Stevie Woods:author of gay romantic fiction

December 30, 2009

CANE is for sale at ARe Books!

Filed under: writing — Stevie Woods @ 8:08 pm
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By: Stevie Woods | Other books by Stevie Woods
Published By: Phaze Books
ISBN # 978-1-60659-538-1

Word Count: 72000
Heat Index
Available in: N/A

About the book

Privileged young Pieter may have grown up on a sugar cane plantation, but that doesn’t mean he agrees with the way his father runs things. He falls in love with Joss, one of his father’s slaves, and their affair sets off a chain of events that is destined to tear them apart.

An excerpt from the book

June, 1855

Warm hands slid over his chest and down his flanks. Pieter sighed at the wonderful sensations flooding him. He reached up, pulling Joss’ handsome head down so he could take those luscious lips in a passionate kiss, running his hands through that tight springy hair.

Pieter needed to breathe, and they parted. Pieter stared at his pale white hands framing the black skinned face of his lover. It didn’t matter to him that the man he loved had a different color skin. To Pieter, this man was simply Joss.

The love he felt for the man in his arms never ceased to amaze him. It was incredible that the playmate he had teased and laughed with growing up had become this beautiful man, the most important person in Pieter’s life.

Pieter knew they didn’t have long; it was always a risk for them to meet like this, but their choices were limited. He dreaded what his father would say if they were ever discovered together but Pieter couldn’t give up what he had found. Joss meant far too much to him.

Life at the Van Leydens’ Spinnaker plantation on the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten was timeless, or so it seemed to Pieter. His family had owned the plantation for over one hundred and fifty years; his relationship with one of its slaves would change nothing.

The island wasn’t very large, only thirty-seven square miles in total, divided between the French who controlled the northern half, and the Dutch who controlled the south. It was a remarkably peaceful co-existence. The climate was perfect, warm most of the year but with the trade winds to keep any oppressive heat at bay. It did rain during the summer months, but luckily hurricanes were few and far between.

The Van Leyden money had been made during the infamous Tulipmania of the late 1630s, when huge sums of money were literally made and lost over the sale of one tulip bulb. In 1689, Gerrit Van Leyden had invested his profits in the new horizons of the Antilles, and, to honor where the money originally came from, Gerrit named the sugar plantation he created after the tulip that had brought wealth to his family.

After a slow start, the plantation had taken off during the eighteenth century, by the introduction of slave labor brought from Africa as part of the triangular trade route of the Dutch West India Company. Ships sailed from Amsterdam to collect captured Negroes from the West coast of Africa, taking those poor unfortunates to the Americas from where the company brought back sugar cane from the islands of the Dutch Antilles and from Surinam, their territory on the South American mainland.

Many years later, the plantation was still thriving, though not without difficulty. Much had changed. The market in the Caribbean for cane sugar had changed over the last twenty to thirty years, as other European countries had abolished slavery in their territories, which meant those still growing the crop with the use of slaves could garner a higher profit. Now, in 1855, only the Dutch and the plantation owners in the southern states of America still used slave labor.

The world might have changed around them, but for the Van Leyden family life went on, and it was expected that Pieter would take over running the plantation when the time came. He had never embraced the sugar trade the way his father had, let alone its ramifications, but it had always been an expectation he didn’t know how to escape.

His father, Nicolaas, was the type of man to keep the reins of his business tightly in his own hand, which had meant he had had little time for his young son. Pieter’s mother had been fragile, and she died when he was only four years old. He had been brought up mostly by Effie, his father’s Negro housekeeper, and spent the vast majority of his time with her children as she kept the two-story plantation house in good order. The smell of baking and squares of golden sunshine falling through the tall windows, Effie’s brisk voice drifting across the wide veranda surrounding the lower floor as she chivvied the housemaids about their duties formed the backdrop of so many of his childhood memories.

Matilda, whom everyone called Tillie, was three years older than Pieter, and it seemed to him that she had always been there, looking out for him. Joshua, her younger brother, had been born when Pieter wasn’t much more than a baby himself. He was known as Joss, which was about as near as Pieter had been able to get to pronouncing Joshua when he was learning to speak. The three of them became inseparable as they grew up, running wild and free and happy together.

Pieter enjoyed playing with Tillie and Joss on the veranda or in the kitchen, but his favorite place was Effie’s room at the top of the house, where the housekeeper and her children lived. It was a large room, simply furnished, but the old, well-polished wood of the two beds, chest and wardrobe and a rickety rocking chair shone in the warm light from the large window which almost filled one wall.

Pieter didn’t understand why the children’s father wasn’t around and when he asked Joss his friend just shook his head. Pieter frowned, puzzled that the boy didn’t seem to know.

Turning to the housekeeper who was sitting in the corner sewing, he boldly asked, “Effie, where is your husband?”

Effie looked startled for a moment before giving a wistful smile. “My man isn’t with us anymore.”

“I don’t understand. What does that mean?”

She gazed at him for a moment but she didn’t say anything further.

It was many years later that he discovered that Effie didn’t have a husband, as slaves weren’t allowed to marry, but that her man had been sold to another plantation before Joss was born.

Pieter cheerfully joined in when Effie gave her children chores to do for the Master. Indeed, as a child Pieter never took much note of the fact that their skin color was different to his, and certainly never understood how it made their lives so different.

When Pieter was seven, Nicolaas had arranged for him to have some schooling, which irked the boy at first, because he wanted to be out playing with his friends. Also, now he was old enough, Pieter was expected to spend the early evenings in the company of his father, who read with him and tried to teach him how to play chess.

He was seated on the veranda reading one evening when he heard his father’s angry voice.

“I have repeatedly told you I want Pieter to spend his evenings with me and waste less time with your brood,” Nicolaas said harshly. “You know how it irks me that I can’t spend more time with him.”

Pieter edged closer to the open door.

His father’s voice had calmed as he continued, “You know what he means to me. He is already showing a pleasing intelligence and I have great plans for him.”

“I know, master, I’m sorry, it won’t happen again.” Effie sounded nervous.

“No, it won’t,” Van Leyden snapped. “Your children will have no time to distract my son. You will keep them better occupied, remind them that they are no different from any of my other slaves.”

“Yes, master,” Effie replied quietly.

That was the first time that Pieter really understood there was more of a difference between Joss, Tillie, and himself than just the color of their skin.

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