Liz Faraim has a new contemporary lesbian thriller, Vivian Chastain book 2: Stitches and Sepsis. And there's a giveaway!
Adrenaline addicted veteran, Vivian Chastain, confronts the man who has been following her for days, only to find he has a message of dire consequence for her. Spurred into action by his news, she barrels head on into a tumultuous and violent series of events. Stoic and stubborn, Vivian lands in the hospital, fighting for her life.
During Vivian’s lengthy recovery, her partner is released from jail and the two reconnect, stoking up the flames of their toxic union all while Vivian dives into a blossoming relationship with a new love interest who offers fulfillment and love, if only Vivian can figure out how to allow it all in.
Still on the mend, she learns that the coast is not clear as former threats return and continue to endanger her. While she cannot rest easy; friends, her work crew, and customers at the night club where she tends bar provide her with much needed fun, comradery, and support.
Vivian wrestles with her temper, her penchant for physical violence, and her overwhelming emotional baggage. Struggles from within and without threaten her existence, and in the moment when death is just a breath away, Vivian’s brother shows up and changes everything.
Warnings: This book contains sexually explicit content which is only suitable for mature readers, graphic violence, self-harm, references to PTSD, domestic abuse, animal abuse, homophobic slurs, sexual assault (reference to past), death of a secondary character
Liz is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:
“Show time,” I said and pushed open the massive wooden door at the nightclub where I worked, switching into the role of confident bartender. I swaggered in and was nearly bowled over by the bassline of Ciara’s “1, 2, Step” as it blared out of the speakers, rumbling in my chest. Buck, dressed in a perfectly starched security uniform, gave me a nod from her lectern in the narrow foyer. A line of women chatted excitedly as they waited for their turn at the lectern to pay the cover charge and get their hand stamp.
“Excuse me,” I said as I squeezed past another cluster of women who were dancing and laughing animatedly. I hugged my tip bucket close to my chest so I didn’t accidently graze any of them. They shifted to make room for me to pass, and one of them growled playfully. The growl was followed by someone grabbing my ass firmly. I didn’t turn or even acknowledge the grope. Outside of work I would have shut that shit down, but here there was a certain amount of physicality to the job, albeit usually consensual. I knew damn well that later that night I’d strip off my beater and have women doing body shots off me, for a sizeable tip, of course, so I let it go and continued making my way through the crowd to my station at the front bar.
Tick, the DJ, transitioned to “Candy Shop” by 50 Cent. The crowd funneled out of the front bar to the dance floor in the back, which gave me a quick break in the rush to relieve the bartender going off shift, count out my drawer, and set up the station the way I liked it.
Jen, my barback, bounced up next to me with a big grin on her face. The unmistakable smell of weed wafted off her and I chuckled. She swung her long wallet chain around her finger and bumped hips with me.
“Coyote Ugly, baby!” she said over the music. I nodded and gave her a big grin. Coyote Ugly nights were always raucous fun, which meant big tips. We counted on tips to survive, so Sunday night shifts were not to be missed. Jen slid an American Spirit cigarette behind her ear and winked a twinkling, bloodshot hazel eye at me. A customer stepped up to my station. I gave Jen a pat on the back and stepped up to the bar to get to work.
The night built up in intensity as the crowd grew thick and the music got louder. Things peaked when Sheila, our boss, strutted along the top of the bar in heels, a fedora, thong and bra. She used Everclear to set the bar trough on fire, which whipped the women into a frenzy.
Once Sheila’s performance was over, I helped her down and she waded into the crowd, hugging friends and talking to customers. Sly hands slipped dollar bills into her thong and bra as she passed by.
Despite being a chilly February night, it was hot and humid inside the club because of the crush of dancing bodies. Sweating, I shed my beater so I was down to my sports bra. Removing my shirt was always lucrative because it drew more customers to my side of the bar.
A woman in a silver sequined cocktail dress, hair and makeup on point, stepped up to my station and tried to talk to me over the noise. I leaned across the bar toward her and cupped my hand to my ear to signal that I hadn’t heard her. She smiled and drew in a breath. Before she could speak, the smile turned to a grimace and her hand shot out, clamping down on my wrist. Her manicured nails dug so deeply into my flesh her nails snapped and broke through my skin. My arm flared with pain, but I didn’t pull away because I knew something was wrong. Her eyes bulged and she froze, mouth agape. Concerned, I reached out and placed my other hand on her shoulder.
