Cover Artist: Jess Small created this fantastic cover for Grace Duncan's next release.
Let's take a peek, shall we? ...................
Miguel Garcia and Luis Rodriguez have been best friends all their lives. For the last year, they’ve been hiding the fact that they’re also destined mates. When Luis’s family finds out, they kick him out. Miguel’s family would keep them…except their alpha has been known to be downright violent against gay wolves.
With the help of Miguel’s mother, they set out to find a pack that will accept them. They run into more that a few obstacles before they end up in Denver, at the national wolf headquarters, meeting the alpha prime. They’re stunned to find, not only offers to join more than one pack, but that their struggle can shine light on a bigger problem–and make things better for LGBT wolves across the country.
When they pulled into the Phoenix station, Miguel found himself annoyed that there didn’t seem to be anything nearby. He’d spent so much time in a city—a real, big city, with a McDonald’s and an In-N-Out on every corner—that to step outside and see nothing besides the bus station but an airport and desert was disheartening.
Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age – many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.
A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children – both the human and furry kind.
As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.
Cover Artist: Jess Small (http://jess-small.com)
Genre: M/M Paranormal
Length: 12,000 words
Release Date: September 6, 2019
Check out this amazing MM fantasy series from M.D. Grimm - "The Stones of Power."
About the Series:
Lord Morgorth is a dark mage on the planet Karishian. His peers consider him a villain, but there is more to him than they choose to understand. Cursed by a dark destiny and tormented by painful memories of the past, Morgorth struggles to find his place in the world. Far from innocent, Morgorth has teetered between embracing his destiny and fighting against it his entire life. A decision that is made easier when Aishe comes into his life.
Aishe is a creature of the forest, a warrior and healer. He has the moral compass that Morgorth needs, and Morgorth gives Aishe the companionship he craves. Together, they forge ahead, weathering the storms and fighting the enemies fate puts into their paths.
However, their greatest enemy is not a living being, but gemstones infused with deadly power. They are addictive, seductive, and completely treacherous. Morgorth hates them and is determined to find and imprison all of them.
But he soon realizes they are keys to a greater power. He learns his destiny is not all he thought it was. And an even greater enemy stirs in the darkness.
Enter the world of “The Stones of Power.”
Lord Morgorth is a dark mage on the planet Karishian. He’s considered a villain by his peers and relishes the title, having embraced the role early in his life. However, not all of his actions are necessarily villainous.
Despite owning several of the Stones of Power—gemstones infused with powerful magick—he doesn’t use them, preferring to keep them hidden away and out of destructive, power-hungry hands. He hates them more than anything. So when a sorcerer gets a hold of a major stone, Morgorth has no choice but to go after him. But, to his irritation, he is not alone. Aishe is a dialen whose tribe was massacred by the sorcerer, and is now on a mission of vengeance. The attraction is instant between them, but Morgorth keeps his distance. Because of a traumatic childhood and a deadly destiny, he has no desire for emotional complications. But Aishe’s very presence challenges Morgorth’s resolve.
Not only does Morgorth admire Aishe’s strength and intelligence, but he begins to see Aishe as a friend. As their hunt continues and their time together lengthens, their bond deepens, as does Morgorth’s fear. If he becomes the monster that destiny claims he will be, will he hurt Aishe? Will he harm the one person who sees right through him? Who accepts him wholeheartedly? Determined to not let that happen, Morgorth keeps Aishe at a distance. But when Aishe is kidnapped by the sorcerer, what will Morgorth do to get him back?
Amazon print: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1544166257/
Morgorth is considered a villain by his own people and known as the Dark Mage of the North. But now all he feels is light and love as he pursues a budding relationship with Aishe, a dialen of the Ravena tribe. Morgorth hardly believes his good fortune. He has allowed Aishe into his home, into his bed, into his heart. He laughs more, smiles more, and feels happier than he ever has before.
He should have known such bliss never lasts.
