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New Release: Muse – LCW Allingham

Muse - LCW Allingham

QSFer LCW Allingham has a new queer dark fantasy out (bi, gay, poly): Muse.

Inspiration is a living thing and it is hungry…

Terra Desmarais’s success as the next big artist in NYC is absolutely inevitable. Her patrons, the associates, Mr. Black, Mr. Silver, and Mr. Green, can practically taste the raw talent dripping from the enigmatic trailer park prodigy’s dollar store paints.

Up and coming pastel artist Cedric Fleck is a lucky discovery of the associates. Rescued from oblivion by Mr Green, put up in a studio by Mr. Silver and paraded around on the arm of Mr. Black should be the dream. But within the steady stream of great press and even better parties, Cedric can’t shake the sense that something is very wrong. He wants to hate Terra for her overnight success, but he’s taken by her earnest love of art.

Warnings: body horror, explicit sex, degrading sex, physical and mild sexual abuse, gaslighting and verbal abuse

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Cedric Fleck took a deep hit and sank back into Bernard Black’s lap. “What is in this shit?” he giggled, his insides tickling beautifully as the exposed beams of his new studio apartment spun into kaleidoscope shapes.

“Does it matter?” Bernard took a hit of his own and stroked Cedric’s clammy forehead. Cedric gazed up at Bernard’s mature, chiseled face, trying to find the pupils in his dark eyes. Sometimes Cedric convinced himself they weren’t there at all, as if he were gazing upon the face of a god. He was the most beautiful man Cedric had ever seen, all tall, dark and handsome with the mystery to go along with it.

Bernard blew a plume of pungent smoke into his face. Cedric smiled and rolled up to take another hit. This was their communion, he and Bernard. They would get high as hell and make love. Then Cedric would draw for hours.

He was inspired. He thought it was his best work. Bernard recently suggested that Cedric was losing his touch, but he would see. When the next collection came out, he would see how Cedric’s love translated to paper. Cedric had a special piece he’d already set aside for the art critic who kept his bed warm.

“Sheena Meegan called today about taking my ‘Unearthed’ exhibit at the Pavilion,” Cedric said. “She’s talking about a tour if it does well.”

“Sheena Meegan is a hack.” Bernard took a long hit and blew the smoke into lazy rings.

“I’ve liked the exhibits she’s done in the last year. She had Dana Glonciel—”

“Glonciel is done. And if I was being too subtle, I meant to say Sheena is a bed-climbing wannabe with no vision. Ignore her. She’s not worth you.”

Cedric sniffed, stung. Bernard was the industry pro, the one who knew everything. Still, Cedric wasn’t so new to this, and it wasn’t like Bernard was his agent. Cedric liked Dana Glonciel’s work, and he liked Sheena Meegan. She understood what Cedric was doing. Better than Bernard sometimes.

He didn’t say anything. Bernard was wearing a fitted gray button-down shirt, and every time he lifted the hookah pipe his muscles rippled beneath it. Besides, Bernard had made his career. Cedric had been killing himself working on the streets, living out of his sister’s old Ford Escort, choosing between art supplies and food, before he got a show in a tiny no-name Brooklyn gallery that Bernard Black, international art critic and kingmaker, just happened to stroll into.

Now Cedric was making real money, and people came from all over the country to buy his work. He had everything he ever wanted.

Except Bernard.

Whenever they started to get close, Bernard pushed Cedric back to arm’s length.

Cedric would think they were getting serious, and then he’d see pictures of Bernard with one of his many pretty girls or boys on Sheena Meegan’s social media. He couldn’t expect a guy as hot and worldly as Bernard to commit to only him, but still…

“Do you want to take this to bed?” Cedric asked, massaging Bernard’s shoulder.

“Not tonight, I’m afraid. I have to go to an exhibit in an hour. Some daft bitch is standing naked and letting people write on her with Sharpies. It’s going to be painfully boring, but I have to have something to write up tomorrow.”

Cedric frowned. “Just a quick one?”

“Sorry.” Bernard lifted his brows and lips at the same time, yet his expression remained blank, cold, his black eyes flat. He stood up and the hookah went out at the same time. “Try to get some work done, though. You really want to shine at this next exhibit. It’s going to be an important one.”

So they were back here again. Cedric wasn’t sure what he’d done wrong. Everything had been going so well. He hadn’t made any demands of Bernard. His work was coming along great, and he thought the amazing hybrid pot was a sign of a good night.

Cedric stood up and leaned in for a kiss. Bernard planted one on his cheek and walked out of the loft.

Never enough. “Cedric the Sometimes.” His heart pounded so hard it hurt while he tried to keep his face impassive, his eyes dry. If Bernard didn’t want him, why did he even come over? Cedric was absolutely certain if Bernard had not called, he would feel a hundred times better right now.

He poured himself a strong drink and threw it back. Then he poured another and took it to his studio, where he coated a colorful landscape in progress with black and gray pastel.

Author Bio

LCW Allingham (she/her) is an author, artist, musician and editor. She received her degree in Journalism from Temple University and wrote home renovation articles before turning her focus exclusively to fiction. Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and publications. In 2022 she co-founded the indie press, Speculation Publications, with her long-time editorial partners and serves as executive editor. She writes in many genres but particularly horror, fantasy, historical and speculative fiction. She is an active feminist and human rights advocate and lives in Pennsylvania with her family, her pets and her ever expanding art collection.

Muse is her debut horror novella, and her debut novel, Lady, will be out in September 2024.

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