancor in the novel.  Also, Concha is one of those women who loves once in her lifetime; she hangs on to that love no matter what.  This depresses me.”

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

“I’m afraid that it would indeed give away the entire ending if I answer this question.  Can we please move on to the next one?”

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

“I know that Graciela Limón will not be writing another novel with me in it so there are no words of wisdom for her on this score.  She will indeed write other novels, but not with me in any of them.”

Thank you for this interview, Ximena Godoy.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future? 

“Unfortunately, you will not be seeing more of me in the future.  When you read the novel you will understand my meaning.”


Graciela LimónGraciela Limón is a Latina Writer, Educator and Activist. She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Spanish Literature from Marymount College Los Angeles, a Master of Arts Degree in the same field from the University of the Americas Mexico City, followed by a PhD in Latin American Literature from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).  Prior to retirement, Limón was a professor of U.S. Hispanic Literature as well as Chair of the Department of Chicana/o Studies at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California.  She is now Professor Emeritus of that University.

Limón has written critical work on Mexican, Latin American and Caribbean Literature.  However, she now concentrates her writing efforts on creative fiction that is germane to her areas of interest: feminism, social justice and cultural identity.  Her body of work includes In Search of Bernabé that won The Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award (1994).   Limón also published The Memories of Ana Calderón (1994), Song of the Hummingbird (1996) andThe Day of the Moon (1999).   Erased Faces, which was awarded the 2002 Gustavus Myers Book Award, was published in 2001, Left Alive was released in 2005, The River Flows North, 2009, followed by The Madness of Mamá Carlota, 2012.  Her latest book is The Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoy, published by Cafe con Leche Books. Find out more about Graciela at


TitleThe Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoy

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Author:  Graciela Limón


Publisher:  Café Con Leche

Purchase on Amazon 

The Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoyfollows the story of a woman from very early life to maturity.  Her tale takes place in the early to mid-twentieth century unfolding first in her native Mexico, and ending in Los Angeles, California.  It is a story of love and revenge told against the historical events of Revolution, Repatriation, War and Peace.  When Ximena Godoy falls into the abyss of crime, she faces the punishment demanded of that crime.

Book Spotlight: The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery by Paul Flower

The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery
About The Book
The Redeeeming Power of Brain Surgery

Title: The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery: A Suspense Novel

Author: Paul Flower

Publisher: Scribe Publishing Company

Publication Date: June 1, 2013

Pages: 250

ISBN: 978-0985956271

Genre: Susepense

Format: Paperback, eBook (.mobi / Kindle), PDF
Book Description:

Jesse Tieter, M.D. has carefully constructed the ideal life. But lately, neither his Chicago-based neurology practice nor his wife and son are enough to suppress the memories that have haunted him since he was a little boy. He can’t stop thinking about that summer day in 1967 when his father died.

So Jesse is heading back. Back to the town and the place where a long-repressed horror occurred. Back to make sure his twin keeps the family’s secret buried.

But what will he uncover along the way?

Book Excerpt:

His son’s hand felt like a lie. Lately, to him,
everything felt this way. The look of sadness on his wife’s face, the burn of a
drink in his throat, the whine of a saw in the O.R.; nothing seemed true. Nothing
was real anymore. He felt out of balance, too. Even now, the school building,
the flag slapping against the heavy fall sky¬¬—everything was tipping away from
him. It was as though he’d gotten up that morning and screwed on his head
carelessly, as though he hadn’t threaded it good and tight. While shaving, he’d
cut himself, a discrete, semi-intentional knick just under the curve of his
chin. He’d stood there like an idiot, eyes feeding the message “blood” to his
brain, nerve endings responding with “pain” and the logic center unable to
formulate a response.
“Dad? Daddy?”
“Uh? Wha’?”
“Pick up the pace. Chop chop. Move out.”
Now, as he snaked through the crush of other
parents and children, he had to look down to convince himself the boy was
there, attached to the hand, flesh and bone. The red hair, “his mother’s hair”
everyone called it, was sliced by a crisp white part; his head bounced in beat
with his sneakered feet. The child was so painfully real he couldn’t be a lie.
It amazed him that his son looked so much like his
wife, especially the tiny mouth, the way it was set in a crooked, determined
line. He was a kid who liked to have fun, but he could be fierce. Today, the
challenge of a new school year, of third grade, had brought out the determined
streak. This was good. They would need that streak, he and his mother would.
“Whoa.” The
tiny hand now was a road sign, white-pink flesh facing him, commanding him. Far
enough. He obeyed. Squatting, arms out for the anticipated embrace, he suddenly
wanted to tell everything. Tears swam. His throat thickened. The earth tilted
and threatened to send him skittering over its edge. There was the slightest of
hugs, the brush of lips on his cheek then the boy was off, skipping toward the
steps as though third grade challenged nothing, caused no fear, as though the
world was in perfect balance.
He walked back to his Lincoln Navigator with the
exaggerated care of a drunk who didn’t want anyone to know his condition. He
got behind the wheel and suddenly was no longer in his 50s; he felt 16 and too
small, too skinny and insignificant to handle the giant SUV.
He nosed the vehicle toward home, alternately
trembling and gripping the wheel as he merged with the morning traffic. The
plan struck him now as odd and silly, the challenges too great. His hands,
already red and scaly, itched fiercely. Get a grip, he told himself. Get a
His tired mind—when was the last time he’d really
slept well?—jumped from one stone of thought to another. Was everything covered
at work? The bills—had he paid them all? Did his wife suspect anything? Yes.
No. Absolutely. Of course not. Relax. Relax. He left the expressway at the exit
that took him past their church and wondered if the church, too, was a lie.
What of the wedding there so many years ago?
Through a stoplight and past a Dunkin’ Donuts, his
gaze floated around a corner. A flash of inspiration—hit the gas. Let the tires
slide and the back-end arc around. Let physics have its way until the big
vehicle broke free from the grip of gravity and danced head over end, coming to
a stop with him bleeding and mercifully, gratefully dead inside.
No. He had something to do. Had he figured the
angles right? Gotten the plan tight enough?
A horn jabbed through his reverie. He had drifted
into the turn lane of the five-lane street. He jerked the wheel and cut across
traffic into the right lane. Tires screeched, horns screamed. A black Toyota
streaked past on his left, the driver’s fist, middle finger erect, thrust out
the window.
Rage, sharp and bitter, bubbled in his throat. He
hesitated, then jammed his foot on the accelerator, cut the wheel hard, and
sent the Navigator careening into the left lane.
A staccato barrage of profanity pounded the inside
of his skull. He bit his tongue to keep the words in. His heart hammered and a
familiar, dizzying pressure filled his ears. The SUV roared ahead, past one
car, past a semi then another car, quickly closing the gap on the speeding
Toyota. He couldn’t see the car’s driver but he could imagine him, some stupid,
simple-minded schmuck, eyes locked on the rear-view mirror as the lumbering
Lincoln grew larger, larger, larger. The instant before he would slam into the
smaller vehicle, he jabbed his brake and turned again to the left. There was a squeal
of tires and more horns bleating behind him; the semi rig’s air horn bellowed
angrily past. Ramrod straight, eyes fixed ahead on the now-slow-moving car
disappearing tentatively around a curve, he brought the Navigator to a
shuddering stop in the center lane. He tensed and waited for the resounding
WHUMP of a crash from behind. None came. Face flushed and eyes gleaming,
suddenly rejuvenated, he accelerated quickly then eased the Navigator back into
the flow of traffic—no looking back.
Buy The Book:


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About The Author
Paul Flower




Paul Flower is an author, advertising copywriter/creative director and a journalist.He has written and produced award-winning advertising for print, radio, television, outdoor, the Web––really, just about every medium––for business-to-consumer and business-to-business accounts.His news features have appeared in regional and national magazines. His first novel, “The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery,” was published in June 2013 by Scribe Publishing. Visit Paul’s website at


Connect with Paul:

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Author Page / Publisher Website:







Book Spotlight: Super Steve by Doug Cudmore

Super Steve Banner
About The Book
Super Steve
TitleSuper Steve 

Author: Doug Cudmore

Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: January 5, 2015
Pages: 328
ISBN: 978-0993993527
Genre: Action / Crime / Thriller

Format: eBook ( ePub / .mobi – Kindle), Paperback


Book Description:
It starts like just another in long string of Friday nights: Steve Janson again fools himself into thinking he’ll go for a stress-busting, head-clearing run, only to end up at the local Sav-N-Lo picking up a pack of Doritos. But when he ends up bleeding on the floor after a robbery gone wrong, and a mysterious stranger saves his life, he finds himself living every man’s dream. Or is that nightmare? In either case, he’s a superhero.
The darkly comic Super Steve asks: what if a regular person suddenly found himself stronger, faster, smarter than his fellow mortals? If nothing else (and, increasingly, there is nothing else), Steve is that average man, someone who clings to his sense of stand-up-guyness. He still puts in the overtime, even as the desks around him empty at the soon-to-be-extinct Metroburgh Green Pages. He makes sure his deeply pregnant wife and his baby-to-be live comfortably, even as his mountain of debt grows Himalayan. Sure, being the calm face that keeps everything alright gnaws at his slowly expanding gut some days, but it’s nothing a couple of MetroLagers can’t numb. 

