September is one of my favorite months. It's the autumnal equinox, my favorite times of the year. The stars are wonderful, Orion and Canis Major are easily seen. The sky is always a purple-blue at night. LOVE it!
It's also the month when my daughter was born. In fact, today is her birthday! We won't discuss how old she is, which means I'm even older...lol
Now on with the snippet. This one is from Jewel Cave, which is part of the Circles series of romantic suspense/mysteries.
It was time to back away from Dylan; what had been a casual friendship had definitely shifted to territory uncomfortable for Clint. He didn’t want to hurt Dylan’s feelings, though. He’d sent a few e-mails telling Dylan some of his pictures weren’t appreciated, but it did no good. The guy was either dense or stubborn. Clint’s strategy to cope with Dylan had become to overlook his unsuitable behaviors.
Clint knew nothing about Dylan’s family or the people who lived near him. As far as Clint could tell, Dylan was alone in the world, and his sudden attachment to Clint was starting to feel creepy. So, lately, Clint had been taking longer and longer to answer e-mails and tried to keep subjects of conversation as neutral as possible or focused on writing projects.
The pictures Clint deleted. Griff would flip if he ever knew about those photos, not that Clint would blame him in the least. He would have loved to share some of his other concerns about Dylan’s well-being with Griff, but Clint knew the man would turn Dylan into one of America’s Most Wanted in under a minute.
Such was the hazard of sharing his life with a US Deputy Marshal.
He’d made a vow to himself long ago he’d never use Griff’s job or badge unless there was a solid, valid reason. Someone he’d known for a few years all of a sudden annoying him online was not solid or valid in Clint’s mind. Clint kept reminding himself Dylan was lonely and had no family. He was merely one of those people who didn’t get the concept of boundaries. That didn’t make him a criminal, just socially awkward.
Jewel Cave is available on Amazon, in Kindle Unlimited and in paperback.
Don't forget to head on over to Facebook and The Rainbow Snippets group to read more snippets from other authors.
I have less than a month before Shifting Chaos, the final installment of The Sleepless City, is released. Release day is October 10 which is a special date for two of the characters. It's the birthday of one character and the date another was changed into a vampire. The two events happened centuries apart.
This little bit is from one of my favorite scenes and shows the lighthearted side of these characters. Declan is a professional thief and he's teaching Blair some new pick-pocketing skills. Poor Forge becomes their unwilling target.
“I’m on an administrative leave,” Forge objected, “not banished from the kingdom. I can go there whenever I want to. I’m not locked out of cases, but I do have to take a forced vacation. Eat right, sleep in, see the department shrink, no crime scene interviews. I still have my badge.” When he put one hand on his belt, Forge closed his eyes and pressed his lips together for a few seconds, then ground out, “Give me my badge back.” Declan handed it over, and Forge patted his back pocket. “Wallet.” Grinning, Declan placed that in Forge’s hand. “Couldn’t get my phone, eh?” He reached for the pocket on the inside of his jacket and growled.
“I don’t have your phone,” Declan said. “But here’s your flash drive.”
Forge turned when he heard Blair tap his fingers against the table. He was holding Forge’s phone.
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Shifting Chaos is available for pre-order from Amazon and for a limited time is $3.99, 20% off the regular price.
This week in the US we have fires in the west and other parts had a 60+ degree temp drop in less than a day, going from scorching heat to snow. Wow! Now there is another storm coming to the Gulf.
Everyone stay safe and healthy!
This week's snippet comes from the second book in the Circles series, A Barlow Lens. This book has two intertwined stories going on, one taking place in 1927 and one is contemporary. This snippet is from the 1927 storyline. Apologies, it's slightly longer than 6 sentences. Tom and Philip both frequent a speakeasy located just west of Cleveland, Ohio that caters to homosexuals.
“Mind if I join you?” Tom held up the drinks. “I thought you might like another one. And dinner.”
The man stood up; he was several inches taller than Tom’s slight, just-over-six-foot frame. He held out one of those large, delicious hands and said, “Philip.”
Tom shook the offered hand, liking its warm, strong feeling. No calluses, just a slight roughness to his skin. “Tom.”
Philip looked down, scratched at the back of his head, and blushed. “I know.”
Tom slipped into the chair opposite Philip and pushed the plate between them. “Have you tried Billy’s sandwiches? It’s one thing I look forward to every time I come here.”
“You come here much?”
