My guest this week is Zee Kensington, talking about the characters from her new book, Finally Home.
you so much for having me here today, Brynn! I’ve talked a lot about my first novel, Finally Home, in the past few weeks. I’ve covered travel, food, and journalism, which means I’ve talked a great deal about my character Chris Springer, the culinary travel writer with the damaged past.
However, I haven’t talked much about my other character, Marco Mineo. Much like the characters in Finally Home, I’ve let Chris’s fascinating job and complicated history overshadow the shy, sexy guy with a bright spirit, and the deep, difficult journey that he is on.
At the age of 24, Marco is still living at home, and has been since he graduated college three years before. He did it primarily to save up money for the trip to Thailand he went on in Krung Thep, City of Angels—where he met and fell for Chris—but he’s kind of stuck now that vacation is over. He’s suffocating back in his old life, and his re-integration is made all the harder by the memories of the freedom he felt in Bangkok, and his brief, intense relationship with Chris.
Marco’s path in Finally Home is twofold. Primarily, he has to embrace his identity as a gay man and come out to his family, something he is fearful of due to an incident he witnessed as a child. He’s afraid that if he reveals who he truly is, he will be disowned and cast out. It’s a terrifying thing to show the people you love the core of yourself and say, “this is who I am,” especially if you have evidence that they will not approve.
More than coming out, though, Marco has to own his identity as an adult. Sure, coming out is a huge part of that, but it’s only a part of his journey. He’s largely aimless, used to drifting along and letting thing happen to him, rather than taking charge of his own happiness. Being with Chris inspires Marco, and though he’s occasionally jealous of Chris’s pedigree and experience, he strives to be useful to his photojournalist friend. He uses his social media savvy to broaden Chris’s online presence, his web design skills to revamp his website, and his affinity for new technology to record videos to go along with Chris’s magazine articles. In doing so, he awakens an interest in a career he never considered before, and more importantly, confidence in himself.
Though Marco’s path is a bit less glamourous than Chris’s, it’s every bit as meaningful. He’s a character close to my heart, with his hunger for life, deep insecurities, and desire to be loved. He’s a special guy. I can definitely understand what Chris sees in him.
Purchasing Information Dreamspinner Press eBook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5363
Dreamspinner Press paperback: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5364&cPath=55_558
After one night in Bangkok turned into ten days trekking together, novice backpacker Marco and seasoned travel writer Chris parted ways thinking they’d never see each other again. Three months later, Marco still can’t forget the greatest adventure of his life—or the gorgeous guy he shared it with. Too afraid to come out to his family, Marco is suffocating in his suburban Southern California life, until Chris announces he’s coming to LA.
Chris has spent the past four years wandering alone, rebuilding himself from the ashes of a failed journalism career. He arrives in Los Angeles eager to eat, write, and resume the sexy, casual fun he had enjoyed with Marco. But when Chris finds his friend is a terrified closet-case at home, he’s determined to help Marco confront his fears.
Priorities change when Chris’s father suffers a stroke, and Chris rushes to New York City to face a harsh homecoming with the family he abandoned. When Marco defies his parents to be at Chris’s side, Chris begins to realize there may be more to their relationship than just work and play, and that Marco may be the one to show Chris what it means to finally be home.
Marco swore quietly as a triangular yellow bird sailed far above the rickety wooden structure filling his smartphone screen, making the tiny green pigs inside snicker. He wasn’t very good at this dumb game, and his jitters didn’t help.
He kept looking up every few seconds, scouring the steady stream of travelers trickling into the cavernous greeting area of LAX’s international terminal. Marco felt like he was waiting in the bowels of a spaceship, with the ring of lights hovering above and the panels of cobalt light lining the wall. In a place like this, it seemed more likely that little green men would materialize than Chris would actually show up.
He still couldn’t believe this was really happening. Up until a few days ago, Marco had been sure he’d never see Chris again. It wasn’t even until he’d gotten the flight itinerary e-mailed to him that Marco truly let himself believe that his wildest wish was coming true. Since then, he’d barely been able to eat or sleep, and he’d been a downright space cadet at work.
Marco sighed and gave up on the game. Leaning back in his chair, he checked the time again before pocketing his smartphone: 2:47 p.m. Chris’s plane had landed about thirty-seven minutes ago. Give him about ten to get off the plane, then ten more to walk the terminal, then who knew how long it would take him to clear immigration, baggage, and customs.
Anticipation squeezed Marco’s heart as his eye caught a man with an unruly mop of blond hair appear over the barrier separating the guests from the travelers. He tried to calm himself. This had happened twice already, and neither time had it been Chris. But then a familiar—albeit tired—face appeared as its owner climbed up the ramp, and Marco’s stomach lurched with excitement. At long last, Chris was here.
