Blurb: Misaki “Aki” Itou is a psi—a person with mutated DNA granting him psychic abilities. He’s also a contracted companion—a whore. It may not be the perfect profession, but having a roof over his head, food to eat, and not being subjected to torture is a dream come true. He is the top companion at the Hidden Gem, and it makes him enough money to buy the prettiest, most sparkly shoes he can find.
Shane McNaughton is an Irishman who survived the Third World War and works as a cop. Head of Missing Persons, he’s good at finding people, but after the plague of the Third mutated his DNA, he has a hard time letting anyone see the monster inside. He’s been paying for Aki’s services for two years, both the psi and the sexual kind, but he wants more from the companion.
Shane needs Aki’s ability to see into another person’s past to track down a serial killer murdering the children of rich and powerful men, but the more they work together, the clearer it becomes that they are linked through a darker past than either of them realizes.
First Glimpse by Lissa Kasey
Aki swept up a bottle of McNaughton’s favorite scotch and headed toward the broad Irishman. The man’s shoulders were arched forward, back tense, hair a sexy mess, and face covered with a couple days’ growth. Obviously the cop was on a difficult case. The detective hadn’t yet asked for him, just for his usual meal—almost bloody steak with a baked potato.
“You look like you could use a drink,” Aki told him as he slid into the chair beside him. He turned an empty glass over and poured three fingers of the golden liquid.
McNaughton sighed, his dark eyes roaming over Aki’s small body, platinum blond hair pulled up and styled with sparkling pins, see-thru knit top, and super-short skirt, then over his bare legs down to the gleaming heels. The shoes were a silver mesh of crystals that slid up just past his ankles. A gift from McNaughton. The cop sucked in a deep breath and slid his hand over the covered part of Aki’s thigh. He knew better than to touch bare flesh to bare flesh. Aki was a cognitive psi, could see entire lives of horrors with a single touch, and he was sure McNaughton’s past was filled with a lot of nasty memories.
“Wish you had time for me tonight. But I’ve got a feeling you’re booked up tight.” He glanced back at the room bustling with companions and potential customers. Aki was the only psi in the room, his pale-pupiled blue eyes telling the world that he was different.
“I’m sure Bart can fit you in.” Aki’s eyes scanned the room until he found his boss, who was engaged with negotiations with another client. “Looks like you need some trouble eased tonight.” He leaned in close enough his breath ran across McNaughton’s cheek.
McNaughton turned his head, lips nearly close enough to touch. “Would love a bit of time with your shine.”
“Words like honey, McNaughton.”
The cop flashed him one of his rare, heart-stopping smiles then nodded as Bart appeared beside them. “Table seven is ready, Aki. Number one.” Bart told him.
Aki grabbed Bart’s wrist with a gloved hand. “The cop needs some time tonight. You can make that happen, right?”
“Of course.” Bart nodded to them and took Aki’s vacated seat and Aki made his way to his next client of the evening. There were only two services Aki performed. A hand job and a blow job, one and two. This client wanted number one—which meant he was cheap since rarely did anyone ask for a hand job from him. But his prices were astronomical anyway.
“Hello,” Aki smiled at the man as he slid into the chair opposite him. The client was dressed nice, button down shirt, pressed pants, but he was bald and a little heavier around the waist. A politician probably. “If you’re ready we can head upstairs.”
The man barely spoke, but he leered, eyes tracing over Aki’s form more like he was cattle than a night of entertainment. Even in his worst moments McNaughton had never done that. It wasn’t appreciation, but something darker. Aki sighed internally and hoped this would be fast. He knew a thousand ways to get a man off in minutes. Something about him just set off Aki’s creep radar.
“I hear some wait months for the pleasure of your time,” the man said with slightly accented speech.
Not usually. The only ones who waited weeks were because their schedule and Aki’s conflicted or because they’d done something to upset him or Bart. Most clients got in within a few days if not the same day of requesting Aki’s time. And regulars were always given precedence over someone not yet vetted like this client. “If I don’t please you I can see if Preston or Royce is available.”
“I was hoping for Candy originally.”
Was always good to be told he was second choice. Aki gritted his teeth. “Candy only serves a special kind of client. And he does have a wait list.” Mostly because he took clients who wanted a little more kink than any of the other male companions preferred. Aki was going to recommend this client be removed from the premises after the service was over.
“I guess you’ll have to do then. Won’t you?” He gave Aki a chilling smile.
Bastard. Aki got up from his seat and offered his gloved hand to the man who followed closely. They’d reached the stairs when the man grabbed him, yanked Aki against him and shoved his hand up Aki’s skirt, groping him and sending him into a spiral of nightmares.
A dark room. The metallic stink of blood. Screams. The sound of knives being sharpened. Metal bars clanking. Crying. Pain. The music of an ice cream truck. How odd. It was all ripped away a moment later, but Aki’s stomach was already heaving. The small plate of fruit and yogurt he’d had for dinner was not going to stay down.
Someone carried him unceremoniously to the private companion bathroom near the kitchen and set him in front of the toilet just as the mash of fruits and dairy came up. Aki heaved a couple of minutes, his brain swirling with the images that thankfully began to fade just as quickly as they’d come. With any luck he’d be able to brush his teeth, wash his face and go about his work day.
He glanced up to find Manny, the head of security standing at the door. McNaughton knelt beside Aki. Had held his hair back and even used his jacket to cover Aki’s bottom. The skirts really were too short.
“Bart is already having the guy removed. He should never have touched you like that. Sorry I didn’t get to you quicker,” Manny told Aki. “Grateful to you, Detective, for responding so quickly.”
McNaughton stroked Aki’s back, using the soft material of the sweater to run circles over his spine. “Want to talk about it?”
Aki sighed. “Same crap. Just weird. Darkness, crying, smelled blood. Heard knives.” He shook his head. “The guy could work at a butcher for all I know. The memories get so jumbled.” Often with his own horrific past. “Thought I heard a kid. And bars rattling like in a jail. And the music from an ice cream truck.”
McNaughton nodded like it made perfect sense to him and helped Aki get up and make his way to the sink where there were spare toothbrushes and endless varieties of paste. The cop leaned over and kissed Aki’s hair. “Gotta go. I’ll have Bart reschedule me sometime this week though. Love that you wore my shoes.” He was gone a moment later.
Aki cleaned up and made his way back to work. At least the night was almost over. He was sad that McNaughton hadn’t stayed. Would have liked to see that smile another time or two. At least the rest of the night flew by without incident, even if the detective didn’t return.
“Sleeping with me tonight?” Candy asked as he stripped out of their work clothes, leaving just a pair of bright pink underwear and crawled into bed. His purple hair was already brushed and eyes heavy with sleep.
“Please,” Aki whispered. He stripped off everything but his underwear too. After putting his shoes and pins away, he washed his face.
