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As Kevin begins his investigation, there's no shortage of possible suspects or motives. Could the killer be a sadistic head case with a deadly ...
As Kevin begins his investigation, there's no shortage of possible suspects or motives. Could the killer be a sadistic head case with a deadly fetish? A high-profile celebrity worried that his biggest secret might get out? Or perhaps it's a right-wing politician, guilty of protesting too much from his pious and unforgiving soapbox. As Kevin gets closer to the truth, he'll find himself trapped in a scandalous web of secrets where the line between victim and predator blurs, and no sin goes unpunished . . .
Generally speaking, Kevin Connor (First You Fall, 2008) is very comfortable with who he is. He's deeply in love with his conflicted boyfriend, Officer Tony Rinaldi; he's recently turned to the Unitarian Universalist Church; he volunteers at Sunday school. In fact, he confides, "if I weren't making such easy money as a hustler, I could see being a teacher." Except for scat, golden showers and "insertive sex," which he reserves for noncommercial transactions, Kevin's available for most any kink, and he makes most of his encounters with self-styled dentists, battling clowns and podiatrists with foot fetishes sound both funny and touching. Life would be perfect if only Tony could commit to being gay in general and to Kevin in particular, and if someone hadn't declared open season on so many of Kevin's colleagues. Brooklyn Ray is dead. So is Sammy White Tee. And Randy Bostivick's in the middle of telling Kevin what a totally unexpected client he entertained recently when he's hit by a speeding car. Readers who aren't as new to the genre as Kevin and Randy will be somewhat less amazed by the identity of the mystery client. In lieu of surprise, Sherman offers a priceless sequence bringing together Kevin's hairdresser mother with her idol, talk-show host Yvonne Rivera; a first-person narrative by turns catty and brightly didactic; and a heaping helping of sex in every flavor, including vanilla (though not the vanilla you think).
Think of Frank Capra with fag-baiters, and you'll have a sense of Kevin's New York.
Despite my unconventional choice of profession, I tried to have a normal life. I really did.
So how come weird stuff kept happening to me?
I started my week in church, like the good boy I try to be.
By the time the week was over, I'd find myself covered in whipped cream, attending a party in my underwear, defending my mother against a monster, working for a man I considered a Nazi, losing my semi-boyfriend, and fighting for my life.
But I had to do it all.
As I was soon to find out, someone was murdering the most beautiful male prostitutes in New York.
And it was up to me to find out who.
As a male hustler working in New York City, I've done plenty of kinky things. I've been tied up, scrubbed down, and hosed out. I've played every role my young-looking features lent themselves to. I've been the naughty schoolboy sent to the principal's office for a paddling, the high school football hero treated for a pulled groin muscle by the horny coach, and the newspaper delivery boy who "accidentally" walks in on his customer in the nude. I've done it in the changing room of a major department store on Broadway, on a Thanksgiving float used in another store's popular parade, and in the DJ booth of the city's most popular dance club during an exclusive private party. With the DJ. I've been massaged, shaved, tickled, and wrapped in aluminum foil by some of New York's wealthiest and most powerful men. I've been with guys who wore everything from tutus to superhero costumes to scuba suits.
For the most part, I love my job. If you have an open mind, other people's kinks are fun and kind of sweet. I like that I give my clients a place to act out the desires they're afraid to show their boyfriends, partners, husbands, and wives. As long as the activity is safe, consensual, and semi-legal, I'm down with it.
I do have my limits, though. Anything involving urine or, God forbid, that other thing, is out of the question. No how, no way, no matter how much he's willing to pay. Not gonna happen.
Which brings me to the question of how I found myself, on this particular Sunday in November, being peed on by one Willem Patrick O'Reilly III, the golden stream arcing majestically to soak the entire front of my two hundred dollar John Varvatos hoodie.
"Pee!" Willem shouted happily. "I put my pee on you!"
Yeah, I let Willem pee on me. It wasn't so much that he was cute (though he was) or rich (well, his parents were) but the fact that he was three years old that let him get away with it.
"Sorry, Kevin, I should have warned you he's a soaker," Cindy, my co-teacher in the playroom, called out as she watched Willem hose me down. "Some boys are like that. The minute you get their pants off, they can't wait to celebrate."
Cindy was in her mid-sixties. She wore her long gray hair in a ponytail and dressed like a hippie-Wicca from Woodstock. She didn't seem to have a mean or sarcastic bone in her body.
"It's OK," I called back to her as she handed out more Play-Doh to the other kids in the class. "I'll consider it a baptism."
I looked down at Willem on the changing table, where he lay with a delighted grin.
