Today, I’m excited to bring to you an author I’ve never read before. Her story, “The Arrangement,” appears in Young Love, Old Hearts alongside many authors with whom I’m more familiar. I really like her take on the “sugar daddy” trope, finding it fresh and original. I’m looking forward to reading more of her work in the future.
For Richer or For Poorer
by Helena Maeve
Wealth fascinates. Culturally, we idealize the rich even as we mock them and it’s no wonder that this fascination translates into fiction. Since before the days of Pretty Woman, the romance genre has embraced the good-looking, charming mogul come to sweep a heroine (or, more recently, hero) of their feet and lead them into a life of luxury and romantic bliss. It’s the romance genre equivalent of the myth of the honourable spy/mercenary.
In the interests of full disclosure, I’ll admit I’ve happily spent my cash on novels that peddle this narrative and would certainly do it again. But until recently, I hadn’t attempted writing a story that relied on one character being wealthier than the other.
As with most other areas in which I’m an armchair expert, it turns out that economic disparity in romance is not as easy to portray as it looks.
The Arrangement, my contribution to the Young Love, Old Hearts anthology relies heavily on the patron/sugar daddy trope. August, a man of means and power, pays his younger lover Cyril for his time and, implicitly, for his body. That has a few unfortunate consequences for the pair, the first of which is their separation within the first pages of the story. But the arrangement in question isn’t August’s unilateral creation and the lack of communication between the two turns out to be as devastating as their apparent disparity itself.
I was keen to avoid writing an older man who has traded in his empathy and common sense for unbridled power over those around him. And while it’s true that August is far wealthier than Cyril, he doesn’t offer him money out of a desire to keep Cyril in his place in the relationship. What Cyril lacks in wealth, in August’s opinion, he makes up for by being attractive and smart and independent, all of which are qualities August, who is tied down with his job and responsibilities, feels he cannot offer any partner let alone someone like Cyril.
The relationship is no less unbalanced for this, but the fee August insists on paying Cyril soon becomes less remuneration for services rendered and more compensation for his own failings.
If that doesn’t sound conclusive, don’t despair. Cyril doesn’t quite buy the excuse, either, and by the time events come to a head, the motives behind each and every move on the chessboard are picked apart by the pair until both August and Cyril find a more equal standing in the relationship.
Find Helena on the Web:
Excerpt from The Arrangement:
Clumsily, Cyril tipped forward and placed the bundled cash on the glass coffee table in hopes of dispelling the sensation. “It’s all there. Twenty-two hundred.”
August sat down on the couch, far enough away that no part of his body touched Cyril’s but close enough that his presence was impossible to ignore.
A familiar ripple of anticipation snagged in Cyril’s chest. He willed it away.
“That money was meant to cover the time you spent with me rather than working on your art.”
Despite himself, Cyril let out a snort of laughter. “No, it was money for sex.”
“All the grand masters had patrons.”
“And all the whores have johns.” Cyril raked a hand through his hair, trying to keep his voice from shaking. “Look, I don’t want it. I never did.”
August quirked his brows, bemused.
Young Love, Old Hearts
A Supposed Crimes Anthology
Editor: C. E. Case
Stories by: A. M. Leibowitz, Adrian J. Smith, Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese, Geonn Cannon, Helena Maeve, Kassandra Lea, Lela E. Buis, Ralph Greco Jr., & Stacy O’Steen
Everyone hears “He’s too young for you.” “She’s too old for you.” Not between these pages. This anthology crosses the age gap with nine enchanting stories of cross-generational relationships. Some are sweet, some are sexy, some are heartbreaking. One is downright murderous. The protagonists are gay men or women searching for true love or trying out what’s right in front of them.
Verso and Recto by Geonn Cannon
Discovering their mutual love of reading leads a literature student and her professor to take a step neither of them expected.
A Blizzard’s Blow by Adrian J. Smith
Lollie dashes from the house in the middle of a blizzard in search of something she’s not sure she’ll find, but she hopes to never again see the same cold, blank stare Kimberley gave her.
Slice by Ralph Greco Jr.
When Germane relinquishes her more-than-slight kinky relationship with Lila to begin a new one with younger A.J., she finds a flirty, fun and wholly different “Slice” of life opening up for her.
That December by Lela E. Buis
Celia finds that older women and the politics of genetic engineering aren’t what they seem.
The Arrangement by Helena Maeve
When he is summoned into his Dom’s study after a mutually satisfying scene, Cyril knows he’s in for something worse than the play they normally get up to.
New York Minute by Stacy O’Steen
Stuck in his depressing hometown for far too long, Colton jumps at the chance to return to his beloved New York City. But when some odd coincidences click into place, he needs to find the truth hidden in the lies.
The Artist as an Old Man by A. M. Leibowitz
1985 is a big year for Kenny Anderson. Sent to interview artist Aaron Rubenstein, making a grand reappearance after a three-year absence, Kenny digs beneath the surface to understand Aaron’s life—and maybe his own.
Adjunct Hell by Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese
Phil may be in his 50s, but he’s still a student, and the fact that Carl—who’s barely 30—is dating him would bad enough even if Carl wasn’t waiting for good news from the tenure committee.
Say You Do by Kassandra Lea
Keegan Bancroft is hoping to avoid a complete meltdown before his date. But there’s something he really wants to ask Richard.
About the Publisher
Supposed Crimes, LLC publishes fiction and poetry primarily featuring lesbian characters and themes. The focus is on genre fiction–Westerns, Science Fiction, Horror, Action–rather than just romance. That’s how we set ourselves apart from our competitors. Our characters happen to love women and kick ass.
“Supposed crimes” refers to the idea that homosexuality is outlawed, and that our authors are being subversive by writing. As times change this becomes more tongue-in-cheek, but can still apply broadly to our culture. Christians writing lesbians and men writing lesbians are also subversive ideas in this industry, and we promote people bending the rules.