Best Gay Romance 2015
release date: February 10, 2015
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included short story: The Kingdom of Haeven
“Don’t read The Kingdom of Haeven by Eric Andrews-Katz in an emotionally unstable place or you may find yourself bawling into your gin and slimline tonic.” – So So Gay Review, UK – Randon Burns
“The Kingdom of Haeven by Eric Andrews-Katz. This story is not what it appears to be. It seems, on the surface, to be a sci-fi story, but after reading it—and bursting into tears—I went back to reread the beginning and was hit with the beautiful intricacy of the story… I was deeply touched after reading this story. The twist at the end was as unexpected as it was heartbreaking.” – The Novel Approach
“Tyler.” The gentle shaking continued and the soft voice called to him. “Tyler, wake up.”
General Tyler Addicott’s eyes fluttered opened to find Captain Wilyem Turrick waking him from his nap. He yawned with a stretch and smiled up at his husband of six years taking in the wide hazel eyes, clean-shaven cheeks and head, and the full-toothed grin dominating his face.
“Hey Honey,” Tyler said. He looked at the blinking red numbers from the clock on the wall. “How long was I napping?”
Wilyem stopped jostling Tyler’s arm and sat on the end of their bed. His hands twitched in his lap and the red tip of his tongue cradled the edge of his front teeth.
“About two hours,” Wilyem said. “But that’s not important.” He stilled himself with great effort and paused for a dramatic silence. “They called.”
It took the General a moment to fully comprehend what was being said. He bolted to an upright position. The light blanket fell to his naked waist exposing the broad shoulders, with a trimmed layer of downy hair crossing his chest. Tyler reached out taking Wilyem’s hands into his own.
“What’d they say?” he demanded.
“Only that they wanted to see us both in the Royal Chambers within two hours.”
“That doesn’t necessarily mean anything,” Tyler replied trying to keep control of his eagerness. Wilyem’s excitement was contagious, and he felt his chest tightening with anticipation.
“Except,” Wilyem said, his grin slowly expanding. “Conclave broke an hour ago and the Badge is being shown.”
Tyler followed the nudge from Wilyem’s head to the pulled shades. Throwing off the covers he leapt from the bed and ran naked to the window. He peeked through the blinds and saw Haeven’s purple insignia projected from the tower of Ravaggio Palace. From the distant hilltop the encircled silhouettes of two men, back-to-back with arms linked at the elbows, illuminated the Aresium dome that protected the capitol city from the toxicity of the planet’s atmosphere.
“It still doesn’t mean that I’ve been chosen.” Tyler said turning back to his partner.
“I’d say it does!” Wilyem answered. Standing up he strode over to the window and embraced his partner seven years his senior. He let his hands move over Tyler’s strong hips, sliding around his back to give the firm buttocks a playful swatting.
“Hail to the new King of Haeven!” Wilyem declared placing his lips on his husband’s mouth.
Tyler gave into the kiss’s passion before stopping.
“You don’t know that,” Tyler said, his breathing coming harder. His bottom lip trembled with excitement and his penis pressed against the front of Wilyem’s uniform. “You’re gonna jinx my chances.”
“I’m 43 and don’t believe in jinxes. You know you got it,” Wilyem said pulling Tyler closer to him by the small of his back. “Who else are they going to elect, General Smyth?”
“Don’t underestimate Ronald,” Tyler protested. “He’s a formidable army man.”
“Maybe,” Wilyem said slapping Tyler’s butt. “But you’re better.” He withdrew his arms returning to his seat on the bed’s edge. “Everyone knows that General Smyth has the social skills of a crater slug, and about the same emotional range. He doesn’t know how to express himself other than barking out orders at anyone within earshot. No one likes him enough to elect him King.”
“There have been worse kings of Haeven,” Tyler answered playing Devil’s Advocate. “And they could choose General Stolzer, or Lozzi or half a dozen others.”
“They could,” Wilyem said. “But you and I both know they won’t. Stolzer’s Bi-Sexual support campaign hurt his political career too much to make him a serious candidate, and Lozzi? Get real. He’s still an Earth sympathizer and that’s not going to get him elected. There’s no one else that compares to your service record and charisma. It has to be you that they’ve chosen!”
“We better get going if we’re going to find out,” Tyler said. “I’ll get cleaned up if you schedule the Magno.”
“Already done,” Wilyem said showing off his proudest smile. The even teeth showed through full lips on a rounded face. He winked allowing a boyish quality to settle on his cheeks. “And I made sure it was a seated car. The future king isn’t arriving for his coronation in a common standing booth.”
“You know,” Tyler said. “I love you more than the Great Rivers of the Svenson.”
“Then I’m a lucky, lucky man!” Wilyem answered. “Get ready. The clock is blinking away.”
“Do you remember your arrival on the planet?” Tyler muttered as the car-pod raced passed the Docking Center. The building was well lit signaling a recent arrival of men from Earth.
