June 22, 2015
Serious topic here. Scary topic. PTSD—post traumatic stress disorder. We all hear about it on the news. The statistics are scary. One in three will experience it upon returning home from active duty, but less than 40% will seek help. Military personal take their own lives by the hundreds each year because of the illness. It’s very real and I’ve encountered it myself.
My brother’s best friend fought it for a couple years. I remember him before he left to serve our country. He was a good kid. Kind of goofy and had an easy smile. He always had good grades and treated people with respect. When he came home, he was no longer that goofy, smiling kid. Instead he was a very quiet, stoic man who jumped at fireworks and dogs barking. He married the first girl who would have him, but ended up divorcing her less than a year later because he would fly into uncontrollable rages caused by PTSD and the resulting lack of sleep.
He did go to rehab. I watched him struggle. I watched my brother struggle to support him though he didn’t understand at all what the problem was. We walked on eggshells for years. He’d come out of rehab and for a few months be fine, then he’d go back again. He’s remarried now and has a baby girl. They’ve found some normal in their life. But to this day that goofy, fun kid is gone. He watches the world with wary eyes and has to fight every moment of every day to control his anxiety, anger, and pain.
How many people could live with this every day without help? Why do they have to? What happens if we don’t help them? We lose them, of course. And I think one of the biggest misunderstandings about PTSD is that it only shows up in combat vets. Not true. Anyone who’s had a very traumatic experience in their life can have PTSD. Though combat is certainly among some of the worst events people can experience in their life.
“Have you spoken to a therapist?”
Kade frowned and blinked in confusion for a few moments. “About?”
“You’ve seen a lot of active combat. That changes a person. PTSD is a pretty big problem and often goes undiagnosed for years.” I looked away, feeling my heart give a warning ache again as it did any time I thought of anything related to Nathan.
“I don’t have PTSD.”
“You didn’t watch friends blown up, see children with their heads shot off, or watch militia gang rape girls too young to be considered women?”
Kade sighed. “How is any of that relevant to the job? Yes, I’ve seen some of the worst of humanity. But I’m here and still kicking.”
I flinched then shoved the papers back across the table. “Thank you for coming in, Kade. I think Will can help you find something that is a better fit for you than PHI.”
Ollie is hurt by Kade because he feels like he’s saying that Nathan just wasn’t strong enough. That’s why he died. Of course that’s not what Kade is saying. But Ollie is so traumatized by the death of his older brother that everything relates back to Nathan. And putting Kade, who survived, in Nathan’s role at PHI feels like betrayal to Ollie.
Have you been touched by PTSD? Someone in your life maybe? Or yourself? Have you reached out to them just to offer some peace? An ear to listen? What more can we do to help them? Stories are pain are okay. Stories of recovery even better.
On the Right Track (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence
Unicorns and Rainbow Poop (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence
June 15, 2015
That’s a Good Question. Ha! See what I did there? I’m closing out my time here at the DSP blog with an excerpt from the novella that started Lonnie and Jamison’s love story.
“Don’t say that,” Jamison said.
Torp looked around for Lincoln and, not seeing him, asked, “Why the fuck not? He is.”
“You don’t know that.”
Torp snorted and then choked, prompting Jamison to slap him hard on the back a couple of times until he’d regained his ability to breathe properly. “Uh-huh, y-yeah I do. I’d have to be blind not to notice that.”
Jamison opened his mouth to argue, but suddenly he noticed the music above them had stopped. Did he hear us? From deep in the house he heard someone running down the stairs. He turned to look over his shoulder and saw the art student stumble into the hallway, pause, and turn their way, spotting them. Shit. Jamison turned back around quickly and sipped his tea, his gaze riveted on the grass.
“Hey, fellas. I’m done for today. Got a late afternoon class. See ya tomorrow.” Jamison felt some tension drain out of him, but then the young man gave an exasperated sigh and a chuckle. “Sorry. Introductions?”
Jamison sensed the man come closer, and to his left Torp leapt up, quickly wiping sandwich crumbs off on his jeans. “I’m Theodore Machado III, but most folks call me Torpedo.”
“Uh… really? O-okay. Good to meet you, Torpedo”—Jamison smirked at how carefully the man repeated his friend’s name, as if trying it out on his tongue—“I’m Lonnie Bellerose. The very pregnant lady of the house is my sister.”
“Good to meet you, Mister—”
“Lonnie. Just call me Lonnie.”
The silence that followed brought some tension back into Jamison’s shoulders as he realized they were waiting on him, probably staring at his back. He began to sweat just as his eyes caught sight of a parade of ants moving across a worn, brown patch in the yard to his right. They looked hell-bent for the grass forest on the other side of their tiny clearing. Take me with you.
“He don’t talk much,” Torp explained, then smacked the back of Jamison’s head. “Jam, introduce yourself, man.”
