The blog tour for Code Name Jack Rabbit has concluded. Congratulations to the winner of the RaffleCopter giveaway, Miranda Marquez!
In case you missed any of the excerpts the tour stops are listed below. I hope you'll take a minute to check out all these amazing blogs.
January 11, 2021 A.L Lester
January 12, 2021 Drops of Ink
January 14, 2021 The Land of Make Believe
January 13, 2021 Dawn's Reading Nook
January 15, 2021 Grace R. Duncan
January 18, 2021 Once and Books
January 19, 2021 Matt Doyle Media
January 20, 2021 Wicked Faerie's Tale and Reviews
January 25, 2021 Kimmer's Erotic Book Banter
January 27, 2021 Paula Wyant
This book picks up where A Shot of J&B leaves off so it’s important to read this series in order.
I adore this couple, Brian Harrison and Jackie Vasquez (nephew of Luki Vasquez from the Vasquez and James series). They have their own lives, goals and interests, yet still work hard at being a couple. They manage to keep their relationship alive, grabbing the little hours a week they have together, and we’re treated to some wonderfully hot scenes between them. While they think about each other and worry about each other, neither sits around pining away when they’re not together.
In the previous book we were introduced to a truly, deliciously evil foe. Now we find out this foe has a partner, which was a nice surprise.
One of the things I adore about Lou Sylvre’s mysteries is the reader knows all along who the bad guy is, but the characters do not. This gives her books that creepy don’t open the door type vibe. These are among my favorite types of mysteries. It’s so interesting to see how the characters find out how much trouble they’ve gotten into only when it’s too late!
Watching as Brian and Jackie are pulled farther into a vicious murder scheme and don’t even realize it until they’re in so deep it looks as if they can’t escape creates a incredible sense of excitement. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough! Their smarts and bravery shines through and they survive, but not without scars and changes to be made.
The supporting characters are diverse and lend depth to the main characters and the story.
There isn’t the same amount of guns and fists type action in this book as readers of Ms. Sylvre’s previous series might expect. The action is more in the ‘cat and mouse’ category, which creates more of a psychological thriller. Brian and Jackie are in London where the cops don’t routinely carry guns and some procedures are different. Since Brian hasn’t been in the field much in London this creates some frustration, and then outright danger for him and Jackie despite being qualified and skilled with firearms. I really enjoyed watching him work through protecting Jackie and carrying out his duties without some of the tools he was trained to use.
Jackie is eight-ish years younger than Brian and has gone through extensive trauma in his life. Woven into the story are details of his ongoing recovery. He’s very self-aware for someone in his early twenties which was refreshing. Jackie isn’t needy but he does need and want Brian’s support, as well as that of his family. He’s not shy about asking for that support, which is also refreshing to see in a romance. Brian is a natural protector and caretaker. I loved how he steps into that role without reservation, and sometimes imperfectly, when it comes to Jackie and his wellbeing.
This is a great series and I’m excited to read more!
This book was provided by the publisher for a fair and honest review.
There's a new voting-themed charity anthology out (four queer stories): "A More Perfect Union." And there's a giveaway! Includes stories from Adrienne Bell, Kilby Blades, Aliza Mann, Claire Marti, R.L. Merrill, M.D. Neu, Dawn Montgomery, Sera Taino and Kearney Wentworth.
Love wins in this collection of nine all new, voting-themed romances.
A set of bite-sized romance short stories with 100% of the proceeds benefiting Fair Fight, an organization dedicated to combatting voter suppression.
From the campaign headquarters to the polls, A More Perfect Union features brand new stories from:
**This anthology will only be available for a limited time, so be sure to grab your copy today**
We hope you’ll join us as love wins and democracy receives an HEA. The collection also includes stories from Adrienne Bell, Aliza Man, Claire Marti, Dawn Montgomery, and Kearney Wentworth. A diverse bunch of folks sharing their passion for social justice and fighting against voter suppression. All proceeds from the collection will go to support Fair Fight, and you can find more information at https://fairfight.com. The anthology will be available for a limited time on Amazon and Apple Books.
