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.
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...”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
7/18 – The Hat Party, Kimi-Chan
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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