Author: J. Scott Coatsworth
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Published: July 15th, 2015
Genre: Paranormal, Other Paranormal
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Brad Weston’s life seems perfect. He’s GQ handsome, the Chief of Staff for a Republican California State Senator, and enjoys the power and the promise of a bright future. And he’s in a comfortable relationship with his boyfriend of six years, Alex.
Sam Fuller is Brad’s young, blond, blue-eyed intern, fresh out of college, running from a bad break-up, and questioning his choices and his new life in politics. To make things worse, Sam also has a thing for the boss, but Brad is already taken.
While looking for a gift for his boyfriend, Brad wanders into a curiosity shop and becomes fascinated by an old wooden medallion. Brad’s not a superstitious man, but when he takes out the medallion in his office, he sees the world in a new light. And nothing will ever be the same.
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Brad breezed into his office and set about briefing his intern on the upcoming meeting. Sam took notes and nodded—the guy was on top of things, as usual. Brad was confident he’d have everything set up in time.
Brad planned to confirm the defections with the three men together. Then he’d make them an offer they couldn’t refuse.
He laughed at the image.
The senator was late, probably drunk off her ass from last night’s gala for… what had it been? Patriot Oil? McPherson Wealth Management? Her meteoric rise to power—five years ago she’d been an Orange County real estate agent—had been on account of her much-rumored hit list. The dirt she was said to have on half the state GOP caucus would decimate the party if it were ever released. Brad had never seen it, but he had reason to believe it actually existed. There were too many corpses littering the senator’s rise to power to be a coincidence, and he’d seen many a foe suddenly drop their opposition to her plans for no obvious reason.
Meanwhile, he was here holding down the fort.
Brad plowed through the morning news, looking for anything that might help the senator or hurt her opponent in the upcoming elections. He forwarded three articles to her Senate e-mail account for her to peruse when she finally arrived.
Brad sipped his coffee and worked over the latest draft of the Jobs for All bill they were pushing this month. The senator had asked him to add in a tax break for McGregor’s clients, so he was working out the best angle to present a tax break for hedge fund managers as a job creator. This was one of the parts of the job he found most offensive, but in for a penny, in for a pound.
Sam popped his adorable blond head back into the office. God, if I were single….
“The reps are here for your meeting,” Sam said, and Brad waved them in.
“Gentlemen, thanks for coming.” He gestured them to the three open chairs next to his desk. He shook each one’s hand, and they sat down together.
“What’s this about?” Mark Jeffries asked, looking rather irritated to have been called up to the senator’s office. At least, Brad was fairly certain it was Jeffries. All three men had that “Valley Republican” look: tanned, white-haired, with bolos and cowboy hats. He wouldn’t be surprised if one was normally carrying, if not all three.
“I just wanted to make sure we’re set with the three of you for the budget vote next week. We need all hands on deck to deny the Speaker a two-thirds majority if we’re going to have a chance to get some of our own priorities inserted.” In his pocket, he grasped the medallion tightly.
Brad felt that strange sensation again, of two realities overlaid.
One of the men, David Smith, looked back and forth between his two companions and replied for the three of them. “Of course we are, Brad. Does the senator have any reason to be concerned the vote won’t go our way?”
But Brad also heard Smith “say” Dammit, how’d he find out? Which one of you spilled the beans?
Brad smiled slowly, drawing out the moment. God, he loved this little parlor trick. “That’s good to hear,” he said finally, shuffling some of the papers he’d placed strategically on his desk for that purpose. “You weren’t offered something to switch your votes? I know you three have been… sympathetic to the other side on occasion in the past.”
The third man, Jim Erickson, chimed in this time. “Of course not. We support the party.”
Erickson’s thoughts belied him. Only if you consider more water for the Valley “something.”
Gotcha. Brad leaned forward. “Well, I’ll tell you what I heard. The three of you were planning to sell us out for a promise of more water rights for Central Valley farmers.” He leaned back slowly, tapping the fistful of papers on the desk as if to straighten them out. “I don’t have to tell you how unkindly we’d take to such a betrayal.”
They shook their heads and denied it vociferously, but in that moment, Brad knew he had them. “I think you know how displeased the senator herself would be, if that were the case. With redistricting around the corner, you might find you had a hard time getting reelected next time around without any party support.” He rested his hands on his chair’s armrests and gave the men his best shit-eating grin. “Do I make myself clear? Jeffries?” His hand slipped back into his pocket.
Mark Jeffries tried hard to hide his anger, but it shone through in his eyes. “Yes, Mister Weston, you’ve made yourself perfectly clear.” Fucking faggot.
Brad felt the color drain from his face.
Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.
Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”
Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.