July 2017 – after Matchstick Men but before Dancing Men
I asked Camden Snow to stop by my place for what’s called a “character interview.” I was interested in seeing
If he really is that great-looking in person because I only saw him through Hunt’s eyes, up until now.
What he’s like on his own, reacting to someone not Hunter Dane.
AA: Hey, Hi! Come in!
Cam: Ms. August.
AA: Addi, please.
He blushed. Not like a schoolgirl, he just gained color. It was something I associated with pleasure. Or sex. Of course, he was not having a sexual response to me, that was for sure. So he must be reacting to being invited to call me by name. Which made him just as sweet and self-effacing as he’d been portrayed by Hunter.
I swung the door wide and gestured him in.
AA: Come in. Let’s sit down.
He turned sideways a little to get past me in my minuscule entryway. Whoa. I felt it. That aura of power. It was palpable, like an invisible fog of energy. I’d felt it before, a few times. Once, when I’d briefly been near a President of the United States when I worked as a network news courier.
When I closed the door and turned, I found him watching and waiting with perfect courtesy for me to precede him into my living room. It was my first good look at him. Holy … well, damn. This was bad.
Blonds were not supposed to have that many eyelashes. Or be looking into your soul in a casual glance. His face was leaner, sharper than I’d imagined. How can he be this beautiful and this masculine?
How was I supposed to focus? But I very much wanted to put him at ease so he’d speak freely.
AA: Um, Cam, go ahead in, I’m going to grab a couple bottles of water for us.
I ducked left into the kitchen and reminded myself not to stare at him. I knew he was a powerful adult man. A Dom. But in person, if he’d said he was eighteen, I would have believed him. Except his eyes had some fine early lines, probably from the freezing wind over icy slopes and bright sun at altitude.
I carried the water in and found him standing at one of my big windows, looking out. The view from my smallish tenth floor apartment was kind of nice. My living room is really an office with a dining table at one end usually covered in books and papers. It suits me, but only has one visitors chair.
I put one water bottle on a bookshelf next to that one upholstered chair and sat down in my desk chair, facing it. I took a drink and waited.
Cam: It feels strange.
AA: What does?
Cam: Being here. In your world.
He turned to look down at me.
Cam: Are you used to me, yet?
I had to smile. He was nothing if not intuitive.
AA: I’ll never get used to you, Cam. And this place? Right here, with my computer and my books and that red-tailed hawk you can see through the window? This is where our worlds meet.
I pointed him to the chair.
AA: Please, sit.
He sank gracefully into the chair. He was wearing a perfectly cut three-piece suit. I’d expected the white shirt and blue jeans. But the vest hugged his torso and his thighs stretched the fabric when he crossed his legs. He’d left off the tie, the top two buttons of the shirt undone. A lovely young man.
Cam: How does this work?
AA: No one in your world will know what we say here.
Cam: How’s Hunter? He hasn’t called me, yet.
Well, this might piss him off.
AA: I can’t answer that.
His eyes narrowed and the planes in his face sharpened.
Cam: Why? Did you do something to Hunter?
I opened my water bottle and avoided looking at him.
Cam: Can you at least tell me you didn’t drive him off a cliff in the mountains?
AA: Cam. Is that logical?
He fiddled with his water bottle. His tone stiff.
Cam: What can I do for you, today, Ms. August?
AA: I have to maintain the integrity of your world. No one else there has access to what we say here. I cannot send you back with information from the deus ex machina.
Cam: But you expect information from me for your readers.
AA: They’re also your friends, Cam. They like you.
Cam: That’s nice. Tell me Hunt’s okay or I’m leaving to find him. Now.
So much for the sweet eighteen-year-old.
AA: You can assume he is in good health and hasn’t fallen into a ravine somewhere. Cam, what do you think he’s doing right now?
He frowned at me. I could tell he just wanted a simple answer.
AA: C’mon. You knew him the moment you laid eyes on him. So, you tell me.
Cam: Processing a lot of emotional shit, probably. But he needs me to do that!
AA: And who decides when he’s ready?
There was a very long pause. He looked down, peeling the label off the water bottle.
Cam: He does.
He heaved a deep sigh and looked out the window. Then opened the bottle and drained half of it in one long pull. Which, I have to admit, just reeked of sex for some reason. But when he recapped it and looked at me, suddenly he was more CEO than teen godlet. Collected. Poised. In control.
Cam: What did you want to know?
AA: Why towels?
Cam: [laughing] Towels? Are you kidding?
AA: Nope. A reader brought it up. I know there’s a bit of history there, but not all of it. So, why towels?
