August 26, 2015
I can’t help it, there’s nothing like a guy in a tux. I just had to get James and Gabe into formal clothes at least once. Then of course I had to get those clothes off.
The doors slid open. A Town Car was waiting at the curb. They didn’t talk as they made the short trip to Gabe’s building. They just held hands and watched the lights go past outside.
They didn’t even talk as the elevator took them swiftly and smoothly up to Gabe’s place. The lights automatically came on as they stepped out of the elevator, neither too fast nor too bright; a soft fade-up to a warm glow.
Gabe stepped close and pulled on James’s bow tie until it came loose and slipped from around his neck. He let it drop through his fingers; it fell to the floor without even a whisper. He put the tips of his fingers to James’s cheek next. James leaned into them, noticing the way two were rough and two were smooth. Gabe must have been chewing on them again.
He reached up and pulled on Gabe’s tie. It slid from its knot more easily than his had. The silk was cool on the ends and warm where it had gone around Gabe’s neck. He let it drop from his fingers as well.
Gabe took a few steps back, and James followed as if being led in a dance. And he followed where Gabe led. It was so easy and felt so right. He usually avoided the easy path. Easy was usually wrong.
Gabe changed directions, moving quickly behind James and slipping his coat from his body. James shivered at the sudden change in temperature, from being wrapped in the sultry jacket to having only the fine linen shirt between his body and the air.
The chill left as quickly as it had arrived. Gabe stepped in close, pressing himself to James’s back, putting out a powerful heat. He leaned back, still feeling like he was in a dance that had no music with a rhythm that was in constant flux. But still Gabe was leading perfectly.
Gabe stripped off his own jacket without ever taking his chest from James’s body. He let the jacket drop to the floor, not even bothering to toss it toward the hooks as he had with James’s.
He pressed his lips to James’s neck, right above his collar. James felt his toes curl and his body tingle. Gabe’s fingers were back, skimming along his cheek, and his thumb brushed across James’s lips. He flicked out his tongue to tickle it.
Gabe exhaled long and slow, his warm breath slipping under James’s collar. His fingers left James’s face and went instead to his throat, popping open the high collar buttons. James let out a long breath, unaware of just how constricted he had felt until that moment.
Gabe slid around him until they were once again face-to-face. He thought they might kiss, but instead Gabe just looked at him, eyes dark in the dim light. He felt his breath hitch and that tightening in his chest return. It was so much like the way Gabe had looked at him their first night. All those months ago now, standing so close that James had been able to smell the hint of peppers on his skin.
Now Gabe smelled faintly of fancy cologne that had nearly worn away.
He took Gabe’s hand and laced their fingers together as if they would dance. Gabe took his other hand, lifted it, and kissed his palm. James closed his eyes and nearly fell forward. Gabe kissed the heel of his palm next and then placed a kiss on the inside of his wrist. James whimpered softly. Somehow those three small kisses had his head spinning with greater pleasure than kisses in far more intimate areas.
Gabe stepped backward, leading them with just the knowledge of the dimensions of his own home.
He didn’t lead them to the bedroom, but rather to the large couch of cool leather draped with blankets of the same spun and woven silk as the one on Gabe’s bed. He sat on them and drew James onto his lap, giving James the height advantage for once.
James took it, tilting Gabe’s head back and into a slow, lazy kiss, their tongues just flitting around each other’s, chasing the flavor of champagne. Gabe’s arms went around his body, pulling him close. James’s fingers went into Gabe’s hair, tangling themselves in the dark curls, destroying the last of the control imposed by handfuls of hair gel that smelled slightly of mint and clashed with the cologne.
Gabe sighed into the kiss and held James tight.
He and Gabe kissed. He didn’t think about time; he didn’t think about anything beyond the feel of Gabe’s arms around him and the taste of Gabe on his lips, the sound of their tiny moans and sighs in his ears.
At some point Gabe pulled away from the kiss and took a deep breath. He leaned in, laying his head against James’s chest. James became aware of his own heart pounding strong and steady. Gabe looked up at him, a small soft smile on his lips. James kissed those lips, then stood. Gabe followed.
This time James took Gabe’s hand and led the dance toward the bedroom. There was no rush. He was content to keep kissing if that was all the night had in store, but he wanted to be lying down in Gabe’s arms while it happened.
Bowerbirds (Nested Hearts: Book Two) available through Dreamspinner Press.