The Council of Mages, the ruling body over all mages on Karshian, knows he has Rambujek, a major stone of power—a stone won from an evil sorcerer. They also know his destiny—to become the Destroyer. Fearful, they send two emissaries to take the stone from Morgorth, using whatever means necessary. This includes tricks, threats to those under his protection, and the threat of war. A war Morgorth knows he would never survive.
Conflict soon arises between him and Aishe. Their tenuous relationship is put into jeopardy, their very beliefs about themselves and their love is put into question. Morgorth doubts if he should keep Aishe in his life. He doesn’t know if he can protect Aishe from his enemies. Or from the monster he might become.
Amazon print: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1546858660/
Every story has more than one point of view.
As the mate to the Dark Mage Morgorth, Aishe has learned a lot about magick, love, and himself. He tries to find a home with Morgorth, to be accepted into his world; to survive in a world full of magick, treachery and deception. But all the while he struggles to keep a secret about his past and their intertwined destinies. Despite all the obstacles thrown at both of them, Aishe is determined to stay by Morgorth’s side, no matter what the future brings – even if that future turns dark with death should Morgorth embrace his grim destiny.
But when Morgorth leaves with his mentor to collect another stone of power, Aishe is left behind. It is then that a surprise attack comes and Aishe, determined to protect and defend his new home, decides to take the invaders on by himself. It might prove to be too much for him to handle… especially when he learns the one who leads the invaders is a mage.
The third book in the “Stones of Power” series allows us a glimpse inside the mind of Lord Morgorth’s better half, a dialen named Aishe: his motivations, his personal sorrows, and his struggle to find a place to call home.
Amazon print: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1546977864/
Time travel. For mages, it violates their number one rule: what the Mother has written, let no one unwrite. The Mother writes the destinies of the creatures on the world of Karishian. If her writings were undone, it is feared that Creation itself could be undone. The Dark Mage Morgorth takes this rule to heart, but there are others who do not.
Morgorth is about to claim a stone of power when it is stolen from him by a female mage he hasn't seen in decades. As they struggle for the stone, she activates it, and Morgorth is unwillingly plunged into another time and another place. It isn't long before he realizes what time he's found himself in and there are a few familiar faces.
Most notable is a much younger version of Aishe. His mate.
Living with a tribe who will be massacred, caring for a young lad who will become his mate, and fighting a battle against a mage who can travel from past to future at a whim; Morgorth's life has never been easy but now he must contend with the will of the Mother. Unable to change the future and the tragedies of Aishe's life, he must decide what his role in his mate's past will be, and ask himself one vital question: how does one defeat time?
Amazon print: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1547286482/
Those words often invoke a sense of love and comfort. But for the dark mage Morgorth, they mean hate and pain. As the seventh son of a seventh son, many believe Morgorth’s destiny is to become the Destroyer. His father embraced such a future and trained Morgorth through torture and fear to become his weapon. Morgorth managed to escape his father’s cruelty, but not the nightmares that still haunt him. For many years he’s lived with the stain of his father’s savagery, but now he must confront his nightmares head-on.
His father has found a stone of power.
Morgorth must return to his land of birth, to the memories he’s tried his entire life to suppress. Aishe is determined to help Morgorth defeat his inner demons, but he knows he might not be enough to save Morgorth from embracing his darkness. They know it will be a fight to the death and know Morgorth won’t be the same if he survives. With Aishe by his side, Morgorth hunts for his father, and finds answers to questions he never dared to ask—and must live with the truths they reveal.
Amazon print: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1547286822/
Lord Morgorth is haunted by dreams of his father. Although Morgorth killed him, his father's presence and brutality won't completely die. But now he has more to worry about—in the form of the Council of Mages' inquiry into the duel between Morgorth and an elder of the council. Morgorth expects sabotage and prepares accordingly. He fears for Aishe's life, knowing that the best way to sabotage the inquiry is to eliminate the witnesses. He sets into motion a desperate plan that, though it will protect Aishe, could put a strain on their relationship not easily removed.