“Heard that guy touched you. What a jerk.”
“He wanted you to begin with.” Aki curled up beside his best friend.
Candy flicked off the light. “I would have brought him down a few pegs.”
Aki smiled, but he didn’t want to think of the horrible man at all. Those memories just needed to go away. He had enough of his own to battle with each day. He fell asleep hoping to wake up with less nasty memories each day.
The next afternoon Aki was up early and at Artie’s for breakfast—best 24/7 diner in the area—when McNaughton arrived. The man sat down at his table without asking and pushed a pair of slim, jeweled, yellow flat sandals into Aki’s hands. “What’s this for?” Aki asked.
He just shook his head. He threw a stack of cash on the table and motioned to the waitress. “Anything he wants is on me.” He then got up from the table and headed for the door.
“Well that was weird,” Aki said to LuAnn, the waitress.
She pointed at the Vid screen. “He had a rough night. Caught the guy who was killing kids.” The Vidscreen was turned to the news. Something about a man named the “Ice Cream Killer” had been captured. Apparently he used an ice cream truck to lure kids in, kidnapped them, raped them and killed them. Real monster.
A picture popped up of the guy. It was the client from the Gem. Maybe that’s why McNaughton was at the Gem. No matter what he hoped the detective visited him tonight. The new yellow shoes would need a new skirt to match…
Lissa Kasey lives in St. Paul, MN, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing, and collects Asian Ball Joint Dolls who look like her characters. She has three cats who enjoy waking her up an hour before her alarm every morning and sitting on her lap to help her write. She can often be found at Anime Conventions masquerading as random characters when she's not writing about boy romance.
Available from Dreamspinner Press:
Available from Lissa Kasey:
Dominion Shorts (compilation)
Available from Lissa Kasey/Xara X. Xanakas
Sink or Swim
Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Emotion in Motion, Velvet Panic, Decadent Delights, Book Whores United, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Amanda C. Stone, The Hat Party, Jade Crystal, Iyana Jenna, Nephylim, Elisa - My Reviews and Ramblings, MM Good Book Reviews, Inked Rainbow Reads, Boy Meets Boy Reviews, Sinfully Sexy, Cate Ashwood
Blurb: On the search for a serial killer, Detective Anthony Parglietto and Flynn Parker learn that every man must make a choice: to kill, to live, to love.
FROM DARKNESS AND LIGHT
Someone is leaving a trail of bodies throughout London, and Detective Anthony Parglietto is determined to end the violence. Then he’ll return to the man he loves.
Tough, street-savvy, and used to dealing with lowlifes, Flynn Parker is the last person Anthony thinks he has to protect. Then the Bow-Tie Killer strikes close to home and the world turns upside down. Right is wrong, black is white, and a policeman might become a monster. But in the name of love, justice must be served. In the name of love, pain can be endured. In the name of love, a man can taste the very essence that defines him.
Anthony walked down the hall. He reached the bedroom and gently pushed the door open. He saw Flynn framed in the light of the lamp shining from the lounge. He lay, apparently asleep, on the leather and wood divan Anthony had brought over from Italy. Its dark burgundy colour contrasted with what Flynn wore, which was nothing but a black thong lying stark against his pale skin. The divan was under the window. The bed covers were rumpled, as if Flynn had been sleeping. His robe was draped across the foot of the bed. Anthony moved towards the gleaming body of his supine lover.
Flynn’s face was turned away towards the back of the sofa. His dark hair was tousled and his arms stretched above his head to the right. He wore a blindfold. Anthony felt a stir in his groin seeing those lean, hairy legs stretched out wantonly, inviting him to run his hands up and over his groin. Even appearing asleep, Flynn had the power to excite him, to make Anthony hard and ready. He stepped towards him, watching the rise and fall of Flynn’s chest with their already hardened nubs. Anthony wanted to run his tongue over that chest, with its smattering of fine hair, to take Flynn’s nipples in his mouth and suck them until Flynn groaned in pleasure. As he got closer in the dim light he saw the hands with their bonds of silk. Green bonds lay dark against Flynn’s wrists, fastened to the wooden struts of the upright chair arm. His hands were tight fists. Anthony chuckled softly, a noise that sounded loud in the stillness of the room.
“Been waiting long?’ he whispered as he took off his jacket. ‘I tried to get home as soon as I could.”
Anthony knew the bonds would be loose so Flynn could break free if needed but he also knew he wouldn’t. It was the way the game was played.
Susan Mac Nicol
Susan Mac Nicol was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, in the United Kingdom. At the age of eight, her family moved to Johannesburg, South Africa where she stayed for nearly thirty years before arriving back in the UK in December 2000. Currently, She lives in the rural village of Bocking, in Essex, with her family.
Sue is a PAN (Published Author’s Network) member of Romance Writers of America and a member of the Romantic Novelists Association in the UK. Also, she is a member of a rather unique writing group, called the Talliston Writer’s Circle, which in itself has a story all of its own to tell. She has written nine novels, two novellas and a screenplay since February 2012 and clearly believes in keeping herself busy. She has found herself wanting to stay in the sub-genre that is M/M Romance so more can definitely be expected.
Her plan is to keep writing as long as her muse sits upon her shoulder. Her dream is to make enough money to give up the day job and get that big old house in the English countryside overlooking a river, where she can write all day and continue to indulge her passion for telling stories.
8/29: The Hat Party, It’s Raining Men
9/1: My Fiction Nook, Tara Lain
9/2: MM Good Book Reviews, EE Montgomery, Sarah Madison Fiction
9/3: Love Bytes, A_TiffyFit's Reading Corner
9/4: Parker Williams, Amanda C. Stone
9/5: Full Moon Dreaming, Andrew Q. Gordon, Penny For My Thoughts
9/8: Hearts on Fire, Rainbow Gold Reviews
9/9: Jade Crystal, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves
9/10: Prism Book Alliance, Fallen Angel Reviews
9/11: Book Reviews and More by Kathy, Book Suburbia
9/12: Havan Fellows, Elisa - My Reviews and Ramblings
9/15: Decadent Delights, 3 Chicks After Dark
9/16: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Because Two Men Are Better Than One
9/17: Regular Guys, Hot Romance, Joyfully Jay
9/18: Louise Lyons, Foxylutely Book Reviews, Gaylist Book Reviews
9/19: Cate Ashwood, Iyana Jenna
9/22: The Novel Approach, Crystal’s Many Reviewers
9/23: Inked Rainbow Reads, Wake Up Your Wild Side
9/24: LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Emotion in Motion
9/25: The Blogger Girls, Velvet Panic
K.C. Wells & Parker Williams
Born and raised in the north-west of England, K.C.Wells always loved writing. Words were important. Full stop. However, when childhood gave way to adulthood, the writing ceased, as life got in the way.