“Not as much as I’d like. But you know how it is, have to be careful. This sure isn’t New York or Paris.” Tom bit into his sandwich, then sipped his whiskey. “Woo…not smooth.”
Philip laughed. “No, it sure ain’t. But it does the job.” He picked up one of the sandwiches, took a bite, and chewed slowly. “You teach at that school up near West 140th.”
It wasn’t a question. Tom nodded. “Is that where you know me from?” His voice stayed calm, but he had no idea how. Was it possible this was the father of one of his students? Tom wasn’t naïve enough to think it not possible. He’d just prefer not to get involved if that was the case.
“I’m a cop, that’s part of my beat.”
“Are you the reason this place never seems to get raided?” Tom asked.
It's a holiday weekend here in the United States which means I have Monday off! Woooo....always a good thing.
The Kentucky Derby was postponed from May to this weekend due to Covid-19. My snippet this week is from my Kentucky Derby themed book, Run for the Roses. It's available on Amazon and is in Kindle Unlimited and in paperback.
“You had an affair with another woman before you and mom were officially divorced? I can see her being pissed off, but…. Well, okay, I would have been very angry with you too. I still should be, but it’s not—”
“No. I didn’t have an affair with another woman. I had one with another man. It wasn’t even a good affair and barely lasted a few weeks. I met a different man later, in Europe.”
Janelle stopped eating and sat and stared at her father. Val resisted the urge to slap the tabletop and announce “I knew it!” It was all sorts of wrong, but Val couldn’t help being a little excited about the fact this man was gay. Then the rest of Wyatt’s statement about another man later sank in and Val slouched in his chair and hunched over his plate.
Enjoy more snippets HERE.
Wayne Goodman has a new gay spec fic/romance/historical fiction short story collection out: “All the Right Places.”
"All the Right Places" is a collection of short stories, most written for submission to anthologies or collections. Starting in the near future and proceeding to the near past, men interact with other men in the pursuit of love and companionship.
Walter is giving away a $25 iTunes gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter:
Gary had never seen the likes of the boy who just walked into Mixer, one of the more recent bars to open in Chelsea. He had a farm-hewn look, like he just stepped down from a tractor clenching a dried stalk of wheat grass between his teeth.
Something about this stranger seemed intriguing, inviting, alluring. So out-of-place in this ultra-modern wash of dark walls, neon strip lights and fake smoke. The designer had set up the entrance so that each person walking in would emerge into the main room from a cloud of fog, like walking out of a dream.
And this seemed much like a dream to Gary. A hayseed hick in a ﬂashy lower Manhattan gay bar. The kind of thing he used to watch at home on video late at night when he couldn’t make a good connection at the bar. Just like in the dream, or video, the bucolic lad walked up to him.
“Hello, I’m Elmo,” the farm boy thrust out his rough-looking right hand, presumably to shake with Gary. Unfortunately, the surprisingly-diﬀerent name sent him into a giggle ﬁt. “Did I say something wrong? I’m awfully sorry if I did. Perhaps I should just leave now.” Elmo turned to go.
“No, wait, Elmo,” Gary managed to blurt out before he started laughing again, almost spilling the pricey drink he had fought the jaded crowd to purchase. The liquid in the glass glowed blue in the light of the plexiglass bartop. “Can I buy you a drink? Are you even old enough to be in here?”
The farm boy had a very fresh and youthful appearance, except for the roughness of his palms. Elmo gazed down into those work-worn hands before responding, “I am not in the habit of accepting charity from strangers, but,” and he glanced up at Gary’s shirt and then his face, “I believe I am prepared to try something new tonight. Oh, and yes, I just turned 21 last week. What are you drinking, sir?”
“A Blue Moon,” Gary responded as he pointed his free hand at the glass. “Two things”–he held up two ﬁngers–“First oﬀ, this is not a drink for rank beginners, and two, if you call me ‘sir’ again, the deal’s oﬀ.” Elmo looked down. “Hey, up here, man. My name is Gary.”
Elmo looked up and smiled. “Thank you… Gary.”
And Gary returned the smile. Possible fantasy scenarios began to form in his overcharged imagination. “Do you like beer?”
“Of course!” Elmo’s smile widened. “We have all kinds of beer at home: Apple Beer, Ginger Beer, Root Beer –”
“Do any of them have alcohol?” Gary interrupted.
“Oh, no,” his moppy head shook side to side, “we’re not supposed to drink alcohol.”
“But you do, Elmo, don’t you?”
A wicked smile spread across his face, “Oh, yeah, sure, but please don’t tell my pa.”
