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by Lilyan Brock
Category: Gay Fiction
Description: She folded Sheila into her arms and kissed her eyes, her soft fair hair, finally her lips. Nicoli's short dark hair, gray eyes, and cameo cut features were somehow fascinating to Shelia. And Nicoli gave of them freely.
Honey-haired, statuesque Sheila Case is the central character in a fascinating story about a young actress who is drawn to women and finds many women attracted to her. These attractions can be intriguing, even useful, as Sheila works to further her acting career in the harsh and competitive theater world. Sheila knew she had a crush on Nicoli from the first moment she met her. Cool and deliberately sensual, Nicoli allowed the attraction to develop into a deeply passionate affair both women were powerless to control. Before long, though, the dangerous game Sheila is playing to advance her acting career threatens to trap her in the very web she has woven, and ensnare the lovers in the glare of gossip, rumor and ostracism.
Against the backdrop of the theatre world, Queer Patterns is a story of powerful attraction, passionate love and the lengths to which two women will go to protect it against all odds.
About Lesbian Pulp Fiction
In the early 1950s new sub-genres of the vintage paperback pulp novel industry emerged--science fiction, juvenile delinquent, sleaze, and lesbian fiction, for instance--that would tantalize readers with gritty, realistic and lurid stories never seen before. Mysteries, thrillers and hardboiled detective pulps were already selling quite well. Publishers had come to realize, however, that sex would sell even more copies. In a competitive frenzy for readers, they tossed away their staid and straightforward cover images for alluring covers that frequently featured a sexy woman in some form of undress, along with a suggestive tag line that promised stories of sex and violence within the covers. Before long, books with these sensational covers had completely taken over the paperback racks and cash registers. To this day, the "good girl art" (GGA) cover art of these vintage paperback books are just as sought after as the books themselves were sixty years ago.
With the birth of the lesbian-themed pulp novel, women who loved women would finally see themselves--their experiences and their lives--represented within the pages of a book. They finally had a literature they could call their own. For lesbians across the country, especially those living in small towns, these books provided a sense of community they never knew existed, a connection to women who experienced the same longings, feelings and fears as they did--the powerful knowledge that they were not alone. We are excited to make these lesbian pulp novels available in ebook format to new generations of readers.
eBook Publisher: SRS Internet Publishing/Digital Vintage Pulps, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: January 2011
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [252 KB]
Reading time: 162-227 min.
The final curtain had fallen, and backstage stage hands were busy striking the set and disconnecting the powerful lights in the wings preparatory to placing them against the back wall for the night. Only a few moments ago these dull inanimate objects with their metal frames containing colored sheets of gelatin had been alive. Their vari-colored beams had shone brilliantly on the shimmery gowns that seemed to be molded on the exquisitely formed bodies of stately show girls... on the filmy costumes of swaying dancers... on the handsome figure of a young man in white military uniform and the beautiful fair-haired, dark-eyed girl he held in his arms. Now the theater was empty--void of the gay audience and its appreciative applause that had marked another successful evening. The heavy velvet curtain had been raised, disclosing rows of lately vacated seats bathed in the rays from a large bench light set down stage to flood the house.
Sheila Case walked wearily toward her dressing room, seemingly unmindful of the confusion around her. She had given a good performance, one that had been most graciously received, but now she was tired: tired of the theater, tired of the shrill, high voices of the chorus girls as they laughed and chattered gaily while they removed their make-up, tired of the noisy actors as they talked merrily on their way to their dressing rooms. Arriving at her room on the other side of the stage, Sheila saw Philip Rowan standing at her door waiting, the coat to the uniform he wore in the show hanging over his arm.
He was a handsome man, tall and dark, with a slim, well-built body that fitted perfectly his role as leading man.
"Tired, Sheila?" he asked solicitously as she came up to him. "Dreadfully so!" The words came forth with a sigh. "I feel as though I could sleep a week."
"Your work tonight was great." Philip's clear-cut features were wreathed in admiration. "You had them in the palm of your hand right from the beginning."