The authors are giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour:
Four of the nine stories in A More Perfect Union feature queer pairings. Here are quick bites from two of those stories:
From Sera Taíno: Oil and Vinegar
Yara wheeled the cart with soiled laundry onto the van, taking care to bend at the kneesto get the wheels over the gap between the ramp and the bumper. It was one of those infernally humid August days in Orlando that made you want to tear your clothes off right where you stood and dive into the first bucket of water you found. Yara had been doing housekeeping in this swamp ever since she got out of prison five years ago and there were a couple of rules she learned to follow the hard way. First, she never left the house without a water bottle. Florida humidity would suck all the water out of a person’s body in no time if they didn’t hydrate. And second, as a cleaner, she had to take care of her back if she wanted to make it to early retirement without injury.
Okay, the second one wasn’t an actual rule. That was all Paulina. She made shit up all the time to get Yara to take care of herself. Like “Quieres ir diving in Tucacas? Pues, don’t herniate your back.” Or “Want to do dance cumbia in Caracas with me? Don’t put so much salt in your sancocho.”
“Ay, por favor,” Yara would retort, all snotty and stank face, “We’re not going to live that long.”
“Oh, yes we are,” Paulina always snapped back, joking but not really. “We sacrificed too much not to enjoy this life a little.”
That was Paulina. While Yara was always looking back, Paulina faced the future. They were like that one Roman god, Janus. Two sides of the same dream.
Yara’s phone vibrated. She pulled off her cloth mask with the company name – Y&Ps Cleaning Service – stitched into the fabric. Wiping the sweat from her brow with one of the fresh towels, she tossed it in with the rest of the laundry before slamming the doors of the cleaning van shut, pausing to admire the lettering that matched her mask. She wanted to run her hands over the newly minted shapes, but her phone vibrated again. Paulina’s name flashed on the screen and she knew if she didn’t hurry up and answer it, Paulina would worry.
“Don’t forget what today is,” Paulina said without preamble. They’d been together for four years but Yara never got tired of her raspy voice, especially when she was ordering her around. She really liked it when Paulina ordered her around.
Yara blinked, stepped out of the blinding sun and into the meager shade cast by the van. “How can I forget, Lina? You’ve been reminding me since last week. I’m going to do a laundry run and then meet Josie at the House when she drops off the van.”
“Ok, ok. Just going down my to-do list and most of the stuff on here has to do with you.”
“Good to know I’m at the top of that list,” Yara teased.
“Always on top, bebe,” she whispered, sending an arrow of pure, unadulterated lust barreling through Yara’s body. She shifted on her feet, physically uncomfortable and unable to find any relief in the middle of this hellscape.
“Sigue con esa jodienda, and you’ll have to explain to everyone why they have to walk to the voting station when their van doesn’t show up.” Paulina was wrong to get her going while she was standing on the side of US192, sweating her ass off and dragging a half-ton of dirty towels around in the van.
“No-no-no,” Paulina responded, all the velvet and sex gone from her voice. Yara imagined Paulina waving one long, dark-brown finger in her face. “We’re not making anybody walk. These women are waiting for us. For you. And we’re going to show up for them.”
From M.D. Neu: Election Night
Sammy turned the corner and rushed down the hall. She hated being late, but here she was, yet again. The elevator at the end of the corridor mocked her as the doors began to close. This week had been hell. Well, the whole election year had been hell. People fighting, families being pulled apart. Even her own family had battled it out. And now she wasn’t talking to her brother, Tom. “Such an ass.” She frowned. How could he support that idiot? How could anyone, especially when there was a better option. A saner option.
What the hell was wrong with people?
After the fallout between Sammy and Tom, she realized she needed to get involved. She understood if there were more people out there like her brother, then there were a lot of minds that needed changing.