“Are you okay?”
Her hand went limp on my arm and she dropped to the floor like a sack of rocks, knocking two other people down with her. There was a moment of relief as her nails slid out of my arm, but the relief was quickly followed by the stinging sensation of open wounds and blood ran down my hand. I leaned over the bar and peered down at the woman. She was seizing violently. The people around her all stepped back, cleared a small circle around her. I sprang over the bar and began pushing people farther away from her.
“Buck!” I shouted over the music. “Buck!” I got up on my toes and looked toward Buck’s lectern. She was craning her neck in my direction and I waved her over urgently. Buck immediately began making her way through the crush of the crowd. People responded quickly when they saw her security uniform and shuffled out of the way.
Liz has a full plate between balancing a day job, parenting, writing, and finding some semblance of a social life. In past lives she has been a soldier, a bartender, a shoe salesperson, an assistant museum curator, and even a driving instructor. She focuses her writing on strong, queer, female leads who don’t back down.
Liz transplanted to California from New York over thirty years ago, and now lives in the East Bay. She enjoys exploring nature with her wife and son.
Author Website: https://www.lizfaraim.com
Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.loud.16/
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Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/FaraimLiz
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20769735.Liz_Faraim
Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/liz-faraim/
My Tuesday Teaser is from Collared Souls, book four of Sentries and possibly my favorite in the series.
All of that, factual as it might be, was probably little consolation to Nick about now. He’d forgive himself in time, Todd knew that. It was simply watching Nick’s inner turmoil and anguish in the meantime that was so painful for Todd.
They’d placed their order and were waiting.
“I hope it’s not too long before the food shows up. I just realized we haven’t eaten in a while,” Todd said.
“Uh-huh.” Nick propped his elbows against the table, chin resting against his palm, staring out the window.
“The new depot was nice.” Todd leaned forward and looked out the window, too.
Todd tried a different subject. “Good smells coming from the kitchen.”
“Oh, thank goodness,” Todd said. Sitting back, he smiled up at their waiter. “‘Cause my small talk wasn’t working.” He reached over and tapped Nick’s hand. “Food’s here, Nicky.”
Sprinkling some pepper on his eggs, Todd said casually, “You really should stop staring out the window and check out the group sex thing going on behind me.”
“Huh? What?” Nick straightened and turned, facing Todd again before leaning slightly to one side and looking beyond him.
Todd chuckled and rubbed his chin, quirking an eyebrow when Nick’s gaze finally met his. “That’s what gets your attention?”
“I…uh…well…our lunch!” Nick made a big show of turning his plate, arranging his napkin on his lap, and snagging the pepper from Todd.
Todd shook his head, filled up his fork, and stuffed food into his mouth. “Damn, this is good,” he said around a mouthful.
Nick nodded. This time he didn’t answer, not because he was lost in his own world, but because he seemed to be enjoying his meal as well. Todd took Nick’s appetite as a good sign.
“You want another beer?”
“No, thanks.” Nick shook his head. “Could go for some iced tea, though.”
Todd nodded and turned in his seat, seeking out one of the waitstaff. When he made eye contact, he held his glass up. A minute later he was ordering a second beer and Nick’s tea. He was trying to hide his sore throat from Nick and the beer was cold, slightly numbing, and helping his efforts. In a few days, the bruises would fade and Todd was confident Nick would stop punishing himself.
Another bite and Todd’s throat stung. He’d overdone it with the pepper again. Trying desperately to stifle the gag and cough about to burst out, he slurped down a gulp of beer, hoping that would fix things.
Instead, it made the situation worse. Much, much worse.
Setting his beer glass down with more of a clunk than he’d intended, the beer sloshed in the glass, some spilling onto the table. He leaned over, gripping his fork hard with his other hand, and tried not to cough. He only succeeded in snorting a rough hack out of his nose, which then erupted in a genuine cough.
Nick immediately stopped eating, his fork halfway to his mouth. Eyes going wide, some of the color oozed off his face and he bit down on his lower lip.
Todd let go of the beer glass, tried for a smile, and thumped his chest. Todd could salvage this. “Oh, wow, went down the wrong way, and I gotta cut back on the pepper.”
Looking down, Nick let his fork clatter to his plate.
He wiped one hand over his face, looked around at everywhere but Todd for a few seconds then fumbled his way out of the booth.
Before Todd could stop him, Nick had vanished through
the dining car access door. Todd sighed heavily and took another drink of his beer.
