Wonderland by J. Scott Coatsworth Blog Tour, Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

Wonderland - J. Scott Coatsworth

J. Scott Coatsworth has a new gay post-zombie apocalypse Christmas book out:

Wonderland.

And there’s a giveaway!

Zeke is a hermit in his late forties who lives a quiet life in a small cabin in the Western Montana mountains, a few miles outside of Thompson Falls. He’s gotten used to being alone since the end of the world, and has everything he needs. Everything but someone to talk to.

Nathan is a younger man on a cross-country trek, searching the country for someone… anyone still alive. Saddled with a ghost from his old life and a case of OCD, he stumbles upon Thompson Falls and a pack of rabid dogs.

Rescued by Zeke, he has to figure out how to be human again. And with Christmas just a week away, both men have to figure out if there’s something left to be hopeful for, and if they might have a future together.

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Exclusive Excerpt!

Zeke removed the board that kept the Grocery Surplus doors closed and pushed them open. He always barricaded it when he left to keep out animal intruders. One time early on, he’d startled a bear inside, licking up honey off the floor. It had given him quite a scare before it lumbered past him and out of the store.

Out back, four makeshift wooden crosses marked the plots where he’d buried Redd Johnson, the owner, and the three others he’d found dead inside.

The checkout counters were covered in a heavy layer of dust he’d never bothered to clean. The plastic grocery sacks had hardened and flaked into little piles of white that swirled like snowflakes whenever the wind blew in from outside.

He picked up one of the faded cardboard boxes that used to hold Hershey bars. They were long gone. He had eaten a lot of chocolate in the first twelve months.

The store was out of most of the good stuff now, taken in the initial panic or used by Zeke. It was down to cans of the aforementioned Brussels sprouts and spinach, as well as green beans, canned tomatoes, and Dole fruit salad. Just another indication it was time to move on.

One corner of the ceiling had caved in since the last time he’d been there. He approached the pile of debris in the produce section of the store cautiously. The fruits and vegetables had long since rotted away.

He looked up at the new damage. The hole didn’t go all the way through to the roof, just through the interior ceiling. A couple boxes lay crumpled on the ground.

With a leery glance at the broken edges—must have been some kind of storage up there—he opened one of the boxes to see what was inside. It was a disassembled Christmas tree, probably for holiday displays.

Christmas. It had been a long time since he’d celebrated that holiday—or any of them, for that matter—not since his mother had passed away when he was ten. She had owned a tree just like this and had put it up every year. She’d been an environmentalist, not wanting to kill a living thing just to celebrate a man-made holiday.

Zeke glared at the tree and grunted. It wasn’t like he needed any more crap in his little cabin.

He closed his eyes, and he could still see her face, lit by the glow of the Christmas lights. “It’s the one time of the year when we all have to be nice to each other,” she’d whispered to him once, shooting a glance at his father, asleep in his easy chair. Zeke could still smell her sweet perfume. His father had been a rough man. Rough but fair.

“What the hell.” He hauled the box out to the ATV and transferred the metal branches into his sack.


Author Bio

J. Scott Coatsworth
Scott lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were.

He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

A Rainbow Award winning and runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, Liminal Fiction, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

Author Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com/

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

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Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ

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Dragon Lessons by Mell Eight Release Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Dragon Lesson

Series: Supernatural Consultant, Book Seven

Author: Mell Eight

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 30th, 2020

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 27900

Genre: Paranormal YA, NineStar Press, LGBTQIA+, young adult, new adult, dragon shifters, witch, magic-users, dragon family, young love, first kiss, kidnapping, escape, reunited

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Synopsis

All Lumie wants to see is Goldie’s beautiful smile, but the only expression he ever shows Lumie is tears. When Goldie asks him for a favor, Lumie leaps at the chance to finally see Goldie happy.

Goldie wants to live a life free of the fear that has chained him for so long, but breaking free once and for all may come with a higher price than he and Lumie are prepared to pay.

Excerpt

Dragon Lesson, Mell Eight © 2020, All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

The first time Lumie had seen Goldie in the flesh was one of the oddest moments of Lumie’s life. Lumie knew Goldie. He knew that shining golden hair, rosy in the sun like the gold was touched by fire. And those big golden eyes surrounded by dark-gold lashes were something Lumie had seen in his mind’s eye for years and years. He knew the moment when Goldie would come into his life, when Dane and Mercury would rescue him, but Lumie hadn’t understood what five years of captivity with the enemy would do to Goldie. Lumie had been lucky. He had barely been a day out of his egg when Mercury had come for him. Goldie had been held captive for far too long, and it had destroyed something inside of him.

Lumie had tagged along with Mercury, his daddy, when Mercury went to check on a mother dragon that had been rescued along with Goldie. When Mercury went into the house where the mother was staying with her new eggs, Goldie had snuck out the back door.

Looking back on that moment years later, Lumie realized Goldie was shaking in utter fear, but at the time, all Lumie had seen was the boy from his waking dreams.

“Hi!” Lumie had chirped happily. Goldie, on the other hand, had let out a shriek. He had stumbled back from Lumie, holding up his hands as if warding off a blow. Mercury and Martha, an air dragon in charge of the village, had come hurrying outside, and together they had coaxed Goldie back into the house. Goldie wouldn’t look at Lumie even once as he hurried up the stairs.

The encounter had left Lumie horribly confused for years. He knew what Goldie’s eyes looked like when he was smiling at Lumie: shining and bright. He had foreseen that happiness, but only in a dream rather than real life. Lumie didn’t understand the fear he saw inside Goldie. For the next thirteen years, Lumie had visited the village at least once a week and made a point of saying hello to Goldie. Eventually, Goldie stopped screaming and running from Lumie, but his fear never vanished.

Lumie had yet to see Goldie’s smile in person.

“Which wire?” Alloy hissed. From the slightly frantic tone of his voice, Lumie realized it wasn’t the first time Alloy had spoken. Lumie took his eyes from the gleaming gold-colored plate he had pulled off the security alarm, got his thoughts back to the present, and focused on the two different wires Alloy had pulled out of the guts of the alarm.

“It doesn’t matter which wire,” Lumie replied with a shrug. “Just heat them both really fast, then cool them off suddenly. Total wire failure won’t set off that sort of alarm.”

“Don’t even think about it,” Mercury snapped from behind them. The overhead light flickered on, bringing the foyer of the house Mercury owned with Dane into focus. Mercury had bronze-colored hair that fell just below his ears, and his bronze-colored eyes were sharp as he glared at Lumie and Alloy. He was angry. Lumie looked at the alarm box they had stripped and were about to destroy, and then back at Mercury’s glaring face.

Oh, he was mad about the alarm thing.

“I was just teaching.” Lumie grumbled. He held out the gold-colored plate, and Mercury yanked it from his hands.

“A, you’re both nineteen and should know better. B, you both promised me a thesis statement for the essay you have to write and one page from your algebra workbook before bedtime. You can teach Alloy about alarm systems when you’re not supposed to be doing other things.” Mercury growled. Magic flashed through the air, and the gold plate flew back into place on the alarm. The four screws Alloy had dropped to the floor flew into their slots and twisted until they were in place. “Plus,” Mercury continued in a softer tone, “you both left fingerprints all over the alarm system. Eventually someone would have noticed your tampering, and you both would have been caught.” He pulled one sleeve down over his palm and wiped at the gold plate before reaching out to snap the outer housing with all the buttons back onto the frame.

Alloy bounded off, and Lumie reluctantly followed. He had actually finished the math, but he hated essays. It would only take ten minutes to scrape together the one-sentence thesis statement, but he didn’t want to. At all. He had taken the damn test Mercury had wanted him to. His results weren’t back yet, but he had thought he was done with school with the damned GED out of the way. Mercury having the tutor continue to pile on more homework was ridiculous.

Instead of following Alloy upstairs, Lumie headed to the kitchen. He deserved a cinnamon bomb before having to go do his work.

Dane was already in the kitchen when Lumie walked in. He was on the phone, though, so he couldn’t speak up to stop Lumie from raiding the candy basket on top of the fridge. The happiest day of Lumie’s life was the day he realized he had finally grown tall enough to get to his candy on his own. Somehow Lumie thought that might have also been Dane’s unhappiest day, but he tried not to dwell on trivialities like that. Dane was super special in the magic world. Whatever. So was Lumie. That wasn’t even arrogance talking. Dane was the son of a god and a crazy lady from across the pond. Grandma came to visit every once in a while. Lately she had started bringing along her spell books. Those were interesting to read. Lumie had nicked a few since they were so much more interesting than the books Mercury had him reading.

Lumie’s powers, on the other hand, were… Well, he didn’t really have a way to define what he could do. As far as he knew, no one could explain why his magic was so odd. He was a fire dragon, so playing with fire was his favorite pastime—he liked it even better than tormenting Dane—but sometimes he saw things he shouldn’t, he could travel in ways a fire dragon shouldn’t be able, and he generally confounded Dane with the things he could do. That was part of the fun, really, and Lumie tried not to dwell on things that weren’t fun.

With his long blond hair pulled back into a tail at the base of his skull, Dane looked severe. His blue eyes glared pointedly at Lumie, so Lumie picked up the cinnamon bomb wrapper from where he had dropped it on the counter and put it in the trash. Taking care of the wrapper now was better than Dane’s magic yanking him back into the kitchen to do it later. Plus, if Lumie left too many wrappers lying around, the basket suddenly had a dearth of cinnamon bombs for a few days. It was punishment that Lumie did not enjoy.

Dane hung up the phone before Lumie could escape.

“That was the new secretary of defense,” Dane said. He was frowning down at the screen of his phone as he spoke, but he looked up at Lumie, and Lumie couldn’t help freezing in place.

He had seen this before. Daydreamed it, really. In the kitchen with Dane looking so serious. Dane was about to tell him something that would change his life forever.

Lumie didn’t want to hear it. He didn’t want to know. He liked his life right now. He was comfortable living in Dane’s home and eating the food Daisy, their caretaker, prepared for them. Nickel, Lumie’s adoptive brother, liked living away from home in the house he shared with his boyfriend, Platinum. All Lumie liked about that was since Nickel and Platinum had moved out, he had been allowed to take their bedroom for himself. Not having to share with Chrome any longer—not living in the constant mess Chrome was unable to ever properly clean—was amazing.

“He offered you a full scholarship to the college of your choice with the caveat that you come work for one of the defense agencies under his purview,” Dane continued before Lumie could stop him. “He apparently has an issue only someone of your skills can handle and is willing to do just about anything to get you to sign on.”

“He doesn’t know I’m available to hire through your consulting firm?” Lumie asked grumpily, used to speaking clearly around the cinnamon bomb stretching out one of his cheeks. It was too late; he had already heard what Dane had to say. His life was irrevocably changed. All he could do was try to keep the things he liked best safe when the turmoil hit.

“He wants to take out the middleman,” Dane explained with a shrug. “It will probably also cost them less overall to pay for your college and provide a steady work salary than to hire you through me.”

That didn’t surprise Lumie. Dane made the government pay through the nose. It allowed him to give people with fewer means the same service at a much more affordable price.

“Lumie, this is big for you. Your grades aren’t anything to laud, and you took an extra year to finish high school. Plus, a lot of colleges might discriminate against you because you’re a dragon. They’ll think you’ll wash out within a semester and not want to put any time or effort into accepting you.”

Everything Dane was saying was true. Dragons were one of the most uneducated creatures in the world—not because they were stupid or lacked the mental capacity for it, but because they didn’t have access to education in the wild where the majority of them lived. When they did venture into human civilization, their ignorance often caused someone to get hurt. Having someone from the secretary of defense’s office step in on Lumie’s behalf meant that none of those issues would be in his way, but Lumie had never been interested in college. He had taken his GED test only because Mercury and Dane had literally dragged him across the finish line. He didn’t even know if he had actually passed it yet.

“Alloy wants to go to college,” Lumie stated. He wasn’t sure if he was voicing a complaint that they hadn’t approached Alloy instead—even though Alloy lacked the specialized skills that made Lumie so distinctive—or whether he was grumpy that they thought they could buy him so easily.

“So we ask the secretary if he can get two college entrance letters,” Dane replied with an easy shrug. “Alloy might also have to agree to a few years working with the government too.”

“But he’s always liked what Daddy does and would apply to work for the SupFeds in a heartbeat if he could,” Lumie finished.

Mercury worked as a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Supernatural Investigations, which investigated issues that stemmed from the supernatural world. Dane worked with them often in his capacity as a private contractor with his Supernatural Consulting Firm, and Alloy had always wanted to join Mercury. Again, something Lumie wasn’t interested in. He liked his independence—and his laziness, to be perfectly honest. He picked the jobs he wanted to do whenever he felt like doing them. Getting tied down with an agency would end all that freedom.

“Let me think about it,” Lumie finally said after a few moments of silence.

Dane nodded. His smile was completely understanding. “You know Mercury and I only want you to be happy. If college isn’t for you, we can probably still work something out. Let me know what you think. Don’t take too long,” he added. “I don’t think this offer is indefinite, so we need to call the secretary back by Friday afternoon.”

Lumie nodded and rushed to escape the kitchen. He went upstairs to his private bedroom and flopped facedown on the bed.

It was too good an opportunity to pass up. College would suck, but it would make Mercury so happy. Afterward Lumie was guaranteed to have a good job where he could use his special skills to their fullest. It really was an amazing opportunity, but it meant the end of his simple and easy life.

And there was also Alloy to think about. Alloy, who was running down the very long driveway—over two miles long—every afternoon to check the mailbox to see whether his GED scores had arrived. As soon as he had his official letter, he was going to start applying to colleges. How would Lumie feel every time Alloy got a rejection letter from a school, and Lumie knew he could have saved Alloy from that pain?

Lumie snorted in disgust at himself. Was throwing away his freedom worth it for Alloy’s happiness? Probably, damn it, but it wasn’t fair.

He threw his body off his bed and twisted his magic around him in a way no other dragon could. His bedroom vanished from view, and he reappeared just outside a small town. The nearest house was just across the street. Lumie quickly rounded the building to get to the backyard.

The flash of golden hair in the sunlight caught Lumie’s attention first, and he eagerly hurried forward to Goldie’s side. Goldie wouldn’t have the answer Lumie wanted, but just being by his side for a few minutes helped soothe his roiling thoughts.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

When Mell Eight was in high school, she discovered dragons. Beautiful, wondrous creatures that took her on epic adventures both to faraway lands and on journeys of the heart. Mell wanted to create dragons of her own, so she put pen to paper. Mell Eight is now known for her own soaring dragons, as well as for other wonderful characters dancing across the pages of her books. While she mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, she has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.

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Stranded With Desire by Rick R. Reed & Vivien Dean Release Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Stranded with Desire

Author: Rick R. Reed, Vivien Dean

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 30, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 55400

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, businessmen, friends to lovers, plane crash, wilderness survival, slow burn, m/m romance

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Synopsis

CEO Maine Braxton and his invaluable assistant, Colby, don’t realize they share a deep secret: they’re in love—with each other. That secret may have never come to light but for a terrifying plane crash in the Cascade Mountains that changes everything.