Jamison took a deep breath and slowly stood, turning to face them as he did. Lonnie’s gaze followed him, his eyes widening as Jamison continued to rise above him. Lonnie’s lips parted slightly, almost gasping when he had to tilt his head back a bit to look Jamison in the eyes.
Green. His eyes are green, Jamison noted. He almost stepped closer, almost revealed the pull he felt, but he stopped himself, fearing the same reaction from Lonnie that he’d gotten since his first growth spurt. When you don’t smile much and you’re big and you’re black and you’re tattooed and you’re silent, people—strangers—all react the same way.
It had served him well growing up, carrying him safely through adolescence in a rough neighborhood and keeping bad influences—and even some good ones—at a distance. But as he looked into Lonnie’s bright green eyes, it suddenly hit Jamison that the last thing he wanted from this man was distance.
A smile slowly spread across Lonnie’s beautiful face—full lips, narrow nose, long dark lashes, and high cheekbones. Yum. He was almost as pretty as a girl, but so very much a man.
“My… you’re… you’re—”
“I’m Jamison Coburn.”
Lonnie slowly extended his hand, and Jamison took it. “I’m… I’m….”
Jamison allowed himself to grin. “You’re… Lonnie Bellerose.”
Lonnie barked in laughter, snorted, and smacked himself in the forehead. “Ha! Yeah, yeah, I’m Lonnie. Sorry.” He shook his head, his curls bouncing. “Spaced out a bit there. Nice to m-meet you, Jamison.”
“And you, Lonnie,” Jamison said softly. “Enjoy your class.”
“Right,” Lonnie almost whispered, nodding, staring, grinning. “Thank you.”
They stared at each other for several more heartbeats, and then Lonnie turned on his sockless but sneakered feet, juggled his drawing pad and art bag, and walked right into the closed half of the French doors. He stumbled backward, but Jamison grabbed him and steadied him by the shoulders, aiming him properly at the open door.
Lonnie looked back at him and laughed again. “Thanks f-for that.”
Jamison simply nodded and pointed at the doorway, silently urging him to watch his step. He watched Lonnie walk through the kitchen, all the way down that long hall to the front door, heard Lonnie’s noisy VW grind to life, and caught a flash of purple as he drove away.
“You can’t see that?” Torp asked, shaking his head and shooing a fly from the remainder of his sandwich before taking another bite.
I saw it, all right, Jamison thought, smiling.
I hope that was fun. Setting it up for this post made me smile again.
Thank you all for joining me today, and if you take a chance on my novel The Answer Is, I hope it’s an entertaining read for you.
Remember, you have until 11 a.m. EST, Wednesday, June 17, to leave a comment on the giveaway posts in this release party for chances to win.
Take care and have a great week, people!
June 15, 2015
It’s time for Lonnie’s introduction.
Lonnie sighed and hugged himself, trying to appear at ease as the crowd moved around the room. After all, he was an artist standing in a gallery that displayed some of his best work to date. He should be all smiles and charm and wit. Instead, he felt as though he stood out like a two-headed goat, afraid to move, all hooves and confusion, bleating above the conversations.
On top of that, Lonnie had the distinct impression of being watched. He couldn’t shake it. He looked to his right and his left, then settled again on examining the campus beyond the wall of windows at the gallery’s entrance. He searched the mist-shrouded grounds for any sign of Jamison, but he was nowhere to be seen.
“Here, have a drink, Mr. Bellerose.” Professor Eloise Bink smiled and sipped her champagne, urging him to do the same from the flute she’d provided. She taught several art history classes, and Lonnie had been her assistant while earning his master’s.
He took a sip, then said, “Just call me Lonnie, please. I’m not your TA anymore.”
She smiled and tossed her short and sassy new haircut out of her eyes, the silver-gray strands catching the light. “I’ll call you Lonnie when you call me Eloise.”
He frowned in thought. “I think I can handle Bink but nothing more casual. Will that do?”
They sipped in unison, the bubbles nearly making him sneeze.
“You appear agitated. Waiting for someone?”
“Jamison’s coming, though he should be here by now.”
He shook his head. “Parents in France, Amber birthed a new human being, and brother-in-law is hovering, so… no. No family tonight.” A chill ran through him, so he took another sip of his champagne. It didn’t warm him, and this time he did sneeze, loudly, causing a few heads to turn in fright. His face heated, and he nodded his apologies before depositing the flute on a passing tray.
He turned to the entrance again and gasped softly. Through the floor-to-ceiling windows, he caught a glimpse of a tall, broad-shouldered silhouette hurrying toward the building. The campus lights along the path reflected off what little fog lingered above the lawn, giving the approaching figure a mysterious, superhero-like quality. To Lonnie, he seemed to be moving in slow motion and to his own soundtrack. Lonnie’s heart soared, and he excused himself from Bink to cut through the crowd and meet his man at the door.