And at first, saving school busses and pulling kittens from trees suits Steve perfectly. But as crime grips the city – an agitated former Occupier freeing the people’s money; a disgruntled ex-geologist with a knife to grind; a military man determined to keep the streets safe, no matter how unsafe they get in the process –the demands grow unbearable. As Steve’s wife grows suspicious of his late-night activities, as his boss threatens his job if the absenteeism doesn’t end, as his finances spin out of control after a gadget-buying spree, he is forced to ask himself: Must he sacrifice Steve Janson to be a hero? Or does he have to sacrifice the city in order to live with himself? 


Book Excerpt:

You would even, on your own time,
write a report, “How the Green Pages can cash in on geographic technology,”
which had been sitting for three months in Bryce’s office.
You would be a man trapped on a
small, sandy career island that was eroding away; your only options would be
dive into the ocean and hope there was another, larger island somewhere just
past the horizon. Or to stay and hope the waves stopped rising. And you were
the type to grab a palm tree and pray.
You’d work away at your desk this
Friday, save for a sneak next door for a foot-long Tuna Supreme from Senor Sub,
with a Coke and Doritos to aid the gentle expansion of your midsection. And
finally, after the last AAAA Auto Service ad was laid down, you’d take the
commute in reverse, back to your semi-slice of heaven.
Key in the door.
Yes, if you did that, you’d be
deep, deep inside the brain of Steve Janson.
Once you turned that key and opened
that door, though, you could try Steve’s heart. Because, like usual, you’d see
Sally Janson sitting at your little dinner table. She would be sipping a diet
iced tea and battling an iPad Sudoku in her pale green scrubs, but as you
crossed the threshold she’d get up to meet you in your home’s tiny entryway.
She would have had one hell of a day – hauling the kicking person inside her
was enough for any woman in this late-summer heat, but she, god bless her,
would have found the time to hit Target, grab another carful of unidentified
baby gear for you to assemble, and then, as her feet swelled, would have got
groceries and done the dishes. And still, when you arrived, she’d rock herself
up, walk over and give that kiss. You’d kiss her back and ask, “How was your
day?”, smell the clean of her sandy brown hair and, lately, feel the growing
bulge of her six-month belly as she pressed against you. Then you’d gulp down
the night’s meal together before it was time for her night shift as a
paediatrics nurse at Metroburgh West General. You’d give her another good,
solid kiss goodbye, not just lips this time, and she would head out the door.
If you took in those 60 minutes,
plus the off-nights together and holidays as they came, you’d get inside the
heart of Steve Janson.
Then you’d be back on your own
until 6:30 crashed down again.
But if you wanted to get into
Steve’s lower intestine, gall bladder and fist-sized chunk of the liver, you’d
need to be that bullet.
Steve Janson would have the idea –
actually Sally Janson would have the idea, which she would repeat so often that
it became Steve’s idea, as well – that he was going to be around for a long,
long time, if not for himself then for her and your son or daughter. And so, to
battle his days of inactivity broken by short bursts of glucose and cheese,
Steve would have to exercise.
That early-August Friday at 9:16
p.m., Steve would slam his home’s ill-fitting front door and perform a quick
succession of knee bends and hamstring stretches. He would feel fresh, strong –
he liked the idea, if not the practice, of late-night summertime runs – so he
would take the three porch stairs in one leap, tune into Songza and take the
first, too-fast strides of the evening. “The Sign” would blast through the
headphones; Sally had left the playlist set on “Early ‘90s Bubblegum”. He would
stop, scroll quickly to something more masculine before his ears were hooked,
but by the time he found “Jock Anthems”, Ace of Base would have taken over.
He’d head down the block to “Life is demanding/without understanding.”
After the first four dozen power
strides, Steve’s body would, per usual, start to despise him, a hatred that
only grew for the first 10 minutes of each work-out. One of two things always
happened after he warmed up: Either he would be ready to push, and his legs
would kick, his heart would settle into its familiar pace and the world would
float by; or he would not, at which point a pallid film would form across his
forehead, his legs would sputter, and he would use the emergency $5 in his
pocket to hunt for snacks.
No matter how brilliant he felt at
the start, option two was the almost guaranteed winner on Friday nights,
leaving him searching for something salty at the local Sav-N-Lo.
That would be the scenario tonight.
He would walk through automatic sliding doors, and the sweat he’d worked up
would evaporate as the heat was replaced by perfume-laced mid-sized-box air.
Steve would walk down Aisle 4, Oral Care and Shaving Supplies, until he reached
the pharmacist’s counter at the back. He’d turn right, passing a thick-bearded
man with an ER’s worth of home medical supplies crammed into his shopping cart.
He’d arrive at the snack aisle, pause in front of the Doritos, trying to decide
between Cool Ranch and Zesty Cheese.
That is all he’d have to do.
And hollow-point you? You’d have to
coil silently in a handgun, tucked inside a windbreaker pocket, hung on the
frame of a more drunk than angry young man riding shotgun in a Black 2001 Honda
Accord pulling into the Sav-N-Lo parking lot. You and your gun would sit cozy
as your owner and his two associates hopped from the car, threw black
balaclavas over their heads and strutted through those sliding doors. Then
you’d be running and, as you approached the check-outs, you’d be thrust toward
the ceiling, shining in the fluorescent light as your owner yelled:
“This is a robbery! Everybody be
cool, nobody gets hurt.”
Back at the chips, Steve would
freeze, and slow-motion-drop the fiery orange package he’d selected. He’d
think, “What the hell am I supposed to do in this situation?”
“Empty your fuckin’ registers,
gimme your fuckin’ wallets and purses, ahright? Quick-Quick-QUICK!” your
owner’s friend Jack would yell, pulling out canvas bags and tossing them on the
treadmills of the two storefront checkouts. “Get with the fuckin’ program!” The
panicked clutch of customers nearby, and the two dowdy checkout ladies in their
pale blue Sav-N-Lo pinnies, would start to comply.
Then some woman, a decade past
middle age, with large round bifocals and shining burgundy hair, the one
clutching an InStyle, would not get with the fuckin’ program. She would
defiantly refuse to release her floral-print handbag. There were pictures of
loved ones in there. They weren’t going anywhere.
So Jack – and his temper – would
whip out a pistol and get involved.
“I said give me your purse, bitch.
Your purse,” he’d yell.
“No, please, no, please. My
grandkids … ”
“Give me your fuckin’ ” and his
pistol would make solid, fleshy contact with her skull. “I said give me your purse, bitch.” Jack would laugh, stoop
over her unconscious body, grab the handbag, toss it in his sack.
As the woman lay on the floor, your
owner would aim you down for a second. The plan was, as had been discussed at
length during the drive here, that the guns were for show. Taking out old
ladies was not part of the plan. But your owner couldn’t argue niceties when
the shit was going down.
Burgundy Hair’s friend Henrietta
would start to scream, looking at the small pool of blood, but – “Shut the fuck
up!” – her screams would turn to panicked whimpers. “Anybody else get any
ideas, this is what we got for y’all. Now give us our money!”
The loot bags would fill up, from
the tills and the pockets of those standing nearby. And then you and your gun
would wave at the onlookers, make sure no one got close as your owner and his
other accomplice, the non-angry one who was high as hell and just there for the
laughs, backed toward the exit. But that pistolwhipping would have riled Jack
up. He would be an aisle into the store now, well within sight of the
still-frozen Steve, yelling and demanding more money.
And Jack would have the car keys.
“What the fuck you lookin’ at, old
dude?” he would yell at the homeless man. Jack would smash the shopping cart
over, sending gauze, syringes, ibuprofen everywhere; a roll of medical tape
would scoot past Steve’s running shoes. “I said what. The fuck. You lookin’ at.
Old dude.”
The homeless man would stand
straighter, taller, and calmly ask, “What are you doing?”
“What did you say, motherfucker?”
“I said what are you doing? Coming
in here, terrorizing people? Do you know how violence ends, my good man? Do
you? Because it doesn’t end well.” Then the old man would grab a clutch of
bills from inside his jacket pocket, toss them at Lou. “There, sir, is your
Jack would stand speechless for a
half-second. He’d flinch toward the old man with his gun, stop, move to pick up
the scattered tens and twenties at his feet. But just as quickly his anger
would trump his greed, and he’d slam the butt of his gun into the side of
another head. “Fuck you,” he’d yell,
