When Ben had received an email from Voices Media Vice President Alan Devere three months ago, asking if he would be interested in becoming the editor-in-chief of both Our Voices Magazine and Bay Voices Newspaper, he had blown it off. Not only had he received more lucrative offers after having become front page news himself for breaking one of the largest political scandals to surface in decades, but he also had no interest in going back to his hometown.
          players in behind the scenes of Washington making not so veiled threats against both him and his career—he found himself with little choice. Besides, he had told himself, he had never wanted to be a political reporter in the first place. Plus Devere had offered him a salary three times higher than he was making in D.C.
          Ben’s first job as a reporter had been for Bay Voices, Eden’s Bay’s local newspaper. That had been almost ten years ago, when the newspaper office had been a tiny three room office in one of the old strip malls that had now replaced by a 20 story luxury hotel. Now Bay Voices was part of a publishing corporation known primarily for their national LGBT Magazine Our Voices.
          The moment he walked through the front door a short, young, man with sandy blond hair and dark rimmed glasses rushed up to him and shook is hand.
          “Mr. Jerrick! I’m Michael, your assistant. Welcome to Voices Media!”
          The enthusiastic man shook his hand with such vigor it almost pulled Ben of balance.
          “Mr. Devere’s waiting for you in his office. Right this way.”
          He followed the man past the front desk where a gum chewing punk rock looking young woman was staring at him. She blew a bubble with her gum until it popped, all the while continuing to glare at him.
          “So how long have you worked here?” he asked Michael once they were on the elevator.
          “Six months,” he said in a timid voice. “I was the assistant to the last editor-in-chief.”
          “Yeah? How was that then?
          “He hit me in the head with a stapler. I still have a scar.” He pointed to the side of his head just over his left ear and sure enough there was a one inch long spot with no hair.
          Ben wasn’t sure how to respond and was thankful when the elevator doors opened. Michael, who seemed to shuffle quickly more than actually take steps, led him through the middle of the floor. As he looked from side to side at the staff sitting at their cubicles, he noticed all of them glaring at him with the same expression as the girl at the front desk.
          Michael spoke briefly to a handsome young man sitting at a large desk who then stood and disappeared into the office behind him. A moment later he opened the door and motioned to Ben to come through. As he did, Michael began shuffling off down a side hall.
          Publisher Alan Devere was a tall, stocky, bearish man in his early 40s with dark red hair and matching goatee. Dressed in business casual, he presented an imposing image to those meeting him for the first time. His handshake was firm and his deep hazel eyes could best be described as piercing.
          Once the two men were alone, Alan went through the customary formalities of thanking Ben for accepting the position of EIC, told him he had every confidence he was exactly who the two publications needed at the helm, and then without mincing words, informed Ben that they had three months to dig Our Voices Magazine out of a very deep hole of debt or the board would vote to sell it to Chase Ballard, head of Chase Publishing.
The news about the magazine, as well as who it would be sold to, hit Ben like a glass of ice water thrown in his face. He did his best to appear calm, but interrupted Devere before he could continue.
          “Wait, you didn’t tell me the company was in trouble when you hired me.”
“The publishing company isn’t—the magazine is. And I apologize if I wasn’t clear, but I did express that we were in desperate need of someone with your experience and connections. And someone who knew how to maneuver within the small town politics of Eden’s Bay.”
          “Our Voices is a national magazine, what does Eden’s Bay have to do with it?” Ben was confused.
          “But our board and principal stockholders are people who were born and raised here. Just like you. You know how they think.” Ben started to protest but Alan cut him off. “Look… Our Voices was my dream child. I put my heart and soul into that magazine and made it the number one LGBT news magazine in the nation. A year ago I had to take time away from the business for personal reasons. When I came back, the EIC I had hired had driven the magazine into the ground. The magazine is close to being bankrupt. We’ve lost three of our top correspondents and Chase Ballard, who I detest with a passion, wants to buy the magazine and turn it into a skin magazine. For no other reason than to use my own creation to humiliate me. But I know you can turn this around. You have the name, the connections, and I will make sure you are very well compensated.” He paused, then with a small smile added, “Help me Ben Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”
          Ben chuckled. What could he do? He and Alec had already quit their jobs, moved across the country and bought a house. Plus who could say no to publisher willing to resort to Star Wars dialogue? He stood, extended his hand to Alan and promised to do his best.


          Ben Jarrick opened his eyes to see his fiance Alec still sleeping. He couldn’t help but smile as he listened to the handsome, unshaven Latino’s gentle snoring. Five years after they had first met, Ben still felt butterflies in his stomach when they were together. He knew without question that he was the man he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. The feeling must be mutual, after all, Alec had given up a potential partnership at a top law firm in New York to follow Ben back to his small coastal hometown of Eden’s Bay.