“Hi,” he said, beaming up at Jamison as he walked in looking all kinds of gorgeous.
The worried frown on Jamison’s face vanished as he smiled down at Lonnie. “Hi, yourself.”
“You look fantastic.” He stood on tiptoes to give Jamison a peck on the lips, but Jamison pulled back, the frown returning, his gaze darting around the gallery. Lonnie sighed, took his hand, and tugged him deeper into the room. “I have someone I want you to meet.” He paused to look over the faces surrounding them, and when he spotted Bink again, he resumed his tugging.
Glancing around as he followed Lonnie, Jamison asked, “Isn’t your fam—?”
“No,” Lonnie said, “but they sent their congratulations.”
“Ah, Lonnie, back so soon?” Bink said, turning to face the two of them as they reached her. She blinked up at Jamison, her expression remaining warm and friendly. “Whom do we have here?”
“This is Jamison Coburn. Jamison, this is Professor Eloise Bink. I’ve mentioned her before. I was her teaching assistant.” His words rushed out as he gripped Jamison’s big left hand tightly. Mine.
“Yes,” Bink said. “I’m certainly going to miss you in that capacity. Perhaps I’ll find something else for you.” Lonnie laughed at that.
Jamison’s hand swallowed hers. “Good to meet you, ma’am.”
“And you, Mr. Coburn.” She grinned at Lonnie before continuing. “Anyone who can make him daydream at his desk is definitely someone I want to get to know.”
Lonnie gazed up at Jamison and caught the embarrassment as it crossed his handsome features. His chest filled with joy and pride that Jamison was here for him.
“Oh… I don’t know about that, ma’am,” Jamison said.
“Bink, Mr. Coburn. Please call me Bink.”
“If you’ll call me Jamison.”
She grinned. “Agreed. Champagne?” she asked, grabbing fresh flutes from a passing waiter. She handed them each a glass, and they clinked them in a toast to Lonnie’s accomplishment.
I think Lonnie is more delightful than annoying, but he walks a fine line. What do you think?
June 15, 2015
I’d like you to get to know Jamison a bit better.
“You gonna eat with me, baby?”
Jamison turned toward his mother, Alanna, who stood in the back door of her house watching him. He wondered how long she’d been standing there, and he suddenly felt guilty. The original reason for stopping by was to see her, catch up with whatever was going on in her life, but instead he’d ended up working on his latest piece in her garage. He’d heard it calling to him, urging him: finish me, make me pretty, show me off.
His living arrangement didn’t leave any space to store his equipment, let alone use it. Jamison supposed a decluttering of the Standleas’ garage—a family’s furniture and keepsakes collected over the decades—could make room. But deep down he knew keeping his equipment where it was would please his mother. It meant he would always come back. Tonight she probably thought he was avoiding her, but that wasn’t his intention. Unfortunately, now he had to leave.
“No, ma’am. Thank you, but I’m taking dinner over to Lonnie. He’s babysitting tonight.”
He saw disappointment play over her beautiful features, but she quickly brightened.
“How is that new baby?” she asked as he shut down and secured any tools he’d used.
“He’s fine, but Remmy’s just a month or so old, Mama. He doesn’t do much.” He just sort of lies there… and leaks.
He turned off the light and locked up before joining her at the back door. After following her inside, he turned on the security light and bolted the door behind them.
“Everything a baby does, no matter how tiny they are, is precious. It’s hard to believe you were ever that small. And Remmy? What sort of name is that?”
“Short for Rembrandt. Some famous painter.”
“Lordy, what will these people think of next?” she asked as she opened the refrigerator and removed a pie dish.
Jamison’s mouth began to water at the thought of homemade peach pie.
“Does he… does your friend babysit his nephew a lot?”
Jamison shrugged. “Uh… so far the baby’s been passed back and forth between his parents and grandparents. This is Claude and Amber’s first night out in weeks, and since Claude’s parents finally left, Lonnie’s jumping at the chance to have Remmy all to himself tonight before the next pair of grands arrives in a couple of days.”
“Well… do you think you should intrude?” she asked as she cut two pieces of pie and placed them on a sturdy paper plate.
“Intrude?” Jamison frowned as she secured a sheet of plastic wrap over the pie and plate. “I’m surprising him with dinner. I….” He hesitated as he thought it over. “I don’t think he’ll see it as intruding, Mama.”
She nodded without looking at him, then sighed. “Where are the other grandparents?”
“In France. There’s a family farm there.”
She nodded. “I see.”
“They were supposed to be here right after the little guy arrived, but since the paternal grands were already here, they decided to take their time, get Great-Grandma Bellerose ready to travel.”
She nodded and held out the pie-filled plate. “Take this with you for dessert, baby.”
