Blood & Thunder Release Day Party: Winner & Goodnight!

August 4, 2014

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Hey all! Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by! It’s been an awesome day!

By the power of the Magic Hat, a random name has been drawn for the Blood & Thunder Release Day Party giveaway which includes any 2 eBooks from my current releases. Now onto the winner! By the power of the Magic Hat, the winner is:

DSP BT Party

 

Congrats, Antonia! I’ll be in touch shortly to arrange delivery of your prizes!

If you didn’t win, remember you can still enter the blog tour giveaway! There are also plenty more fun events and giveaways coming soon.

Again, to everyone who participated today or dropped by, a huge thank you from me and the fellas!

 

Now available from Dreamspinner Press in eBook | Paperback

THIRDSHQ | THIRDS Nerds on Goodreads | THIRDS Nerds on Facebook

 

About the Author:

Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

 Visit Charlie’s Author Website | Sign up for Charlie’s Newsletter

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CCBTHBlogTourBannerLG

Blog Tour Stops:

1st Aug - Prism Book Alliance
4th Aug - Dreamspinner Press Blog Release Party & Release Day Blitz
5th Aug - The Blogger Girls
6th Aug - The Novel Approach
7th Aug - Hearts on Fire
8th Aug – Attention is Arbitrary
9th Aug - Dreamspinner Press Facebook page.
11th Aug - Joyfully Jay
12th Aug – TTC Books and More

 

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Blood & Thunder Release Day Party: Random Fact Fun

August 4, 2014

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Hello all! We’re back! Thanks for dropping by the Blood & Thunder Release Day Party! Woot! I’m here celebrating the second book in my new THIRDS series: Comedy. Action. Romance. And that one weird guy! For this post I thought I’d share some random fun facts about our team Destructive Delta.

Dex: When he was fourteen years old, Tony and Cael walked in to his bedroom to find him with his boy parts in the vaccum cleaner hose.
Sloane: Used to dress up like Indiana Jones when he was little and set up his and Ash’s room like an obstacle course. Ash would roll toward him and pretend he was the giant boulder chasing Indy.
Ash: Doesn’t actually have a nut allergy. He does in fact have a shellfish allergy.
Cael: Was so small when he was a kid he got lost in a ball pit at a schoolmate’s birthday party. They had to empty it out to find him.
Calvin: When he was twelve, he thought it would be a good idea to hold onto the back of Hobbs’s bike while on his skateboard. When Hobbs took off, Calvin flew forward without his skateboard. He scraped his knee on the concrete. He still has the scar. (This in no way is a true story. Okay, it is. I was twelve!)
Hobbs: Grew up next door to Calvin in the same apartment building. When he couldn’t sleep or was scared, he’d use his walkie talkie to call Calvin who would read to Hobbs until he fell asleep.
Rosa: Had considered being a chef before going into law enforcement.
Letty: Has grenade shaped cookie cutters and gun shaped egg cookie cutters.
Tony: Dressed like Darth Vader for Dex’s seventh birthday party and gave the kids Styrofoam lightsabers so they could fight him.

starwars

Now it’s your turn! Share one random fact about yourself.

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Genre: M/M Contemporary Paranormal Romance
Series: THIRDS Book Two
Length: 240 pages
Published: Aug 4th, 2014
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 13: 978-1-63216-178-9
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-63216-177-2

Action. Comedy. Romance. And that one weird guy.

When a series of bombs go off in a Therian youth center, injuring members of THIRDS Team Destructive Delta, and causing a rift between agents Dexter J. Daley and Sloane Brodie, peace seems unattainable. Especially when a new and frightening group, the Order of Adrasteia, appears to always be a step ahead. With panic and intolerance spreading and streets becoming littered with the Order’s propaganda, hostility between Humans and Therians grows daily. Dex and Sloane, along with the rest of the team, are determined to take down the Order and restore peace, not to mention settle a personal score. But the deeper the team investigates the bombings, the more they believe there’s a more sinister motive than a desire to shed blood and spread chaos.

Discovering the frightful truth behind the Order’s intent forces Sloane to confront secrets from a past he thought he’d left behind for good, a past that could not only destroy him and his career, but also the reputation of the organization that made him all he is today. Now more than ever, Dex and Sloane need each other, and, along with trust, the strength of their bond will mean the difference between justice and all-out war.

