The Door and Other Uncanny Tales by Dmetri Kakmi Release Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway!

The Door and Other Uncanny Tales

Author: Dmetri Kakmi

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: September 28, 2020

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 46800

Genre: Horror, LGBTQIA+, sci-fi/fantasy, paranormal, horror, family-drama, crime gay, lesbian, demisexual, asexual, art/visual, ghost, body horror, prostitution, murder, abortionist, ancient evil

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Synopsis

Living paintings, spectral children, cannibal serial killers, lost souls, haunted houses, and ancient evil proliferate The Door and Other Uncanny Tales. Everywhere reality and fantasy collapse to create a new unstable world, even the body is not what it seems. Combined with Dmetri Kakmi’s gothic imagination and mordant humor, the result is fiction that is as memorable as it is unsettling.

This collection contains three new and three previously published stories, including the acclaimed Haunting Matilda, The Long Lonely Road and The Boy by the Gate.

Excerpt

The Door and Other Uncanny Tales, Dmetri Kakmi © 2020, All Rights Reserved

The Door: Chapter One
“There now,” Orestes said, standing back to admire the painting.

It hung before him from a sturdy hook on the landing of the staircase leading from the darker downstairs part of the house to the lighter upstairs, with rows of small windows and the French doors that opened on a balcony, overlooking narrow Transom Street. This had been after all, in other times, an industrial area, filled with factories, abattoirs, noise, and the stench of hard labor in the shadow of the nearby Convent of the Good Shepherd, by the river. Now the suburb was gentrified and provided accommodation for the likes of himself, Orestes Gallanos, and his partner Simon Cole, artists both, living the inner-city dream in lofty warehouse spaces.

“There now,” Orestes repeated, casting an eye over the artwork he had labored upon for almost five months, in the garage turned studio with its stuffy air and bad light. He folded his arms across a narrow chest, tilted his head to the side, and stepped back to admire the results of his efforts. Not too far back because the hardwood landing was small and he risked falling down the steps to the polished concrete floor below.

It was a splendid work, even if he thought so himself. Very effective. It achieved exactly the outcome he aimed to produce in its creation all along.

It was a door painted with oil on linen. A life-size door, seven feet in height and three feet wide, with an old-fashioned handle that gave off a pleasing brass gleam. The square frosted glass panel above complemented two vertical panels below, and he had found that working with oil allowed him to capture perfectly the desired grain and texture of wood.

He descended the stairs and studied the painting from the entrance hall. From there, should a guest visit, the painting looked like a real door, complete with architrave and wooden step to complete the illusion. Only Orestes knew that, if he should by a miracle manage to open it, there would be nothing on the other side except plasterboard. A guest ascending the stairs and brushing by the painting would assume it was a real door, leading to, presumably, a newly built room on the other side.

At that moment, the front door opened behind Orestes and Simon came in, bringing with him a cold gust of July wind. His hair was cut short and newly dyed blond to accentuate the navy in his deep-set eyes.

“Hello,” Simon said, removing the black plastic raincoat and hanging it with a sprinkle of rainwater on the coat rack. “Why are you in the dark?”

It was four-thirty in the afternoon and almost pitch-black in the hallway. Orestes pointed wordlessly at the painting; a smile played on his lips.

“Oh,” Simon uttered, coming to stand beside him. “It’s terrific. It really is.” He gave Orestes a peck on the proffered cheek. “Congratulations. Are you pleased?”

“I think so…” Orestes cupped his chin and stared at his work for a while.

Simon stepped forward, rested both forearms on the staircase handrail, and gazed at the painting with a contented sigh. Orestes bathed in the way Simon was always so genuinely enthusiastic and encouraging about his work. It gave him confidence, made him feel he was worthwhile after all.

The electric light from upstairs streamed down and fell on the painting with intensity, making it resemble a well-lit stage, set for a play.

“Any moment now the door will open,” Orestes whispered behind Simon, “and the actors will step forward to pronounce the made-up lines meant for made-up lives.”

Simon’s smile was warm when he said, “That’s what I was thinking.” Then he caught the expression on Orestes’s face. “Something’s bothering you.”

“I wondered if I should have the door slightly open.”

Simon was also a painter, of a more esoteric order, and, although slightly younger than Orestes, had strong opinions on this sort of thing.

