Stevie Woods:author of gay romantic fiction

November 7, 2012

Conflict – 25% excerpt!

Filed under: writing — Stevie Woods @ 9:26 am
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Today’s excerpt, starting at the quarter point in the story, is from CONFLICT, my Civil War historical novel and sequel to the popular, Cane. CONFLICT garnered some excellent reviews, including a Recommended Read from Fallen Angels, Top Pick from Night Owl Reviews and 5 Stars from Literary Nymphs!

Bitterly, James remembered how he’d called to see Sebastian, to sympathize with him over his manager’s betrayal, to offer what help he could, but Cane would hear nothing said against the man. Sebastian had even refused to join the Confederate army when it was raised, wouldn’t fight for his home, his people. James had gone to ask him to come with him so they could serve together, renew the friendship that went back so many years. But no, Sebastian’s priority was Morning Star. He had a responsibility to his slaves he said. To his slaves!  Good God, what about his responsibility to his own people, to his State!

Van Leyden tossed and turned on the bed, muttering in his sleep. Farrand stared at him, this man who had so much to answer for. The prisoner’s sleep became even more disturbed and he shifted on the bed, his right arm flung to the side where his hand fell open.

Something caught the light from a flickering oil lamp nearby and, curious, James investigated. Van Leyden held a small silver button in his hand, one that James recognized immediately. He’d seen that set of buttons many times before, even unfastened them when he and Sebastian had been lovers.

Fury raged through him and jealousy. He had, of course, wondered at the kind of influence Van Leyden had over Sebastian. If it could be seated in more than just friendship, but he hoped he was wrong. But for Van Leyden to have this button — Sebastian had always been proud and possessive of the set of monogrammed buttons his mother had given him. There was only one way Van Leyden would have one. It was a keepsake from his lover.

James realized now he’d still held to the hope that sometime in the future he and Sebastian could have rekindled their relationship, but Sebastian already had a lover — Pieter Van Leyden. Angrily, James reached for the silver keepsake but as his hand brushed Van Leyden’s the other man stirred, reflexively closing his fist over the button.

James took his gaze from the man’s hand and looked into his face instead, to find Van Leyden staring back at him. Puzzlement swiftly gave way to resentment when it dawned on him what James had attempted.

Eyes blazing with anger, the Dutchman clutched his talisman protectively against his chest. “You have no right…”

Interrupting sharply, James snapped, “I have no right!  You betrayed him. How dare you?”

Mouth tight, eyes hard, yet his voice calm, Van Leyden stated, “Not that it’s any of your concern, but I did not betray him. This,” he glanced down at his still tightly closed fist, “was his parting gift to me.”

Fuming with frustrated anger, Farrand backed away and turning sharply stalked out of the hospital tent.


As James walked away from the cause of his distress, his anger deepened with each step. How come the scoundrel hadn’t been more badly hurt? Why hadn’t the fucking bastard been killed! Fucking bastard! Hah! That was too damned close to home! James couldn’t stand to think of that…that bastard with Sebastian.

Then he spotted Wyatt walking past in the distance and James suddenly recalled that Van Leyden was a prisoner and that if he survived — God damn the man! — he would be sent to a prison. Notorious places they were. Prisoners died like flies, he’d heard. With a brittle smile, James made for his tent, his smile widening as he ducked inside. He had a letter to write.


Pieter watched in shock as Farrand stalked away from him and out of the hospital tent. Relief flooded through him that he’d woken when he did. He’d been dreaming, he couldn’t remember what about, but he knew there was danger. Was it only a coincidence that he awakened just then? Or had his subconscious mind somehow been warning him?

He opened his hand again and stared at the precious keepsake; remembering only a short time ago wondering if he was silly to carry it around with him. Now, he knew just how much it meant to him; he would have hated to lose his only link to Sebastian.


In a frustrated rage, James wrote to Sebastian, knowing that he was still at Morning Star. The words flowing swiftly from his pen, he told of fighting a battle against a group of Union soldiers during which the enemy captain had been captured. He’d heard of course, he wrote, that white officers led nigger soldiers in the Union army but to actually see it! Then he admitted his shock when visiting the hospital to discover he recognized the wounded Yankee captain in charge of one such company. James wrote that he shouldn’t really have been surprised to see Pieter Van Leyden in such a position after the way he’d betrayed his own kind. Then, with a vicious smile, heartlessly, he had added: The man is better off dead!

He read the words again, nodding to himself. Then like a dash of cold water he realized he could never send the message to Sebastian. He couldn’t appear so cold and unfeeling to Sebastian, who, for whatever unfathomable reason, still cared about his ex-manager. James wanted to ‘comfort’ Sebastian; he needed to be supportive, not condemning of ‘poor’ Van Leyden. He carefully re-wrote the letter, first reminding Sebastian of their long and also intimate friendship before writing about Van Leyden. He described the scene in much the way he had before, but instead adding at the end: Still, I know how fond of the misguided young man you were, and I’m sorry to have to tell you that he died of wounds sustained in the battle.

Feeling much more comfortable with the wording, he added another paragraph telling Sebastian that he would call to see him whenever the opportunity next arose, though it could be some time before it would be possible. He signed and sealed it, making plans to get it mailed as soon as he could.

Chapter Four

The following morning, as Wyatt had stated, the Confederates broke camp. The half-dozen wounded were loaded into two wagons and moved out among the first group to leave, a half-company in attendance. Wyatt was at the front of the formation.

Pieter slumped in the second wagon, his back against the rear of the driver’s seat, his head almost touching the back of the soldier driving the wagon. Doctor Mayer sat alongside the driver, half turned toward the bed of the wagon where two of the more seriously injured men lay. The shortage of room in the wagon necessitated Pieter’s half sitting position.

Pieter was the only Union prisoner and Wyatt had insisted on tying his hands and fastening the rope to the wagon. Mayer protested, but the only concession Wyatt allowed was that the doctor placed Pieter’s injured arm carefully before Pieter was secured. However, Pieter considered Wyatt was being over-cautious because he didn’t believe he had enough strength to escape anyway. Not yet at least. He had to trust that his vigor would return to allow him to make the attempt before too long. Pieter had no intention of being sent to a Confederate prison. He’d heard enough rumors not to want to discover if they were true.

From his position in the bed of wagon, Pieter could see where they had come from, and until the cart made a sweeping turn to rejoin a wide dirt road, he watched as the rest of the Confederate troops gathered their belongings together. He knew they would soon form up, throwing out a screen to protect the main column as they retreated to their own lines. Pieter didn’t know exactly where that was, but he knew it wouldn’t be too far from the Union forces.

Both sides kept an uneasy, wary eye out as they each tried to outwit the other. Each commanding general wished to pick the battle ground, while at the same time, not allowing his opposite number to choose where he wished to fight. The front lines were constantly changing. Pieter assumed they were moving toward Louisiana.

It took longer than he expected to reach the Confederate camp. It was big, and looked to be at least semi-permanent. The wagons were driven to the left flank where it appeared there was a hospital complex, judging from all the activity going on around the two tents. Pieter gave an involuntary shudder at the haphazard pile of amputated limbs he glimpsed, grateful indeed that he had been spared that. However, he had been wondering for a while if his wound had begun to bleed again. He could feel something warm and wet on his arm and he’d been feeling sleepier and sleepier as the journey progressed.

As the doctor alighted and moved to the rear of the wagon, Pieter commented, “Doctor, I believe I could be bleeding again.”

<end excerpt>

If you’d like to read the full story, the novel can be purchased here

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