Gary gently grasped Elmo’s arm. “Don’t you worry yourself none, Elmo, your secret is safe with me.” He then turned to the bartender and ordered a lite beer. Once he had ﬁnished settling, he took the bottle in his free hand and turned back to Elmo. “I wish we could ﬁnd a place to sit and chat, but this bar is so crowded.”
“What about there?” Elmo pointed to a café table where two nattily-dressed men had just stood up.
“Well, aren’t you my little lucky charm, Elmo.” He guided them to the recently-abandoned seats. “So… what brings a nice young boy like you into a ﬁlthy old place like this?” Once he had set the two drinks on the table, he waved his arms around to indicate the space.
“Oh, no. This is far from ﬁlthy. If you want ﬁlthy, I can show you the cow stalls.” Elmo’s head rotated around as he took in the new surroundings. “And why did you start laughing when I told you my name?” He confronted Gary directly.
“Oh”–he smiled–“it’s not a name you hear very often. The only Elmo I ever knew was the one on Sesame Street.”
“Is that far from here? Is it in Manhattan?”
Gary burst out laughing. “Are you for reals? Or are you just pranking me?”
“I’m not sure I understand what you are asking me, sir–Gary.” His wide eyes suggested his innocence to be sincere. “Where I live, there are quite a few of us–Elmos, that is. In fact, folks usually call me Elmo Number 2, or just Number 2 for short.”
“You are just full of surprises, Elmo Number 2.” Gary grinned. “At ﬁrst I had to suppress the urge to tickle you all over.” He wiggled his ﬁngers and moved his hands up and down.
“Why would you want to do that?” Elmo sipped at the beer.
“Well, a few years back there was this toy that… oh, never mind.” Elmo seemed focused on Gary’s shirt. “Is there something wrong with my shirt? You keep looking at it.”
“Oh, no.” He blushed. “It’s the color. It’s what drew me to you.”
“Blue. Blue is what made you bee line from the door up to me and tell me your name?” Elmo nodded his head. “Think you could you help me out with a bit of an explanation?”
“Oh, sure,” he took another sip of the beer, “And thank you for this. It’s not bad. You see, at home, that shade of blue has a special signiﬁcance for us.”
“Home?” Gary gave him the once over once again. “And where might that be, Elmo?”
“Lancaster, of course!”
“Of course. I should have known. And you pronounce it way diﬀerent from what I am used to. We say Lan-caster, but you call it ‘Lank-a-ster.’”
“Really? I’ve never heard it pronounced any other way.”
“Uhn huhn,” Gary started searching out other faces, just in case this cute little fantasy disappeared into a dust cloud. “So… what brings you to New York, Elmo Number 2?”
The farm boy giggled, “Number 2. It sounds so diﬀerent when you say it.” He giggled again. Perhaps it was the beer kicking in. “I’m on Rumspringa. Are you familiar with that?”
“Is it some new drug?” Gary stared down into his drink.
“Oh, no, silly. It’s my time to discover what the outside world has to oﬀer before I commit to my adult life.”
“I think I saw a movie about that. Are you Amish or something?”
“Sort of. We like to call ourselves Pennsylvania Dutch, but it’s very similar. My folks are more modern than some of the other groups.”
“Don’t you people ride around in horse buggies? No electricity, no cell phones.”
“Oh, that’s the older ones. We’re not so strict like that anymore.”
“I see,” Gary’s eyes wandered over Elmo’s body anew as fantasies began to redevelop. “So… you’re in New York to see the sights?”
Wayne Goodman has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area most of his life (with too many cats). He hosts Queer Words Podcast, conversations with queer-identified authors about their works and lives. When not writing, Goodman enjoys playing Gilded Age parlor music on the piano, with an emphasis on women, gay, and Black composers.
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Aurora Lee Thornton has a new queer fantasy book out: "All or None."
In a world where everyone has a soulmate, uniquely powerful mage Royiora and reluctant assassin Kalo collide in the worst of ways.
Royiora Daralkaen, the only mage alive able to use all five kinds of magic, has a near idyllic childhood in the country of Porescalia - before war breaks out with their antagonistic neighbors, Kloria.
Kalo Porla, a naturally magic-proof individual known as a Null, is trained to be as an assassin by the authoritarian empire known as the Domain.
When Kalo and his partner assassin are sent to kill a mage and his apprentice, it starts a journey neither man was prepared to begin.
Is this our destination? Roy considered, but chose to wait to find out.
