Knights of Brazil

an excerpt



Chapter 1

"What do you mean you're leaving San Francisco and going back to Brazil?" Estevan Silva's public relations manager, Miguel Diaz, asked as Estevan sat at his desk pouring over paperwork from his deceased father's attorney.

Estevan rocked back in his chair. "I am now the sole owner of a resort in Rio. My father left it to me in his will."

"But you haven't seen or spoken to your father in years."

Estevan shrugged. "His decision, not mine. A wife and a young child interfered with his womanizing."

Miguel laughed and nearly fell off the edge of the maple wood desk where he sat filing his nails. "You are so crazy, but anyway, you don't really have to do anything as drastic as going back there. All you have to do is put the resort in the hands of a real estate broker to sell."

Estevan raised his head, looking over at his perfectly coiffed best friend. "A Realtor is one of the ideas under consideration, but I think I need to go there and see the place before I turn it over to someone."

Miguel raised his left hand up to his face and examined the nail. "What about your upcoming concert?"

"What about it?" Estevan asked.

"It's sold out, and, I don't know about you, but I'd hate to give all that lovely money back." Miguel slid from the desk and smoothed out his dark brown leather pants and matching jacket. Beneath it he wore a chic tan pullover sweater, accented with a fourteen-carat-gold serpentine chain.

Estevan rolled his eyes. "Is money all you think about?"

Miguel turned his lithe body around quickly. "But of course. Money and the latest Hollywood news." He reached for a copy of Gossip magazine and flipped through it while leaning against his desk. "Ooh, another famous singer just came out the closet. Efram Tate says he's into guys."

Estevan smirked. "That story is so yesterday and not a big secret. I knew he was gay the moment he smiled at me at a concert we did together. The man positively undressed me with his eyes."

Miguel sat in his seat and crossed his legs, still flipping through the magazine. "And you didn't take advantage of the kind offer? If it were me I would have been all over him."

Estevan pushed aside the legal papers and stretched his arms to work out the kinks from sitting so long behind his desk. Every couple of days he and Miguel would spend hours in the room going over contracts and answering fan mail. Of all the rooms in his mansion, this one was his least favorite because it felt a bit stuffy and formal. "He's not my type."

Miguel put the magazine down. "He's tall, dark, handsome and Latino. What's not to want?"

Estevan frowned at him. "He is also married and has two daughters."

Miguel shook the metal fingernail file at him. "You, my friend, are too picky."

"And you have no morals when it comes to sex," Estevan told him back.

Miguel rolled his big brown eyes at him. "I use protection. A stiff dick is a stiff dick."

Estevan raised his eyes at the ceiling. Miguel is incorrigible.

"When are we leaving?"

"What do you mean we?"

Miguel pointed at him and then at himself. "You don't think I'm staying here waiting for the backlash. I'm making one official announcement about your upcoming trip and then I'm leaving town with you."

"You're supposed to stay behind and be my spokesperson while I'm out the country," Estevan informed him.

Miguel shook his head, making his short black bangs shake. "Honey, those teeny-bopper girls who buy your CDs are going to have a fit when you cancel the concert. I'm not going to get my ass beat just because you pay me a generous salary to speak for you while you go flitting all over South America."

Estevan frowned. "I do not flit, and you don't have to worry about being trampled by a bunch of screaming disappointed young women. I only have one concert scheduled next week, so I'm leaving right after it's over."

"I'm still going with you," Miguel mumbled. "I need to stop in and see my family."

He and Miguel had left Rio when they turned eighteen, shortly after Estevan's mother died. Neither of them had ever returned, but Miguel had kept up correspondence with his family. Estevan didn't have any other relatives. His father had died and been buried a month before Estevan learned of the man's death. Someone named Bastian called, then he got a call from an attorney.

"Your sister must be grown."

Miguel nodded. "Lara is twenty-two and wants to come to the United States to become a singer or an actress."

"She's certainly pretty enough, but I haven't seen her since she was ten."

Miguel beamed proudly. "She is beautiful and has received several marriage proposals. But she tells everyone she's going to marry you."

Estevan raised an eyebrow. "And you encouraged this idea?" If he wanted a woman to marry, Lara would be top on his list.

Miguel nodded. "She has all your CDs, and Mama says all she does is dance around the house singing when she comes home."

Estevan smiled. "I'm flattered."

"You should be, but I don't know why she doesn't idolize me."

"Probably because she caught you wearing her clothes," Estevan told him.

Miguel got up and modeled his outfit. "You know I was just curious back then, but I think I look much better in suits, especially this one. The pants show off my spectacular butt."

Estevan cracked a smile. Besides being an excellent PR man, Miguel kept him laughing. Miguel danced around, shaking his booty. "I need to be taping this. I'm sure you'd be a smash on YouTube."

Miguel stopped hopping around and sat back down in his chair. It squeaked like a mouse as he rolled it back on the wooden floor. "Anyway, tell me about this resort. What is it like?"

Estevan shrugged. "I really don't know. The lawyer didn't send any pictures, but I suppose it's small, needs some repair and it's probably mortgaged to the hilt."

"Why would you think that?"

"Because my father didn't give my mother one penny of support to raise me. I figured he spent most of what he made on fast women and gambling."

"Do you have any other proof he died penniless? If he was destitute, don't you think he would have come to his rich and famous singing sensation son for a loan?"

Estevan shook his head. "Mama said even with his faults, Ramon Silva was a proud man. He would never come to me for help. Hell, he didn't even acknowledge me as a son when he was alive. He pretended I didn't exist."

"But he left you his resort," Miguel said in his father's defense.

"Merely a technicality. He didn't have any other children or family. Legally, everything comes to me since his name is on my birth certificate."

Miguel picked up the telephone.