as blood splayed off the temple of the old man, who crumpled to his knees. “Fuck you.” And the robber would raise
his pistol for one last smack.
But before he would connect
Steve would bolt. If you asked him
later, he wouldn’t be able to tell you why, exactly, against three armed men.
But he sprinted to his right, in an impossible attempt to save a life.
And this is where you would shoot
into action.
Your owner would have almost backed
out the front door by now, on his way to freedom, hoping his damn accomplice
inside would be out in the 60 seconds left before the police likely arrived.
But then he would see some guy, 5’10” or so, black hair and running gear that
only drew attention to his small mound of belly, bursting toward your
associate. And your trigger would be pulled.
And you’d be flying through the
air, spinning at a speed imperceptible to the jaw-dropped cashiers. You’d shoot
past the magazine covers (People had “Teen Moms of Denver star shares exclusive
baby pics”; the Star went with “Darren left me: Teen Mom Post-Partum
Heartache”); past the Archie Double Digests; past the salted and unsalted nuts;
you’d pass down the aisle, burst into the back of a package of Classic Lays,
shatter through dozens of greasy chips, and at almost the same instant explode
through the front of the yellow bag.
And then you’d be inside the lower
intestine, gall bladder and a baseball-sized chunk of the liver of Steve Janson.
That’s how you’d do it.
And, as you lay there, torn to
shrapnel, you’d hear “Oh fuck, oh fuck bro” and the sound of sneakers running,
and the rev of the black Accord disappearing into the Metroburgh night.
Steve would grab his bleeding belly
and, through the thick haze of shock, would rasp the words to nobody nearby:
“Tell Sally I love her.” And he would start to feel the warmth of the death’s
Then the crazy old man would right
his toppled cart, his smooth hands would hoist the fading Steve Janson into its
basket, and the two of them, and you, would sprint into the darkness of the
Sav-N-Lo Mart parking lot.
As the
squeal of tires and the flash of headlights shoved him back into consciousness,
Steve bolted upright.
He grabbed
for his shredded belly, to stanch the deadly flow of blood, to reach in, search
for the bullet, dig it out. But he couldn’t free his hands; they were pinned to
his body, tightly wound in something. He couldn’t tell.
As his
mind battled to make sense of the situation, his eyes struggled into focus.
Everything was black, save one piercing white light overhead. Its glow flipped
left to right as Steve rocked in a bid to free his arms and stop the life from
pouring from his gunshot wound.
In the
kind of few seconds that seem like forever, he worked both arms free and shot
his hands to the bullet hole just above his navel. His fingers prepared to
grope intestine and organ; instead, they hit skin. Soft, nacho-fed, lightly
haired skin. His digits looked for that fatal gap that must be somewhere …
there … on his torso … up … left … right … but found nothing unusual except
for a thin, inch-long cut just below his bottom left rib.
He was
certain he had just been shot. Or fairly sure, though he now lacked evidence.
Maybe that was just something that had entered his heat-stroked brain after too
many wind sprints … no. He didn’t do those anymore. And he was bound, by
something, left in the dark. If that much had happened, he had likely been
shot. Probably. He concluded that, if he didn’t want to get probably shot or
bound again, he’d need to get out of here.
another big hit of air – the oxygen blended with sinus-pinching taste of
anaesthetic and a rusty hint of blood, making him nauseous even as it cleared
his brain. He gasped again – each one tasted better – and looked at that light.
Its glow turned from formless orb to floating ball to the familiar form of
Metroburgh municipal streetlight. Steve followed its pole to the ground – his
stare caught onto a string of decorative porch lights as they disappeared down
a street in the background – and to the black ground below.
So there
was a streetlight here, he thought. What else? His eyes couldn’t make that out
yet, and his legs didn’t have the strength to explore.
instead, his eyes teamed with his fingers to determine the identity of the
restraint: A simple cotton sheet, soft, warming but industrially rough, like
you’d find on a low-rent hospital bed, light yellow with pink and white stripes
across the top. It had been swaddled around his torso and upper legs; it still
bound his calves tight. It felt fresh, clean, except for the part that had once
been around his belly but now drooped to the side. That was crusted with
something dark, like a giant scab. Blood? His fingernails scraped; he brought a
sample up to his nose. Yes, blood. Dried. A lot. Steve’s brain panicked again
and his hand shot back to his belly; no, still just soft pink flesh and tiny
And then
Steve’s brain provided a fresh reason for concern – why was his hand hitting
skin? Why not the sweat-wicking runwear Sally bought him last birthday? He
looked quickly down, making his head swim again; once he recovered, he got an
eyeful of his full, naked self, upper thigh straight on up. He grabbed the
folds of blanket off the bench and covered his shame.
So now his
panic had a thick overlay of creepy. Steve’s mind shot back through the last
few items in his memory. Running. Snack food. Yelling. Gunshot. No “getting
naked” on the list. Dear god, what had he, or somebody, done in the interim, he
As he
wrapped the blanket folds around him, ensuring all important bits were covered,
Steve forced himself to concentrate. He was shot. Or not. But most likely. Just
not wounded. But wrapped. In something bloody. And he was naked. Where?
Horizontal brown boards. A bench a park most likely. He looked to the horizon
again and objects finally started to clarify … the sturdy steel A of a
swingset… a couple of baby swings hanging down … a big red corkscrew slide
… by his bare feet, which he now determined were sitting on sand, a broken
pink Fisher-Price play kitchen, stacked high with filthy toy pots and pans,
buckets and shovels … a worn yellow Tonka truck … a couple of Frisbees that
had been converted into digging devices.
Steve knew
this spot. Bryan W. McCain, Sr. Urban Play Parkette, tucked away two blocks
from his semi. He was close to home. Thank god. Still, he was in a playground.
At night. Naked. Except, of course, for a blanket covered in dry blood.
give me another pull, asshole.”
down, man … … … alright, here you go.”
that’s the shit. Got this from some hopped-up Moldovan dude downtown, bro.”
jumped to his feet, momentarily dropping his blanket. The mumbled conversation
of two hoodied just-past-teens hit his ears; it sounded as though they were
right next to him. He swung his stuttering gaze 360 degrees, until he spotted
them approaching; they were still a good quarter-block away, though, passing
under the last streetlight before the parkette. Their smoke wafted up, hung in
the humidity.
Steve made
himself an impromptu diaper, bunching the blanket around his groin, and darted
for the hedge at the parkette’s south end. He crouched between its evergreen prickles
and the seven-foot security fence behind, tied the blanket in place. Then he
crouched further, into a ball, and waited.
Stumph, just off his shift at GasMart, and his cousin Nick DeBergh, not
currently working nor interested in the concept, slouched into the parkette and
dropped onto the bench Steve had occupied just seconds ago. They enjoyed a
nice, long joint and the inane conversation that it brought – cars they’d never
drive, lingerie models they’d never screw. After five minutes, Nick, his 259
pounds living on the border between husky and obese, was taking one long last
pull when something caught his eye.
The park
light glimmered off a big, light yellow form behind the bushes.
nudged Lucas, whose sallow cheeks and sunken eyes gave an outpatient
impression, nearly knocking him onto the ground. “Bro,” he said, pointing,
“What is that?”
the bushes, bro.” Nick got up, pulled down the bottom of his Area 51 t-shirt so
his belly was covered. “Check it out. Looks like … a dude in a diaper!”
“Oh fuck,
yeah,” Lucas said, laughing a deep, ganja-laced laugh. “Hey Diaper Dude!” he
called. “What’s in the bushes?”
could now see he was hardly hidden. He was cornered, though; the two men stood
between him and the parkette’s gate, and as they strolled toward him his escape
route was slowly, stumblingly cut off.
Diaper Dude!” Nick called, delighted at his discovery. “What you doin’ in
there, man?”
“Yeah, uh,
hey guys,” Steve responded with an understated wave. “How’s it going?”
Lucas was curious. “Are you one of those dudes who dresses up like a baby and
have some chick change your diaper?”
“Yeah, you
a perv?”
“Hey, it’s
nothing like that —”
Lucas’s face turned angry. “Yeah, what the fuck, bro. Doesn’t your niece play
at this park?”
The two
not-quite-teens now walked more quickly toward Steve’s failed hideout.
“Yeah, fuck, dude, Brytney plays here all the time. Hey, get the fuck out
here, pervy Diaper Dude!” Nick demanded.
stood, put his hands out to the side in a plea. “Look guys, I –” But there was
no point in trying to reason. Lucas ran the last 10 steps left between himself