          They had arrived at just after midnight the night before. The realtor who had sold them the house sight unseen was waiting for them with the key and a large welcome basket full of tourist crap from the local Chamber of Commerce and cheap champagne. After a quick look around the house, and a check to make sure the movers had safely delivered everything they had sent ahead of their arrival, they hastily assembled the bed and climbed between two large comforters.
          Having been too tired for even a kiss goodnight, Ben was feeling a desire to make up for it as his eyes traced Alec’s dark exposed nipples surrounded by small tufts of black chest fuzz. He leaned forward and gently began to lick the salty raised skin. As his tongue flicked back and forth over the area, his lover began to stir, letting out a soft moan and he stretched.
          Without opening his eyes, Alec’s hand found the back of Ben’s head and pushed him away from his nipple and down to his rock hard cock. Ben’s mouth opened without hesitation and soon the head of Alec’s thick, uncut dick was pushing against the back of his throat.
          The alarm on Ben’s cell phone began to chime. Alec silenced it, but Ben knew he needed to hustle if he expected to arrive at his new job on time. Yet, the intoxicating taste of his fiance’s tool made him want to spend the morning in bed making up for all the intimacy they had lost during the stress of the move this last week.
          When the snooze alarm sounded Ben knew he had to hurry, so using his saliva to prep his middle finger, he pushed it into Alec and began to rub his prostate. It took less than a minute before Alec’s panting and moaning culminated in Ben gulping his partner’s gushing seed.
          He then hurried to the shower leaving his lover drained, but happy. And Alec was happy. Happier than he had ever been. So they had traded their beautiful apartment in SoHo and life in a culturally rich city for a modern two story villa in a small gay tourist trap in California. The important thing was that he was with Ben. And that was all that mattered.
          Thirty minutes later Alec was standing at the bottom of the stairs with a leather binder and a travel mug of reheated coffee from yesterday’s trip. He handed both to Ben as they exchanged a quick kiss and watched his husband-to-be race out the front door.
          Ben had barely gotten to his car when a gray-haired woman in a bright green summer dress was standing next to him.
          “Good morning and welcome to Eden’s Bay,” she crooned. “I’m Susan Ferguson, I live next door.”
          Ben tossed his binder into the passenger seat and shifting his coffee to his left hand shook the woman’s outstretched hand. “Hello. Ben Jerrick. I’m sorry, I’m running very late.”
          “Oh I understand. I just wanted to bring you this welcome basket. And if you need anything at all please don’t hesitate to ask me. My number is on the tag.
          “That’s very kind of you. My fiance, Alec, is inside, I’m sure he’d love to meet you.”
          “Fiance?” she repeated almost excitedly. “Oh I’m so glad to have gays next door.”
          Ben closed the car door, but watched the woman make her way to the front door, which was still open. He had the feeling Susan Ferguson was going to be their Gladys Kravitz. Good luck to Alec with her.
          Alec had gone through two of the boxes marked kitchen and hadn’t found the coffeemaker. When he finally decided to give up and go take his shower, he was walking through the hall when he saw a woman in the living room looking through one of their packing boxes.
          “Can I help you?” he said extra loudly, getting the desired result as the woman jerked quickly letting out a gasp and dropping a plastic wrapped basket.
          “Oh, you startled me!” She turned to face Alec. As she looked at him, her over-exaggerated welcoming smile faded down to an apprehensive grin.
          “Are you … do you live here, too?” she asked.
          “Yes. I’m sorry, who are you?”
          “Oh, I’m Susan Ferguson. I live next door. I brought a welcome basket.”
          Alec looked down at the basket on the floor lying on its side and did his best to smile. “That’s very kind of you. I haven’t had a chance to unpack or I’d offer you something.” He took a step closer to her and began leaning down to pick up the basket.
          Susan quickly stepped backward knocking a box on the floor with a loud crash. “Oh, that’s quite all right. I need to be getting home.” She hurried toward the door then turned back and said loudly. “My late husband was a gun collector. I still some around the house.”
          Alec’s face resonated confusion over the sudden very random statement. That’s all they needed was to have a senile gun nut on the other side of the fence. It wasn’t until he had taken the basket into the kitchen and caught a reflection of himself in one of the glass inlaid cabinet doors that he wondered if her reaction to him was because he was Latino. He had experienced the subtle, and not so subtle bigotry of others his entire life. But he had to admit their neighbor’s reaction had taken him by surprise.
          Fuck this. He needed coffee, even if he had to walk into town to get it.