Jamison smiled. “Thanks, Mama. I appreciate it.” He leaned in and kissed her still-smooth cheek. “Lonnie will appreciate it too.” He held the plate in one hand and bent over to hug her tiny frame with the other arm. “You know, if you’d like to meet—”
She pulled away suddenly and held up a hand to silence his suggestion. “No… no, baby. This is fine. Just fine,” she said, not looking at him. “You have a good night with your friend.”
Jamison deflated a bit and allowed her to usher him to the door. “Good night, Mama. I promise to spend more time with you next time.” As always, she watched until he climbed in his truck, then shut her door. He stared out his windshield at the neighborhood, the streetlights creating puddles of illumination every few yards, and wondered at her comment. What does “I see” mean? Does it mean anything? No. He was reading shit into it, feeding it with his own doubts about him and Lonnie. They enjoyed each other. What else mattered?
Before starting the truck, he glanced at the house again and caught his mother peeking at him through a curtain. As he pulled away from the curb, he tapped out a quick good-night on his horn, then turned onto Little Avenue and headed for Ming Empire to pick up dinner.
Please leave a comment below and tell me what you thought.
June 12, 2015
You probably can’t tell it from my name, but I’m half Sicilian, on my mother’s side. She was a Comparetto. And she was, as is the case with all good Sicilian boys, my first love (and my forever love—she was taken from me by cancer in 2007).
The excerpt below (and the character of Vito’s mom) was inspired by my own mother and the conversations we would have on the phone.
Sicilian mothers want two things for their boys—first and foremost, that they eat and second, that they find love….
An Exclusive Excerpt from Dinner at Fiorello’s by Rick R. Reed
Vito went into the living room, where he’d tossed his phone when he came home from his shift. He picked it up and pressed the Home button to bring it to life. He scrolled through his contacts and found the one labeled simply Mother. He tapped the word, and it brought up her picture.
She had once been a beautiful woman, and still was in many ways, defined and elevated by her Sicilian heritage. Her hair, once glossy and black, was now cut short, and it looked dryer. She kept the gray away by having it colored a deep shade of red. But you could still see the girl in her green eyes, still see the strength in her strong chin and broad Italian nose and full lips. He recalled when he had taken the picture, a few years ago, when he had begun work at Fiorello’s and she had come as his guest to dinner. She had been so proud! She had cried when he placed the lasagna with béchamel he made in front of her, not because it was sublime—it was—but because her husband, Johnny, wasn’t there to share it with her. This was a few years ago, and she had just lost him to a heart attack.
Vito shook his head and decided much more thinking like this would defeat the purpose of calling his mom, so he pressed the button that would connect him.
She answered, as she almost always did, on the first ring. And as soon as their hellos were out of the way, she said the same thing she always did. “I was just gonna call you.”
“Isn’t it funny how that works, Mom? Every time I call, you were just gonna call me. Yet my phone never rings.” He laughed to show he was teasing.
“Did you just call to give me a hard time? I haven’t even had my coffee yet.”
“Well, you have to admit, it’s usually the other way around. Isn’t it the parent who’s supposed to bug the kid about keeping in touch?”
“Oh, Vito, is my boy feeling lonely? What made you wanna call me up at the crack of dawn? I could have been sleeping.”
“Oh, come on, we both know Brenda gets you up at four every morning for her breakfast and a tinkle.” Why his mother had named her dog Brenda was a mystery Vito had never been able to unravel.
“She’s a good girl.”
Vito could imagine, and knew he was right, that his mother had the phone tucked between her shoulder and ear and was bending over in her kitchen chair to sweep the little dog up off the linoleum to cuddle her.
“Yes, she’s my baby,” she cooed, confirming what Vito was imagining. He smiled.
“So what’s up? You wanna come down for breakfast? I’ll make you bird’s nests. I baked bread yesterday, and I got some nice roasted peppers to put on top.”
Vito grinned at the mention of the egg dish, thick-sliced bread with a hole hollowed out in the middle for an egg, fried in a cast iron skillet in lots of butter or bacon grease. Not all that healthy, but God, was it comforting. Vito was tempted to throw on some clothes and head out to the western suburb of Cicero, where he had grown up and his mother still lived, just to sit in her kitchen and have her make that for him.
He could practically smell the toasted bread and hear the sizzle of the butter.
“That’s tempting, Ma. But I have to go to work today.”
“So what? You don’t go in until the afternoon, right? They hired that new cook, Elizabeth, right? To take lunches?”
Vito nodded, and when he realized his mother couldn’t see him, said, “Yeah, but I didn’t sleep too good last night, and I probably should take another run at it.”
Cora was quiet for a moment. “You thinking about them again?”
“Ma, I’m always thinking about them.”
“And you always will, son. Just like I always think about my Johnny, your dad. The world got a little darker without him in it. But you know what?”
“What?” Vito asked, even though he knew what his mother was going to say. Despite the fact he had heard this same speech over and over again, he let her say it. It showed she cared, and next to a hug, words like these made Vito feel loved.