“No,” he cried, shaking his head and glancing at the painting as if he might have to fight for its right to remain as it was. “That’d be overemphasizing it. Glass is a kind of opening for one’s perceptions even though one’s body remains shut out.”

Orestes considered. “You’re right,” he said finally. “Glass lets your eye enter the other side, but only partially, since it’s not clear glass.”

“Oh, baby,” Simon cried, coming up to Orestes and catching his wiry form in his arms. “This can be the centerpiece for a series of trompe l’oeil for your next exhibition. Imagine a whole room!” Simon twirled happily around the floor with Orestes in his arms, smiling and pressing him to his body. The room spun with them, the glass bricks of the bathroom at one end and the darkness of the garage-studio at the other. “This calls for a celebration.”

“There’s a bottle of Taittinger in the fridge,” Orestes offered.

They went upstairs. Orestes popped the champagne bottle and poured the amber liquid in tall crystal flutes inherited from Simon’s mother, Orestes’s side being poorer and lacking in luxuries and good taste. After watching Laura with Gene Tierney for the umpteenth time, they made quiet, habitual love on the couch and much later still, after watching Farewell, My Lovely for the sixth time, they crossed to the bedroom and slept soundly in their double bed, behind an elaborate wooden Japanese screen.

In the long winter’s night, the building settled with a sigh around them. It resolved its sound angles and determined lines into a world filled with peculiar, shifting disturbances, some fleeting and others lasting, deep in the mortar and concrete of the century-old foundations. The last train raced by unnoticed on the raised tracks a block away, the procession of near-empty windows piercing the night like accusations. In the early hours of the morning, when traffic slowed on nearby Hoddle Street, only the icy wind was left to prowl the empty streets. It slid past the grille pulled over the sturdy front entrance, passed through the barely discernible crack under the door, and set out feelers toward the stairs, from there to reach the painted door with the frosted glass panel and the glistening doorknob. The painting showed faint in the cold silver of a night-light left on halfway down the stairs. If there was anyone at the top of the stairs at that hour, one would have been forgiven for thinking the door looked forlorn on the landing, where people pass but rarely stop. An invitation.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read Universal Link

Meet the Author

Dmetri Kakmi was born in Turkey to Greek parents. His fictionalized memoir Mother Land was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards in Australia; and is published in England and Turkey. Dmetri also edited the acclaimed children’s anthology When We Were Young. His essays and short stories appear in anthologies. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.

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On The Square by Brenda Murphy Release Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway!

On the Square

Series: University Square, Book One

Author: Brenda Murphy

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: August 17, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 64400

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, Contemporary, romance, family-drama, interracial, blue-collar, restaurant, chef, reality TV star, builder, single mother, in the closet

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Synopsis

Dropped from her television show after a very public split with her cheating ex, celebrity chef Mai Li wants nothing more than to reopen her parents’ shuttered restaurant and make a fresh start in her former hometown. So what if twenty years of neglect has left the building in need of a major renovation?

Seduced by Mai’s charm and determination, hard-edged contractor Dale Miller agrees to take on her renovation project.

After a spring storm causes significant damage to the building and renovation costs exceed Mai’s budget, Dale offers her a deal, but is it a price Mai is willing to pay?

Excerpt

On the Square, Brenda Murphy © 2020, All Rights Reserved

Dale filled her coffee thermos. The scent of the dark brew had her wanting to linger over another cup. She tightened the lid. “You riding the bus today?”

“Nah, Chip’s coming to pick me up. We have a cross-country team meeting.” Noah slid the omelet he was cooking onto the plate. “You sure you don’t have time? You can have this one, Mom. I’ll cook another for me.” His round face and solemn dark-brown eyes were fixed on her face. He lifted the plate and waved it in her direction.

Delicately browned, perfectly cooked. The aroma of melted cheddar cheese and butter filled the small kitchen. The omelet tempted Dale even more than the coffee had. She sighed and cursed herself for agreeing to an early morning appointment for an estimate. Dale grimaced. Cowed by the insistence of the woman who called for the estimate, her oldest, Seth, had made the appointment outside of business hours. Afraid to turn down work. Knows we need the money. If it works out.

Dale tucked two peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwiches into her cooler, wrapped an apple in a napkin, and placed three battered and scruffy water bottles around the sides, spacing them evenly. She shut the lid and bungeed the ancient metal relic of a cooler shut. Please let it work out.