In a struggle for survival, they brave bears, storms, and a life-threatening flood to make it out of the wilderness alive. The proximity to death makes them realize the importance of love over propriety. Confessions emerge. Passions ignite. They escape the wilds renewed and openly in love.

When they return to civilization, though, forces are already plotting to snuff out their short-lived romance and ruin everything both have worked so hard to achieve.

Excerpt

Stranded by Desire, Rick R Reed and Vivien Dean © 2020, All Rights Reserved

Prologue

Colby LaSalle never dreamed his life would end in a plane crash over the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. But here he was, whispering fevered petitions to the Lord as the plane screamed, plunging downward…faster, faster.

Out the windows, all he could see was white. And the only outcome he could imagine was that once that white cleared, the last thing he’d take in would be towering pine trees and the cold side of a mountain hurtling toward him. It was almost too horrific to comprehend.

In those few moments, as Colby braced himself in his seat, head down near his knees, he found himself thinking what a loss this was. The man across from him, his boss, Maine Braxton, would never know the most important thing about Colby. And that thing was not his proficiency as an administrative assistant, keeping Maine on track and on schedule in all his business affairs, but that Colby was passionately—and secretly—in love with him. With all his heart and soul.

That fact, and the unspoken words that hid it, seemed tragic to Colby, maybe even more tragic than the life he was about to lose. What kind of life, Colby wondered, did you really have if you’d never truly loved and been loved in return?

Colby, at twenty-eight, had never been in love before. And now it looked as though he would never have the chance to act on his desire, on that feeling that made his heart flutter whenever Maine walked by his desk. Was love like a tree falling in the forest? If the object of that love never knew of it, did it really exist?

Colby looked up for a moment, maybe to have a final look at Maine, but was distracted by the view through the cockpit window of the six-seater plane they were traveling in—a Beechcraft Bonanza. The opaque fog of white cleared for a moment, and Colby could see, to his horror, that his imagination was correct.

They were hurtling toward the side of a mountain. The view was surreal. Shock kept him from thinking it was anything other than a very vivid nightmare.

He then looked over at Maine and saw he had slid from his seat to the floor. The strong, powerful man cowered there, hands over his head. His lips moved in what Colby could only assume was silent prayer.

Colby longed to slide over, to cover Maine with his own body and shield him from the impact, but he was paralyzed, a butterfly pinned to a board, and could only add his own whispered prayers to those of his boss.

“Please, God, help us get out of this alive. Let Maine know how very much I love him. Give me that chance.”

The private pilot, a blustery, gruff man named Gus Pangborn but whom everyone just called Rooster, shouted, “We’re gonna try and go up! We’re gonna try and go up!”

Colby didn’t know if he was talking to him, Maine, or himself, but the desperation in the pilot’s gravelly voice was clear. The despair in Rooster’s words communicated one thing to Colby and one thing only—he had no hope.

Colby squeezed his eyes shut tight and placed his head back down toward his knees again, covering it with his hands, although he wondered how much good it would do once the plane crashed, once it was consumed by a giant fireball.

What Colby LaSalle didn’t realize, though, was that the plane crash would signal not the end of his life, but the beginning.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Also available in Audio at Audible

Meet the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Find him at www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

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Vivien Dean has had a lifetime love affair with stories. A multi-published author, her books have been EPPIE finalists, Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Nominees, and readers favorites. After spending her twenties and early thirties traveling, she has finally settled down and currently resides in northern California with her British husband and two children.

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The Christmas Chevalier by Meg Mardell Release Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway!

The Christmas Chevalier

Series: Christmas Masquerade, Book One

Author: Meg Mardell

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 30th, 2020

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Female

Length: 33400

Genre: Historical, LGBTQIA+, historical/Victorian England, holiday/Christmas, gay, trans, friends to lovers, coming out, humorous, slow burn, mistaken identity, deception romance

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Synopsis

Alvy Lexington has bought himself the best Christmas present in the world. True, the draughty flat on a dingy stretch of the Thames has none of the welcoming holiday warmth of his family’s West London townhouse. That is the entire point! No one who knows him by his given name will ever set foot here. When his old friend Laura Jacobs needs somewhere to spend the holidays, Alvy knows he should keep his distance, but… But Laura makes him do incautious things. Like offering her a job—since when did he manage a printing press?—and inviting her to a certain Christmas Eve masquerade.

Laura knows the lush London of the Lexingtons is only a temporary escape from her grey days as a governess. But she is determined to enjoy this glittering winter wonderland while it lasts, especially her dance with an angel of a man at the masquerade. Why, his French chevalier costume practically glows! While she daydreams about her white knight, an unexpected business opportunity with Alvy makes her hopeful of a new independent life. But first, she is going to have to come to a real understanding with her old friend.

Excerpt

The Christmas Chevalier, Meg Mardell © 2020, All Rights Reserved

London, 1879

“Oh, my…my…my…”

“God?” her companion supplied innocently.

Laura glared up from where she stood doubled over, clutching the door frame with one gloved hand and pressing her side with the other.

“Gracious! Why…why must you take rooms level with…Big Ben?”

Alvy continued looking down at her with infuriating amusement.

“Ah, but the climb is one of the place’s chief charms. Come look at the view of the river. The embankment’s spoilt all its old charm of course, but we must have wide streets and electric lamps apparently.”

Laura’s heart continued to slam against her corseted ribs. She was not willing to praise the view. Or to move a step further.

“The stairs smell of…boiled cabbage and worse. While your place…what is the smell, Alvy? I would say it was tobacco, except I know your mother—”

“Would have an apoplectic fit if she so much as detected a particle of ash on my person? Very true. But then, that is the beauty of taking quarters in such a godforsaken corner of the town. Mother will never visit! I’m rather glad you were intrepid enough to brave Vauxhall. And the stairs.”

Laura had at last mastered her breathing and straightened to return fire on her tormentor.

“What, and miss a chance to see for myself your new, er, work premises? How spacious it is!”

She gestured around the large but scarcely furnished room. The tall sash windows admitted a great deal of midday winter light—and even more of the chill December air. There was no sign of a desk, or worktable, and the domestic furnishings only extended to a day-bed and a pair of battered armchairs before an open fire.

“You forget, Alvy, I am not such a fine lady that I need fear stares outside of fashionable London. The freedoms of being in the governess class are many and varied.”

Alvy flopped down into an armchair and stretched a slippered foot out from under the hem of a heavy silk dressing gown towards the cheerful blaze.

“Are they indeed? By Jove, I should love to know more about these rights and privileges.”

Laura wondered if she was being teased. But then she never could tell with her friend.

“Well, let’s see…There is the right to squash into an omnibus and end up directly next to a gentleman with a dripping hat.”

Alvy grinned at this start. Laura warmed to her task.

“The right to return your library books while enduring the scrutiny of some wire-spectacled gorgon.”

“Very right too! You look just the sort to eat buttered toast while reading borrowed books.”

“And, let us not forget, the preeminent privilege of politely bickering about the bill with other governesses at tea rooms.”

“Harpies the lot of them—yourself excepted. Lord, I’m so glad you’ve escaped those grubby children—”

“Child. And this one is an angel.” Too angelic, in fact. It made Laura worry about the girl’s inner life.

“Sanctimonious parents—”

“Mr and Mrs Shepherdson have been nothing but kind!” Or they had been. Until the discovery of certain books and letters.

“And the atrociously dull company of Dingley Dell—”

“For the tenth time, Alvy, it is Findleys Ford.”

“Ah ha! So you at least admit they are dull. But all these country backwaters are the same. London’s the only place to live.”

“A point you are forever making in your letters. It is not like I hied off to Dingley—to Findleys Ford on an idle whim.”

“Well, well, the point is you’ve escaped for the holidays. And, as you see, I’ve escaped too.”

“That fact had not eluded me. Your mother claims you are never to be seen at Norland Square.”

Laura could not imagine ever wanting to leave the ever-so-comfortable surrounds of Alvy’s childhood home. She had dreamt of the sumptuous dinners, the hot baths, and the soft sheets turned down by a maid for weeks now as she lay on her narrow tick mattress under the eaves at the Shepherdsons.

“Your mother is under the impression you are starting some great enterprise that will give work to female printers who are refused employment elsewhere.”

“Ah, not quite. I said I was setting up a printing press—and set it up I have.”

Alvy gestured with a long-fingered hand to a space behind the still-gaping door.

Laura swung the door shut. A great black iron contraption with decorative gold paintwork dominated the otherwise empty space.

“Oh, you have an Albion Press!”

“An Albion? I could have sworn the past owner called it an albatross.”

“Very funny. But the gold finial—that gold crown on top—is unmistakable. How on earth did you get it up here?”

“The men got it up here with a great deal of sweat and swearing. I got it up with bribery. They threatened to quit halfway up the stairs.”

“I am only surprised they did not bring down the whole staircase. But the press looks excellently preserved.”

“And it will remain in exactly the same condition.”

“Do you mean it is truly only for show? That is a rather rotten trick to play your mother.”

“Trick? I have done Mother a great service. She doesn’t know what to do with me. She has finally despaired of my marrying now that I am striding across the wasteland of my thirties.”

“I do not remember her ever being very pressing on the issue.”

“I have given myself some employment. Now she will have something to tell her society ladies at those dreadful committee meetings.”

“That you have dedicated yourself to good works—without the work part?”

Alvy blithely ignored Laura’s sarcasm.

“She will omit the part about Vauxhall, naturally.”

“While you will omit everything else?”

Something in Alvy’s dark eyes suddenly made Laura wish to change her tart tone.

With no doormat or boot-scraper in sight, she had no choice but to track the sludgy London streets into the room. Not that there was a scrap of carpet to dirty. Seating herself in a heap of mud-striped travelling skirts on the lone ottoman, Laura studied her friend.

Alvy’s appearance, especially after a long separation, always rekindled a flicker of Laura’s original awe. She knew that the gaze she held was properly described as brown. It was just the pale skin turning bluish under the eyes that made them look so intensely dark. Likewise, the greying walls and bare floorboards of these new quarters probably made Alvy’s costume of rich browns and blues so transparently costly. Alvy preserved a long-limbed grace even when reclining in a splendid heap in the battered chair.

Laura once assumed that the possessor of such a regal appearance would snub a nobody like her. She had since learnt the error of judging by appearances. She now took up one of those elegantly white hands, trying to ignore how dirty her sensible gloves looked in comparison.

“Tell me really what you mean to do. Come. We have known each other since we were practically children.”

The elegant hand was withdrawn. Alvy sat higher in the chair and broke into a fair imitation of a Scotsman.

“Speak for yourself, lassie. I was a full three and twenty when we met at that bonny brook in Switzerland. Or have ye forgot that day?”

Laura definitely remembered the questioning curve of Alvy’s left eyebrow as they passed each other on the trail; she was looking at it again now. Laura had been nineteen and on her first assignment with a family wintering at Luzern.

“How could I forget? You were wearing the most memorable alpine hat and matching coat. More feathers and frogging I had never seen. And yet, infuriatingly, you wore it all with such ease. Why, you still do!”

Alvy looked confused. “I promise that I don’t strut down the streets of London in alpine dress.”

“I mean that you are able to look well in anything. Take this turban contraption. No one else could wear it without looking foolish. Well, except perhaps a Shakespearean tragedian.”

Alvy gingerly felt the turban in question, silk without a doubt, but burst into laughter upon Laura’s final admission.

“The thing you never do seem to realise, Miss Jacobs, is that all clothes are costumes. All equally ridiculous.”

“Yours are not ridiculous! Eccentric perhaps. But becoming. You always do upholster yourself exquisitely. Which is more than I can say for your rooms.”

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NineStar Press | Books2Read Universal Link

Meet the Author

Meg moved from the US to England because she fell in love with the Victorians’ peculiar blend of glamour and grime. After a decade of exploring historical excesses in a prim scholarly fashion, she realized that fiction is the best way to delve into that period’s great female-focused and LGBT+ stories. Weaned on the high-seas romances of the 1990s, Meg’s lost none of her love for cross-dressing cabin boys but any tolerance for boorish heroes. She’s delighted to now have a whole raft of quirky and queer characters to cheer for on their quest for Happily Ever After. She frequently breaks off writing for an Earl Grey tea (milk not lemon). She’s trying to learn Polish and Portuguese at the same time. She plans to escape Brexit Britain.

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And Then There Were Four by Elna Holst Release Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway!

And Then They Were Four

Series: Tinsel and Spruce Needles, Book Four

Author: Elna Holst

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 30, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female, Female/Female Menage, F/NB

Length: 16700

Genre: Contemporary, NineStar Press, LGBTQIA+, FF romance, lesbian romance, pregnancy and childbirth, reunited, second chances, menage, holiday, international romance, seasonal, advent

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Synopsis

Malmö/Lund, Sweden, 2000

A radical feminist turned cop and a former Lucia candidate are expecting—twins. A gender studies professor burns her candle at both ends. A lovelorn bus driver is feeling fragile, until an unexpected visit brings her some queer holiday cheer; and an obstetric nurse single mother delivers the expected, while her past catches her unprepared.

In the final A Tinsel and Spruce Needles Romance, the crew from Candlelight Kisses, Little x and Wild Bells make their way through Advent 2000, celebrating the first X(X)mas of a new millennium.

Excerpt

And Then They Were Four, Elna Holst © 2020, All Rights Reserved

Malmö, Sweden, 3 December 2000

Rick’s hand slid over the striated orb of her stomach. She looked like a giant walnut. Yes, a walnut, that was how Padma Lindgren felt about herself as she entered the ninth month of her pregnancy: she was moving slow as a walrus and going nutty into the bargain. Her enormous middle was striped with indelible stretch marks, distended like a carapace, overwhelmingly ever-present, forcing her to sleep in positions she had never slept in before.

The wan white of Rickie’s freckled hand stood out against her belly, her touch making Padma’s skin break out in goosebumps. She hissed out air between her teeth. She knew her registered partner—or wife, as she called her for short—was just saying good morning to the babies. It didn’t matter. Her sex ached in readiness. Her huge, dark mother-to-be nipples puckered. Her pulse pounded in her ears.

“Morning, love,” Rick mumbled into her hair, and Padma whimpered. Erika’s hand stilled. “You okay?”

She turned in her arms, meeting Erika Stolt’s soft, grey-green gaze. Her thin, pink lips were pointing down in an expression of worry. Padma groaned. “Rick, please. Don’t stop. I’m—I’m incandescent.”

Erika smiled goofily. “You really are.”

Padma snorted, but Rickie’s eyes held a promise: one promptly delivered on as she moved her tantalising palms up the sides of Padma’s bump to cup her swollen breasts.

A sharp quiver cut through Padma, from chest to groin. These last few months her tits had been ridiculously hypersensitive. Erika had always been a fan of them, it was true—ever since their school days, Padma suspected—but now she was close to enlisting in the Holy Order of the Sacred Boobs. She grazed the undersides with her thumbs and Padma moaned.

