“We’ll be able to see you as long as you don’t go into the bedrooms or bathroom. The rest of the apartment is covered,” Kai said. “With the time constraints, it’s the best that could be done.”
“I have no intention of going into her bedroom,” Blair said.
Lucas stifled a snicker. He’d found it amazing that what took half a day to accomplish in Blair’s office was put together in much less time in Bronwen’s apartment. While Lucas helped Forge occupy the building manager with questions about a supposed burglary, Blair and Declan had helped Kai and Ori install the necessary equipment so Blair would be seen as well as heard.
“If Grier shows up, we’re pulling the plug on this and getting you out,” Kai continued. “This guy is bad, kills-little-kids bad, and only a psycho werewolf does that.” He flicked at a piece of paper, then tossed it to the console.
Lucas picked up the paper and looked it over, shaking his head. “Interpol, the CIA, Scotland Yard and…the GRU—and before them the KGB—all tried catching this guy, and we get him on what is essentially a technicality.”
“We don’t have him yet,” Forge reminded him. “The guy’s a suspected terrorist.”
“Yeah, and like the fucking Taliban, no one can ever get a positive lock on his location,” Ori snarled.
“Are we sure this name and this face go together?” Blair asked.
Lucas nodded. “Even if he’s using an alias, when he went to the Coate pack for a full-moon sanctuary he’d have to provide certain information about himself and his pack that is then verified. Especially since he didn’t make his request in person.” Lucas shrugged. “You can’t tell if someone is a werewolf over the phone. And Jasper wouldn’t risk some sort of infiltration when the pack is locked up for the full moon.”
“This is what one calls a lucky break,” Kai said. “All those others chasing this asshole didn’t have a full moon and a werewolf bonded to a vampire capable of a full shift.” He turned and faced Declan. “A vampire with vast experience who knows many techniques for gathering information. A perfect storm.”
Declan stilled. His entire body radiated tension. Forge quietly put one hand on Declan’s shoulder and squeezed.
“What’s he talking about?” Lucas asked.
When Declan turned away, Forge said in a very soft voice, “We’ll get through, like always.”
“Let’s get this over with,” Declan grumbled. Forge met Lucas’s gaze and nodded once.
Ori opened the van door and said, “Time to get into position.” Blair hopped to the ground, followed by Kai.
“I should be inside that building,” Forge said and started toward the door.
Declan darted forward and grabbed his arm. “No, you shouldn’t. It’s clear that woman is attracted to Blair, and you could be a detriment, if not an out-and-out danger.” He gave Forge a shove into one of the seats. “Sit.”
Lucas was more than a little amazed when Forge sat. He grumbled under his breath, but his butt hit the seat and stayed there. Without making a sound, Declan sat beside him. Lucas was faced with reminders of the relationship between Declan and Forge and how well they knew and respected each other at the oddest times. They watched through the window as Blair, Kai, and Ori went to their respective places.
Code Name Jack Rabbit is available in eBook, paperback
and through Kindle Unlimited.
Two Tribes Series by Kristian Parker
The mean streets of Manchester are the scene for a blood thirsty gang war. But with battle lines drawn, three heroes find themselves falling in love at the worst possible time.
The war for supremacy has begun.
BOOK 3 - NEW RELEASE
Book Title: Don’t Look Back In Anger
Author: Kristian Parker
Release Date: May 30, 2023
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Trope: Second chance love
Themes: Gangster, action
Length: 50 123 words
Heat Rating: 4 flames
It is not a standalone book, but does not end on a cliffhanger.
Buy Links - Available in Kindle Unlimited
Revenge is best served cold, yet old embers can burn hot.
Lorenzo de Luca has come back to Manchester with revenge on his mind.
Supposedly killed by evil gangster Jonny Wellingham’s hitmen fifteen years ago, Lorenzo has waited a long time for this. He has to stay focused. And he does…until a past lover comes back into his life.
But old embers can spark a flame and the couple pick up where they left off—but the war has only just begun, and everyone is fair game…and Lorenzo’s distraction gives Jonny the opportunity he needs to strike a deadly blow.
Torn between his burning need for vengeance and the scorching heat of love, which will Lorenzo sacrifice?
Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, murder, organised crime, sex work, and drugs trafficking. There are also instances of homophobia.
Excerpt from Don’t Look Back In Anger
Lorenzo de Luca turned off the motorway into the suburbs of South Manchester. Back in the day, he’d had a little bedsit around here. It had been fifteen years since he’d been here. Surely they hadn’t changed the roads, though.
A building that used to house a tailor’s and now held a vape shop told him he had the right street. As he drove up, his heart sank. The little row of terraced houses that had been converted into bedsits was long gone. A soulless red-brick block sat in its place with a ton of cars outside. He supposed this was progress.
To be fair, the bedsit had been pretty ropey. One of the windows never fully shut and the neighbour used to play music at all hours of the day and night. Lorenzo hadn’t cared. He had been in his twenties and loving that he had a place to call his own. But he wouldn’t be seen dead having a coffee in a place like that these days, never mind staying the night. He had come a long way since those days.
His old home hadn’t been his main destination anyway. He parked up and walked in the footsteps of his twenty-seven-year-old self.
Many a time, he, Jonny and Harry had staggered up this street after spending some of their ill-gotten gains in the bars nearby. They’d been untouchable in those days—Lorenzo and Harry had helped Jonny take control of Manchester’s criminal underworld. Everyone cowered when Jonny Wellingham’s Boys swaggered past—their reputation for swift justice had been earned tenfold.
Lorenzo crossed the road and soon found the path he wanted. It ran up a back alley of the next street. The red brick walls of the terraces hadn’t changed. Memories flooded into his mind like a tsunami.
At the end of the alley, he came to a big car park where he and the lads would set up shop every Wednesday. A regular community operation trading out of a clapped-out Volkswagen campervan. The police had never known a thing.
At the weekends, they’d only dealt in town. However, Jonny had soon realised that a lot of people liked to have their drugs before a night out. So, he would arrange for the van to be in this out-of-the-way spot and punters would come under cover of darkness to do their shopping. One man exclaimed they could only do better if they had a reward points system.
For a moment, Jonny had actually considered it.
A number of public pathways led off the car park. They followed a network of man-made waterways that had been dug to save the area from flooding. As a by-product, they had also created a thriving nature reserve. City dwellers, starved of green space, used them for cycling, jogging and dog walking.
The area had been gentrified since Lorenzo’s day. When he had been here, these walkways were the domain of alcoholics and working girls whose customers didn’t mind a bunk up against a tree. It was hilarious to him that the middle classes now brought their kids here to study wildlife.
Lorenzo hadn’t come here to see insects or birds today. He could remember running through the car park as though the devil himself were after him. Tracing his previous footsteps, knowing what had awaited him that night, sent chills across his skin.
There had been few times in his life when he had experienced real terror. That night, fifteen years ago, still haunted his nightmares.