and Steve, pulling out a small pocket knife as he did and saying, “Let’s fuck
this dude up.”
Steve was
out of options; couldn’t reason, couldn’t run, couldn’t do much damage against
a loser with knife. But in the last millisecond before his torso took its
second blow of the night, an electric surge shot through Steve’s legs, while
another hit his brain. And he jumped, up, back and, with unknown energy
exploding from his quads, he cleared the fence behind him with room to spare,
just as the knife sliced the space where he had stood a half-second before.
Steve came
down in the ankle-deep sod of the unkempt backyard behind the fence and, in
disbelief, stared Lucas in the eye, this time with the safety of a seven-foot
sheet of metal diamonds between them. “What the fuck?” Lucas said.
And just
as fast as he’d cleared the fence, Steve came to his senses, turned, ran. He
needed to get home, back to safety, he couldn’t take the streets and risk the
neighbours spotting him. But with this bizarre new strength coursing through
his legs, apparently allowing him to clear fences in single leaps, he could
take the back route. So he sprinted across the first, dark, 24-foot-wide back
yard and hurdled with ease over the five-foot privacy fence at the other side.
Stuck the landing. Good, he thought, now there were two fences between himself
and the stoners. He could take time to gather his thoughts. Until the motion-sensor
light snapped on and the Chihuahua
in the rear window began a piercing yip.
hurled himself over the next fence, again with ease, but this time crashed down
on an above-ground pool; the sound of his body hitting the water was loud
enough, but coupled with the clatter of the now-collapsing structure, and the
whoosh as gallons of water poured into the yard, it was enough to stir more
neighbours. Backyard lights flicked on almost instantly up and down the block;
any second now, annoyed homeowners would come out with their dogs or cats or
baseball bats.
As Steve
cut through the rushing water, he realized he just needed to cross one more
yard and he would hit the back alley that dissected his block, leading straight
to his backyard. As the demolished-pool owner slid his screen door open, Steve
cleared another fence. And again he stuck the landing, onto an upturned rake.
yelled the pool owner as Steve disappeared.
yelled the owner of the final yard, who was sitting on his candlelit deck,
enjoying a glass of chilled Cabernet with his wife’s best friend.
yelled the wife’s best friend.
And “Damn
it,” yelled Steve as two rake prongs shot into his bare right foot. He leapt
over the last fence with such force that he topped it with five feet to spare,
and, with the alley on the other side being blessedly empty, he turned right,
toward home, and broke into sprint, a dead sprint, faster than he’d ever
sprinted before. Then it occurred to him that his bleeding right foot would
leave a track leading to his own backyard. So he broke into a hop, a dead hop,
faster than he’d ever hopped before, to the safety of his own gate.
As he
arrived at the back of his house, Steve realized his key was exactly wherever
his running clothes now resided. So he picked up a fist-sized rock from Sally’s
decorative garden and, as quietly as possible, punched it through a glass pane
on his door. He reached through the resulting hole, slicing the side of his
hand in the process, and turned the knob from the inside. Then he pushed the
door open and allowed himself the sweet, agony-filled relief of a collapse on
his kitchen’s cold tile floor. He lay there for 10 minutes at least, panting
and seething with the sharp pains in his foot and hand, and flinching,
convinced he’d be caught, as he heard a smatter of neighbours searching the
But they
never came knocking. And so, when his will returned, Steve sat up to survey his
damaged body, slid over to the cupboards and pulled out tea towels, wrapping
them around his wounds. After a minute or two of applying pressure, he
staggered to his feet and, leaning on the faux-marble countertop, tried to
think of what he could possibly do next. As he looked around the room, trying
to settle on a course of action, he noticed the voicemail light flashing on the
kitchen phone; he grabbed the cordless receiver, thinking maybe an answer
resided there, in the receiver.
The robot
voice told him he had four. Unheard. Messages.
#1 was
Sally. “Hey, hon. Just heard from downstairs that some guy was shot at the
Sav-N-Lo. I know you were being a good boy and running, but give me a call back
at the desk, okay?”
#2 was
Sally, a touch more panicked. “Hon, just thought I’d hear back from you by now.
Guess you’ve gone for a long one. Good for you. Call back, okay?”
#3 was
Sally, really scared. “Steve, please call, okay? Someone just said they heard
some runner might have got hurt, but they didn’t bring anyone in. Why don’t you
take your stupid phone with you? Call me right now, okay?”
#4 was
Sally, on the edge of tears, five minutes ago. “Steve, I’m really scared, okay?
I was asking around now, no-one knows anything … call me, okay? C-” Steve
deleted the last message before it played out and dialled the maternity ward.
He stood,
the rumpled sheet half-clinging to his waistline, and stared at the wreck of
himself in the mirror above the kitchen sink. As the rings progressed, so did
this thought process – from “Poor Sally” to “Maybe she’ll know someone who can
help me” to “What am I going to tell her? That I woke up naked in a park and
just ran through our neighbours’ yards?”
West Maternity.” A too-familiar nurse spoke on the other end of the line.
“Could I
speak to Sally Janson, please.”
“Yes, hi
“Oh, thank
god. Sally’s worried sick,” his wife’s best work friend replied with her usual
agitation. “She was just heading home to check on you, I’ll see if I can catch
her.” The line clicked, then filled with Latin-tinged classical guitar.
waited, watching his reflection as the flamenco magic filled his right ear, and
discovered the line he had felt on his abdomen just minutes ago was gone.
Steve, is that you?”
hon-” and he noted, just above the non-cutline, a scrap of paper, safetypinned
to the top of the blanket near the top of his left thigh, something he’d missed
in the madness of the night.
“Are you
“Yeah, I’m
fine –” on the paper, the hand-scrawled message read “Call me. 701-565-7232.”
701 … North Dakota.
buzzed in the background. “Oh, I was so worried. Where were you?” she accused
with just-relieved terror. “I called and called. The police said that some
runner had been shot, and you never answered the phone, and I …”
North Dakota. A disappearing wound. Naked in a park, a
children’s park, with him blacked out and maybe eyewitnesses, to
something or anything …
“… but
they never found anyone, and I thought maybe you’d just crawled off somewhere,
and …” sobs.
wasn’t a lying man, at least not with the people that counted. Once the lies
started in a relationship, they never stopped, he’d learned from a rather nasty
college girlfriend. But there wasn’t another choice right now. He just needed a
small one; he’d figure a way back to the truth later on.
“Oh hon,
I’m sorry. I am so sorry. I just bailed on the run and crashed upstairs. I must
have slept through all your calls. Really, are you okay?”
“Yes,” she
said in a smaller voice now. “Don’t ever do that again. Okay? You sleep with a
phone on the pillow.”
“Oh god,
I’m so embarrassed,” she said, wiping a mix of tears and eyeliner from her
cheek with the back of her hand.
“Don’t be,
hon. Do you need me to come over? Get you a decaf?”
“No, no.
Really, don’t come down here. I just need to get back to work. Be up when I get
home, okay?”
“You got
it. Love you.”
“Love you,
too. And keep that phone on your pillow. Asshole.” Vulgarity meant the fear was
pancakes for when you get home.”
They hung
“How you
doin’, honey?” Martina asked.
really,” Sally replied, grabbing a tissue from the nursing station. “I feel so
Sal. He needs to grow up and treat you right.”
“Oh, he’s
just a man,” Sally replied. She let out a sigh and forced herself to her feet,
headed out for a night of towelling down birthing mothers and soothing birthing
And Steve
looked back at himself. God, he would need a better story by the end of Sally’s
shift. First, he’d have to explain the wounds … speaking of which, the pain
was gone now, all praise endorphins. He unwrapped the tea towel from his hand –
not only was the pain gone, the gash was, too. He unwrapped the towel from his
foot. No rake holes, either.
His shot,
skewered, sliced body was fine. Not just fine. Perfect. He glanced around the
kitchen to make sure the wounds had been real, that this wasn’t just a
hallucination formed by the leftover vapours of whatever had left him
unconscious. But there were still the bloody towels, the bloody sheet, the
broken window. Those were real. And, if he was going to keep Sally from asking
any more questions, he would have to dispose of them.
But before
the sweaty, blood-crusted blanket was trashbagged, he unpinned the note, walked
the strange message upstairs, slipped into his pyjamas, and tucked it amidst
the nail clippers and spare change and unread novels in his bedside table.
And he
pulled it out for one last look. 701. North Dakota. Add that to
the top of the night’s pile of what-the-hells.
The Book:



