“The Mystery of Randy Vaughan” on Urban Smoothie Read

The last stop on my blog tour was with Urban Smoothie Read, where I discuss the inspiration and future plans for one of my favorite characters, Randy Vaughan. Take a look or review the blog post below! You can also click here to buy the book on Amazon.com.

The Mystery of Randy Vaughan

Randy Vaughan is a major supporting character in Every Breath You Take. A former Secret Service agent, he took early retirement and now runs a piano bar in Washington, DC, called Mata Hari. Here is how Randy is described when Zachary Hall enters Mata Hari for the first time:

Zachary took a deep breath and walked up to the bar, where he waited near the hinged opening in the wooden countertop for the muscular bald bartender to notice him.

Damn. That guy is hot. The man was probably late forties or early fifties and stood well over six feet tall. He had a face made up of hard planes and a nose that appeared to have been broken at least once. A bit of dark scruff framed his strong jaw. His broad chest stretched a fitted white shirt, which was tucked into trim black pants that curved over a meaty rump.

Woof. Serious muscle daddy. Straight off one of the websites Fred [Zachary’s friend] follows.

When I conceived the character, I knew I wanted him to be big and burly, slightly intimidating but ultimately a fierce and loyal friend. For inspiration, I pictured him very much along the lines of adult film star Jesse Jackman. If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching one of his movies, this is a picture of Mr. Jackman from his website (used with his permission).

I based the bar that Randy owns on the kind of place I would like to visit myself. The location I chose is of a now-defunct gay bar in Washington called Omega DC, which was in an alley near the intersection of 22nd and P Streets in Northwest Washington. The interior of Mata Hari was inspired by The Townhouse in New York, a bar that is still open today. The Townhouse is decorated to feel as if you were in someone’s home for a cocktail party, and often patrons gather around the piano to sing along with a variety of talented pianists.

As I was revising Every Breath You Take, I realized I had created several mysteries about Randy. Why did he retire early from the Secret Service? Is there a reason he called his bar Mata Hari? What impact did the death of his uncle Kevin have on the trajectory of Randy’s life? By the time I was finished with Every Breath You Take, I was so intrigued by those questions that I wrote my current work in progress all about Randy. The new story involves an art historian from England with secrets, a homeless teenage boy, and a mystery about a painting. Here is a snippet from the beginning of the WIP:

“Guys, time to take it elsewhere.”

The two men pawing at each other in the corner of Randy’s bar jolted apart, and Randy snorted at their wide eyes and swollen lips. He turned away to pick up a few stray glasses and napkins from a nearby table, allowing them some privacy to adjust clothing and tuck away obvious erections. When he turned around again, the younger of the two would-be lovebirds ran hands through his hair as he scanned up Randy’s six foot three linebacker frame. His red-faced partner, or partner-of-the-moment, caught Randy’s eye and muttered, “Sorry. Didn’t realize it was so late.”

The younger one whispered something in his date’s ear, but before they could invite him into a threesome, Randy said pointedly, “Malcolm will let you out the front.” The men hurried away then, hand in hand. Well, at least someone was getting laid tonight, even if Randy wanted no part in it. He hoped they didn’t try to get it on in the alley or the parking lot though. There was little worse than a bare ass mooning him through a windshield at two in the morning.

He finished gathering glasses, then wiped down the tables. The night had been slow so there wasn’t much that needed to be done, plus the cleaning crew would wash up and run a vacuum in the morning, but he never left the place messy. His bar Mata Hari meant a lot to him. It had been open less than a year, but he’d built up a good base of loyal regulars already. They in turn talked the bar up, and as a result on weekends Mata Hari was usually packed. Tuesdays and Wednesdays though… not so much.

Randy walked through the main room of the bar, past deep couches and inviting club chairs grouped around cocktail tables of dark wood. He’d chosen the decor to create the feeling in his patrons that they were guests at a cocktail party rather than a bar. He scanned his art collection on the walls and stopped to adjust one frame that had been knocked askew during the evening. The painting was a small pastel he’d bought in Kyoto, one that featured cherry trees lining a small stream; a single blossom had detached and drifted down toward the water. The elegance of the lines and the delicate shading of pinks and blues pleased his sense of composition. Once again, he admired the artist’s restraint and economy of color. A small tap on the frame’s edge squared the painting again.

I hope that you’ll enjoy reading about Randy as much as I did writing him. You can find out more about my books, and keep an eye out for Randy’s story, on my website.