He’d been watching television in his little flat when they’d burst through the door. Two of them had grabbed his arms while Frank, one of Jonny’s lads, had walked up to him.
Lorenzo and Frank had always got on well. The distress at why they had come to inflict pain on him burnt as hot today as it had then. That was before Lorenzo had learnt that true loyalty was a rare diamond, to be cherished when found.
“Wellingham doesn’t like your sort,” Frank had sneered, grabbing his face. “Shirt-lifters. Problem for you is, he can’t just sack you. That leaves only one way out, Lorenzo.”
A flash of metal told him all he needed to know about Frank’s intentions. Before he could aim, Lorenzo had broken free and leapt through the downstairs window.
The scars on his calves still told that story. His legs had been burning with pain as he’d run across the tarmac, desperate to get to the darkened paths. His thinking had been that he knew this area well. He hoped his attackers didn’t.
Retracing that fateful night, he followed the twists and turns. They seemed so innocent in the cold winter sunlight. He could still remember the taste of metallic dread in his mouth. In those days, Lorenzo had been fast. Yet his pursuers had fanned out so he didn’t know which way to turn. Voices sounding from every angle sent him into a whirlpool of fear and confusion.
He rounded a hawthorn bush and stopped in his tracks. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. The little pool where my flight came to an end. The first bullet hit him like a juggernaut smashing into his shoulder. He’d lost his balance and fallen face down into the pool. The pain had seared through his body like hot knives. Instinctively, he reached up and touched where only a scar remained.
Two more bullets had hit him after that, one puncturing a lung. The other had narrowly missed any organs and gone straight through him. Doctors in his future would tell him how lucky he had been. Lying in that ice cold water, waiting to die, luck hadn’t felt very close to him.
He’d silently prayed to God to take him quickly, yet he hadn’t lost consciousness. Instead, he’d lain there, as still as possible, while his would-be assassins discussed if they’d killed him or not. Every second, he expected an insurance bullet to blow his brains out.
Then his hopes had soared when he’d thought they might be retreating. He’d barely been able to trust his ears as the sounds of his attackers faded.
Lorenzo crouched down and ran his hands through the water. The silt made it a dirty brown. He could imagine a time it would have been deep red with his blood.
Standing up, he filled his lungs with Manchester air. “I am back,” he said out loud.
Seeing the place he’d lain, terrified to even breathe, brought a resolve to him. His body had almost frozen as he lay there, waiting to be sure they had gone. Once he could take no more, he had crawled out of the pool, the blood loss and cold making him limp and unable to get up. Instead, Lorenzo had crawled to the car park. Eventually he had got to the main road and thankfully someone driving past had seen him.
They’d saved his life, and he had no idea who they were. He wished he did. They had gone before the paramedics arrived. He supposed they’d recognised him and wanted nothing more to do with it. He could understand that. A man with three gunshot wounds screamed danger. He’d been lucky they’d even dared make the emergency call.
Today he planned to be the one to make an anonymous call. Adrenaline coursed through his veins as he got out the piece of paper with a number written on it. He’d got it from his nephew’s friend. She’d thought he intended to use it to taunt Jonny. In a way he did, although he had a much more important outcome on his mind too.
With a shaking hand, he connected the call.
“Who is this?” came the voice that he hadn’t heard in decades yet still seemed so familiar to him. “This is a private number. How did you get it?”
“It’s a blast from your past,” Lorenzo replied.
“Tell me who you are.”
“Meet me at the location I message to you,” Lorenzo continued. “And all will be revealed. Come alone if you want me to show myself.”
He terminated the call. The fish was on the hook. Now he just had to reel it in.
CHECK OUT THE FIRST TWO BOOKS IN THE SERIES
Book Title: Fool’s Gold
Author: Kristian Parker
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Cover Artist: Erin Dameron-Hill
Release Date: March 14, 2023
Genre Contemporary M/M Romance
Tropes: Forbidden love, opposites attract
Themes: Gangster, action
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 52 069 words/233 pages
It is not a standalone book, but does not end on a cliffhanger
Buy Links - Available in Kindle Unlimited
Liam Moseley has been living a lie ever since he joined Manchester’s notorious crime boss Jonny Wellingham ten years ago. Liam is gay, and that could get him killed in the deadly world he has fallen into.
When he meets handsome Italian Marco Ponti, Liam’s whole world is turned on its head. Marco is in town looking for business opportunities for his uncle in Rome, and makes Liam see his life in a brand-new light.
But all is not as it seems, especially when Marco shows Liam the past isn’t always as it appears and the future can change in the blink of an eye. In a dangerous world where each job could be Liam’s last, he finds himself fighting for love as well as survival.
Liam will have to put everything he holds dear on the line to make his dreams come true.
Excerpt from Fool's Gold
“So you’re Manchester born and bred?” Marco asked.
“Can’t you tell by the accent?” Liam replied.
Marco beamed. “I love the Manc accent. It’s so…expressive.”
“That’s the first time I’ve heard it called that before,” Liam said. “I’d rather have an Italian one.”
“You find it sexy?”
Marco’s eyes dared him to answer honestly. Something about this guy gave Liam confidence. No man had ever had this effect on him. “Yeah, I do,” he replied before glancing down.
“Why do you do that?” Marco asked, leaning forward, his elbows on the table.
“Do what?” he asked.
“Break eye contact every time you say something. Are you ashamed?”
Liam shifted uncomfortably. “No, it’s not that.”
“Tell me what it is, then?” Marco asked, his voice soothing and sincere.
“I guess I don’t think I have anything to say worth listening to,” he replied, eventually.
To his astonishment, Marco’s foot connected with his leg. The pressure told him it was absolutely on purpose.
“I respectfully disagree, Liam. I think I’d listen to you. Whatever you had to say.”
He had that burning sensation on his neck again. It had made him so paranoid at school.
“Sorry, I have made you blush,” Marco continued.
“Don’t worry about it. I always bloody blush. They called me Po at school because of it.”
Marco frowned. “What?”
“The red Teletubby?” Liam expected him to burst into that laughter again. Most people did when he confided this, but instead, Marco just shook his head.
“Kids can be so cruel. But who cares? They are in your past.”
“Yeah, they’re probably sweeping up shit in the hospital now. Serves them right.”
This time Marco did seem amused. “Said with true passion. I like it. So, what do you do, Liam?”
Here it came. The inevitable question. He could hardly say he was a lackey for one of the biggest gangsters in the northwest of England, so he reverted to his stock answer. “Oh, you know, bit of this, bit of that. How about you?”
“As I said, my uncle works in shipping. I’m over here seeing if there is any potential to expand to Manchester.”
Liam nodded. “The city is booming. You could do a lot worse.”
“That’s what I thought. I like what I see more and more.”
The look which followed that statement practically oozed with intent. This time, Liam forced himself to meet Marco’s gaze. “I’ve never been to Italy, but maybe I should,” he replied. “Rome seems pretty good from where I’m sitting.”
