Today is International Men’s Day, and so I thought I’d offer a peak into the mind of the male MC of my novel, We Three. Eric Tanner is a former Navy pilot, and now commercial airline pilot, whose passions include cooking, amateur adult/erotic photography and swinging with his wife, Elena.
Eric is a pretty complex guy and he tries hard to be a nice guy. He’s definitely suited to ethical non-monogamy, dedicated to communicating and listening to his partners. I worked on his backstory a long time to make sure I fully understood this guy who meets Jess in the first pages of We Three. I also wanted to give him equal time as the point of view character in the novel and I couldn’t do that if I didn’t understand his goals, motivations, and what makes him tick.
While We Three does end up focusing more on the build of Elena and Jess’s relationship because they had the furthest to grow, Eric’s more than just the “sidekick guy” to their relationship. He really loves and cares for both Elena and Jess and it shows in so many small moments even when we’re not in his point of view.
His point of view is such a deep one I love writing it. Check out this first scene from We Three, when he meets Jess:
Holding a mai tai for Elena and a scotch and soda on the rocks for himself, Eric passed through Club Caliente’s instructional room, designated for the month as the art photography gallery. He tried to act like he was ignorant of comments being made by people clustering around the displays, but he was nervous. Photography had been a hobby for years. More recently, though, he had begun focusing on more sensual and erotic subjects, and some of his pieces were on display tonight.
Couples gravitated toward the artistic or partial nudes and photos with boudoir settings. A few had recognized his primary subject: his wife, Elena, even if she was wearing a mask in all the images, or only visible from the throat down. He and Elena had been members at Caliente for five years and had sex with a wide variety of people.
He hesitated when he saw a single woman studying his photo display. She was alone, quiet, head tilted with clearly deep interest. She wore a slightly ill-fitting black suit—the shoulders a little too wide and the hem a little too long on her body. She had the jacket pulled back, which revealed a crisp white oxford dress shirt, also slightly mis-sized. The woman’s blonde hair, which looked like it might be quite long, had been knotted and secured at the back of her head with a claw clip. It was messy, but indescribably enhanced her attractiveness.
His artist’s eye was intrigued to find out how deep her attractiveness went.
The closer he drew to her, the more he thought maybe the suit was a loaner from an indulgent boyfriend, who liked the more androgynous appearance of a woman in men’s clothing. But the next detail he noted suggested she was not on a date, but undoubtedly alone. She carried herself defensively, her hands in her pockets, her shoulders a little hunched, weaving a bit as if to keep her surroundings in perspective at all times.
Despite the music layered through the space from both the dance floor and the private club beyond the gallery walls, his footsteps echoed on the parquet. Her expression when she turned on him was that of a deer in headlights, but he kept moving forward. She wasn’t just pretty; she was breathtaking. He had to meet her.
Her face was carved and thin, shaped by broad, arching brows. High, curved cheekbones swept down to where her jaw angled into a pointed chin. It was the most defined heart-shaped face he thought he had ever seen. She could have modeled for classically illustrated European fairy tales.
Her hair was pale gold, and her skin cream. Her lips were a natural pink, and unpainted, not even wearing a lip gloss. Crystal clear green eyes darted between his while she tried to discern his motives.
Eric cleared his throat and asked, “Do you like photography?” He nodded toward the photograph in front of her.
The blonde woman turned away without immediately answering. She returned to studying the photograph, and Eric’s fascination with her grew. She was young, possibly only in her early twenties, but her gaze was so serious, he briefly wondered if she was also a photographer.
Finally she spoke. “They’re… not what I expected. The… This one is so… romantic.” Her tone was hesitant, as though she carefully considered each word before voicing it. Okay, so she wasn’t a photographer, but she was deeply affected by the work.
Eric’s body tightened in surprising anticipation, not necessarily of sex, but being turned on by the woman’s intelligence; her body was merely a bonus. His grin was a bit exultant, but he let it come anyway. “Thank you. That photo is one of mine. I’m Eric.”
She looked at a few nearby photographs and seemed to make a connection in her head. “Your model is very beautiful. Exotic.”
Eric smiled again. “El is… well, she’s… one of a kind.”
The blonde gazed back at the photograph again. Her gazed traced Elena’s body. His wife had posed on her left side, head against her upraised hand, eyes just a touch downward, enough so that she looked through her lashes at the camera. Come here, she seemed to say from slightly parted lips.
When he turned back to take in the blonde’s reaction, he noticed the pulse in the blonde woman’s throat throbbed, and her left hand opened wide and closed again slowly. Oh, he realized, she’s attracted to Elena. That was a delightful discovery.
He spoke again. “I’m glad the photograph interests you. It’s for sale, tonight’s gallery is fundraising for the local domestic abuse center.”
“Sale? I…” The blonde shook her head. “I… I couldn’t buy it. It’s just… really pretty.”
Eric tried a soft-pitch line, hoping he wouldn’t come off like a creeper. He’d at least like to know her name. “So are you. What’s your name? Would you like to pose sometime?”
“Me? Posing?” The blonde again was surprised. “I’m not… Why would you waste film on me when… she is…”
“It’s a lot of fun with the camera these days. No film. If we don’t like it, it’s just bytes to delete.” Eric wished he had a card to give her. The more he looked at this woman, the more he wanted to photograph her. Would she enjoy posing for him, or posing with Elena?
Eric pleasantly stiffened at the images his mind conjured. He added, “You could meet Elena at least? She’d love to meet you.”
“I could…” He read her expression, briefly distant, as though thinking it over. She looked at him more directly after a moment and seemed to be judging him. “How long has she been modeling for you?”
He reflected on his wife with a widening smile. “Just a couple years.” He gestured to the photograph and recalled the session. “She planned out this whole shoot.” Elena had played out a seductive scene while he snapped away, crossing the mattress with the sinewy grace of a cat, only to lay back, part her legs, and give him a perfect view of her fingers sliding in and out of herself. Above the frame of his camera, her eyes had darkened almost black, and she whispered “fuck me” repeatedly, until he turned off the auto-snap and buried his face between her thighs to lick up all that creamy and luscious cum.
He came back from his vision to find the blonde studying him curiously. “I got very lucky.”
“Seems like you did.” The blonde’s thoughts were so clearly telegraphed that Eric was unsurprised by her words when they did come: “I would like to meet El… Elena.”
“She’s here tonight,” Eric said easily. “We came for the opening of the gallery.”
“So that’s why you have two drinks,” the blonde said, and her gaze drifted downward from his.
He blinked and chuckled upon looking to his own hands, indeed still holding drinks. The ice in his scotch was mostly melted. Wow, he’d been talking a long time. “I’m going to have to get these replaced.”
“I can do that for you.”
“Oh, no, actually, could I buy you a drink?”
“No drinking for me, I’m tending the bar. Well, I’m Gus’s backup, anyway,” she said.
Eric smiled wider; he’d learned something. “Hey, all right, so you work for the club. That’s interesting. What’s your name?”
“I… my name’s Jess.”
Eric smiled. “Very nice to meet you, Jess.”
You can purchase your own copy of We Three: One and One and One Makes Three in any format you like from the publisher’s webpage. February 2021 will mark its two-year anniversary and I want to share news of the sequel’s release plans by then.