Yet the true danger lurks unseen, and it will take all of Morgorth's skill, strength, and devotion to Aishe, to save his mate from the hold of a foe Morgorth has yet to tangle with: a dream demon. Now Morgorth must throw aside caution, restraint, and fear if he is to save the one most dear to him. He must call upon the power of the one thing he hates more than even his father: a stone of power.
But even if he manages to save Aishe, his mate's experiences in Dreamworld—at the mercy of the dream demon—have changed him forever and could shatter their bond irrevocably.
Amazon print: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1548466158/
A bond they thought couldn’t be broken...
Lord Morgorth, Dark Mage of the North, has never felt so far away from his precious mate as he does now. Still reeling from the events of a month before, Aishe struggles to come to grips with what the dream demon did to him while pretending to be Morgorth. For his part, Morgorth is haunted by the chilling vision the Mother sent him while he traversed Dreamworld—a vision where he kills the one most precious to him. Due to that knowledge, he knows he must choose his magick or his mate.
A choice with devastating consequences...
When Morgorth goes missing, Aishe must search for him, frightened that he has lost his mage forever. In his heart he knows they were meant for each other and refuses to allow his own horrid memories to tear them apart. But when he finds Morgorth he is stunned to realize that Morgorth doesn’t remember him. In fact, in Morgorth’s mind, he is a young lad named Lazur.
Sometimes the most well-known truth is the greatest lie...
For his entire life, Morgorth always knew his destiny was to become the Destroyer of his home world. His birthright as the third seventh son of a seventh son guaranteed such an outcome. Everyone told him so—except his mentor, Master Ulezander. Morgorth will learn that his mentor has been keeping the greatest secret of all: his true destiny.
MD is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:
I knelt on the floor in front of a large bowl of cream, freshly churned that day. After lowering my head until my chin touched my chest, I lifted my sigil-covered hands palms up. The summoning sigils had been made with black ink, standing out starkly against my pale skin. I closed my eyes, and since I’d memorized the ancient words to chant, I repeated them now. They slipped out, winding around my tongue and charging the air. The familiar burn of my magick flowed out of my core and through my veins, lighting up my insides. I never paused in the recitation, not even when I breathed. If I did, it would be considered rude, and the creatures of the summoning might decide I wasn’t worth their attention.
My magick, infused with the ancient words, pulsed in the room before sinking below the floorboards, into the ground, deeper into toxic Underworld.
I vaguely noted the heavy breathing of my brother, Olyvre, while Lyli, his daughter, made little squeaky noises of excitement. Of Aishe, there was nothing. Not surprising. He didn’t make many sounds these days—either with words or simple footsteps. He seemed to have withdrawn from existing.
Feeling my focus waver, I snapped back and infused the words with more magick, hardening my resolve. The krattyie would protect my brother and Lyli if I did this right. They might have been demons of Underworld but they were the benevolent kind. If treated with respect and given lots of cream, they would protect a home, property, and all those who lived and worked there. As a result, my brother and his daughter would be safe as would those who worked for Olyvre on his acres of farmland. It was one of the main reasons he’d agreed to the summoning. He would never seek protection for himself, but for those he loved? He would do anything.
When my magick and words touched something, I kept the touch persuasive and coaxing—a humble request, nota demand. One never demanded anything from the beings of Underworld, not unless one was certain they were stronger than the creatures. Sure, I might have been stronger than the krattyie but I wanted their trust, and I needed them to accept Olyvre as their patron if this was going to work. I couldn’t watch my brother all the time, and after the events of the inquiry several weeks before, I could not deny that everyone I loved desperately needed protection.
I opened my eyes when I sensed otherin Olyvre’s house. Lyli giggled and something tittered faintly back. Krattyie adored children, and Lyli was the sort to walk up to a strange animal and try to pet it.