Rick flushed with gratification. She flushed so easily it was just silly. And utterly fucking adorable.

Padma gripped her head, the semi-outgrown buzz cut tickling her fingers. She pulled her face up close. “Yeah, I’m going to need you to suck them. Hard.”

Rick didn’t need telling twice. She crushed their mouths together, swallowing Padma’s rough gasps as she continued to stroke her, but the kiss, for all its scintillating intensity, was nothing but a few seconds of foreplay before she progressed to Padma’s pebbled, painfully erect peaks.

She started with the left one, circling the areola with her tongue as she palmed the right. Padma sighed her encouragement. Her fingers brushed along Erika’s scalp, itching to pull, but endeavouring not to. She had to pace herself, or the moment would be over before it had properly begun; she knew this, although it was only the hard-earned self-discipline of the certified fitness instructor that managed to hold her in check.

Rick licked directly across her nipple and Padma’s hips bucked, her belly jutting into the warm, lean abdomen of her lover.

“Fuck, babe.” Rick’s whisper had a gulpy, watery quality. Her right hand skimmed along Padma’s obliterated waistline, sweeping the underside of her bump before finding the jungle-like swelter of her bush.

Sparks of hot, treacle-sweet arousal ran the length and width of her. Padma’s fingers clamped around Rickie’s skull. She was whimpering again. She couldn’t bloody help herself.

Rick chuckled, but after six years together, Padma knew exactly what that chuckle meant: Erika was skating the edge herself, the joy of sexual fulfilment gathering in her loins.

“Do it. I fucking swear to you, Rick, I— Oh! God!”

Rickie gorged on her breast. There was no other way to describe it. She had been rolling the nipple between her lips, teasingly, but now she was pulling, hard and relentless, and the rush of sensation made Padma cry out, her pussy starting to pound to the rhythm of Rick’s tongue swiping and lapping. Even before Rick pushed inside her, Padma started to flow.

Rickie didn’t let go. Padma’s juices were pooling in her cupped palm, colostrum, no doubt, seeping into her working mouth, but Rick didn’t let go, wouldn’t, as Padma’s hands came down to her shoulders, her nails digging half-moons into her flesh.

She had three fingers inside her now, filling her, pumping and pummelling, and as Rick found her clit and pressed down heavy; as her mouth moved to repeat the exercise with her right tit; as her left hand rested on her belly, protectively, lovingly; Padma’s consciousness of the world around her broke into a million trembling little pieces, her back arching, the howl of her climax loud enough to make the icicles hanging outside their bedroom window dance and glitter in the bright, white December morning.

Well, not really. But it sure felt like it, as far as Padma Lindgren was concerned.

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Often quirky, always queer, Elna Holst is an unapologetic genre-bender who writes anything from stories of sapphic lust and love to the odd existentialist horror piece, reads Tolstoy, and plays contract bridge. Find her on Instagram or Goodreads.

Website | Goodreads | Instagram

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Graham’s Rescue by Hurri Cosmo

Hurri Cosmo - Graham's Rescue Cover v7jfb sTitle: Graham’s Rescue

Series: The Oletti Shifters 02

Author: Hurri Cosmo

Genre: Paranormal

Length: Novel (256pgs)

Publisher: Hurri Cosmo (September 27, 2020)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Blurb: “You’re pregnant, Graham.”

Wow. Life has tossed Graham a lot of curveballs, but he never expected to hear those words. Then, just as Graham and his fated mate, Hyden, are getting used to that amazing news, someone from Graham’s past returns and kidnaps him, threatening the very future they want to build. Turns out Graham is an Oletti, a bloodline of wolf shifters that seems to be part of an ancient prophecy, one that speaks of a hidden magical spring of water that can restore the earth and all that is in it. A power some would kill to possess. Except, in the wrong hands, it can also turn humans and shifters totally away from what, and who, they truly love, tearing families and even fated mates apart.

Unfortunately, Hyden has been forced to drink this water so no one is coming to rescue Graham. It’s now up to him to not only save himself, his unborn child and his fated mate, but very possibly the world as they know it. But superhero capes are hard to come by and he never liked himself much in tights. Still, with the help of his Oletti powers, this should be something he can do, right? Oh, Great Wolf, let this be something I can do…

ISBN: B08KC2VZQ6

Product Link: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Smashwords

Reviewer: Shorty

Review: An excellent addition to the series that delves further into the Oletti’s background as well as Graham being in danger from those that want him for a specific purpose. I loved this suspenseful yet danger packed story. With Alpha Hyden trying to clean up Tenway to Graham being kidnapped.

This story has it all. I was in awe with the Oletti’s background as well as the interesting characters throughout the story both good and bad. My heart broke for what had been done to the Oletti’s out of greed.

This was the best book in the series as it answered many questions that remained from the first two books.

Amazing read.

The Hunter’s Gambit by Nicholas McIntire

Nicholas McIntire - The Hunter's Gambit Cover w9eudn sTitle: The Hunter’s Gambit

Series: The Archanium Codex 01

Author: Nicholas McIntire

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Length: Super Novel (722pgs)

ISBN: 9781733849128

Publisher: Black Dove Press, LLC (20th January 2020)

Heat Level: Nil

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: Aleksei Drago never expected an easy life, but he never expected what he got. Growing up amongst the Ri-Vhan of Seil Wood, losing his mother and just as suddenly being torn from the forest folk, Aleksei had no choice but to make the best of the unpredictable path in life.

But what happens when the monsters and figures of fiction become horrifyingly real? Can Aleksei find the right path? When his life and the lives of his family and friends are at stake will he fight, reforging himself into the man Prophecy demands he become? In a world of magic and Magi, of Angels and Demons alike, how will a simple farm boy survive his own contorted destiny?

This is the story of a seemingly-simple world gone mad, and the reality that every action, no matter how apparently benign, can serve to unravel terrifying truths. This is the story of Aleksei Drago, farmer, Hunter, and so much more.

Purchase Link: Publisher | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Now I’m a bit of a fantasy snob, sometimes the fantasy just isn’t fantasy enough but this baby is allllllll fantasy and not just fantasy but EPIC FANTASY.

This is an amazing story that has twists and turns all the way through, it has misdirection’s right from the start lulling you into a false sense of knowledge which is then shattered and it just gets more and more interesting.

Now this isn’t a romance, yes there’s gay characters but anything between them is kept in the background so you can fully get your teeth into the storyline… and oh my what a storyline it is. Danger, mystery, dirty deeds and epic fighting is just a bit of what you can enjoy in this well-crafted story. The world building is wonderful, the characters are fantastic and you really get dragged into the story.

Aleksei is one amazing man who discovers many things about himself; his counterpart is Jonas Belgi who also makes many discoveries as they both try their best to save their kingdom. This story is amazing and I really don’t know how to explain how fantastic it is. And OMG it’s a ten book series *squee* I can’t wait!!!

 I really really have no words to tell you more about this story without giving away the many surprises that unfold, all I can say is if you love epic fantasies and amazing battles then this story is for you.

Skythane by J. Scott Coatsworth

J. Scott Coatsworth - Skythane Cover f7rhf sTitle: Skythane

Series: Liminal Sky: Oberon Cycles 01

Author: J. Scott Coatsworth

Genre: Science Fiction

Length: Novel (318 pages)

Publisher: Other Worlds Ink (10th October 2020)

Heat Level: Low – Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Blurb: Jameson Havercamp, a psych from a conservative religious colony, has come to Oberon—unique among the Common Worlds—in search of a rare substance called pith. He’s guided through the wilds on his quest by Xander Kinnson, a handsome, cocky skythane with a troubled past.

Neither knows that Oberon is facing imminent destruction. Even as the world starts to fall apart around them, they have no idea what’s coming—or the bond that will develop between them as they race to avert a cataclysm.

Together, they will journey to uncover the secrets of this strange and singular world, even as it takes them beyond the bounds of reality itself to discover what truly binds them together..

ISBN-13: B08KGR6DZB

Product Link: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Publisher

Reviewer: Shorty 

Review: Two men taken to safety as children will come together twenty five years later to save the world.  Xander is a Skythane. He’s had a hard life. Abused at the hands of a diabolical man’s hands he is saved one day by Alix who cherishes and nurtures him until Alix disappears.

Jameson grew up in a religious home and became a psych. He helps people as is what he’s always wanted to do. The time comes when he is tasked to find out where a drug called Pith comes from. It will be a journey fraught with revelations and danger, spanning decades of memories.

The twists and turns and the buried memories were spellbinding to witness. This book had it all. Drama, mystery, suspense, a corrupt corporation, a world on the brink of destruction, characters that added insight to the ever growing mystery as to what it going on, and two men who discover who they truly are and what they are destined for. Simply put this was a fascinating story that grabs your attention from the start. 

I absolutely loved, loved, loved this story. If I could rate it more than a five I would.

The Skythane people were described beautifully as well as the worlds themselves. It was so elaborate that I felt as though I was there every step of the way. It was an amazing story from start to finish. 

Highly recommended for all.

The Werewolf and His boy by Warren Rochelle

Warren Rochelle - The Werewolf and His Boy Cover gvjg8v sTitle: The Werewolf and His Boy

Author: Warren Rochelle

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Length: Novel (241pgs)

Publisher: JMS Books LLC. (23rd September 2020)

Heat Level: Low – Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 4 Hearts

Blurb: Their leap of faith could unleash magic — or plunge them into darkness.

Henry Thorn has worked at Larkin’s since graduating high school. He likes it — especially when he can use his secret skill of hiding inside shadows so his boss can’t find them. Without that talent, he would never had survived growing up different.

When a hire enters the store, Henry’s other latent talent kicks in. He can smell an emotional response even before he lays eyes on the redhead.

Jamey Currey came out, and his conservative parents promptly kicked him out. He, too, is different — he senses Henry’s attraction the moment they met. The first time they kiss, torrential rains fall from skies split by lightning.

Their kiss also awakens the Watchers, diabolical hunters who will stop at nothing — even extermination — to keep magic suppressed. With the help of a friendly coven of friendly witches, the boys embark on a quest to discover an ancient key to restoring magic to the world, and to understand mysteries of their own hearts.

The question is, will this quest cost them their lives?.

ISBN: 9781646565580

Product Link: JMS Books | Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | Kobo

Reviewer: Shorty

Review: An interesting story about two young men, Henry and Jamey. One is comfortable with who he is the other is not. I found Jamey lashing out at Henry at times to be irritable as Henry did not make him fall for him. But Henry was always there for him no mater what.

I did not like Jamey’s parents and found their motives questionable at times. Despite the obstacles and twists and turns Jamey and Henry were faced with throughout they persevered at the end.

I enjoyed the unique twist on the paranormal in this story and found the overall book riveting.

All in all an enjoyable book about two young men who find love, courage and themselves in a time when the world needs them the most.

Great read.

Promise Me by A.G. Meiers

A.G. Meiers - Promise Me Cover 47fnm sTitle: Promise me

Author: A.G. Meiers

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novel (210pgs)

ISBN: 978-1-946379-50-4

Publisher: Painted Hearts Publishing (19th November 2020)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 4 Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: A fortune shouldn’t get you killed. A promise shouldn’t break your heart.

Attorney Rafe Stanton knows making promises is a dangerous thing. Over and over he has failed to keep people under his protection safe. For years he watched his younger cousin Noah lose his battle with drugs and alcohol, which eventually led to a deadly car accident. When he finds out about Noah’s secret marriage to Logan Tate, Rafe has one last chance for redemption.

Inheriting a fortune should be a blessing, but for Logan life never works out that way. He’s learned the hard way that dreams don’t come true—and if they do, well, there is usually a hefty price tag attached. All he really wants is a quiet life, but that isn’t in the cards when his apartment gets broken into and a pretentious lawyer from Boston arrives thinking he can call the shots.

The two men don’t see eye-to-eye about the inheritance, but with Noah’s powerful family coming after Logan, they find themselves reluctantly on the same side. A gunman, greedy in-laws, and meddling friends are not enough trouble; soon they also need to deal with the explosive chemistry between them.

But Rafe made a promise to the past and Logan doesn’t trust easily, so a future together seems out of reach.

Purchase Link: Painted Hearts | Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | Smashwords

Review: When Noah dies Rafe is left feeling guilt over not doing more for his cousin, when he discovers Noah’s Will he realises that the promise Noah extracted from him the night of his death is going to bring him head to head with Noah’s family.

Logan is left reeling by his husband’s death, Noah promised to look after him but now with Noah’s family setting their sights on Noah’s money Logan wonders if he can survive the battle, with Rafe on his side he might just be able to make it but the attraction they feel for each other just might blow up in their faces.

A.G. Meiers has written a story that pulls a lot of emotion from the characters; we have guilt, grief, anger, sorrow, fear, loss, and a dash of happiness. Both Rafe and Logan go through a lot emotionally as they find their way to each other with Noah’s wishes hanging between them as Logan just wants what Noah promised him and Rafe just wants to fulfil the promise he made to Noah.

Logan and Rafe both have secrets that affect how they feel. Rafe is tortured by guilt and feels he could have done more to protect people who relied on him, and Logan is bewildered by what’s happening to him, their secrets play a large part in how each man interacts with others especially those close to them.

We are pulled into this story from the first pages and it doesn’t let up as we are dragged along for the ride, it’s a rollercoaster of emotion as we follow the ups and downs of the story. Logan and Rafe’s relationship is fraught with emotional bombs, and they never know when an emotion bomb is about to go off. With the help of their friends they navigate the minefield of love and redemption and most of all forgiveness.

There’s some amazing secondary characters in this story, uncle Vicky, his niece Ria, Jase, Kane, Rafe’s dad and step-mom, they bring love, hope, kindness and acceptance into the story and an amazing support that both Rafe and Logan desperately need.

I really enjoyed this story and thought it was well written and for the most part well executed, there was one issue in particular I had with it and that was because of the actions of Noah’s family… was Noah’s death really an accident, not once after everything that came to light did anyone think that Noah’s death was a bit convenient, even though Noah’s death was an accident we’re human so of course the thought would flit through your mind after the truth is revealed about Noah’s family, but not once did any of the characters even wonder for a second before dismissing it. I mean Noah’s family are cold and ruthless I could so see them offing Noah to get their hands on his money.

I recommend this story to those who love a great storyline, love damaged main characters, who love family drama, who adore characters learning to forgive themselves and adore love stories where the love is hard fought.

Promise Me by A.G. Meiers Blog Tour, Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

Promise Me - AG Meiers

AG Meiers has a new MM contemporary romance out:

Promise Me.

And there’s a giveaway!

A fortune shouldn’t get you killed. a Promise shouldn’t break your heart.

Attorney Rafe Stanton knows making promises is a dangerous thing. Over and over he has failed to keep people under his protection safe. For years he watched his younger cousin Noah lose his battle with drugs and alcohol, which eventually led to a deadly car accident. When he finds out about Noah’s secret marriage to Logan Tate, Rafe has one last chance for redemption.