“I’m never eating pepper again.”
M.D. Neu has a new MM Paranormal book out, The Calling book two: The Called. And there's a giveaway!
The world is changing quickly for Chris now that he’s part of the Immortal Community. With the events of his past finally behind him, he’s still having visions and true magic is gradually taking hold in our world. There are new challenges that the Immortals must face, but Chris is still new and has no real standing in the immortal community.
Learning that nothing in the Immortal community is what Chris thought and now having to face new threats, how will his new world unfold? Old enemies must work together and longtime friends may not be trustworthy. Who is lurking in the shadows? Why are they here? What does this mean for witches, immortals and humans?
Can Chris’ visions even be trusted given recent events, and how easily his mind is manipulated? With Juliet, Amanda, and Kirtus by his side they have to prevent the immortal and witch community from being exposed. Can they trust the local witches that are there to assist them? Can they trust their fellow Immortals? New friendships are made, and longtime alliances are called into question. How will The Called defeat these latest threats, and what does it mean for our world?
M.D. is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:
The question of death returned to me as I reflected on recent events. You die and your body no longer functions. I was wrong. You die and your soul leaves, and what’s left turns to dust. That wasn’t the case.
Everything I thought was no longer my reality.
I sat with a glass of brandy between my hands, focusing on the fire in Juliet’s office. The oranges, reds, and yellows of the flames danced around the logs, releasing a warmth that barely penetrated my worried exterior. The crackling of the fire tickled my ears as the scent of burning pine lingered in and out of my consciousness. A knot tugged the back of my neck. What was this new vision? Worse yet, what did it have to do with me? Not to mention Juliet, Kirtus, Gregor, and the other Immortals.
“Chris.” Juliet’s gentle voice pulled me from my fog of apprehension.
How long had I been like this? A minute? A day? A year? I wasn’t sure. I turned from the fire. Kirtus sat next to me on the sofa, his coat removed, replaced by an air of worry. His red hair, green and gray eyes typically so intoxicating, brought me no joy. Gregor’s tall solid frame blocked one of Juliet’s bookcases, his rugged face a shadow of concern. All of Juliet’s tomes and books, several of them personal journals of her long life, sat there taunting me. Would they be able to unravel this new vision? This new mystery? They were next to no help with the witches, or my father. The monster. I sipped my brandy, hoping it would take the chill from my soul.
I caught Juliet out of the corner of my eye waiting for me to speak. She was patient as always. She sat with her ivory pant-clad leg crossed and a glass of red in her hand, but deep in her stunning eyes there was unease. Despite her apprehension in moments like this, she appeared so young. Nevertheless, behind that façade of youth was the power of an Immortal who had been around for 1650 years. No one should ever underestimate her.
My eyes narrowed on the red, and my stomach flipped, not from hunger or desire but from this new burden I was meant to carry.
“Would you like a glass?” she offered. Her dark blonde hair, normally combed out, was in a ponytail, making her appear all the younger. I caught a whiff of vanilla and roses, her signature scent. I inhaled deeper, hoping it would soothe me.
I shook my head.
“I realize it’s difficult, but please can you tell us the vision again.” Juliet’s voice was a whisper, but the request rang in my head. How many times would I have to retell this story?
I put the half-full brandy glass on the coffee table, recalling the images to me. “I’m standing in some kind of chamber, but it’s not anyplace I’ve been.” I scanned their three faces. “It’s not here.” My heart pounded louder in my chest. I focused on my breathing a bit more before I continued. “In the center, there is what appears to be a formal table of polished stone with nine ornately carved chairs around it. On the wall…” I kept my eyes closed and focused on the wall. “There’s a mural. You’re in it, Juliet; so is Sybil, Garrett, Fernando, Rahim, all the members of the Council of Light.”
“The council chamber in Egypt.” Juliet tapped her finger on the edge of her glass, the noise echoing throughout her office.
The sentence was barely spoken before all the images of my vision flashed back. It was too much, and my eyes flew open. Juliet, Gregor, and Kirtus surveyed me. Considering their strained expressions, they are worried about me. I waved off their unease and shook my head.
“What else?” Gregor’s deep voice cool and calm, but the glance he shared with Juliet betrayed his composure. He didn’t understand what to do with this information any more than I did.
I pulled the vision to my thoughts and continued, “The wall with the mural began to crack and crumble and I smell smoke. The chamber is on fire…” I focused on Juliet. “The stone table crumbles. The chairs burn and everything is in shambles.”