His assumption turned out to be correct, as Kalo sighed in relief when he saw it, leading the way right to the door and knocking.
A woman of Kalo’s race answered it, even with the same red skin and gray hair. She laughed and pulled his soulmate into a hug when she saw him, before pulling back and flicking his ear with something even Roy recognized as an admonishment.
The assassin replied something tiredly, walking past the woman with the slight limp he’d had for the past week or so.
Then she turned to the mage, and in perfect Porescalian said, “And you must be my brother's soulmate. Hello, I’m Rela.”
Roy flinched in surprise, then cleared his throat and shook the proffered hand, “Yes, uh… I’m Royiora.”
“Do you shorten it?” Rela asked, ushering him inside, “I read most Porescalian men do.”
“Um, yes,” the Porescalian man replied, “I usually go by Roy.”
The horned woman nodded, half pushing him past high vaulted halls into another room, “You must be freezing - come on, let’s get you something warm to drink. I’m sure you have plenty of questions Kalo couldn’t answer.”
Roy didn’t get a word in until after Rela had taken the borrowed coat and replaced it with a surprisingly warm blanket, sitting him at a table in what appeared to be a study or classroom with the promised hot drink.
“There are warmth runes inside the stuffing,” someone said, and then a strange looking man with six arms and blue skin hung down from the ceiling. Unlike Rela and Kalo, he had purple glowing eyes, and held out one of his arms, “Hello, I’m Xia - Rela’s one of my soulmates, and this is our home.”
“Uh, hello,” the mage said, shaking as he looked up at the rest of the man’s insectoid body clinging to the ceiling, “I’m… Roy.”
“Nice to meet you, Roy,” Xia said, skittering over a bit to lower himself to the ground, “Rela and I took the trouble of learning your language some time ago, as our other two soulmates appear to be Porescalian as well.”
“And Kalo asked me to translate his soul writing when we were kids,” Rela said, sitting across from Roy, “He was so very excited to meet you, you know. Though, judging by the state of the two of you, I’m guessing it wasn’t under happy circumstances.”
“Not… exactly, no,” Roy said, feeling comfortably warm for the first time in a while. He took a sip of the drink - it was oddly nutty, but enjoyable nonetheless, “Uh… what… is Kalo?”
Rela snorted, “A bit of a pain in the ass, honestly.”
Xia laughed, and went over to the chalkboard in the room. He cleared it with a bit of arcane magic, and started drawing, “Kalo is what we call a ‘null’ - magic doesn’t affect him, and he can absorb it to fuel pseudo-magic abilities of a limited range.”
The strange insect man pulled back to reveal the celestial star, with words written underneath each point.
“Divine magic gives him self-regenerative abilities and invisibility,” Xia said, pointing to Radzmia’s crystal throne, then moved on to Pelzz’s obelisk, “Arcane provides mental acuity and teleportation,” onto Ruelop’s spring, “Physical resistance and enhanced senses,” Guulruf’s nine-pointed star, “Physical strength and shadow walking,” and finally, Forea’s whirlpool, “And physical speed and water breathing.”
“They identified him and our cousin when they were five,” Rela said, smiling, “We were all so excited - the government provided us stipends for their education and care. Us, a little provincial family of no repute.”
“So it’s an…” Roy struggled to keep up as the warmth and stillness worked on relaxing him to the point of drowsiness.
“That’s what they told us,” the woman snorted, taking a drink, ears flicking, “But when they were twelve, they went to the Institute.”
“Where they train them to be tools of the Trinity,” Xia sighed, coming back to the table.
“The… Trinity?” Roy asked.
“Our leaders, Frezians like Xia,” Rela supplied, then shook her head. She looked up at the mage, “Let me tell you about what happened to my brother.”
Kalo was so glad to finally lay down on a pad and sleep without worrying about being attacked. Rela had said she’d talk to Royiora, explain things, and he trusted her to do so.
His sister and Hult might be the only people he trusted anymore.
The null didn’t know how much time had passed before there was a gentle touch on his shoulder, and his soulmate saying his name softly.
Kalo sighed, forcing himself to sit up and turn to look at the mage.
Royiora frowned at him, then his eyes lit up gold and he hesitantly reached up and laid a hand on the null’s cheek.
The assassin understood, but still hesitated himself before kissing his soulmate. It wasn’t like the time when he’d had to stop Royiora from killing them both by causing a cave in - it was slow, deceptively intimate.
He only took enough to heal his current injuries before pulling back.