“Ah, you definitely should,” Marco said, leaning back. “It is beautiful. I’ve been the length and breadth of it with my job. I worked in Venice recently. Bellissima.”
Liam had seen pictures of the water world on television. “Better than the canals in Manchester. They’re just full of shopping trolleys and used condoms.”
Marco laughed again. It was so loud and carefree that Liam had to stop himself from looking around to see if anyone noticed. But he forced himself to relax and ended up giggling along with him. It had been so long since he’d done something like this.
“This is better,” Marco said.
“You are relaxing. You seemed very tense earlier,” Marco said. “I thought perhaps you’d changed your mind about me.”
“Oh, nothing like that,” Liam said hurriedly. “It’s just that I’m not out, you see. I don’t normally do this.”
Marco’s stunning eyes widened. “Who isn’t out these days?”
Shaking his head, Liam took a swig of his drink. “Me,” he said, placing the drink down. “In my line of work, it isn’t the done thing.”
A group of lads banged through the door. Liam frantically scanned each face but didn’t recognise any of them.
“Wow. I can’t imagine being in the closet. At my eighteenth birthday party, I came out. I figured if I had to enter adulthood, people should know what they were dealing with. Although I like to make a statement now and then. It keeps them on their toes.”
The lads were being quite rowdy. Even the barman appeared nervous.
“You’re very brave,” Liam said.
“Not really. My uncle is gay too, so it was a well-beaten path. No one in our family cares as long as you’re healthy and happy.”
Marco chuckled, but Liam couldn’t relax. He watched the group of lads out of the corner of his eye. He could spot trouble a mile off, and these lads were desperate for it.
“We’re a long way from perfect, believe me,” Marco said. “But we get by.”
Liam drained his glass. “You want another?”
Marco shook his head. “There are a lot of things I’d like from you, Liam…but another drink is not one of them.”
The change in tempo took Liam by surprise. Heat crept over his face and he didn’t know what to say in return. He had never been any good at the whole game-playing thing. “Just nipping to the loo,” he managed before bolting for the door.
Book Title: Everything Changes
Author: Kristian Parker
Release Date: April 11, 2023
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Trope: Close proximity
Themes: Gangster, action
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 50 578 words
It is not a standalone book, but does not end on a cliffhanger
Buy Links - Available in Kindle Unlimited
Fear can open doors we never dreamt possible.
Shaun Moseley is in a trap and it's all his brother, Liam' s fault.
Living a normal life running a B&B in Blackpool, he finds himself right in the middle of a gang turf war in Manchester. Shaun is an alien in this horrifying new world of drugs, guns and violence.
Shaun rebels against everyone, isolating himself in the process. But a terrifying experience opens his eyes to gang member Enzo Ponti. Shaun may be trapped for the time being, but that doesn’t mean he can't have a little fun along the way, right?
He dismissed Enzo as just another hired killer but when he scratches the surface, he finds much more there.
But evil gangster, Jonny Wellingham, wants revenge on the gang and has set his sights on Shaun. Can he live long enough to find just how deep Enzo' s waters are?
Excerpt from Everything Changes
They stood side by side, watching some birds flocking over the reservoir.
“When I was in a yoga retreat in Kathmandu, they had all sorts of gay-coloured birds,” Shaun said. “All we have are shitty brown things.”
He kicked a stone.
“I’ve seen you doing your yoga,” Enzo said. “Did you learn it on your travels? You should come and do some weights with me and Giovanni. It would be far more beneficial than getting yourself into silly poses.”
“Have you been perving over me then?”
Enzo reddened. “It’s not a big house. You can’t help it.”
Shaun regretted his big mouth. Enzo had done something kind for him and he should make an effort not to shoot him down every time he tried to speak. They wandered a little farther down the path.
“It’s weird to think that my whole childhood was spent in that place,” Shaun said, nodding to Manchester in the distance. “Where did you grow up?”
“I grew up in Rome. Well, a little village about an hour out of the city. I was very lucky in a lot of ways, but…”
Shaun glanced at him. He found him difficult to read, but there was definite pain there.
“Being attracted to men was not part of that world. Not until Uncle Z came. He changed everyone’s view.”
Shaun whirled around. “You’re gay?” he asked in astonishment.
Enzo raised an eyebrow. “Is it so surprising? Marco. Uncle Z.”
“Bloody hell,” Shaun said. “My gaydar is way out of sync.”
“Perhaps if you’d spoken to me once in a while, you’d have had a better chance of figuring me out,” Enzo said.
His words weren’t spiteful but simply stating a fact. A fact Shaun couldn’t even begin to deny. Embarrassment burnt over his skin. He had been behaving obstructively since coming to the farm. Now he could see himself through Enzo’s eyes and he didn’t like it. “Have I been such a bitch?” he ventured.
Enzo glanced over at him and winked. Shaun had noticed that Enzo was handsome—it was impossible not to. But he hadn’t taken the time to see his dark brown eyes or the way they crinkled at the sides when he smiled. Whether it was the fact he’d just saved his life or something deeper, Shaun imagined staring into those eyes and losing himself.
“We should get back,” he said. “I need to finish tonight’s dinner. I know my place and I don’t fancy being shouted at by Marco for not doing it.”
“And there he goes,” Enzo muttered. “Back into his shell. You would find this whole experience a damned sight easier if you were a little nicer to those around you. We are not all villains, you know.”
Once again, a flash of rage blew through Shaun’s system. He didn’t want to be schooled in how to be a gangster. Not by anyone, no matter how deep their eyes were.
“Thank you for the advice on how to survive a fucking gang war that I want nothing to do with,” he snapped. “I was terrified today, Enzo. Do you understand what that means? I can’t just toe the line and chuckle while my brother or any of you go out there time and again. If I get to know you, like you, it just adds to my fears. I can’t do it. I won’t.”
He was babbling now, but his mouth couldn’t seem to stop. To his amazement, Enzo came over and wrapped his arms around him. Shaun fitted perfectly, his head nestling in the crook of Enzo’s neck.
Enzo’s strong arms instantly calmed him and the shivers he had been battling since he got in the car simply disappeared.
“I get terrified too,” Enzo said softly.
“How do you stand it?”
“I have no idea. You’re not the only one in the whirlpool, I suppose.”
Shaun looked up just as Enzo stared down at him. Their lips were almost touching, but then reality hit Shaun like a sledgehammer. Having an affair with a gangster had put his brother in the hospital. He had no intention of spinning that particular bottle.
He broke away, trying to ignore the hurt on Enzo’s face. “They’ll be missing us now,” he said, smoothing down his jacket.
About the Author
I have written for as long as I could write. In fact, before, when I would dictate to my auntie. I love to read, and I love to create worlds and characters.
I live in the English countryside. When I’m not writing, I like to get out there and think through the next scenario I’m going to throw my characters into.
Inspiration can be found anywhere, on a train, in a restaurant or in an office. I am always in search of the next character to find love in one of my stories. In a world of apps and online dating, it is important to remember love can be found when you least expect it.