Juliet nodded and sipped her red.
“Something or someone destroyed it, but I didn’t see them.”
“Who could do such a thing?” Kirtus rubbed his hands together. “Only the Council of Light knows the actual location.”
“What else do you see?” Juliet’s peaceful aura melted my worry and fear. After a moment my thoughts cleared. Normally I would be upset at her for using her gift on me, but I needed it. Especially after all that had happened these last few weeks. My mother’s sacrifice to save me and kill my father still haunted me. My father’s death came after we discovered he was in charge of a coven of witches who wanted to destroy the world. It was a battle we had to fight to stop the witches from releasing true magic into our world.
We failed at that. True magic had still seeped into our world before we cut it off.
I had hoped it was all behind us. I wanted things to return to normal, but my gift of being a Seer had other plans. I focused once more on the brandy, wanting a sip but not taking it; my gaze returned to the fire. More of the vision came forward. “As the room fell to ruin and the mural burned, a large carved wooden chair with inlays of gold and decorated with jewels pushed the debris away.” I closed my eyes again. “There was a shadow figure sitting in the chair.”
“Who is it?” Kirtus asked.
“I’m not sure, but I hear his voice.” I pushed my eyes together tighter to help me hear.
“I’ve stayed out of the way of history, but it’s time to return and bring what is right and just back to this world.” I took a breath. “That’s what he said, but I don’t sense malice from him, but I don’t know. Sorrow and pain, maybe. Sacrifice?”
“What does he look like?” Juliet called me to focus.
“He’s tall and he’s wearing some kind of toga with deep crimson and white stripes. I can’t really see anything else.” My eyes fluttered open.
Everyone was silent. The crackle of the fire might as well have been the rumble of a train going through the room. It was unbearable, and I was about to speak.
Kirtus beat me to it. “Why don’t we take a break?”
I shook my head. “It’s fine. After the man vanished, I was standing on a grass-covered pasture. In front of me was a hill with a young girl sitting there laughing and clapping her hands. She had long brown hair and her gaze planted on an oversized full moon. It was impossibly big.” I sighed. “I’m sorry but that’s all.” I slouched deeper in the couch, focusing my own gaze on the ceiling and the rich wood inlays and trim. “I have no idea what any of it means.” The square patterns offered my brain a relaxing, ordered shape.
“That’s okay.” Gregor’s voice was stronger now as if he realized what needed to be done.
Maybe he did. I couldn’t be sure.
“You’ve given us a lot of information to go through. Add that to the reports of magic both Victor and I have seen. There is a lot happening we still have to address,” Gregor continued. “Once we begin to break it down, perhaps more will come to you.”
I faced him. “Maybe. I hope so, because right now, it feels like a whole lot of nothing. Especially when you are already dealing with these other problems.”
“We’re all new to this Seer business.” Kirtus’s hand rested on my leg.
His touch caused a shiver to rush through my body, and right now, all I wanted to do was take him to me, hold him, and get lost in his arms and warm body.
“Plus, it’s not like you haven’t been through a whole lot of hell over the last few weeks.” Kirtus offered me a grin, the single dimple on his left cheek popping out. It melted away more of my worry.
“Is it possible it’s another witch?” Kirtus asked. “Especially if magic is involved.”
He must have already known about the reports of magic being seen both in San Jose and up in San Francisco. Either way he didn’t seem surprised by this news. Or, he could have an amazing poker face.
I turned toward Juliet, who had left the chair she was sitting in and walked over to her office windows to look out. Her ivory pants and jade-green shirt somehow still looked as crisp as the moment she had glided into my bedroom only a few hours ago.
“I doubt it’s a witch, especially given the comment about staying out of histories way and setting things right.” Juliet’s voice was tight. “The clothing Chris describes is a Roman Senator, I think.” She turned to me and the others. “Another Immortal, maybe, one from the fall of Rome.”
“That doesn’t narrow the list down.” Gregor pulled at his goatee. “Especially if we include the Dark.” His frown stretched farther across his face. “Perhaps we need to talk to Victor.”
“I can ask him,” Kirtus offered. “He mentioned he wanted to see me this week.” He tried not to grimace.
Was it about the lieutenant position and the posting as his representative to the Council of Light? What he mentioned to me earlier tonight? Was that what he wanted to speak to him about?