“Everybody says it, but it’s true. Life is for the living. You gotta move on, boy. It’s been over a year now, hasn’t it?”
Vito said quietly, “One year, three months, and six days.”
“You have to think about not just the joy they brought into your life, but the joy you brought into theirs. You made them happy. You drove them crazy sometimes! But I know they always felt loved. That counts.”
“I know, I know, Ma.”
“If you need to, you go to church and light a candle for them. You think of them up in heaven, waiting for you. They’re okay. They wouldn’t want you moping around.”
She paused, and Vito could imagine the wheels turning in her head.
“I wanted to do the same thing when your father passed, just shut myself up in the house, crawl under a blanket. For good. But the girls, your aunts, wouldn’t leave me be. They made me come out to bingo on Sundays at the Sons of Italy. They made me go shopping at North Riverside. They even got me to get on a plane to Vegas! Ha! Remember that?” She didn’t wait for her son to answer. “They made me live. You gotta do the same. It’s time.”
At her words, a sudden, unbidden image popped into Vito’s head: Henry, piling dishes up to load into the dishwasher. Strands of his blond hair were glued to his ruddy forehead with sweat. He had stripped off the short-sleeve shirt he had worn in and had on only a ribbed tank that clung to him. He had caught Vito looking and given him a smile. It was a simple moment, but that connection stayed with Vito. It touched his heart. The moment was frozen because it was like they were the only two people in the busy kitchen, for just that fraction of a second.
“You’re right, Ma. You’re always right.”
She scoffed. “Yeah, that’s me. So, speaking of which, you’re off on Sunday. I’m making sewer pipes, sausage, and gravy, and you’re coming over. You can bring somebody.”
“Like Connie and Gabby?” Vito asked, referring to his big dogs.
“Well, I was thinking maybe a nice boy. That would make me really happy.” She was quiet for a moment. “Besides, those two monsters are gonna eat my Brenda for a snack one of these days, I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts.”
“Ma, they’re afraid of Brenda.”
They both laughed. Somehow the little five-pound dog always managed to ride herd on her much bigger “cousins.”
“But I’m serious, Vito. You got anyone you can bring? Seeing anybody? A handsome man like you shouldn’t be by himself.”
And again, Vito thought of Henry. Oh, he’d been “seeing” him, all right. Almost every night for the past two weeks. And then again, in his dreams sometimes. Once he even woke from one of those dreams with come in his shorts, an experience he hadn’t had since he was a boy. He had a feeling he dreamed of Henry because he pushed him away so consciously at the restaurant and even out of his waking thoughts. But his mind refused to let him go.
“No, Ma. I’m not ready to date anyone again.”
“I didn’t even necessarily mean date. But you got friends, don’t you?”
Vito thought sadly, or maybe gratefully, that the answer was no, beyond friends of the four-legged variety. The friends he used to have, in that other life that now seemed to belong to someone else, had all turned away. Not because they hated him or didn’t want to be around him, he knew that much for sure, but because they didn’t want to face his pain, didn’t know what to do with the longing and loss in his eyes, the hurt he wore like an apron. What could they do? What would they say? His life only brought theirs down. So one by one, they stopped seeing him.
He didn’t blame them.
“It’ll just be me and the girls. Is that enough?”
“Oh, let’s not have a pity party here. Remember when you told me you were a fanook?”
“Ma, we don’t use that word. We say gay.”
“Whatever. The point is, do you remember?”
“Yeah. I was twenty. I wrote you a letter.”
“And I cried. And I went to church and lit a candle for you, praying that this gay thing would be ripped out of you.”
“You know it took some adjusting. You weren’t who I thought you were. But so much happened over the next few years. There was—”
And Cora went quiet, her voice stilled for several moments, and Vito knew she was trying to catch her breath, to hold back tears. He knew because his own were springing to the corners of his eyes and running down his face.
In a choked voice, she went on, “I learned that I was wrong. That if Jesus granted my wish and did rip this thing out of you, you wouldn’t be you anymore. And I wouldn’t have had—well, you know.”
“I know. I know.” Vito held a hand to his eyes to stem the flow. “I’ll be there on Sunday, and I’ll bring a nice antipasti. I got some of that good sharp provolone like you like.”
“Okay, son. I gotta go. Brenda’s tap dancing at the back door.”
“I love you.”
Vito’s heart gave a little leap. He never, ever doubted his mother loved him, but she seldom said so. It wasn’t her way. She showed it more through hugs and pinches, sometimes too hard, on the cheek, but most of all through her food. Before he had a chance to return the sentiment, though, she had hung up.