Inheriting a fortune should be a blessing, but for Logan life never works out that way. He’s learned the hard way that dreams don’t come true—and if they do, well, there is usually a hefty price tag attached. All he really wants is a quiet life, but that isn’t in the cards when his apartment gets broken into and a pretentious lawyer from Boston arrives thinking he can call the shots.

The two men don’t see eye-to-eye about the inheritance, but with Noah’s powerful family coming after Logan, they find themselves reluctantly on the same side. A gunman, greedy in-laws, and meddling friends are not enough trouble; soon they also need to deal with the explosive chemistry between them.

But Rafe made a promise to the past and Logan doesn’t trust easily, so a future together seems out of reach.

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Excerpt

Promise Me meme

Chapter 3

Rafe walked over the graveled driveway and took a narrow path along the side of the building. There was indeed a fourth door. Rafe knocked.

“Wow, that was fast, Ria. I just got your message.” A voice floated through a cracked window and then the door was pulled open. A young man was standing in the frame. Logan Tate. Rafe recognized him from the picture Kane had sent him earlier.

Whoever Ria was, Tate obviously found it appropriate to welcome her without a shirt. He was wearing nothing but some ripped jeans hanging low on his hips. Miles of golden skin over well-defined muscles. In fact, Tate had a six pack, with a swirl of soft brown hair disappearing into those jeans. Fuck. Rafe forced his eyes up. A square face, chiseled jaw. Tate’s hair was still wet, he had it tucked behind his ears with a few strands escaping and falling into his face. His eyes were already huge, but now they were wide open in surprise. For a second Rafe felt like he’d been transported into an American Eagle catalog shoot.

Before Rafe could get a word out, the door was slammed shut in his face. “All right, that went well,” he mumbled to himself. He stepped forward and knocked again. “Come on, Tate. Open the door.”

“I’ve got a lawyer, and I won’t talk to anybody without him present,” came the muffled reply through the door.

“I think there is a misunderstanding. I’m here—” Rafe’s cell started ringing. Annoyed, he pulled it out to silence it, when the door was ripped open again. Tate—still without a shirt—stared at him with his phone in his hand.

“You’re Rafe Stanton? Shit, I should have recognized you.” Tate turned and disappeared into the house. Rafe took the open door as an invitation to follow. The room he walked into was dominated by a huge bay window overlooking the ocean and the rocky beach. It was filled with honey-colored pine wood furniture, which was typical for beach homes, but none of the usual lighthouse or seashell knick-knacks. Midday sun flooded every corner with light and warmth.

Tate pulled a shirt out of a laundry basket on the floor and quickly put it on. When he stretched up his arms, his pants dropped even lower and Rafe’s eyes roamed over his Vee peeking out over his waistband. A bolt of lust hit him. Logan Tate was sinfully gorgeous. It’d been a long time that a man’s beauty had such an immediate impact on Rafe.

Still pulling his shirt down, Tate said, “Yeah, I should have recognized you. Noah showed me pictures. He talked about you all the time. Man, he loved you like a brother.”

“Excuse me,” Rafe replied tersely. He wanted to add: How dare you talk about him? You used him like everybody else.

“Fuck. I shouldn’t have said that? I pissed you off. I’m sorry.” Tate tugged on the bottom of his shirt and then waved to his small kitchen. “Coffee? I just made a fresh pot.”

Wrestling with his emotions, Rafe nodded, “Yes, thank you. And maybe we can start with formal introduction. My name is Rafe Stanton and I’m with Parker Law. I’m Noah’s cousin, and I’m also the executor of his last will and testament.”

Tate nodded and then walked over to the small, open kitchen and took two cups out of a glass cabinet and put them on the counter. “Milk? Sugar? I’m sorry I’ve no cream.”

“No, thank you. Black.”

“Of course,” Tate mumbled as he poured a cup and handed it over. Rafe only now noticed the dark purple bruise in his face and wondered what that was all about. “I’m Logan Tate. Please call me Logan. I’m—I’m Noah’s husband, but then you know that already.”

Yeah, Rafe knew, but he also hadn’t missed the slight hesitation, so he said, “I’d still like to see some ID. It’s just a formality, but maybe we can get it out of the way.”

“Sure.” Tate walked over to the small kitchen table tucked into a corner. He picked up his wallet and pulled out his driver’s license.

Rafe took a quick look, even though he’d seen a copy already. He could see one of his business cards lying on the table as well. His personal cell phone number was added in the middle. “Noah asked you to call me?”

“Yeah, he said to call you as soon as any lawyers from his family showed up. He said you would help me.”

Damn, Noah, how about a heads-up? Rafe took a sip, hummed in surprise and then took another. “Wow, this is good coffee.”

Tate smiled. And for a split second Rafe felt like he was looking at the most beautiful human being he’d ever met. Brown eyes—Logan had deep, dark brown eyes. It was a deadly combination with his honey blond hair. Rafe had a thing for blonds. Kane gave him crap about it all the time. Unconsciously bias.

“It’s from a small coffee shop in town. They roast and blend their own. Glad you like it.”

“Mr. Tate, Logan, can I ask you a few questions?”

“Of course, do you want to sit down?”

“Sure.” They settled down on the kitchen table. Rafe took another sip of his coffee and watched Logan fiddle with his cup. When he realized what he was doing, he dropped his hands onto his lap and gave Rafe a nervous smile. “So, what now?”

“How long have you been living here? It’s a nice place.”

Rafe could almost see the mental eye roll at his attempt at small talk, but Logan decided to appease him. “I moved here a little less than a year ago. Noah and I, we used to travel a lot, but then we started to look for something closer to his family in Boston.”

“Have you met his family?”

Logan blushed and lowered his gaze. “No, no, I haven’t. We kept our marriage quiet—”

“Why was that?”

“Fuck, what is this?” Logan pushed his chair back and stood up. “You know I’ve never met his family. They’d have taken one look at me and crushed both of us. Noah was scared shitless of his mother, that’s why he kept our marriage a secret. Why are you asking these stupid questions?” He walked to the bay window and looked out.

“Okay, then let’s jump right in, what do you know about Noah’s will?”


Author Bio

AG Meiers
Eighteen years ago, AG Meiers came to the United States for adventure, but stayed for love. Currently, she lives in New England with her husband and two awesome kids–balancing work, friends and family, and writing.

When she has some free time, her favorite thing to do is travel and visit new places. Her past trips have already brought her to a variety of countries on four continents. She never passes up an opportunity to experience different cultures, diverse people, and amazing locations.

Even though she has been dreaming up stories all her life, she has only recently started to write them down and share them with the world. As a writer, she loves to to put her characters through a lot of challenges, conflict, and heartbreak before she allows them to find their happy-ever-after.

 Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

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Tiny Planet Filled With Liars by Stephen M.A. Blog Tour, Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Tiny Planet Filled With Liars - Stephen M.A.

QSFer Stephen M.A. has a new diverse military space opera out:

Tiny Planet Filled With Liars.

And there’s a giveaway!

An armada that never dies. A society on the verge.

Every 30 days, Fleet Eternal arrives to surround the planet and lay siege to a complacent populace. Its armaments are unbeatable, its numbers uncountable, but the terrifying assault has one fatal flaw: a mere .01% loss in combat strength triggers automatic retreat and reset.

For decades, the Unified Fiduciary Dominion has relied on the Board and its military contractors to defend the planet and maintain the knife’s edge of survival. Now, riven by greed and false confidence, those corporate lords have abandoned their duty in pursuit of political power.

The tactics of the Alpha Vector Defense Corps have served for generations—so why are they suddenly faltering? And why do Board members seem increasingly unconcerned with the tenuous state of the system? Armed with the exclusive authority to investigate, one fussy ex-military reporter must partner with a generous Madame to chase down the story behind a string of failed battles—and pray they find answers before the districts are turned to ash.

As casualties rise, The Interviewer faces deadly resistance … and discovers a disturbing conspiracy at the highest ranks.

The world’s security is careening toward disaster, and this whistleblower is running out of time. But when every answer seems to bring more questions, one reminder guides the way:

Don’t come here looking for truth. This is just a pack of lies and the end of the world.

A genre-busting dramedy & political satire thriller in military sci-fi clothing.

Universal Buy Link


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Interview with Stephen M.A.!

[The Interviewer]

Who would you say your favorite character is? I’m presuming you won’t be pretending not to have one.

(chuckles)

[Stephen M.A.]

No, of course not. But actually, I think it was more a matter of having a particular favorite character at a particular point in the story. I think in the end it’s probably pretty obvious which character is my “hero” at any given section. The favorite.

[The Interviewer]

But never me.

[Stephen M.A.]

Well, no. Sorry.

[Int.]

I told you from the start you’d begin to hate me as soon as you let me start to get autobio—

[SM.A.]

It is NOT autobiographical—I mean, YOU are not autobiographical! You are NOT a stand-in for me! For crying out—

[Int.]

It’s Zhou, isn’t it.

[SM.A.]

(laughs)

Yes, it is. Of course it’s Zhou. She was the first, and the last. It could only ever have been her. She’s the only reason I turned this into an entire world.

[Int.]

Bless her mean and cranky heart.

[SM.A.]

Cheers.

[Int.]

We don’t have a drink. Quarantine, remember.

[SM.A.]

(sighs)

Yeah, I know. Also I don’t really drink.

[Int.]

(sighs)

Yeah, I know.

[SM.A.]

Can I be honest?

[Int.]

I don’t see why you’d bother starting at this point in the game, but sure, go ahead, it’s your word count.

[SM.A.]

I came into this with a firm concept, and a firm emotion. Mine. Anger. You know all the reasons.

[Int.]

Yes.

[SM.A.]

But the only reason this is likely to become a series now is because Zhou is the story. I’ll be writing the next two books for her.

[Int.]

Aw, that’s sweet.

[SM.A.]

Is it?

[Int.]

You’ll take a sandal to the throat if you say that to her face, though.

[SM.A.]

Well luckily you’re in there with her and I’m out here … uh … with you … you know what, let’s just wrap this up.

[Int.]

Probably for the best. Thanks so much to MM Good Book Reviews for having us! Grab Tiny Planet Filled With Liars on Kindle Unlimited today!

[SM.A.]

Goodbye.

[Int.]

Goodbye!


Excerpt

Tiny Planet Filled With Liars Meme - Stephen M.A.

2

Bartimus Caldwell

Onyx Hoteliers LTD., Suite 7382, Courtesy Level Omega Plus Royale

[Interviewer]

First, let me say welcome to the suite.

[Bartimus Caldwell]

Uh. Thank you.

[Interviewer]

It’s courtesy level Omega Plus Royale, you know.

[Bartimus Caldwell]

Okay.

Uh, I mean, that’s great. Very impressive.

[Int.]

Thank you. You need to purchase 2,000 units of Class A shares just to get the invitation to apply for a reservation.

[B.C.]

I see.

[Int.]

Mm-hmm.

[B.C.]

I’ll … uh … I’ll look into it, for sure, though I don’t know what I’d do with a room this fancy on my own.

[Int.]

You are Bartimus Caldwell.

[B.C.]

Yes, sir.

[Int.]

Don’t call me that. I’ve been discharged for years.

[B.C.]

I’m sorry, si—I mean, I’m sorry. I won’t.

[Int.]

State your position, rank, and assignment.

[B.C.]

Yeoman Sensor Scry, Grade III, Alpha Vector Defense of the Unified Fiduciary Dominion.

[Int.]

State your duties, in the most simple and clear terms you are able to.

[B.C.]

Uh … I coordinate the intake and regressive analysis of real-time sensor data to monitor the mid-threat-time development of incursions in the Alpha Vector, when under the command of UFD Central Board Oversight.

[Int.]

You’re a watchman and analyst.

[B.C.]

Uh … correct, sir.

[Int.]

How long have you been enlisted?

[B.C.]

I … was assigned commission four years ago.

[Int.]

You’re not volunteer enlisted?

[B.C.]

No, sir.

[Int.]

Why are you even allowed in the Operations Center, in that case? Or have those regulations been changed?

[B.C.]

I don’t—uh … I was not given such information, sir. Just the assignment.

I’ve been told my predecessor retired out of her indenture due to debilitating stress. Uh … several predecessors, actually. For the same reason.

[Int.]

I see.

[B.C.]

Yes.

[Int.]

Are you stressed, Bartimus?

[B.C.]

Yes, sir.

[Int.]

Bartimus.

[B.C.]

Yes, sir.

[Int.]

Stop calling me sir.

3

Bartimus Caldwell

Alpha Vector Operations Center

DURING incursions Bartimus Caldwell often feels chained to his desk.

Though incursion has initiated in the late afternoon (within a Unified Time Stamp of plus or minus 30 seconds) for the last twenty-six-and-one-half years, all personnel Grades V and below are still required to take stations no later than 0600 on the morning of.

Bartimus hates waking up so early, which may be why he avoided commission for so many years. It is to his great misfortune that he’s a whiz kid with sensor analysis, and inevitably discovered that Central Board Oversight had been made aware of his talents when he was abruptly recruited (then indentured) for a 20-year service stint four years ago, precisely two weeks after his 31st birthday. At the time he was gainfully (and happily) employed in the remote sexual screening industry, but that’s not relevant to this portion of his story.

Bartimus Caldwell’s desk, which binds him so readily, is located on the upper balcony of the Alpha Vector Operations Center, when under the command of Central Board Oversight.

This room represents the most exclusive and highly classified product catalogs of no less than three dozen military contractors. However, those who’ve bothered to learn as much know that in reality only two conglomerates perch atop the corporate meta-structure which hides its many tendrils behind each of those contractors.

In some professions, as you know, acknowledging this easily verifiable duopoly is quite literally illegal. For instance, service personnel are forbidden to acknowledge or discuss, in any capacity, any information that might insinuate that the dozens of military contractors working with Central Board Oversight are not in fact plucky small businesses that have been rightfully rewarded with thick and hefty revenue streams by virtue of patriotism and good old-fashioned UFD entrepreneurship.

Bartimus Caldwell adheres to this policy with unerring slavishness and would never even think of speaking ill toward the contractors. I know this because he has assured me of it several times.

When Alpha Vector Defense is not under the command of Central Board Oversight, Bartimus Caldwell’s desk is in the auxiliary hangar, packed in alongside the other 382 service members in the unit. In that venue, each such member enjoys no less than two square meters of personal space in which to perform their duties, of which their auxiliary desk takes up no more than one-point-two-five square meters.

Bartimus Caldwell bubbles with gratitude toward the military for providing this generously outfitted working space to its service members. I know this because he has assured me of it several times.

However, this was an incursion week, which meant that Board members would be in attendance for their usual round of post-contact media conferences and photo opportunities, which meant Bartimus Caldwell and his unit were stationed in the Alpha Vector Operations Center, showcasing the finest product catalogs of the military contractors owned by said members of the Board.