“What, Mom?”

The concern in Noah’s voice drew Dale from her thoughts. “Nothing. I wish your brother would’ve talked to me before he scheduled this. I hate to talk to people before I’ve had my coffee. And who the hell needs to meet at six in the morning for an estimate?” She peered out of the window at the sky, barely pink.

“Someone in a hurry? Like maybe you should be. Or you’re gonna be late.” Noah smirked as he shoved aside stacks of paper and clutter before he placed his plate on the table. He pulled a chair out, sat down, and flipped his napkin out with a flourish.

“Damn.” Dale took two steps over to Noah and mashed a quick kiss to his forehead. “Don’t forget to tell Thomas to pick up Grandad’s prescription and have a good day at school.”

Noah scrubbed his hand over his mouth. “I will.”

Dale snatched her thermos and her lunch cooler off the counter as she bolted for the door.

*

The large black pickup truck roared into the parking lot, kicking up a fine spray of dust and small gravel. Mai ended the call she had been ready to make to cancel the estimate appointment and shoved her phone back into her pocket. She frowned as a layer of gray dust settled over her polished black wingtips. Tinted windows prevented her from seeing inside the truck. With a snap of her wrist she straightened her collar, leaned back against her car, and crossed her arms over her chest. She tapped her foot and pursed her lips as she contemplated how much she was going to enjoy telling the yahoo in the truck what she thought of their driving skills. A warm-up for what she was preparing to tell the contractor who didn’t think her time was valuable. She didn’t do business with people who were not punctual. This town has not changed a bit. Still on country time. She snorted thinking about the ridiculous lengths she had to go to get the idiot on the phone to agree to a timely appointment.

The scuff of boots on gravel on the opposite side of the truck made her look up.

“Sorry I’m late.” A tall woman in faded jeans and work boots rounded the front of the truck. A thick tan work belt with a multitool pouch clipped to it held her jeans up over her curvy hips. She tucked a metal clipboard under her arm and stuck her hand out to shake.

“Who are you?” Mai didn’t take the woman’s hand. “I had an appointment with a general contractor for an estimate. Dale Miller?”

“That’s me.” A flash of irritation flew across Dale’s face as she withdrew her hand and stuck it into her rear pocket.

“You’re late.” Mai studied the unapologetic woman in front of her. Thick honey-blonde hair streaked with gray brushed her shoulders. A head taller than Mai, she had broad shoulders and a trim waist. Her pale-blue undershirt set off her golden-brown eyes. The sleeves of her flannel overshirt were rolled back and displayed well-muscled forearms.

Dale rocked back on her heels and glanced skyward before bringing her gaze back to Mai’s face. “I am. And I apologized. This is outside of our normal hours for estimates.”

“And I wasn’t…”

Dale cut her off. “And you weren’t expecting a woman.” She swept her hand through her hair. “You know what. I’m not certain I’m the best person for this job.” She turned on her heel and walked away from Mai, head high and shoulders rigid.

“Wait.”

Dale turned and rested her hand on the hood of the truck. “Why? You’ve made your mind up. I’m not going to waste my time. Or yours. Good luck with your project.”

Mai looked down at her shoes before returning her gaze to Dale’s face. “That’s not what I was going to say.”

“Right.” Dale arched an eyebrow. “I’ve been in this business too long to be scolded for being late. I don’t schedule appointments this early because I don’t like talking to anyone at this unholy hour.”

Mai laughed. “How have you stayed in business?”

Dale walked back over and stepped close to Mai, invading her space. “Because most people in this town recognize business hours are business hours and don’t expect special favors.”

Mai held her ground. “Special favors? I asked for an early appointment. It’s not my fault whoever answered the phone doesn’t know your hours.”

Dale clenched her fists. “My son knows the hours perfectly well. He was trying to be nice. He said yes to accommodate your schedule. Which, apparently, is way more important than mine. Good day.” She spun on her heel and stomped back to the truck.

Mai chewed her lip as she desperately tried to ignore how much she liked the way Dale’s ass looked in her jeans and failed. “Hey, wait.”

Dale yanked the truck door open and tossed her clipboard inside.