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About The Author
Douglas Cudmore
Doug Cudmore is a veteran journalist who has worked in business, entertainment, and urban affairs and crime. He is also a long-time comic-book lover. You can visit his web site at

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In the Spotlight: I Just Wanted Love by D.J. Burr

I Just Wanted Love Banner
 I Just Wanted Love
TitleI Just Wanted Love: Recovery of a Codependent, Sex and Love Addict
Author: D.J. Burr
Publisher: ABLE Counseling Services, LLC
Publication Date: December 31, 2014
Pages: 232 pages
ISBN: 978-0692299128
Genre: Memoir

Format: Paperback, eBook (.mobi / Kindle), PDF
D.J. Burr is a man on a mission; successful business owner, highly respected psychotherapist and survivor of a dysfunctional life. At a young age, all he wanted was to be loved, but instead found himself targeted by a sexual predator. D.J. slipped into a life of addiction and clawed his way through broken relationships and seedy sex clubs–looking for love in all the wrong places. D.J. will take readers on a roller coaster of emotions as he details his search for grace and love.
Book Excerpt:
Someone actually said they were
addicted to me, and that was the straw that broke this camel’s back. I could no
longer hold in all the pain and shame. I cried out in grief as I had this man
inside of me and said, “Take the condom off. I need you. I am addicted to you too.”
Every ounce of who I was washed out of me as I climaxed multiple times with
this man who was not wearing a condom. When it got right down to it, I just didn’t
believe I was worth anything. I wish I could say that I learned from my mistake
that day, but I didn’t. I took that risk again and again with him and others.
At this point, I was utterly spent
thinking about all the emotional baggage I had in my life. I just wanted to be
wanted for me and who I was, but I didn’t know how to get there. Somehow, I
thought I would find the answers to my questions at the bathhouse. The
bathhouse I frequented was a place where men could freely have sex out in the
open or in private rooms. There was porn, a steam room, and showers. The
facility even provided vending machines that were stocked with lubricant, condoms,
and candy.
I found a sense of false confidence
when I visited the bathhouse. For example, when someone approached me and wanted
to have sex, I felt empowered. After all, I could say, “yes” or “no.” I hardly
ever said no. But, the joy of being needed by
others was only temporary, and the power I felt was an inauthentic. It
never lasted more than 10 minutes after I left. Always, I worried someone would
see me walking out. Often, feared I might see a client there, and then what
would I do?
With everything going on in my
life at the time, I thought my business was the only thing worth salvaging, but
I was wrong. I didn’t realize that through my obsessive sexual behavior, I was
abandoning my own business too. I spent so much time worrying about my next sexual
fix that often my focus and attention was not on my therapy practice and its
growing clientele. Also, I was doing things that were actually illegal, such as
videotaping men in restrooms or locker rooms. But what can I say? I got high from that kind of thing which temporarily
relieved the pain and chaos swirling around inside me. The fact that I wasn’t
getting caught was exhilarating. I actually thought this was normal behavior. In
fact, I thought it was so normal that I never hesitated to send copies
of my illegal videos and pictures to friends. They sent me their photos too.
I needed serious help. I started
seeing a forensic psychologist who has been in the business for over 30 years. Every
week I told him about my struggles, and every week he said the same thing, “Go
to a meeting.”
But, I didn’t want to hear about
going to meetings. However, my therapist was insistent; he wanted me to see how
12-Step meetings could work for me. During our sessions, he often pulled out
the AA Big Book, having me read through “The 12 Steps.”
He encouraged me to go to
Codependents Anonymous, but at the time, I didn’t get it. Along with “not
getting it,” I didn’t want anyone to tell me about how I was “codependent.”
Frankly, I didn’t have a real sense of what the word even meant. Most weeks,
after therapy, I continued to walk down to the bathhouse to have sex for a few
hours. Was I codependent on the sex?
Looking back at the summer after
my sophomore year of high school, I now recognize this is when my codependence
and sex and love addiction fully emerged.
I wish
someone would have told me that I was being targeted by a sick, child molester.
While hanging out at my great-grandmother, Mama Sara’s house, I saw someone out
of the corner of my eye. It was Kenny. I had always known him as one of my
dad’s closest friends. While growing up, I had gone over to his home many times
to play with his nephew. Kenny had always been friendly to me. He lived right
across the street from Mama Sara.
After catching Kenny’s glance out of the corner of my eye,
he walked over and asked if he could sit down next to me. I said, “Sure.” I had
noticed that his wife and two boys were hanging out on his front porch…I didn’t
really know them all that well. Kenny and I started talking, and he asked what
was going on with me. Like always, he asked when
was the last time I had spoken to my dad. Honestly, I couldn’t remember.
Kenny always insisted that I call my dad and try to work things out. He was pretty
much a broken record when it came to that subject.
After getting all the
formalities out of the way, the conversation slowly turned to an awkward
topic. In short, Kenny said he knew what was going on with my family and me. At
first, I was puzzled. What he was talking about. But as he continued, it was
like he had been a fly on the wall inside my house; he knew I was gay. I was
At first, I was angry and upset with Kenny. Then he told me
he was interested in talking with me about
it. He had genuine empathy for my situation, and he made an effort to understand
what I must have been going through. Finally, I said to myself, here is someone who is finally willing to
listen to me and possibly be objective about the whole thing.
At that
moment, I felt a ton of weight lifted from my shoulders. But the weightlessness
didn’t last long.
After a while, the conversation between Kenny and I turned
a little dark. It was like he was too
supportive. It was like he was trying to coax me into saying something he
wanted to hear, but I had no clue what that was. Throughout our conversation, I
kept glancing at him, and he was just staring at me really intensely. His was a
look I had never seen before in my life, and I started to get nervous. I felt
shaky, and my hands got very clammy. Then, he popped the question I will never
forget for as long as I live. He straightforwardly asked me to kiss him. I couldn’t
believe my ears. This man was no less than two feet from my face, and he was
asking me to kiss him. My heart started to race. At first I thought his gesture
was some kind of joke, especially since his family was sitting on his front
porch, directly across the street from us, probably wondering why he was even
talking to me in the first place. And now,
he was asking for a kiss?
I was now beyond nervous. I mustered up the courage to ask him
what the hell he was talking about and why he was asking for such a thing,
especially since his wife was right across the way. I asked if he was gay. He
said he didn’t like “labels.” I thought this was kind of funny because I assumed
his label as husband and father, should stand for a lot. But, I guess not. That’s
when he told me he was interested in me. That was all I needed to hear to get
totally freaked out. I had no earthly idea what to do next. I wondered, what interest could a 40-something have in a
16-year old?
I told him I had to go inside, and he looked at me as if I were
Juliet and him, Romeo. There was so much intensity in that look, and I was actually
Now, I am aware the interaction I had with Kenny that weekend
was his initial step in him “grooming” me for a secret, sexual relationship. It
was a gradual, calculated process.
Step 1: Targeting the victim Kenny sized my vulnerabilities up that day. He was empathic
to my situation at home and assured me he was not going to be just one more
adult interested in judging me for being gay. Kenny wanted to “protect” me.
I hurried into the house and went straight to my room. Once
there, I began to cry. I was so confused. There were a billion questions rolling
around in my head. I didn’t understand what had just happened. This grown man—my
dad’s friend, a married man, a father—had just told me of his interest in me.
He had asked for a kiss while his wife sat only 50 feet away. I was in total
shock. Since I had no one to talk to, I had to deal with it all on my own. I definitely
didn’t want to risk my family finding out. I cried myself to sleep that night.
Several days passed, and I hadn’t seen or heard from Kenny.
I just kept thinking that the whole thing had to be some kind of joke. I tried my
best to banish the incident from my mind. Well, no sooner did I try to do that, and I saw him again. Getting
off the bus for my job at the mall, there he was.
We engaged in small talk. He told me he now worked a taxi
route that included the mall.  When I
heard this, I let out a scream in the back of my mind—this was all too much for
me. If he was now working at the mall where I worked, this increased my chances
of seeing him on a regular basis. Which really scared me. It occurred to me
that maybe he was some sick man who lusted after young boys. If only I had
decided to trust my own instincts. But eventually, I decided to throw that idea
out the window because, if that were the case, why didn’t he do anything or say
something before now?
One afternoon after working the morning shift, I walked
across the street from the mall to catch the bus home. Kenny’s car was parked
near the bus stop.  He had also been
working that day, so we engaged in casual conversation at the bus stop for a
few minutes. Our small talk wasn’t anything really dramatic, but I noticed more
and more that I had these crazy feelings whenever I was around him. I found
myself growing awkwardly attracted to
this man who was old enough to be my father. After all, Kenny was 45 at the time,
which was way older than my own dad.
Our conversation ended when the bus arrived. A few days
later, I worked the evening shift and once again, rode the bus home. By the
time I made it back to my neighborhood, it was dark. I got off the bus and
headed down the hill to Mama Sara’s house. Everything was fine until I heard a car
pull up behind me. I knew it was Kenny because his car made this awful sound.
He stopped the car, and I turned around to see what he wanted. He asked if I
wanted a lift to my place.
Stage two: Gaining a victim’s trust I thought about it for a minute, and then I got into the
car with him. That’s when he said he needed to make a quick detour to the local