Will it even make a difference? No, we have to get out the vote. People need to have their voices heard.
The elevator doors continued to close the nearer she got.
“Fuck,” she muttered under her breath. “Hold the elevator! Please!” she called out hoping someone heard her. She hadn’t noticed, in her haste, if someone occupied the elevator, but she remained hopeful, much like her thoughts on the election. Hopeful. Always, hopeful.
As the metal door shut right when Sammy reached out, she stopped and frowned, shaking her head.
Instead of the door sealing the last inch cutting off her chance of showing up for her shift upstairs somewhere in the neighborhood of being on time, there was a ding and the doors blessedly opened.
“Oh, thank Christ.” A smile pulled at Sammy’s lips. She was still going to be late, but at least this hurdle didn’t hold her up.
“I don’t know about that, but you’re welcome,” a soft voice said as the doors opened fully revealing a woman in her mid-thirties, with blondish brown hair falling gently over her shoulders. The black A-line skirt and blue blouse showed her curves and soft form. Her blouse opened enough to show off her perfect neck and alabaster skin. The skirt provided an amazing view of this woman’s legs. Sammy loved long legs, especially when they ended in a stylish pair of heels. The warm scent of lilac and jasmine tickled Sammy’s nose as she focused in on the woman’s deep green eyes.
Not fully Sammy’s type, but the pretty stranger wasn’t far off either. There was something about a professionally dressed woman that made Sammy’s heart quicken. She frowned at herself. If she didn’t have a long night of phone calls, she might have felt self-conscious of her well-worn jeans and sweatshirt. When Sammy wanted to impress someone, she could, but right now she was there to support her candidate and make damn sure that they won this election. She wasn’t here to find a date. Even though there were quite a few smart and passionate women who caught her eye.
Adrienne Bell is the author of over a dozen action-packed romances including the bestselling contemporary Second Service series. Her love of story structure led her to create Plot MD, a system for crafting compelling stories. She also is the co-host of the weekly podcast The Misfit's Guide to Writing Indie Romance. Adrienne lives with her husband and sons on the far edge of the San Francisco Bay Area where she spends her downtime reading, binge watching nerdy television, and scrolling through Disneyland fan sites.
Kilby Blades is a USA Today Bestselling author of Romance and Women's Fiction. Her debut novel, Snapdragon, was a HOLT Medallion finalist, a Publisher's Weekly BookLife Prize Semi-Finalist, and an IPPY Award medalist. Kilby was honored with an RSJ Emma Award for Best Debut Author in 2018, and has been lauded by critics for "easing feminism and equality into her novels" (IndieReader) and "writing characters who complement each other like a fine wine does a good meal" (Publisher's Weekly).
Aliza Mann is a paranormal and contemporary romance author who resides in Michigan. The goal of this anthology spoke to her desire to create a world where all people can enjoy the right and privilege of voting. She is a champion of equal rights and believes in democracy. The legacy of her grandfather, the basis for this story, lives on within her, and she could not be more thrilled to share this story with the world.
Claire Marti is an award winning and USA Today Bestselling author of swoonworthy Contemporary Romance novels set in Southern California. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress. Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance and teaching yoga. She’s thrilled to share her commitment to equality and justice for all in the A More Perfect Union Anthology.
R.L. Merrill brings you stories of Hope, Love, and Rock 'n' Roll featuring quirky and relatable characters. Whether she’s writing contemporary, paranormal, or supernatural, she loves to give readers a shiver with compelling stories that will stay with you long after. You can find her connecting with readers on social media, educating America’s youth, raising two brilliant teenagers, writing horror-infused music reviews for HorrorAddicts.net, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock 'n' Romance.
M.D. Neu is an award winning gay author who writes epic Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Paranormal stories that reflect our diverse community. When not writing M.D. Neu works for a non-profit and travels with his husband of twenty years.