From his desk in the front ring on the upper balcony of the Alpha Vector Operations Center, Bartimus enjoys an unobstructed view of the entire room. Behind him on the octagonal balcony, which encircles the entire outer wall of the Operations Center, two more layers of desks and control consoles are laid out, fully staffed with unit members of Grades II and I.

The bidding wars to manufacture the desks used on the balcony have been quite fierce in recent years, and a new contract seems to be assigned every other month. Bartimus has grown quite used to arriving for OC duty and discovering a brand new desk in front of his seat, though thankfully, after one long stretch of genuine UX insanity, a regulatory design decree was issued that now ensures the general layout and functionality of each new desk model is largely the same as the last.


Author Bio

Stephen M.A.
Stephen M.A. is an ex-film student, Great Recession survivor, and first-generation tribal descendant originating from a reservation in big sky country. He now lives and writes in the northeastern United States.

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Other Worlds Inc

The Wicked Stepbrother and Other Stories by Warren Rochelle Blog Tour, Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

The Wicked Stepbrother and Other Stories - Warren Rochelle

Warren Rochelle has a new collection of gay fairy tales out:

“The Wicked Stepbrother and Other Stories.”

And there’s a giveaway!

Fairy tales. We all know the traditional stories, right? Prince Charming, the hero, fights evil, wins the princess, happily ever after. Three sons, three wishes, witches, dragons, a quest, and happily ever after.

These stories are part of our cultural fabric. We retell them, over and over, and the stories change in the retellings, to reflect contemporary culture, such as Princess Charming, heroes and heroines as people of color. It has been only relatively recently that queer folk have found their way into the retellings, as they have here, in this collection of stories, stories that grew out of questions:

What if the prince falls in love with Cinderella’s gay stepbrother?

What if Rumpelstiltskin doesn’t really want the Queen’s child? He wants his old boyfriend back, the King.

What if Beauty and the Beast were two men?

As fairy tales do, these stories explore the human condition, human experience, through the metaphors of magic and the magical, exploring what it means to be human. After all, all fairy tales are true. But this time, with a gay perspective.

In these tales, retellings and original ones, readers are asked to consider what price must be paid for happily ever after—which is not guaranteed. Love, on the other hand, without a doubt. These tales are love stories.

Duty or love? Is love worth great sacrifice?

So… once upon a time….

Publisher | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo


Giveaway

Warren is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Exclusive Excerpt

The Wicked Stepbrother and Other Stories - Warren Rochelle
from “The Wicked Stepbrother.”

“You want to make the ugly orange-haired brother feel better? Ease your conscience for being the favored one? You feel sorry for me?”

“Calum. I didn’t mean it that way—I only meant—I mean—I’m sorry.”

“Go away.”

She never tried to be friendly to me again. Father slapped me for my rudeness at the dinner table that night, of course in front of everyone. Conor tried to stop him but that only earned Conor a verbal slap. I just stared at him, the print of his hand on my face a bright red. Elena said nothing; her mother just looked smug.

The dark plague came to Colomendy two weeks later.

It was the night of the midsummer ball and Father, or so I had heard, was going to announce Conor’s engagement to Elena. And—according to what my footman bedfellow whispered to me—I was to be denounced as illegitimate because Mother had used her magic to seduce him and the marriage was null and void. A horse, a bag of gold, a cage of his doves, and the bastard would be sent on his way to start a new story somewhere else.

Father would wait, of course, to send me off. The engagement party was not to be spoiled. I was ready, thanks to Mary Grace.  One drop from the vial in my pocket into the after-dinner tea and they would all die in a lot of pain, writhing, screaming, their bodies contorting as their skin turned black. Neither Elena nor her mother would be so beautiful then.

But a messenger from the king arrived—a human one. That meant the message was of extreme importance. The man was shown in before the engagement announcement was made, as the beautiful couple spun around the inlaid star in the center of the ballroom with Father smiling. I stood by the long white-lace-covered table, decked out with all kinds of desserts and sweets.

Father, compelled by law to immediately read a sovereign’s message, waved his hand for silence. The dark plague. The first cases, already in the capital. The greenwitches and healer witches were desperately seeking a cure, a vaccine. We were to stay calm, to carry on. The engagement announcement was postponed. I closed my fist around my vial and said nothing.

A week later a scullery maid took sick. She died gasping for breath, the sight in one eye already gone. Colomendy lost fully half of the house servants, and a third of the estate staff. Then, Conor got sick. Elena. Her mother. Father.

Her mother died first. By then, Mary Grace was working day and night to come up with anything that would help and I was beseeching all the gods for Conor. I loved him and I knew if he died that I’d lose one of the few people who loved me back. Mary Grace called me to her herbarium the day after Elena’s mother died to hand me another vial, with one dose of a long-sought-for cure. It was like a vaccine, too, she said. The sick would get better and those not sick would stay well.

I told myself I would have given Father a dose if there had been enough. I knew that wasn’t true. So did Father, who called me to his room the next day. I could barely hear him speak. I knew he could barely see me.

“So, the ugly man-loving bastard wins. You will be Lord Culver, ninth Baron of Colomendy.”

“I’m not a bastard, Father. You just wanted to make me one.”

“You killed your mother. Having you killed her,” he gasped and with what energy he had left, he pushed back against the head board, and lifted his right hand to scrawl a warding sign in the air.

“You should be afraid of me,” I hissed, and he was gone. I was the new Baron.  I was eighteen-going-on-nineteen.

Mary Grace was among the last to die. She had raised me. She had shown me my silver blood; she had helped me learn how powerful I could be. She had taught me magic, despite the magic control laws.