The mage was still frowning at him. Royiora’s gaze fell - to the arm which used to have Kalo’s soul writing on it.
The assassin sighed, and unwrapped it. What did you go and tell him, Rela?
Kalo held the arm out, rough, burnt skin obviously clear of writing on display.
His soulmate reached out hesitantly, gentle fingertips brushing over the scarred skin. Then he took a sudden breath, hand jerking back as if he were the one burned.
Kalo looked up to see the other man crying. He shook his head, reaching out without thought to cup his soulmate’s face and brush away the tears with his thumbs, “No, don’t - don’t cry over me. I don’t deserve that.”
Royiora stared up at him, and something like resolve seemed to enter his eyes. He pushed up, barely hesitating before kissing Kalo himself.
At first, the null didn’t know how to react. This wasn’t an exchange, it wasn’t necessary. It couldn’t be affection - so what was it?
And then Royiora’s hand brushed over his burns again, and it clicked - sympathy.
Aurora is a nonbinary, asexual writer with a new goal in life: to write the queerest books possible. (And yes, xe means gay, but also weird is good too.)
Xe loves dragons and fantasy, and someday hopes to complete a (soft) science fiction novel as well. Currently, xe lives with xyr two cats.
Author Website: https://www.auroraleethornton.com
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Brains and Paul
How many of you have met a rock star in person? How did you react? Did it meet your expectations?
I can tell you that it’s pretty insane meeting your idols and I’ve been fortunate enough to get to meet a few, and those incidents will stay with me.
Now, writing those meetings between my rock star characters and their potential love interests is SO MUCH FUN! I wrote the scene where Brains and Paul meet from both of their perspectives because…damn. Let me set the scene: Paul is a sexy as hell and doesn’t even know it single dad Navy corpsman who surprises his twenty-one-year-old son Bowie with tickets to Warped Tour for his birthday AND tickets to Brains’s workshop. Brains is Bowie’s favorite musician and his drumming idol. Paul’s heard the band and seen them perform, but nothing could have prepared him for this meet-cute. Let’s take a look:
Once Billy “Brains” Brennan started to speak, Paul didn’t take his eyes off the talented drummer. He’d seen him before because they’d seen Hush play a couple of times, but never up close. Never like this.
Brains’s look had changed over time, but he always sported black hair, probably dyed, and he’d never seen the guy without makeup. Today his hair was spiked about three inches off his head in a faux hawk, his makeup was less horror and more goth, and instead of the long-sleeved black spandex he’d worn previously—or like the first time they’d seen him, in a skeleton bodysuit—this time he was dressed in a sleeveless shirt that revealed his well-toned shoulders, his arms heavily tattooed in black and gray, and his lean frame. He had a long, slender neck with a pronounced Adam’s apple that bobbed as he spoke.
His deep, smooth voice gave Paul goose bumps. Actual goose bumps!
Paul shivered, and a jolt went through him. For a moment, the noise from the festival faded away and it was just Paul and this… kid? Younger guy for sure. And Paul couldn’t figure out for the life of him why his body was reacting like it had the first time he’d felt up a girl in the backseat of a car. Or the first time he’d gotten a hand job from a fellow drunken sailor in a bar after finishing A school.
Goose bumps? What the fuck?
But then the kids asked him how he learned to play and he went from quirky genius to vulnerable young man, and the change was alarming. Paul wasn’t sure how old Brains was, but he did know that Hush had been together for about ten years or so, and that he’d been in the band Sullen before that. He looked so young, but he could easily be in his thirties with that timeline. And he’d joined a band when he was seventeen? Damn.
“Can you show us how you do that cool breakdown in the beginning of ‘Faceless’?”
The vulnerability disappeared from Brains’s posture, and the confident professional was back. He demonstrated a pattern that involved a series of triplets and a complicated tempo that started out with one beat and morphed into something else. Paul knew enough about drumming to know how skilled Brains actually was, even though Bowie was the drummer in their family.
Paul stuck to bass and guitar whenever he fooled around. He and George had taught themselves to play their favorite songs over the years, but Paul had a lot to learn. He always thought that when he retired he’d maybe take some lessons, get a little more serious about it, but now he was a forty-two-year-old father. What the hell business did he have playing around in a young man’s game like music?
“A lot of my inspiration comes from Neil Peart of Rush. You guys know Rush, yeah? He did so much to influence rock drumming, and so many metal drummers owe their style to him—”
“Wouldn’t you say John Bonham was just as much of an influence on metal, if not more?”
