Guest Blogger: Lily Sawyer
Jan 10, 2012 Filed under: guest blogger, m/m
Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Lily Sawyer. Well actually my name is Linda, but I write under the name Lily Sawyer. I was born on Long Island New York, I always thought it was a special place to grow up, on an island, it actually didn’t feel so much like an island, you could drive east to west or west to east and never see the ocean for hours. So it’s not like living on a tropical island where every vista is an ocean view. In fact I had a co-worker who hated the water and avoided going near any of the coastal towns, I thought it was crazy. I love the water, I remember going to the beach as a kid with my parents and brother and we’d spend the day swimming and just watching the waves come in and out.
One of my special memories is going out to the East End of Long Island with a friend of mine. The Long Island Railroad offered tours of the wineries and one summer my friend and I went on a tour of the north fork. I’d never been out that way and it was exciting to see the vineyard and we got to see how they make the wine and we even got to taste the different varieties they make.
When I was thinking of a plot for a new story I thought about setting it on the East End and incorporating some of my experiences out there into my story. That was how Gabriel and William were born. Of course everything that happens in my story is complete fiction, but there are some memories of my time at the vineyard that weaved its way into the story.
During the time I was writing “Love on the East End” there were a lot of news stories about gay teens killing themselves. While I hadn’t planned to have this topic appear in my story I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind so I let my muse go where it wanted and readers will be able to see how I handle this situation in my book.
I want to thank all who buy my book. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Love on the East End by Lily Sawyer (on sale through Jan 15!)
Gabriel Meyer’s restaurant is a dream come true, but he gets more than he expected when in the course of his business he meets William Thomas, owner of Rolling Hills Winery. Food and wine more than come together on the east end of Long Island as they discover just how complementary Gabriel and William really are. Their seeming paradise is disturbed, however, when they meet young Ben Stewart—a troubled teen who is being bullied at school over his sexuality. Can they help this young man and fight the intolerance that lies on the east end of Long Island, or will it consume them?
Gabriel Meyers looked at the empty dining room of his brand new restaurant. He’d just opened the doors two weeks ago and already the place was packed every night.
While he loved the hustle and bustle of the lunch and dinnertime crowd, he appreciated the quiet the morning hours afforded him. He used the time to do all the paperwork and phone calls, which were a part of running a place like Maven.
“Gabriel, we have a problem with the wine order.” Pierre came running into the room to inform him. He was the restaurant’s sommelier, and Gabriel met him at the culinary school in Paris. He was studying to be a chef and when he decided to open his own place Pierre was one of the first friends he told.
“Oh what now?” It always seemed to be something, you’d think having your own place on the north fork of the east end of Long Island in the middle of wine country would mean having an endless supply of wine. Sadly, it wasn’t the case. Sometimes they had special clients that wanted certain things the restaurant didn’t always have on hand. Like now they were looking for a special vintage of Riesling to go with the duck being served at a fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration, which was happening this weekend.
“The Pindar Winery won’t have any ready for about three weeks.”
“Have you tried the other wineries?”
“I tried the Rolling Hills winery, they said they’d give us a call back.”
“We can’t sit on our hands on this, we need that wine. I’ll call them again to see if I can make any headway. Thanks Pierre.”
Gabriel heard the phone ringing and ran back to the office to pick it up. He wished he’d looked at the caller ID before he answered.
His stomach tied up in knots when he heard the dulcet tones of his ex-wife on the other end.
“Willow,” he said through clenched teeth. “What can I do for you?” He wished more times then he could count that he and the blonde with the blue eyes and movie star body had never crossed paths.
“Gabe, you don’t sound very happy to hear from me.”
Truth be told he wasn’t. Their marriage was the biggest mistake of his life. They’d met in New York City, she was acting at a theater club and he was waiting tables. They started off as friends, hanging out with friends and family. Then ended up getting married.
Gabriel knew they had rushed into something that was never meant to be. He did love Willow, but he was never in love with her. He was gay; it took him a long time for him to admit it to himself, let alone to Willow. He finally told her two years after they’d said ‘I do.’ She was stunned at first, then she told him she had a feeling something was different about him, but she hadn’t been able to put her finger on it.
They got a divorce, their story made the rounds with the tabloids. Fortunately he was able to hide his secret of being gay, he was only too glad they left him alone and glommed onto her.
When one reporter intimated they’d split because Gabriel was gay, he asked an old friend from school if he could hang out with her to make it look like they were dating. She was only too happy to help him throw them off the scent, even going so far as to make sure they were seen in public, holding hands and walking the streets of Brooklyn having brunch at a restaurant one Sunday morning.
“Willow, I’m kinda busy, what can I do for you?”
“Is that any way to talk to your ex-wife?”
He cringed when she said ex-wife, their divorce hadn’t been as clean a break as he would have liked. She got nasty when he asked for the house on Long Island. She had several properties; she barely spent any time there. Her favorite spot was a condo on the upper east side of Manhattan.
“Well, I’m having a party to honor Chuck Scarborough, you remember my agent? He’s celebrating thirty years in the business and I wanted to do something special. He has a home not far from your restaurant and I want to rent out the back deck and hire a DJ and just do it up big.”
“How big?” Despite how their marriage ended, Gabriel knew Willow could bring him a lot of big business with all the big wigs in the music and entertainment industry she could connect him with.
“About one hundred.”
“When?” Maven could easily handle that many people.
“Weekend after next.”
It was spring and the weather was getting nice enough so they could start using the deck outside. The restaurant faced Long Island Sound and on a clear day you could see Connecticut.
“How about I put you in touch with Annie, our party planner? She can iron out all the details. I don’t see any problem having the party here.”
“Thanks, Gabe, I knew you wouldn’t let me down.”