Henry Appleby has an appetite for life. As a recent high school graduate and the son of a wealthy family in one of Chicago’s affluent North Shore suburbs, his life is laid out for him. Unfortunately, though, he’s being forced to follow in the footsteps of his successful attorney father instead of living his dream of being a chef. When an opportunity comes his way to work in a real kitchen the summer after graduation, at a little Italian joint called Fiorello’s, Henry jumps at the chance, putting his future in jeopardy.
Years ago, life was a plentiful buffet for Vito Carelli. But a tragic turn of events now keeps the young chef at Fiorello’s quiet and secretive, preferring to let his amazing Italian peasant cuisine do his talking. When the two cooks meet over an open flame, sparks fly. Both need a taste of something more—something real, something true—to separate the good from the bad and find the love—and the hope—that just might be their salvation.
June 2, 2015
The large case he’d set up as a wall between the front and the back of the store was broken as well, but from what he could see, the movie props he’d placed there were intact, although he couldn’t say the same for the enormous papier-mâché griffin he’d found at a Harryhausen tribute auction. Peppered with bullet holes, its body and head were marred with crumbling white holes, a scatter pattern large enough to make Rook’s stomach turn.
“Shit, they were trying to kill me.” He leaned back, trying to do a visual count on how many bullets pierced through the window and into the shop while he’d been plastered to the floor to avoid being shot.
“Go in but do not touch.” Rook echoed what his grandfather’s lawyers told him, trying to absorb the destruction. “I can’t even move without touching something. And how the hell am I going to document the damage? What isn’t damaged? Fricking lawyers.”
“Are these the same lawyers that told you to return to the scene of the crime and screw up any residuals that might be here?” Montoya’s deep voice rumbled out of the darkened doorway leading from the storefront to the elevator up to Rook’s apartment. “If they wanted you to be thrown into jail, they could have just left you there instead of this catch-and-release program we’ve got going.”
Montoya looked… good. Again. Too good. Too ruffled, too scruffy hot, with broad shoulders and his burned burned-honey eyes fringed with thick, long lashes. A hint of a dimple threatened to spread when his mouth quirked to the side, and Rook had to swallow around a lump in his throat when Montoya shoved his hands into his jeans pockets, sliding his black leather jacket back with his elbows to expose his gun harness.
Even from a few feet away, the man was a tall, dangerous complication in Rook’s life. One he wanted as badly as he didn’t want him around. Rook wasn’t sure what was worse—being accused of murder or being tailed by a man he’d gladly bend over for but who wanted him in handcuffs instead.
“What are you doing here, Stevens?” Montoya’s rumble tickled Rook’s belly, licking hot flames down his crotch and over his ass. “You shouldn’t even be here. What were you thinking?”
Rook had just the smartass answer to throw back at the detective. A burning slap of a sting mingled with a bit of a flirtation hot enough to make the man blush. It would have been an epic moment. One to balance out the unbearable want Montoya seemed to rake up inside of him and caustic enough to push the man’s buttons while pushing him away.
Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.
Rhys admits to sharing the house with three cats of varying degrees of black fur, a black Pomeranian puffball and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and a purple Bella coffee maker.
May 29, 2015
Hello again. It’s Robert P. Rowe taking over the Dreamspinner Press blog to tell you about my novel Second-Story Man. You can find my book here:
But you can read an excerpt here and now:
A hot August night is always good for an open window or two, and I’d spotted one on a deserted street. It looked like an easy climb. From the entrance stair it was a short hop onto the balustrade, an arm’s reach to the segmental pediment, and one last stretch across the brownstone wall. By the time I reached the second-story window, I figured out the climb wasn’t as easy as the construction-site scaffolds I was used to. Biker boots aren’t made for climbing. A tank top was great for showing off my brown-skinned muscles, but for climbing up a building it was stupid—I was all scratched up. If I’d planned this, I’d’ve worn a heavier shirt, with long sleeves.
My raw hands throbbed, but at least I made it. I peered inside. The room was dark, but the streetlight showed me enough. Just what I was looking for: a laptop on the dresser. I’d seen ’em at the pawnshop going for five or six hundred—that’s all the money I needed. Across from the dresser was a bed with some white guy—sleeping like a baby. His blanket was pushed down. The guy was half-naked because of the heat, and leaner than me. If I had to, I could take him.
I climbed in without a stir from the bed and headed straight for the computer. Shit! What was that? My own reflection in the dresser mirror made me jump. Suck it up, Carlos—you can do this. Still, my nerves were on edge. How did that gringo not hear my heart pounding? My sweaty hands were shaking as I struggled to unplug the laptop. Suddenly, something caught my eye. The reflection was big and looming up behind me—
Everything went dark. Sound was muffled. I was suffocating.
Gasping, I struggled against a fabric trap, clawing to free myself until I felt a full body blow take me down to the hard floor. The wind was knocked out of me, and the gringo was on top of me. Then I felt an excruciating whack across my forehead, and my world spun out of control.
Oh, man. What happened?
My head was whirling. I wasn’t sure I could open my eyes.