USA Today bestselling author Dawn Montgomery loves to write almost as much as she loves to read. She has traveled the world twice over. While her days were filled with long hours and hard work, her nights were left for dark, lustful fantasies in and out of strange hotels and cities. Alaska and Texas are the places she calls home. She recently moved from the frigid North to Texas with her family and neurotic dog. It was tragic to leave behind the moose and bear for wide open plains and sexy cowboys.
Sera Taíno writes Latinx romances exploring the joy of love in the context of community and family in all its rich diversity. She was selected for the Harlequin Romance Includes You Mentorship, an initiative launched in 2019 to reach out to diverse communities of writers and bring more own voices stories to romance readers. Her debut novel is slated to be published with Harlequin's Special Edition Line in Fall, 2021. When she is not writing, she can usually be found teaching, traveling, or wrangling her family.
Kearney Wentworth writes about her passions: music, romance, travel, sports, libraries, hotties and Blerds. The first book in her "Highland Havoc Rugby Club" series is out on submission and more short stories are in the queue.
My teaser this weeks is from Electric Candle, book 2 of The Sleepless City, a paranormal romance/urban fantasy series written with Anne Barwell.
Forge dragged in a deep breath, stepped back, and sat on the bed, pulling Blair into the vee created by his thighs. “Particularly because you’re not Declan.” He took another deep breath and squeezed Blair’s hand. “I’ve spent a large part of my life trying to convince myself I didn’t need or want a soulmate. I had Declan and he was enough for me. The truth is, I never succeeded. I love Declan, that will never change, but he and I can never have the type of bond you and I have. I know I tried denying it, but I like that bond, and it feels good. I was an ass to try to convince myself otherwise.” He stopped and bit his lower lip before continuing. “It wasn’t fair to you. When I thought you might die, I felt like a huge piece of me had been ripped up and shredded.”
Blair thumped his solar plexus. “Just thinking about going back and being in that house alone makes it hurt, here. All my dad’s things are in New Mexico. They’re all I have left of him. Almost everything I own is there.”
“Hear me out. A long time ago a man, Declan, showed me kindness and taught me to be a person again. Hell, even the wild animals didn't want to be around me. Declan loved me and protected me and cared for me during a time I desperately needed that. He made me see that being a homosexual wasn’t a sin. Most importantly, he was taught to be a vampire. In turn he taught me to be a vampire.
“You need to learn how to be a vampire. Let me teach you. We'll work this bonding thing out, or figure out how to break it, if that's what you want. I only want you to be happy. Let me, or Simon or both of us, teach you about what being a vampire is. There's a lot of good that goes with what we are.” Forge snickered. “A lot of cool stuff. The point is, you lived in isolation and you don’t have to do that. There’s no reason you can’t play on a softball team or have a dog. You have a family in us, even if you’re halfway around the world. We take care of each other.”
“Like Declan lived on another continent for a while?”
“Yeah, exactly like that.”
“I like it here,” Blair confessed. “Your friend was right. This town grows on you. I didn’t realize how lonely I was until I came for a visit. I wouldn’t mind staying a little longer, but I’m not committing to moving here, not yet. And if I do stay, I might get my own place.”
Forge’s eyebrows went up, but he didn’t argue. Blair knew he sensed that regardless of what Blair said, his heart screamed at him to stay. Even he didn’t believe his own words.
“That’s fair. We can deal with getting whatever you’d like shipped here in the meantime. People have been packing their stuff and moving since way before I was born.”
“That’s a really long time,” Blair said and smiled. “Did they use stone wheels?”
“No promises.” Blair took a deep breath. “Well, the sex is decent.”
“Decent?” Forge arched an eyebrow.
“Pretty awesome for an old guy like you,” Blair said.
Forge laughed and pulled him down for another kiss. “Yes, it is. And if you don’t like Declan, it’s okay.”
Blair tilted his head to the side and watched Forge for a few seconds. “I want to like him. I want him to like me, and I’ll do everything I can to make that happen. You two are important to each other. He will always have known you longer, and there isn’t anything about you that he doesn’t know. I guess the three of us are sort of a package deal.”
