Hi guys! We have Mickie B. Ashling stopping by today with her new release Yield, we have a great excerpt and a fantastic $20 Amazon GC giveaway so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤ ~Pixie~
Mickie B. Ashling
A promising encounter takes a dark turn.
Captain Sami Soros and Father Jay Blackstone cross paths at a major European hub. When systems shut down due to a cyber-attack, flights are delayed and the resulting chaos is unprecedented.
After having served three tours in Afghanistan, recently discharged Sami struggles with his new civilian status. Emotionally depleted, and dangerously edgy, he views most of his fellowmen with utter contempt.
Jay is returning to his parish in San Francisco after a month-long retreat meant to shore up a crumbling vocation. All vestiges of spirituality melt away when he sets eyes on Sami.
They begin a clandestine affair fueled by a shared addiction to extreme forms of BDSM. Their relationship goes off the rails, and Jay reaches out to Rino Duran, a former seminarian. With the help of Dr. Ethan Marshall, Rino’s full-time Dom, the established couple attempt to separate truth from lies to give Jay and Sami a shot at happiness.
This novel can be read as a standalone.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is crowded on any given day, but the scene unfolding when I walked off the Jetway into the arrival area was absolute pandemonium. Twelve hours ago, the computer running the intricate network of arrivals and departures at this gigantic European hub—ranked third busiest in number of total passengers per year—had been hacked. The domino effect of delayed or canceled flights resulted in a maelstrom of missed connections, lost baggage, and queue upon queue of clueless passengers looking for solutions. Weddings, honeymoons, funerals, river cruises, bus tours, reunions, and once-in-a-lifetime business opportunities were too important to be derailed by a bunch of dark-web bandits. Normally efficient and accommodating personnel were inundated with impossible requests, and tempers were pushed to the limit.
I’d expected a two-hour layover before catching my flight back to San Francisco via Chicago, but my trip from northern Spain had been delayed by an unexpected snowstorm. The result was catastrophic in terms of connections, and I was one among thousands trying to find my way home. There was no point in browbeating anyone for better results as my angry voice would fall on deaf ears.
According to the giant monitors advising weary travelers of time and gate changes, my flight was supposed to board at Gate F6. The seats were all taken when I arrived at my destination, and a quick scan of the adjoining gates revealed more of the same. I’d end up on the floor for an undetermined amount of time unless the airline brought in more chairs.
As I considered my next move, my attention was drawn to a guy dressed from head to toe in unadulterated black. His face and hands were deeply bronzed, incongruous amidst the throng of pasty winter complexions. Squint lines radiated from wide-set eyes, and a thin scar sliced through one dark winged eyebrow. The resulting asymmetry changed the stranger from model perfect to dangerously attractive.
The month I’d recently spent at the Sanctuary of Loyola in Azpeitia, Spain, the ancestral home of St. Ignatius, had been an inspirational setting meant to reaffirm my faith and strengthen my resolve to stay the course. A great waste of time, I thought bitterly, all the while checking out the stranger’s physical attributes. When he met my gaze, my stomach clenched, and I quickly looked away, hyperaware of my thundering heartbeat.
Most sensible men would have turned their backs when confronted with temptation, but I was at my most vulnerable. Daring another look, I found him digging through his pea-green duffel. Along with his puffy jacket, the bag was taking up the adjoining seat, which could be mine for the taking. Resolved to correct the immediate problem, I stomped his way with determination. Some sixth sense must have alerted him because he lifted his head and tracked my progress with hawklike intensity.
I pointed at the spot occupied by his possessions, expecting an immediate response. Instead, his grayish-green eyes narrowed with suspicion. When I didn’t move, he clenched his jaw, gathered up his things, and dropped them on the floor by his feet.
“Thank you,” I murmured, settling on the molded plastic chair.
He ignored me.
The buzz cut, laced boots, duffel, and edgy demeanor screamed military, but the turtleneck and cargo pants gave nothing away. He wore no distinguishing pins to indicate if he was one of ours or a member of some foreign entity. Trying to ascertain more was impossible while he continued to treat me like I was an interloper. While other passengers twitched in discomfort and fiddled with electronic devices, my stranger sat with his arms and legs crossed and scanned the crowd with a predatory stare. I wasn’t qualified to judge, but I got a strong feeling he’d be a formidable fighter if pushed.
His silence was oppressive, and under normal circumstances, I would have attempted a conversation. People usually responded favorably to a cleric, but my dark shirt and white collar were packed away, replaced by more practical winter wear. A thermal undershirt, flannel top, fleece-lined jeans, and sturdy hiking boots had served me well while I tramped the snow-covered pathways in the Basque country. It also worked as a disguise, allowing me to forget I was a priest in crisis with unfinished business back home in San Francisco.
An announcement came through the loudspeaker in Dutch, followed by the same in English, French, and Spanish. There would be another two-hour delay, and free vouchers were offered to anyone interested in a light snack until we were allowed to board.
“Someone will snatch my seat if I leave,” the stranger commented irritably.
“I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen if you’ll get me something to eat.”
He glared at me. “How can I be sure you won’t run off with my things?”
Incredulous, I asked, “Do I look like a hardened criminal?”
“You look like you lost your herd somewhere in the Alps.”
“I’ve been called a shepherd on occasion.”
“Can I trust you?” he asked skeptically.
“I’m more interested in black coffee and a sandwich than whatever treasures you might have in your duffel.”
“I’ll hunt you down if you’re lying,” he warned menacingly. “Is there anything you dislike by way of food?”
I shook my head.
“I’ll be back shortly.”
I admired his retreating figure as he walked away. Easily over six feet, he was prepossessing, drawing the eyes of men and women alike as he picked his way through the crowd.
Questioning my ethics was understandable, considering our circumstances, but it set me to thinking about my past. All my life, I’d been judged by my DNA, which, by all accounts, left much to be desired. The man who’d given me life was a masterful liar, and my mother wasn’t equipped to deal with his manipulative personality. She was seduced, impregnated, and subsequently rushed to the altar by her indignant parents. Predictably, Jack Underwood took off when I was three, packing enough clothes for a short business trip. He never returned, and from then on, it was only a question of time before my grandparents convinced my mother to get rid of me.
I was dispatched to an orphanage in another state where I cried myself to sleep each night. The people in charge offered no explanation, but assured me I wouldn’t be there long. Blond and blue-eyed children were always scooped up first. Within months, I was adopted by the Blackstone family, who changed my name from Jack Jr. to Justin. And thus began my second incarnation.
Mickie B. Ashling is the pseudonym of a multifaceted woman who is a product of her upbringing in multiple cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West. A little bit of this and a lot of that have brought a unique touch to her literary voice she could never learn from textbooks.
By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing—and the inevitable emptying nest—dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and she’s never looked back.
She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.
Mickie currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.