I took a deep breath, then forced one eye open. Too bright. Blurry. I think I was still in the same room. I opened the other eye, tilted my head. Man, did it hurt. A table lamp was glowing and I must’ve been in the bed. Hey, where’s my shirt? I looked around and there’s that gringo, sitting in the chair next to the bed. How’d that guy manage to get the jump on me? He was still half-naked, wearing some boxers, and he was holding—a bat!
“What the… I’m gettin’ the hell outta here.” I started to get up, but my head was spinning and— “Where’re my pants, ya faggot?” I was naked in this guy’s bed. “What’d ya do to me?”
“Me? I didn’t do anything. I picked you up at the bar. On the way home you got gay-bashed. I brought you up here because I think you might have a concussion. You’ll need to get some sleep.”
“Hey, man, I’m no faggot,” I yelled, making my head hurt all the more.
“Really? Then why are you naked in my bed?” Man, he was right. This really didn’t look good. “Whacking you with a bat could get me into trouble. Climbing in my window could get you into trouble. Nobody will bother to investigate some random gay-bashing.”
“So what now?” I felt trapped, but I defiantly dared him to answer. “Ya wanna fuck me?”
“Don’t flatter yourself. I don’t waste my time with straight guys—too much drama.”
This is a very unusual way to meet and it sure doesn’t seem like these guys are off to a very good start. But stranger things have happened. In fact I’m hoping that you’ll tell me some strange way that you’ve met someone special in your life.
I’m running a contest to give away an ebook copy of Second-Story Man. All that you have to do is have the best answer to this question:
“What’s the most interesting accidental way that you have met someone special in your life?”
Post your answer in the comments and I’ll be choosing a winner just before 11AM Eastern Time. Feel free to post any other questions or comments that you may have too. I’ll be here answering questions for another hour.
Here are links to my website and my blog:
If you missed this Release Party contact me through my Contact page on my website. I’m always interested in your comments.
May 16, 2015
Now I have a question for you….
What is your favorite era in American history to read about?
The Wild West? Revolutionary War? Civil War?
I’m a huge American history fan, so I like all the eras because it feels like my history. J
If you don’t know the setting for WRECKED, here is a quick peek at the blurb:
Blurb from WRECKED:
Off the Key West coast, Rief Lawson works as a wrecker, salvaging ships and their cargo. Exiled to the outskirts of society because of his mysterious gift of sight, Rief’s only respite from his loneliness is painting an unknown blond man. When a merchant ship wrecks during a violent storm, Rief rescues a drowning victim and comes face-to-face with his destiny.
It is the man from his art!
Heir to an English barony, Mathew Weston entered the merchant trade with his greedy father and soon-to-be father-in-law. Dominated by his father and smothered by the people around him—including his sweet but tiresome fianceé—Mathew is terrified to follow his true desires. Marriage and obedience seem safer than a life of secrecy and possible prison.
After the daring rescue, a fire ignites between the two men. Powerless to resist his desire, Mathew learns what it means to be a man in Rief’s arms. With this newfound confidence, Mathew teaches Rief through gentle touch that he deserves the affection he’s long been denied. Yet their affair is doomed from the start. Two desperate men, wrecked in heart and mind, must find a way to salvage the chance at love fate has given them.
Now would you like a quick, naughty excerpt? Please leave a comment about what era in American history is your favorite for a romance novel and then check out the naughty excerpt from WRECKED! I mean, if any of you read EASY RYDER or A CUPID’S WAGER, you know that I like to write some steamy stuff!! And don’t forget to enter to win your own copy WRECKED!
EXCERPT for WRECKED:
With a soft moan, Rief clung to him for a moment. Then he rolled over. “Take me again before you go.”
Mathew groaned when that ass brushed against his cock. Already pretty stiff from being so close, his groin throbbed at the sight of such submissive posturing.
Sideling up to him, he brushed Rief’s mussed hair off his face before cupping it possessively and kissing him. An intensity of emotions roared inside him knowing Rief trusted him enough to share his secrets. It made Mathew want to protect Rief’s heart while bringing every pleasure to his body he had ever been denied. He would give anything to this man, anything to make him heal and to prove, more than any drawing, Mathew would give Rief peace. Their time together would surpass any joy Rief experienced while painting him.
He would be immortalized, not on a canvas, but upon Rief’s very soul.
Drawing back, he asked in a pant, “Where is the oil?”
Rief found it and poured some in his hand, passing it to Mathew to coat his cock. He stared, enthralled at the indecent pleasure on Rief’s face as he plunged his own fingers into his ass with expert precision.
“Please,” Rief begged, lying on his side and raising one leg.
Never before had Mathew heard a more rousing word, nor seen such an erotic sight. He’d first believed buggering was something done to a woman or someone less than a man. Perhaps doled out as a punishment.
How foolish he had been!