K.C. discovered erotic fiction in 2009, where the purchase of a ménage storyline led to the startling discovery that reading about men in love was damn hot. In 2012, arriving at a really low point in life led to the desperate need to do something creative. An even bigger discovery waited in the wings – writing about men in love was even hotter...
K.C. now writes full-time and is loving every minute of her new career.
The laptop still has no idea of what hit it... it only knows that it wants a rest, please. And it now has to get used to the idea that where K.C goes, it goes.
Parker Williams began to write as a teen, but never showed his work to anyone. As he grew older, he drifted away from writing, but his love of the written word moved him to reading. A chance encounter with an author changed the course of his life as she encouraged him to never give up on a dream. With the help of some amazing friends, he rediscovered the joy of writing, thanks to a community of writers who have become his family.
Parker firmly believes in love, but is also of the opinion that anything worth having requires work and sacrifice (plus a little hurt and angst, too). The course of love is never a smooth one, and Happily Ever After always has a price tag.
I LOVED it when it was evening and all was quiet and peaceful. No traffic noise intruded into the house, and in the lounge, the only sound was the slow ticking of the clock on the mantelpiece. Give me a mechanical clock any day. Not that I had anything against more modern timepieces, but there was something soothing about the sound. The clock had been my grandmother’s, and I took loving care of it, making sure it was oiled and wound. Right then my evening was perfect: the tick of the clock, a glass of Cabernet on the table next to me, and a worn, hardcover Sherlock Holmes novel in my hands. I’d lost count of how many times I’d read The Hound of the Baskervilles, but re-reading a favorite book was a warm, comforting experience. The wine created a warm glow inside me. I took another sip.
And then my phone rang.
The temptation to ignore its clamoring call was huge. I was happy, comfortable, and anyone ringing me at home during the evening had to want something. All my friends knew my routines, especially since Oliver....
I closed my eyes. I could almost hear that edge of amusement in his voice. “You going to answer that, Sir?” And yes, I could see the gleam in his eye as he awaited my reaction, tense in nervous anticipation. Brat loved pushing my buttons. With a sigh, I picked up the call.
“Damian? It’s Leo. We need your help.”
I placed the wine on the table. “What can I do for you?” My interest was piqued immediately. It had been quite a while since the co-owner of my BDSM club had called me at home.
“Sorry to disturb you, but you were the first person I could think of. We have a boy. He’s nineteen, and he needs help.”
Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Romance the Night, My Fiction Nook, Inked Rainbow Reads, 3 Chicks After Dark, Cathy Brockman Romances, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Twinsie Talk, Emotion in Motion, Prism Book Alliance, MM Good Book Reviews, Love Bytes, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, Sinfully Sexy, Havan Fellows, Multitasking Mommas, Cate Ashwood, Fallen Angel Reviews, Nephylim, Iyana Jenna, Smoocher’s Voice
Twelve-year-old Autumn's world is shattered when her beloved Great-Pop, Tommy Johnson, suffers a stroke that leaves him comatose. With everyone around her resigning themselves to the inevitable, Autumn is the only one not willing to give up. She and Great-Pop have more secret stories to share with each other, after all. More stories about Roy McMillan—the great love of Tommy's life whom he lost fifty years ago.
Autumn struggles to keep Great-Pop on this side of death's door. But how can she compete with the beautiful and mysterious Valley—a place of surreal magic where the sun never fully sets? Especially when there's someone familiar in the Valley who will do everything he can to keep Great-Pop from returning to her.
“So what’s my prize?”
“I’m gonna let you kiss me,” Roy said with a big, devious smile.
“Yeah?” Tommy asked, thinking he was being put on. “All right, I guess I’ll take the consolation prize then.”
“That leaves me with the grand prize by default.”
And he leaned in, and as sweet as anything Tommy had experienced in his whole life, Roy kissed his slightly parted lips. Even when Tommy stiffened, Roy did not pull back. Instead, slowly and deliberately, he gathered Tommy to him with a hold that was loose enough for him to escape from, but tight enough to be a real, romantic embrace. He kissed Tommy until he had to draw breath, and even then he did not let him go all the way.
“You… really wanted to?” Tommy asked, his head spinning. In that moment he had a single, solitary regret. It wasn’t coming out here to shoot arrows, and it wasn’t that he hadn’t pulled out of Roy’s embrace or even that he’d been kissed. It was that he hadn’t kissed Roy first. Because Tommy liked the kissing. A lot. And he wanted to do it more.
Called "Queen of the Sweetness" (well, two or three people said it anyway!) Raine O'Tierney loves writing sweet stories about first loves, first times, fidelity, forever-endings and...friskiness?
Raine O'Tierney lives outside of Kansas City with her husband, fellow Dreamspinner Press author, Siôn O'Tierney. When she's not writing, she's either asleep, or fighting the good fight for intellectual freedom at her library day job. Raine believes the best thing we can do in life is be kind to one another, and she enjoys encouraging fellow writers. Writing for 20+ years (with the last 10 spent on M/M) Raine changes sub-genres to suit her mood and believes all good stories end sweetly. Contact her if you're interested in talking about point-and-click adventure games or about which dachshunds are the best kinds of dachshunds!
Raineotierney.com | Dreamspinner Press Author Page | The Hat Party (LGBT Author Interviews!) | Facebook Fan Page | Twitter
Tour Dates: 9/10/14
Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Prism Book Alliance, Cate Ashwood, Velvet Panic, Fallen Angel Reviews, Regular Guys, Hot Romance, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Iyana Jenna, Elisa - My Reviews and Ramblings, Love Bytes, MM Good Book Reviews, Amanda C. Stone, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Up All Night, Read All Day, A_TiffyFit's Reading Corner, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Nephylim, EE Montgomery, Inked Rainbow Reads, Andrew Q. Gordon, Emotion in Motion, Jade Crystal
I was tagged for this round by Michael Rupured. Two weeks ago I posted and I’ve got slightly different answers for this round. To check out my previous post go HERE.
What am I working on?
Today I’m finishing up one of my latest Circles books, it will be the third in the series and is called Jewel Cave. I’m also working on book #4 of The Sleepless City, an urban fantasy series written with Anne Barwell. That book is called Checkmate.
The Sleepless City or TSC as Anne and I have come to fondly refer to it was Anne’s idea and I invited myself to join her. For years I wrote in a fandom and I guess you’d call it urban fantasy, but back then I wasn’t aware of the official name for this sub-genre.
The first three books in TSC are a mystery combined with the development of a romance. Book #1, Shades of Sepia written by Anne Barwell, focused on the vampire Simon Hawthorn and human Ben Leyton. I wrote book #2, Electric Candle where Detective Jonas Forge meets, and is very befuddled by his soul mate, Blair Turner. Both are vampires.