Oh. Well. Paul hadn’t meant to speak out, but Brains had been looking right at him while discussing his influences, and that gaze was so intense it was as though he were talking right to Paul. So naturally, Paul answered… and argued with him.
“Bonham, yeah, he’s more of a groove kind of guy, definitely ahead of his time. He kind of mixed it up with rock drumming and a little jazz, but Peart’s drumming evolved so much over time. It’s so intricate. You hear him so much more in music like ours.”
Paul switched his weight and dropped his arms, not wanting to seem intimidating. “But I always thought Peart influenced the prog rock guys more. What about guys like Vinnie Paul? Even bands like Soulfly or Machinehead, you know—”
“Yeah, but you look at a band like Avenged Sevenfold and the bands that have traveled down a similar path, including most of my contemporaries. A lot of us trace our roots back to punk more than classic rockers anyhow. But you hear more Peart, more of that progressive rhythm, than you do just that straight groove. John Dolmayan from System of a Down, and what about Metallica and the thrash bands? Definitely less Bonham.”
“I disagree about Metallica,” Paul said with a smirk. Damn, this was fun. He hadn’t had someone to spar with about music in so long. Bowie had always been more interested in learning about the classic bands from him than actually having a healthy debate. He missed this. “Lars had that power behind him, and you can’t look at an album like The Black Album and not hear the groove there.”
Brains opened his mouth and shut it. Then he frowned at Paul and turned his attention to the whole group. “Okay, let’s just test this theory. You’re all familiar with the difference between a groove and a fill, right? So we know some drummers are known for being great groove drummers. JP Gaster from Clutch, for example,” Brains said, and then he launched into the rhythm from the song “Earth Rocker.” “See how the beat just drives you to bob your head, rock out, whatever?
“Now,” he said adjusting his sticks, spinning them effortlessly in his long--so long—fingers. “Then you play a piece like,” he played the intro to “Chop Suey” by System of a Down, which Paul happened to know because he and Bowie had jammed like crazy to it for years, “and you hear that power, but that’s definitely a drummer who comes from a more prog place than a groove place. You see what I mean?”
The three boys sitting in front of Brains turned around and stared at Paul, waiting to see what he’d come up with next.
Oh, how he wanted to keep going.
“Plus you think about the size of the kits a lot of metal drummers use, you know. You look at Peart and then you look at like Mike Portnoy and then Lars—”
“Yeah, but now Lars has scaled way back.”
Again with the open-mouth-close-mouth thing. And then he smiled.
Beautiful. The young drummer was absolutely stunning. Paul had never really found makeup attractive on men—okay, maybe Paul Stanley. The man was sex incarnate—but Brains was changing his mind about all kinds of things.
He continued on, giving examples of the types of drummers, showing the kids some techniques, but his gaze landed on Paul in between as if he were waiting for Paul to challenge him. Paul, however, was too mesmerized to do more than observe and take in the whole Brains package.
Paul never considered whether he had a type. He wasn’t the kind to go for a certain type of person. He just didn’t… go. He hadn’t been intimate with anyone since--
Paul felt a nudge against his calf and looked down to find Bowie staring at him like he’d grown a second head.
“Shoot. Um. I gotta play soon. Guys, this is my manager, Jessica.”
A woman in black skinny jeans and Doc Martens and wearing a cropped In This Moment T-shirt waved to them and then spoke privately to Brains. He listened to her. Probably. But he kept sneaking looks at Paul, which Paul knew because he still could not stop staring back.
Brains turned to address the group. “Does anyone have any questions?”
The group was quiet for a split second, and then they applauded. Bowie climbed to his feet and stood shoulder to shoulder with Paul.
“Yeah, I got a question,” he said, softly enough that only Paul could hear. “What the hell was that?”
Brains gave the group a shy smile and a wave from behind his drum kit. Then his gaze traveled to Paul’s once more, and he raised an eyebrow.
Paul could have sworn there was some sort of connection. Brains had enjoyed that sparring match as much as he had.
Paul casually looked over his shoulder to make sure Brains’s smile was directed at him.
It most definitely was.
I hope you’ll check out the books and join me on tour with the metalcore darlings Hush. Book three will be out in 2021. Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance…
Summer of Hush - https://books2read.com/u/meeLQR
Brains and Brawn: Summer of Hush Book Two - https://books2read.com/u/bwdQaa
R.L. Merrill writes stories full of love, hope and rock ‘n’ roll. She can be found lurking in the following places:
Website and blog: www.rlmerrillauthor.com
Music Reviews: www.HorrorAddicts.net
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @rlmerrillauthor
R.L. Merrill has a new MM rock and roll book out: "Brains and Brawn." And there's a giveaway!