August 16, 2015
Swing music blared out of the static Temple had been dialing through, making him grin. “That’s better. I want to dance.”
“Must you do that here?” Agni asked. “I was listening to the orchestra before you barged in.”
“You go be boring somewhere else.” Temple waved him off. “I’m going to dance and this is the only radio, so….”
Agni cast a look at Caleb. “I’m regretting not taking him up on his earlier offer.”
When Temple perked up, Agni added, “On going out in the snow. I could have buried him up to his eyes. Maybe that would have kept him out of trouble.”
“I honestly doubt it,” Caleb replied as Temple started gyrating to the music.
Agni lost interest in his book and his tea as he watched Temple. Caleb knew the look in Agni’s dark eyes: honest amusement. “You look very silly dancing by yourself, Temple.”
Nonchalantly Temple danced his way over to the bay window. He pulled the curtain shut, then spun over to Caleb, yanking him up from the couch. “Dance with me.”
“I don’t know how to swing,” Caleb protested, stumbling after Temple.
“I’ll teach you.”
“I’m a horrible dancer.”
“He really is,” Agni put in.
“Nonsense, you’re trainable,” Temple assured him. “I’ve seen you fight. You know how to move. You just have to figure out how to do it to music.”
“Don’t blame me when you lose a toe,” Caleb said, trying to find the beat in the wild music. He gave up and let Temple spin him around.
Agni laughed, watching them. Temple managed to make the complicated dance steps look easy, but Caleb felt like he was wrestling a many-armed demon. The occasional seductive touches Temple lavished on him only served to help that image. Finally Caleb managed to trip them both, and Temple ended up half-over the back of the couch.
Temple buried his fingers in Agni’s curls while he dangled over the couch, trying to drag Agni in for a kiss. Agni put his hand over Temple’s face.
“Don’t even think it.”
“Come on, dance with me, Agni. You’re right, your partner’s awful. He’s going to maim me.” Temple pouted.
“I warned you,” Caleb snorted.
“I’m busy, Temple.” Agni hefted the book he hadn’t been reading for a while.
Temple pushed it down, leaning in for that kiss, then froze. He cocked his head, listening intently. Caleb shut the radio off. The sounds of screams echoed loudly in the night. Cursing, the trio ran for the door where boots, winter gear, and weapons waited for them.
August 13, 2015
It’s been lovely chatting with you all! We’ll be here til midnight Eastern, chatting with y’all in the comments, but for now we’re going to leave you with an excerpt of Twelfth Night:
John doesn’t expect Michael to be as weirdly taken with the ocean as he is with the wild woods. It doesn’t seem like his element the way the trees are. But he is mesmerized by the beach almost instantly upon their arrival, insisting they walk along the hard wet sand of the tide line. It doesn’t matter how many times John says their muscles will ache unhappily tomorrow from miles walked at the edge of the frigid fall water; Michael either doesn’t hear him or doesn’t care enough to respond.
John is fascinated as Michael keeps a close eye on shells and rocks. One is shaped like a small egg, and he’s disappointed when it’s not. Still he makes John hold it for him, running ahead to a rock jetty to comb through the midden of mussel shells left by persistent and angry seagulls.
John tries not to be horrified, but the sight of Michael’s fingers picking through the dead bivalves and seaweed stinking in the sun is a bit much.
“What’s this?” Michael asks, eventually, holding out a shell, colored and swirled, to him.
It’s in perfect condition, and John is about to be impressed with the find until he realizes there’s still a creature using the shell as its home.
“That’s an animal in there.” He doesn’t actually know what kind. But it’s gelatinous and of the sea and not really a thing they should be messing with. They’ve seen dozens of jellyfish washed up on the beach already today.
“Does it go in the ocean or not in the ocean?”
“Ocean,” John says. He’s not 100 percent sure, but he suspects, like the jellyfish, the sun and the birds will eventually cook and peck it to nothing if it’s not saved by the sea.
Michael throws the shell back and returns to the tide line as they walk, gaze carefully on the ground and picking at every shell he sees that looks like whatever creature he just rescued. Most of them have their animals in them, and John suspects the coming hurricane that’s going to ruin their trip is churning them up.
As Michael throws each one back into the water, John is charmed that he’s trying to save creatures that have no spine, names he doesn’t know, and forms he’s never seen before.