drugstore to pick up some ice cream for his wife.
We ended up talking all the way to the drugstore, and it
was really interesting having such a lengthy discussion with him. I didn’t feel
like a child when I talked to him. I felt as though he valued my opinions. I
felt a connection with him. We walked into the store together to get what he
needed and then headed back toward home.
On the ride back, the conversation took a turn to the topic
of him and me. I still thought he was crazy. Why would he want me? I still hadn’t figured this man out.
All I knew was that I was growing really
attracted to him, and this became evident because I was so aroused around him. I couldn’t tell him whether or not anything
could actually develop between us. I couldn’t think that far in advance at that
The car finally reached his house and we got out and stood
around on the sidewalk for a few minutes. Since Mama Sara’s house was right
there, I was scared that someone would see me with him. As I started to leave
to walk home, he pulled me back and held me. I froze. I liked it. I liked the
feeling of his hands on me. But then, I quickly snapped out of it, pulled away
from him, and hurried home. I knew right then I was in trouble. I actually
liked this man, and he liked me. What was I to do? Kenny gained my trust, and I
was on my way to “needing” him.
three: filling a need
A few days later I got a
page on my pager. It was Kenny. I had totally forgotten I had given him my pager
number. I called him back, and he wanted to know what I was doing and when I
had to work. I told him I had to work that morning, and apparently, so did he. He gave me a ride to work, and it was so strange being
in his car this time. I felt like a fugitive on the run. I rendezvoused
with him further down my street so my family wouldn’t see me getting into his
car. As he drove me to work, I kept an eye out for other family members’ cars.
I just knew I would be dead if they knew I was with Kenny.
I finally made it to work
undetected, and, afterwards, we planned to
go to lunch. So after our shifts ended, we hooked back up in the mall parking
lot and went to lunch at this little diner down the street. I felt so strange being with him. I was worried
about what people might say. Maybe, they thought I was his son or brother?
Maybe, they thought we were lovers? Hell, I
didn’t even know what we were.
All I really knew was that someone was paying attention to
me and thought I was valuable. He was interested in what I had to say and how I
felt. I didn’t feel lonely when he was around. I didn’t feel scared anymore.
After lunch, we got in the car and headed back home. On the
way there, he reached over and touched my leg. It felt good. I got this warm
sensation. It was unreal. I liked his affection. I believe, on some unconscious
level, I forgot this man had a wife and kids. Was I wrong for doing this? I didn’t
know then. I was enjoying myself. After all the hell I had been through, I
thought I needed to enjoy my surroundings, and he just happened to be a part of
those surroundings. That’s what I told myself. I was a scared kid looking for
We finally made it back to our street, and he pulled into
his driveway. I looked back, and I could only make out part of Mama Sara’s house,
so I doubted anyone could see me. He hopped out of the car and told me to come in.
My heart sank. I couldn’t move. I told him there was no way in hell I was going
into his house, but he kept begging me. He even came over to my door and playfully
tried to drag me out. But still, I didn’t budge. Truth be told; I was terrified
because of a serious look on his face, and I knew what was going on in his mind—he
wanted to mess around. But, I knew there was no way I could do that. I knew I had
to get my ass out of that car. He finally backed off, and I went home. I was
relieved to be home, my heart pounding. I was all worked up.
The following days and weeks were filled with him trying to
pursue me, and me not knowing what to do. He called me constantly. It didn’t
matter where I was; he just kept calling. Having my pager going off so much was
sort of nerve–racking, but I secretly enjoyed sneaking off to use the phone to
see what Kenny wanted. Kenny called me from his home, work, anywhere—and this
made me feel good. I felt like I was the only person in his life whenever I was
around him. He paid so much attention to me, and I couldn’t have asked for anything
more. Eventually, the fact that he had a wife didn’t seem to bother me at all, because
soon he and I finally had sex.
It all went down one afternoon after he gave me a ride home
from work. This time when he pulled into his driveway and asked me to come in,
I didn’t hesitate. He took me to the back bedroom in his house.  There was a bathroom, mini-kitchenette, futon
bed, and phone—it was like his own studio apartment. He showed me around the
other parts of the house, and I saw his family portraits—he had a great-looking
four: Isolation
He closed and locked the bedroom
door, and my heart jumped out of my chest.
At first, I tried to play it calm, walking around the room,
hoping he wouldn’t try to do anything—but in the back of my mind, I wanted him
just as badly as he wanted me. I had never been in a situation like this before.
I had never even been interested in older men.
five: Sexualizing the relationship
Then, it
finally happened. He came up to me turned me around, and we kissed. I couldn’t
feel my feet…I was floating on air. His lips tasted so good (smoker’s breath,
but still good). The next thing I knew our clothes were coming off and we were
having wild, passionate, uncontrolled sex. I had never had it like that before,
so I just let myself go.
Kenny was so gentle with me. I felt so wanted, so loved at
that moment. It was like nothing I had ever imagined or experienced. After we
both had climaxed, he ran some bath water, and we both got in. I was in heaven.
He washed my throbbing body, and it felt so, so good. We kissed some more and
fondled each other in the bath.
I didn’t know what to think about the whole scenario that
day. I was partially relieved because I didn’t have to keep telling him “no.” I
was feeling very anxious because I worried that my family would find out. I
became trapped in a web of lies and became even more isolated from my family
and dependent on Kenny.
six: Maintaining control
In the following weeks, we met
secretly at his home, at work, around the block, in the shrubs near the mall—anywhere
we could kiss and makeout. We would even sit out in broad daylight kissing in
his car in the mall parking lot. It felt like a real relationship. I bought him
sweet little cards from Hallmark, wrote him poetry, and did anything else I
could do to show him how much he meant to me. He took me out to lunch
occasionally. One time he even went to help me shop for school clothes. We
bought matching “K-Swiss” t-shirts! Sometimes I looked out my window, and I
could see him wearing his t-shirt, and I just knew it was some kind of sign
that he was thinking about me.
Late at night, he came down to my house and talked to me
while I sat on my screened-in front porch. He usually stood out in the street while
we talked. One night, all hell broke loose. Mama Sara had apparently started noticing
how Kenny was always coming over to talk to me (it was usually around 11 or midnight,
but she noticed). Kenny and I were standing there talking about random things
when my cousin, Samantha, came storming out of the house, demanding that Kenny
leave me alone. She started ranting and raving about how he had no business
talking to me. It was such a mess. I was pissed beyond belief. Kenny left, and
I went inside demanding to know why in the hell she had decided I couldn’t talk
to him.
I walked into the living room all fired up. I couldn’t
believe Samantha had embarrassed me like that. I demanded an answer as to why I
couldn’t talk to Kenny. That’s when Mama Sara said that she knew all about
Kenny, and she knew he was trying to mess with me.
I told her that she had no right to tell me whom I could
talk to or see. Then, she played the AIDS card. She went on and on about our neighbor
whose son died of AIDS because he was gay. I had no clue why she couldn’t
understand that anybody can contract AIDS, not just gay people. She got all
emotional and started saying that she didn’t want me to be like all the other gays
and die.
She then took it further by claiming that I was the cause
of some fight Kenny and his wife supposedly had out on the street a few days
back. I hadn’t heard about any fight. I asked how she knew about it. Just like
I figured, she heard about it from all the neighborhood gossip. I was appalled.
I wanted to get out of that fucking house so bad at that moment. I called Kenny
and told him what went down. He claimed he had no idea what Mama Sara was
talking about concerning a fight. From that day forward, everything at my
great-grandmother’s house got worse.
Finally, it got to the point where
I started lying about going to the library, so I could see Kenny. I thought my
family was trying to take me away from the one that I loved so much. I had
fallen hard for this man in just a month’s time. I wrote countless poems that
expressed my undying love for Kenny. Here is a sample of one of the poems I wrote
to him:
of My Heart
a ray of light, you shined into my life.
took my hand and held it tight.
looked at you, very sweet, indeed.
touched my soul and, like a thief in the night, you stole my heart.
wasn’t willing to, give at first, but with your honesty and trust, I must.
in a day, every second of every hour, every day of every month, I will always
you have a piece of my heart.
cherish me, as I do you.
may not be yours in the fullest extent, but in our hearts we’ll always be.
love you with every inch of my heart, but remember only one piece is given when
I became even more isolated from my family that
summer. Kenny had come into my life and became everything I thought I was
missing. Every chance I could take to see him, I did. He told me he needed me.
He told me he loved me. I was convinced that I was in love too. It wasn’t clear
at the time, but I now know that my child molester had the ultimate grip on my
It was as if I were under a spell. Never had I
disobeyed my family like this and lied to so many people. I was different now;
I was not myself. I became obsessed with Kenny. But, he knew I was only staying
with Mama Sara for the summer, so he slowly tried to push me away. He finally succeeded
when he asked me if I thought he would ever leave his family for me. I said I
hoped that he would. He said there was no way he would.
And so, there it was. In a single instant, Kenny went
from this caring, loving friend and lover to this evil user. But, I still
couldn’t hate him. Before I left, he said he would always love me and cherish
everything I had ever given to him. All of these moments ignited my addictions,
but the stage was set much earlier in my childhood.
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Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

