“Didn’t You Know

Guest Writer: W.D. Foster-Graham   

My brothas and sistahs, it has been a pleasure to see The Right To Be: A Christopher Family Novel (my first full male-male romance novel) come to fruition. Then again, when you’re doing something you love doing, it’s not work. Following your passion surely has its rewards; since my last column, I have had the honor of becoming the newly appointed book review editor of Insight News, a newspaper serving the Black community here in the Twin Cities. Indeed, our gifts will make room for us.

Since the launch will be coming soon, I would like to share this excerpt from The Right To Be. Those of you of a certain age probably recognize the three words in the subtitle of this column as a song by Gladys Knight and the Pips. The road to true love isn’t always easy, and yes, you have to cry sometimes. For Allan Christopher Davis, son of music legends Michael and Lissa Davis and grandson of billionaire Allan Beckley Christopher, it can mean letting go to move forward (don’t worry, he does get his happily-ever-after in the end):

Allan knew this day would come sooner or later. Part of him was dreading what had to be done while the other part knew this needed to happen in order to move forward. Thomas had been calling him a little more frequently since New Year’s Eve, anxious to get together and frustrated by his distance. Allan’s response had been noncommittal, subtly giving Thomas a taste of his own medicine.

In retrospect, it had been all right at first, having a hot, sexy police officer interested in him and the steamy encounters they shared. However, the price, in this place, turned out to be too high for his self-respect. With the family departure mere days away, it was imperative to handle this unfinished business.

Uncertain of what Thomas Hamilton was capable of, Allan brought a little added insurance. “Don’t worry, bro. I’ve got your back,” Mickey encouraged as they approached the meeting place, finding a spot where he could hear but not be seen as his twin continued on.

Allan watched as Thomas entered the clearing. He had refused to see Thomas unless it was in broad daylight, and his request was reluctantly acknowledged. It must have been his day off, for he was dressed casually in a T-shirt, knee-length walking shorts, and sandals that complemented his rich brown complexion and his well-built, 6’3” body. His semi-erection was evidence he’d gone commando. Was he honestly thinking we’d hook up?

Thomas approached Allan with his familiar look of desire, only this time it was mixed with uncertainty as he scanned the area. Allan noticed the way Thomas’s eyes dropped to his crotch and the subtle, involuntary licking of his lips as he approached him. Sighing inwardly, he mentally prepared himself.

“Hi, Thomas,” Allan said.

“Allan,” was Thomas’s reply as he went in for an embrace and a deep kiss, puzzled when Allan backed away. “All right. What’s going on?”

“There’s something I need to tell you.”

The wariness in the police officer’s eyes became more apparent. “What is it?”

Allan drew a breath. “We’re leaving in a few days.”

“What do you mean, ‘We’re leaving’?”

“My family is leaving the Bahamas for good. And I’ll be with them.”

“Oh. So, it’s like that, huh?” Thomas shook his head in denial. “You’re just going to up and leave me?”

“Thomas, this wasn’t a decision we came to lightly. It was fine for my parents when they first moved here before I was born. But I’m 18, and it’s different now. There’s no future for me here, and there’s no future for us unless I remain your dirty little secret.”

“No. You can’t leave.” Thomas managed to drum up some authority in his voice despite the shock. “I want you here.”

Allan had expected Thomas’s response, yet he retained all the self-control he could muster while delivering his message. “We’ve gone through this all before, Thomas. I have never hidden who I am. Being with you under all your rigid conditions is no longer acceptable. It hurts. You’re hot, I’ll give you that, but your fear is stronger than your wanting to be with me openly. I already know you won’t leave these islands to be with me, either. I’m not here to force you to come out, but I refuse to argue with you anymore. What you choose to do with your life is on you, but I’m moving on. Let’s just put a good face on it and say goodbye.”

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“No! I won’t let you! You’re mine!” Thomas commanded. “If you go, I’ll…”

“You’ll what?” Allan asked calmly. He could hear Mickey walking up behind him. Thomas’s body went from tense anger to nervous tics.

Suspicious and paranoid, Thomas looked from one twin to the other. “What’s he doing here?”

“I know everything about you and my brother. I’m here to make sure you don’t give him any trouble.” Mickey’s face was all business. “What I heard just now sounded like a threat.”