I still grieve for her.

~~~~

What’s next?

Right now, I am working on completing Fletcher and Sam’s story. Fletcher is in Faerie, now he has to find Sam and bring him back. This task will test Fletcher. I think their story could a novella, but I am not sure.  I keep thinking of more things, of more story. The other project, which might be a novella, or at least along story, is a sequel to my first novel, The Wild Boy, and takes place two hundred years later, as humanity is recovering from the Long Nightmare of the Lindauzi conquest. When can you expect these novellas?  Next year, I hope. I also want to revisit a novel I have rewritten a few times, The Golden Boy, set in alternate history, in the world of the Columbian Empire.


Author Bio

AUTHOR PIC - The Wicked Stepbrother and Other Stories - Warren Rochelle
Warren Rochelle lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, and has just retired from teaching English at the University of Mary Washington.

His short fiction and poetry have been published in such journals and anthologies as Icarus, North Carolina Literary Review, Forbidden Lines, Aboriginal Science Fiction, Collective Fallout, Queer Fish 2, Empty Oaks, Quantum Fairy Tales, Migration, The Silver Gryphon, Jaelle Her Book, Colonnades, and Graffiti, as well as the Asheville Poetry Review, GW Magazine, Crucible, The Charlotte Poetry Review, and Romance and Beyond.

His short story, “The Golden Boy,” was a finalist for the 2004 Spectrum Award for Short Fiction. His short story “Mirrors,” was just published in Under A Green Rose, a queering romance anthology, from Cuil Press. “The Latest Thing,” a flash fiction story, is in the Queer Sci Fi anthology, Innovation.

Rochelle is also the author of four novels: The Wild Boy (2001), Harvest of Changelings (2007), and The Called (2010), all published by Golden Gryphon Press, and The Werewolf and His Boy, published by Samhain Publishing in September 2016. The Werewolf and His Boy was re-released from JMS Books in August 2020. The Wicked Stepbrother and Other Stories is forthcoming from JMS Books in late September 2020.

Facebook | FB Page | Twitter

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The PV-3 Mutagen by Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus Blog Tour, & Excerpt!

The PV-3 Mutagen - Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus
Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus have a new sci fi/space opera book out, Virasana Empire: Dr. Laurent Book 1: “The PV-3 Mutagen.”

As a history scholar and courier for the secretive Circle of Thales, Rene Laurent is a man of many talents – none of them lending themselves much to a life of adventure.

But when a chance meeting with a young, idealistic Belligra priest drags him into a wild quest to keep a dangerous mutagen off the streets of Floor, his curiosity gets the better of him. Between monsters both human and man-made, he realises that maybe fieldwork is more of his game than he had ever thought possible…

Written by Rainbow-Award-winning authors Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus, ‘The PV-3 Mutagen’ is a colourful non-romance sci-fi adventure set in the wildly diverse ‘Virasana Empire’, and the first novel of the ‘Doctor Laurent’ series.

Warnings: Not a romance. Harsh setting, but hopeful.

Amazon US | Amazon CAN | Amazon UK | iBooks | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords


Exclusive Excerpt

The PV-3 Mutagen

Cutting Edge

The monofilament weaponry shop was located at one of the posher malls in the quadrant. One Rene had never visited before since it specialised in all sorts of combat equipment. That the shop ran holo ads at other malls pointed to them having a good marketing budget which in turn meant they must be profitable.

The security guards at this mall didn’t so much as blink at the Belligra coming in. After all, he had good reason to be here. When they walked in, the first thing they saw was a shiny, hulking hovertank on display in the ground floor foyer, setting the mood for the whole place.

Amusingly, the holo ads here were a whole lot less obnoxious, mostly confined to displays right outside the shop windows rather than following the customers around. It probably wasn’t a good idea to annoy people who were interested in buying weapons, heavily armed and aggressive as they were wont to be.

Rene nearly lost Riccardo while studying the floor plan for the monofil shop. He found the Belligra at a nearby store, longingly gazing at what was advertised as the latest model of personal energy shields. The ones on display were in the form of various types of belt buckles and ornamental brooches. Riccardo was watching the holo display showing the shields in action with rapt attention.

Rene took one look at the price tags and dismissed the notion of getting one for his Belligra friend. There was a reason the store was located in the prime spot, right at the entrance. It wasn’t meant for priests, or normal commoners. This was the turf of company bosses and minor nobles. Looking inside, Rene found a stylishly uniformed shop clerk glaring at him. He wasn’t making shooing gestures, after all, a Belligra was not someone to be trifled with, but he very much wanted them gone.

“Come on,” he told Riccardo and tried to gently herd him away, “the ‘Cutting Edge’ is on the third floor.”

That got Riccardo’s attention. “Cutting Edge? Seriously? They couldn’t come up with a more cliche name?”

Rene shrugged. “You have to give them that you know exactly what they are dealing in.”

Riccardo cast one last longing glance at the energy shield display but obediently followed Rene to the escalators. There were plenty of other distractions for someone interested in combat. On their ride up, they had a good view of the great variety of shops selling all manner of killing tools devised by humanity and as many to make sure you didn’t get killed by them. Riccardo kept craning his neck to take it all in. It was the first time Rene had seen him truly fascinated by the abundance of commerce Floor was famous for. So, the austere, disciplined Belligra had a weakness when it came to weaponry and armour. Rene was curious to see if he would be overwhelmed by it, but he kept his own weakness of curiosity in check and led Riccardo straight to the monofil store.

It was located between a dingy-looking ammunition shop, which advertised bulk sales, and a small workshop offering armour repair services. The Cutting Edge very much dominated the scene with a sleek, white and silver interior, looking very high-tech in a most pleasing, confidence-inspiring way. The displays in the windows showed only a handful, equally sleek weapons, with special lighting illuminating the edges in different colours.

Next to Rene, Riccardo made a small sound of joy. While before he had looked like a kid in a candy shop, he now seemed more like someone admiring a piece of art. Rene looked up at him, raising an eyebrow. In reaction, Riccardo managed to look embarrassed and righteous at the same time.

“What? They’re pretty. Can’t I appreciate that?”

Rene smiled at him. “Appreciate away. It’s nice to finally see you find something you like on Floor.”

“Hmm. Let’s call it reason number one why I don’t have to leave the planet as soon as possible, shall we?”

“Let’s.” Rene entered the store and was announced by a soft tinkling as he stepped through the door.

He half expected to be treated as unwelcome rabble here as well, so he was pleasantly surprised when, instead, a clerk dressed casually in cargo pants and a white t-shirt with the Cutting Edge logo approached them with a bright smile. No older than in his mid-twenties, his bright blue, spiky hair sparkled the same colour as some of the weapons’ edges.

“Welcome, gentlemen,” he greeted them, “I’m Gino. What can I do for you today?”

Polite customer service was what sold wares, and this franchise was well aware.

“We’ve seen an ad for your monofilament grenades,” Rene replied. “We have a bit of a vermin problem, and we think that your grenades are the way to go to get rid of it.”

“That must be some seriously bad vermin,” Gino joked.

Rene held out his hand at waist height. “This tall and armed with teeth and claws.”

“Oh.” Suddenly, the joke wasn’t that funny anymore and Gino switched gears with admirable speed. “Then I think you are in the right place. Our grenades were specifically designed for exactly these kinds of problems. If you will come with me, I can show you the options we offer.”


Author Bio

We are Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus, a couple currently living our happily ever after in the very heart of Germany, under the stern but loving surveillance of our cat.

Both of us are voracious but picky readers, we love telling stories and drinking tea, good food and the occasional violent movie. Together, we write novels of adventure and romance, hoping to share a little of our happiness with our readers.

An artist by heart, Beryll was writing stories even before she knew what letters were. As easily inspired as she is frustrated, her own work is never good enough (in her eyes). A perfectionist in the best and worst sense of the word at the same time and the driving creative force of our duo.

An entertainer and craftsman in his approach to writing, Osiris is the down-to-earth, practical part of our duo. Broadly interested in almost every subject and skill, with a sunny mood and caring personality, he strives to bring the human nature into focus of each of his stories.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

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Canopy by Liz Faraim Blog Tour, Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Liz Faraim - Canopy Banner 2

Hi guys! We have Liz Faraim stopping by today with the tour for her new release Canopy, we have a brilliant interview, a great excerpt and a fantastic $20 Amazon GC giveaway so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Pixie~

Liz Faraim - Canopy Cover fnhfg7

Canopy

(Vivian Chastain 01)
by

Liz Faraim

Vivian Chastain is an adrenaline addicted veteran, transitioning to civilian life in Sacramento, California. She settles into a new routine while she finishes up college and works as a bartender, covering up her intense anxiety with fake bravado and swagger. All Vivian wants is peace and quiet, but her whole trajectory changes when she stumbles upon a heinous crime in progress and has to fight for her life to get away.

While recovering from the fight, she falls in love with someone who is tall in stature but short on emotional intelligence, and this toxic union provides Vivian the relationship that she thinks she needs. Given Vivian’s insecurities and traumatic past, she clings to the relationship even while it destroys her.

Vivian’s relationships are strained to their breaking points as she continues to seek balance. She turns to her best friend for support, only to be left empty handed and alone until she finds comradery and care from the last person she would have thought.

.•.•.**❣️ NineStar | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Smashwords ❣️**.•.•.

Continue reading “Canopy by Liz Faraim Blog Tour, Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway!”

The Hunter’s Gambit by Nicholas McIntire Blog Tour, Excerpt, Review & Giveaway!

The Hunter's Gambit - Nicholas McIntire

Nicholas McIntire has a new queer fantasy book out,

The Archanium Codex book 1:

The Hunter’s Gambit.

Aleksei Drago never expected an easy life, but he never expected what he got. Growing up amongst the Ri-Vhan of Seil Wood, losing his mother and just as suddenly being torn from the forest folk, Aleksei had no choice but to make the best of the unpredictable path in life.

But what happens when the monsters and figures of fiction become horrifyingly real? Can Aleksei find the right path? When his life and the lives of his family and friends are at stake will he fight, reforging himself into the man Prophecy demands he become? In a world of magic and Magi, of Angels and Demons alike, how will a simple farm boy survive his own contorted destiny?

This is the story of a seemingly-simple world gone mad, and the reality that every action, no matter how apparently benign, can serve to unravel terrifying truths. This is the story of Aleksei Drago, farmer, Hunter, and so much more.

Publisher | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Google Play | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Giveaway

Win two x $20 Amazon gift cards!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 


Excerpt

Henry spent the rest of the day watching his son closely. Something was undeniably troubling him, but until Aleksei decided to open up to him there was nothing he could do.

“He’ll tell you in his own time, Henry.” he muttered under his breath.

So he waited. Every now and then he would engage his son in conversation, but every time he thought Aleksei might be on the brink of telling him something, the conversation fled to some superficial topic. Did he think it would rain by Market Day? Who did he think would bring the biggest pig to the Harvest Festival? Did he think Mother Margareta would come to bless their fields before the first frost?

Henry answered each question as though it was the direction he meant to steer the conversation, and refused to allow his frustration to surface. But by the end of the evening, he was no closer to understanding his son’s troubles than he’d been that morning.

Finally Aleksei rose from his seat before the fire, put his book away, and went to bed. Henry watched him go, more troubled than ever. The boy had never gone to bed without a word before. He always had some last comment to make, even if it was just to wonder at the next day’s activities.

Henry sat before the dying embers of the fire well into the night, thinking. He didn’t remember falling asleep, so when the voice woke him his eyes started open.

Hello, Henry.

He looked around, trying to get his bearings.

Gone was the heat of the hearth, the comfort of his chair. Instead he stood in an enveloping fog of shimmering gold.

He could see no one.

“Where am I?” Henry demanded.

A dream, Henry. This is merely an illusion. I apologize that I cannot offer you more comfortable surroundings at the moment.

“Who are you?” Henry called, feeling a touch foolish, shouting at phantoms.

His question went unanswered.

Henry, I’ve come to ask a favor.

“Who are you?” Henry repeated flatly.

There was a moment of hesitation before the voice responded. A man much like yourself, Henry Drago. One who only wants what’s best for your son.

“Speak then.”

When the favor was uttered, Henry blinked in confusion. A thousand questions bubbled to the surface, yet he found that he only possessed the strength to ask one.

“Why?” he choked, surprised by the weakness in his own voice.

The air before his face shimmered and distorted, as though he were looking through intense heat. Slowly, images formed. Images of Aleksei. An Aleksei he didn’t recognize.

“Why are you showing me this?” Henry managed.

Because I want you to see what your son could become. The man he could be, if you’d only let him. If you just do as I say.

“I don’t trust you.” Henry barked back. “I can’t even see your face.”

Another image shimmered into being. A man, though Henry saw nothing remarkable about him. The man leaned forward and whispered in his ear, and Henry heard the unmistakable ring of truth.

In that moment he thought he might have preferred a dagger to the heart. It would have been far less painful to simply die at the end of a highwayman’s blade than to agree to this. Either way, he would lose the most precious thing he had.

“Bargain struck.” Henry whispered bitterly, a tear winding its way down his cheek.

You’re doing your son a great service, Henry Drago.

The man even sounded earnest.

Henry started to say something, but even as he opened his mouth, darkness swirled around him. He slipped back into the empty chasms of sleep.

#

Morning greeted Aleksei gently, rousing him from a dreamless oblivion. It had taken him hours to finally find some rest, and his relief was immeasurable when he woke without encountering the specter of the green-eyed man. His wish had been granted. The man was gone.

He made his way down the narrow stairway and walked into the kitchen, frowning at what greeted him. Their rough wooden table was laid out with provisions for what Aleksei could only guess was a journey.

But a journey where? His father hadn’t said anything about travel. There was still wood to chop and hay to store. The first snow might be weeks away, but there was no telling when the winds would usher in the chill of Northern air. Working outside in the cold was not something he, nor any farmer, relished.

“I see you’re up.” Henry said from behind. Aleksei jumped.

He turned, “Da, where are we going? I thought we were going to finish the hay this morning.”

His father shook his head and smiled, though Aleksei caught the deep sadness in Henry’s eyes. “We aren’t going anywhere, Son. You are.”

Aleksei frowned, “Me? But I thought—”

His father tried to hold the smile, but it was forced, “You’re needed, Son. In the North.”

Aleksei thought his heart would stop. He forgot to breathe. He could hardly process what his father had just said.

You know the truth he speaks, Aleksei.

Aleksei fought back a sob of frustration. He thought he’d freed himself of the damned voice, but now he knew the truth. He would never be free from it. It would hound him until the end of his days, or until it drove him mad, whichever came first.

Or until you simply do as I ask.

“Why?” he finally managed.

His father looked out the kitchen window, and Aleksei followed his gaze. Dash waited patiently outside, a saddle fitted snugly about his muscular frame.

“Because you’re needed, Son. It’s the only answer I can give you.”

“I’m not needed here, Da? Don’t you need me?”

Henry bit back the pain in his voice, “You are more of a help than I can say, Aleksei, and I love you dearly. But no, I don’t need you. Not like this. If you stayed here, you’d be wasting something…extraordinary. And honestly, I think you’d know it too. They need you in the North, Son. And their need is much more important than mine.”

Aleksei stood there, stunned by what his father was saying to him. And then the questions came pouring forth. What did Henry mean by ‘extraordinary’? What had his father learned? What was still being kept from him?

“And I’m sorry I can’t give you the answers you want, Son. But I think you know who can. Find him.”

“But how can I….” Aleksei began, fighting back the tears springing into his eyes.

“You’re strong, Aleksei. You’ve always been strong. That won’t fail you now.”

Henry swallowed back his own tears and tried to smile again, “Now you’d better get on the road. The sooner you get beyond the Southern Plain, the better. You don’t want to be riding under the Harvest sun too long if you can help it.”

“But where am I going?” Aleksei cried, his voice breaking. It was happening too fast. His life was slipping through his fingers moment by moment and there was nothing he could do about it.

“North, Son. North. You’ll know where you’re headed as you get closer. That’s all I know to tell you.”

Aleksei looked into his father’s eyes and saw the sadness, the regret that burned within him. His father wanted to know just as badly as he, to know just what sort of place he was so blindly sending his son.

Finally, after a long silence, Aleksei nodded. “Alright, Da. If you want me to go, then I’ll go.”

“I’ll never want you to go, Son.” Henry whispered, his face contorting with pain. He had already lost his wife, and now he was losing his son, too. Aleksei would still be alive, but he would be so far away.

“But promise me something, Aleksei.”

Aleksei nodded, “Anything, Da.”

“If you find this place and if it’s not what you want, what you need, promise me you’ll come back. Even if this isn’t what you want either, at least we can figure that out together.”

Aleksei finally allowed a tear to wind its way down his cheek, “I promise, Da.”

Henry stepped forward and wrapped his arms tightly around his son, hugging him as close as he could, as though any moment Aleksei might turn to mist and vanish forever. Henry stepped back and managed a sardonic smile. Aleksei might remain solid as stone, but surely enough he was about to vanish.

#

Henry didn’t watch his son ride away. In truth, he couldn’t bear it. As long as he’d never seen Aleksei leave he could always pretend the boy was out in the barn, or by the pond he’d swum in as a child. It was a good hour before Henry allowed himself to sit down in his chair and sob.


Author Bio

Nicholas McIntire
Critically-acclaimed author Nicholas McIntire has been writing fantasy since he was 8 years old. The bones of the Archanium Codex were first created when he was 16, and in the past 20 years, he has taken that initially simple idea and crafted it into a fully realized world, finished the sequel, earned three degrees (one in Russian, Eastern European Studies, two in Nursing), and lived life to its fullest. Now writing full-time, Nicholas is ready for share is vision of the Archanium Codex, a 10 book series. The first book of the series being The Hunter’s Gambit.

Nicholas, lives in Fort Worth, Texas, but writes in both Fort Worth and Fort Davis, TX, where his family has a small place situated at 5200 feet in the Davis Mountains – and, yes, Texas does have mountains.

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Nicholas McIntire - The Hunter's Gambit Cover w9eudn sTitle: The Hunter’s Gambit