Return to Home

Exclusive Excerpt at Boy Meets Boy Reviews

In Every Breath You Take, a young gay man has been murdered, and the initial investigation turns up a connection to Thomas Scarborough. The Washington, DC, police detective assigned to the case is named Maria Torres. Torres was a lot of fun to write and I plan to use her more in future books.Boy Meets Boy Reviews hosted me for a blog tour stop that features an exclusive excerpt in which she is introduced, where she visits the gay bar Mata Hari to interview the owner, Randy Vaughan. Check it out here!

Exclusive Excerpt on Bayou Book Junkie

For the Bayou Book Junkie stop on my blog tour, I included an exclusive excerpt. This comes from the first interrogation of Thomas Scarborough by Detective Maria Torres with the Metropolitan Police Department. She is investigating the murder of Brian Gallagher with which the book opens, and the clues have led her to Thomas. Take a look here!


“Zachary Before Mata Hari” at Two Chicks Obsessed

Two Chicks Obsessed hosted a stop on my blog tour. For this one, I wrote a short chapter about Zachary Hall when he was still in Ogden, before he came to Washington, DC and became embroiled in the story of Every Breath You Take. I hope you’ll look at the blog post and enjoy this insight into Zachary.


Chapter 0.5

 Zachary pulled into the driveway of his buddy Fred’s house. He debated whether to go to the front door – which would require talking to Fred’s mother – or just wait for his friend to come outside. His manners got the better of him so he switched off the ignition.

Sure enough, Fred’s mother answered the door. Her unnaturally red hair was on the frizzy side, a cigarette dangled from one hand, and her housecoat was missing a button. He gave her a big grin.

“Hi, Mrs. Hansen. I’m picking up Fred for some pizza.”

“Well of course you are,” Mrs. Hansen gushed, and Zachary could hear slurred edges to her words. As she pulled him into a hug Zachary coughed when the smell of her cigarette went up his nose. “I can’t believe it,” she sighed. “Leaving Ogden, heading to Washington. It seems like it was just yesterday when you and Freddy were running around the back yard like you were Power Rangers.”

Zachary pulled back from the hug to escape the odor of smoke and sour wine rising from her housecoat, but not the hug. Mrs. Hansen had always been free with the affection and snacks when he was young, and had never minded sharing a few beers with Zachary and Fred when they were in high school. “Don’t tell Martha,” she’d always say. Like Zachary ever would have told his strict parents that he had a drink with his best friend’s mother.

A surge of affection and nostalgia washed over him. “Remember that Halloween when you tried to make a Red Power Ranger costume for Fred and it split right down the seat?” he asked.

Mrs. Hansen guffawed as she tugged him through the front door and closed it behind him. “Lord but he pitched a fit that night that he was going to miss trick or treating. I had to use safety pins to keep him from mooning the neighborhood because he was going back out no matter what!”

Fred came down the stairs in time to hear his mother’s comment. “Sure, yuk it up,” he called. “I nearly caught pneumonia from the updraft.”

Zachary shook his head fondly at his friend. Fred was shorter than him by several inches, and stocky where Zachary was lean. His thick glasses flashed his mock-indignation at his mother. His hair always seemed to need a cut and he tended to wear baggy button-down shirts because he thought they hid his slight belly better.

Mrs. Hansen ignored her son. To Zachary, she said, “Well, I know you don’t want to spend your last night reminiscing with me. If I don’t see you again before you leave, you be safe. Hear?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Zachary answered. “I’ll be back to visit my folks anyway, I’m sure, and I’ll fill you in then.” She gave another warm hug goodbye as she returned to the living room and her TV program.

Fred tugged Zachary’s arm. “Come upstairs for a minute before we head out.” Zachary followed him up the carpeted staircase and down the hall to the bedroom where he had spent countless hours over the years. Nostalgia hit him again as he remembered playing Dungeons and Dragons in Fred’s room, along with their other good friend Frank. Weekend marathon viewings of Doctor Who when he slept over. Then later, furtive glances at gay porn websites while keeping one eye on the door in case Mrs. Hansen popped in without warning, as she often did.

Fred had a browser open on his computer and he pushed Zachary down into his desk chair before leaning over his shoulder to work the keyboard. “Look, this is a list of the gay bars I can find in DC. I figured you wouldn’t want to risk searching your computer at home.”

Zachary felt himself blushing. “I know. I should just get over it and come out already.”