“Thank you.” Gregor offered a slight bow of his head. “Juliet, is there anyone you know who can help with this?” He walked over to the golden cart with the bottles of alcohol and red on it. He poured himself a glass of red. “What about the witches you know here? What about the local coven? You have a good relationship with them. What about the one who charmed this estate?”
Juliet’s lips pulled into a small frown. She crossed over to the cart and poured herself another glass of red.
“I could have gotten you that.” Gregor’s tone was gentle.
She waved him off before she sipped her drink. “He’s a Healer, not a witch, and I’m not sure if he will assist us; we have an unfortunate history.” She held her drink in one hand and pulled a book from the shelf. She turned to her desk and walked to her seat, a quiet, far-off look about her.
I peeked over at Kirtus. “We should go.” I stood and glanced over to Juliet. “You have a lot on your plate with the reports of magic. I’m sorry I’ve added to the burden, but with this new vision I figured you needed to know.”
“Chris, if you see anything else…” She trailed off.
“Thank you, Chris.” Gregor extended his hand. “This new vision and perhaps the magic we’ve seen may be related.”
“I hope not.” The pull of Kirtus’s body helped me realize he was by my side. “I’ll see if I can track down anyone on my end.” He glanced over to Juliet. “My network isn’t nearly as broad as yours, but you never know.”
“I think we’ll need all the help we can get,” Gregor affirmed.
I spared a worried glance at Juliet. Something was bothering her, and it wasn’t just my vision or the reports of magic. I didn’t recognize what it was, but I understood my creator well enough to leave her be. She would tell me once she had processed her thoughts and all my vision information.
She met my gaze. “Yes, we’ll speak more. Thank you for understanding.”
“Of course.” I took Kirtus’s hand, and we walked out of her office for the second time tonight.
M.D. Neu is an international award-winning inclusive queer Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alice Walker, Alfred Hitchcock, Harvey Fierstein, Anne Rice, and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.
Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.
When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric his husband of twenty plus years.
Author Website: http://www.mdneu.com/
Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/mdneuauthor
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/Writer_MDNeu
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Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/m-d-neu/
Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/m-d-neu/
Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/M-D-Neu/e/B076FK1S14
My snippet this week is from my upcoming re-release, Quarry (book 2 of The Vampire Guard)
Varian leaned back and studied Blair. “Show me what you can do.”
Blair pulled out his phone. “Connect to the hotel private Wi-Fi, issue a few command prompts, and…” Blair looked up and grinned when the lights in the room dimmed, then brightened, then flickered.
“How would you like to make more money than any corporation will pay you in two years?”
“And if I want more than money?”
Varian smiled and laughed softly. “I think that can be arranged. The first thing I need is the phone the woman has. Bring it to me and we’ll talk some more.”
“I’ll call you when I have it.” Blair finished his drink and stood up.
“You’ll need my—” Varian stopped abruptly when Blair turned his phone around and showed him the screen.
“I can get the contacts and numbers of everyone in a twenty-foot radius.” Blair turned the phone’s screen off and pocketed it. “Like I said, nothing I can’t find in the digital world.”
Smirking, Blair tapped the top of the bar then walked away.
Enjoy many more awesome snippets in the Rainbow Snippet Facebook group.
Quarry is available for pre-order from Amazon for the special pre-order price of $3.49!
Other Worlds Ink has a new hopeful sci-fi anthology out: Fix the World. And there's a giveaway!
We’re a world beset by crises. Climate change, income inequality, racism, pandemics, an almost unmanageable tangle of issues. Sometimes it’s hard to look ahead and see a hopeful future.
We asked sci-fi writers to send us stories about ways to fix what’s wrong with the world. From the sixty-five stories we received, we chose the twelve most amazing (and hopefully prescient) tales.
Dive in and find out how we might mitigate climate change, make war obsolete, switch to alternative forms of energy, and restructure the very foundations of our society,
The future’s not going to fix itself.
OWI is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour:
by J. Scott Coatsworth
The rumbling increased to a roar, and more dark patches appeared in the green lagoon waters. So expensive. So laborious to stabilize what was left. But every bit worth it, in this moment.
A great spume of water sprayed high enough to throw a shimmer of mist across her face as the first part of the old city broke the surface. As the spume cleared, the top of the Campanile di San Marco rose above the water, green roof gleaming like new. A nice touch. The Restoration Guild must have worked overtime on that one. Its golden weathervane was gone, but the bas relief of the lion of St. Mark made her clutch her heart.