Series: The Archanium Codex 01

Author: Nicholas McIntire

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Length: Super Novel (722pgs)

ISBN: 9781733849128

Publisher: Black Dove Press, LLC (20th January 2020)

Heat Level: Nil

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: Aleksei Drago never expected an easy life, but he never expected what he got. Growing up amongst the Ri-Vhan of Seil Wood, losing his mother and just as suddenly being torn from the forest folk, Aleksei had no choice but to make the best of the unpredictable path in life.

But what happens when the monsters and figures of fiction become horrifyingly real? Can Aleksei find the right path? When his life and the lives of his family and friends are at stake will he fight, reforging himself into the man Prophecy demands he become? In a world of magic and Magi, of Angels and Demons alike, how will a simple farm boy survive his own contorted destiny?

This is the story of a seemingly-simple world gone mad, and the reality that every action, no matter how apparently benign, can serve to unravel terrifying truths. This is the story of Aleksei Drago, farmer, Hunter, and so much more.

Purchase Link: Publisher | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Now I’m a bit of a fantasy snob, sometimes the fantasy just isn’t fantasy enough but this baby is allllllll fantasy and not just fantasy but EPIC FANTASY.

This is an amazing story that has twists and turns all the way through, it has misdirection’s right from the start lulling you into a false sense of knowledge which is then shattered and it just gets more and more interesting.

Now this isn’t a romance, yes there’s gay characters but anything between them is kept in the background so you can fully get your teeth into the storyline… and oh my what a storyline it is. Danger, mystery, dirty deeds and epic fighting is just a bit of what you can enjoy in this well-crafted story. The world building is wonderful, the characters are fantastic and you really get dragged into the story.

Aleksei is one amazing man who discovers many things about himself; his counterpart is Jonas Belgi who also makes many discoveries as they both try their best to save their kingdom. This story is amazing and I really don’t know how to explain how fantastic it is. And OMG it’s a ten book series *squee* I can’t wait!!!

 I really really have no words to tell you more about this story without giving away the many surprises that unfold, all I can say is if you love epic fantasies and amazing battles then this story is for you.

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His Dark Reflection by Heloise West Release Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway!

His Dark Reflection

Series: Heart and Haven 03

Author: Heloise West

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 2, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 66100

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, action, blue-collar, law enforcement, mystery, crime

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Synopsis

Disgraced FBI agent Nick Truman failed to save his sister, who was held hostage by a drug cartel until he could give them Alex Crow, who eluded him. His epic downfall lands him in witness protection, where he plays by the rules and keeps to himself. But the murder of his neighbor brings danger to his door. He unexpectedly finds himself the champion of innocents and helplessly attracted to the homicide detective in charge of the case. Nick knows it won’t end well.

Homicide Detective Hank Axelrod is good at digging out secrets, maybe because he hides a big one of his own. He also suspects his husband has one foot out of the door of their marriage and the specter of single life looms unpleasantly on the horizon.

A murder resembling a previous one brings Nick into his world, a man who claims to be a mystery writer looking for a real-life resource. Hank’s instincts say he’s more than that, and he’s rarely wrong.

Torn between the errant soon-to-be-ex husband and the distracting, sexy stranger, Hank needs to focus all his attention on his murder case before he becomes the next victim.

Excerpt

His Dark reflection, Heloise West © 2020, All Rights Reserved

Hank rattled the keys in a one-handed grip to shake loose the house key from the rest. No lights on in the house and beyond late for dinner—starving and sleep deprived too. In his other hand, he held a thick file of case notes because the night wasn’t over for him yet. At least Len had left the porch light on.

After letting himself into the house, he placed the file on the end table, keys on top, and toed off his shoes. The windbreaker he shrugged out of hadn’t done much to keep the spring cold off.

The rocking chair in the living room creaked. Hank spun around, hand going to his holster.

“Easy, cowboy.” Len yawned. He snapped on the table lamp beside him. “I fell asleep. What time is it?”

“Jesus, Len. It’s two in the damn morning. Let me put this away.” At the bottom of the closet, the gun safe sat on a shelf. He knelt, spun the dial, and tucked the gun away. When he turned, Len stood, arms across his chest, brown hair tousled. Another yawn stretched his mouth wide. Hank, tired to the marrow, pulled Len into a bone-crunching hug, and Len laughed against his shoulder.

Relief tickled through him. On the drive home from the station, he’d feared the house would be empty. He inhaled the scent of Len’s pricey shampoo—vanilla and sweet tobacco with a hint of whiskey. His heart twisted with anxiety.

“I’m sorry. I—”

“You got caught up, I know. ’Sokay.” Len yawned again. “But I’m beat. She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed wants me in bright and early tomorrow, so…” He stepped away from Hank’s embrace. Hank let him go with reluctance. “There’s lasagna and meatballs in the fridge. Or maybe you’re ready for bacon and eggs?”

“Neither. Both. I’ll figure dinner out while I read the case notes again. I need to make sure this guy doesn’t walk.”

Len turned around. “Hon? I know. You’ll be great. You always are. Night.”

“Night,” Hank responded as he picked up the paperwork. He sat in the rocker Len had vacated with the file in his lap and fell asleep with the first page between his fingers.

He awoke with a snort, thinking he’d heard Len’s muffled laughter and smiled. When he glanced at his watch, twenty minutes had passed since he’d first sat down. He’d sleep in tomorrow, but he still wouldn’t have caught up on all the sleep he’d lost over this one. Hank stood and stretched his aching muscles, contemplating a shower, but his deepening desire for bed and maybe sex to relax him led him into the bedroom and not the kitchen. Len’s nightstand lamp glowed, and his side of the bed rumpled but empty. Len’s soft giggle came from the other side of the bathroom door.

Hank rapped his knuckles against the oak. “Hey, babe?”

The toilet flushed. “I’m washing up! Be right there.”

A cold weight settled into Hank’s belly at his husband’s rushed, edge of guilty tone, slithery and with pointed scales brushing against his tender insides—a too-familiar feeling tilting the world on its axis. The bathroom door opened, and Len came out wreathed in the scent of mouthwash and minty toothpaste. “All yours.” He smiled but wouldn’t meet Hank’s eyes, making it all the harder for Hank to dislodge the sick feeling in his stomach.

“Who were you talking to?”

Len turned away from Hank. “One of the new interns drunk-dialed me. She’s a hoot, so we talked. Come to bed, Hank. You must be wiped out.” He slid between the sheets and pulled on the covers on Hank’s side.

Liar, the serpent in his belly whispered.

“I fell asleep in the rocker, so yeah, I guess I am.” Too tired to fight, he gathered up pajama bottoms and a T-shirt and headed into the bathroom. When he came out, Len lay facing away from Hank, his breathing even. Maybe asleep. Hank doubted it as he climbed into bed turned away from Len, his eyes wide in the darkness.

*

Hank slept later than usual, exhaustion stealing any memory of dreams he might have had. When he awoke, Len had already gone to work. What had Hank been so afraid of last night?

He went into the kitchen and started up the coffee. Not the first time one of Len’s friends had called drunk or upset. Len had a lot of friends. They helped him through Hank’s late nights. Although their marriage went to hell last spring, in the end, love forced them to work things out. Hank believed in Len, still believed the tearful, heartfelt promises of renewed fidelity.

He shoved a bagel into the toaster oven. But—he plopped down on a kitchen chair as if his bones had untied themselves—why did he have such a weird feeling last night? A couple of weird feelings, actually.

He’d believed Len when he returned to him and promised fidelity. Yet, he spent too much time with liars, thieves, cheats, and murderers, so maybe the distrust had rubbed off on him?

Or should he stick with his gut feeling Len had more to hide? It wouldn’t be the first time…but he’d hoped they’d done with the past. Ugh, second-guessing himself again. He couldn’t afford the drain on his confidence today.

The toaster oven tinged. With a fork, he dragged out the bagel. He loaded it with butter and the homemade strawberry jam his mother had made.

He didn’t trust much of humanity, long before he’d become a cop. Hank didn’t want the scum bleeding into their relationship. Distrust bred more distrust. He often found it tough to leave the hard-guy persona behind at the office, to let his softer side out around Len. It’d been difficult when they first met, but Len had been patient. Well, Hank would be patient too. What if a family issue had set off Hank’s alarms, a secret Len didn’t want to share yet?

He’d demolished the bagel as the wheels turned in his head. Sucking on his sticky-sweet fingers of one hand, he opened the fridge with the other for a second bagel. Last night’s dinner sat wrapped in cellophane on the shelf.

He had to talk to Len. But first, where did he leave the damn file?

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NineStar Press | Books2Read Universal Link

Meet the Author

Heloise West, when not hunched over the keyboard plotting love and mayhem, dreams about moving to a villa in Tuscany. She loves history, mysteries, and romance. She travels and gardens with her partner of fifteen years, and their home overflows with books, cats, art, and red wine.

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Restriction by A.C. Thomas Release Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Restricted

Series: The Verge 01

Author: A.C. Thomas

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 2, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 63900

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBTQIA+, sci-fi, pansexual, gay, nerd/scientist, pilot/space cowboy, space travel/road trip, space pirates, missing person, size difference, twins, virginity/loss of virginity, class difference

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Synopsis

Dr. Aristotle Campbell is a desperate man. His twin brother has been abducted, and Ari will do anything to find him. Forced out of the comfortable solitude of his laboratory, Ari must leave their home world of Britannia and search the farthest reaches of space for his other half. He hastily equips himself with a flawlessly tied cravat, a handful of clues, and his small science vessel. Now, all he needs is a pilot to get him across the Verge, a barrier separating the civilized world from ungoverned space.

Pilot Orin Stone is a desperate man. No ship, no pay, no prospects. He spends his days barely scraping by in the rough colonies lining the Verge interior. When he gets an offer from a frantic, upper-crust professor in need of a pilot, he has no choice but to take the job. He just can’t believe it when the professor turns out to be the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen and that his offer includes a ship of Orin’s own. If Orin can keep his heart (and other portions of his anatomy) from leaping every time sweet, innocent Dr. Campbell looks at him, this should be his easiest job yet.

Rugged Orin and aristocratic Ari work together to navigate the lawless areas of space beyond the Verge, soon discovering that they work well together in all areas. Their immediate and intense attraction to one another is an obstacle to their plans that neither saw coming. More than sparks will fly when they break through the force field and enter restricted space, all alone together for the perilous journey, leaving barriers to their growing attachment far behind.

In their search across the stars, can two desperate men find their home in one another?

Excerpt

Restricted, A.C. Thomas © 2020. All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
“You want me to do what?”

Ari straightened his shoulders, hands folded together on the table between them, suppressing a wince as his skin stuck unpleasantly to a thick smear of residue best left uninvestigated.

Somewhere behind him the sound of glass breaking was followed by a bowel-shaking roar, a meaty impact, scuffling sounds, and hearty guffaws.

Definitively best left uninvestigated.

He sniffed quietly, regretting the action as the odor of stale beer and unwashed bodies assaulted his senses. Forcing himself to meet his companion’s bored regard, he cleared his throat before speaking in as firm a tone as he could manage.

“In the interest of saving both of our time, I’ll cut to the chase. I require a pilot capable of navigating uncharted areas with immediate availability and a willingness to negotiate a flexible pay schedule.”

Mr. “Call me Orin, honey” Stone slumped back in his seat with careless, sprawling grace, the edge of one enormous scuffed leather boot sliding across the floor to rest a millimeter away from the polished black toes of Ari’s spats.

“So, just so we’re clear— You’re asking me to find you a pilot ready to jump right across the Verge into the deepest, slimiest dark, for—and this is the bit that really sticks in my throat, pumpkin— You want me to find you some sap willing to do all that for, apparently, no pay.”

Keen bourbon eyes swept Ari from head to toe, that restless boot finally edging just close enough to touch.

“You’re cute, sugar. But you’re off your rocker.”

Ari’s chair scraped against the floor as he jolted forward in his seat, one hand closing around the fraying cuff of Orin’s greatcoat.

“This is a matter of utmost urgency. My brother is—” He paused to clear his throat after an embarrassing crack in his voice. “My brother is missing; he has been abducted by an Outlier fiend, and I am utilizing every resource at my disposal to ensure his safe return. My inquiries led me to you, with the assurance you could facilitate a jump with immediate effect. Now I demand that you either provide said assistance, or you cease wasting my time.”

Orin fixated on the white-knuckled grip holding his sleeve. The coiled strength of his thick forearm underscored Ari’s awareness that he could break free at a moment’s notice with very little energy expended.

“What kind of resources are we talking, here?” Orin’s eyes narrowed under a heavy brow, the sweep of space-black lashes unexpectedly elegant against his brutish visage.

Ari drew a long breath, attempting to steady his resolve.

“I possess a three-year-old Xalanthe Explorer model 953V. It is in exemplary condition, and I am prepared to offer it as payment upon my brother’s safe return to our home on Britannia.”

Before he finished speaking, Orin sat up in his chair, the full extent of his imposing size suddenly evident even while seated. He turned his hand in Ari’s grip, long fingers wrapping easily around his thin wrist.

“You’re trading your ship. A brand-new ship. To any asshole willing to fly it? Just to finish a little game of hide-and-seek with your brother who—no offense, Red—sounds like he ran off with a bit of strange?”

Aristotle bristled, slim shoulders rising to his ears as the heat of an angry flush spread from the unfortunate ginger of his precisely parted hairline down to the white of his starched collar points.

“He did not ‘run off’! He was abducted. I have no more time to waste with your nonsense, sir. Are you able to assist in my endeavor, or shall I continue pursuing a pilot on my own?”

A lopsided grin spread across his companion’s face, revealing a hint of prominent canine and a surprisingly charming set of dimples. Orin gave another insolent sweep of his gaze, ticking to the length of Ari’s throat rising above his cravat. The rumble of his voice dropped low enough that Ari had to strain to hear him above the surrounding chaos.

“Hmm, that depends, Red. That blush go all the way down?”

The clatter of the cheap aluminum chair against the cracking concrete floor was lost in the cacophony of raucous laughter, clinking glasses, and blaring synth music that characterized drinking establishments on the rough ring of colonies lining the Verge. Ari wrenched his arm away as he stood, breaking free.

He turned his back, adjusting his waistcoat with trembling fingers as he wracked his brain for alternative solutions. He had only taken a half step away from the table when a firm grip on his coattails wrenched him backward. He swung around, fists in a pugilist’s stance, raised to the smiling face of Mr. Stone.

“Whoa now, slow up there, professor. If you’re wanting to trade a whole damn ship for the temporary services of some sleazy sack of shit with a pilot’s license, I got just the guy you need.”

Knees weak with relief, Ari nearly attempted to sit before remembering he had overturned his chair, which was now likely glued to the filthy floor of the saloon.

“Excellent. Where can I find this person?”

That lopsided grin opened up into a full-blown smile, revealing rows of white, uneven teeth. “You’re looking at him, sweetheart.”

Ari twitched at the endearment, unaccustomed to the way they seemed to drip from the pilot’s every phrase like butter melting off the plate.

He turned fully to face him, coattails twining around his narrow hips as Orin maintained his grip, tugging once with a waggle of thick brows at Ari’s resulting unintentional pelvic thrust before releasing him with a flourish.

Orin pushed off from the table, broad shoulders rising up and up to just above Ari’s line of sight. Ari swallowed an obvious comment on the pilot’s intimidating height, realizing how much he’d underestimated the man’s size.

Ari stared straight ahead at the hollow of Mr. Stone’s throat, bronze skin left exposed by the open vee of his collarless shirt. A few dark, curling hairs peeked out of the opening, inches from Aristotle’s nose. A strange fluttering sensation swept through his abdomen at the sight.

Recognizing the sensation as inappropriate at best and disastrous at worst, Ari turned on stiff legs and led the way out of the saloon, doing his utmost to avoid brushing up against the rough clientele. Heads swiveled to follow Ari even as they ignored the much larger figure of Mr. Stone following close behind his every step.

Ari ducked his head as they emerged into the daylight, squinting against the intrusive brightness before heading off toward the nearest dry dock, zeroing in on his ship after a few minutes’ walk. Mr. Stone was a silent shadow at his back, footsteps shockingly light for a man of his size.

The small exploratory vessel stood out among the busted-up freighters and speeders cluttering the dock. Clean panels of riveted steel shaped the subtle curves framing the centerpiece—a large frontal view screen. The only unnecessary ornament was that of the exaggerated dorsal fin, the sight of which had caused Aristotle’s brother to laugh out loud when they first purchased the ship.

Ari’s back stiffened at a low whistle, two familiar notes usually directed with prurient interest.

Mr. Orin Stone was circling his ship, one hand, large and square as a shovel head, trailing long fingers over the surface with surprising reverence.

“What’s your name, beautiful?”

He directed his inquiry to the ship but turned to Aristotle as though expecting an answer.

Ari cleared his throat. “As I have previously mentioned, it is a Xalanthe—”

Orin cut him off with a rude sound pushed between full lips. “She.”

Ari opened his mouth to reply, mistaking a brief pause for the conclusion of the pilot’s statements.

“Ship’s a she. And she’s a pretty little thing, deserves a name. If you don’t have one for her yet, I can think of something fancy to call her. Something with a bit of glitter to it. Little lady like this one deserves to shine.”

His eyes in turn glittered at Ari, sparkling with amusement and apparent satisfaction upon viewing the small science vessel.

Without looking away, he spat into one rough palm before holding it out to Aristotle as if to shake.

“You’ve got yourself a deal, Red.”

Ari recoiled from the offered hand, curling his own into protective fists at the notion of sealing a verbal contract with an exchange of bodily fluids.

“That is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen.”

Orin’s throaty laughter rang out against the polished metal panels of the ship exterior, echoing across the shipyard.

“Is it now? Well, stick with me, sugar; I could really expand your horizons.”

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NineStar Press | Books2Read Universal Link

Meet the Author

A.C. Thomas left the glamorous world of teaching preschool for the even more glamorous world of staying home with her toddler. Between the diaper changes and tea parties, she escapes into fantastical worlds, reading every romance available and even writing a few herself.

