…we're keeping our name but expanding our offerings!
I’m thrilled to be here and especially thrilled about the reason I’m here: Bengt and Alex are back with The Other Side of Winter. Some of you wanted to know a bit more about what happens between the two books, so I’m taking the opportunity to give you some glimpses into that year the guys spent apart from each other in a series of intermezzos over the course of this booktour.
SPOILER ALERT! A warning for those of you who’ve NOT yet read Santuario: since these scenes are set after the first book, there will, of course, be spoilers.
Thank you for having me,
Read on at your own discretion.
VIII. Esperanza, pt.2
Alex slept. Not in a bed, but in the cantina, back against the wall, legs crossed at the ankles on one of the benches, hat—yes, they’d given him a hat—in his face, he took twenty-minute naps. The bustle of voices and clatter of dishes a soothing background noise that told him everything was alright.
Nights were different. Nights were for keeping his eyes open, so he volunteered for night watches, which made him instantly popular, especially if he took la hora del lobo, that hour between three and four when most watchmen found it hardest to stay awake.
And he volunteered for kitchen duty. After weeks of raw fruit and half-raw, half-charred meat, cooking real food was a sensual pleasure. The only one he allowed himself. And that thought was already way too close to what he didn’t want to think about. He stabbed the ladle back into the stew pot and brought his bowl over to a empty space on one of the benches.
Simón liked to discuss strategy at the table, where everyone could hear and put a word in. The camp held a little over a hundred people, mostly men, and not everyone had dinner at the same time, so he switched tables for every meal, getting everyone’s opinion. And he had sweeping plans Alex found hard to visualize. He could barely keep up with staying alive from one day to the next.
“You think I’m full of it,” Simón said one evening as they were patrolling the rim together.
Alex shook his head. “You’re trying to lead a country into revolt,” he said carefully. “Just because I don’t see it, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.”
“Fair enough.” Simón stopped and looked at him. “They’re ready. More than that, they’re like a pressure cooker that’s been pushed closer and closer to the hottest part of the fire over the last couple of decades.”
“Some of us. And some of us are dying now. Not resisting isn’t saving anyone.”
He was right. That didn’t make it any easier to watch men die. Alex kicked a small stone out of his way. “Have you heard about the new embassy?”
Simón nodded. “Read it in the paper. That’s where I’m headed.”
“Right now the patrones are in a position to declare any opposition a rebellion. They’ll simply shoot anyone trying to set up office. But if we can involve the Skanians, maybe set up office inside their embassy for a while …” He trailed off, staring into the distance where dusk was giving way to night. “At least until we can hold real elections.”
Alex huffed a laugh. “Not even the Skanians can enforce those.”
“No, but the patrones can.”
“The pat— You lost me.”
“Think about it. They’re a territorial and paranoid lot. We’re already playing them against each other, evading the patrols of one tierra by slipping across the border into the next. The securitas don’t like to cross borders, because the patrones don’t like having someone else’s army in their backyard. Makes them nervous. They tend to shoot first and ask questions later.”
Alex stared at him, the puzzle pieces beginning to form an image. That enmity was common knowledge, of course, but playing both sides against the middle was a dangerous game.
“It should work the same way in politics,” Simón continued. Their trade monopolies are being undermined by the open borders to the mainland. I’m thinking some of them might be grateful for new opportunities.”
“Granted, Andúja is a hardliner. Him, Yelagin and the Riveras will only yield to brute force, and even then they’ll probably eat a bullet before surrendering. But Ortiz? Old man Soto? The Lopez family? I’m saying it’s possible.”
Alex knew the names, but he didn’t know too much about each of the familias, except that Soto was the last of his line. “You are a dangerous man, my friend,” he said, the respect he’d always held for his capitán growing in leaps and bounds.
Simón’s laugh sounded half like a growl. After a brief pause he said, “I’m glad Inés is on the mainland.”
Alex nodded. “Less leverage for the patrones.” In his pocket he made a fist, digging his nails into his palm to keep his thoughts from drawing the parallel to Bengt. “How long do you think they’ll keep her?”
Simón shrugged. “Court proceedings take time. And I don’t think they have any more translators then we do. But that’s okay for now. She’s safe there.”
They came to the last post, exchanged a few words and made their way back down to the camp.
“How’re you going to keep in touch?” Alex asked. “If you make it into the embassy.”
“Same way we do now. Runners.”
Alex had been running messages between camps and outposts before. It was precarious and exhausting, but he preferred it to the double edged sword the camaraderie in a camp presented. He gave Simón a half-assed salute. “Well, if you need more runners, let me know.”
About The Other Side of Winter
Not all wounds are visible.
Skanian investigator Bengt fell in love with fellow policeman Alex Rukow in a week. But that was a year ago, and they’ve been apart ever since. Then Alex escapes the corrupt and destitute island nation of Santuario and comes to live with Bengt. Happy ever after . . .?
Alex’s lifelong dream of leaving Santuario has come true at last. But he finds himself adrift in a society he doesn’t understand. Worse, past nightmares come back to haunt him, and after so many years of suspicion and self-reliance, it’s harder than he imagined to trust someone else.
Bengt just wants Alex to share his comfortable life. But the more he tries to give, the more Alex pulls away. Their physical connection couldn’t be better, but Bengt can’t seem to get through to his difficult, taciturn lover outside the bedroom. Meanwhile, he has his own demons to confront—not to mention a serial killer on the loose.
Bengt and Alex must dig deep for the courage to face their pasts, but it may be too late to save their relationship or their lives.
About the Author
G.B.Gordon worked as a packer, landscaper, waiter, and coach before going back to school to major in linguistics and, at 35, switch to less backbreaking monetary pursuits like translating, editing, and writing.
Having lived in various parts of the world, Gordon is now happily ensconced in suburban Ontario with the best of all husbands. Santuario is G.B. Gordon’s first published work, but many more stories are just waiting to hit the keyboard.
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