Tinder and Jason are back in Honolulu, determined to face the future…but an unexpected friend from Tinder's Hotel Street days turns their lives upside down.
Now that Jason is home, safe from his horrific mission aboard the SS Malama, he and Tinder once again return to Honolulu to help in the rebuilding of Pearl Harbor. Jason, who faces a military tribunal on the fate of the cargo ship's lost crew members, suffers from traumatic nightmares as a result of his ordeal. Tinder, determined to nurture and protect his lover, is devastated when the truth of the crew's capture and Jason's dramatic escape is revealed.
Determined to face the future with renewed determination and courage, the two men also soon learn that fate has some other new surprises in store for them. In the ensuing months of WWII Honolulu, Jason and Tinder grow closer and closer in spite of hate—and help—from unexpected quarters, their abiding hearts rediscover the meaning of aloha.
Reader Advisory: This book is best read in sequence as part of a series and contains a discussion of off-screen rape and torture.
World War Two brought them together…but a family's threat to take away Tinder and Jason's son, Christopher, could tear them apart.
Avenging Heart, follows Jason and Tinder's adventures in Honolulu in 1947.
The war is over, but the islands are slow to heal from the devastating ravages of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Jason and Tinder are part of the rebuilding effort. Tinder's stepmother is spearheading a growing movement of housewives who are keen to help their husbands bring home the bacon—it's a time of remembrance, hard work, fancy clothing, Tupperware and other intriguing new inventions.
Tinder and Jason, the proud parents of their five-year old son, Christopher, are shattered when his birth mother's family challenges their legal adoption of the child. His mother, Melody, a former working prostitute on Hotel Street, had been murdered, her sins long buried…until now.
The surprising discovery of her killer and the couple's desire, both for vengeance and to maintain the loving home Christopher has always known, make for nonstop twists and turns of Tinder's Avenging Heart.
General Release Date: 25th June 2012
Honolulu, Hawaii Wednesday, January 21, 1942
I lay in bed, listening for my lover’s footfall. It was a little before seven o’clock in the morning and he’d been gone almost an hour. I wrestled with my desire to give him a little more time before I charged off looking for him. I let out a breath. I hadn’t been aware that I’d been holding it, not really, but I worried each time he was away from me. I never said anything, but I felt my fears were reasonable considering that he had been captured by Japanese forces at sea just a few short weeks ago.
Miraculously, he’d managed to escape.
I kept giving myself reasons to stay in bed, keeping it warm for him, just like he’d asked me to. I held the pillow that contained his scent—ylang ylang and sandalwood. I gave myself up to the sweet, soothing sounds of The Andrews Sisters singing I’ll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time. I wanted to be with Jason all the time. I entertained myself by imagining what I would do to him when he came home.
The lush, yet breezy harmonies relaxed me. I had almost drifted off when my lover, who’d had a rough night’s sleep, walked back into our little Chinatown studio.
He gazed at me the way he always did lately, as though he couldn’t believe he was with me, that I was real. I saw the emotions crossing his face as I smiled, holding my arms out to him. He dropped his gas mask on the bedside table. The music stopped and the radio announcer read off the latest news bulletin.
“All citizens be alert. There will be fines issued to anyone seen without their gas masks—”
“Turn it off, baby, please,” Jason begged.
Music was fine. Constant, negative news was hard to take, especially when war bulletins came in each and every minute. I understood how he felt. He was weary. Bone weary. I was his respite.
I leaned over my side of the bed.
“Let me find some music,” I said. I fiddled with the dials. We’d picked up the astounding 1937 Deforest Crosley tube radio and twenty-three-inch tall cabinet for the princely sum of three dollars at one of the many yard sales that had sprung up around the islands over the last few weeks. With families leaving Hawaii in droves, they were desperate to offload the things they thought they couldn’t ship back to the mainland. It was in immaculate condition and the sound quality was superb. We liked to turn the radio’s ‘magic eye’ and find our favourite music as we lay in bed. We adored making love to Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw and The Andrews Sisters. For the minutes we listened to their lovely songs, the world was a beautiful, peaceful place again...