Book #3 is called Family and Reflection and it centers around…well now that would be a spoiler! Work on it is underway and Anne’s page is HERE. You’ll have to ask her….hehehehe
Now onto book #4, Checkmate. There’s a bad guy (entity) to hunt down and contain, but there is no development of a romance, no completely central couple. I have the challenge of writing an urban fantasy/romance for a group of established characters. Will there be a love story? For sure, but if you want details you’ll have to wait and see. I will say I have a lot of fun ideas and interesting situations in store for our favorite group of guys. Our plan is to have both books released sometime next year about a month apart.
My other two in progress projects are a scifi trilogy called Novi Orbis and a spin-off of TSC I’ll be writing solo called Akhkharu Nasaru, which translates to Vampire Guard. That particular series will focus on espionage and four of the TSC characters. I’ll have announcements about them, so keep a look out on my website for links!
How does my work differ from others in the genre?
I have no clue since I haven’t really read a lot of vampire or werewolf books. My writing background has always focused on scifi, this is my first real foray into any type of fantasy. My personal reading preferences tend toward non-fiction in the subjects of astronomy and physics. Fiction I read is more scifi with a high emphasis on lots of action. This is also my movie preference. I have a little personal saying that guides me when picking a movie: No car chases, no explosions, no fist-fights, no aliens, no guns? No point.
That has filtered into my writing, since my fiction book choices, that really stick with me and I just love tend to follow the same pattern.
I’d like to think that since I don’t have the reading background in the urban fantasy genre I bring some fresh and new ideas. I’m probably delusional.
Why do I write what I do?
I write the stories that are in my head. Like most writers, I work on projects I’d be interested in reading. For me, writing is as much of an escape as reading. When I see potential for a story, AKA that plot idea, I want to tell that story. I want to see it unfold and I’m a believer in if you want something make it happen. I want to read that story, so I have to write it first.
An interesting side-note to that is when I’m writing a book, I’m focused on each chapter as I write it. I have to keep all those plot balls in the air, not drop them and make everything work out to a logical conclusion. When the time comes, I can go back and simply read my book like I read anyone else’s book I often am surprised by how much I enjoy the story I’ve created.
Even better if a few other people enjoy them too!
How does my writing process work?
I work around a plot. The first thing I do is develop my basic story idea, then I create characters to ‘live’ the plot. There are several steps I go through to create that plot. Often the ideas are great and exciting and then my bubble gets burst in a big way when I find out these things may not work in real life.
There is more leeway writing urban fantasy or scifi than with contemporary, but each world whether it’s our existing one or my created one, has rules. As we all know rules must be followed.
Step one is to research my plot ideas, find ways to make them fit the story I have in mind, or find better things to replace them. Suffice to say Wiki is my friend, as is Google Search. I’m predominately an online researcher. My second favorite method of research is to find someone who is an expert and ask many, many questions. One of the most valuable skills I learned in high school and college was how to find information.
Since I often have multiple projects going at once, I keep notes and write scenes in a virtual note book called One Note. Using One Note is the only way for me to keep myself organized and focused.
My actual writing day varies by the day. I’ve set a goal of 5000 words a week, some weeks I meet that goal, some I exceed it and some I fail miserably. Writing muscles are like any other, you need to exercise them to keep them fit so I write every day no matter if I feel like it or not. That isn’t to say everyday my writing is good, most times what first hits the page is awful. For that reason before I start new writing I go back and review what was completed the day before and do some self-editing (otherwise known as soul searching).
I have a full-time job, so the days I work there, I generally have a two to three hour writing workday as well when I get home. Days that I don’t work at the animal hospital where I’m a veterinary nurse, I put in a six hour or so ‘shift’. Those days I not only write, I work on my website and articles such as this one.
5) Who's next on the blog hop? (Send me links to your site so I can include them in my post)
Kelly Clemmons, Jamie Lynn Miller, Lou Hoffmann, Sarah Madison and Princess S Obriot
Today I'm very pleased and honored to have a special guest. Lou Sylvre is one of my very favorite authors and a good friend, and I'm so excited she's included me in her tour. She brings to us her wonderful James & Vasquez series--smokin' hot men, action packed and loads of mystery. What more could a girl ask for?
Vasquez and James Series Blurb
Professional badass Luki Vasquez and weaver Sonny James meet for the first time in Loving Luki Vasquez, and they might make a sizzling couple if they can ever get past the impulse to run the other way every time romance comes into view. Then again, they have to stay alive if they’re ever to see their wedding day, and tribulation, cruelty, and greed has a way of demanding attention at all the worst moments. Together, they pack a lot of resources to fight for love. If they can hold out, they just might win the enduring love and family they were meant to share.
Panel discussion at Fictional Badass Association annual convention 2014 Place: Emotion in Motion Convention Center, Noble and Sylvre room
Date: September 5, 2014
Time: After several cups of coffee
Panel members: Luki, Brian, Todd, Forge
Discussion topic: Badass methods for keeping one’s other half in line and out of trouble
Moderator: Frodo Baggins
Welcome by Frodo Baggins
“Hello. Hm-hm. Your attention, please. Can you all hear me out there?”
A murmur rises up out in the audience, as people begin to argue among themselves as to whether or not anyone is truly standing at the podium.
Sonny James comes forward from the back of the hall, steps up next to Frodo, puts his hands on his hips, and raises his eyebrows. The audience quiets, and gives him their full attention. Blair also comes forward (very, very quickly), hops down and fetches a chair, then lifts Frodo onto it. The hobbit can now be seen, and Sonny and Blair return to their paces as he continues.
“I want to welcome all of you to this panel discussion. I was happy to be selected—(Frodo breaks off to make noises in his throat and foam at the mouth. Luki hands him his pristine white hanky. Frodo continues.) Please excuse me. I didn’t know that the eye of Sauron would be here tonight—took me by surprise. Wasting no more time, allow me to present the esteemed fictional badasses on the panel tonight. I’ll let them each introduce themselves, because frankly I know nothing at all about them.”
Todd: “Good afternoon and thank you for welcoming me back for a second convention. It’s quite an honor. Let me introduce myself. I’m Todd Ruger, a Sentry. I protect the innocent against supernatural—and sometimes natural—threats. My mate, Nick, and I specialize in shifters. Though, we have encountered other paranormal entities. Where we come from Nick was bred to be a slave and has been trained since childhood to assist me.”
Forge: “I’m a vampire. *points thumb at Todd* What he hunts.
Luki Vasquez and Brian Harrison, the remaining panel members actually begin to whisper to each other. After nodding in agreement, they both get up from their seats, and stand behind Forge—who’s fangs are beginning to show, and Todd—who’s nostrils have flared as he stares in Forge’s direction. Luki and Brian seem to have made their point, but it’s not clear if that’s because the shoulder holsters are showing. After a tense moment, Forge moves to the seat farthest from the middle. Luki and Brian sit in the two seats between them, and Forge continues.