I peered around the room, still chanting, still pulsing with magick. Shadows flickered at the corner of my eyes, sneaking around the furniture, soft sniggers accompanying the movements.
Then I said the final line of the chant. A question.
Will you accept?
The answer was a playful flick to my hair…a gesture Aishe used to do. Shoving aside the longing for his touch, I hardened my focus once more and nodded.
I stopped chanting and pulled the magick back into my core. The pulsing in the room faded with it, although the krattyie stayed. I stood, wincing at my stiff legs. How long had I knelt there? Didn’t matter.
“Follow my lead,” I said, my voice hoarse.
“Lyli.” Olyvre held out his hand and Lyli took it dutifully.
I bowed with my right foot forward, toes pointed. I tucked my left arm behind my back while extending my right, palm up in both offering and gratitude. The others followed my actions, and when I considered the bowl of cream in front of me, I noticed flickering shadows crowding around it. I counted five. A good number. They might be small but they were fierce and their loyalty was absolute. They would guard this house and its occupants forever as long as they received the respect they deserved and as much cream as they could guzzle.
When the cream was gone we all straightened.
I smiled at Olyvre and nodded. “Just follow the instructions I gave you and you’ll be fine.”
Lyli dashed over to where one of the shadows wavered and giggled as it danced away. It laughed with her. She chased the krattyie and they howled like loons. Olyvre watched with a soft, indulgent smile.
We’d stayed with Olyvre last night, and I’d hoped the change in scenery would open Aishe up. Lighten the tension that stiffened his body. So far it wasn’t working. I focused on him now, allowing myself to really look at him. He still appeared pensive, troubled, distant.
So very distant.
Lyli’s antics didn’t even produce a smile, although his eyes did soften and warm. That was something. We’d been doing relatively well for a week or two after the entire inquiry and dream demon debacle. Then he’d started to close up. Shut me out. And I didn’t know what in the Mother’s name to do or say to open him again. I was flailing in the dark without a light to guide me. Aishe was my light and he was dim and indistinct now.
“I hope you can stay.” Olyvre picked up the empty bowl and regarded both of us. “I know summoning the krattyie was your reason for coming but… stay, at least for another day. I know Lyli would like you to. So would I.”
I tried to meet Aishe’s eyes but he wouldn’t allow it. I swallowed the frustration that was becoming all too familiar, and the darker sensation of impending doom. “Sure. We can do that. Nothing presses us to leave.”
“Perfect.” He smiled and touched my arm lightly. “I have to get supper ready. Why don’t you—?”
“It’s cloudy, Daddy!” Lyli said and ran over. “I want to watch the cloud creatures.”
“Why don’t you take your uncle with you?”
Panic tightened my gut as I threw Olyvre a glare. “I don’t think that would be a good idea.”
“Please?” Lyli grabbed my hand, hanging onto it with all her weight.
I staggered at the attack before gazing down into big brown eyes that reminded me of Grekel’s pups. Wichtln puppies were as cute and adorable as the adults were fierce and bloodthirsty. Despite Olyvre’s fair looks, Lyli was darker of skin and hair and eyes. Either from her mother—who was deceased—or from the other side of Olyvre’s blood. He was fair like our mother, but our father and the rest of our brothers were dark.
Aishe watched us, silent. He wasn’t going to save me. Why did I think he would? He hadn’t spoken much to me in weeks.
“I don’t even know what we’ll be doing.”
“Watching cloud creatures!” Lyli said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
I pleaded with Olyvre with my eyes. “Why are you doing this to me?”
He grinned, eyes sparkling. “You need it.”
“Come on!” Lyli was stronger than she appeared, and with a determined tug had me stumbling out the front door.
M.D. Grimm has wanted to write stories since second grade (kind of young to make life decisions, but whatever) and nothing has changed since then (well, plenty of things actually, but not that!). Thankfully, she has indulgent parents who let her dream, but also made sure she understood she’d need a steady job to pay the bills (they never let her forget it!).