"Good aim, kid."
Willem laughed. "I pee all over you."
"I'll notify the awards committee," I told him. "Now we both have to get changed."
Willem stuck out his lower lip. "I don't wanna get changed. I wanna play with Play-Doh!"
"Sorry, buddy," I said. I cleaned him with a baby wipe and put a fresh diaper on him. "Now that the missile's back in the silo, you want to get back to the other kids?"
Willem nodded enthusiastically.
I lifted him to the floor.
"How about next time," I said, "you try to make that peepee in the potty?"
Willem grimaced. "Potties are poopie," he explained.
"But," I said, "if you use the potty, you don't have to get changed and you'll have more time to play with the Play-Doh."
Willem looked thoughtful. "I scared of potty," he said quietly.
I knelt down. "Why are you scared of the potty, Willem?"
"My brudder said I fall in and go to poopie land."
"Your brother's just teasing you," I said, thinking I'd have to mention something to Willem's mother when she picked him up. "You can't fall down the toilet. I promise."
Willem took my hand. "If I go potty, you come with me?"
I gave him my most serious look. "I promise."
Willem kissed me on the cheek. "I wuv you, Kebbin." He ran back to the Play-Doh.
I love you, too, buddy, I thought. I love you, too.
The truth was, I pretty much loved all kids. If I weren't making such easy money as a hustler, I could see being a teacher. In the meantime, I satisfied my paternal yearnings here at the Sunday school program of The Metropolitan Unitarian Universalist Church of Manhattan.
I started coming to the church a few months ago, after a near-death experience that found me hanging naked from the ceiling of a serial killer's torture chamber. As said killer was choking me, I didn't see my life flashing before me, but I did, in a very Peggy Lee moment, think, Is that all there is?
Although I wound up being saved by my semi-boyfriend, the incredibly beautiful and conflicted Officer Tony Rinaldi of the New York Police Department, I couldn't shake the feeling that there had to be more to existence than just getting by.
I might not have made it to heaven that night, but I got close enough that I wanted to make sure I knew the password.
I wasn't raised in a religion, so I asked friends about theirs. Eventually, I found out about Unitarian Universalism. It's a religion that has no dogma and no ritual. They don't tell you what to believe in or what to do. You're encouraged to live in a way that's honorable and respectful of the natural world and other living things. The UU principles value democracy and freedom. You don't even have to believe in God or Jesus to be a UU—although you're encouraged to be courteous to those who do.
UU churches are supportive religious communities that prize diversity and intellectual curiosity.
Plus, the reverend of my church is a brilliant, inspiring speaker, openly gay, and totally hot. Every week, I listen to his sermons and am simultaneously spiritually uplifted and turned on.
Sexy enlightenment? Works for me.
A couple of months ago, one of the Sunday school teachers called in sick. Reverend Jack asked if I could fill in. Although I had hoped that his first request of me would involve massage oil and nude wrestling, I would pretty much do anything he asked.
So, I helped out. Working in the preschool room reminded me just how much I enjoy being around children. When an ongoing position there opened up, I was happy to volunteer. Now, every Sunday, I attend the early sermon and help run the preschool for the second session. The kids are great, and my co-leader, Cindy, is funny and warm.
She's also been a teacher long enough to know just how uncomfortable working in a urine-soaked sweatshirt can be.
"Go see Shirley in the office," she told me. "She probably has some T-shirts left over from some church event or something."
Shirley-in-the-office was one of those women who seemed to work at every church in the world: somewhere between seventy and one hundred, hair pulled back in a tidy bun, harlequin glasses permanently perched on the tip of her patrician nose. She took a sniff as I walked into the room.
"Let me guess," she said in her hoarse rasp that proved that not everyone who smoked died young. "That's not juice."
"It was at one point," I offered.
Shirley gave a little shudder. "That is just one of the reasons I never had children. Filthy beasts." She waved her hand as if shooing something away.
"Listen," I said. "Cindy thought you might have something I could change into."
Shirley got up slowly. Her bones creaked like a door that hadn't been opened in years. I wanted to get her a can of oil.
"In here," she said, taking me into a small room behind her desk. Boxes were neatly stacked against the walls. She walked over to one and pulled out a white T-shirt that said "For Sale."
I didn't think Shirley knew what I did for a living, but the coincidence was bizarre.
"We used these for the mannequins at the church bazaar," she explained. "But don't worry, wearing it won't make you look like a dummy." She snorted at her joke.
I waited for her to leave, but she stood there and stared.
"Uh, I'm gonna get changed now," I said.
"I'd imagine you would," Shirley answered. "You smell like a urinal."