“I’m also a homicide detective. Detective Jonas Forge. This is my first time in attendance, but I’m also very honored to be asked. Vampires have soul mates, mine is Blair Turner.”
Blair (pipes up from the back): “PhD!”
Forge (hurriedly): “Uh, yes, Dr. Blair Turner.”
Nick clears his throat (quite loudly).
Todd (quickly speaks up)” “In our world slaves aren’t permitted to be awarded degrees, but Nick has been educated as a veterinarian and medical doctor as well as a Sentry.”
When neither Blair or Nick drop any more hints, the other panel members all look at Luki.
Luki: “I’m Luki Vasquez. I became a member of the FBA after a wonderful man, Sonny James, found himself loving me in our first book. I am a former federal agent now in the business of security, a martial arts and firearms expert. Some true but less fortunate facts about me, I throw up when other people get hurt, and I tend to get shot a lot, though they are usually flesh wounds.
Sonny (shouts from the back): “Flesh wounds are still bad!”
Luki rolls his eyes and gestures to Brian.
Brian: “My turn, I guess, I’m pretty much just a regular guy.”
Jackie (shouts from the hecklers’ line-up): “Nothing regular about you, Sir!”
Brian turns an interesting shade that can’t quite be called red, but continues without stumbling over his words.
Brian: “Uh, I’m in pretty good shape, have some hand-to-hand combat skills and handle a firearm fairly well. I’ve been lucky enough to have done, at this point in my fictional life, a couple of stints with the Murder Investigation Unit of the London Metropolitan Police—”
Jackie (interrupts again): “Pay attention folks—that’s Scotland Yard! Best in the world!”
Brian (turns and speaks to Jackie): “Devil boy. You know that conversation we haven’t had about punishment? We’ll be having it tonight!”
Jackie (tosses his beautiful dark-fire hair): “Oooo! Thank you, Sir.”
Brian (shakes his head, and says into the mic): “That didn’t work for shit, did it? Anyway, I’ve also been very fortunate to do a couple of stints as an employee of Vasquez Security. No better place for an agent to get schooled in the business. And, as you might have guessed, Jackie is my sub, my lover, my boyfriend, my everything, and I truly hope he’ll be my future, too. I don’t know where I’d be without devil boy, these days.”
Frodo now begins to read out the questions:
How important is it to make sure your chosen one has enough to do, meaning appropriate activities that will keep them busy, especially in your absence, and why?
Forge: Well, Blair has a job. That keeps him plenty busy.
Blair from the back of the hall: And it’s not washing your car. I teach computer sciences at a university in Flint, Ohio. Since the big guy here can’t live without me, and gets into trouble all on his own I have to watch him every minute.
Todd: Nick runs our farm, when we’re home. He cares for the community’s livestock as well.
Nick shouts out: Todd needs me. We’re partners and we work together. Besides someone has to watch his back when his snark gets him in trouble.
Luki: “You’re kidding right, Frodo?”
Sonny, in a stage whisper: “Husband, I’m mentally cutting my toenails right now.”
Luki just bites his bottom lip, but Frodo appears confused. “What does he mean, Luki”
Luki: “Frodo, one of the first things I learned about Sonny is never to get in the way if his hands are on his hips. One of the next things I learned is that when he cuts his toenails it means he wants to... um... get frisky.”
Sonny: “No, baby, it means I want to fu—”
Frodo: What about you, Brian?
Brian: “How do I keep Jackie busy? Hell, the biggest hurdle in our relationship is that we’re both so busy sometimes we don’t see each other for a week.”
Jackie: “But whenever we are together, Brian shows me his rope tricks. (Jackie laughs, and Sonny giggles, which makes all the badasses in the house smile,)
How do you assure that your other half complies with your proscribed activities?
Nick: *Barks a laugh* Todd’s chin drops to his chest while the others turn around and look at Nick.
Blair: “Complies with—? He wishes.”
Todd: “I trust Nick completely.”
Nick: “Good answer.”
Forge: I am of course compelled by the vampire code to defend and…
Blair: Dude, there is no vampire code. *turns to audience* There is no vampire code. (Turns back to Forge.) You like to flash your pointy teeth and flex your muscles.
Forge: *shrugs* He loves it. Especially the teeth…and the muscles.
Blair (somewhat subdued): Yeah, I do.
Luki: I have no idea how to answer than. I'm not even sure what such a question means.
Sonny: Of course you do, honey. No really big words in there.
Luki: Damn, Sonny. I went to college!
When once again silence falls and Luki looks very stubborn, Frodo moves on to the next question:
Occasionally, even the best men get cranky. When your sweetie is having a bad day, what do you do?
Todd: “Blueberry pie. Nick’s a sucker for blueberry pie and a…ah…rub down.” *Glances back at Nick and winks*
Nick: *silly grin* “Yeah.”
Forge: “Well, Blair does enjoy shaving.”
Blair: “Forge is wicked good with a razor.”
Luki: “Honestly, Sonny doesn’t really get cranky. He goes from ‘everything is beautiful’ to ‘I’m going to kill you in your sleep, Luki Vasquez,’ in less than a second flat.
Sonny: “Shut up! I have never threatened your life.”
Brian: I have a tried and true formula, one question and a five word statement.
Frodo, looking curious: “This spell, or whatever it is, works every time?”
Brian: “Sure. Jackie, shall we demonstrate?”
Jackie laughs and nods.
Brian (stands and looks at Jackie): “Safewords?”
Jackie: “Red and yellow.”
Brian: “Use them anytime, starting now.”
Jackie: “Yes sir.”
Frodo: “Wow, impressive.” He clears his throat, and asks the next question.
Do you ever let your honey play with weapons? Why or why not? Give examples if available.
Forge: “We’re vampires, got all the weapons I need right here. *Points to fangs* And as for playing with them, hell yes!”
Blair: “Only real men use their fangs for love.”
Todd: “Nick has knives. I wouldn’t suggest trying to take them away from him. And as for letting him use them? I’ll just quit while I’m ahead.”
Nick: “He loves our private times and hates sleeping alone.”
Luki: “No. No, no, and no. I mean, I’ve taught him how to use a gun, but only once have I made the mistake of putting a gun in his hand. A little Beretta, but he was so wrapped up in wanting to kill a certain disgusting individual—”
Sonny: “You can’t pretend the world wouldn’t have been better off without him.”
Luki: “That’s true, baby. He’s dead now and the world is better off. But if you would have killed him then, I would have lost you. That’s what scared me. You are the most beautiful man that every walked the planet.
Sonny (smiling): “And?”