After graduating from the University of Oregon and majoring in English, (let’s be honest: useless degree, what else was she going to do with it?) she started on her writing career and couldn’t be happier.
Working by day and writing by night (or any spare time she can carve out), she enjoys embarking on romantic quests and daring adventures (living vicariously, you could say) and creating characters that always triumph against the villain, (or else what’s the point?) finding their soul mate in the process.
Author Website: https://www.mdgrimmwrites.com/the-stones-of-power-series
Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001710645622
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=md+grimm
Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/m-d-grimm/
Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/M.D.-Grimm/e/B00I0KZMY6/
âIt's been four years since a global pandemic has ravaged the world and almost a year since Mark and Duncan had their fateful meeting at a tiny pharmacy. Duncan has spent that time doing everything he could to ease Mark's fears of losing himâfears that go beyond the normal danger of their new world. When a minister and his wife seek out Mark for help, Duncan sees an opportunity to show Mark another level of commitmentâif Mark will dare to take it.
The world is no longer one we recognize. A pandemic wiped out a huge portion of the worldâs population. On the heels of the pandemic, chaos and anarchy reigned, bringing even more death to the world until barely twenty percent of the population was left.
Mark had to watch a disproportionate number of the pandemic victims near him die. He stood by helpless as his family, friends, and coworkers succumbed to the disease while he survived. Any of us who tried to live through a situation like that would find themselves leery of opening up to others.
For Mark, the pandemic was just the icing on the cake.
For those who have read Healing, theyâre a little more familiar with how Mark got to the point he did with his fear. Having faced abandonment issuesâand never really dealt with themâitâs no wonder watching his friends die was so hard. Add to that the fact that Mark is a nurse, itâs even harder knowing there was nothing he could do for them, or any of his other patients, for that matter. Beyond the pandemic, he came from a broken family with split parentsâwho didnât do as much as they probably could have to make up for the fact that their family was split in two. In fact, Markâs parents end up not even talking much to the kids, much less each other. Their estrangement only started easing right before the pandemic hit, much to Markâs dismay.
If that wasnât enough, Mark was married before the world fell apart. Heâd just come out to his wife Julie, who hadâ¦ not taken the news well. Thus they were all but estranged when the virus happened.
So, for Mark, opening himself up to another person, giving that person the power to hurtâeven through simply leaving, even if it wasnât voluntary on their partâwas huge. He manages, at the end of Healing, to open himself up and lets Duncan in. Despite this step, despite some nine months together, he still has a lot of fear when Overcoming Fear begins. Itâs understandable. Abandonment issues donât disappear overnightâor even after nine months. It can take years with therapy, and Mark certainly doesnât have access to that anymore.
And this is where Mark is when the preacher and his wife find Mark and Duncanâs cabin to ask for help. Heâs still working through his fears, still worries. And if you want to know how well he handles the next stepâ¦ youâll have to read the story. *wink*
Thank you to Elizabeth for giving me space today! I hope you guys enjoyed the little insight into Markâs background. And enjoy Overcoming Fear!
You can find Overcoming Fear at Amazon and on Kindle Unlimited.
Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age â many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.
A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children â both the human and furry kind.
As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.
Queer Sci Fi has just released the annual QSF Flash Fiction anthology. This year, the theme is "Migration."
1) Seasonal movement of animals from one region to another.
2) Movement of people to a new area or country in order to find work or better living conditions.
3) Movement from one part of something to another.
Three definitions to inspire writers around the world and an unlimited number of possible stories to tell. Here are 120 of our favorites.
Migration feaures 300 word speculative flash fiction stories from across the rainbow spectrum, from the minds of the writers of Queer Sci Fi.