Read Chapter One here.

 

Now available from Dreamspinner Press in eBook | Paperback

THIRDSHQ | THIRDS Nerds on Goodreads | THIRDS Nerds on Facebook

 

About the Author:

Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

 Visit Charlie’s Author Website | Sign up for Charlie’s Newsletter

facebook twitter pinterest goodreads tumblr 

CCBTHBlogTourBannerLG

Blog Tour Stops:

1st Aug - Prism Book Alliance
4th Aug - Dreamspinner Press Blog Release Party & Release Day Blitz
5th Aug - The Blogger Girls
6th Aug - The Novel Approach
7th Aug - Hearts on Fire
8th Aug – Attention is Arbitrary
9th Aug - Dreamspinner Press Facebook page.
11th Aug - Joyfully Jay
12th Aug – TTC Books and More

 

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Blood & Thunder Release Day Party: Excerpt

August 4, 2014

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Hello all! Thanks again for stopping by the Blood & Thunder release day party! Since we were talking about coffee earlier, I thought the following excerpt would fit nicely.

Remember, I’m giving away any 2 eBooks from my current releases to one lucky winner! (Release Day party giveaway ends at 7 pm (Eastern time) and will be announced on the final post at 8 pm. Just leave a comment on any of the release party posts for a chance to win!

A shuffling sound, followed by a long groan caught his ear and Sloane turned, watching in amusement as Dex took a seat at the counter. Sections of his hair stuck up in peaks, making him look like he had little devil horns, and he had a pillowcase mark across one pink cheek.

“Morning,” Sloane said cheerfully.

Dex looked up at him without raising his head. He let out a grunt and Sloane chuckled. And the guy called him grumpy pants. Adding the hot frothed milk to Dex’s coffee, he placed the bucket-sized cappuccino in front of his partner. Dex wrapped his hands around the mug, shuddered from head to toe, and rather than lifting it to his mouth, he hunched over to put his lips to the mug, and sipped.

“Oh God,” Dex moaned, closing his eyes, making the same face he did during sex. It went straight to Sloane’s groin. Curious, he decided to ask.

“If you had to choose between coffee and—”

“Coffee.”

“You didn’t know what I was going to say,” Sloane laughed.

Dex shook his head. “Doesn’t matter. Coffee.”

“Me or coffee.”

“Coffee.”

“Wow. Okay, sex or coffee.”

“Coffee.”

“Your brother or—”

“Coffee. I would totally trade my brother for a good cup of coffee.” He took a sip with a contented sigh. His gaze shifted to Sloane. “Okay, maybe I wouldn’t trade him in for coffee. Although….” He pursed his lips thoughtfully then shook his head. “No, you’re right, that would be wrong.”

Sloane didn’t mind he came second to coffee, because all he had to do was bide his time. The dark, frothy brew might dominate his lover’s mind at first, but as soon as Dex was finished, they’d both have breakfast, and then the dishes would be cleared and washed. They’d go upstairs, brush their teeth, and Sloane would take off his shirt on the way to the armchair at the end of the bedroom where his clothes and toiletry bag were. As expected, he’d never make it there.

Dex pounced, arms wrapping around Sloane’s waist, one hand caressing Sloane’s chest, the other slipping underneath the elastic band of his boxer briefs while Dex delivered kisses to his back, the tip of his tongue licking, teeth nipping.

“Still thinking of trading me in for coffee?” Sloane asked huskily.

“I may have been a bit rash. You know I can’t be trusted when the Starbucks siren gets me in her caffeinated clutches. I’m weak. It shames me.”

 

Now available from Dreamspinner Press in eBook | Paperback

THIRDSHQ | THIRDS Nerds on Goodreads | THIRDS Nerds on Facebook

 

About the Author:

Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

 Visit Charlie’s Author Website | Sign up for Charlie’s Newsletter

facebook twitter pinterest goodreads tumblr 

CCBTHBlogTourBannerLG

Blog Tour Stops:

1st Aug - Prism Book Alliance
4th Aug - Dreamspinner Press Blog Release Party & Release Day Blitz
5th Aug - The Blogger Girls
6th Aug - The Novel Approach
7th Aug - Hearts on Fire
8th Aug – Attention is Arbitrary
9th Aug - Dreamspinner Press Facebook page.
11th Aug - Joyfully Jay
12th Aug – TTC Books and More

 

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Blood & Thunder Release Day Party: Giveaway Post!