“Mamma, what’s the lion for?” She licked chocolate off her hands, desperate to make her afternoon snack last just a little longer.
“It’s the symbol of the city.” Mamma put her hand on Cinzia’s chest, patting it—boom boom, boom boom. “The beating heart of who we are.”
Cinzia stumbled. It felt like yesterday.
“You okay?” Gio’s brow creased.
“I… sorry, yes. So many memories.”
Skipping over the bridges. The bad days of the quarantine. The corner market where mamma used to do her grocery shopping…
Another building broke the surface nearby—the Santa Maria della Salute, the beautiful basilica. Water poured off the gorgeous green domes in a thundering flood. They were mostly intact, though one of the smaller ones had a gaping hole—water poured out of it, cascading down to the lagoon like a waterfall, joining the general uproar of the Rise.
“Look, Kendra. You can see the outlines of the Canal Grande now.” The old waterway—the pulsing artery of the city—snaked away from them like a backwards ’S.’ In the distance, she could make out the edge of the Sestriere Cannaregio, the district where her mamma had lived in a modest apartment in an old stone palazzo that looked out on a concrete courtyard.
Waters rising, as it rained for close on a month, coming ever closer to their own second-floor balcony.
“What if the water doesn’t stop coming?” Cinzia stared out at the concrete courtyard, where the seawater swirled and churned.
“Don’t worry about that, tesoro. The water always stops, eventually. Now come here and help me with dinner.”
She had been lucky. She had survived.
All across the lagoon, the buildings of Venice were rising from the water. Many were broken, piles of bricks and debris covered with algae and surprised fish that flopped around on suddenly exposed land. The outlines of the city were becoming clear as water poured out of the buildings, churning the lagoon into a muddy, frothy mess.
A row of palazzos along the edge of the Canal Grande collapsed, sending up a deafening roar as they crumbled into rubble. Cinzia stepped back instinctively, pulling Kendra with her as the platform rose thirty meters into the air to avoid the cloud of debris that briefly rose above the lagoon before settling back to earth.
“Nothing to be alarmed about. Not all buildings were stabilized prior to the Rise.” Doctor Horvat’s lined face nodded reassuringly from the hovering screen before them, her voice broadcast across the world and to the Lunar colonies far above. “We expected some collapses. We will keep you away from the dangerous areas.”
“What if the city doesn’t stop rising?” Kendra grasped the railing, her gaze locked on the scene below.
Gio knelt next to the girl. “There’s no chance of that. The polyps have a very short lifetime…”
Cinzia was grateful to him. He probably understood the science behind all of this far better than she.
Her mind drifted.
They ate the last of the almond cantucci, savoring the hard cookies even though they were stale. Cinzia was still hungry, but she knew better than to ask for more. There was no more.
Outside, the rain had finally slowed to a constant drizzle.
Mamma ruffled her hair, managing a wan smile. “I need you to stay here, Cinzia. Someone will come for you, I promise. I will find us help.”
The helicopters had stopped coming days before, and the boats that had been plentiful the first few days, with men telling them to stay put, had bypassed their part of the city ever since.
The rumbling subsided.
Cinzia opened her eyes and looked around. For just a moment, there was absolute silence on the traghetto, along the shore, and on the sky board.
She looked over the railing.
Venice--her Venice—lay before her. It was in sad shape. Many of the landmarks she remembered were tarnished or broken. Whole zones of the city had collapsed, and except for Piazza San Marco, a green film covered the risen city. She was a ghost of her former glory.
But she was there, as solid and real as the hand before Cinzia’s face.
Bryan Cebulski is a rural California-based journalist from the Midwest who writes quiet queer speculative and literary fiction.
Scott Coatsworth lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were. He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends. A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).
Rachel Hope Crossman grew up in Athens, Greece and Berkeley, CA as the child of a linguist and an actor. Her imagination, marked by the stones of the Acropolis, the granite slabs of the Sierra Nevadas and the blues of the San Francisco Bay, is the all and everything that fuels her engine. A preschool teacher, then substitute teacher, Rachel ultimately followed her Montessori bliss to teach elementary. Mother of four grown children and author of Saving Cinderella: Fairy tales & Children in the 21st Century, (2014 Apocryphile Press), Rachel currently writes eco-fantasy and science fiction stories.