Forge stood and pulled Blair in for another kiss and a hug. “You’re a good person, Blair. Better than I deserve.”
“Nah… you’re a hero, and heroes get the best.”
All four books in the series are available on Amazon
and in Kindle Unlimited.
My snippet today is from The Art of Domination (book 2 of Pain and Pleasure). This is a BDSM erotic romance serial, but this snippet is rated PG.
At the time Taren didn’t realize it, but the day he pulled a half frozen, hungry, scared twenty-something kid out of a wrecked car during a blizzard was the most significant day of his life. The ironic thing was Taren had lived in Idaho all of two weeks and Ian had been born here. If anyone should’ve been stranded in that blizzard it was Taren.
What started as a rescue ended as a first date. Two years later Taren married the guy. Ian was not his usual type, but wasn’t that the way love worked? Ian was young, much younger than Taren, but not immature. He was a smart, interesting man who knew exactly what he wanted. A little bit of a perfectionist, but that was what made him a superb CEO and likely got him through Warton with honors and an MBA. After they’d come to know each other, Ian confessed he’d wanted Taren as a lover and as a Dom, from that first blizzardy day.
Read more snippets at the Rainbow Snippets Facebook group!
The Art of Domination and the entire Pain and Pleasure series is available from JMS Books LLC, Amazon and other booksellers.
I'm very excited that several of my books and The Sleepless City series (co-written with Anne Barwell) have been nominated for the Paranormal Romance Guild Awards. Congratulations and good luck to my fellow contestants!
LGBT/SCI-FI/FANTASY/HORROR/EPIC FANTASY/DARK FANTASY
MULTICULTURAL/HISTORICAL/SPORTS – SERIES
LGBT/ROMANCE/PARANORMAL/VAMPIRES & SHIFTERS/WITCHES & WIZARDS/GHOSTS/PSYCHICS
LGBT/ROMANCE/PARANORMAL/VAMPIRES & SHIFTERS/WITCHES & WIZARDS/GHOSTS/PSYCHICS – SERIES
The Sleepless City
I've been working on getting the second book of The Vampire Guard, Quarry, re-released. So far I've decided to add some scenes to one of the earlier chapters. Here's a little bit...
Vampires might be able to withstand tremendous damage to their bodies, and recover, but that didn’t preclude pain. Declan could honestly say his recovery from some injuries were worse than the injuries themselves. And he’d never suffered anything even close to Blair’s current wounds.
Thanks to his empathic-near-psychic-connection to Blair, poor Jonas was feeling almost as much pain and fear and whatever else Blair was experiencing. Jonas needed assistance to walk, twice Declan carried him. He was breathing erratically, which supported Lucas’s thoughts about a punctured lung, and at times was incoherent. Blair was his friend and Declan was quite fond of him, but he and Jonas had a damn near two-hundred-year relationship. For Declan, his priority became Jonas. With Kai and Ori’s help, Lucas tended to Blair.
They loaded Blair into the surveillance van, laying him in the back and rolling him to his side so Lucas could clean and dress the rebar wound. Jonas collapsed in one of the seats, his head tipped back against seat and his arms flopped limp at his sides. His breath hitched and he made a half-hearted attempt at rubbing the right side of his chest, opposite where the rebar had pierced Blair’s back. He dropped his hand to his side again and mumbled, “Can’t breathe.”
Jonas reached for Declan’s hand, which was freely offered, and squeezed, his grip was feeble at best. Declan kept a firm grip and that’s when he heard an odd sucking, wheezing sound coming from Blair’s chest.
Kai was navigating the van through the streets at the highest speed they dared. Ori had some medical training and already pulled their field kit, normally used for injured humans, from one of the compartments and was handing supplies to Lucas. They must’ve been the correct supplies because Lucas wordlessly took what was offered and applied something to Blair’s back. The odd sound died away, Jonas pulled in a deep breath and relaxed ever so slightly but didn’t let go of Declan.
