I’d like to share with you all an excerpt from “Deeper Than Did Ever Plummet Sound,” my contribution to the Summer’s Day m/m romance anthology. But first, there’s another Shakespeare reference that’s been heavy on my mind these last few days, and I wanted to give that pride of place…

Princes

Good night, sweet Prince… and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

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Now, for a bit of Clarence Edward Limont, his old school chum and current director Jeremy, Clarence’s Ariel Jaymes, and some of the delights of a lengthy career in the theatre…

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The little table bumped and slid as Jeremy pulled up a chair and seated himself beside Clarence, his fist wrapped round the neck of a bottle of Smithwick’s.

“Well, hello to you, too,” Clarence grumbled.

“Why so gloomy? I thought things went rather extraordinarily well today.” Jeremy went to take a swig from his bottle, but from his expression found it empty, and motioned to the bartender for a refill.

“Are you always blind, or do you need regular practice to stay in good form?” The words came out sharper than Clarence had intended. Or maybe not. Clarence’s subconscious was on the pushy side.

Jeremy blinked at him. “I don’t recall any major disasters today. We made it through first blocking with no one getting killed or committing murder. Which is an achievement, more often than not.”

Clarence’s thoughts, at the moment, were full of the light going out of his Ariel’s eyes. “When he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.”

“Really, Clarence? Juliet?” Jeremy put up a brow. “Something’s turned you into an ingénue?”

Clarence shrugged. “Hardly. I’m a bit past that sort of thing now, aren’t I?”

Jeremy shook his head with a gusty sigh. “I hope you aren’t expecting me to read your mind. I was never any good at that.”

Clarence had almost forgotten how Jeremy’s diction managed to make even statements sound like questions. And how irritating that could be. “I’m just sick to death of the pettiness of the theatre, that’s all.” His drink was mostly water, now; he swirled it around, staring at it without seeing it. “Just once, I’d like to be in a production where no one’s trying to look better by stepping on someone else. Just once in a forty-year career.”

“Oh, dear. I think we need someone to pull the thorn from the lion’s paw.”

Yes. Jaymes, if you don’t mind.

“I’m not a fucking lion, I’m an actor trying to do my fucking job, and just maybe get some fucking enjoyment out of it for a change!”

He hadn’t meant to be quite so loud, but good intentions were of little consequence to the people for several tables around, judging from the looks he received. Ah, well, his voice was an instrument, tuned to play to the last seat in the last balcony without any need for a God-forsaken lavalier microphone.

Jeremy finally looked taken aback. If Clarence had been just a little less out of sorts, he might have snorted at his old friend’s expression, a bizarre mix of placatory and panicked.

“Clarence.” Jeremy set down his bottle and extended his hands, palms down, patting the air as if he were trying to calm a possibly-but-maybe-not-harmless lunatic. “Are you saying you’re… not happy? With the production?”

Clarence snorted. He couldn’t help it. “Jeremy. My dear. Old. Friend.” He shook his head, setting the glass down and pushing it aside, hoping the bartender would notice and send over a replacement. “I cannot recall the last time I was happy with any production. I would be delighted to simply be not unhappy.”

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