This morning, he saw everything so differently.
To all outward appearance, Rief was the heartier of the two. Big and masculine. Yet pleading for a cock inside him did not make him less of a man, nor did it render him weak or feminine. His need to release all control, to be vulnerable before Mathew, made him incredibly enticing. Mathew had been living in fear most of his life, but when they were in this bed, he was empowered. Bold and courageous, just as Rief painted him.
There was no greater or lesser between them. Being connected this way made them both whole.
May 15, 2015
So, ladies, gents, and everyone else, we have reached my final post of the blog party for Time Waits (click the title for links). Thank you for your time and your interest. If you want to keep up with what I’m working on next and potentially see missing scenes or character discussion, please feel free to drop by my tumblr.
And if you pick up this little morsel of mine, and if you enjoy it, here’s a sneak peek of the story which will potentially be the sequel:
At first, everyone assumed it was a burglary.
The postman was the first on the scene. He’d arrived early in the morning to make a delivery to the house in question, and found the front door wedged open. No one answered when he rang the bell, so he called the police. The two constables arrived to investigate, and they were the ones who found the body.
It escalated after that.
Not even noon, Jacob thought grimly. Hell of a way to start a Monday.
His autopod shuttled along, wheeling off from the main highway and into the more rural roads. As much as he missed manual controls of old-fashioned cars and early autocars, he appreciated the driverless function of the pod, because it gave him the time to skim through the images from the crime scene en route.
He knew he wouldn’t get a feel for the scene until he got there, but the images at least gave him an idea of what he was about to walk into. There were signs of a struggle in the room where the body was found, and plenty of blood, but the rest of the house seemed undisturbed.
“Control to Delta Seven. ETA to destination?”
He leaned forward and cleared the images from the display on the windscreen, bringing up his location on the map. Beyond it, he could see the country roads through the glass.
“ETA Fifteen minutes, control,” he replied, then muttered under his breath, “Into the backside of nowhere.”
Thanks again, and happy reading!
Length: Novel (330 pages)
Release Date: May 15, 2015
Genre: Sci-fi, historical, futuristic
May 15, 2015
I’m C.B. Lewis and I’m delighted to be introducing you to my debut novel, Time Waits, which is released today with Dreamspinner Press. Please admire the lovely cover made for me by the fabulous Catt Ford.
First and foremost, it’s a sci-fi romance, with time-travel at its centre. Set in the future, it also delves into the past, and deals with the consequences of playing with time. To give you a taster of what you can look forward to in it, here’s a small excerpt:
The heavy rain had lightened, which was a small mercy.
The moonlight was thin and sickly, barely breaking through the clouds. The trees shone a dull gray in the darkness. There was hardly a sound except for the rustle of leaves in the wind and the cries of some small creatures out in the darkness.
A soldier broke cover from beneath the undergrowth. He stumbled and slithered down a muddy slope toward the track. Grass and dirt tore beneath his boots, and he caught himself against the trunk of a tree to keep from falling, his breath coming in ragged gasps.
In the distance, he was sure he could hear the howl of the dogs, the hunting party. He gulped down a breath before running onward.
He was armed, it was true, but what was one shot against a legion of men? He could turn it on himself, but he had escaped death once. He had no wish to face it again.
The track was rough, little used, but it was easier than breaching the undergrowth again. He had to get as far ahead as he could. They wouldn’t continue the hunt much longer, not with the chill of the night setting in, but they might follow just long enough.
So he ran.
His legs shook with each step, but terror drove him onward. If he stopped, even to catch his breath, he didn’t think he would be able to start again. If he stopped, he would die. If he rested, he would die. If he did anything but run, he would die.
Something howled in the night, and his heart slammed against his ribs.
It might have been a dog, but it could have been a wolf.
The wind was picking up, whirling around him, icy rain lashing his face, and he could feel tears on his cheeks. Running and weeping. No honor. No dignity. All he knew was that he wanted to live.
The track he was on was broadening, and that meant it was coming closer to civilization, to people.
He hesitated only a moment before plunging off the path and back into the forest, branches whipping at his face and limbs. He caught his foot on a root and fell, rolling heavily down the slope. He crashed into a stream at the foot, breaking through a film of ice. The water was so cold it cut to the bone, and he couldn’t even draw breath to cry out.
Blindly, he tried to find purchase on the bank. He fell forward heavily onto the ground, a thin cry of pain escaping him as he crushed his left arm beneath him. Warmth spread from the limb. The wound was open again.
“Angele Dei,” he whispered desperately, “qui custos es mei, me tibi….”
Intrigued? Curious? Just plain baffled? Do feel free to pick up a copy and take a look! Also, I’ll be around for part of today, so feel free to drop me a line in the comments to say hi
Length: Novel (330 pages)
Release Date: May 15, 2015
Genre: Sci-fi, historical, futuristic