Blair moaned and mumbled something then was unconscious again.
“We’re hours from home,” Jonas choked the words out.
“No. We’re not.” Kai talked but never took his eyes off the road. “There’s a chopper meeting us to transport all of you back to your safehouse.”
“He’s going to need help getting over this unscathed,” Ori said and sat back. He looked from Jonas to Declan to Lucas. “Vampires that experience such excruciating injuries heal physically, but sometimes not emotionally or mentally.”
“Not without help,” Kai added. “I’ve seen it before. They can become very different people. And not in a good way.”
“I know,” Declan said softly. Lucas looked up, shock all over his face. “Jonas does as well.”
Jonas had been watching Blair, but now he shifted to look Declan in the eye.
“I’m not sure a TENS machine will help much. He’s too badly hurt,” Lucas said.
Code Name Jack Rabbit (book 1 of The Vampire Guard ) was released on January 12, 2021. It's available on Amazon in eBook and in Kindle Unlimited. This series is a spin-off from The Sleepless City, an urban fantasy/paranormal romance written with Anne Barwell.
The Vampire Guard is an urban fantasy series with romantic sub-plots but is not a romance.
We have The Sleepless City Facebook group dedicated to this shared universe and would love to see you there!
My teaser is from romantic/suspense/thriller, Bait.
The door to Tyler’s apartment was a nondescript wooden door that many people mistook for an entrance to a supply closet. He pulled a small ring of keys from his pocket and unlocked the door, opened it and pushed it wide for Linden to enter.
Linden stopped and glanced around the inside of the lodged. “Is anyone else here?”
“Then why lock your door?”
Tyler shook his head and motioned at the door. “It’s right next to the kitchen doors and looks like this is where we keep the brooms and mops. If I didn’t keep it locked, I’d have all sorts of unwanted guests. It’s a habit. If you’ll feel better, I can crank up the boilers in one of other buildings, but you’ll be damn cold and no hot shower for a good day.”
The way Linden looked him up and down was unnerving. The word intense was the only thing that came to Tyler’s mind as he watched Special Agent Bourne. Linden’s expression and the way he observed Tyler with deep, very dark eyes were unwavering and unsettling.
“I have a hunting knife in a drawer in the coffee table and a shotgun under the couch. It’s not loaded—feel free to check. There is a handgun in my dresser. Both guns are registered to the inn owner. I only have them because I’m out here in the middle of buttass nowhere alone for a few weeks, and the closest help is the park ranger’s station near Devils Tower and the one in Custer.” He tossed the key ring to Linden, who caught it and held it loosely in his hand. “Those keys are to every door in this entire place. Search anything you’d like. Just know I have the liquor inventory memorized.”
Linden chuckled and stared down at the keys in his palm for a few seconds before closing his fingers around them. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before opening them again to meet Tyler’s gaze, shaking his head slightly and extending his fist. Tyler held out one hand, palm up, and Linden set the keys in it, letting his hand rest in Tyler’s for a split second. The gesture, and Linden’s hand, was warm and oddly comforting. In the next instant, Linden opened his fingers, released the keys and pulled his hand away, stuffing it in his pocket.
“Let me give you the five-cent tour,” Tyler said for something to do. He’d spent three hours with this man four months ago and hadn’t stopped thinking about him since. Now Linden was about to camp out on his couch.
Linden nodded and smiled, making the corners of his eyes crinkle in a pleasant way that Tyler definitely liked. He studied his feet for a few seconds before lifting his head to be met with soft, warm, very dark eyes. “I’d like that.”
Marc returns home from London to his isolated Welsh cottage for good, having found his ex boyfriend shagging someone else in their bed. Who’s the thin, freezing cold man with the bruised face he finds in his barn? Will the tenuous connection between them grow, or fade away?