Eventually Michael decides they can leave and reaches for John’s hand. John flinches away. It’s not the strangeness of the town this beach is attached to, half religious meeting town, half gay beach paradise. There’s even a club down the block from their inn that advertises “Less Lights, More Fun!” It’s that he can only think about whatever bacteria Michael is now coated in from all the dead mussels.
God, but he’s going to look like an idiot explaining that.
When he tries, stumbling through a mini monologue about seaweed and sea creatures and sand, Michael just listens with his head tipped to the side.
Finally John’s speech drags to a halt under Michael’s incredibly unimpressed gaze. He sighs and starts again.
“Okay. I swear the handholding thing has nothing to do with anything except your gross dead bivalve hands. But I think I may be freaking out.”
Michael blinks at him. “Did this start when we checked in and you had to deal with people who know we’re here to fuck?”
It’s sharp, but John knows he probably deserves it.
“You know I don’t mind being out in public with you,” he says cautiously. He wants to be honest with Michael, but he also doesn’t want to provoke anger by being less willing to be out than Michael deems sufficient.
Thankfully Michael considers John for a moment and then grins. “Somewhere in the romantic beach getaway, I got that.”
John lets out a relieved sigh and wraps an arm around Michael’s waist. He wants to prove his willingness to be fully in this relationship without shame, but life is also just better when they’re touching. Michael leans into his side, and they start walking down the sand again.
“But it’s something I can’t help being aware of,” John says quietly as they walk. “What we are and what people see when they look at me. Which apparently means I’ve found my internalized homophobia, and I am completely aware of how gross that is. I’m going to work on that, but there it is.”
“You still want to, like, go out to dinner tonight and make out on the boardwalk, though, right?”
“Oh my God, you have no idea. I want to tell everybody about you.”
Michael smirks. “So why don’t you?”
“Coming out at my age is kind of more complicated than it is at twelve. Or however old you were when you did.”
“I was fourteen, thank you.”
“So how did you come out to your parents?” John asks after they walk for a few minutes in silence.
Michael cracks up.
Michael buries his face in John’s arm and apparently can’t stop laughing. “You do understand how ridiculous this is, right?”
“I understand that I’m forty-two and have to come out to everyone in my entire life that I give a remote shit about, because you are addictive and fascinating and wonderful and also are sadly holding me to some pretty legitimate ethical standards. So help a guy out, okay?”
“I was making out with my first high school boyfriend in the living room, and my mom walked in.”
John is entirely not surprised. “So hey, when you meet my family, let’s not go with that plan, yeah?”
“Yeah,” Michael says, drawing the word out in a way that makes it clear it’s his turn to be defensive and weird.
John smirks, pleased to be off the hook for the moment. “You haven’t told them about us either,” he says smugly.
Michael mumbles something against John’s arm.
“What was that?”
“You’re really old,” Michael says. “And they’re going to freak.”
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July 8, 2015
Immutable isn’t just my first none HEA story, and my first non-anthology story with Dreamspinner Press, it’s a first in lots of ways. It’s my first ever fantasy story. I’ve done a zombie novel before now, called Patient Z, but they were very much science fiction zombies. It’s my first shifter story. It’s my first set in a historical fantasy setting. It’s not quite my first story in First Person point of view, but it’s the first of those longer than a short story that I’ve sold. So because of all of those firsts I’m just dying to see what people make of it.
Here’s an excerpt from chapter 1, to see what you make of it! Keep going and at the end there’ll be a chance to enter to win a copy.
The wind was cold that morning I found him. I remember. I’d come down to the beach when the sky was barely light. Fine rain misted my hair and clothes as I scrambled down the cliff path onto the sand.
I carried a basket on my back and began filling it with driftwood as I walked. Driftwood burns with a strange blue flame, but there were so few trees on the island it was the only type of wood we ever had to burn. Those who could afford it bought coal shipped over from the mainland. Me, I pick up the sea coal that washes ashore from the coal seams exposed under the water. I always pounced on a piece of that when I saw it, as if it were a diamond. Winter wasn’t far away. Ma wouldn’t make it through the winter if I didn’t keep the cottage warm enough.
I threw those thoughts off and continued along the beach, shoving driftwood in the basket, watching among the seaweed and pebbles for the precious sea coal. With my gaze glued to the sand, I didn’t spot the body until I was close enough to see instantly that it was a man. He lay on the wet sand, pale, almost gray in the morning light.