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signed paperbacks of each book in the series.
Book Title: Don’t Date A DILF (Rules We Break, Book 1)
Author: DJ Jamison
Publisher: Must Love Books LLC
Cover Artist: Morningstar Ashley
Release Date: May 25, 2023
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Tropes: Single dad, teacher/parent, fake dating, small town
Themes: Small town life, family, starting over, bi/pan awakening
Heat Rating: 5 flames
Length: 95 000 words
This is Book 1 in a new series. It does not end on a cliffhanger.
Buy Links - Available in Kindle Unlimited
I have one rule to live by: Don't Date a DILF.
Clark’s voice filtered in from the hallway.
“Nana, for the last time, I was trying… Yeah, well, maybe I should run all your proposed dates through my friends first if you think Percy Helix was a good choice!”
I smirked at his sass, then had to muffle a laugh when he followed it up with, “No, I’m not being sassy. I’m sorry, Nana.”
Fuck, that was adorable.
Clark was a grown man who had his shit together far more than I ever would, and yet here he was, getting scolded by his grandmother. There was something so sweet and wholesome about that.
He glanced toward the classroom and caught sight of me through the doorway. He held up one finger, in the universal sign to wait a minute.
“We can talk more later, Nana. I have a parent here for a meeting, okay? But I really don’t think another setup is a good idea… Because I don’t. Because it’s uncomfortable!” He groaned theatrically. “Yes, okay, we’ll talk later.”
He lowered the phone and turned toward me.
I winced. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop.”
He shrugged. “Well, you were at the pub, so…not like you didn’t know already.”
“Your nana feels pretty strongly about setting you up with a date, huh?”
“My mother hassles me every time we talk too,” I said.
“Must be something in the water,” Clark said with a pout.
“Yeah, I actually lost my cool at work. Yelled at Tucker about how everyone in this town wants me to date. You know what we should do?”
“Go on a date together.” I laughed. “That would shut everyone up.”
Clark’s eyes widened. “I think it would do the opposite.”
“You know what I mean though. Can’t set up a couple of guys who are already dating.” I wiggled my eyebrows. “Genius, right?”
About the Author
DJ Jamison writes romances about everyday life and extraordinary love featuring a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual. DJ grew up in the Midwest in a working-class family, and those influences can be found in her writing through characters coping with real-life problems: money troubles, workplace drama, family conflicts and, of course, falling in love. DJ spent more than a decade in the newspaper industry before chasing her first dream to write fiction. She spent a lifetime reading before that and continues to avidly devour her fellow authors’ books each night. She lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, one snake, and a sadistic cat named Birdie.
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Val watched, fascinated, when Stein’s gun hand was shoved upward as Wyatt appeared in the door. After a brief struggle, Wyatt grabbed Stein’s collar and slammed his head into the side of the trailer. Wyatt disassembled the handgun, scattering the pieces as he came through the door, and stalked across the trailer, muttering under his breath as he stepped over Stein’s unconscious body. He headed straight for Mickey.
Mickey yelled. He was on his feet and holding the pipe again. The swing Mickey took never slowed Wyatt down. He was like a mongoose striking a cobra. Wyatt grabbed the pipe with one hand, yanked Mickey closer, and slammed the heel of his hand into Mickey’s nose. A few more blows, and the pipe dropped to the floor. Mickey staggered back, landing on his rear. When he started pushing up, Wyatt pointed at him and warned, “Stay down.”
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Run for the Roses is available in eBook, paperback
and through Kobo Plus.
M.W. Lee has a new MM fantasy romance out: Balancing the Weave.
For Mark, Pride weekend in Yamasee County, South Carolina, means spending the day with friends, flirting with the out-of-town men, finding a romance, drinking too much, and enjoying all of Pride. However, the Fates have arrived to address a hole which appeared in the tapestry representing Mark, his past, and his present, which will direct him to the future.
Throughout the day, the Fates confront Mark with memories both pleasant and painful about his former lover Sammy. Parcae uses her goddess tools to manipulate Mark’s thoughts so he remembers fun dates, fights, issues which make him uncomfortable, and accusations of being needy. Was it Sammy’s neediness that caused Mark to end the relationship? Or was Mark the needy companion? When Sammy once said Mark ain’t needy, what did he mean?
Can the goddesses help Mark work through these memories so his self-evaluation can lead to better relationships in the future?
M.W. is giving away a $20 JMS Books gift card with this tour:
Parcae stood to stretch her legs while allowing Mark time to reflect about what he just remembered while she strategized her next affront.
Mark refused to consider the significance of the memory, choosing instead to attempt to hide in sleep.
Parcae considered. It seems to me that if left alone, his memory inclines toward dishonesty. In lying to himself, he can’t or won’t learn. He needs to ask himself who he was in the relationship, but most importantly, who he was to Sammy. He needs to face this honestly.
She nosed about the room, acting like a nosy mother-in-law eavesdropping on the private conversation in the adjacent the next room.
“I wonder,” she spoke out loud to Mark, “why did Sammy date you?”
Mark though for a moment before replying, I liked his sense of humor.
Parcae sighed. “That’s you, not him.”
“You going to include dick size too, shallow man?” Parcae snapped. “I asked why he—” she stressed the he “—dated you.”
I don’t know why he dated me. We never talked about it, Mark thought, matching her snappy tone.
“Yes, you did. Remember, after you’d been dating for a couple of months, he told you.”
Mark searched for the memory without finding it, so he remained still, his mind becoming blank.
Parcae ambled about the room, swishing her crinolines, which sounded like children playing in piles of dead autumn leaves. The sound cleared the air around Mark, and he felt the pinch of crisp autumn evenings, smelled the scents of autumn, burning leaves, warm cider, and funnel cakes. Mark’s memory opened and brought him back to the first Friday in October, when he and Sammy decided on an impromptu date to ride rides, play bad carnival games, and eat junk food at the Big Seven County Fair.
A smile came across Mark’s face, which Parcae noticed and approved. Instead of allowing him to rely on his own memory to show his past, she created a vivid memory so that she could observe how the memory touched him.
“Exactly,” Parcae said. “A good memory. Good memories bring clarity to past relationships.”
Mark thought, How do they do that?
“Comparison,” Parcae said. “Who you were then compared to who you were when you broke up.”
As her crinolines swished, Mark’s memory cleared. Instead of a scene being replayed as a motion picture, the memory flashed a series of slides so that Mark experienced a photo album of their date at the fair. The view was that of the gods.
Mark observed –
Mark and Sammy laughing as Mark pressed against him on the scrambler. Sammy’s wide mouth created a half joking yet half fearful expression.
Mark commented, When the ride stopped, Sammy showed me that the mechanism hadn’t closed properly.
The next slide: Mark exaggerated a baseball pitch as he attempted the Milk Bottle Toss. Sammy stood with his hands in prayer position against his mouth with an exaggerated hopeful expression.