Queer Sci Fi is giving away a $20 gift Amazon certificate with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win:
Each year, hundreds of writers send in stories for the Queer Sci Fi flash fiction anthology. Here are the opening lines from some of the stories chosen for the 2019 edition – Migration:
“Darkness has substance. It is tangible; different shades within the black, sounds, a taste. It is accompanied by self-awareness of time and thoughts, even when other senses fail.” —Hope for Charity, by Robyn Walker
“The sky has been screaming for five straight days when the shrimps come to take us away. They’ve been boxing up the others and hauling them off. Now they’re here for us, soaking wet, dragging cords and crates behind them.” —Shrimpanzee, Sionnain Bailey
“Allister always had faultless hair. He’d comb and gel it to perfection while gazing in the mirror. One day a pair of eyes stared back.” —Zulu Finds a Home, by Kevin Klehr
“On her sister’s wedding day Ari noticed that one of her ears had migrated to her hand. It was right after her high school crush, Emily, arrived with Cousin Matt.” —Playing It By Ear, Aidee Ladnier
“The wound was fatal. Their vessel wouldn't live much longer. This is what came from leaving loose ends. Frantically they sought out a new vessel to migrate to. “ —The Essence, by L.M. Brown
“That night, we were sitting in the bed of her daddy’s old pickup truck and the radio was playing the best song. We had a pack of cigarettes between us and her hand was almost touching mine. The wheat field was silver in the moonlight. When they came, we weren’t surprised, just disappointed that our time was up already.” —Our Song, by Lauren Ring
“Willow said she was my wife, but I knew it wasn’t her, not the right her, anyway. Sure she looked like her with olive skin and bright pink hair. She even smelled of mango flowers, just like I remembered, but there was something about her smile that was slightly off, something about when she said she loved me that didn’t sit well in my old heart.” — They Said It Would Be Her, by Elizabeth Andre
“Agnes is eight when she first sees the river. Cutting its way through town, the only thing she knows not coated in coal dust. She sticks her toes in, comes home with wet socks and a secret. See, the river hadn’t been there yesterday.” —Stream of Consciousness, by Ziggy Schutz
“Terry twirled in her green synthsilk dress, looked at her reflection, liked what she saw. She felt good in her own skin, for maybe the first time.” —Altball, by RE Andeen
“The thing was in the corner. It had come through the window and had slid down the wall. Scratch went the sound. The noise of a hundred nails clawing at the wood. Nails of white bone. Alex pulled the sheets up quickly, covering every inch of skin and hair in a warm darkness.” —Whose Nightmare, by Jamie Bonomi
A hundred and twenty authors are included in Migration:
Zulu Finds a Home, by Kevin Klehr
Allister always had faultless hair. He’d comb and gel it to perfection while gazing in the mirror.
One day a pair of eyes stared back.
“Who are you?” he asked.
The tiny green man climbed from his scalp. “I’m Zulu,” he replied. “Can I stay? My planet is dead. I’ll be no trouble. I can dine on your dandruff.”
“I’ll feed you my crumbs if you live in my kitchen.”
“But your hair is like the vegetation on my planet. It feels like home.”
Allister decided it was cool for an alien to live in his hair. No one else had one. He’d be a trendsetter.
The next morning two tiny men stared back.
“This is my lover, Sulu. He’s very quiet. In fact, he’s deaf. He’ll be no trouble.”
Alister agreed to let them stay. He believed in love.
The following day, three glass domes appeared on Allister’s head. Miniature escalators transported people between each of these structures. Crystal buildings sparkled inside the distinct communities, each full of aliens living their lives.
Alister ran to bed and wept.
“What’s the matter,” Zulu yelled, dangling on a strand of hair in front of Allister’s face.
“I can’t go out like this.”
“But you like being a trendsetter.”
Alister didn’t answer. He cried himself to sleep. When he awoke his head felt lighter.
His reflection wore a beret.
“Is this better?” Zulu asked with Sulu by his side. “We’ve changed the molecules from glass to fabric. You can go out into the world and still be a trendsetter.”
So, Allister never worried about his hair. A different hat appeared each day. A beanie. A fedora. A baby bonnet.