Mai sprinted around the truck and her shoes skidded on the gravel lot. She caught herself on the truck hood and narrowly avoided bumping into Dale. “Hey, please stay. I’m sorry we got off on the wrong foot. I’ve had too many folks be rude to me because I wasn’t what they expected. Please. I’d like you to at least look at the project.”

Dale turned to her and the delicate scent of lemon verbena wafted from her, undermining Mai’s determination to keep to the business at hand.

A rueful grin crossed Dale’s face. “No. I’m sorry. You’d think I didn’t want the work. I’d like to see what you want done.” She tilted her head and met Mai’s gaze. “Do you mind if we have coffee first?”

Mai held out her hand and Dale shook it. “Bring your thermos.” She tilted her head toward the silver flask. “Come on. We don’t have to talk until you’ve had another cup.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon

Meet the Author

Brenda Murphy (she/her) writes erotic romance. Her most recent novel, Double Six, is the 2020 Golden Crown Literary Society winner for Erotic Novels, and Knotted Legacy, the third book in the Rowan House series, made the 2018 The Lesbian Review’s Top 100 Vacation Reads list. You can catch her musings on writing, books, and living with wicked ADHD on her blog Writing While Distracted. She loves sideshows and tattoos and yes, those are her monkeys. When she is not loitering at her local library, she wrangles twins, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot.

I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it. For a free short story, information on book signings, appearances, work in progress snippets, previews and sneak-peeks, sign up for my email list.

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Off Balance by L.E. Royal Release Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Off Balance

Author: L.E. Royal

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: August 10, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: F/NB

Length: 64900

Genre: Contemporary, NineStar Press, LGBTQIA+, Romance, contemporary, family-drama, lesbian, nonbinary, older/younger, disability, cerebral palsy, single mother, custody battle

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Synopsis

When she lands her dream job, Maya Scott thinks her luck may finally be about to change. Eager to prove herself a successful adult and win back custody of her young daughter, Maya is determined to excel at the Mars Fund. Her new boss, New York’s notorious ice queen, Elena Mars, could prove difficult to please. Their relationship gets off to a rocky start and Maya learns from her coworkers, some who love her while others loathe her, that Elena has Cerebral palsy.

Embarrassed by her assumptions, Maya avoids Elena until the appearance of her Elena’s young daughter at the office opens a line of communication and provides some common ground. A tentative connection blossoms between them and Maya realizes there is much more to Elena than the outward appearance. Between the complexities of learning about disability and navigating the distance between them in age and wealth, they find that what matters in the end is the family we choose.

Excerpt

Off Balance, L.E Royal© 2020, All Rights Reserved

Hot coffee soaked the sleeve of her shirt. The elevator was packed tight as they ascended the staggering height of the office building. The shining chrome of The Mars Fund sign greeted Maya. She stumbled into the lobby, finally catching her breath and then losing it again when she looked at the opulent marble clock on the wall. She was late.

Blonde hair billowing out behind her, she burst into the office space, cheeks beginning to flame as all the eyes in the room turned to her and her urgent entrance.

“Maya, you made it!” Margaret, the overly friendly lady with the pixie cut and cardigan who had interviewed her for the position, called to her.

“I am so sorry. The bus was late and there was a huge line for the elevator.”

Margaret was already waving off her explanation as she led her over to the desk she had inhabited the previous day, today being her second as a project coordinator at the Mars Fund.

“We’re all still working on the preliminaries for the winter benefit,” Margaret explained.

Maya nodded as she hurriedly stripped out of her leather jacket, grateful as ever for the relaxed dress code. She plopped down into her swivel chair, tight jeans and a thin black T-shirt clinging to her body. She rushed to turn on her computer.

“Miss Mars is back at work today.”

Maya looked up. She studied Margaret as she offered her a noticeably tentative smile with the words.

“It’s probably best if you just stay out of her way while you’re getting the hang of things. I imagine she’ll be busy in her office all day, anyway, catching up from yesterday.”

With a pat on her shoulder Margaret was gone before she could reply, and finally, she was free to take a breath and let some of the stress from her hectic journey to work leave her. She needed this job; she could not afford to mess up.

Once she’d logged into her computer, she went back to the list of attendees she’d received and continued to work on emailing each of them to inform them of the benefit event the Mars Fund was planning for late in the year.