A 9,000 word short story to mark the Welsh St Valentine’s Day, St Dwynwen’s Day, the 25th of January. With chickens.
Excerpt – Rudimentary First Aid
His first aid kit was rudimentary but covered the basics. Antiseptics, dressings, butterfly strips. It should do the job. He hauled it out from under the driver’s seat, eyeing the squeezed-in boxes disfavourably. That was going to be today’s job, he supposed.
He was so taken up with his mission that he forgot there should have been a chicken in the porch until he turned back toward the house. He blinked in disbelief. She had a friend. Two friends. They were sat in a row on the back of the garden bench underneath the parlour window. As he watched, they jumped down, one by one and stood in a line, as if waiting for him. The two new ones were very clearly the same breed as Chicken Number One. Big, fluffy, orange. One had more exciting headgear than the other two and was a bit bigger, so he guessed that was a boy-chicken. Cockerel. Cock. He sniggered quietly and then stopped himself as the first chicken…he could tell it was the original one because it had a bit of black in its tail and the others didn’t…looked at him disapprovingly.
Obviously cock jokes were out. The telepathic chicken didn’t like it.
“Sorry,” he said. “I was just getting the first aid kit for Mal. I’ll stop.”
He performed a shuffling dance around them to get back indoors. “You’re like the Midwich Cuckoos,” he told them. “You are not coming into my house. Stay outside. It’s bad enough having a porch full of chicken shit.”
Mal was on his feet looking at him in alarm when he stepped through the parlour door, and the dog was standing beside him, hackles up.
“Who were you talking to?” he asked in a panicked voice. “Is someone out there?”
Marc shook his head. “Chickens,” he said. “I seem to have chickens living in the porch. It’s fine. He narrowed his eyes. “What makes you think there might be someone out there? Who hurt you?”
Mal sat down on the edge of the chair and ran his hands over his cheeks, pulling a face. The dog sat beside him and put her chin on his knee, staring up at him, and he absently began to pet her ears. Marc knelt beside him and opened the first-aid box.
“My ex’s dad,” he said, quietly, after a moment or two. We’d split up anyway. Ages ago. But he saw me in Welshpool a couple of days ago and wanted to drive the point home.’ He shivered. “I’d only gone down into town to pick up some food and bits.” He winced as Marc turned his face toward the light and began to wipe the cut against his hairline with antiseptic. “I’d left Anghared up here, else he wouldn’t have got near me.”
The dog gave a small woof as she heard her name.
“Would he, girl? Stupid man.”
“So how did you end up in my barn?” Marc said, gently fixing butterfly strips over the cut. It had come open again and was bleeding a bit, but it looked like it would be fine. “Come on, let’s look at your ribs too, while I’m at it.”
“They’re fine, honestly. Only bruised.” Mal pulled away and Marc just looked at him. Mal sighed. “All right, all right.” He began to unzip the big hoodie he was swamped in and winced again. Marc raised an eyebrow, silently asking for permission and then reached out to help when Mal nodded. There were a lot of layers to get through and it took a while to gently extract him. The cold was still coming off him in waves and he was shivering badly as he said, “I’ve been staying up in the woods. But I felt too bad to get home. Anghared found me, didn’t you girl? And we needed somewhere out of the cold. I’m freezing, still.”
He was shuddering, which was probably a good thing in retrospect, Marc thought. He hadn’t been shivering at all when he’d first come inside. Incipient hypothermia. He had a quick look and a gentle feel of the ribs. They were badly bruised but he couldn’t feel anything shifting around, so he’d call that good. Mal’s skin was icy cold under Marc’s fingers.
“Bath?” he said. “Or body-heat?”
“Ugh,” he screwed his face up. “Do I have to?”
“Yes,” said Marc firmly. “I don’t want you to die on my first day home for two and a half years. If that’s all right.”
Meet A.L. Lester
Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a badly behaved dachshund, a terrifying cat and some hens. Likes gardening but doesn't really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn't much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.
Welcome to My World