No one knew of the tiny society playing, working and breeding on his head.
And Allister made sure he never scratched his scalp.
Louisa Masters has a new contemporary MM romance book out: Out of the Office.
Whoever thought achieving career goals could be boring? Not Duncan Witten, but here he is at forty-one, in his dream job… and hating it. Throw it all away for a challenge? Yes, please!
If only Dunc had known his challenging new job came with Paul Hanks, a man who redefines “stubborn.” They need to work together to meet targets, but thanks to Dunc’s idiot predecessor, Paul won’t take his calls or reply to emails.
There’s only one solution: travel across the country and confront Paul face-to-face. It’s time to take things out of the office.
Louisa is giving away a $20 gift certificate (your choice of Amazon, iBooks, B&N or Kobo). Enter via Rafflecopter:
I deliberately loiter in a coffee shop across the street from the Perth office. I don’t want to arrive early and give Paul time to come up with an escape plan, but there was no way I was risking being late. I take the time to go over my plan again, checking it for any flaw that might have sneaked past my and Krista’s eagle eyes.
There aren’t any. But it’s a great opportunity to implant every detail in my brain while sucking back a coffee.
The shop is only moderately busy—we’re well past the I-just-arrived-at-work-and-desperately-need-a-coffee rush, and not quite at the midmorning coffee break rush. There are a few small groups efficiently combining coffee with a meeting at the tables, and a couple of other loners like me sitting in armchairs, hunched over laptops, but voices are low and there’s not a lot of ambient noise.
So the strident ring of the shop phone gets my attention, and I’m still only half-focused a minute later when one of the staff calls to another, “Paul’s on his way—make his usual, will you?”
There are a lot of Pauls in the world. In fact, there are probably a lot of Pauls currently within a one-block radius. But a guy who phones in his coffee order when he’s on his way is either superefficient or an asshole, and Paul Hanks has been described as both. Plus, this place is the closest to our Perth office, so it makes sense that he’d use it. And the timing is about right for a break before his meeting with me.
I slouch down a little in my seat. There’s no reason to think he knows what I look like, but it feels like the done thing. I mean, if you’re potentially spying on someone, you’re supposed to be all sneaky, right?
I’m just wondering if maybe I’ve been watching too many police procedural TV shows when the door to the street opens and a man walks in.
Remember, I’ve never actually met Paul Hanks before. I’ve seen a picture of him, though—it was from a company party a couple of years ago, in profile, and not terribly clear. But it’s enough for me to recognise him and to marvel at what the picture didn’t show.
He’s fucking huge.
Tall, yes—about six-three, although it’s hard to judge with me sitting down. But it’s more thathe’s built like a brick shithouse. Broad across the shoulders, with a tank for a torso. He’s just solid. I can’t tell with how he’s dressed—chinos and a long-sleeved shirt—if that solid is muscle or fat, but whatever it is, it’s imposing. His face is average—attractive enough, although he’d never win any awards for his looks—and he has a ruddy complexion. His hair is dark blond, in an all-over messy style that makes me think he usually has it quite short and it’s just overgrown.
But the most important detail is his presence. Seriously. He walks in, and it’s like the room is full to bursting. I can’t stop staring. He has serious charisma, but not of the charming variety. It’s more like a force of nature, blasting through all that stands in its way.
In just a few strides, he’s at the counter and accepting the paper cup offered to him.
“Hey, Paul,” the young man behind the register says as he rings up the sale. “How’s the morning?”
“Not as bad as it could be,” he replies, handing over some cash. His voice is deep enough to stir something carnal in me—I’ve always been a sucker for a deep voice. I shift slightly, reminding myself that I’m not here for that, that I cannot jeopardisemy one chance to get him on sideby letting my sexual urges get in the way.
He’s not even that good-looking. It’s a stupid, petty attempt to convince myself, even if it is true. I’ve met better-looking guys—hell, one of my exes was so fucking hot that people on the street would turn to watch him walk past. Just because Paul is built, has an amazing voice, and can’t stand me (we’ve talked about how I love a challenge, right?) doesn’t mean I should think of him that way.