About The Author
D.J. Burr

Darrett “D.J.” Burr is a licensed mental health counselor in the Washington State; national certified counselor and a specialist in problematic sexual behavior. He has been in private practice in Seattle, WA for five years. D.J. is the co-founder, owner, and Executive Director of A.B.L.E. Counseling Services, LLC.

D.J. is the creator of ABLE Affirmations, ABLE Life Recovery, and the ABLE Care Clinic. D.J. published Unfinished: A GLBT Domestic Violence Workbook while completing his Masters in Community Counseling at Argosy University-Atlanta in 2009.

Born in raised in Marietta, GA, D.J. has been known to many as a survivor. His childhood was less-than-nurturing. D.J. spent the majority of his early years tending to other’s needs and wants; not knowing what his were. He kept fighting for more–more understanding of himself.

Unfortunately, D.J. lost focus after being targeted by a sexual predator. D.J. lapsed into addiction to numb the pain of the molestation, broken relationships, dysfunctional family of origin, and loss of his childhood. However, the addiction did not stop him.

Over 15 years later, D.J. has learned to live life instead of surviving life. D.J. found answers to his long unanswered questions, primarily, who loves me? Twelve Step recovery and rigorous honesty saved D.J. from a life of addiction. He can now say, “I love myself.” Loving himself allowed D.J. to stop chasing unavailable people, places, and things. He now focuses on his recovery, which impacts every facet of his life.

D.J. enjoys writing, watching movies, especially horror/suspense. His favorite band is Nickelback. His favorite R&B group is Destiny’s Child. D.J. is also a huge fan of old 80s-90s cartoons like Transformers.You can visit D.J. Burr’s website at

Connect with D.J.:
Author Website:
I Just
Wanted Love Tour Page

Character Interview: Ana Opaku Belén from Eleanor Parker Sapia’s historical novel, A DECENT WOMAN

character interviewWe’re thrilled to have here today Ana Opaku Belén from Eleanor Parker Sapia’s historical novel, A DECENT WOMAN. Ana is a forty-year-old, Afro-Cuban midwife currently living in 1900 Barrio Playa de Ponce, Puerto Rico.

It is a pleasure to have Señorita Belén with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Ana.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed, or would you like to set anything straight with your readers? 

BOOK COVER SEPT 2014 (2) (1)When A DECENT WOMAN begins, I am a 40-year-old, Afro-Cuban midwife who was born into slavery on a sugar plantation in Cuba. At 20, my parents hid me in the bowels of a steamer ship and I arrived in Playa de Ponce, Puerto Rico in the middle of the night. I had no family or friends on the island, and yes, a dark secret is the reason I fled Cuba. I fear this secret will ruin me, my reputation, not to mention, my livelihood as the only midwife in the Playa de Ponce. 

Eleanor has worked with refugees as a Spanish-language case worker and a counselor in Belgium; and in the United States as a Staff member at a residential treatment center for children; and also with women who entered the US illegally, hoping for a better life for themselves and their children, as a Spanish-language Family Support Worker. Eleanor understands what it means to live on the fringes of society as an illegal born into poverty and repression with few rights. I believe she portrayed me exactly as I should have been portrayed–with sensitivity, dignity, and a good understanding of what women went through in history because millions of women today still suffer at the hands of men, government, and society in many parts of the world.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

Yes, Eleanor did a great job portraying me. She understood what it must have felt like for a woman born into slavery to react to male-dominated, 1900 Ponce at that time—women knew their places in society and all women needed male support and protection to survive to some extent, even the women of society. For the most part, I was frightened of authority because I was poor, uneducated, and black, but I was happy Eleanor had me fearlessly forging ahead with my work. Despite many challenges involving the Catholic Church and male doctors, who’d entered the birthing room for the first time, I was feisty and determined to continue working as a midwife. My love for my midwifery clients and their children shows in the novel. 