Luki (actually smiling, too): “And I love you.”
Frodo signals to Brian.
Brian: “We live in the UK. I’m a cop and I don’t even get to play with my guns. Or leastways I can’t work with them.”
Jackie: “But my uncle, Luki, taught me to handle guns. I don’t need permission for that.”
Frodo says, “Uh, this next question, um...” He loosens his collar and blushes.
If you had to choose between following your lover or following Gollum and sending your lover away, what would you do? Please explain.
Todd: “I’d send him away. I couldn’t have him in such danger.”
Nick: “Translation, he needs someone to bail his ass out.”
Luki: “You do realize, Frodo, that Gollum is uglier than sin, and if I was to, say, climb up a big rocky slope behind him I’d have to look at his bony ass the whole way, right?”
Sonny: “Samwise is a whole lot cuter!”
Jackie: “Yeah, Sam is kinda hot. Buff too!”
Brian: “I simply can’t answer that question. Anyone that would follow Gollum and send his lover away is crazy... Present company excluded, of course, Frodo.”
Frodo foams at the mouth and makes grunty/moany sounds again, clutching his shoulder.
Samwise has been sitting quietly in the audience behind some tall Klingons with broad foreheads. Now he stands on his chair. “Hang on, Mr. Frodo. Don’t you give up. I’m not going to leave you! ‘Don’t you lose him, Samwise Gamgee,’ That’s what Gandalf said, and I don’t mean to.”
Frodo has stopped choking and foaming. He says, “Sam, calm down. The ring has long since melted in Mount Doom. I’ve just got touch of rheumatism. You’re over-reacting.”
If you ever followed Gollum into a dark tunnel leading to Mordor and he disappeared, would you keep going? How would you handle a monstrous, venomous spider, if you were to encounter one in that tunnel? (Please indicate weapon(s) of choice and strategy.)
Todd: “I’m not sure I’d follow. As for the spider, fire kills everything. Surround it with fire and…”
*Knife comes from behind and embeds in the table in front of Todd.*
Todd: “Nick is more accurate throwing a knife than most people are shooting a gun.”
Forge: Bares fangs and growls: “There is very little that is faster than a vampire.”
Blair and Nick burst out laughing. Nick elbows Blair and says, “I see what you mean.”
Luki: “Well, I can say this much. It wouldn’t be a little vial of light some blonde lady gave me.”
Assuming you survived Gollum and his tunnel, you would likely want to secure your darling’s forgiveness and understanding. How would you go about making up?
Blair butts in before anyone on the panel has a chance to answer: Shaving cream, a razor, after some serious groveling and probably an evening at that special place we like to go.
Forge: “I’ll get right on that.”
Blair: “Alright then.”
Todd: “Nicky would hurt me if I didn’t survive.”
Nick: “It’s true. I’d hurt him…a lot.”
Brian: “I’d start by saying I was sorry, then I’d ask him for his safewords.”
Jackie’s smile is bright enough to be a flood light.
Luki: “I’d buy him shortbread cookies.”
Sonny: “Not nearly enough, husband.”
Luki: “And Rocky Road ice cream?”
Sonny: “Still not enough, honey.”
Luki: “Okay. I’d let him top.”
Sonny: “Well... we can talk about it, I suppose...”
Loving Luki Vasquez – (Vasquez and James Book One)
Reclusive weaver Sonny Bly James controls every color and shape in his tapestries, but he can’t control the pattern of his life—a random encounter with Luki Vasquez, ex-ATF agent and all-around badass, makes that perfectly clear. The mutual attraction is immediate, but love-shy Sonny has retreated from life, and Luki wears his visible and not-so-visible scars like armor. Neither can bare his soul with ease.
While they run from desire, they can’t hide from the evil that hunts them. After it becomes clear that a violent stalker has targeted Sonny, Luki’s protective instincts won’t let him run far, especially when Sonny’s family is targeted as well. Whether they can forgive or forget, Sonny and Luki will have to call a truce and work together to save Sonny’s nephew and fight an enemy intent on making sure loving Luki Vasquez is the last mistake Sonny will ever make.
Single Whip led into White Crane Spreads Its Wings, the name of which made Sonny adorably… all right fine, adorably happy. The sequence involved motions that at first felt counterintuitive. Like probably every student in the centuries tai chi had been around, Sonny needed help with it. As he would with any other student, Luki stood behind him, using his own hands to guide Sonny through the move. He wondered if he could get away with teaching him all the rest of the moves in just that way. Perhaps for hours. Every day. For a long time.
As he was teaching and wondering and probably even almost smiling, a wind rose up, splashing spray and sand and whipping Sonny’s long hair at Luki’s face and right into his mouth. On the word “open,” appropriately enough.
Sonny spun around, gathering up his luxurious baked-earth red hair. Before Luki had a chance to close his mouth, Sonny kissed him. A passionate, seeking sort of kiss. A kiss that Luki instinctively returned, though kissing wasn’t a large part of his intimate life, and especially not kissing on the beach.
As suddenly as he started it, Sonny ended it, leaving Luki bereft… frustrated and bereft.
Sonny turned away, refusing eye contact. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I shouldn’t have done that.” Without any further explanation, he stepped away.
Luki knew fear, could spot it from afar and pick it out in a crowded room. Right now, it ran hot through Sonny’s veins. He reached for Sonny’s arm. “Sonny, what….” What are you afraid of? He ended the question silently. Sonny had already gone.
Delsyn’s Blues – (Vasquez and James Book Two)
Sonny James and Luki Vasquez are living proof that the course of love never runs smoothly. Ambushed by grief, Sonny listens to a voice singing the blues from beyond the grave. While revisiting the sorrows and failings of his past, in the here and now he puts up a wall against love. Just when Luki chips through that barricade, the couple becomes the target of a new threat from outside: an escalating and unexplainable rash of break-ins and assaults.
Thoughts of infidelity rise between them, a threat that may strain their newly mended love past its limits. To come through the trials alive and together, Luki and Sonny will have to unite against enemies who were once friends and overcome crippling hatred and overwhelming fear. If they succeed, maybe then they can rekindle the twin flames of passion and love.
As he wandered through his bare rooms, Luki traded the perfect, flawlessly tailored clothing he usually wore even at leisure and donned tattered jeans and a faded flannel shirt. Just what Sonny would have worn, and it helped keep Sonny alive in his mind, a man rather than a thin shade. He’d look a lot better than me wearing this, he told himself, padding over the hardwood floor to the only room in the house he ever smoked in, wondering on the way when the floor had become so cold. Once he got there, he switched on the silent fans and the omnidirectional heat, sank into the leather of the only easy chair in the house, and lit up. In his mind, he could hear Sonny clearly, as if his lover stood right next to him. Or sat by him on their love seat. Or sat on the floor at his knees making drawings for a tapestry he would weave so resplendent the world would probably weep. “You should quit,” he’d say.