And yes, he’s gay. I’m not engaging in pointless fantasy here. Well, I am, but not for that reason. Paul being gayis one of the worst-kept secrets in our incestuous, gossipy industry. He managed to keep it under wraps when he was a site engineer, but once he transitioned to mostly working in the office, it came out—no pun intended. He doesn’t advertise, but enough people know that it’s not a secret. He’s been in the industry long enough, and earned the respect of enough people, that it’s not an issue. From what I’ve heard, there’s occasionally some fuckwit on a site who tries to make something of it, but they get shouted down pretty quick.
Paul finishes his transaction and leaves, and I take my first real breath since he walked in.
Okay. It’s gotime.
Louisa Masters started reading romance much earlier than her mother thought she should. While other teenagers were sneaking out of the house, Louisa was sneaking romance novels in and working out how to read them without being discovered. She’s spent most of her life feeling sorry for people who don’t read, convinced that books are the solution to every problem.
As an adult, she feeds her addiction in every spare second, only occasionally tearing herself away to do things like answer the phone and pay bills. She spent years trying to build a “sensible” career, working in bookstores, recruitment, resource management, administration, and as a travel agent, before finally conceding defeat and devoting herself to the world of romance novels.
Louisa has a long list of places first discovered in books that she wants to visit, and every so often she overcomes her loathing of jet lag and takes a trip that charges her imagination. She lives in Melbourne, Australia, where she whines about the weather for most of the year while secretly admitting she’ll probably never move.
Author Website: https://www.louisamasters.com
Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/louisa.masters.31
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Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Louisa-Masters/e/B008YBZT0S
Interview with Paul Hanks
Louisa: Hey, everybody! Thanks for coming on tour with us. Today I’ve finally gotten Mr. Stubborn himself, Paul Hanks, to agree to a chat. Say hi, Paul!
Paul: Hi. Can we move this along? I’ve got shit to do.
Louisa: Aren’t you charming. Don’t you want to tell us about yourself?
Paul: *incredulous look*
Louisa: Right. What was I thinking. So, you and Duncan met at work, you refused to talk to him, he basically twisted your arm… all that is in the book. What I really want to talk about is when you felt the two of you started dating.
Paul: What? Why? That’s personal.
Louisa: Paul, these people are reading a book about your love life. It doesn’t get more personal than that.
Paul: *shrugs* Yeah, but it’s all from Dunc’s perspective. He’s the one who’s sharing. I don’t really share feelings or any of that crap.
Louisa: Yeah. We get that. But how about you give it a go. When did you first consider yourself to be in a relationship with Duncan?
Paul: Well… *huffs* I guess after our first date. It was fast, but when shit’s right, there’s no point fucking around, yeah?
Louisa: Absolutely. And your first date was that night in Perth, the day you officially met?
Paul: Yeah, of course.
Louisa: Did you know that Duncan wasn’t sure if you were actually dating or not until you came to Melbourne?
Paul: Nah. Of course he knew.
Louisa: Mm-hmm. How’ve things been since then? Getting ready for the next stage of the project?
Paul: Yeah, and on that, I really gotta go. Important work stuff to do.
Louisa: Sure, I believe you. Just one more question. If you had to pick a moment from the book as your favorite, which would it be?
Paul: Uh. Wow. That’s…. I guess when we were driving to Beacon and Dunc got hard and then tried to make a joke about it. Hey, do you know why he got turned on in the first place? I never actually asked him.
Louisa: You should. Or, you know, read the book. Because like you said, it’s all Duncan’s perspective, and he’s a pretty funny guy.
Paul: *smiling fondly* Yeah.
Louisa: Thanks for the chat, Paul. I’ll let you know if I have any more questions.
Paul: What? I didn’t agree to that!
Welcome to My World