Mark thought, I could just be silly with him, and he’d join in.
The next slide: Both of them standing in line for the Spook House. Mark noticed his arm resting on Sammy’s shoulder, as if he were leaning on Sammy.
Mark observed, I was being affectionate but unsure because of the location. Sammy never seemed bothered.
The next slide: Mark saw them sitting at a small picnic table under a canopy at the Penniless Pig, sharing a large plate of loaded fries. The slide transformed to a motion picture.
“What were you doing on the swings?” Mark asked.
“Being silly,” Sammy laughed as he devoured some fries. “In Germany, riders get the swings to spin around, and they reach for each other, and push each other back and forth. It gets harder as the ride gets faster. I was trying to do that.”
“Is that allowed?” Mark asked.
“Don’t know,” Sammy said. “since all we do is sit, either it isn’t allowed or no one’s thought of it. But ... um ...” Sammy paused.
Mark noticed Sammy glancing away, smiling, embarrassed, in that special kind of embarrassment when the lover admits he likes the beloved. On the sofa, Mark recognized his heart’s increase of excitement.
“Well,” Sammy continued, “Sometimes a couple would reach out and grab hands and pull each other closer. I was attempting to be romantic.”
“Did you want to hold hands?” Mark asked affectionately, without a hint of mockery.
M.W. Lee studied English at Limestone University in South Carolina, and DePaul University in Illinois. He has led many lives, as an adjunct professor, data entry clerk, ESA teacher in Saudi Arabia. Currently, he has a new day career as an HIV case manager with the Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center. His personal essay, “The Sea and Debussy” appeared in the on-line journal The Scarlet Leaf Review in October 2021.
Lee works during the day and writes at night. “Balancing the Weave” is his first published novella. He enjoys reading a wide range of fiction; however, space operas, dystopian, and post-apocalyptic fiction are his favorites. He is currently writing a crime novel.
Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/groups/feed/
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Nick’s woven pants were yanked off and tossed away. Todd reached out and hooked a finger under Nick’s collar, hauling his mate up and onto his lap before crushing his mouth to Nick’s and not letting up on the kiss until they were both gasping for air. Hands in Nick’s hair, he jerked back hard, licking along Nick’s jaw until he found the shell of Nick’s ear. Then he smoothed his tongue over Nick’s ear and hissed out, “You’re mine. I’m yours.” Using light, touches with just his tongue, Todd moved slowly down Nick’s body, licking up the salty moisture. “I love you, Nicky.”
“You,” Nick gasped out, arching and stretching beneath him, a quivering mass of skin and hard-packed muscle, bucking to meet each of Todd’s powerful thrusts. “too, love you. Just us.”
When they’d given each other everything and Todd could breathe normally again he pulled Nick up by his wrists, kissed him tenderly and deeply, wrapped both arms around him and held him tightly, lightly rubbing Nick’s back. He scooted off Nick, took his hand, and hefted him off the bed. “C’mon.” He led Nick to the bathroom and started the shower.
Todd pushed Nick to his knees and thoroughly scrubbed his hair before nudging Nick back to his feet. Taking Nick’s hands in his, Todd first washed himself down, then Nick.
“I could kill them for what they did to you.” Todd ran his fingers over the ridges of Nick’s ribs, dipping into the hollows between them, then over the jut of Nick’s hip and into the concave spot where it met Nick’s belly.
“Todd.” Nick pressed his lips to Todd’s neck, and he stepped closer so every inch of his body was against Todd’s.
“But we’re not going back there, ever.” Taking Nick’s head in both hands, Todd kissed his forehead. “I promise. I’ll just chop some wood or something ’til I burn off the anger.”
“I like the or something idea.”
They stayed in the shower, caressing and holding, not leaving until the water ran cold.
Marked Yours is available in eBook and paperback.
Book Title: Love on Page Six (Entertaining Love, book 2)
Author: Claerie Kavanaugh
Cover Artist: Cath Grace Designs
Release Date: June 26, 2023
Genres: Sapphic Contemporary Romance
Tropes: actor /performer, Celebrity/Socialite/Model, Hollywood, movie set, Friends to Lovers
Themes: Against All Odds, Character w/Disability, Coming Out, Femme/Femme
Interracial/Multicultural Relationship, Slow Burn
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Length: 60 000 words/ 240 pages
It is a standalone book and does not end on a cliffhanger.
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An actress with a secret, a journalist with a dream, and forbidden love that could change everything.
Bridget Blake has only ever wanted one thing in her life: to be herself. But her overbearing momanger insists showing the world who she really is would mean the death of her blossoming career. So when the new makeup artist fights her way under Bridget’s perfectly moisturized, paparazzi-proof skin, it’s everything she can do to keep the façade in place. Until one spontaneous kiss turns her world upside down. With Daphne, Bridget is the brave, fun-loving, take-no-prisoners girl she’s always wanted to be. But embracing her new self may mean leaving behind everything she’s ever worked for. Is love really worth it?
Book two in the standalone sapphic celebrity romance series Entertaining Love.
Excerpt The Meet Cute
A movement catches my attention as I hesitantly reach for a shimmering eyeshadow palette young woman with black curly hair and gold-rimmed glasses browses the store with ease. Her hands expertly select items from the shelves as she navigates the space in her manual wheelchair.
She looks up a second later, and her brown eyes meet mine with a flicker of recognition. She freezes, pursing her lips before finally rolling towards me with a warm smile.
“Hi there.” Her voice is soft and melodic with a hint of a Hispanic accent.. “Welcome to the Mystic Beauty. I couldn’t help but notice you look a bit lost. Can I help you find something?”
I adopt an affected Southern drawl. The last thing I need is for my stupidity about something as simple as make-up to be splattered all over the tabloids. “I, um, I’m just looking for some makeup…” Well, duh. I mentally facepalm myself. Why else would I be here? I pluck one from a nearby display and hold it up with an exaggerated flourish. “Clearly, I’m a bit lost.”
“Of course!” she replies, wheeling next to me and holding out her free hand. “I’m Daphne.”
“Nice to meet you, Daphne,” I say. “I’m… Sarah.”
“Sarah” is the first name that comes to mind, and I hope it’s generic enough not to invite suspicion. Daphne’s hand is warm and steady as she shakes mine, and I can’t help but be grateful for her genuine kindness.
“Alright, Sarah,” she says, releasing my hand and gesturing toward a display of eyeshadow palettes. “Let’s find you something that suits your style.”
As we navigate the aisles, Daphne explains different products and techniques easily. After a few minutes, I no longer feel like an idiot for asking one too many questions I should definitely already know the answer to after so many years in the film industry. But rather someone just trying to take the time to learn a new trade. The longer we wander through the aisles, the more. I find myself becoming intrigued by this mysterious woman who clearly has a passion for her craft.
“Can I ask about your makeup?” I ask, admiring the delicate lines of gold and silver that frame her brown eyes. “It’s stunning.”