Cam: I was a teenager traveling around the Continent from ski area to ski area. Crossing borders, going through customs every five minutes. My mother would show up from time to time to spend a couple days with me. She liked to repack my bag, see if my clothes needed cleaning, all that mom stuff. Between Mom and the customs guys, I couldn’t exactly carry restraints, lube and a bullhide flogger in there.
AA: So you were looking for an alternative and chose towels?
Cam: [shrugs]It just worked out that way. I mean, I’d only started to figure out who I was, what I wanted. I hooked up with another skier, a few years older. Not that great a skier, but he’d been sexually active for a while and he introduced me to a lot of stuff. I wasn’t fumbling around with guys my own age, anymore. Thing is, he always wanted to bottom and I was always happy to oblige. We kind of drifted into the Dom/sub thing.
There was a BDSM dungeon in Frankfurt on the way to Winterberg his friend from highschool got us into. That night, I saw a towel flogging demonstration.
AA: I never heard of that. Floggers, bullwhips, sounds. But towels?
Cam: The guy who gave it was a real expert. It was on a woman, but, every time he’d catch her with the tip, the corner—the sound-barrier breaking snap. The scream. Her ass would dimpled and ripple and go white and turn hot pink in a circle. Like the inside of a volcano. It was just fucking hot. [Another blush.] Sorry.
AA: Did you talk to him? The man doing the demonstration?
Cam: Rainer? Oh, yeah. My sub couldn’t wait to volunteer. He gave us the basics. You explained all this in the story, right? The versatility? The control? Power?
AA: Briefly. In On His Knees, you guys’ origin story. But, I’m curious, myself. Why use the towels in the club? There’re all kinds of punishment devices hanging on the walls there.
Cam: To do what a good towel can do in the hands of an expert, you need at least two kinds of floggers and a single tail. Maybe a leather strap of one kind or another. And that’s great for some. But I can control the pain, the sting, the thud, the depth of injury, perfectly. Without stopping to change devices. Besides, towels are cleaner. Safer.
AA: “Safe, sane, consensual’’ aren’t the first words that spring to mind when people hear your name, Cam.
He drank off the last half of his water.
Cam: Isn’t that why they come to me in my world? Read what you write? So they can imagine doing what people in your world might be afraid to? Or maybe not have anyone to trust, the way my subs trust me? Besides, there’s no such thing as “safe” BDSM. Not if you include kinks like rope binding or electricity or breath play.
AA: “Breath play?” You choked Hunter in Knees. You threatened to choke him unconscious.
Cam was quiet for a few moments with a smirky little smile.
Cam: No one in my world will read this, right?
Cam: Including Hunter?
Now he had me really curious.
AA: Okay, including Hunter.
Cam: Threatening isn’t doing. Half-choking him for a few seconds to spike his adrenaline and instill obedience through something he truly fears, is not doing the thing. Read your own story. Look, two-three hundred people a year die from sex-related asphyxiation in this country, Ms. August. You can have five ER docs standing around them and they can still die.
What sane person would think it was safe to ever consent to that?
He leaned forward, placing his empty bottle back on the bookcase.
Cam: People in both our worlds want to do what they want and they find whatever excuses they need to do that. You want to choke yourself or have someone do it to get off? You’re a grown-up, your choice. You want to use a flogger hung on a wall that never really gets sterilized? That’s impregnated with other people’s blood, skin and fluids, have at it.
But I don’t endanger my subs. I take care of them. I also don’t minimize anything. They can surrender and trust me or find someone else. But I’d never really choke anyone. Some subs have to believe I won’t, because they want it. Hunter had to believe I would, because he didn’t.
He looked out the window again and sat back. He seemed sad, I think.
Cam: I’m done, okay?
AA: Yeah, of course.
Cam: But I want to ask you a question. Why me? Why did you pick me for Hunter?
I really wished I had a better answer to give him. Something logical and plot-necessary. But all I had was the truth.
AA: I didn’t pick you, Cam. Hunt did.
His whole face relaxed and he smiled that heart-breakingly shy smile Hunter described.
AA: I’m just taking dictation here, Cam. Yeah. He did.
He got up and made his way to the front door. I slipped around him and opened it for him.
Cam: Do you think he can love me?
AA: Truthfully, I don’t know how this winds up, this thing between you two. But I do know it’s complicated and going to take a while. But, Cam, it’s always that way. In my world, too.
He nodded and moved past me into the hall.
AA: Thanks for coming today. For doing this.
Suddenly, he seemed a lot older, older than any of us.
Cam: Take care, Addi.