We had a fully furnished home in Waikiki, but I had turned it over to the military government as a gesture of goodwill whilst my lover had been on a clandestine mission for our country. Jason still hadn’t quite forgiven me, but I had taken out some of his favourite antiques, his clothes, books—and a box of booze—so we had everything we needed.
I so loved the little studio he owned in a back alley off Maunakea Avenue. We’d managed to pick up some wonderful pieces of furniture and kitchen utensils for it. Jason liked to joke that we could hardly move because we had so much stuff, but I found it hard to walk past these frantic families without purchasing something. I loved that our new little home was big enough just for the two of us. And I loved living in Chinatown. In the months before he met me, the studio had been Jason’s little crash pad. When he worked late at his bank, he would spend a few hours here then return to work. Now it was our love nest. Chinatown was our world. People accepted us...no, they embraced us.
No music. Just news. And none of it good.
“Turn it off, baby, I want to concentrate on you.”
This time I did as he asked. I turned back to him. He had a lustful gleam in his eye as he kicked off his shoes, then dropped his trousers and shirt on the floor. As usual I got a thrill seeing him naked.
“Get in here, you.” I held out my arms again and he slipped back under the covers with me. He smelt faintly of dry cleaner fluid.
A whole week we’d been back in Waikiki, and we’d thrown ourselves into our new projects. Jason had resumed running his family’s bank here in Chinatown. He’d given loans to several local businessmen to take over stores that had been abandoned by people anxious to leave the islands, thanks to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Jason himself had purchased two laundries and a dry cleaner. Together, we had given several friends money in order to plant and harvest fruit and vegetables at their homes—Victory Gardens that had started cropping up on the expansive windward side of the island to combat chronic food shortages.
Hopeful families in Waikiki had started planting in allotted spaces in public parks, and we had given them money, too. We hoped this positive war effort would be the antidote to the drunken, debauched honky-tonk bars that sold lethal imitation gin and watered-down drinks to the armed forces streaming into the islands.
He had left our bed at the crack of dawn to open all three of his businesses. He would return in a couple of hours to keep an eye on things. Restaurants, laundries and dry cleaners were the unexpected boom industries, thanks to the war effort. But right now, my job was Jason.
He snuggled in my arms, pressing kisses on my throat and neck. His cock fell against my warm thigh. Hmmm...it needed some attention. He moved his face up to kiss me.
“I love you,” he said. I loved hearing it. I never got tired of hearing it, but I worried that he still hadn’t told me what had happened to him out in the ocean when the Japanese forces seized his ship. Jason was understandably traumatised, but if he couldn’t tell me, then how in the world was he going to tell the military tribunal next week?
My hands moved down his body. He shivered as the back of my hand grazed his leaking cock head. He was the most responsive lover I’d ever had. He lay back on his pillow and grabbed my head, threading his long fingers through my blond hair.
“Oh, Tinder.” Our lips met, our tongues dancing against one another. My arm brushed against his cock. I wanted to suck it. As far as I was concerned only two things should ever touch his cock. My mouth and my ass.
He wouldn’t let go of me. Sometimes—and this was only since we’d returned to Waikiki from rural Maui, when he had bad dreams and then plunged into the world of strangers—he seemed afraid. He never expressed this to me. It was just my feeling. As I kissed him, allowing my mouth to linger over his chin and down his throat, I decided that from now on, no matter what he said, I would accompany him wherever he had to go. My name came to his lips again as I licked a trail down his skinny chest. I loved every inch of his body. And he knew it.
“Please,” he whimpered. “Please.”
Monday, April 21, 1947
My life in Honolulu, like so many others in the islands, remains restricted under the dark cloud of World War II, even though the war has been over for almost two years. Every day we hear of ordinary families struggling to regain their homes and plantations that had been taken over by the military during the war. Though Martial Law was abolished in 1944, the US Supreme Court has just today, finally, declared it unconstitutional.
Just as we began to think we could put the past behind us, my partner Jason and I learned on the radio this morning that the people of the isolated, outer island of Ni'ihau are still being subjected to the most austere restrictions of all.
Thanks to the island's feudal ownership by the Robinson family, the residents of Ni'ihau have no access to news, cannot own radios, and do not have adequate educational facilities or medical care.
