I get these kinds of questions a lot, frequently with a sense of disbelief on the part of the questioner. What can I say? My favorite stories begin with the question,
What if a vampire wanted to live a normal life? What if touching an unidentified artifact in a museum bestowed alien powers on you? What if you had the strong impression you’d met someone before in another lifetime—to the point that you dreamt vividly about your previous life—and death—together?
In the case of Raincheck, my M/M novella with Dreamspinner Press, the question was “What if gargoyles came to life every evening?” Because the original ‘what if?’ is only the beginning, you see. If you start with the idea that gargoyles turn into living beings at sunset every night, then the next question that comes to mind is what happens at dawn? Are they tied to their buildings, their pedestals? Yes, they must be. Well, then it follows: what happens to the gargoyle who doesn’t make it back to his rooftop in time?
And so Rodney was born, the philosophical gargoyle who’s been around for a very long time. He’s seen people come and go, and the city change around him. He reads Dickens and the Bible. He’s watched Phantom of the Opera from the catwalk on Broadway, and he has a little stash of ‘treasures’ he’s collected from his night-time wanderings that he keeps hidden in an air vent on his roof. No one knows what happens to gargoyles if they aren’t on their bases when the sun comes up, but everyone knows it’s bad. Rodney’s about to find out someday soon because his base is cracking and there is no one to repair it. That’s okay, he’s ready to go to the next level, whatever that may be. Or so he thinks until one night, , he meets one of the residents of his building. Hiding in the shadows, he begins a series of conversations with his new friend, David, and suddenly has a new set of reasons for wanting to live past dawn. His friendship with David challenges everything Rodney thought he knew, and forces him out of his comfort zone and into the light, as he is: clawed feet, scales, and all.
Rodney has a special place in my heart and has proven to be one of my most popular characters, prompting one reader to suggest “Rodney for President!” Fans frequently ask me if there will be any more stories in Rodney’s universe, and I merely smile and say it’s possible. You never know when the ‘what if?’ question will strike me again.
Rodney isn’t like other gargoyles. No doubt it’s because of his fascination with humans and their culture. For decades he’s been content to observe from the shadows, but then a lonely human wanders onto Rodney’s rooftop one night and turns his world upside down. David Marshall is everything Rodney has wanted in all his years of solitude. Rodney manages to keep his crush and his identity a secret until David needs a gargoyle’s protection more than late-night conversations with a reclusive friend.
Will David be able to see past the monstrous exterior to the true person within? Time is running out, and Rodney must try to grab onto life—and love—before it’s too late.
Rodney found himself desperately wanting to prolong the conversation. “Clear your head from what?”
“What?” David looked up in his direction, his thoughts apparently somewhere else. His expression lightened. “Oh. Right. Yeah, well.” David scowled, obviously remembering something from earlier in the evening. He made even that look sexy, and the thought startled Rodney. Since when did he think of people as sexy?
David gave a little half shrug, a movement that Rodney envied in its simple elegance. “My father is Patrick Marshall. You know, Marshall Industries?”
“The big property developer?” Rodney did know who he was. Marshall Industries was one of the fast-growing developers in the city, with signs heralding the appearance of a new building almost every day—usually on the site of an older building, such as his.
“Yeah.” David didn’t sound happy about it. “That’s him. Well, I’m the oldest son; he thinks it’s about time I settled down, got married, and took my place in the company.”
“But you don’t want to,” Rodney guessed.
“It’s not the life for me,” David growled. He turned toward the railing and looked out upon the city, waving the bottle toward the lighted buildings as he spoke. “I don’t want to spend my life tearing things down to put up bigger things no one really needs. And I sure as hell don’t want to be married off to some woman chosen by my father for her money and connections or how nice she’ll look on my arm. Or some woman, period.”
Rodney cocked his head as he watched David at the rail. Even his back was gorgeous. Long, crisp lines that spoke of a lean athleticism that Rodney could never hope to duplicate, not with his great, hulking body. “So what is the life for you?”
David briefly glanced back in his direction. “I don’t know. If I did, it would be easier.”
“Why not just walk away?” Rodney didn’t understand; this guy could do whatever he wanted.
David made that unpleasant laughing sound again. “Easier said than done. I have no real skills and no money outside the family trust. I’m in my thirties and I have no fucking idea of what I want to be when I grow up.”
“I don’t see the problem.”
David shook his head, turning off the rail to face the sound of Rodney’s voice. “It costs money to live in this town. I can’t just cut all my ties with my family; and let me tell you, that’s what telling my dad ‘no’ would entail. I might live in a cage, but it’s a nicely gilded one and I don’t see any way of leaving it.”
“Bullshit.” Rodney had to control his anger. “I don’t think you know what the definition of a cage really is.”
“Excuse me?” David had the air of someone who was not used to being spoken to in this manner.
“You heard me. Any cage where you have the key, where the goddamn door is open, only you’re too chickenshit to walk out of it, is no cage at all.”
David looked taken aback, his mouth hanging open slightly before he closed it in a little half smile. “You know, I was about to get pissed at you, only something tells me you’re speaking from personal experience.”
“Hooray for you. See, there’s one skill I bet you didn’t know you had. Personal observation.”
David laughed and this time, he sounded genuinely amused. “I’ll have to put that on my resume. You’ll be a character witness for me, right?”
“Sure.” Rodney couldn’t help but be a little mollified by his reaction. Even among his own kind, Rodney’s bluntness was legendary.
“Well, Rodney,” David drawled, a warm, inclusive note to his voice. “You’ve given me a lot to think about. I owe you one.”
“Anytime.” Rodney watched David turn and head back toward the door to the roof, bottle swinging loosely in his hand. I wish I could move like that, he thought.
Sarah Madison Author Bio and Contact Information
Sarah Madison is a veterinarian with a big dog, an even bigger horse, too many cats, and a very patient boyfriend. She is a terrible cook, and concedes that her life would be easier if Purina made People Chow. She writes because it is cheaper than therapy.
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