August 4, 2014

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Hello all! Charlie Cochet here! Welcome back to the Blood & Thunder release day party! And what would a party be without goodies! I’m giving away any 2 eBooks from my current releases to one lucky winner! Release Day party giveaway ends at 7 pm (Eastern time) and will be announced on the final post at 8 pm.

Dex is a man after my own heart. One of his quirks is a serious coffee addiction. The guy just can’t function without his morning cup of java, and several more cups throughout the day. In Blood & Thunder, Dex is horrified when his ex-boyfriend Lou spills the beans (no pun intended. Ha! totally intended) on his secret, known as: The Waking Dead. The Waking Dead is that period between when Dex “wakes up” to when he’s had his first cup of coffee. In that time, he is a walking zombie. No signs of life. Dead to the world.

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Now I love my coffee, and I enjoy trying out new flavors, but there are some I might think twice about trying. Here are some of the strange coffee flavors I found while surfing the internet.

Jalanpeño Coconut
Banana Split flavored
Bacon flavored
Civet Coffee –  is made from the seeds of coffee berries once they’ve been eaten and pooped out by the Asian palm civet (a furry little ferret like animal). I’d never heard of this until now and apparently it’s ridiculously expensive.

I may love my coffee, and it might taste as good as they claim, but I’m hesitant to drink anything made out of something an animal pooped out. Same with the elephant dung coffee I read about somewhere. No thanks.

What’s the strangest flavor drink or strangest drink you’ve ever had?

 

Now available from Dreamspinner Press in eBook | Paperback

THIRDSHQ | THIRDS Nerds on Goodreads | THIRDS Nerds on Facebook

 

About the Author:

Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

 Visit Charlie’s Author Website | Sign up for Charlie’s Newsletter

facebook twitter pinterest goodreads tumblr 

CCBTHBlogTourBannerLG

Blog Tour Stops:

1st Aug - Prism Book Alliance
4th Aug - Dreamspinner Press Blog Release Party & Release Day Blitz
5th Aug - The Blogger Girls
6th Aug - The Novel Approach
7th Aug - Hearts on Fire
8th Aug – Attention is Arbitrary
9th Aug - Dreamspinner Press Facebook page.
11th Aug - Joyfully Jay
12th Aug – TTC Books and More

 

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Blood & Thunder Release Day Party: Welcome!

August 4, 2014

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Hello all! Charlie Cochet here celebrating the release of Blood & Thunder, the second book in my new law-enforcement shifter series the THIRDS! Woot! Thank you all for joining me! Throughout the day there will be fun posts, an excerpt, and a giveaway! I’ll be giving away any 2 eBooks from my current releases to one lucky winner! (Release Day party giveaway ends at 7 pm (Eastern time) and will be announced on the final post at 8 pm. Just leave a comment on any of the release party posts for a chance to win!

At the end of this post, you’ll also find info on the Blood & Thunder Blog Tour, including the stops. There’s also a nifty giveaway for the tour, so make sure to check it out!

So what is Destructive Delta up to in Blood & Thunder? Our story continues a few months after where Hell & High Water left off, but this time our favorite agents are up against all kind of professional and personal challenges. The stakes are higher, the fire hotter, and the emotions run deeper. What secrets is Sloane keeping? Will the fierce Alpha Team Leader put his trust in his cheeky partner, Dex?

Okay, it’s time to fess up. Which team are you?

TeamDex TeamSloane TeamAsh Teamcael TeamHobbs TeamCalvin TeamRosa  TeamLetty

Don’t have a favorite THIRDS team yet? Who’s your favorite fictional or movie hero?

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Genre: M/M Contemporary Paranormal Romance
Series: THIRDS Book Two
Length: 240 pages
Published: Aug 4th, 2014
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 13: 978-1-63216-178-9
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-63216-177-2

Action. Comedy. Romance. And that one weird guy.

When a series of bombs go off in a Therian youth center, injuring members of THIRDS Team Destructive Delta, and causing a rift between agents Dexter J. Daley and Sloane Brodie, peace seems unattainable. Especially when a new and frightening group, the Order of Adrasteia, appears to always be a step ahead. With panic and intolerance spreading and streets becoming littered with the Order’s propaganda, hostility between Humans and Therians grows daily. Dex and Sloane, along with the rest of the team, are determined to take down the Order and restore peace, not to mention settle a personal score. But the deeper the team investigates the bombings, the more they believe there’s a more sinister motive than a desire to shed blood and spread chaos.