Imagine. A life with no news and no music? I became instantly despondent. Jason immediately began plotting how to get radios, first aid kits, books, toys and newspapers over to the island. The words 'They live in complete subservience to the island's paternal owners' reverberated in my brain, rendering me immobile.
"This is terrible," Jason said, getting out of our bed and picking up his ever-present to-do list. I am a worrier—Jason is a doer. A born doer, all the way.
My name is Tinder McCartney, and Jason and I have been together for six years. It is my privilege to love him and care for him, and our precious son Christopher, who is a robust, healthy, happy little boy of five. We inherited him in 1942 when he was just two weeks old. His mother Melody had been a prostitute at the same hotel I worked at—only fate handed me Jason, and Melody... Well, poor Melody got knocked up by a US military officer. She'd lived in fear of him and paid dearly for her relationship with him.
He murdered her.
So, now, Christopher is ours. I have a dim memory of his father who came to see us once. I never forget a face and I could identify him if I ever saw him again, but now Christopher is safe and loved.
"Daddy?" He knocked on our door. I glanced at my husband. We might not be legally married men, but we are husbands. In every way. Jason looked up at me from his position on the floor. We were both naked and I'd hoped for some early morning fun until Ni'ihau's problem became our challenge. We both laughed.
"No rest for the wicked," my handsome man said. We rushed around getting dressed and opened the door to our little boy. He barrelled in, dressed only in pyjama bottoms since the weather was so humid. He is such a beautiful child. He loves us both equally but Jason was closest. Christopher put his arms up to Jason, who snatched him up, hoisted him into the air and kissed him.
Christopher laughed. Then it was my turn. I love to see him with Jason, who could not love a child more. Everything we do is for our son. He looks nothing like Jason, who is Chinese, but he is blond, like me. We put out the rumour that he is my dead sister's child when we first took him in. He was the child nobody wanted but now he has four adults who fiercely love him, the other two being my father and step-mother. Dad and Linda adore our rambunctious little handful. They have been the perfect cover for us since I don't really have a dead sister. I was an only child, but even my dad has come to believe the story. He and Linda are Christopher's legal parents, but he is our child.
"Tinder," he said, showing me his treasure. We had been careful to teach him to call me by my given name since I was technically, in the eyes of the world, his uncle. Jason was Daddy. I checked on Christopher's trophy. It was a gecko, though the poor little guy looked the worse for wear in my son's trusty grip. He adores animals but has to learn not to squeeze them to death out of love.
It took Jason and me a few minutes to coax Christopher into releasing the gecko to our bedroom windowsill. He cried hot tears when the little yellow lizard ran to safety.
"We'll get you a dog," I promised.
"When?" he asked me, more tears pooling in his big, beautiful, blue eyes. I felt a tug at my heart. My mother would have loved him. I missed her so much but she died before Pearl Harbor was bombed. I am glad she didn't have to suffer, though I miss her smile, her laughter and her wonderful hugs.
"Soon," I promised.
"Bacon," Christopher said. All three of us laughed. Next to getting a dog, Christopher's other obsession in life is food. He's in good company. We both love to eat and Jason is a generous husband who frequently takes us out to dinner. One of the most prominent bankers in Honolulu, he also owns several small businesses and his shipping line brings in luxuries from Japan and China so that the people of Honolulu can have things like rice and silk stockings. These were hard to come by during the war. We also have an icebox filled with ice cream, just because we can.
Sometimes I wake up and think we are still in the war. There are sirens and then we are placed under curfew. It all seems designed to keep us afraid...keep us in line. Sometimes I think Honolulu is just one great big Ni'ihau.
I carried our son into the kitchen. Gripping my hips with his strong legs, he reached over to the radio on the countertop and turned it on. The Andrews Sisters' jaunty song Rum and Coca Cola was playing. An ardent music lover as much as we were, Christopher began singing the lyrics at the top of his voice, making me laugh. I wasn't sure a five-year-old should sing about drinking rum, but he had no idea what the song was about. He just loved to sing. He shrugged himself out of my arms and began dancing around the kitchen.