I ran, hoping—praying—not to find him dead. He was naked, but that didn’t surprise me. The sea can strip a body bare. I dropped the basket off my shoulders as I fell to my knees beside him. It toppled, spilling out its load.
The man lay facedown, his legs still in the surf, the waves breaking over them and ebbing as if trying to pull him back into the sea. He had skin as pale as ivory—not the skin of a sailor or fisherman exposed to the sun on deck all day. His exposed back was smooth and unmarked, without the tattoos or scars from the lash sailors often had. Hair as black as anthracite lay across his shoulders, a few strands of seaweed caught in it.
I laid a hand on him, fearing I’d find him cold and dead. But he was warm. I turned him onto his back. Nobody I knew. My island, Sula Skerry, was so small I knew the face and name of everyone who lived here. This face I’d never seen. This face… I’d never seen a face like it. Not even in schoolbooks about the legends of changelings and fair folk. For he was fair, God forgive me. I’d never seen a man so fair.
He lay against my arm, eyes closed, thick black lashes brushing cheeks marred only with wet sand. I touched his chest to feel if he still breathed. He did. I left my hand there, on that warm skin, as pale as the rest of him, one dark nipple under my palm.
I gasped at the sound of a voice and stared down at his face. He’d opened his large and dark eyes. So dark I couldn’t say they were any color at all, like I can say mine are blue. They weren’t merely dark brown; they were black. He’d spoken, and his mouth, his well-shaped lips, moved again. “I’m cold.”
The wind on his wet, naked skin must have been sucking the heat from him. I had to get him somewhere warm. I pulled off my jacket and wrapped it around him. But his long legs were still naked, and his…. I tried hard not to look at his member, for that’s a sin.
“Can you stand?” I asked him, grateful we understood each other. Sailors had been washed ashore here before, who spoke languages none among the islanders understood. I helped him up, but he sagged against me and I had to catch him in my arms to keep him from falling. I’d never get him up the cliff path to the cottage in this state. If I ran for help, he’d be dead of cold before I got back. I had a better idea.
“Hold on to me.” I hauled him toward the cliff face, a hundred feet or so along the beach, dragging my basket behind me. Good thing I’d been coming down here since I was a boy, when Ma was the one collecting the driftwood, and I’d followed behind her, barefoot, searching for shells or stones with holes in them—those were lucky—and always the precious sea coals.
With him lolling against my side and leaning heavily on me, I reached the mouth of a small cave. I’d first found it when I was eight years old. I’d hidden in it, listening to Ma calling me. “Callum! Callum!” A game to me, frightening to her the first time, fear in her voice that I didn’t understand. The cave seemed huge then, like a cavern. Fifteen years later I had to stoop over as I went into it, and I could reach the back in only a few steps.
It lay well above the high tide mark and only the worst storms ever reached into it, so there was little on the floor but dry sand. Some lichen grew on the walls. Nothing else lived here since it got sunshine only at dawn, as the sun rose over to the east and lit this cave low in the cliff for little more than an hour.
I lowered the man to the floor of the cave and he lay there shivering, despite having my jacket wrapped around him. What should I do? Go to the cottage and fetch him some clothes? Go to the village and fetch the constable or the doctor? I felt a strange reluctance to bring anyone else. I wanted him to myself.
“What’s your name?” I asked him.
“Breen,” he said, voice shaking as he spoke. “B… Breen.”
Breen? Where was that from? For all he spoke our language, he had a foreign look to him, with that coal black hair. Some of the shipwrecked sailors who washed up on the island before had skin browner than the most tanned and leathered of the shepherds and fishermen. This man had skin as pale as a highborn lady who’d never ventured out without a shady hat or parasol.
A fire. Yes. I could make a fire for him to warm himself by. I emptied my basket and built a fire at the mouth of the cave. Dried seaweed served for kindling, and I made a spark with the flint I had in my pocket. I blew softly on it until it caught and flames licked up. The wood ignited and the fire began to crackle. I hauled Breen closer to the mouth of the cave. A little smoke came in, but the wind was blowing from the north, down the beach, not from the sea, so most of the smoke blew away from us.
Breen sat up after a few minutes warming by the fire, pressed close against my shoulder. I didn’t know if the touch warmed him, but it sent a flush through me. Heat pooled low in my belly. I tried to ignore it. Mustn’t think on it. I could have left him then, gone up to fetch him some clothes from the cottage. He was out of the wind and had the fire and my jacket. He wouldn’t freeze in the time it took me to get there and back. But I didn’t want to go. I had a strange fear that if I let him out of my sight for even a minute he’d disappear.
