Butterflies I Have Known
by Kristoffer Gair
Cover Artist: Kris Norris\
Release Date: June 6, 2023
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance, Comedy
Tropes: Destined to be together
Themes: Trust, destiny
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Length: 72 728 words/271 pages
Butterflies I Have Known is a standalone story and does not end on a cliffhanger.
Even time cannot stop love.
University professor Matthew Richter hates complications. Planning his every day down to the second leaves no opportunity for a social life, which he doesn’t feel the need for anyway. Jian Wei helps run his family’s business. The only thing he enjoys more than tormenting his parents and siblings with endless pranks is plotting his next trick on a certain uptight customer.
Though so different, chance inexplicably draws them both to a World War II photography exhibit, and the aging photographer Milton Glass. Milton shares the story of two soldiers brutally cut down on the battlefield—which has haunted him for the better part of his life—and his suspicions that the soldiers shared a bond they never fully realized.
Now, in the twilight of his life, Milton can’t help but wonder if Matthew and Jian share a potential bond of their own. Could they possibly be the same men from so long ago, returned for a second chance at being together? Milton can hope.
Jian opened a cardboard container filled with lemon tea and grabbed two six-packs. Mister Important Professor could afford to buy two, especially since he’d inconvenienced Jian in the first place. He then checked the incoming produce, and when he didn’t find any lychee, grabbed a third six-pack of the tea.
Jian’s father was nowhere to be seen when he returned. So much the better.
“Here you go, Mister Important Man.” Jian transferred the tea from his arms to the arms of the object of his discontent. “Thank you for waiting so patiently while your humble servant retrieved what he could of your most profound wishes. No fresh lychee either.” He started to head away, then stopped. “Or is it Mister Important Professor?”
The professor’s face turned beet red. “I never said I was important.”
Thinking of the professor as the professor felt…odd. The name suggested someone much older, like in their fifties or sixties. This one didn’t look much over Jian’s age. Maybe he was an old soul acting like an old man in a younger man’s body. What a waste of good genetics.
“True. My father says you’re important.” Jian knew he could be accused of being rude, but he switched to speaking Cantonese to avoid insulting the professor in a language the man understood. “You almost never talk when you come in here, and you give off the impression you don’t want to talk to anybody, like they’re beneath you. You might even be handsome if you learned to smile and changed everything about your personality. Right now, you’re just another uptight white man. But, we do appreciate your business.”
The professor stared at Jian for at least a solid ten seconds. While the man remained silent, he moved his lips, though almost imperceptivity. Jian swore the professor must be continuing the conversation in his head. Seriously? Who does something like that? Is he even human? The professor finally took a deep breath and exhaled. “Thank you for the items.”
Jian watched him start walking away. Much to his surprise, the professor paused and looked back over his shoulder.
“Oh, I don’t think I’m better than anyone else, and I’m not trying to be something I’m not,” the professor spoke in perfect Cantonese. “Also, I come here because I love the food. Finally, you don’t know me well enough to talk about my personality. That would be like me saying you come across as someone who enjoys annoying his father and the customers for no other reason than because you can, and you probably admire yourself in the mirror every morning, too.”
Jian felt his jaw drop, which he then shut with a loud snap. “What? Seriously? You’ve been shopping here since we opened two years ago and you couldn’t mention you speak Cantonese? You’ve understood everything we’ve been saying about…I mean to you?” He decided to change tactics and switch to Mandarin. “You sure talk when you want to.” See how Mr. Important Professor liked that!
“I only speak when I have something to say,” the professor replied back to him in Mandarin.
Jian felt his own face burn with the sudden rush of blood. “Don’t let my father hear you speak Mandarin! He’ll probably offer you my bedroom and I’ll wind up in the basement. Why are white people so weird?” He stormed off and caught a Caucasian woman glaring at him. “Not you. Him. He’s weird. You’re perfection. Have you tried the new Thai milk tea packets we just got in?”
“Jian!” His father’s voice bellowed throughout the store.
“Huh.” Jian looked up at the ceiling. Had his father installed cameras he didn’t know about? “He doesn’t even have to see me do something wrong anymore to know I did.”
About the Author
Kristoffer Gair grew up in Fraser, MI and is a graduate of Grand Valley State University. He is the author of 10 novels—some written under the pseudonum Kage Alan—been a part of 6 anthologies, and currently lives in a suburb of Detroit.