Discovering the frightful truth behind the Order’s intent forces Sloane to confront secrets from a past he thought he’d left behind for good, a past that could not only destroy him and his career, but also the reputation of the organization that made him all he is today. Now more than ever, Dex and Sloane need each other, and, along with trust, the strength of their bond will mean the difference between justice and all-out war.

Read Chapter One here.

 

Now available from Dreamspinner Press in eBook | Paperback

THIRDSHQ | THIRDS Nerds on Goodreads | THIRDS Nerds on Facebook

 

About the Author:

Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

 Visit Charlie’s Author Website | Sign up for Charlie’s Newsletter

facebook twitter pinterest goodreads tumblr 

CCBTHBlogTourBannerLG

Blog Tour Stops:

1st Aug - Prism Book Alliance
4th Aug - Dreamspinner Press Blog Release Party & Release Day Blitz
5th Aug - The Blogger Girls
6th Aug - The Novel Approach
7th Aug - Hearts on Fire
8th Aug – Attention is Arbitrary
9th Aug - Dreamspinner Press Facebook page.
11th Aug - Joyfully Jay
12th Aug – TTC Books and More

 

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Winner from the Gravitational Attraction Launch Party!

July 22, 2014

Hi all! Angel Martinez one last time – just popping in to announce the winner from yesterday’s launch party:

Our winner is Susan! (skadlec1)

Susan, please pick a backlist book of mine that looks good to you (make sure it’s not one of the free reads, ’cause you don’t need me to give you those) from my website:

Angel Martinez

(the front page has a quick guide to all the work sort of halfway down)

Email me with your choice, preferred file format (if I have it, I’ll send it) and where to send!

ravenesperanza@yahoo.com (my email)

or PM me on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/amartinez2

Congratulations and thank you so much to everyone who stopped by!

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School’s Out! The Answers & The Winners!

July 1, 2014

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest! We had lots of entries and quite a few people matched all the authors correctly so with the help of the handy dandy “Random Thing Picker,” we chose our winners!

In first place with the prize of a $25 gift certificate to the Dreamspinner Press store, is Mary M.!

And the three runners up with an ebook of their choice are H.B., Juliana, and JJ!

And now, here are the results for you to compare your answers with.

1. Will Freshwater
2. Rick R. Reed
3. Brandon Witt
4. Raine O’Tierney
5. Charlie Cochet
6. Dawn Kimberly Johnson
7. Brita Addams
8. Michael J. Bowler
9. Bru Baker
10. Phoenix Emrys
11. Ariel Tachna
12. Shaw Connor
13. Suki Fleet
14. Nessa Warin

“School’s Out” Contest – Some Hints!

June 26, 2014

Are you stuck trying to figure out who’s who in our “School’s Out” contest? Worry no more, we’ve got some hints for you!  To narrow down the guessing, here is a list of possible authors you can choose from.  Now, take a good, hard look and see if you can match the name to the cute photos!

Raine O’Tierney

Alana Ankh

Rick R. Reed

Shira Anthony

Brandon Witt

Andrew Grey

Mary Calmes

Phoenix Emrys

Charlie Cochet

Lex Chase

Will Freshwater

Jacob Flores

Dawn Kimberly Johnson

Nessa Warin

Brita Addams

Sue Brown

Michael J. Bowler

Suki Fleet

Bru Baker

Damon Suede

Ariel Tachna

Rhys Ford

Shae Connor

Allison Cassatta

 

And remember, you have until June 30th at 11:39pm Eastern to send in your guesses to hayley [at] dreamspinnerpress.com! 3 winners will be chosen for some great prizes!

 

 

“School’s Out!” Contest

June 24, 2014

Want to see what your favorite DSP authors looked like as cute little kids? Dreamspinner Press is celebrating the end of the school year with a “who’s who” contest!  Take a look below and see if you can figure out which DSP authors are featured in these school photos. Prizes will be awarded to the top 3 people who name the most authors!

To enter, email your guesses to hayley [at] dreamspinnerpress.com.  Contest closes June 30th at 11:59pm Eastern!