Jana Denardo is Queen of the Geeks (her students voted her in) and her home and office are shrines to any number of comic book and manga heroes along with SF shows and movies too numerous to count. There is no coincidence the love of all things geeky has made its way into many of her stories. To this day, she’s still disappointed she hasn’t found a wardrobe to another realm, a superhero to take her flying among the clouds or a roguish star ship captain to run off to the stars with her.
J.G. Follansbee is an award-winning writer of thrillers, fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories with climate change themes. An author of maritime history and travel guides, he has published articles in newspapers, regional and national magazines, and regional and national radio networks, including National Public Radio. He's also worked in the high-tech and non-profit worlds. He lives in Seattle.
Ingrid Garcia helps selling local wines in a vintage wine shop in Cádiz and writes speculative fiction in her spare time. For years, she was unpublished. But to her utter surprise—after years of receiving nothing but rejections—she’s sold stories to F&SF, and the Ride the Star Wind and Sword and Sonnet anthologies. She tweets as @ingridgarcia253and is busy preparing a personal website and—dog forbid—even thinking about writing that inevitable novel
Jennifer R. Povey was born in Nottingham, England, but she now lives in Northern Virginia, where she writes everything from heroic fantasy to stories for Analog. She has written a number of novels across multiple sub genres. Additionally, she is a writer, editor, and designer of tabletop RPG supplements for a number of companies. Her interests include horseback riding, Doctor Who and attempting to out-weird her various friends and professional colleagues.
Mere Rain is an international nonentity of mystery whose library resides in California. Mere likes travel, food, art, mythology, and you. Feel free to reach out on social media. Mere Rain has published speculative short fiction with The Mad Scientist Journal, Mischief Corner Books, Things in the Well, and Mythical Girls.
D.M. Rasch writes feminist speculative fiction for LGBTQ+ young adults and adults, exploring where the social and political meet the personal. Her characters are often found doing their best in worlds that challenge them to become their best selves. Queer representation and reaching out to LGBTQ+ youth drive her writing, informed by her MFA in Creative Writing from Regis University and two bossy sister kittens who like to edit. She identifies as a genderqueer lesbian, currently writing and working (remotely) in the Denver, CO area as a creative mentor, coach, and editor in her business, Itinerant Creative Content & Coaching LLC.
Holly Schofield travels through time at the rate of one second per second, oscillating between the alternate realities of city and country life. Her stories have appeared in Analog, Lightspeed, Escape Pod, and many other publications throughout the world. She hopes to save the world through science fiction and homegrown heritage tomatoes.
Anthea Sharp is the author of the USA Today bestselling Feyland series, where a high-tech game opens a gateway to the treacherous Realm of Faerie. In addition to the fae fantasy/cyberpunk mashup of Feyland, her current novels are set in the shadowed enchantment of the Darkwood, where dark elves and fairytale elements abound. Anthea lives in sunny Southern California where she writes, hangs out in virtual worlds, plays the Irish fiddle, and spends time with her small-but-good family.
Alex Silver (he/him) grew up mostly in Northern Maine and is now living in Canada with a spouse, two kids, and three birds. Alex is a trans guy who started writing fiction as a child and never stopped. Although there were detours through assisting on a farm and being a pharmacist along the way.
This week the Tuesday Teaser is from Quarry! It's available for pre-order and is on sale for $3.49.
“Another glass just vanished,” Forge said. This time he took the tablet and replayed a portion of the video. “Off the tray that man is carrying around. Same thing, whiskey glass with what looks like whiskey in it.”
“Let’s try this one. It wasn’t held here but in Germany.” Blair loaded another one and again they finally saw a whiskey glass vanish off a bar.
“Looks like whoever it was got pretty chatty with the bartender,” Lucas said. He sighed and leaned his elbows on the tabletop. “You know, using electronic means to aid in a big heist and one of the only solid clues was the type of whiskey the thief drank sure sounds familiar.” He looked at Forge.
Forge nodded. “I was thinking the same thing. This story is getting old.”
Declan looked between them. “You’ve run into this before?”
Holding up two fingers, Forge mouthed the word, “Twice.” He turned the tablet to face him and played another video, stopping it where another glass vanished from a man’s hand. “In fact, it was the first case Lucas and I ever worked on together in the police department.” He turned to Blair and smiled softly. “Your dad was in on it as well.”
“Yeah?” Blair’s interest was definitely piqued. He sometimes forgot Forge had known and worked with Robert Turner, an FBI agent, and knew things about him Blair probably didn’t.