“Glad to see you made it, love.” A male voice interrupted her, and she threw a quick smile to Kevin, her neighbor to the left, who seemed to be reclining in his chair doing very minimal work as he had done most of the day before. “Better watch yourself now, Scott. The evil old boss lady is back, and she’ll eat a pretty little thing like you all up, given half a chance.”

At first, she had been glad for Kevin, a seemingly instant friend, but as yesterday had worn on, and he leaned over toward her again, he was starting to irk her.

“Looks like you’re going to be on her hit list, too, if you don’t get back to work,” she told him.

Seeming to take the hint, he tipped his head in silent concurrence and turned back to his own screen.

Getting lost in a blur of names and emails, she tried not to think too much about her boss. The woman was a bitch—that was the impression she’d received from the moment she stepped foot in the building. In her interview Margaret had been sweet, a little nosy but warm and welcoming, yet even she had clammed up when talking about the elusive Miss Mars.

The mood yesterday was jovial. Kathryn had perched on the edge of her desk for a good half an hour, and Maya was surprised to find she liked her as well as Dave and Graham, who had both welcomed her to TMF too. Today, the atmosphere was positively somber in comparison. The office was silent save for Kathryn talking softly into her phone and the click of keyboards. The presence of their boss hovering ominously over them all was palpable.

Another hour bled away, and she was pleased with the progress she was making on her list. Clicking out of her email program and back to her spreadsheet, she scanned down until she reached the next name. Robert Holt. Her blood turned to ice in her veins, and without thinking, she closed the window and shot up out of her seat. Heading for the restroom, she tried unsuccessfully to steady her ragged breathing.

She burst through the door, let it swing closed behind her, and leaned back against the cool wood, shutting her eyes. Her heart was hammering, a frantic staccato she fought to get under control. I can’t let him ruin this for me, again.

The shock of seeing that name, of having it touch even this, taint it so soon, sent panic spilling through her, choking her and making it hard to breathe.

She opened her eyes at the sound of a toilet flushing and watched a woman step out of the stall. Jarred completely from her panic by the surprise of not being alone, her mood dissolved into a shy sort of embarrassment because this woman was gorgeous.

The stranger’s dark eyes nailed her to the door, and even glaring daggers in her direction, Maya couldn’t help but think she was beautiful and probably ten years older than herself. Thick mahogany hair hung down to her shoulders; she had smooth caramel skin and dark expressive eyes. A beat passed between them, too fast and too slow, and Maya pushed off the door, meaning to introduce herself. When the woman moved forward, her shoulders rocked back and forth, her hands clenched and jumped by her sides, and oddly enough she looked like she was dancing.

“I—um, having a good day?”

Not her greatest entrance, she could admit.

The woman’s stoic expression was completely at odds with the jovial movement of her body, and Maya smiled tentatively at her, wondering if perhaps she was drunk or high.

She gripped the porcelain of the sink with tan fingers and seemed to steady herself some. As she turned to fully face Maya her head bobbed slightly, sending her hair dancing around her face. She was undeniably beautiful and odd.

“Do I look like I’m having a wonderful day?”

The words were pure venom, dripping disdain, a dark fire blazing in her eyes, and all the levity left the room. Maya’s brain grappled to put together the pieces: the slight tremor in her frame, the occasional rock of her hips, and the way her fingers bounced lightly on the edge of the sink.

“Are you drunk?” And apparently today her brain to mouth filter was completely broken. Crap.

The woman advanced on her at an alarming pace, stiletto heels ringing out her steps, one, two, three, until Maya was back against the door and staring down one hundred and twenty pounds of furious Latina in a business suit.

“Do you need help?” She tried again weakly, still not grasping what was happening, still reeling from the name on the list and the turbulence of this rapidly spiraling encounter.

“What I need is for you to tell me who the hell you are?”

Maya swallowed thickly. The woman was close enough that her breath was soft on her cheek, and she definitely didn’t smell like she just came from the bar. Her perfume was light, pleasant, and smelled expensive.

“My name is Maya Scott. I’m a project coordinator for the Mars Fund… I—um, who are you?”

The woman sneered, and God, anything that terrifying should not also be that sexy. Her head still rocked every so often, her shoulders jumping occasionally, something slightly off in the way she spoke. Her eyes darkened as if irritated by her own movements.

“Elena Mars. I do believe I’m your boss, Miss Scott.”