"Who are you calling?"

"The airlines. If we're planning to leave next week I have to make reservations. It's the busy tourist season back home, in case you've forgotten."

"Yes, I've forgotten," Estevan admitted. But he didn't forget Miguel hadn't been invited to accompany him. "Book it for next Sunday. The concert is on Friday and I need at least twenty-four hours of rest. So Sunday would be perfect."

Miguel punched some numbers into the telephone. "I'd like to reserve two first class seats to Rio de Janeiro for next Sunday under the names Miguel Diaz and Estevan Silva."

Estevan listened to the one-sided conversation. He rocked back in his chair again, waiting for the argument to begin.

"Yes, the singer. No, he does not have his own private plane. Mr. Silva is not that kind of person. Who am I? I'm his PR manager."

Estevan stifled a giggle.

"Yes, he's single and no I can't arrange a meeting between you and him. Mr. Silva is a very busy man and he doesn't have time to date."

Estevan frowned. Only part of Miguel's statement was true...the part about him being busy. As for the other part, he just hadn't found the right person to date. The tabloids had him dating just about every single starlet in Hollywood. A big lie, since he avoided Hollywood as much as possible. Once he finished a show he hopped on a plane and went back home to San Francisco. Hobnobbing with the rich and famous did nothing for him. He liked his privacy.

"Yes, afternoon is preferable." Miguel frowned. "No evening flights. We have to leave at ten in the morning?"

Estevan nodded his consent. Always the same conversation, just a different travel agent.

"Charge it to..." Miguel told the travel agent the credit card number and the email address. He hung up the phone. "Damn, you don't pay me enough to go through this every time you need to fly."

Estevan turned his nose up at him. "I pay you way too much. I should make Juan Morales my PR guy." Juan played the guitar in Estevan's band, the Suáves.

Miguel shook his head vigorously. "Juan is not as sexy as I am."

"His butt's sexier."

Miguel pretended to be insulted. "It is not. Estevan, you lie."

Estevan laughed. "Let's get out of here and go see what Daphne has prepared for lunch."

****

Estevan looked out the window as the airplane began to descend over Rio. Home. It had an unhealthy ring to it. San Francisco was now his home and he had plans on returning there just as soon as he finished up with his father's resort.

"Please fasten your seat belt," the stewardess announced over the public address system. "And please turn off all electronic devices. The temperature in Rio de Janeiro is a warm seventy-seven degrees. Please enjoy your stay and thank you for flying American Airlines." Several minutes later the plane touched down at Galeäo-Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport. From there they would travel to Ipanema in the southern area.

"It's good to be home," Miguel said as they collected their luggage.

"I suppose," Estevan said as he grabbed his two suitcases, overnight bag, his laptop and camera equipment. He piled the smaller bags atop the two larger ones. Miguel struggled with more luggage than him until they found a cart and piled their things on it. Once outside, they rented a car to take them to the south side...Zona Sul.

Miguel climbed into the driver's seat once they unloaded their luggage into the trunk of the luxury convertible. "Stop frowning. We're not going to be here long enough to get depressed."

"I'm not frowning," Estevan said, adjusting his seat belt. He wasn't that upset about being there. Miguel started the car and programmed the GPS to take them straight to the resort. Estevan found some music on the radio and got comfortable in his seat. Five minutes into the ride he knew he was back in Rio. The streets were still bumpy and the roads crowded with traffic. Miguel took the scenic route through Centro, the historic center of the city as well as its financial district. Estevan looked on in awe, remembering all the historical churches he'd attended in his youth, along with all the familiar landmarks of Cinelândia Square, like the Municipal Theatre and the National Library. A tram passed nearby, crossing the aqueduct and rolling through the hilly streets of Santa Teresa. Miguel maneuvered through the traffic, also taking in the sights and pointing out the changes.

Downtown was still the heart of the city's business community. They left Centro, heading for Zona Sul, one of the richest regions in the city. The weather felt great. It was now in the eighties and a gentle breeze blew from the ocean. Miguel had let down the top to the convertible and the warm wind blew through their hair as they sped down the highway. Women gawked at them when they drove through an inhabited area.

"Don't tell me you don't miss this," Miguel said as he waved to some of them.

"A little," Estevan answered. He and Miguel had grown up in Zona Norte, but often came to Centro with their parents or on field trips. He donned his sunglasses, reclined in the seat and let the breeze muss his hair. He dozed off, hoping Miguel wouldn't crash the car while waving and recapturing his youth.

****

Miguel gently nudged him awake. Estevan woke just in time to see the white sandy beaches. Crowds of people frolicked on the Copacabana Beach, while music from a steel band entertained them. Cars drove in and out the driveway of the glorious Copacabana Palace Hotel. The place still had its wavy black and white Portuguese pavements, and bars lined the beaches. Kids and adults played in the blue water. Swimming, snorkeling, sailing and fishing were just a few of the activities Rio had to offer.

"Let's drive down to Ipanema," Miguel suggested.

"For what?" Estevan asked, even though he knew the reason. The area was a popular hangout for gay men.

"Just to see how the area has changed," Miguel answered. He headed toward the Ipanema Beach. Once there, they gawked at the relaxed atmosphere as men strolled down the streets holding hands and cuddling.

"Some things have definitely changed," Estevan said. He suspected Miguel would be doing a sneak back to the area soon.

Rio also had its dark side. They passed several small bars and restaurants. At night the place came alive and one could find clubs catering to all tastes. Prostitution was legal in some parts of Brazil, but he'd learned early in life not to venture toward any strange women or men at night. "How much farther to the resort?"

"We're almost there," Miguel answered. Once he got his fill of smiling and waving at the beautiful Brazilian men.

Ten minutes later the GPS announced they had arrived.