Billy “Brains” Brennan has achieved rock stardom in not just one, but two chart-topping bands, but events from his past have him convinced he’s living on borrowed time. Brains and his brothers-in-Hush are ready to take the last cross-country Warped Tour by storm...until the actions of two drunk dudes with bad attitudes set off a chain of events that leave him incapacitated...and face-to-face with a handsome stranger who inexplicably feels like home—and not the home Brains fled at sixteen.
Chief Petty Officer Paul McNally has spent his 25-year career as a Navy Corpsman responding to emergencies and caring for wounded soldiers. When fate has him in the right place to provide aid to a fallen rock star, it sends his life spiraling on a trajectory he never planned for. Instead of concentrating on his impending retirement and a second career, he’s now playing nursemaid to a fascinating younger man…and falling in love—a fact he can’t seem to figure out how to explain to his adult son.
A health scare, band drama, and pain from both of their pasts threatens to end Brains and Paul’s fledgling relationship. Fate brought them together. It will take trust, honesty, and hope to keep them together.
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Paul’s head whipped around when he heard the first scream. He watched in horror as the tent Bowie had just been standing in front of—Hush’s tent—collapsed and a crowd of people fell.
Without hesitation, he ran for the tent. Then he spotted Bowie standing over some big guy.
“You okay?” he yelled to him.
Bowie nodded, his big blue eyes wide as he looked back at the disaster.
Security began barricading the area around the tent and moving the screaming fans away from the scene. Adults attempted to pull the kids out of harm’s way.
That’s when Paul saw the tabletop on the ground and a pair of black-clad legs sticking out from underneath.
Guys in bright yellow security shirts lifted and pulled the rest of the tent out of the way. Paul rushed toward the broken table and sank to his knees next to Brains.
“Can you hear me? Are you with me?”
Brains locked gazes with him, and Paul felt pain in his right hand. He looked down to see Brains squeezing the life out of it.
“Please don’t leave….”
Medical staff approached in blue cargo pants and polos and swarmed the members of the band and their staff, several of whom were on the ground. Two women approached Brains with medical kits, and Paul started to move back, but Brains’s grip grew tighter.
“Please don’t leave me!” Brains said again, more insistently. He was panting, his face losing color, and Paul feared he was going into shock. He glanced at the table on his legs and at the staff who were preparing to lift it off him.
Paul worried perhaps the worst had occurred, but the fact that Brains was still squeezing the shit out of his hand was a good sign.
Brains coughed as he brought his other hand up to grasp Paul’s. “Please!” His appeals were growing in urgency.
Paul leaned a little closer to his face and pressed his free hand to Brains’s cheek. “I’m not going anywhere, okay? But they’re going to lift the table now. You ready? Try not to move.”
Brains nodded—another good sign—but Paul pressed a hand to his shoulder. “Stay still.”
The staff guys counted to three, and then they lifted the table.
Brains let out a guttural shout, and tears streamed down his face as he winced in agony.
Paul breathed a sigh of relief to not see any blood or rips in Brains’s pants. He half expected to see a bone shard sticking out. But they weren’t out of the woods.
“Brains, listen to me, okay?”
Paul frowned. “Billy?”
“My name is Billy. Please—”
“I’m not leaving you, but these medics here are going to look you over, and they’re probably going to poke and prod you a bit.” He nodded to the young women in Rock Medicine shirts who stood by, hesitating to approach. Paul heard sirens in the distance, which meant better-trained professionals were on their way, but Brains—Billy—needed to be assessed immediately.
“Sir, we need you to move—”
“He’s not going anywhere!” Brains shouted at them.
Paul addressed the one with the first-aid kit. “My name is Paul McNally. I’m a Navy corpsman, and I’m trained in triage and emergency medical treatment.” And I’m not leaving his side.
The young women looked to each other and then crouched down next to Billy. One of them placed a hand on Billy’s arm.
“I’m going to touch you, okay?”
“He’s staying with me, you got it? He’s staying.” Billy’s chin quivered as he spoke to the medics. The two women looked at each other with eyes wide.
Paul was losing circulation in his hand, but he wouldn’t have left Billy if the entire venue burst into flames. The way he was reacting… Paul had been through countless emergencies and could recognize when there was a psychological issue at work that needed attention.