“Since you’ve been throwing my pedigree in my face lately, let me tell you a few things.” Allan stepped back and to Mickey’s side. “My family has my back, and I love them for it. I’m named after my grandfather. He was rather homophobic when he was younger, but he came around, and he’s a better person for it. I can talk to him about anything. And he—in fact, all the elders in this big family—taught us a lot about family unity. They love me for the person I am.”

“So, Thomas, if you plan on doing anything to hurt Allan, know this,” Mickey continued, voice firm but not raised. “You won’t have just me and our parents after you. You’ll have the entire Christopher family after you and everything that goes with it.”

“By the way, our parents are expecting us back in an hour. If we’re not, they know what to do.” Allan looked at the handsome man standing before him whose face was now a mixture of fear and impotent anger. He almost felt pity for Thomas.

Maybe one day more people would live and speak their truths here, but Allan knew he would only witness that from a distance.

Thomas’s shoulders finally slumped. He was beaten, and he knew it. Granted, he had grown accustomed to the authority a police officer carried. Now, his façade had cracked, and he was face to face with his own cowardliness and shame. The medicine was bitter; it had cost him someone he had grown to care about. When he found his voice, it was pleading. “Allan, isn’t there—”

“No, Thomas. It’s over. You and I are done.”

Thomas could only watch in despair as Allan and Mickey left the clearing. Though Allan’s parting words resounded in his mind, his body had not received the memo. The police officer’s dick was stiff in his shorts, his hole aching with the need to be filled, need for someone who was now lost to him forever. A young man with charming “Beckley eyes” he could have only in his memory.

“I know that was tough for you,” Mickey said as they drove back to Nassau. “Hey, if a woman was draining me the way he did you, I probably would have done the same thing.”

“You know, I thought that because he was older, things would be different. Guess I was wrong.”

“If Thomas chose fear over you, he didn’t deserve you in the first place with his cowardly ass. He really needs to grow a pair.” Mickey squeezed Allan’s shoulder. “Just by being who you are, you’re way braver and stronger than he’ll ever be.”

“Thanks, Mickey.”  

On the return trip, the conversation between the twins turned to college, pleased over their admittance to the U of M with honors. The thought of making new friends was appealing, as well as blending into a much larger population—well, as much as they could. When they arrived and entered the villa, Allan felt taller and a bit stronger.

“It’s done,” Allan said in response to the unspoken question on the faces of his parents.

“How do you feel?” Lissa asked.

“Well, sad on one hand that it didn’t work out, but relieved on the other. Does that make sense?”

Michael put a comforting arm around his son. “Yes, it does. Breakups are never easy.  You’ll feel what you feel, and you just have to take it one day at a time. Like we’ve said before, there is someone out there who’s right for you. A man who is worthy of you and your heart.”

“Exactly. And we’re always here for you, Allan,” Lissa added as the family came together for a group hug.

W.D. Foster-Graham is an independent novelist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He received a B.A. in psychology from Luther College, and he was an original member of the multi-Grammy Award-winning ensemble, Sounds of Blackness. He has also been recognized by the International Society of Poets as one of its “Best Poets of 2003.” 

W.D.’s tastes in writing run to family sagas and M/M romance, seasoned with his own brand of African American flavor—at the end of the day, it’s all about the love. He shamelessly admits to a love of romance novels, whodunits, and classic movies of old Hollywood. He was also inspired by the late novelist E. Lynn Harris and Toni Morrison, who believed that an author should write the books he/she wants to read.

W.D. is a book review editor for Insight News, a Black community newspaper in the Twin Cities. His column is titled, “Sharing Our Stories.”

His Christopher Family Novel series can be found on the shelves of 12 public library system collections in Minnesota and the Des Moines Public Library system in Iowa. Current works in development are a continuation of his series: two M/M romance novels, “The Right to Be” (coming of age) and “To Thine Own Self” (a 30-plus couple), and “The Rise of Sherry Payson,” a story seasoned with humor, romance, mystery, and a story within.

You may visit W. D. at his online home, wfostergrahamauthor.com; on Twitter, @WDFosterGraham1; and Facebook. And email W. D. at wfostergraham@wfostergrahamauthor.com.