“Thank you,” A blush colors her cheeks and I bite back a smile of my own. She’s cute when she’s flustered. “I’m an aspiring special effects makeup artist. I love playing with different styles and trying new things.”
“Wow,” I exhale softly. “That’s really amazing.” It’s not just her skill that impresses me, but the genuine joy in her expression. Just saying the word seems to light up the room, and I can’t help craving more of it from her. As we continue our conversation, I slowly lower my sunglasses, allowing Daphne to see my green eyes.
“By the way, if you ever need any help or advice in the future, feel free to reach out to me,” She hands me a small business card with her contact information. “You seem like someone who could use a friend.”
I take the card with a grateful smile.
“I may just have to take you up on that.” I wink, and we share a laugh. My heart skips a bit, and my chest as a blush pinkens her cheeks.
“Great!” Daphne smiles warmly as she expertly navigates her wheelchair down the aisles, pointing out more products and explaining their uses. I listen intently, absorbing every word like a sponge. “Primer is important for long-lasting makeup,” she explains, handing me a small tube to examine. “And don’t forget about setting powder!”
“Good to know,” I muse, turning the tub between my fingers. “You know my makeup artist was recently fired,” I confess quietly, glancing around and relieved to find out the store is mostly empty. “It’s been really frustrating trying to find someone new who understands my style.”
Daphne’s features soften with sympathy. “I’m sorry to hear that. What kind of look were you going for?”
I hesitate, dipping my head down and running my hands along my arms. “I’m… honestly not sure. I don’t know as much about makeup as I probably should.”
Her eyes light up, and she squeezes my hand. That’s OK. We can figure it out together. I actually have some ideas if you’re interested.”
“Really?” My heart flutters with anticipation. “I would love that.”
As we continue to explore the store, Daphne’s passion and creativity spark my own. I can’t help but feel drawn to her, her talent and kindness shining through with every word. The longer we talk, the more amazed I am that this woman barely knows me has already offered me more understanding and support than most people in my life.
“Thank you, Daphne,” I murmur, briefly taking her hand in mine. “You have no idea how much this means to me.”
“Of course.” As we stand between shelves of sparkling eyeshadows and vibrant lipsticks, I watch Daphne’s deft fingers pluck an iridescent shade from its perch. The glittering powder dusts her fingertips as she swipes it gently across my hand, creating a shimmering arc of color. “This would look amazing on you,” she says, grinning. “It’ll bring out the green in your eyes.”
“Wow, that’s beautiful,” I breathe, captivated by the way the light dances across the tiny flecks of pigment. “Do you really think I could pull it off?”
Daphne smiles bashfully and flicks her hand through the air. I’m sure you could pull anything off.” She laughs, and I can’t help but feel a flutter in my chest. The way her eyes crinkle at the corners and her lips curve into a smile… it’s all so enticing.
For the rest of the afternoon, Daphne guides me through the store, picking out different shades and colors for me to try on.
Daphne’s face lights up as we pause by a display of elaborate prosthetics. “I love special effects makeup,” she confesses as she gently fingers one of the masks. “It’s such a powerful way to transform someone and tell a story.”
“Really? Did you study it?”
Daphne nods, but her smile dims. “I did, but finding work has been difficult, especially because of my disability. Some people just can’t see past the wheelchair.”
A pulse of anger flares through me, but I stamp it down. This woman is a stranger. I remind myself. Still, I hate how judgmental people can be. “I’m sorry, Daphne. That’s so unfair.”
“Thank you.” Her brown eyes meet mine and my throat dries up. “But I won’t let it stop me. I know what I’m capable of, and someday, the right opportunity will come along.”
Her determination and resilience never cease to amaze me. Nodding I plant my hands on my hips. “I know it will.” Suddenly, an idea takes root in my mind. A bold, daring idea that could change both our lives. “Daphne,” I begin, my voice wavering with nerves. “I have a proposition for you.”
She tips her head to the side and I grin.
“Would you consider being my personal makeup artist?” The words tumble out before I can second-guess myself. “I know it’s not special effects, but I think together, we could create something amazing.”
The faint scent of lavender fills my nostrils as I watch Daphne’s eyes dart back and forth. Her fingers tap the armrest of her wheelchair, betraying her uncertainty.
“I… I don’t know, Bridget,” she hedges, looking down at her lap. “I’m so honored, but… I can’t I just started down at the warehouse and I can’t just abandon my crew.”
Oh. My heart sinks. “Of course. But if you change your mind…”
“Gracias.” Daphne smiles weakly, the gold rims of her glasses catching the store’s fluorescent lights.
“De nada,” I murmur softly, warmth blossoming in my chest.
“Now, let’s get back to finding the perfect makeup for you, shall we?”
The corners of her mouth lift into a genuine smile, and I watch as her hands deftly select products, her fingers moving with practiced ease despite the tremors that sometimes betray her. Her passion for her craft is evident in every gesture, and it only strengthens my belief that she’s the perfect person for the job.
“Thank you, Daphne, “I say as she bags up all my purchases a few minutes later.
She smiles, and my pulse speeds up again. “You’re welcome, Sarah. I’m just glad I could help.” She folds the last of my purchases into the bag and hands it over to me with a nod.
Daphne’s cheeks flame scarlet as I scrawl my number on her hand. “Here,” I say, trying not to let my embarrassment show. “If you ever change your mind, feel free to call or text any time.”
Her gaze flits between the numbers and me. Finally, she gives a small nod and murmurs her thanks. As I back away, feeling oddly proud of myself for taking such a risk, Daphne watches me go with an intensity that leaves me slightly breathless.
About the Author
Claerie Kavanaugh has spent most of her life telling stories, but she never imagined herself writing romance. In fact, she used to think it should only be reserved for Hallmark movies. It wasn't until college, when she discovered fanfiction, that she learned what romance was truly about: not just fluffy relationships and happily-ever-afters, but human connection, the desire to push one another to be better, and create hope that somewhere, somehow, everyone has someone.
When she's not writing, she loves to travel and explore new cultures, helping other authors polish their works as a freelance editor, and singing while doing so. Broadway musicals are her soul-food, something her mother and sister know well. She constantly blasts the newest soundtrack through the halls of their Missouri home, much to the chagrin of her very sassy and spoiled cat.
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My snippet this week is from my erotic romantic thriller,
For the Long Run.
Scanning the surrounding woods, Eric searched for marks or clues in the trees standing nearby. “Yeah, I bet….” When he turned on his heels, looked up and caught sight of Jay, he let his voice trail off. Peeling off the gloves, he stood and dumped them in the trash bag sitting near the body. “I’ve seen enough. Can I get copies of all the reports and evidence?”
“Sure. I’ll send them over to the resort, now that there is someone working there who’d know what to do with them,” O’Dell said. She seemed amiable enough.