Luki knew he should quit. Knew that cigarettes… cigarettes and hamburgers were the only flaws in his otherwise perfect health regime. Smoking would someday, probably soon, take a toll. Perversely, when he met Sonny he’d started smoking more than ever before, just because Sonny’s existence in the world nudged him off his solitary perch, the place where he seemingly rose above the world of emotion and let other men into his life only occasionally to practice his skills at cold but perfectly executed sex. With Sonny? Anything but cold. Although still close to perfect. He smiled at the memory of Sonny’s surprised looks when Luki showed him something new, something that, in all his gay years, he’d never felt.
“Luki, please,” he’d say.
Finding Jackie – (Vasquez and James Book Three)
Luki Vasquez and Sonny Bly James finally have their Hawaiian wedding, and it's perfect, almost. But their three-phase honeymoon is riddled with strife. Luki's status as a working badass spells discord for the newlyweds. A former informant from Luki’s days with ATFE brings a troubling message (or is it a warning?) from a Mob hit man. When Luki’s sixteen-year-old nephew, Jackie, is lured into capture and torture by a sadistic killer, the honeymoon is well and truly over.
The couple put aside their differences and focus on the grueling hunt, which takes them from leather bars to dusty desert back roads, and calls on Sonny’s deep compassion as well as Luki’s sharpest skills. Their world threatens to fall apart if they fail, but their love may grow stronger than ever if they succeed in finding Jackie—before it’s too late.
“You know what, Titus? I don’t want to kill him.” Marcone swept a hand against the cool silk-soft wood of his desktop, thinking of Nadia’s skin. His heart had started beating faster. “I want to show Vasquez why he shouldn’t have been part of anything that screwed with the Marcone name, why he should have made haste to take his fag lover far away the minute he saw there were Marcones involved. This isn’t the first time we’ve opposed one another, but this is the first and will be the last time he’s deliberately involved himself in smearing shit all over my name. I’d have forgiven him everything that came before he realized who Richard and Marina were, if only he’d gone east at that point, instead of racing back west to stick his guns in where they didn’t belong. And I want him to keep remembering, keep feeling the pain he earned with that fuckup, keep that pain with him for years. For the rest of his life.”
“Yes,” Titus breathed, his voice gone low and distant.
“And that won’t be hard either, Titus. I’ve been doing my homework—keeping a watch on him through a variety of sources. He’s got people, and for all his hardass ways, his heart’s like a sponge.”
Titus took a quick breath, and spoke without inflection. “I love people like that.”
The DA’s brows rose, and he smiled. “I know you do, my man. I know you do.”
Saving Sonny James – (Vasquez and James Book Four)
Luki Vasquez and his still newlywed husband are back home after pulling off a harrowing desert rescue of their teenage nephew Jackie. But the events of the last couple of years have begun to catch up with Luki—loving Sonny James and letting Sonny love him back has left gaps in his emotional armor. In the gunfight that secured Jackie’s rescue, Luki’s bullet killed a young guard, an innocent boy in Luki’s mind. In the grip of PTSD, memories, flashbacks, and nightmares consume him, and he falls into deep, almost vegetative depression.
Sonny devotes his days to helping Luki, putting his own career on hold, even passing up a European tour of galleries and schools—an opportunity that might never come again. But when Luki’s parasomnia turns his nightmares into real-world terror, it breaks the gridlock. Sonny realizes what he’s doing isn’t working, and he says yes to Europe. Enter Harold Breslin, a dangerously intelligent artist’s promoter and embezzler whose obsessive desire for Sonny is exceeded only by his narcissism. When Harold’s plan for Sonny turns poisonous, Luki must break free of PTSD and get to France fit and ready in time to save his husband’s life.
Almost whispering, breathing in fearful sounding gasps, Sonny said, “Luki, I want you to fuck me…. No. No, I want you to make love to me.” He looked away then back to meet Luki’s eyes, brow lowered with worry. “Luki, I know—”
“Sh! Hush, baby.” Luki kissed the tender arch of Sonny’s foot—the rest of him being out of reach. He looked at Sonny and nodded. “Yes. I want that too.” [...] With all the power of his mind, he blocked out the things that would get in the way of him loving Sonny—had been getting in the way for weeks. And with all the power of his heart, he focused everything on his husband, his love. His breath beginning to come faster, biting his lip for stability, he rose on one knee and moved toward his husband.
His hands wanted to wander over Sonny’s skin, and he let them. Let them follow the long slender curves of Sonny’s legs, his inner thighs. When he reached his sex, he framed his husband’s familiar and much-missed cock and balls with his hands, but he didn’t touch them. He let Sonny see the smile in his eyes as he instead moved his hands up over hip bones and belly and abs and pecs with their hard puckered centers of dark, sensitive flesh. Once he reached the chiseled shoulders, he lifted Sonny and pressed him against his own chest. And then he took his lips in a kiss like fire.
Yes – (A Vasquez and James Novella)
Professional badass Luki Vasquez and textile artist Sonny James have been married for five years, and despite the sometimes volatile mix, they’re happy. From their first days together, they stood united against deadly enemies and prevailed. But now the deadly enemy they face is the cancer thriving inside Luki, consuming his lungs.
As Luki’s treatment proceeds, Sonny hovers near, determined to provide every care, control every thread of possibility just as he does when he weaves. But he can’t control the progress of the cancer or how Luki’s body reacts to the treatment regime. Sonny tries, but Luki dances with cancer alone—until he gets a startling reminder of the miracle of life. With renewed determination and mutual love, the two men emerge from their coldest winter into a new spring day.
[Luki] woke up in profound darkness, aware of Sonny still beside him, but held rigid now while small, strangled noises escaped from deep in his throat. Even if it hadn’t been for the give-away sniffle, Luki would have known. Sonny was crying. Not that “I’m sad” kind of crying that was more a glorified pout. No. Sonny fought for all he was worth not to let a sob fly loose. His heart had a great big, hurting hole in the middle of it, and Luki had put it there, and still Sonny tried to protect him. If he couldn’t stop from crying, by God at least he’d do it quietly and let Luki sleep. But he and Luki had loved too long, too deep, too close for Luki not to hear it anyway, to register it even in his sleep, and understand. And feel it, too, like what Sonny felt.
Luki rolled over and put his arms around the man who, when all was said and done, he loved and would love forever.
Because of Jade – (A Vasquez and James Novel)
Luki Vasquez receives the news he’s still cancer free after five years, and he wants to celebrate with his whole family. He and his husband, Sonny James, take a road trip south, intending to gather at the home of his nephew Josh, Josh’s wife Ruthie, and Jade—a little girl who was still in the womb when she and her mother helped Luki beat lung cancer.