Her stomach dropped into her shoes, and Maya wondered momentarily if she was about to pitch forward and puke all over Elena Mars’s expensive black patent Louboutins. She could not lose this job, and things were off to a less than wonderful start if this woman was her boss.

“I’m sorry, ma’am. I just—”

“Enough,” Elena snapped, silencing her.

Maya had never felt more underdressed, her messy blonde curls hanging over her shoulders and her plain black shirt wilting next to Elena’s perfectly tailored, crisp dress-and-blazer ensemble.

“I do not care who put you up to this.” The final word was slurred slightly as Elena’s mouth seemed to jerk sideways against her will. Even beneath her tan complexion, her cheeks colored slightly in response, and her eyes turned steely. “While you’re in my employ, you will respect me. Is that clear?”

The words had something oddly toneless to them, and she rocked on the spot as she spoke. Maya nodded frantically, desperate to apologize, to somehow find a way to explain.

“Return to your desk and have Margaret show you the employee bathroom. This one is mine, exclusively.”

“I’m so sorry. I just—”

“Leave.” Elena took one shaky step back, teetering on her heels so badly that Maya almost reached out to steady her. Thinking better of it, she turned and quickly yanked open the door. She rushed back out into the hallway and headed for the office, her cheeks burning, dread clawing at her throat.

She needed this job.

“So, you met the evil bitch then?” Kevin’s eyes were back on her before she had even sat down at her desk. “We did try to warn you, but you ran out of here so fast I suppose you didn’t hear. Too much coffee?”

She offered him a weak smile and then scrubbed her eyes with the heels of her hands, attempting to shake off the mortification shrouding her. Her heartbeat was loud in her ears, and she was busy trying to breathe, to breathe around and through and over Robert Holt and Elena Mars and all the ways she might have ruined this for herself before it could really even start.

“Don’t worry about it, love. She gets her kicks making us feel like shit. She’s probably in her office downing half a bottle of whiskey and watching those Spanish sitcoms while we’re all out here running the gig. Everyone knows she only has the job because Mommy owns the foundation.”

Maya opened her mouth, trying to assimilate the information into her already clamoring brain while formulating a way to politely ask what the hell the nationality of the sitcom had to do with anything when Margaret appeared.

“Kevin, that’s not true and you know it. Elena can be…difficult, but she works really hard for the foundation.”

“When she’s wasted.” He muttered the words under his breath, causing Margaret to tut and perch on Maya’s desk, blocking him from her view.

“Maya, Elena has a…medical problem, cerebral palsy. That’s why she sometimes makes strange gestures and odd movements and can’t seem to sit still. She’s not drunk, so please don’t listen to Kevin.”

Maya’s heart plummeted into her stomach, and she felt like such a fool.

“She is strict, and she can be difficult to work for, but I’ve worked with her for four years and known her much longer, and some of the events she’s pulled off and all the money she has raised, it’s amazing,” Margaret continued. “She’s helped an awful lot of kids.”

Pieces fell into place with a horrible click. No wonder Elena had been so defensive and seemed embarrassed, though Maya had no way of knowing she had a disability. She wished silently that Elena would simply have explained it, rather than reacting like she had, though her own ignorance and lack of thought before she spoke bothered her the most.

“I had no idea…”

Margaret patted her shoulder kindly.

“She’s very abrupt and can come off a little stern.” A scoff from Kevin punctuated the statement, and Margaret paused to glare over her shoulder at him before she turned back and offered Maya a reassuring smile. “Elena values people who work hard and add something to the foundation. Just continue to do your best and I’m sure you’ll have nothing to worry about.”

Even as her supervisor walked away, Maya struggled to find comfort in the words.

She reached behind her into her jacket pocket to pull out her phone. She hit the home button and lit up her lock screen. A little girl with long blonde curls and emerald-green eyes like her own smiled back at her.

She could do this. She needed this job, and she was not going to let Elena Mars take it from her.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon

Meet the Author

L.E. Royal is a British born fiction writer, living in Texas. She enjoys dark but redeemable characters, and twisted themes. Though she is a fan of happy endings, she would describe most of her work as fractured romance. When she is not writing, she is pursuing her dreams with her multi-champion Arabian show horses, or hanging out with her wife at their small ranch/accidental cat sanctuary.