“It was also about the time when things got a little…warm for me in Ohio, and I left for Europe,” Declan said.
“’Cause the big guy here”—Lucas play-punched Forge’s shoulder—“was a cop and you’re—”
“Not a cop,” Declan interjected and chuckled. “Yes. Jonas was very entrenched in Boggslake’s police department then, and it was better my face wasn’t seen for a while.”
“First time in about a hundred years that when you left for other parts, I didn’t go with you,” Forge added.
“Most importantly it was the first time a werewolf and a vampire worked together on something, publicly no less. At least in that part of the world—that we were aware of. Not only did we work together, we hung out at his house, almost living in sin.” Lucas snatched an onion ring and ate it. Forge rolled his eyes and Lucas snagged another onion ring and said, “Rocked the bedrock of social conventions and was a huge scandal!”
Blair grabbed an onion ring and stuck it in his mouth, grinning as he chewed. “So, are you going to tell us how you two changed the course of history and all?”
“I was kind of hoping you hadn’t had dinner yet and would like to join me.”
As Val got closer, he picked up a hint of cologne and saw a soft sheen on Wyatt’s salt-and-pepper hair, still damp from a recent shower. Warmth curled around Val’s belly and nestled between his legs and in his balls.
“Um…I mean, I’d like to, but…you don’t….” Val’s throat and mouth were too dry for him to talk properly.
Wyatt stepped closer, reached out with his free hand, and ran his palm lightly down Val’s arm to his hand, then took it and applied light pressure before he let go. “Val. I’m asking if you’d like to have dinner with me. For no other reason than I’d love to spend a few hours with you. And I’m hungry.”
Run for the Roses is available on Amazon in eBook and paperback. and is in Kindle Unlimited.
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Not only is Jewel Cave only $2.99 it's part of a big bundle of books all with hurty/comforty goodness!
Grabbing the bottle of shampoo, Eric nudged Jay forward a step. “Tilt.” He lathered up Jay’s hair then turned them carefully around so he could massage Jay’s scalp while he rinsed the shampoo away.
“We need to do that again,” Jay said, swaying slightly on his feet.
“Your hair is clean.”
Jay laughed softly. “Not that. Last night… that. Like right now.” His fingertips pressed against Eric’s groin, moving in small, insistent circles.
Eric kissed Jay’s long neck. “We will. Not daily, though, I haven’t got the energy for it.” Eric was starting to get a better feel for Jay’s mental state. Navigating the afterward of a first time for something this passionate could be tricky. Eric was determined not to screw it up. Telling Jay he’d have to wait and doing it the wrong way might be misconstrued as rejection on Jay’s part. Eric could take the blame and not suffer for it. They’d both be happier in the long run for his little white lie, which was only half lie anyway. “Takes a lot out of me.” He moved so he could whisper into Jay’s ear. “Besides, waiting makes it so much better. I’ll say when the next time is, keep you guessing and wanting.”
Turning in his arms, Jay smiled and oozed slowly to his knees. His fingertips pressed lightly along the ridges between Eric’s abs before his hands glided down. He pressed warm, open-mouth kisses to Eric’s belly, working his way to the hair between Eric’s legs. Winding his fingers in Jay’s hair, Eric gave a gentle tug when Jay licked and sucked a path along Eric’s hardening cock. “Not… now.”
“Please. I want to,” Jay panted.
The light bulb went off slowly; Eric’s brain was fast losing blood to his penis. Jay might have seemed cheerful and fine outwardly, but he was in need of reassurance and care. If it was necessary for Jay to be a bit clingy for a while, so be it—Eric didn’t mind one bit. In fact, he rather enjoyed the feeling spreading through his chest it provided.
Eric didn’t want to do or say something that would imply Jay was anything but highly important. “My knee is still creaky from the last time we tried something in here.” Eric reached to the faucet handles and cranked the cooling water off. “Hot water is getting scarce anyway.” He reached down and gripped Jay firmly under the arm, guiding him to his feet.
Jay lavished Eric’s shoulders and neck with sloppy kisses while Eric steered them out of the shower, through the bathroom, and to the bed. There he laid Jay on his side and took him slowly, leisurely bringing them both to a sluggish, thumping climax that bordered on lazy.
Jay threw one arm over Eric’s broad chest and bent the other, tucking it under his head. He looked at Eric, grinning. “I got you to do that before coffee, didn’t I?”
For the Long Run is available on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited.
Welcome to My World