"A little privacy?" I asked.
"Honey, look at me. If I were any older, they'd hang a plaque around my neck and declare me a historical site. It's not that often I get to see a cute young thing like you get half naked. Why do you suppose I watch those insipid soap operas—for the plots? If you think I'm missing this, you're crazy." She crossed her arms and nodded.
I sighed and pulled my damp hoodie over my head. Shirley whistled.
"Well, look at you. Strong little thing, ain't you?"
It's a reaction I often get. I'm a small guy. Just five foot three and a buck twenty-five. But thanks to years of gymnastics and weight training, what little there is of me is pretty well built.
Of course, for me, looking good is a job requirement. With my youthful features and blond unruly hair, I'm your typical boy next door. Assuming you live next door to an Abercrombie & Fitch.
I keep myself in the best shape I can—not too muscular, but slim, lean, and cut. In my clothing, I look like a skinny kid, but when I'm undressed, the results of my hard work are evident.
Shirley was getting a good show, as I had to struggle to get the T-shirt she'd given me over my head. I checked out the label. XXS.
"You have anything bigger?" I asked her.
"Sorry, that's all we have left," she rasped. "Keep working, it'll stretch." She looked down at her flattened chest. "Trust me, sooner or later everything does."
I continued to writhe. Eventually, I squeezed into it. If it were any tighter, I'd have died from strangulation. It clung to me like a second skin, the sleeves only covering the top inch of my biceps, and the bottom stopping an inch and a half above my belly button.
"Woo-eee, look at those abbydominals," Shirley observed. "You should dress like that all the time." She dropped her voice down to a whisper. "Although, not in church, honey. It's not really appropriate."
"Well, it's not as if I chose this...." I began. "Oh, never mind."
Shirley-in-the-office watched as I left the room. "You should wear tighter pants, though," she offered. "Show off that cute butt of yours. Oh, yes, you'd fit right in on one of my shows."
As I walked back into the classroom, Cindy looked at me, blinked twice, and went back to reading the kids a story. When she was done, she pulled me out of earshot of the class and nodded toward my shirt. "Didn't they have anything in an adult size?" I grimaced. "Shirley said this was all they had left."
"Well," she said, "at least it's better than walking around soaked in pee-pee."
"I look ridiculous, don't I?"
"Oh, no, you look fine," she lied. "I mean, at least you have the figure for it. Just don't walk past the middle school classes—those twelve-year-old girls will eat you alive."
After class was over, the parents came down to the classroom and picked up their kids. A few of them looked at me a little funny, but I tried not to make eye contact with anyone. My little talk with Willem's parents would probably go better when I wasn't dressed like the Whore of Babylon. A slap on my butt, though, got my attention.
"Look at you," said Nick, a darkly handsome guy in his late thirties who tended to be on the serious side. "Where have you been hiding all those muscles? And why bring them out to play today?"
"Hey," I said, giving him a quick hug. "Usual story. Changing a diaper, unexpected hose-down, had to grab whatever was handy."
"Yeah," Nick said. "Been there, hated that. Could have been worse, though. Getting painted with what comes out the other end's a real bitch."
Nick's partner, Paul, walked over with their son, Aaron, in his arms. He was a really adorable kid they'd adopted through foster care.
Aaron left one arm around Paul's neck while hooking the other around Nick. He pulled the three of them as close together as his little arms could.
"There's your Christmas-card photo right there," I said.
"Hey, Kevin," Paul said, giving me a peck on the cheek. Paul was about ten years younger than Nick, fairer, too, with a shy smile and cute, floppy hair. "You still have to come over for dinner one night. Aaron is dying to show you his action figure collection."
"I have Supahman and Ba-Man and Wonna Woman and 'Pider Man and ..."
Paul bounced him in his arms. "Whoa, big man, save the whole list for later, OK? We want Kevin to be surprised."
"OK," Aaron whined.
"But really," Paul said, "you have to let Nick cook for you. He makes stuffed chicken breast to die for."
"Speaking of," Nick said, "check out those pecs on little Kevin, huh?"
Paul blushed, which was not unusual. He was definitely the sensitive type. He was also a pretty terrific painter. He was discovered by a gallery in LA a few years ago.
I knew their move to New York was paid for by his sales. I wasn't quite sure what Nick did, but I think he was in some kind of law enforcement. Maybe he'd get along with my semi-boyfriend, Tony. He was certainly butch enough—Tony wasn't comfortable around anyone too flamboyant, and Nick was definitely a man's man. He practically leaked testosterone.
Nick pulled Paul closer. "Don't worry, baby, you know I only have eyes for you."