Sheila smiled wearily. "They were nice to me, weren't they?" Philip came closer. "Sheila, I know you're tired, but don't you think you'd feel better if we go some place for a bite to eat and then drive through the park?" He hesitated--"I'd rather hoped you would. I want to talk to you. Besides, the air will do you good--make you sleep."
"You're a darling, Phil--always looking after me. All right, we'll go--I shan't be long."
"Good! I knew you would. I'll take my make-up off in a jiffy, get the car, and pick you up out front."
Sheila's eyes followed him as he strode rapidly across the stage; then, turning, she walked into her dressing room. Seated before her make-up shelf she gazed steadily for a moment at the lovely features reflected in the smooth silvery surface of the mirror: large, velvety brown eyes, full, sensitive mouth, and dainty chin. The yellow of her fine waving hair caught the light and held it captive in a golden prison. Thoughtfully she brushed it back from her high forehead and with slender tapering fingers applied cold cream to her face to remove the grease paint.
Philip was so thoughtful of her, she reflected. Why--why couldn't she return in some slight degree the deeper emotions he felt for her? Dismissing the troublesome thoughts from her mind, she hastened in her dressing and a few minutes later passed through the stage door into the street. Philip's car rounded the corner and drew silently up to the curb.
"Waiting long, Sheila?" he asked as he leaned over the wheel and opened the door of the roadster.
"Not a minute, Phil--I just came out."
"Good. Now where do you want to go for something to eat?"
"If you're not too hungry, I believe I'd rather drive first; I think I need air more than food--the theater was frightfully stuffy tonight."
"Your word is a command, your majesty," Philip replied with mock solemnity; "we drive."
It was good not to be alone, Sheila decided, as the car threaded its way through the traffic. Somehow tonight she felt the need of his understanding companionship more than ever before. Always it seemed she fought the desire to belong to someone--to have someone who loved her by her side. Sheila knew that Philip loved her with all the strength in his virile young body. Repeatedly he had asked her to marry him, but always in her heart had been something that had warned her that marriage was not the answer to her longings. But later, as they drove through Central Park, Sheila found herself thinking that perhaps what she felt for Philip was, after all, all there was to life and love. He had been most considerate, scarcely speaking, but allowing her to lie back in the deep cushions and rest. The night air felt cool and refreshing on Sheila's face as it gently caressed her cheeks, almost lulling her to sleep.
Philip's voice roused her: "Shall we park for a moment? I want to talk to you."
Sheila nodded assent, and Philip brought the car to a stop at the side of the drive. Switching off the motor he turned, and putting his arm around Sheila's slender shoulders, drew her to him.
"Sheila, darling, you know how mad I am about you--how I love you and want you! Won't you marry me? Somehow I can't see anything ahead unless we can go on together. There is no future without you. Please, dearest, say you will."
In answer to his earnest plea, Sheila raised her head, and pulling him down, gently kissed him. "Yes, Phil; I think... I need you too--I am so alone."
Philip's arms closed tightly around Sheila; he kissed her tenderly. Then, "You've made me so happy! I've dreamed so long that one day we would belong to each other. Can't we be married soon?"
Sheila thought for a moment. "Well, we close here this week, then we have a week's layoff before we open in Chicago. I'll tell you--why not take that time for our honeymoon?"
"That's a great idea; we'll do it," Philip exclaimed. "I know just the place where we can go. I shan't tell you where, but it's a favorite spot of mine. I manage to get up there every now and then between shows. I want you to see it."
Sheila and Philip were married in the "Little Church Around the Corner" with only a few friends from the company attending their wedding. Sheila was lovely in the black velvet suit she wore, with its luxurious silver fox collar making a beautiful frame for her blonde beauty. Philip had sent her a corsage of white orchids, which she wore on the soft fur. As he looked at her at the altar he felt certain that there had never been a more beautiful bride, and in his heart he thanked God for having placed her in his care.
That night at the theater, after the last act had ended, the company gave a wedding supper for them. This came as a complete surprise, for when the performance ended there had been no sign of the elaborately laid table that they saw later upon coming out of their dressing rooms.