“Chris!” Marco called out, leaning as far over the wall as he dared.
Chris’s head whipped around at the sound, and a deadly grin lit up his weary face. The butterflies in Marco’s belly became dragonflies, buffeting madly around inside him. His knees quavered as he stepped back from the barrier to meet Chris as soon as he crossed the invisible threshold that separated the terminal from the waiting area.
Marco licked his lips nervously as Chris approached him. He had forgotten how much more mature-looking Chris was than him. Chris looked every inch the seasoned travel journalist, with his scruffy laptop satchel slung casually over one shoulder and his roller bag stuttering behind him on three wheels.
Marco’s doubts faded, though, when he saw the glint of gold from the open collar of Chris’s black shirt.
All these months later, Chris was still wearing the amulet Marco had given him.
“Hey,” Chris said softly as he brought his suitcase to a stop beside him. His eyes were slightly bloodshot, and his skin had gone pallid from being trapped inside a plane for too long, but he was still every bit as handsome as Marco remembered.
“Hey,” Marco said, just as quietly. He had imagined this scene a thousand times. In his mind, he went flying into Chris’s arms, scattering baggage everywhere as Chris enveloped him, their lips meeting in a fiery kiss. Reality was a very different thing, though, and nervousness gnawed at the edges of Marco’s elation.
All these people… if I were to kiss Chris here, would they stare? Would they get angry? What if someone recognizes me?
Chris extended a friendly hand. “It’s good to see you, man.”
“Yeah. Good to see you, too.” Marco took the offered hand, feeling an odd mixture of disappointment and relief. After all this time, this was their reunion? Perhaps it had been foolish of him to hope for more. Three months was a long time, and who knew how Chris’s feelings may have changed. Perhaps Marco was nothing more than a friend to him, a casual travel romance that had ended on Marco’s departure date.
Marco felt Chris’s eyes boring into him. He looked up to meet the azure gaze, and his breath caught as he saw the roguish glint cutting through the caution in the ice blue.
“C’mere, you,” Chris murmured, and pulled Marco into tight embrace.
This close, Marco could practically feel Chris’s heart thundering against his chest, giving away the depth of emotion simmering just under Chris’s cool exterior. Marco buried his face in the crook of Chris’s lean neck, breathing in deep. The spicy, sweaty smell rocketed him back in time, and suddenly he was back in Thailand, nestled against Chris’s hard body, a feeling of deep satisfaction saturating him to the core.
At long last, Marco was home.
“Careful,” Chris chuckled, “I haven’t had a chance to shower all day.”
“I don’t care,” Marco said, his words muffled in Chris’s hair. “You smell perfect.”
“You have a funny idea of perfect.”
Chris gently extracted himself, though he didn’t let go of one of Marco’s biceps. His eyebrow raised, and he took another squeeze before fixing Marco with a look that turned his insides to liquid. “Goddamn, kid, you look even better than when you left!”
Marco shrugged, a pleased flush crossing his face. He’d added weights to his daily swimming routine, trying to hold on to the backpacker’s physique he’d earned by trekking in Thailand’s tropical heat. Though he’d never been able to bulk up like his construction-working cousins, he was still pleased with the definition he’d chiseled out of his lean muscles.
“Thanks,” Marco said shyly. “You’re looking pretty good yourself.”
Chris rolled his eyes, though Marco didn’t miss the hint of red that blossomed on his cheeks.
“Mexico made me soft, man. Every taco I ate went straight here.”
Chris let go of Marco to slap his perfectly flat stomach. Marco remembered the lean taper of Chris’s waist, his abdomen decorated with a sparse trail of golden curls that led down from his navel to that tantalizing nexus of flesh….
“Um.” Marco closed his eyes, forcing himself to clear the image of naked Chris from his mind. “Speaking of food, are you hungry?”
Marco opened his eyes, and found Chris grinning at him wolfishly, as if he’d plucked the dirty thoughts from Marco’s mind. Marco flushed even deeper, but he didn’t miss the eager gleam in Chris’s eyes.
“Yeah, I could eat.”
About the Author
Zee Kensington discovered a passion for writing erotica in her freshman year of college, and has been crafting sweet and sexy stories ever since. Inspired by her years working and playing in San Francisco’s LGBT community, she is especially drawn to tales that explore the joys and challenges of queer identities.
An almost-native Californian and a card-carrying geek, she currently lives in the SF Bay Area with her husband and toddler. When she’s not writing or catching up on her sleep she enjoys watching films, playing video games, experimenting in her kitchen, and dreaming of the day her son is old enough to travel the world with her.
Dreamspinner Press author page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=558
Amazon author page: http://amazon.com/author/zeekensington