She devours books of every flavor—science fiction, historical, fantasy—but always with a touch of romance because she believes there is nothing more fantastical than the transformative power of love.

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Stable Hand by A.E. Lister Release Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Stable Hand

Series: The Braided Crop Ranch 01

Author: AE Lister

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 2, 2020

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 84800

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, BDSM, pony play, cowboys, entertainment, sex toys, menage, polyamory, rewards, punishments

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Synopsis

The Braided Crop Ranch is looking for stable hands. But this is no ordinary horse ranch. They cater to men with a certain interest. An interest involving harnesses, tails, and trainers.

Managed and expertly run by registered psychologist, Adam Marsland, the Ranch is a safe place for the expression of sex positive and kink positive needs and fantasies.

Jensen Moriarty is desperate for a job. He can handle horses. In fact, he’s a pro at it. Too bad the BCR doesn’t deal with real horses. But they do have “ponies”.

If Jensen can wrap his head around what the BCR actually stands for, he may have the opportunity to expand his resumé and experience something completely unexpected in the process.

Excerpt

Stable Hand, AE Lister © 2020, All Rights Reserved

Horses. They were what I knew. What I’d grown up knowing, riding, grooming, tacking in the small Alberta town where I’d lived.

I missed small-town life. Ottawa wasn’t a huge city, but it was big enough, crowded enough, it made me crave the peace and quiet of a smaller life.

My friend Mitchell hadn’t told me much about the Braided Crop Ranch except to say the place was secluded deep in the heart of the Muskokas in Northern Ontario, which turned out to be an understatement.

From my calculations I was only about twenty minutes away, but the brush had thickened, and the GPS wasn’t making sense. There wasn’t even a proper road. Out of desperation, I pulled my car over to the gravel on the side of the dirt track. I left the car on, air conditioner blasting, while I looked up the name of the man who’d interviewed me over the phone: a Mr. Adam Marsland. I found the number quickly in my contacts and hit call.

“BCR, Connor speaking,” a chipper male voice announced after a few rings.

The voice didn’t belong to Mr. Marsland.

“Uh,” I hesitated. “Hi. I’m trying to reach Adam Marsland?”

“Who’s calling, please?”

I cleared my throat, feeling like an idiot. Nothing like starting a new job and not being able to find the place. “This is Jensen Moriarty. I’m supposed to be there at noon, but I—”

“Oh, hi, Jensen. I’m Mr. Marsland’s personal assistant. Would you like me to get him for you?”

“I just need directions. My GPS isn’t making sense.”

Connor laughed. “He should have told you not to rely on the GPS. You should be using the map from the email.”

Email? “What email?”

There was a pause. “You didn’t get the welcome email? The one outlining our policies and practices? I’m sure I sent the form to you a few days ago…”

I wracked my brain but didn’t remember seeing an email. Unless the message had gone into my spam folder. “No, I didn’t get it. A map would be…helpful.”

“Sure, yeah, let me text the map to you. Hold on a second.”

“You might as well text me the other info as well.”

Connor cleared his throat. “Yes, well, I’ll let Mr. Marsland explain everything when you get here.”

I heard a notification and saw the map had come through. I opened the file quickly and had a look.

“Looks like I’m not too far.”

“Okay, come to the main building when you get here. You’ll see the BCR sign on the wall.”

“BCR?” I asked, wiping a crushed mosquito off the dash.

“The Braided Crop Ranch. That is where you’re trying to get to, right?”

“Yes. I just— Yes, that’s where I’m headed.” God, could I make a worse first impression?

“I’ll make sure Adam is here to greet you.”

“Thanks,” I said.

As I’d suspected, I wasn’t far out. If I followed this dirt road and turned onto another called Rattler’s Revenge in about three miles, I’d be there.

Would they put me to work right away, cleaning stalls and looking after the horses? Mr. Marsland hadn’t described my exact duties during our phone interview, but Mitchell had said they were looking for a stable hand.

Marsland had seemed like a nice guy. He’d appeared more interested in the kind of person I was rather than in any experience I’d had. I’d explained I needed a job that would give me some direction along with a decent salary so I could pay off my student loans.

The business degree had been a waste of money, no matter what my parents said. Turned out I hated accounting. Yeah, I was good with numbers, but working with them all day and night was too much to ask.

I needed to be outside. I needed to be interacting with other beings, human or animal. I needed hard work and adventure.

Now I had no idea what I wanted to do. Except for horses. I wanted to work with horses. Living on a ranch with a bunch of other cowboys wouldn’t be so bad either. Even if they didn’t share my orientation, the eye candy would be heavenly.

I’d been surprised when Adam told me the salary I’d be earning. The level was high for a stable hand. He’d also mentioned something about the special stock at the BCR so maybe they only housed Arabians or something. That would be a treat. I’d never seen a full-blood Arabian horse up close.

After following the serpentine curve of Rattler’s Revenge for about fifteen minutes, the brush thinned, and I emerged into a large clearing with the impressive outline of the ranch spread before me. The path took me to a set of steel black gates with BCR in big iron letters affixed to the bars.

A black intercom box perched on the stone wall to the left of the gates. I pulled in close, lowered my window, and pressed the button.

There was a crackle and then Connor’s voice. “Name please.”

“Jensen Moriarty. We spoke on the phone.”

“Awesome. I’ll buzz you in.”

An electrical humming noise sounded as the gates unlocked and slowly swung open.

“Welcome to the BCR, Jensen,” Connor said.

I drove forward and rolled up the window to keep the heat out.

An array of bright red and brown buildings crowded the far distance. In front of me stood an imposing clapboarded farmhouse with these words, painted in black, spanning the wall:

THE BRAIDED CROP RANCH STABLES

~ Pony shows every month ~

Pony shows every month, huh? Looked like I’d have my work cut out for me.

I parked in the small lot to the left of the front door and turned the car off. I wondered if driving all the way out here had been the right thing to do. At any rate, the job provided a new beginning and somewhere to spend the summer. If I enjoyed the work and found the people to be friendly and helpful, maybe I’d stay for a while.

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Meet the Author

AE Lister/Elizabeth Lister is a Canadian non-binary author with a vivid imagination and a head full of unique and interesting characters. They have published many other books, one of which (Beyond the Edge) received an Honorable Mention from the National Leather Association–International for excellence in SM/Leather/Fetish writing.

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Flicker by Elizabeth Tybush Release Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Flicker

Series: The Fire of Felwing 01

Author: Elizabeth Tybush

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 2, 2020

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 78900

Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, slow burn, magic, magic users, friends to lovers, mythical creatures, royalty, redemption, past mistakes, portals

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Synopsis

Stripped of his magick and exiled to Earth, Solin Felwing vows to redeem himself. He committed a lot of bad for “the greater good” and the only way to make up for it is to give back to those he stole from. Incognito, of course, to avoid being brought to justice by humankind.

Solin volunteers at a soup kitchen, but his redemption is thrown into disarray when his best friend Jemier arrives to profess his love. Sam, Solin’s one-man support group and only human friend, thinks Solin deserves better.

When old enemies resurface, Solin fears his attempt to change is over for good. He could easily wipe his foes from existence—if he had his magick. Saving his friends—and himself—means compromising in new ways, but the temptation to sin remains. Everything could change in a flicker.

Excerpt

Flicker, Elizabeth Tybush © 2020, All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
2017

Polaris, New York, Gaia

I stole the sunglasses with ease, unseen by any who’d dare report it. The large-lensed mask reflected the busy downtown of a city I neither knew nor understood but was nonetheless stranded in. I hid my eyes and features behind those lenses and continued my prowl.

I headed for the sidewalk patio of a bistro where a man with attentions diverted elsewhere would soon lose the hooded sweatshirt draped over the back of his folding chair.

“You gonna pay for those?”

I stopped. Had I not been caught entirely unaware, I would’ve fled, albeit into unknown territory with mere morning shadows and dubious dumpsters as my cover. I turned to face the source of the familiar voice, knowing I could not flee from them in my state or else I would be hunted.

Sam smirked. Sunglasses concealed his brown eyes, and he wore the same style of casual garb I wore although he had more of a decision in it than I did. His tailored clothing came from finer cloth and perfectly fit his slender form. He gave me a dramatic once-over and smirked again. His brown hair had taken on some salt since we’d last met, and his sun-kissed peach skin glowed.

“So, what brings you back here?” he asked in singsong. I waited for him to call for local or regional law enforcement. I couldn’t be sure he wasn’t here by their command. “Couldn’t have just had the hankering for some light shoplifting. Don’t they have stores where you’re from?”

I glared at him, calculating the many ways to escape his clutches. Sam and I shared similar builds, although he stood slightly shorter than me and had thinner limbs. My training alone would overpower him if I needed it to. If only my body were bereft of the aches that naturally came from sleeping on dubious hard surfaces for several cool summer nights in a row.

I said nothing but regretted hiding the heat of my glare behind my disguise.

“Of course they do.” He reached. I dodged. He held up his hands in peace and nodded a silent invitation to walk alongside him.

He studied me with the same expression he had when we’d first met. This was Sam. This would always be Sam. With one glance he’d understood me, treated me as an equal, and never underestimated me. A good quality in an ally as well as a friend, but for us, neither applied.

I took his invitation only to keep myself from staying still too long in a crowd I’d stolen from. When I’d first met Sam, he’d offered me a drink. I only hoped this offer had the same hospitable intent.

“Seriously though, are you gonna pay for those? Because I can buy you new clothes, Solin.”

“No, I am not going to pay for them, and I don’t want your charity.” My stomach disagreed. Food had only come my way during brief moments of opportunity.

“Yeah, about that…oh, here we are.”

“This is your vehicle?” I examined the nondescript, aging hatchback and its peeling, off-silver paint. “Part of your disguise, no doubt.”

“I’m rich, not famous. This is more for your benefit. Get in.”

“I’d rather not.”

“I’m not going to kill you.”

“You couldn’t.”

“Have you seen yourself lately? I totally could.”

Had he seen me lately? How long had he been watching me? Of course he hadn’t just stumbled upon me, which meant he had been observing me for a while without me detecting him.

“But I’m not going to.” Sam opened the passenger-side door. “Trust me?”

I got in.

“You should put your seat belt on.”

“I’m aware.” I struggled to find comfort in the cramped passenger seat.

“The thingy under the seat, on the side there.”

I clicked into a more comfortable place. “I’m not thanking you.”

He flipped down the visor above my head. “And you have a little something on your chin.”

I grumbled and looked through at least three layers of dust and two more layers of grime on the cracked mirror above. A light-brown blob surrounded by a black blob looked back at me with its dark blobby eyes. No little something detected in my warped reflection. I flipped the visor up, then wiped my chin of the grease smudge using the slightly cleaner rearview mirror, albeit when Sam turned his gaze away.

The car revved to life, and we sat in silence for a few blocks. Passersby were too invested in their mobile devices to notice us—perhaps utilizing the very technology that had made Sam his wealth—sometimes at great detriment to their own health. He drove beyond the territory I’d explored since arriving in this place into areas slightly cleaner, slightly brighter, and slightly less bumpy. On these roads, the dreadful pine-scented ornament dangling from the rearview mirror no longer danced annoyingly in my peripheral vision.

“Radio’s busted, sorry,” he said. We slowed to a stop at a traffic light. “They don’t know you’re here.”

“Nonsense. You know I’m here.”

“Because I’m awesome, but that’s not the point. The point is, I might’ve done something slightly illegal to make sure what I saw, no one else saw.”

I considered unbuckling and jumping out the door. “For vengeance, no doubt.”

“Nah, seems like someone beat me to it. Besides, the best revenge is…something about being the better person? Living a good life? Whatever. We’re here.”

He parked the car next to an empty alley wedged between buildings of varying heights, though none over ten stories. The alley’s putrid odor smelled worse than the dumpsters that had served as shelter last night, but the rodents didn’t seem to mind.

“I taste garbage, Sam.”

“Keep walking,” he said. “We’re good.”

As we ventured through the maze of alleys, I understood he told the truth. I could trust him, for this moment. He clearly hadn’t told his friends about my arrival, and he didn’t move as a killer moved. The farther we walked from the car, the safer I felt.

The alleys smelled nicer too. We arrived at the back entrance of a shorter building where he punched a number into a keypad before opening the door and holding it for me.

“After you.”

His kindness alarmed me more than comforted me, but for however little I trusted him, I did trust my own assessment of the facts I had. I walked not to death, nor to barred walls. A keypad could mean anything. It did not mean Sam was luring me into a trap.

I entered after a moment of pensive reluctance and followed him up the stairwell of warm whites and polished woods.

Signs of humanity were everywhere. In the sole set of crisp boot prints on the vinyl-covered steps. In the recycling bins we passed at every floor’s exit, sitting below signs advising residents not to leave their recycling bins in the stairwell for safety reasons. In the leftover clear tape adhered to each floor’s door, ghosts of former safety signs. In the chewed gum beneath the handrail to the fifth and final floor before the roof.

“This way.” Sam nodded at the door.

Sunlight spilled from rooftop windows into the long hallway, reminding me briefly of home. Our steps echoed off the wooden floor as we passed doors with Welcome signs and decorative mats. At the very end of the hallway, Sam pulled out keys, unlocked the door, and opened it with a grand gesture.

“Home sweet home.”

The scent of fresh latex paint greeted us. Before us lay a furnished yet oddly empty apartment, save the bright morning light beaming from the windows and the gently frosted skylight. Beautiful but impractical. A man of such wealth put himself in grave danger with such windows. I had a hard time imagining a man of Sam’s status living in a home with…apparently no walls between rooms.

“This isn’t your home,” I said.

“Nope.” He dangled the keys. “It’s yours. The apartment, not the building. Forged your name on the lease and paid ahead for a year, so the landlady might not recognize you when you finally need to pay—”

I swept away his hand and headed for a window, forcing myself to squint through the intense light of morning. “I need nothing from you.”

“Okay, so maybe stop thinking I’m doing this as a favor to you, and maybe think about this as me having to do this for myself.”

“Why? I left you on a rooftop to die.”

“Oh, so you remember that? I blamed you so long for that, forgetting completely that it was—you know what, just take the damn keys, Solin.”

“You don’t know what my father would do if he discovered I cheated my way through exile.”

“Exile? Shit, did you try to take over your home planet too?”

“That’s not what I did here, and it’s complicated,” I said. “Let me wallow in my reckoning alone. My path doesn’t include charity.”

“Maybe it can. My charity. Take it. I guarantee you that being human is suffering enough.”

Powerless. He knew just how powerless I was. I faced him and paced the room, circling him. I had to reclaim some of my power, and I tired of being idle. My boots clicked along the glossy hardwood, which groaned whenever I neared the kitchen island.

“This is your last warning, Gardyner. My redemption will not include you. I will make my own way, and I won’t have you or anyone else meddling in things they don’t understand.”

“My last warning? You think I care about your warnings?” Now Sam paced, and I stopped, ceding power in the dialogue to him. I’d relied on fear to impress a message, and that didn’t work with Sam. He knew I had nothing to flex. “Listen, Solin, your redemption, if that’s even what you’re doing here, does include me. I was affected by that stunt you pulled. People died because of that bomb.”

“You know that wasn’t me—”

“But you enabled it. You trusted that asshole with power, and look what happened. And don’t forget, you did leave me to die. After I helped you. So yeah, I’m part of your redemption now. And you’re going to take this apartment and that credit card on the counter, and you’re going to be clothed and fed and sheltered while you walk this path.”

“I don’t want your money.”

“It’s not mine. It’s yours. I figured you might’ve been amassing some wealth here when you tried to conquer Earth five years ago.”

“Not conquer. Invite you to join our Federation.”

“That’s not what the internet said.”

“You know that’s not what I was here to do. You were there, Sam. Things didn’t go according to plan.”

“Yeah, I was there for the worst part of it. Anyway, you needed money to ‘invite us to join your Federation,’ especially if you wanted to establish a base of operations for thousands of years to come.”

“I had no plans for a base and no ill intentions for humanity. Besides, my account was drained. You watched it happen.”

“I found some leftovers. Moved them without a hitch. Don’t worry. The Shadowfall Alliance didn’t see a thing. They’re still pretty young, and their tech is weaker than they think. Plus, they aren’t as brilliant as I am.”

“But just as narcissistic,” I returned.

He grinned. “What you call narcissism, I call being realistic.”

“And what, you’ll let me live here and spend all of this money without supervision?”

“Do you need to be supervised?”

I said nothing.

“Do you want to be supervised?”

“No. Did we not just establish that?”

“Maybe ‘protected’ is a better word.”

“Get over yourself, Gardyner. You can’t protect me from anyone. Not your people in the Alliance and certainly not my own.”

“I found you, didn’t I?”

“Only because I dropped my guard.”

“Right,” he said incredulously. “How about this—I’ll keep an eye on things too. You know, for my sake. Not yours. Because you can do that all by your lonesome.”

“Fine.”

“Fine.” He turned to leave, but when he made it to the door, hand on the knob, he stopped. “I’m not kidding. I’m doing this for myself.”

“Of course you are.”

“Sometimes it pays to understand what, or whom, you hate. Makes some of the pain go away.” He tossed the keys at me. I caught them. “One for the lobby, one for your mailbox downstairs, and one for each lock on that door. Code is 8152. Oh, and there’s an ID card for you too. And a checkbook. But no one uses those anymore. Your name is Jonathan now. Probably best that you don’t share a name with Earth’s Most Wanted.”

I squeezed the sharp ridges of the keys with my fingertips, hoping the distraction would serve as a mask for my emotions since I no longer possessed any of the deceptive powers I once relied on.

“Thank you, Sam.”

He nodded at a device on the coffee table. “Call me if you need anything.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read Universal Link

Meet the Author

Liz plays way too much Minecraft and dreams about producing a television series. She loves an old-fashioned film noir and, unlike her character Solin, takes her coffee with a healthy dose of milk. Recent accomplishments include a 2019 fellowship at the Storytellers’ Institute and the book you’re about to read.

Flicker is her debut novel with NineStar Press. To learn more about The Fire of Felwing series and other upcoming stories, visit Liz at elizabethtybush.com.

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