The two officers sat with their hands clasped together, hanging down between their reclined seats, and looking out the sides of the clear pod: their usual positions when riding the Magno together. A gentle hissing sounded as enriched oxygen was pumped into the car.
“It’s been 25 years and I still remember the fear and the excitement of finally being in Haeven.”
“Fear?” Wilyem playfully scoffed. “I couldn’t wait to get here. I had the money together before I turned of age. I spent my 25th birthday at the Center for Relocation and was so ready to go! After all the restrictions and overpopulation issues the POGS created…”
“Wilyem!” Tyler reprimanded the usage of the vulgar vernacular.
“Sorry,” he said unapologetically. “The Pro-Populationists if you’d rather. I don’t know why any self-respecting Queer person would want to stay back on Earth.”
“You don’t think we’ve created another ghetto?” Tyler asked. “But on a planetary scale?”
“You’re crazier than a Saturn moth!” Wilyem said. He stared incredulously at Tyler’s rectangular face, squared jaw and angled nose. The longer spiked hair on top still showed a rich chestnut color, but the shorn sides of his head glistened with silver. “They depleted the natural resources by overpopulation and expelled all Queer peoples as a solution. It’s ironic that in 150 years the two gender specific satellites have become prosperous, independent nations. Let Lozzi whine about reconciliation with Earth, I say the only purpose that planet serves is sending their gay men here, and their women to Minervite.”
“Well,” Tyler said. “You always were a chauvinist.”
“And soon,” Wilyem said with a wink. “It’ll be Mr. Regent Chauvinist.”
“By the Four Suns!” Tyler said with a rolling of his eyes. “You probably have the business card already picked out. You do know there’s no real power that goes with that title, right? It’s just an honorary position for the Husband of the King. And that’s only if I get elected, mind you.”
“Maybe,” Wilyem said with a self-righteous nodding of his head. “But since I won’t be eligible for the throne anymore, and will hold the title of Regent for as long as you live, I’ll make the most of what I can.”
“You’re incorrigible,” Tyler replied, shaking his head. He gave Wilyem’s hand a playful squeeze.
“Yes,” came the cocky reply.
The car tilted back as it began its climb up Royal Hill. Through the pod’s front dome the Ravaggio Palace came into view. Constructed from the planet’s natural resource of aresium, the walls were tinted dark russet to make the fortress as private as impregnable. The purple emblem of the two men linked at the elbows was still being projected from the Donjon of the castle.
“Identify yourselves,” commanded the masculine tone through the intercom.
Both men reached into the side pocket of their chairs and retrieved the goggles, sliding the set over their heads. The retina scans briefly activated and completed its work. They removed the goggles returning them to the pockets and sat back in their seats.
“Welcome General Addicott and Captain Turrick. Regent Torvino is expecting you. Docking connections now complete. ”
The voice clicked off. Red lights flashed from the panel signaling the Royal Magno Station authorizing their entry, and the car’s speed increased with the direct pull towards the palace doors.
Projected by hologram onto the entryway was King Pasqual’s official portrait. Above the picture and written in red letters: “To Die is to Sleep – and We Shall Rise Come Mourning”. Below the royal likeness, blazing in red: “3340 – 3401 –And He Shall Be Remembered In the Kingdom of Haeven”.
The projection briefly fluttered as the barriers opened. The car flew into the landing dock and waited as the castle doors closed. A loud serpentine hissing echoed throughout the chamber as the toxic air was cleared away and the car was decontaminated.
“In a few hours,” Wilyem stated. “Your picture is going to be up there and it will read ‘Long May He Reign’.”
“Stop it,” Tyler harshly whispered. He wiped his palms on the knees of his uniform. His right leg twitched with undisposed energy. “You’re making me nervous.”
Wilyem reached across the seat and took Tyler’s face in his hands. He looked into the resilient amber eyes, past the strong-military bravado, and into the depths of the man behind it all.
“Baby.” The endearment was practically whispered. “You got this. You’ve proven yourself to be a compassionate man, as well as a fair and strong leader. Not since the Infiltration of 3001 has a General earned four-stars before the age of 50, and he wasn’t nearly as popular as you. So I’ve read.”
Wilyem leaned in and let their lips touch. He felt the spark that was always there between them. It pulled them closer, and he heard the breath racing through Tyler’s nostrils. Wilyem opened his mouth letting his tongue explore, teasing the edges of Tyler’s lips. He felt the General’s strong arms wrap around him, locking at the small of his back and resting above the curve of his buttocks.
“I love you very much,” Tyler whispered. “You know that, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I do.” Wilyem’s lips twitched into an impish grin. “Your Majesty.”
For a brief flash Tyler let his stoic exterior vanish and allowed the hint of giddiness to show through.
“Could you just imagine?” he said with boyish excitement.
“Yes,” Wilyem replied. His smile grew when he saw Tyler finally succumbing. “Yes, I can.”
The General looked over Wilyem’s shoulder, his expression erasing all hints of delighted anticipation.
“We’ll know in a short while,” Tyler said with a nod. “Here comes the Regent.”