Author 1:

Author 1

Author 2:

 Author 2

Author 3:

Author 3

Author 4:

  Author 4

Author 5:
Author 5

Author 6:

Author 6

Author 7:

Author 7

Author 8:

Author 8

Author 9:

Author 9

Author 10:

Author 10

Author 11:

Author 11

 

   Author 12:

Author 12

 

Author 13:

Author 13

Author 14:

Author 14

***Need some hints? Check out a list of possible authors here!

3rd Excerpt for Chasing the Horizon by Scotty Cade

June 14, 2014

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Okay, Guess who???

I’m here with the last excerpt and question. Good luck everyone. Remember, don’t post your answers any earlier then two o’clock, EST. I’ll see you at the cocktail hour with drink and winners in hand.

Scotty

You’re almost a blond now, Holt,Garner mumbled as he glanced at his wavy, shoulder-length locks in the mirror. His hair was now way more blond than brown from all the sunny days he’d spent on the docks at the marina in Savannah, not to mention his days at sea. But he also realized he was only going to get more blond the longer he stayed in Key West and chuckled when he thought about the blond jokes that Hank and Thompson would certainly bestow upon him.

He leaned into the mirror as he applied moisturizer to his evenly tanned and mostly unwrinkled skin, mentally patting himself on the back for remembering to apply sunscreen on a regular basis.

He took a step back from the mirror and studied his slender face and strong jawline and frowned. God. I may not have many wrinkles, but the older I get, the more I look like Dad. He felt the familiar waves of sadness and guilt that normally washed over him when he thought about his father, but over the years he’d learned to keep them at bay. Mostly.

He forced the feelings back down as he scanned his naked body in the mirror and felt a little bit of pride. “Not bad for thirty-six,” he said. “At lest the old physique hadn’t turned on me yet.” He followed his broad shoulders and muscular chest down to his small waist, flat stomach, and naturally strong legs. “I guess all those years at the gym really paid off.”

He’d spent almost nine years behind a desk, and during that time he’d been obsessed with the gym, so afraid he was going to get fat and flabby.

He stepped out of the head and stood in front of his open closet door. He folded his arms across his chest and patted his bare foot. It’s your first night in Key West, Holt, and you only get one chance to make a first impression, so what’s it going to be?

Deciding he wanted to fit in, he settled on a pair of well-broken-in comfortable jeans that rode low on his hips and a neon green Nautica T-shirt. He slipped into his brown leather boat shoes, put on his brown belt, and stood in front of his full-length mirror. I guess this will have to do.

It was still a little early, so Garner decided to have a drink before he ventured out for his first night on the town. He opened a bottle of chardonnay, poured himself a glass, and climbed the companionway stairs to the cockpit. He settled in front of the steering wheel, kicked his shoes off, and propped his feet up.

It was a beautiful evening; mild in temperature and the sun was hovering low in the sky, as if defiantly refusing to dip below the horizon. Garner took a sip of his wine, leaned his head back, and closed his eyes, soaking in the last warm rays of sun. At the sound of footsteps on the dock, Garner’s curiosity got the best of him, and he opened one eye to see who was approaching. He raised his head and sat up straight when he saw Mr. Clean casually making his way down the dock. As the stranger approached, Garner began to feel very silly. The guy didn’t look near as scary as he had this morning and not the least bit intimidating. Yes he was still bizarre looking, but as he got closer, Garner could see that he was dressed in form-fitting blue jeans, a tight gray turtleneck, and black high-top tennis shoes.

Normal everyday attire, he thought. No spiked leather vest and pants with chains leading to his wallet. No shit kicker boots either. Just everyday clothing.

When he reached the stern of AquaTherapy, it appeared as if the man was going to stop. Garner’s heart skipped a beat in anticipation of what was to come. But instead, their eyes locked and Garner held the stranger’s gaze. After a few seconds, the stranger simply nodded, flashed a smile, and kept going.

Garner nodded back and followed the stranger’s movements down the dock.

What struck Garner as odd was the stranger’s familiar hollow stare. His crystal blue-gray eyes produced the same effect Garner had experienced when he’d gazed into Thompson Gray’s emerald eyes for the first time. The flecks of gold and the depth of green in Thompson’s eyes had had a major impact on Garner back in Savannah, but despite the rich color, they too were hollow, almost void of any emotion.