He looked around for Bowie and saw him with Dimples, watching from a distance. Relieved that he hadn’t been hurt and seemed to be doing okay, Paul turned his full attention on Billy.
One of the women took Brains’s vitals, and the other ran her hands over his body, checking for injuries. She barely spoke to Brains, and Paul was perturbed at the way they were assessing him.
“Billy, can you wiggle your toes for me?” Paul asked.
Brains nodded, and then Paul looked at his Vans-clad feet. Thankfully, he saw movement on both.
Paul smiled down at Brains. “You’re doing great. You know what today is?”
“A fucked-up day? I had a bad feeling this morning….”
“Seems like it was warranted.”
Brains’s deep blue eyes fixed on Paul, and his breathing seemed to slow for just a moment. Paul hoped that meant he would maybe be able to relax--
“Sir, I’m going to need to put a collar on you.”
Brains flinched when the medic touched him. “I’m fine, just let me up—”
Paul placed a gentle hand on his shoulder, and it was enough to keep Brains from trying to sit up. “Billy? It’s important that you lie still and let them put a collar on you. With this sort of accident, they need to keep your spine aligned to avoid any further injury, okay?”
Brains began to pant and tugged Paul’s hand as though he wanted to try to pull up, but when he tried to move his legs, only the right one moved, and he screamed in pain.
“Look at me,” Paul said, getting closer to his face. He needed to distract him, to make Brains focus on him. “Brains, they need to take you to the hospital—”
“No. No, no, no, please,” he whispered. “I can’t go, please, Paul, please—”
“I’m not going to leave you. I won’t let them hurt you, okay? They need to take you in for X-rays to make sure nothing’s broken.”
Brains’s voice sounded like that of a frightened child. Something was seriously wrong. He pulled on their joined hands again, and the medic placed a hand on Brains’s chest to keep him from moving.
“Sir? You may have a spinal injury, so we have to place you on this backboard with a collar to protect you. If you won’t cooperate, we’re going to have to sedate you.”
“Can you give us a minute?” Paul asked the medics, irritation clear in his voice.
“We need to get him to the ambulance,” the medic closest to him said, and then was distracted by the band’s manager. She gave the medic Brains’s information and shot a worried look Paul’s direction. His full name was Billy Brennan.
Paul ground his teeth together and took a breath to calm himself. “I understand. Will you give me a moment to speak to Mr. Brennan? I’d like to avoid the use of sedatives.”
She nodded, and they stood and backed away a few feet to confer.
Paul squeezed Brains’s hand and placed the other on his forehead.
“Hey, man. The sedatives are a drag. This will all go better if you let them collar you and get you on the backboard. Hopefully everything is fine. The fact that you’re moving your toes and strangling my fingers leads me to think your spine is just fine, but it’s procedure. I swear I’m staying with you.”
Billy swallowed hard, his eyes wild. “I know I’m acting crazy. There’s a reason, I just… please.”
Paul smiled at him. “You haven’t seen crazy until you’ve got a wounded Marine pulling his pistol and pointing it at your face while you try to remove a sliver from his other hand.”
Brains’s eyes bugged out. “A sliver?”
Paul shrugged. “It was a four-inch piece of shrapnel, but I’d still call it a sliver.” He winked, and Brains barked out a laugh. Good, keep that smile. “You going to let them collar you and take you for a little ride?”
Brains’s smile faded. “Just please stay with me. Can you? Will you?”
If Paul hadn’t already been 100 percent in on this mission, he was now.
R.L. Merrill brings you stories of Hope, Love, and Rock 'n' Roll featuring quirky and relatable characters. Whether she’s writing about contemporary issues that affect us all or diving deep into the paranormal and supernatural to give readers a shiver, she loves creating compelling stories that will stay with readers long after.
Winner of the Kathryn Hayes “When Sparks Fly” Best Contemporary award for Hurricane Reese, Foreword INDIES finalist for Summer of Hush and RONE finalist for Typhoon Toby, Ro spends every spare moment improving her writing craft and striving to find that perfect balance between real-life and happily ever after.
She writes diverse and inclusive romance, contributes paranormal hilarity to Robyn Peterman’s Magic and Mayhem Universe, and works on various other writing and mentoring projects that tickle her fancy or benefit a worthy cause.
You can find her connecting with readers on social media, educating America’s youth, raising two brilliant teenagers, trying desperately to get that back piece finished in the tattoo chair, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock 'n' Romance.
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