"It's not your eyes I'm worried about."
Nick tousled Paul's shaggy hair.
"Will you call?" Paul asked me. "We really do owe you for taking such great care of Aaron."
"I will," I promised. "I'd love to come over sometime."
I meant it. They were a terrific family and I looked forward to getting to know them better.
"And wear that shirt," Nick called out, earning him a smack on the head from Paul.
"Don't hit, Papa," Aaron admonished.
"That's my boy," Nick said, pulling Aaron from Paul's arms and throwing him in the air. Aaron laughed with glee and Paul sighed the sigh of put-upon housewives the world over.
* * *
When class was over, I threw on my leather jacket and hurried out the door. Although it was unseasonably mild weather for mid-November, there was enough of a chill in the air that I wished I could have worn the sodden sweatshirt I carried in a plastic bag.
I kept myself warm by walking quickly through the streets of the West Village to the coffee shop where I was meeting my best friend, Freddy.
It was a lazy Sunday, with just a handful of people walking around and even fewer cars on the road. I love Manhattan when it's quiet and sleepy like this.
I've known Freddy since my freshman days at New York University, when I was an inexperienced freshman and he was the charismatic and dead-sexy student-president of the school's Gay/Straight Alliance. Thankfully, he fell into the first category of the group's name, and we quickly entered into a fast and thrilling affair. The sex was great—Freddy's one of the most sensual partners I've ever had—but it quickly became clear we made better friends than we did lovers.
Well, to be honest, it only became clear when I found out that he had slept with twelve of the fifteen guys who had joined the group that year, including two of the three straight ones. Freddy had the most voracious sexual appetite I've ever encountered, and when you consider my profession, that's saying a lot. Luckily for him, he's fantastically good-looking and has a body to die for, so getting laid is never a problem.
Relationships, however, don't come as easily. Freddy laughs off any suggestion that he might actually want to settle down with anyone—or any three or four, for that matter. It's a subject that's kind of awkward for me to pursue, because, despite the fact that we both act as if we're uninterested, there's an undeniably strong attraction between us. Which we've both been denying, that is.
Excerpted from Second You Sin by SCOTT SHERMAN Copyright © 2011 by Scott Sherman. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted March 17, 2012
Super sweet story with characters you really like. Mystery kept me guessing too. Only flaw for me is authors need to make every character physically beautiful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 19, 2012
This is the second in the Kevin Connor series and both books have been a delight for me to read. The stories are excellent, Kevin is a delightful protagonist and Scott Sherman's sense of humor is extremely entertaining. It is a rare book that makes me laugh out loud, but I did so many times in the course of reading these two stories. I can't wait for the third in the series!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 30, 2012
Once again my Dear friend Scott Sherman has scored a home run with his second in his Kevin Conway series. The humor is uniquely his, the mystery is engaging, and the writing is true to life. Hoping that he never stops writing!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 13, 2011
This book is so far outside of my "normal" genre that I cannot describe it! But as a voracious reader, I find that if you love to read, you can read almost anything. This book has a mystery to it and has some humor, if you can get past the graphic sexual content (which I might add I do not enjoy whether it is homosexual or heterosexual in a book)you can then read a rather good story, written well with good character development and humor.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 8, 2011
Elite, NYC "call-boy" Kevin Connor is back, and finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation that - like the last time - hits a bit too close to home. An increasing number of hot, male escorts - some of whom Kevin knew well through the agency - are turning up dead, and there doesn't seem to be anything other than coincidence connecting them to any one source. Kevin and his best friend/ex Freddy find a common thread, and Kevin goes undercover to check it out, contrary to the warnings of his non-committal but concerned lover Tony, a police detective. Could it be the work of a closeted celebrity trying to cover his dalliances, or a right-wing politician or a popular homophobic talk-show host?
Meanwhile, Kevin's attentions are also needed by his mother, Yvonne, who wants him to be at her Long Island hair salon when it is featured in an upcoming popular daytime talk show. It turns out to be a show that the viewers, and the tyrannical hostess, won't soon forget.
Author Sherman won a Lambda Literary Award for the wonderful first book in this series, "First You Fall," and it has been a long two years until this sequel (Although there is background info given on each character for those who did not read the first book, I suggest you read them in order, to better understand the nuances of each character.) Contrary to another review I saw, I love the seemingly-extraneous stuff that the author includes about Kevin (such as his passion for volunteer work with kids), and the comic relief of dealing with his overbearing mother, to which many readers can likely relate. The end result is an entertaining story as well as a captivating mystery, and I look forward to hearing more. Five stars out of five.
- Bob Lind, Echo Magazine