After the man disappeared through the marina gate, Garner continued to stare like he could still see him. He was startled out of his thoughts by his cell phone ringing. He unclipped the phone from his belt and, without looking, slid his finger across the bottom of the phone and put it to his ear.

“Hello.”

“Glad to hear you’re still alive,” the voice on the other end of the line said.

“Thompson?” Garner said, breaking his trance and smiling into the phone. “I was just thinking about you.”

Thompson chuckled. “Do I dare ask why?”

“Probably not,” Garner replied.

“Oh geez,” Thompson said. “You’re right. I probably don’t want to know.”

“How the hell are you guys? Hank okay?”

“We’re great. Missing you though.”

“I miss you guys too,” Garner said with sincerity.

“Where are you?” Thompson asked.

“Just got to Key West this morning.”

“That’s great,” Thompson said. “Now that you’ve arrived, if you’re going to stay put for a while, Hank and I would like to try and figure out a time when we can both get away so we can come to see you. If you still want us to, that is?”

“Hell yeah,” Garner replied. “I can’t wait to see you guys.”

“Hold on, let me put you on speaker,” Thompson interrupted. “Hank wants to say hi.”

A few seconds later, Garner heard Hank’s voice sounding so happy it brought a smile to his face. “Hey, Gar, how’s sunny Key West?

“So far so good,” Garner replied, keeping the mysterious Mr. Clean to himself.

“Oh come on, is that all you have?” Hank teased.

“Give me a break,” Garner replied. “I just got here and I’m a slow starter.”

“Who are you trying to fool?” Hank asked. “I remember the day we first met. Slow starter, my ass.”

Garner chuckled. “Okay. Guilty as charged.”

Thompson cleared his throat. “Hey, guys? I’m listening. For Pete’s sake, the last thing I want to hear about is how you two flirted with one another the first day you met.”

Garner heard Thompson huff like he’d been elbowed in the ribcage or something, followed by a muffled “ouch.”

“Okay, fine,” Hank said over the speaker. “But at least tell us about the trip?”

Garner filled them both in on the details of his voyage, and before he knew it they were saying their goodbyes with promises of seeing each other very soon.

Garner stood and shoved his phone into his pocket just as the last remnants of the sun dipped below the horizon, leaving behind only the hues of oranges and yellows filling the western sky. He stared at the colorful display for a few minutes, downed the last of his wine, and took the empty glass down below. He checked himself in the mirror one last time. “As good as it’s gonna get,” he whispered to himself before grabbing his keys and heading topside again to begin his first night in Key West.

Walking along the dock, Garner recognized a new bounce in his step and realized he was looking forward to being with people again. Being on the water alone had been one of the best mind-clearing practices he’d ever experienced, and this particular leg of his trip had given him plenty of time to reflect on Hank and Thompson and the part he played in helping them. But as a psychiatrist he also knew how important human contact was to the spirit. Mr. Clean’s bizarre mug popped back into his mind again and he chuckled. Well, some human contact, that is, he thought.

Shaking his head to scatter the image of shaved heads, tattoos, and piercings, he tried to focus on what he wanted for dinner. “A real dinner?” he said to himself, feeling excited about his evening.

After walking few blocks, Garner turned onto Duval Street. The heart of Key West was buzzing with activity, and he didn’t know where to look. Standing in the middle of the street, he almost felt like he was in a mini Times Square. Bright lights filled the early evening night, and the sounds of the city mixed with music; cheerful voices and laughter were alive and bursting with anticipation.

Glancing up and down the crowded thoroughfare trying to determine where to go, he was mesmerized with the sights. There were tanned muscular half-naked men in every direction, some paired off and holding hands while others were obviously cruising the crowds looking for, well, whatever they were looking for.

Garner chuckled. It had been a very long time since he’d had been to Castro Street in San Francisco, where this sort of thing was expected, but this was Florida for God’s sake, the home of retired grandparents.

Standing on the street taking it all in, his voyeurism was abruptly interrupted by a loud noise much like a honking sound one would identify with a kids birthday party clown. When he turned, he realized his initial summation wasn’t very fair off. He instinctively jumped back just in time as a very large drag queen on a bicycle in full regalia and honking a horn flew by, shoving a flyer in his face. He accepted the flyer rather than get run over and read an advertisement for a drag show later that evening at The Crystal Room Cabaret in a place called La Te Da. He smiled, folded the flyer, and stuck it in his pocket.