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The Harbinger by Mary Eicher Release Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Hi guys! We have Mary Eicher stopping by today with her debut lesbian release The Harbinger, we have a great excerpt and a fantastic $10 NineStar GC giveaway so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Pixie~

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The Harbinger

(Artemis 01)
by

Mary Eicher

In a picturesque California town, the deafening sound of bells brings dozens of people to their knees. Three days later a horrific accident claims their lives. Among the dead is the twin brother of Artemis Andronikos, a beautiful attorney, who abandons the ill-fated vacation and returns home to grieve.

Her mourning is interrupted by Lucy Breem a reporter who suspects a connection between the strange bell sound and subsequent deaths. Disturbed by the possibility that the phenomenon had presaged her brother’s death, Artemis agrees to join forces with Lucy to investigate the mysterious premonitions. Utilizing her considerable physical and deductive talents, Artemis battles nefarious forces and seeks information from friends in high places. Their research takes them to various global venues. But the solution to the mystery proves illusive and the couple discovers that neither science nor religion can provide an explanation for what has become known as the Harbinger.

Warning: the death of a family member, violence, terrorism, casual misogyny, cancer, cult membership, suicidal ideation, death of a child

.•.•.**❣️ NineStar | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Smashwords | B&N | Kobo ❣️**.•.•.

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Lighting The Lamp by K.R. Collins Release Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Hi peeps, we have K.R. Collins stopping by today with her new release Lighting The Lamp, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant $10 NineStar GC giveaway, so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Pixie~

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Lighting The Lamp

(Sophie Fournier 03)
by

K.R. Collins

Entering her third season, Sophie Fournier has almost everything she wants. She’s the captain of the Concord Condors, she’s roommates and linemates with Elsa Nyberg, the elite Swedish winger she’s wanted to play alongside since the Zurich U-Tourney.

There are two major things she’s missing, though. She doesn’t have her next contract lined up, and she still hasn’t won the Maple Cup, hockey’s most coveted prize. If she wins the Cup, she’ll have leverage going into her contract negotiations. And, in case she needed more motivation, this is Benoit Delacroix’s final season as a Concord Condor, and she’s determined he won’t retire without lifting the Cup.

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

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The Weight of Living by M.A. Hinkle Release Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Hi guys, we have M.A. Hinkle stopping by with her new release The Weight of Living, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant $10 NineStar GC giveaway so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Pixie~

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The Weight of Living

(Cherrywood Grove 03)
by

M.A. Hinkle

When she arrives in Cherrywood Grove for a working vacation, shy photographer Trisha Ivy expects to kick back and relax, enjoying her last summer of freedom before turning into a real adult with a mortgage and a nine-to-five. After all, her real life is back in Chicago with her best friend Bella, not a sleepy small town. But Trisha keeps running into beautiful, confident Gabi Gonzalez, a caterer working all the same weddings…and she’s the daughter of Trisha’s favorite local TV star. Trisha can’t resist getting to know her. After all, she’s only in town for the summer, and Gabi is straight. What harm could it do?

Gabi Gonzalez has spent most of her life trying to escape Cherrywood Grove and find something bigger and better. During an internship in Milwaukee, she thought she’d finally found it. But after her father’s sudden death, she returns home and tries to squeeze back into the same childhood roles: kid sister, cool aunt, tireless worker. She’s just resigned herself to going through the motions when she meets Trisha, someone who finally sees Gabi for her own self instead of putting her in a box. Can Gabi open up to Trisha about what she really wants before Trisha leaves town for good?

Warning: grief/grieving, loss of family member, discussions of homophobia and transphobia

.•.•.**❣️ NineStar | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Smashwords | B&N | Kobo ❣️**.•.•.

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The Empress of Xytae by Effie Calvin Release Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Hi guys! We have Effie Calvin stopping by today with her new lesbian fantasy release The Empress of Xytae, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant $10 NineStar GC giveaway, so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Pixie~

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The Empress of Xytae

(Tales of Inthya 04)
by

Effie Calvin

Crown Princess Ioanna of Xytae has kept her truthsayer blessing a secret for twenty years. In any other nation, her powerful magic would be cause for celebration. But Xytae’s patron is the war goddess Reygmadra, and the future empress is expected to be a brutal warrior.