“Hey, I’m not giving you shit. I know what your parents can be like.” He bussed a kiss on Zachary’s cheek. “Anyway, look. JR’s seems to be a popular one. And this one…” he pointed with his mouse, “Town Danceboutique. It’s got something on Fridays called Bear Happy Hour.”

Fred was practically bouncing on his feet because he was so excited. Zachary just felt trepidation. “You’d fit in better with the bears than I would,” he mumbled.

“It’s not like they’re going to eat you,” Fred said with an edge of exasperation. Then he grinned wickedly. “Well, unless you want them to eat you.”

“What’s this one?” Zachary asked as he pointed at the screen. “‘Mata Hari.’ That’s an interesting name for a bar.” They read the short description together. “Upscale piano bar. Now that sounds more like my speed.”

“Do you want me to print this list out for you?” Fred asked, but Zachary shook his head.

“My parents might find it. I’ll just look up the bars again on my phone when I get settled in Washington.”

Fred sat on the edge of his bed and sighed as Zachary rotated in the desk chair to face him. “I can’t believe you’re finally getting out of here. I wish I were coming with you.”

“I know, buddy. You can come for a visit whenever you want.” Truth was, he was really going to miss Fred, the friend his parents barely tolerated because of his free-spirited mother and his tendency to draw Zachary into trouble. If his parents only knew the kinds of things he did with Fred and sometimes with Frank, too, on weekends when the house was otherwise empty.

The three of them had been friends all through junior high and high school and had gone to college together. Having two friends who were gay – well, Frank was probably bi but he was too shy to approach a boy or a girl so it was all theoretical – meant Zachary had begun experimenting with them while they were still in school. When all three of them moved back in with their parents in Ogden after college, and with no other outlets, they kept up the casual sexing. Luckily none of the three ever seemed to get their feelings involved. What they had was friendship with the rare benefits those few times they were able to find a quiet place to scratch an itch.

Still, there was a comfort to their arrangement. Fred was really good in bed, though that might have been Zachary’s limited experience. He could suck dick for what seemed like hours, just getting Zachary or Frank worked up and close to coming then backing off, over and over. And he loved to eat ass, which was something Zachary had been squeamish about right up to the point that Fred swiped his tongue from taint to hole.

“I know that look,” Fred said.

Zachary grinned at him. “I wish we had time for one more go. You know, one for the road.”

Fred came over and ran his knuckles roughly over Zachary’s hair, just to piss him off. “Me too, bud. Well, maybe I can swing vacation time from the store and come visit you in DC soon.”

“I’d like that.”

“But look, Zachary. You’ve got to take the lead now.”

“What do you mean?”

“When I come out east, I’m going to expect you to be an expert on all the gay bars. And the bath houses. And the strip clubs. Whatever there is, I want you to be ready to show them to me!”

Zachary looked at his feet. “I’ll try, but …”

“No excuses,” Fred said sternly. “You get out there as soon as you can, get a drink at a real gay bar, find yourself a stranger and have some loud, raunchy sex you can tell me all about the next day!” When Zachary laughed awkwardly, Fred put a hand on his shoulder. “I double-dog dare you. Twenty bucks says you won’t make it to a gay bar your first month in DC.”

Zachary stood and folded his friend into a hug. “Okay, you’re on. I can’t say I’ll go home with a hot guy, but I’ll make myself go to one of the bars at least. Probably this Mata Hari place. So keep your twenty bucks safe because you’ll be sending it to me soon.”

“Excellent. Have a big adventure and tell me all about it. Now let’s go get some pizza.”


Return to Home

“Another Perspective on First Meeting” at Butterfly-o-Meter Books

Butterfly-o-meter Books was nice enough to host a stop on my blog tour. For this one, I wrote an alternative version of the first meeting between Zachary and Thomas, this time from Thomas’s perspective. I hope you enjoy it! You can read the full post here.


Alternate Scene – Chapter 1

Thomas Scarborough slid onto his usual bar stool at Mata Hari, the gay bar run by his best friend Randy and in which he also held an ownership stake. Randy finished serving some customers and then, with nothing more than a questioning look to Thomas, poured him a Johnny Walker Platinum, neat.

“Hey, brother,” Randy said as he slid the glass in front of Thomas. “How are things on Capitol Hill?”

“Ah, the usual,” Thomas murmured. He took a sip of his scotch. “All the Dems hate all the Republicans, and vice versa. Nothing much gets accomplished because everyone is focused on campaign trail points for the next election cycle.”