“Sure thing. Thanks for thinking of Maven for your party.” They hung up. He’d let Annie know about the party later, right now he had some Riesling to wrangle up.
William Thomas loved wine; there wasn’t anything he didn’t know about it. His interest started when he took a trip to France and toured the wine country and it was like he finally found what he wanted to do with his life there in the middle of vineyard. When he got back home he did everything necessary to begin his journey from a beginner everyone in the industry scoffed at to a well-respected wine maker. Even his family, who were not thrilled with his decision to go into the winemaking business, became his biggest supporters.
Rolling Hills winery was the result of all the blood, sweat and tears.
William loved opening up the winery to tourists and often joined them in the wine tasting room.
Women came on to him all the time, he enjoyed the flirting. But that was all it was ever going to be. He wondered what these same women would think if they could see him dancing on the dance floors at one the gay bars on Fire Island.
He’d never had a serious relationship, content for years to play the field until he hit the big three-O six months ago. Now he was looking for that special person, but it sure wasn’t easy to find him. He decided if it was meant to happen it would happen.
Gabriel turned down the long linden-lined drive. He parked in front of the quaint, Tudor style house at the end. He got out of the car, walked over to the fencing and looked at the rows of grape vines that went on towards the Sound. There was just something about being out in the open air that made him feel so peaceful.
“Like what you see?” A deep, sexy voice startled him out of his reverie.
“Oh geeze, you startled me.” Gabriel put his hand over his beating heart, which beat even faster when he got a good look at the curly blond haired man that had snuck up behind him.
“Sorry,” the blond stuck out his hand. “I’m William Thomas, owner of Rolling Hills winery.”
Gabriel grasped the proffered hand and gave it a squeeze. “I’m Gabriel Meyers. I own Maven. I called about getting four cases of Riesling.”
“Ah yes my partner Steve told me you’d called.”
Gabriel didn’t know why hearing the word ‘partner’ bothered him, he’d just met William a moment ago and yet it felt like Cupid’s arrow had pierced him in the heart.
“I had them set aside for you. They’re in the barrel room. How about I give you a tour of the place? I mean if you have the time.” William flashed his pearly whites at him and Gabriel couldn’t resist the opportunity to spend more time with the tall blond.
William must have been about six-one or six-two. He didn’t tower over Gabriel’s own height of six feet, but he still had to crane his head just a little to meet the chocolate brown gaze.
“I have plenty of time, the restaurant doesn’t open until noon.”
“Well, then, let me give you the grand tour.” William led him to one of the pickup trucks parked next to the house. They took a drive around the vineyard. William explained the different varieties of grapes they grew and what kinds of wine were produced from them. He even got a chance to watch one of the grape picking machines at work, carefully picking the fruit off the vine and separating out the stems.
“I can tell you, Gabriel, that is one expensive piece of machinery. Had to get it imported from Italy.”
“Really? Wow!” Gabriel was very impressed. He knew about wines, after all you can’t live in Paris like he had and study culinary arts and not learn about them. He wasn’t an expert like Pierre, but he knew enough to know how to pair them with food and not embarrass himself.
As far as the growing end, he knew little but he sure was getting an education now.
“Has this winery been in your family for long?” The wineries on Long Island had started up about thirty-six years ago. No comparison to the centuries old vineyards in Europe but they still had made their mark in the wine making industry none-the-less.
William laughed. “No I’m the only one in my family interested in wine. My father is a lawyer and my mom is a fashion designer. My older brother is a screenwriter. He ‘s worked on a few movies, and he lives out in LA.”
“What made you decide to go into the wine industry?”
“I was going to school in northern California and my friends wanted to spend spring break in Napa Valley. I just fell in love with wines and wanted to learn the business. I came back to Long Island and started my own winery. Rolling Hills is the result. We’re celebrating our tenth year.”
“Congratulations! Your family must be proud.”
“Thank. Well I can’t say they were thrilled, but they saw the passion I have and they’ve been very supportive.”
They parked next to the house and William took him to the barrel room. One of the workers took the cases of Riesling and put the in Gabriel’s car.
“Do you want to stick around for lunch?” William offered his new friend.
Just then Gabriel’s cell phone went off.
“Hello?” Gabriel walked a few feet away from the other man. “What! No I know I placed that order a week ago, what do you mean they don’t have a record of the order?’ He paused. “Shit, I’ll be there in a few minutes.” He shut the flip phone closed. “Damn.”
“Yeah, I had a champagne order that was supposed to be delivered this morning and they have no record of it. I need it for an engagement party tonight.”
“I think I can help you out there, just hang out here for a bit.” After Gabriel told him he needed some Dom Perignon, William went inside the house. He returned a few minutes later with a smile on his face. “It’s done, I got you the champagne you needed. It should be delivered to the restaurant in about an hour.”
“How did you manage that?” Gabriel was surprised.
“I know plenty of people around here. There’s a place on the south fork that carries some wonderful champagne. I got you a case. Unless you wanted more?”
“No, a case is fine. I can’t thank you enough for helping me.”
“Forget it, I was glad to help.”
Gabriel slid into the driver’s seat of his car and started the engine. “Hey how about coming to our wine tasting event? We’re having it on Friday night at seven thirty.”
“Sure, sounds like fun. I’ll bring a good vintage from our special collection.”
“You can bring your partner if you want too.” Gabriel took off without waiting for an answer from William. Truth be told he didn’t want him to bring anyone else, let alone his partner. But it wouldn’t have been polite to invite him without his lover.
‘Why are the good ones always straight or taken?’ He asked himself as he drove, with a heavy heart, back to Maven.
Buy Love on the East End here while it’s on sale!
Visit Lily Sawyer at her blog.