“Appreciate it.” Lengthening his stride, he climbed the few feet to the guardrail and road. He gripped Jay’s elbow and turned him around, aiming him at the car. Leaning in close to Jay, he spoke in a low enough voice no one else would hear. “Hey, hey, none of that. You might think turning green is a clever way to blend in, but it’s not.”
“Oh, pal, don’t even say it. I know that look.”
Jay probably had no real clue he was being hustled away from the body and toward Eric’s car. After stopping only long enough to unlock the door and shove Jay inside, Eric jogged to the driver’s side, got in, and started the car, pulling away as fast as possible without looking like he was making a getaway. Once around a bend in the road, he pulled to the side again. Reaching over, he curled his fingers around Jay’s neck and applied firm, steady pressure to the back of his neck.
Find a nice collection of snippets in
the Rainbow Snippets Facebook group.
For the Long Run is available through all your favorite online stores in eBook, paperback and in Kobo Plus
E.W. Doc Parris has a new sci-fi/horror book out: The Dent in the Universe. And there's a giveaway - a $50 Amazon gift card.
To resuscitate his fading celebrity, tech CEO Stephen Lucas would sell his soul for one more hit. When the subspace network for his holographic gaming empire crashes, his hardware guru makes a discovery proving that, though the mechanics may differ a bit, Einstein was right once again— information can be sent backward in time.
Lucas sees a dream product for procrastinators. Want a pizza now? Send your order back in time 30 minutes. Forgot to make reservations at that chichi french restaurant two weeks ago? No worries. Buy that PowerBall ticket. Invest in that stock. Make a FaceTime call to a loved one that passed away a month ago.
In a culture built on instant gratification, Lucas knows he has a hit that will make Wall Street sit up and beg. But when he rushes into beta testing, he learns that the stuff dreams are made of can quickly become the stuff of nightmares.
Warnings: violence, torture, body horror, branding, implied cannibalism.
Doc is giving away a $50 Amazon gift card:
Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47282/?
Stephen picked up the keyboard and typed, Watson, come here. I want to see you.
Before he hit enter, the display on his right blinked and displayed a log entry. The display directly in front of him showed the log of the interaction, a white line of text that showed what he’d typed, Watson, come here. I want to see you, and the time sent, 630231 milliseconds. The display on the right, the one that flashed before he hit enter, showed the same.
Walrus said, “Look at the timestamps. The sending input occurred at 630231 milliseconds. The receiving event happened at 629931 milliseconds.”
Stephen looked puzzled. “The clocks are off? That’s a 300…?” he checked his math, “300-millisecond difference.”
Walrus grinned. “Negative 300 milliseconds. The clocks aren’t off.”
“The time server is off?” Stephen knew that was the culprit in the outage.
Walrus shook his head. “Nope. These two chips are in perfect sync to FTL time.”
Stephen stopped and thought. The message appeared to be arriving 300 milliseconds before it was sent. “I’m not getting it,” he said.
Walrus laughed and did his little dance again. “Yes! You are! Tell me what you see.”
Stephen said slowly, “The message looks like it’s being received before it was sent, 300 milliseconds before.” Walrus grinned, and Stephen continued, “But that’s not possible. What’s causing the discrepancy? If the clocks aren’t wrong and the time server was working properly…?” He shook his head.
Walrus’s grin widened. “It’s a time machine.”
Stephen leaned back a bit from the desk. “Right.” Walrus let it sink in. “What do you mean?” He thought Walrus was speaking metaphorically.
Walrus laughed and said, “I mean, this is a time machine.”
Stephen looked at the set-up in front of him. It was a hacked sChip on a breadboard and a couple of displays strung together with cables and alligator clips. This wasn’t a time machine.
Walrus relented. “I’ve tweaked the power supply to dial in a tiny phase variance in the I/O to this sChip, like our customer did by accident. The tensor array interpreted this as an attribute, sending the signal to a point in time before it was sent. 300 milliseconds before. About a third of a second.”
Stephen recalled the chain of events. The right display refreshed a fraction of a second before he hit enter. Examining the log, what he had typed was there. Watson, come here. I want to see you.
He frowned and thought for a few seconds. “A third of a second? It’s the least impressive time machine imaginable,” he said. “This crashed the time servers?”
Walrus nodded, finished his cola, tossed its crushed container in the recycling bin, and peeled open another. “Essentially. I’ve cleaned up the effect, and I’m not messaging the time server. The timeserver would have ignored an invalid time sync transaction. It’s programmed to dump garbage bits. This wasn’t garbage, it was a perfectly normal sync transaction, but the handshake was out of order. The time server software questioned its own reality. It wobbled, tried to regain its equilibrium, and tipped into cascade failure.”
“It’s fascinating, but…” Hard-wired by the last six years to search for a new product, Stephen's mind was searching for a use for what he was seeing. “I mean, it is cool, but it’s useless—a weird trick of physics. What can we do with it?” He thought for a little more. “This is IP data?”
Walrus shrugged, “It’s a packet like any other packet.”
“So, if it’s packets, then it’s IP, then it’s anything. Form data, text, jpegs, audio, video, holo.”
Walrus nodded and grinned, “Sure. You could surf the web of 300 milliseconds ago…”
Stephen interrupted him, “Can we extend that? Could we rig these in series? Go back further?”
“We could do it more elegantly than that—How much further?”
“You tell me, what’s the theoretical limit?”
“Well, you’d need a receiver. So whatever we end up making would only go back to the first chips that go online. We make a chip today, turn it on, in a week, we could go back to that moment but not before, right? The longer we’re online, the further back we can send things.”
Stephen shook his head. “We couldn’t go back further than tonight?”
Walrus nodded. “There would be nothing to send it to. As soon as we flip the switch on our time machine, we’d be establishing a time horizon. But say we turned on a receiving device tonight. In a year, you could send a message back to tonight. That would be a year in your past. In two years, you could send a message back two years, on and on, until the end of the world.” He laughed and said, “You know that old site, The Way Back Machine? The internet archive? This would be like that but live. You could actually surf the web of the past. Leaving comments on a video from a year earlier.”
Stephen frowned dismissively and said, “What good would that do? I can leave a comment on that same video today. The entire internet is available back to the 90s.”
Walrus smiled, “But it’d be radical!” Radical was not the goal. Stephen needed a killer application, a product everyone would want. Walrus’s stomach growled loudly. “Man,” he said, “I’m starving. Wanna order a pizza? Hey man, that’s what we could do!” he said jokingly, “We could use it to order pizza a half hour ago, so it arrives…” and he snapped his fingers.
Stephen froze. His pupils widened. Instant Pizza. Instant delivery. Instant gratification.
The entire computer industry of the last forty years was built around delivering everything as quickly as possible. Meeting the desires of the customer. Right. Fucking. Now. If no one ever went broke underestimating the American people’s intelligence, as Mencken might have said, it would follow: no one ever went broke catering to their impatience.
E.W. Doc Parris is an American writer known for matter-of-fact, hard science fiction grounded in the current scientific weltanschauung, leavened with wit, and kindled by the warmth of human relationships.