Deciding it was definitely time to move on, Garner looked down Duval Street in each direction, and after careful consideration chose the way with the most activity. He weaved into the oncoming foot traffic and matched the pace of the other lollygaggers. Suddenly he had the overwhelming sensation of feeling like a kid in a candy store. Being well… Garner, the reaction took him totally by surprise, but instead of analyzing it as he normally would, he just went with it. Before very long he felt energized and the previously identified bounce in his step was even more pronounced by the way his boat shoes almost floated above the concrete. There was something interesting to see in every direction, and he reveled in the sights. After ten or so blocks, he absentmindedly reached up and rubbed the back of his sore neck. The perpetual smile on his face broadened as he realized he’d been moving his head from side to side for so long, afraid to miss anything, he’d totally given himself a crick.

Once again folding into the ever-moving crowd and feeling comfortable with the rhythm of the night, Garner casually strolled along the crowded sidewalk. He soaked up the informality of his temporary new home, slowing every now and then to take in the beauty or bizarreness of a piece of art placed in a gallery window and then he’d once more pick up his pace until something else caught his eye.

About an hour into his leisurely stroll, Garner’s stomach not so subtly made itself heard and began to protest the lack of attention. He quickly shifted his focus and began to search for cafés and restaurants that caught his eye, stopping to check out the menus posted proudly on the busy sidewalk. He eventually settled on a little restaurant called “Square One,” suddenly hungry for herb-roasted chicken and good ole home-style mashed potatoes.

Garner stepped inside and looked around. He noted the place was very crowded but still had that intimate feel and so far, he was very happy with his selection. He slipped the handsome host a twenty and asked for a small table tucked away in the corner with a view of the dining room and smiled appreciatively when he got exactly that.

After ordering a glass of wine, a salad, and the roasted chicken that had prompted his patronage as well as had his mouth watering, he sat back and simply watched. The romantic restaurant was filled with couples holding hands and cooing, some straight, some gay and lesbian, but everyone obviously feeling very comfortable with their public displays of affection. Garner thought about how far society had come in just his lifetime and realized that in some small way, his generation had helped to carve out a better life for today’s gay youth. He took a small bit of satisfaction in that.

With more than half of his journey on the water behind him, Garner was more relaxed than he’d been in a very long time. But again, instead of analyzing it, he went with the totally foreign feeling and smiled when he suddenly thought about his friends back in New York. “Uptight” was the word most of them would frequently use when asked to describe his personality. But right here, right now, uptight couldn’t have been further from the truth. He suddenly thought about the rainbow sticker his best friend Greg had adhered to his boat the day he left New York. When he’d found it, he’d known exactly who’d put it there and called Greg and gave him a shitload of grief. The only response he’d received was “If you’re going to cruise your uptight ass around God knows where, at least people need to know you’re gay. How else are you gonna get laid?”

The sticker hadn’t exactly gotten him laid yet, but it had had its benefits. It had been the way Hank identified him as gay when he’d come to tow his boat to a marina for repairs, and little did he know at the time, but that little sticker would put him right in the middle of an emotional love triangle with Hank and Thompson that would test his libido, not to mention his skills as a psychiatrist. But in the end it had all worked out the way it was supposed to, as do most things, and it hadn’t gotten him laid per se, but it did get Hank and Thompson laid. So in the end, he guessed Greg was right.

In the next few minutes his dinner came and was well worth the wait. Best roasted chicken he’d ever had and he savored it to the bitter end. After one more glass of wine and a few bites of Key Lime Pie, he paid the check and ventured out once again onto Duval Street.

He looked at his watch and saw it was nearing nine thirty. He pulled out the piece of paper he’d shoved in his pocket and read the details about the show in The Crystal Room Cabaret at La Te Da. The flyer read, “The Crystal Room Cabaret at La Te Da featuring John Webster and the many faces of the Crystal Room. And Special Guest, direct from Provincetown, none other than the Divine Miss Richfield.”

“What else do I have to do?” he said under his breath, checking the address and starting out for the club. “What the hell, it sounds like fun.”

 

Question: What was the name of the restaurant Garner chose for dinner?