Reserved and peaceful by nature, Ioanna knows the court sees her as a disappointment. She does her best to assuage their worries every day, working quietly beside her mother to keep the empire running while her father is away at war. But when news of the emperor’s untimely death reaches the capital, Ioanna finds herself ousted by her younger sister Netheia, who has the war magic Ioanna lacks.

Princess Vitaliya of Vesolda has come to Xytae to avoid her father’s upcoming wedding, which she sees as an affront to her mother’s memory. Vitaliya has absolutely no interest in politics or power struggles and intends to spend her time attending parties and embarrassing her family. But when she saves Ioanna’s life during Netheia’s coup, the two are forced to flee the capital together.

Despite their circumstances, Vitaliya enjoys travelling with Ioanna and realizes that the future empress’s shy and secretive nature is the result of her unhappy childhood. Ioanna is equally unaccustomed to being in the company of one as earnest and straightforward as Vitaliya, for she has spent her life surrounded by ambitious and cutthroat nobles.

Ioanna cannot allow her sister to continue their father’s legacy, and plots to rally supporters to her side so she can interrupt Netheia’s coronation. Vitaliya knows she ought to leave Xytae before the nation is ripped apart by civil war but finds she is unwilling to abandon Ioanna. But Ioanna’s enemies are always watching…and they’ve realized that Vitaliya is a weakness to be exploited.

.•.•.**❣️ NineStar | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Smashwords | B&N | Kobo ❣️**.•.•.

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The Queen of Rhodia by Effie Calvin Release Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Hi guys! We have Effie Calvin stopping by today with her new lesbian fantasy release The Queen of Rhodia, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant $10 NineStar GC giveaway, so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤ ~Pixie~

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The Queen of Rhodia

(Tales of Inthya 03)
by

Effie Calvin

It has been sixteen months since Princess Esofi arrived in Ieflaria, and eight since her marriage to Crown Princess Adale. The princesses have a peaceful life together, preparing to become co-regents and raising their baby dragon, Carinth.

Their peace is shattered when Esofi’s mother, Queen Gaelle of Rhodia, arrives in Birsgen. She has heard about Carinth and believes that she deserves custody of him due to her greater devotion to Talcia, Goddess of Magic.

Adale and Esofi have no intention of giving up their son, but Gaelle is impossible to reason with—and there’s no telling what lengths she’ll go to in order to get what she wants.

Warning: Mentions of child abuse

.•.•.**❣️ NineStar | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Smashwords | B&N | Kobo ❣️**.•.•.

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Fruits of the Gods by William C. Tracy Release Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Hi guys! We have William C. Tracy stopping by today with his new release Fruits of the Gods, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant $10 NineStar GC giveaway! ❤ ~Pixie~

Fruits of the Gods

by

William C. Tracy

Sisters Kisare and Belili uproot an ancient box in their owner’s orchard and find a miracle inside: a fifth godfruit in a society that knows only four. It is punishable by death for non-nobles to eat godfruit, so the sisters hide the discovery and plot to escape servitude for good. With the power represented in the box, they could live as nobles themselves.

But Kisare finds her new freedom more difficult than she imagined, and Belili has many secrets she strives to keep hidden. With the help of a people slowly losing their culture and technology to the powerful nobles, the sisters lead an infiltration of the highest levels of noble society.

While Kisare finds she cares for the captured leader of the people helping them, Belili comes to love her noble suitor’s guard—a fierce woman with a similar past to her own. In the end, the fifth godfruit may bring harmony to the world, but the sisters’ only hope of succeeding lies in deciphering ancient mythologies surrounding the gods’ original plan for their people.

.•.•.**❣️ NineStar | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Smashwords | B&N | Kobo ❣️**.•.•.

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Running Out of Air by K.T. Swift Release Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Hi guys! We have K.T. Swift popping in today with her new release Running Out of Air, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant $10 NineStar giveaway, so guys check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤ ~Pixie~

Running Out of Air

by

K.T. Swift

Inanna Drew has a problem, and, of course, that problem is a boy. Though she’s quite content to read her books and excel in school, he bothers her and seems incapable of taking a hint. Thus this is a journal, nay, a chronicle that she must put to paper to explain, in her own voice, why he doesn’t deserve the time of day.

All of this changes after a sudden upheaval in her life, making Hadrian Marshall less of a pain in her side and more of a friend to be counted on.

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