“I remember,” Randy said with a small grin. “That’s why us Secret Service types always wore black shades when we stood at the back of a room. So no one could see the eye rolls.”

Thomas chuckled at that. “I wish I could wear sunglasses into my committee meetings.” He shifted on his stool while they talked, and was therefore in a position to see a newcomer walk nervously up to the bar and wait for Randy to acknowledge him.

The man looked young, maybe not even legal, with a baby face under slightly messy, blond hair that curled around his ears and almost down to his neck. He was tall, lean and broad-shouldered in a white Oxford shirt that was flattering to his complexion. There was an innocence to the newcomer that Thomas quite liked. From his tightly controlled stance and stiff shoulders, Thomas would guess he was completely out of his element in Mata Hari, but whether it was because the place was a bar or because it was a gay bar wasn’t obvious.

The kid happened to turn his head and meet Thomas’s eye. A lovely red flush spread up his neck and suffused his cheeks before he dropped his warm, wide-set brown eyes to the counter.

Yep. Gay. So it was more likely that he was uncomfortable being in a bar at all. Thomas’s dick was paying attention, though, even though the kid looked too young. Control yourself.

“Randy, you have a customer,” Thomas said, and his friend moved down the counter to serve the kid. He watched Randy look at his ID and heard his deep chuckle before he made him a drink. Good sign. He’s at least twenty-one then.

Thomas’s friends Joe and Terry joined him at the bar then and the three joked for few moments. Joe was a short, white-haired man in his mid-sixties with sparkling blue eyes. Terry was many years younger, but he palpably adored his husband Joe and kept a hand around his waist as they all chatted.

When Randy stepped over to serve Joe and Terry, Thomas couldn’t resist. “So how old is the kid?” he asked in a low voice.

Randy rolled his eyes and delivered a wry smirk. “Like I don’t know your taste by now. He’s twenty-seven and has a Utah driver’s license.”

Twenty-seven. Game on. Thomas hadn’t planned to pull anyone to play with when he came to Mata Hari that night, but there was something about that absurdly young and innocent-looking man that drew his attention and whetted his interest. That blush … what would he look like spread on Thomas’s bed? Would he flush as Thomas drove into him?

He rotated on his bar stool to track the young man and found him over near the piano. Their eyes met briefly and Thomas felt a surge of desire responding to the raw hunger he spotted. The guy broke their glance quickly and looked at the floor, clearly embarrassed or overwhelmed. Oh yes. This is going to be fun.

The stranger focused on the piano and Thomas saw his lips move as he joined in with the people gathered near the piano who sang along with Miss Ethel’s playing. He had a generous mouth, and his lips were a delicate shade of pink. Thomas watched those lips moved and imagined how they would feel to kiss.

How to approach him? The guy looked so nervous he might bolt if Thomas walked up to him directly. Luckily, he had a secret weapon he wasn’t shy to deploy.

If there was anything Joe hated, it was to see someone looking unhappy or ill at ease in a bar. He had an inveterate need to make sure everyone was as happy and content as possible, and a young man on his own was Joe’s kryptonite. Thomas inclined his head toward his friend. “Do you see that young man standing by himself near the piano?” Joe looked around quickly and spotted the man Thomas meant. “He looks lonely, don’t you think?”

That was all it took. Joe scurried away and across the room to take charge of the guy and drag him over to join their group at the bar.

Terry laughed next to Thomas. “I see what you’re up to, Tommy. Using my Joe that way. You’re shameless.”

Thomas grinned back at him. “What can I say? Joe would never forgive me if he realized later this guy was by himself and I didn’t point him out.”

“A selfless prince, that’s what you are.”

“What a delightful name,” Joe was saying to the kid as they reached the bar, “Now, allow me to introduce my husband, Terry. Terry, this is Zachary, and he has just moved to Washington.” Joe had a lilt in his voice that Thomas knew was from his excitement at bringing new people together.

Terry shook hands with the kid Zachary. “Welcome. I see my Joe has collected you, but I assure you he’s harmless as a box of kittens.”

Zachary chuckled. “I was happy to be collected. Thank you for coming over, Joe.”

Joe smiled at him, and his eyes twinkled in the light. “I just hate to see anyone standing by themselves. Now, Thomas, this is Zachary,” he said, and as he turned to introduce them, Thomas smiled, stood up, and reached out a hand to shake.

“Good to meet you, Zachary. I’m Thomas Scarborough. Do you need a fresh drink?”


Return to Home