This is an eclectic combination of short offerings by Clare London called 'Boys in Brief.' Each story shows couples in a unique situation, some of which may not work for everyone; but for those involved in these tales, they find a way. Some are humorous, some deadly serious and full of angst. Even with the characters’ trials and tribulations they find a way to endure; all the stories have messages and, of course, a happy ending. Thanks, Clare for this varied anthology reminding us that there is no “right” way to love.
SALT N’ VINEGAR
Joe is attracted to a young man, Steven, who comes regularly to the eccentric shop in which he's working for the summer. Joe is hesitating to take the next step and ask him out which is quite atypical of his behavior. Joe has never had a serious relationship but there's something unique about Steven that gives him pause. Somehow, Joe knows that being with Steven will not be a just casual hookup. They become friends and find that they have a lot in common, but Joe senses a barrier between them he can't seem to breach. Confused, he presses Steven for more of a commitment but Steven balks. He has a good reason for holding back but won't tell Joe. He's frustrated, but there's little Joe can do to change things for him. Unless Steven can take control of his own life, he and Joe don't have a chance.
This is a bittersweet love story reminding us that the road to love is not always paved with hearts and flowers, but whatever hardships we endure are well worth the price, making our love shine so much brighter when there are two strong, equally committed partners.
THE BETTER PART
Inside of all of us is the 'voice of reason' which lets us know when our lives are on the right track or veering off it. Whenever Chas becomes indecisive and needs support, his friend, Adam is always there to help him. Over the years, Chas becomes accustomed to having Adam just turning up whenever he needs him to share good times or bad. From his first fight, to finding his lover, his job and life in general, Adam is always there to add support comfort and advice. The older Chas gets, the more infrequent Adam's visits become. Chas begins to realize that Adam won't always be there, that at some point, he will have to make his own decisions based on the knowledge and experience Adam has helped him to obtain. It's still comforting to know, even if Chas can't see him anymore, Adam will always be a part of him.
This story helps remind us that any time we need to make a decision, our special “voice” is only a thought away. We simply have to listen.
Max and Elisa's families are pushing them to marry, although neither of them are in any hurry. Max and Elisa have been very close best friends for years, but not in love. Max loves Ryan, a fellow soldier, and the feeling is mutual. Their passion burns bright and they wish they could be together. However, neither can see a way to get out of society’s demands so they can have what they truly desire. Instead of the stolen moments they have together, they want a real relationship, open, loving, and lasting. Elisa is wiser than they think. She has no intention to let demands of others imprison her or Max. Even though Max and Ryan have tried to be discreet, Elisa knows about their clandestine love affair and sympathizes. Max is her best friend; she wants him to be happy. Elisa decides to throw a party purportedly to honor Max for his latest military achievement but she is actually planning a private party for Max and Ryan, one they are very appreciative of and don't hesitate to enjoy.
'Deep Cover' reminds us that the only way to be truly happy is to be ourselves, regardless of what anyone else expects. We can't be “under cover”, settling for anything less. As the 1980 army slogan says: “Be All That You Can Be.”
It's time for the annual “Vicars and Tarts” party that Joey and his lover, Gaz, always attend. Joey decides to be a Vicar, his usual choice but Gaz takes a different approach. Most of the people there have chosen what they have always worn in the past, so there aren't too many surprises. Joey enters first, with Gaz behind him. Joey can't wait to see the group's reaction to Gaz's costume. When Gaz comes in dressed as a tart, hair and makeup done, black stockings, corset and all, everyone is dumfounded. Gaz is drop-dead gorgeous. No one can take their eyes off him. The men are uncharacteristically aroused and baffled by it; the women are envious and wonder if they should ask him for beauty advice. What everyone is wondering is if this is merely a costume for the night, or a very sensual part of their quiet, reserved friend that they've never seen before? When asked, Gaz merely smiles. Joey knows but isn't telling and smiles too with the knowledge that he is the only one who will be seeing Gaz out of those clothes as well and the sooner the better.
'Dressing Down' is humorous and witty, yet has its serious parts as well. It shows us the importance of being original, not always relying on the same things in life if we want different results. We need to be different, unique sometimes, shake up the status quo. It also reminds us not to judge a person, especially the shy, quiet ones, who may not be so reserved after all.
Gerald and Stephan are lying in bed, Stephan spread out like a sacrifice for Gerald, who is hovering over him. The room is fraught with sexual tension as the passionate scene evolves. Gerald asks Stephan if he trusts him and Stephan nods. Gerald speaks of his desire for Stephan and how he wants to make Stephan his as he pleads for Gerald to be gentle. They exchange words which are common during lovemaking. They proclaim each other's beauty and prowess, compliment size as well as technique. Gerald and Stephan move closer in their intimate dance of lovemaking in earnest. When they couple, they search for just the right rhythm, the perfect balance that will enhance their movements giving each other ultimate pleasure. Things are going well then...suddenly...Gerald stops. Stephan is concerned and asks Gerald what is wrong. It seems that his back has gone out and he can't continue. Stephan is frustrated and not so understanding. Things start to fall apart as one blames the other. Finally, Gerald and Stephan come to a conclusion; maybe vanilla isn't so bad after all.
This story reminds us of an old saying: “If it ain't broke, don't fix it.” Gerald and Stephan need to heed this advice, just as we all do. Don't change something that works; just go with it.