There was much gaiety as the company gathered around to express good wishes and drink to their happiness. Even the newspaper men who attended seemed to think it the ideal marriage of the season.
A few hours later, amid the noisy goodbyes and good natured wishes for continued happiness from their friends and fellow performers, Sheila and Philip left the theater. As they got into the car and started toward their hotel they were both very close to tears--the unexpected thoughtfulness of the company had touched deeply. It was good to know that they would see them all again the following week in Chicago.
They had decided to leave New York early the next morning and Philip's luggage had that afternoon been sent to Sheila's hotel where they would spend their wedding night.
During the short drive Sheila found herself wondering what it would seem like to share her privacy from now on with a husband--to give not only part of her room but herself as well. How could she reconcile the strange being within her to that? Her thoughts were broken by Philip's voice: "Do you realize, darling, we're actually married, and now you're all mine?" Not waiting for an answer he went on, "I've dreamed that one day you would be--but now that it's really happened I can scarcely believe it."
"It is like a dream"; Sheila's voice was low. "I keep thinking I'll wake up and find it was one."
Philip's heart beat faster at the implied happiness in Sheila's answer.
He drew up in front of the hotel. "I'll put the car away and then I'll be right up."
When a few minutes later she heard the door of the room close behind him, she had just stepped out of the shower. The cool needle spray had felt stimulating and had brought the blood tingling to the surface of her firm young body-- a body made for love, from the soft rounded pink-tipped breasts to the firm alabaster white of promising thighs and slender limbs ... a fitting shrine for passion and its fulfillment.
Sheila finished brushing her hair, turned to put on the ivory satin gown that hung in graceful folds on the inside of the door; then sliding her feet into a pair of dainty mules walked into the room where Philip sat impatiently waiting.
He rose when she entered and crossed the room to take her in his arms. His hungry mouth claimed her own, then deserting it, wandered over the smoothness of her throat and shoulders. "I shan't be but a minute, darling," he whispered huskily. ... "I want you so."
Philip's words rang in Sheila's ears as she lay waiting. Over and over she asked herself why they had sounded so formidable. Why did not she too feel the anxiety of them? Why did the effect which she so perceptibly had upon him arouse no reciprocal feeling within herself?
The door of the bathroom opened and Philip's pajama clad figure emerged.
Sheila tried desperately to speak. The words simply would not come... the tiny bed lamp was extinguished... a form slipped silently into the space beside her... strong arms drew her close to a warm trembling body... the stranger within her protested... vainly.
The faint flush of the morning found them driving out of New York. The city was just beginning to stir from its deep slumbers, preparing to doff the velvety black robes of night and don in their stead the brighter one of pale violet shot with gold threads of the rising sun. An occasional party of late revellers in evening clothes hailed taxis that came to screaming stops. In vivid contrast were the plodding laborers in their shabby clothes, dinner pails in hand as they hurried homeward from all-night shifts. A milk truck rumbled by, closely followed by a larger vehicle loaded with fruits and vegetables bound for one of the many restaurants. A stray dog, bedraggled and dirty, nosed about in some refuse. A human derelict charted a weaving course along the pavement. Broadway was beginning to take on a busier air. Everywhere were signs of the preparations necessary for the new day.
Soon the waking city and its activities lay far behind them. As they drove along the highway, Philip thought he had never before been so perfectly at peace with the world, for beside him sat the lovely creature who was so necessary to his life if it was to know complete fulfillment.
Sheila, on the contrary, tried in vain to solve the riddle of her emotions. Was this love, and if so, why did it leave one feeling so strangely unmoved, so apart from it, as if one were standing aside and looking on, but in reality not a portion of it? Why did it repulse one?
Philip was precious to her, so gentle and tender in his love for her; yet why did the thought persist that it was not herself who lay in his arms the night past but a stranger-- a woman she did not know? Who was this being inside her who could not find completeness? What were her desires, her unspoken longings? Why must she grope blindly for the light that would awaken her soul? Where was that light? What was it?