Born within the nation's capital Beltway, Doc makes his home in the foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge. A self-taught software developer and solutions architect, he's made a decent living over the years as a set designer, graphic designer, animator, 3D modeler, iOS developer, puppeteer, and educator.
In addition to his centuries-spanning WalrusTech Reality series, Doc is currently working on his next novel, Land of Nod, an exploration of A.I., nanotech, and the human brain's neural network.
Author Website: https://www.ewdocparris.com
Author Mastadon: @firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ewdocparris/
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/ewdocparris
Book Title: I Promise You Pain (The Cordon Finn Vengeance Series, Book One)
Author: Bart Baker
Publisher: Big Muddy Books
Release Date: May 11, 2023
Genre: Dark Action
Tropes: Damaged hero, surprising sidekick, duplicitous villain
Themes: Finding One’s True Self, Fighting for Who You Are, Coming Out, Found Family
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Length: 67 345 words/203 pages
It is the first book in a series and does not end on a cliffhanger.
When the only course of action is revenge, only the most damaged man is capable of maximum destruction.
Hired by a Chicago billionaire to pluck his runaway son from the Palm Springs compound of a wealthy pedophile, former military extraction and information specialist, Cordon Finn, believes it will be a simple snatch and go job with a big payday. But after grabbing the kid at a Pride Week party, Cordon discovers that nothing is as it seems. His quarry isn’t underage, and isn’t the billionaire’s son, but rather his trans-daughter who goes by the name of Lucious. And her father wants Lucious dead, putting Cordon, who is dealing with his own sexual identity, in the crosshairs as well. After fighting off a cadre of assassins, Cordon vows to keep Lucious alive. But when the billionaire kidnaps Cordon’s girlfriend and comes after his family and friends, Cordon takes the fight back to the billionaire’s door. With the surprising help of Lucious, as well as his sister, Annie, Cordon battles the billionaire’s small army, until he’s face-to-face with the billionaire. And in this battle, there will be only one man left standing, the one who is capable of maximum destruction.
Arriving at his car, Cordon puts down the top and tosses his bag in before opening the door to climb in, when he hears, “We’re even,” from behind him.
Turning, he finds the young guy, smiling cheekily, standing behind him.
“Even?” Cordon asks, unsure.
“You enjoyed the show I put on for you inside, I enjoyed the show you put on for me as you sashayed across the parking lot,” the kid says.
“I don’t sashay. And I didn’t take off my shirt for you.”
The kid giggles, rolling his eyes dramatically as he says, “Liar. That’s the only reason you took off your shirt. Hoping I’d notice and come running up to you.”
“And here you are.”
The kid’s face squishes up like he’s eaten rotten lemons.
“I’m a sucker for a muscle daddy. And you certainly got size. Hopefully, in the places I can’t see.”
“How old are you?” Cordon asks, ignoring the kid’s comment.
“Now who’s the liar?”
The kid smirks mischievously, hand on hip. “Nineteen. Five-ten. Twenty-eight-inch waist. My name is Gio. Want to know my cock size?”
Cordon doesn’t answer, which causes Gio to grin mischievously.
“Come on, I saw you looking at it. Though I imagine being a giant, yours is bigger. But for my frame, mine is super-sized,” he laughs.
“This bullshit work?”
“On other guys. Talking about your dick like it’s a 78-inch flat screen.”
“Just the ones who I think are interested,” Gio laughs, then suddenly gets more direct as he adds, “or have the money to pay.”
Cordon nods, understanding more clearly Gio’s game. “Which one do you think I am?” Cordon asks.
“You’re driving a really nice car, so you got the money. But I don’t think you have to pay men to have sex with you, unless you do it for the control, or you’re married, which I wouldn’t doubt, and you hope money will keep your trick’s mouth shut. Either way, I know you’re interested. I always know.”
“You party up at Lansing’s?” Cordon asks, tiring of the conversation.
Again, Gio’s smile fades, his head turning slightly as if looking at the Cordon from a different angle might jog his memory. “Did we meet up there?” Gio asks more of himself than Cordon. “No. I’d remember. Lansing would never invite a guy like you. All his little boys would flit around you like butterflies to bougainvillea, and he doesn’t allow anyone to steal his thunder. You a cop?”
“You know if I ask, you have to tell me,” Gio inserts.
“That’s bullshit. But I’m not.”
Gio takes Cordon in silently for a moment. And even though he knows he shouldn’t say too much to the statuesque man he doesn’t know, Gio is not adept at shutting up, even when it’s in his best interest.
“Sure, I party up at Lansing’s. Never lived there, though. Those guys think Lansing’s the answer to their prayers. Please. He has a revolving bedroom door with guys going in all young, dewy-eyed, and hopeful, and coming out all used up and sad. The man’s an emotional vampire. Sucks the life out of everybody. They all think that he’s going to help make them a star, or they’ll meet some other old queen through Lansing that will. And they all end up going back home, broke, hungry, and completely jaded, or they end up selling it to pay the rent. Hell, even when you’re up there, all that’s there are other fairies just like them or some dried-up, old, coke addict trying to get his Viagra dick up your ass. Don’t know anybody Lansing’s actually helped. Ever.”
“You don’t hold back, do you?”
“Just so I know who just insulted me, what’s your name?”
“Cordon from where?”
“You’re a long way from home, aren’t you, Dorothy? Are you here for Pride Week? I mean, I don’t get that vibe from you, that you’re down here to party with the boys. But you could be one of those sad, married men who told your wife back in Chicago that you’re going on a golfing trip or a hunting trip or something equally lame. And you’re here because you really like dick but you’re Catholic or worse, Evangelical, like my parents, and your guilt is off the charts because you married some pretty blonde, church-going girl, you have two kids, but all you think about when you’re fucking her is guys like me.”
“You hungry?” Cordon asks, ignoring Gio’s smart-ass comment.
“If you’re paying and I get to pick the restaurant,” Gio quickly tacks on.
Cordon lets a half-smile slip on his lip at Gio’s young, alpha nonsense.
“Get in,” Cordon says.
About the Author
Mr. Baker has written seven novels, including WHAT REMAINS, THE VIRGIN DAIQUIRI, and THE WEDDING GIFT. The film rights to his beloved novel, HONEYMOON WITH HARRY, were purchased by New Line Cinema. The book also spawned two sequels, A SECOND HONEYMOON WITH HARRY and THE LAST HONEYMOON WITH HARRY. Bart has also written for the theater, having eight plays produced around the world. The film rights to his play, RELAY, were purchased by Warner Bros., which led him into screenwriting. Bart has had 18 produced film and TV credits, including the feature film, LIVE WIRE, starring Pierce Brosnan, the BRIDE trilogy of films for CBS, as well as projects for CBS, ABC, FX, The Family Channel, Lifetime, The USA Network, and Hallmark among others.
Welcome to My World