My unlikely friendship with Serafina, a member of Ponce high society, and my later friendships with prostitutes and women—white, black, brown, mulattas, creoles—all labeled as indecent by society, were challenging, but I grew from these experiences. I became a role model and mentor to younger women, but I didn’t realize that until later. When Eleanor broke down my emotional walls, I became naive, hopeful, more trusting, which was highly uncomfortable, but I found love as a result. But would this love survive because of my choices and decisions? 

What do you believe is your strongest trait? 

I have many strong traits, and I can’t pick just one! I am a hard-working, tough as nails midwife, and tender and loving with my clients and their children. Despite hoping to appear stoic and serious, I have a fun side that is shared with a select few. I am highly intuitive, courageous, a loyal friend, and I recognize that a good working relationships with the male doctors and obstetricians who have entered the birthing room for the first time, is critical, but I don’t like it. I’m a spiritual woman who practices the Yoruba tradition side by side with Catholicism with a good dose of superstition mixed in. I am stubborn and courageous.

Worse trait?

Must I pick only one? I have many traits that get me into trouble! My childhood of slavery and the abuse I went through as a young woman, make me secretive, leery of men, and distrustful of authority. Because I had no one to rely on at an early age, I assume I know it all, and don’t make friends easily. I am judgmental, stubborn, opinionated, and a bit naive with friendships and men. I’m cautious, rebellious and at times, can appear unfeeling, but I am loyal to a fault. Near the end of my story, I could lose the love of my life, and in the end I could make the ultimate sacrifice for a dear friend who has betrayed me. I am impulsive and reactive, you see.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)? 

Eleanor has enjoyed thinking of this question for years, and Eleanor and her readers say A DECENT WOMAN would make a great film! She would love to see the talented actress Wunmi Mosaku play my younger self, and the great Viola Davis as the older Ana.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Why yes, I do. My friend, a medium named Doña Fela, predicts I’ll meet a man, a healer, who I will work side by side with. I believe I’m too old for love, but Fela insists that he will be good for me. I cannot imagine it, as I don’t trust men. Who would want a forty-year-old woman with no money and such crippling emotional baggage from her past? And what about my secret? If the man found out what I had done in Cuba, he would surely turn his back and leave me. I can’t fathom another great loss in my life, but I do meet such a man. Eleanor picked the perfect man for me!

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

When I am forced to move from Barrio Playa de Ponce to Barrio San Anton, I meet two young prostitutes and their pimp. I begin to worry that I should move because the man frightens me, and reminds me of the overseer in the Cuban plantation of my youth. The young women take huge risks, and sometimes I am involved. Near the end, I wrestle with feelings of anger and hatred when my friend Serafina is harmed, and I hatch a plan that could go very badly for me when I involve the young prostitutes.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why? 

A reader might think I’d love to trade places with my best friend, Serafina, who marries into a prominent, wealthy Ponce family, but I wouldn’t. Although I love Serafina, she suffers greatly at the hands of her husband, Antonio. I dream of a family and the love of a good man, but I can’t imagine living Serafina’s life.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away? 

Eleanor’s editor and a few advanced readers were concerned with the original ending. Eleanor thought long and hard about it…and came to a conclusion. You will have to read the book to know my outcome!

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it? 

Eleanor is researching for the sequel to A DECENT WOMAN called Mistress of Coffee. At the moment, she is wrestling between writing her second historical novel, also about colonial Puerto Rico, or diving back in with the sequel, which begins in 1920, in the mountains of Yayuya in Puerto Rico. She is close to making a decision.

Thank you for this interview, Ana Belen.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future? 

Well, I might be in the sequel, Mistress of Coffee, and because of my advanced age, I would be in the role of counselor, mentor, advisor, and always with my signature humor, courage, and clarity. Serafina and I have been through a lot together, and in the sequel, we might watch as Serafina’s daughter Lorena and her three, younger brothers forge the way for a new Porto Rico in opposition of the United States’ control of the island. Stay tuned to see if I’m in the sequel! 

Thank you very much for this interview, Beyond the Books! Please watch for the release of A DECENT WOMAN in March 24, 2015 with Booktrope!


profile-pic (1)Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s life experiences as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker, and a refugee case worker inspire her passion for writing. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago a second time. A Decent Woman is her debut novel. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children, and she lives in West Virginia.

About the Book 

Ponce, Puerto Rico, at the turn of the century: Ana Belén Opaku, an Afro-Cuban born into slavery, is a proud midwife with a tempestuous past. After testifying at an infanticide trial, Ana is forced to reveal a dark secret from her past, but continues to hide an even more sinister one. Pitted against the parish priest, Padre Vicénte, and young Doctór Héctor Rivera, Ana must battle to preserve her twenty-five year career as the only midwife in La Playa.

Serafina is a respectable young widow with two small children, who marries an older wealthy merchant from a distinguished family. A crime against Serafina during her last pregnancy forever bonds her to Ana in an ill-conceived plan to avoid a scandal and preserve Serafina’s honor.

Set against the combustive backdrop of a chauvinistic society, where women are treated as possessions, A Decent Woman is the provocative story of these two women as they battle for their dignity and for love against the pain of betrayal and social change.

Find out more on Amazon.

Book Trailer Spotlight: A Decent Woman, by Eleanor Parker Sapia

Originally posted on If Books Could Talk:

Title: A Decent Woman

Author: Eleanor Parker Sapia

Genre: Historical Fiction/Hispanic

Publisher: Bookthrope

Find on Amazon

BOOK COVER SEPT 2014 (2) (1)

Ponce, Puerto Rico, at the turn of the century: Ana Belén Opaku, an Afro-Cuban born into slavery, is a proud midwife with a tempestuous past. After testifying at an infanticide trial, Ana is forced to reveal a dark secret from her past, but continues to hide an even more sinister one. Pitted against the parish priest, Padre Vicénte, and young Doctór Héctor Rivera, Ana must battle to preserve her twenty-five year career as the only midwife in La Playa.

Serafina is a respectable young widow with two small children, who marries an older wealthy merchant from a distinguished family. A crime against Serafina during her last pregnancy forever bonds her to Ana in an ill-conceived plan to avoid a scandal and preserve Serafina’s honor.

Set against the combustive backdrop of a chauvinistic society…

View original 120 more words

Cover Reveal: Two Princes The Biker and the Billionaire by Victoria Danann

About The Book

Title: Two Princes: The Biker and The BillionaireAuthor: Victoria Danann

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: dba7th House Publishing, Imprint of Andromeda LLC

Publication Date: June 16, 2015


Brigid Roan is a graduate student at the University of Texas. She had no trouble getting her thesis approved, but finding a Hill Country motorcycle club willing to give her access to their lifestyle had started to seem impossible. Then she got a lead. A friend of a friend had a cousin with ties to The Sons of Sanctuary.
What she wanted was information to prove a proposition. What she didn’t want was to fall for one of the members of the club. Especially since she had set out to prove that motorcycle clubs are organized according to the same structure as primitive tribal society.
Brash Fornight was standing in line at the H.E.B. Market when his world tipped on its axis. While waiting his turn to check out, his gaze had wandered to the magazine display and settled on the new issue of “NOW”. The image on the cover, although GQ’d up in an insanely urbane way, was… him.
After reading the article, Brash threw some stuff in a duffle and left his club, The Sons of Sanctuary, with a vague explanation about needing a couple of days away. He left his Jeep at the Austin airport and caught a plane for New York, on a mission to find the guy who was walking around with his face.
Two brothers, one a player, one a playboy, are on a collision course with destiny and a woman who thought she won a prize when she was allowed a look inside the Sons of Sanctuary MC.

About The Author

Victoria Danann
Victoria Danann is the USA TODAY Bestselling Author of The Knights of Black Swan, which has won BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES TWO YEARS IN A ROW (2013, 2014). Reviewers Choice Awards, The Paranormal Romance Guild.
Victoria writes cross-genre with uniquely fresh perspectives on paranormal creatures, characters, and themes. She is making her debut into contemporary romance with publication of the SUMMER FIRE ultimate romance collection anthology. It contains a novella intro to the Sons of Sanctuary MC series. The first full novel of the series will be released June 16, 2015.
Contact Victoria at:

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