In 1946 Hawaii, Tomeo Yamaguchi harbors a secret that would be considered shameful by his traditional Japanese family--he aches for the caress of other men.
Which makes it particularly devastating when Tomeo's father hires a tanomoshi--a matchmaker--to find a bride for his son.
Tomeo spends time with the tanomoshi, Shin Yamada, and as the men come to know one another, deep feelings emerge, the transition from friends to lovers inevitable. They fall into a clandestine affair, their hushed and hidden lovemaking as beautiful and breathless in their eyes as it is torrid in the eyes of others.
More time spent worshipping Tomeo's body means less time finding him a suitable bride. Shin's forsaking his duty...but mating Tomeo is worth every stolen second.
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Ellora's Cave Publishing, Incorporated
May 22, 2012
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Excerpt from Mating Tomeo by A.J. Llewellyn
Tomeo sat outside the house and waited. It was almost six o'clock and his mother would worry if he didn't go straight inside, but he dreaded what awaited him. He watched the sun setting, spreading fast across the horizon like peach jam on a slice of very blue toast.
He had to stop thinking in what his father called "artistic terms". Art was for sissies.
Tomeo swallowed hard as he glanced again at the sky. He had thought the tsunami two weeks ago had been a brilliant diversion in his parents' marriage plans. Not anymore. They weren't buying his excuses of extra work because of the disaster. Over a hundred people had died, but after the first few chaotic days, it was true that the islands had largely returned to normal.
The sun's brilliance made the clouds seem like clusters of ripe fruit up there in Heaven. He sighed when his favorite song, Prisoner of Love, came on the radio. He turned up the volume and gripped the steering wheel of his most prized possession, his cherry-red 1940 Chrysler Highlander. He'd bought it dirt cheap from an American Army officer who'd been forced to return to the mainland.
Tomeo loved the car so much he wished he could marry it instead. It had one bullet hole in the trunk and another in the plaid fabric of the backseat, thanks to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but other than that, the car was perfect.
He hummed along with Perry Como. Tomeo was a terrible singer but a pretty good hummer. Como's voice and the lyrics haunted him, especially the lines, "I need no shackles to remind me, I'm just a prisoner of love..."
Tomeo suddenly felt close to tears. He longed for love. He longed to experience the pain and anguish of loving somebody so much. He just knew he would never find it, and now...now he had to go inside and meet the tanomoshi.
He forced himself to relax, touching the walnut panel on the dashboard, hardly able to believe this thing of beauty belonged to him. He'd saved for two years to buy the car from his boss's brother-in-law.
Tomeo worked hard for his money. He had a good job and was considered a handsome, eligible bachelor. And that was why, inside the house, the tanomoshi waited. His father had mentioned this strange custom to him several times, but Tomeo had dismissed the idea from his mind.
He didn't need a matchmaker. So far, he'd managed to avoid the man three times. Now his parents were beginning to suspect something was wrong. They'd even asked him if he was sick. He did have a very stressful job managing a pineapple cannery, but he only wished his sickness was physical. He wished he could explain his hideous malady.
Tomeo Yamaguchi did indeed have an illness--what else could it be when only a few he knew suffered the same thing?
He preferred the attention of other men.
He'd only recently allowed himself to admit the truth in his own mind. He was homosexual...or, as he'd heard it in a bar recently, gay.
Gay. What an odd word. Gay meant "happy", and he was far from it. At the age of twenty-three, he was fast approaching the mark of doom for his culture, twenty-four, when he would be considered too old to be a decent husband in the bloom of his youth.
But I'm still in my prime. I think of sex all day long.
He knew the tanomoshi was inside because Tomeo was parked behind the man's pristine black Ford Coupe. Of course his car is pristine. I bet his whole life is fantastic. I bet he has the perfect wife and the perfect children. I bet his car doesn't have bullet holes...
Tomeo didn't want a traditional Japanese bride. What would he do with a woman? It was bad enough having a sister, for Lord's sake.
He was also afraid of who the tanomoshi might have found for him. Some well-bred, very Japanese girl from the mainland? Or worse--Japan? He could barely speak the language. Long before Pearl Harbor had been hit, it had been illegal to speak anything but English in Hawaii. Japanese families had a very hard time in the islands once the attack happened. The men were shunned as suitable husbands by Caucasian or island women. Local Japanese girls had it slightly easier since they were considered to be subservient. Some white men had fantasies about that. For Tomeo it was all a nightmare. Now, five years after Pearl Harbor, if he found himself with a Japanese bride, Tomeo wouldn't even be able to talk to her.
Three of his friends had been married by arrangement, and they seemed happy enough. However, like Tomeo, their Japanese was poor and they hardly spoke to their wives.
"You don't need language when it comes to sex," his best friend Koh always said. "You just take your clothes off. The body speaks for itself."
But Tomeo didn't plan on having sex with his wife, so he would need to say something. Maybe he could learn some jokes or a few very long poems and keep her laughing all day long.
Fool. Nobody laughs all day long. Okay. You can't sit here all night listening to tunes on the radio.
Why not? I like it out here!
Tomeo absently brushed his pants. They had a fine dusting of bamboo powder all over them. He'd spent the last hour lying on the ground inside the bamboo rainforest up on the Old Pali Road, watching woodchoppers working. A few were very attractive...
He glanced back at the house. Would she be here, his future bride?
Maybe I can get a look at her before I have to face the music.
He turned off the engine just as Perry Como got to the good part about how the woman he loved had another. Now that would be convenient, if his intended bride didn't want him. He could go back to secretly hungering for men.
Tomeo sneaked around the side of the house. It wasn't easy when his father had spent so much time planting tropical flowers all over the grounds. Spiky palm fronds dug into his arms and legs as he reached the living room windows.
He could hear his father talking. The windows were closed but his father was loud.
"I think the boy is too soft. He has ideas of romance and American girls."
No I don't!
"What are you doing?" a voice beside him asked too loudly.
Tomeo jumped in fright. "Shhh!" he hissed.
"What are you doing out here?" Asuka asked again, stepping closer and peering into the window.
"You're mean! They can't see me."
"Of course they can see you with all that stupid stuff in your hair." His sister looked like a walking fruit bowl with the kanzashi lacquered to her artfully piled locks. She had hair sticks, cherry blossoms, ornamental fans and combs galore.
In English, Asuka's name meant "smelling good tomorrow". He sure hoped so, because the yucky stuff in her hair reeked like diesel fuel right now.
She tilted her head and, before he could move out of the way, one of the sticks shot straight up his left nostril.
"Ow!" he screamed. Blood immediately gushed everywhere.
Tomeo clutched his burning nose, petrified of the pain and all the blood escaping through his fingers. He tried not to panic, tried to tilt his head up--and the window opened, smacking him right in the chin.
It sent him flying into a kiawe tree behind him. He shrieked as the thorniest tree in all the Hawaiian Islands shoved its spines into every available inch of his body.
Tomeo went into shock. He heard the sound of running feet, heard his father saying, "Aw, nuts. I was hoping it was a burglar. I wanted to shoot him!"
"Easy, easy...I've got you," another, kinder voice said.
Tomeo looked up into the most beautiful almond-shaped eyes he'd ever seen and said the first thing that came into his idiotic mind.
"I'm all cut up. And after all my efforts to keep my elbows smooth."
And then he passed out.