Halfway to their destination, Luki learns Josh and Ruthie have met a tragic death. The horrible news lays Luki low, but he pulls himself together in time to be the family’s rock and see to the dreaded business of tying up loose ends. The most important business is Jade, and when Luki and Sonny head home, they take Jade with them.
Luki and Sonny must combat self-doubt and fear and help each other learn to parent an unexpected child—and they must also nourish the love that has kept them whole for the past ten years. A relative’s spurious claim to Jade threatens the new family, and even if they prevail in court, they could lose their little girl unless they can rescue Jade from evil hands and true peril.
Later, while Sonny and Jade lay on the floor in front of the fire, and Sonny read Merry Christmas, Mr. Snowman! over and over, Luki paced. He stopped occasionally to look out the window, and just as the sky began to lighten he saw that snow had begun to fall, big flakes touching down soft as feathers to cover the lumpy, frozen ground near the house.
Luki turned around to share the wonder of snow with his family, but they had at last fallen asleep stretched flat on the floor on their stomachs—Jade because of her injuries and Sonny because of his aching back. Luki shook his head and smiled, surprised at how much he loved them even though he knew. He threw some wood on the fire and banked it and fetched a light but warm down comforter and a pillow from the bedroom. Laying himself down next to them, he covered them all three, let his head fall to the pillow, and found first peace, and then sleep.
Meet Lou Sylvre
Lou Sylvre hails from southern California but now lives and writes on the rainy side of Washington State. When she’s not writing, she’s reading fiction from nearly every genre, romance in all its tints and shades, and the occasional book about history, physics, or police procedure. Not zombies, though. Her personal assistant is Boudreau, a large cat who never outgrew his kitten meow. She plays guitar (mostly where people can’t hear her) and she loves to sing. She’s usually smiling and laughs too much, some say. She also loves her family, her friends, the aforementioned Boudreau, a Chihuahua named Joe, and (in random order) coffee, chocolate, sunshine, and wild roses.
7/18 – The Hat Party, Kimi-Chan
7/25 – Rainbow Gold Reviews, The Novel Approach
8/1 – Hearts on Fire, MM Good Book Reviews
8/8 – Prism Book Alliance, Tara Lain, Fallen Angel Reviews
8/15 – Smoocher’s Voice, Love Bytes
8/22 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Nephylim
8/29 – LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Book Reviews and More by Kathy
9/5 – Amanda C. Stone, Emotion in Motion
This week I'm very excited to host not one but two friends and their newest releases on my blog. Today I welcome Shira "The Diva" Anthony and another installment in her wonderful Blue Notes series.
British lord Cameron Sherrington has hit rock bottom. The love of his life, opera sensation Aiden Lind, is marrying another man, and Cam knows it’s his own fault for pushing Aiden away. Then someone tries to set him up and take away his family business. Facing arrest by US authorities on charges of money laundering and with no money to return to London, Cam decides to run. But with no money and no place to stay, it’s not exactly the Hollywood thriller he’d imagined.
When Cam hears Galen Rusk play in a lonely subway station, he’s intrigued. But his assumptions about Galen are all wrong, and their unusual relationship isn’t exactly what Cam bargained for. Add to that the nightmares that dog him nightly, and Cam’s world is shaken to its core. Cam figures he had it coming to him, that it’s all penance due on a life lived without honesty. He just never figured he might not be able to survive it.
Note: Blue Notes Series novels are standalone stories, and can be read in any order.
CAM SKIPPED down one of the gravel paths past the privet hedges that led from the terrace to the grounds beyond. He whistled a song he’d learned in school a few days before. He felt proud that he’d learned to whistle when Jane Ravenel and Paul Vestry hadn’t been able to do more than blow air and spit when they’d tried. He’d said he’d teach them. He, Cameron Sherrington, could do something they couldn’t do. He’d be a good teacher and they’d like him for it, wouldn’t they?
He reached the edge of the forest a few minutes later. His father had promised to build him a tree house, like in Winnie the Pooh, but he’d died before they’d had a chance to plan it. He’d asked his mother, but she’d told him he was too old for tree houses. He’d picked out the perfect spot for it too—a huge oak that grew on the edge of one of the fields where the horses often grazed.
He whistled and ran faster until he reached the pond with the ancient boathouse. He tossed his shoes into the grass and dangled his feet in the water. He didn’t notice the dark cloud overhead until everything around him grew black.
Cam shot up in bed, panting. A dream. It was just a dream. He looked around the room and tried to remember where he was. Slowly, it came back to him. Sleeping in the subway. The FBI. The music. Galen.
He dry-scrubbed his face, then took a few more deep breaths. He hadn’t had a nightmare since he was a kid. He slipped out of bed and padded to the bathroom, relieved himself, then splashed a bit of cool water on his cheeks. The face that greeted him in the mirror looked tired. Older than usual, even. The dark circles under his eyes always looked ten times worse against his pale skin. The bruise on his cheek had blossomed purple. He touched it gingerly and winced. At least the muggers hadn’t broken anything.
He stood, just looking at himself, for nearly ten minutes. Days before, he’d been assessing himself in the mirror to make sure his hair was just right. Now he barely noticed the tousled mess. He didn’t recognize himself in the reflection. Or maybe he just didn’t want to see himself looking back. No deep thoughts accompanied this strange, surreal appraisal. Through the haze of sleep and with the slightly edgy memory of the dream still lingering, he saw every line, every imperfection magnified. The small scar on his right cheek from when he’d fallen from a horse jumping far beyond his abilities. The lines at the corners of his mouth and eyes. The tiny birthmark by his nose.
The sensation of something pressing against his leg brought him back to himself. The dog, trying to get his attention. Cam looked down, shook his head, then walked back to bed. Once under the covers, he closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep. But it was nearly light outside when he finally drifted off.
Purchase from Dreamspinner Press
In her last incarnation, Shira was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as “Tosca,” “i Pagliacci,” and “La Traviata,” among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.
Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 36’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.
8/8 - Prism Book Alliance
8/11 - Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
8/12 - Smoocher’s Voice
8/13 - Fallen Angel Reviews
8/14 - The Hat Party
8/15 - Amanda C. Stone
8/18 - Tara Lain
8/19 - The Novel Approach
8/20 - LeAnn’s Book Reviews
8/21 - Kimber Vale
8/22 - Full Moon Dreaming
8/25 - Love Bytes
8/26 - Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves
8/27 - Hearts on Fire
8/28 - Wicked Wolves and Dreaming Dragons
8/29 - Velvet Panic
9/1 - Decadent Delights
9/2 - Rainbow Gold Reviews
9/3 - My Fiction Nook
9/4 - Emotion in Motion
9/5 - BONUS DATES: MM Good Book Reviews, Book Suburbia
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