“What’s your name?” he asked me suddenly, rousing me from a daydream, my mind full of… sin.
“Callum. Are you a sailor, Breen? Were you wrecked?”
“Wrecked?” He asked it as if he didn’t know what the word meant. He had an accent, not local, not even like the men who sometimes came from the mainland.
“Were you on a ship? Did it sink?”
“No. No ship.”
No ship? So how’d he come here? For he’d surely come out of the sea.
“A fishing boat?”
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “I am here for you, Callum.”
“What?” I turned to him, thinking I’d misheard, or he’d misspoke, not knowing our language so well after all. His eyes were huge and so beautiful. Looking into them felt like falling into a tarn, or looking up into the night sky, at the velvet blackness.
“I have heard you call me,” he said, voice low, a dark, throbbing edge to it. He reached for me, his long fingers touching my face. Shock made me want to pull away. But the thrill down my spine at his touch—fingers still cold despite the fire—kept me riveted. I could no more stop him than I could fly. He leaned close. I thought he was speaking. His lips formed words, or perhaps my name, but my ears were full of the crashing of the waves and the crackle of the fire. His lips touched my mouth.
I closed my eyes. A kiss. He was kissing me. I’d never… not with a man, not a kiss. Some… fumbling with other lads, and a kiss with a lass or two, because they expected it, and because other people expected it, and it kept them from talking about me. But this… nothing had ever felt like this. His mouth slanted across mine, lips soft, but something hard behind them. No, not hard. Strong. His skin was smooth where mine was rough. I hadn’t shaved before coming to the beach.
His tongue—hot, wet—touched my lips. It should have been disgusting. Sin should feel disgusting, make me want to stop him, push him away, drag him out and toss him back in the sea that brought him. But instead it thrilled me. I wanted his tongue inside my mouth, and I opened my lips to him. It pressed in and found mine. Oh, God, to feel that for the first time. Like his tongue was a flint and mine was kindling. A spark and then flame.
If you’d like to read more check out the buy link below, or enter the contest to win an ebook copy. Comment and tell us about a memorable reading first. Maybe the first time you tried a genre you thought wasn’t your thing—and loved it. Or your first M/M book. Did it change your reading habits forever?
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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 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 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 6, 2015
The Moments In Time series features a couple in their early 20s and in the course of the three books one of the things they had to do several times was move—from their dorm to their summer residence on Fire Island, from Fire Island to one of the character’s brother’s house because their dorm room wasn’t ready, from the brother’s house to the dorm, from the dorm to an apartment. It’s been many years since my college days and until I wrote this book I’d forgotten how many times I moved house in my late teens and early 20s.
Moving is stressful. Putting your whole life in boxes. Remembering what you packed where. Physically packing, moving and unpacking. Waking up those first few nights exhausted and not entirely sure where you are. I don’t miss that! I’ve lived in my current house in New Hampshire for over a decade and that’s the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. I don’t miss moving at all!
Now the closest I get to having to pack up a zillion belongings is conference time. Right now I’m packing to attend the RT Convention in Dallas next week. (If any of you are going, please find me and say hello—I love meeting readers in person!)
In addition to the stress that moving puts on Collin and Tanner, several of the places they live in the beginning of MOMENT OF CLARITY are not places where they have any privacy. Collin’s brother has three young children, the friend they crash with has a roommate who’s up till all hours partying—they are both longing for time alone together.
Here’s an excerpt from the time that they’re living with Collin’s brother…
Between classes, my work at Gino’s, Tanner’s shifts at the bookstore, and commuting back and forth to Sean’s house, Tanner and I were busier than we’d ever been. I always knew it was more convenient to live on campus, but I had no idea what a hassle it was to make the added drive daily. By the time we got to Sean’s, had dinner, spent time with the girls, and did some studying, we were exhausted.
I hadn’t touched Tanner for yet another week, and I didn’t think I’d last the day without changing that. Tanner must have felt the same. I’d seen the looks he’d been throwing me, particularly the night before while we were watching a movie together, but I wasn’t about to do anything with Sean and the kids in the house. I didn’t care that the doors locked. It didn’t feel right. And I didn’t trust either of us to be quiet enough. Especially since it had been so long.
Sean handed me the last dirty dish to load into the dishwasher while Tanner put the juice and milk in the fridge.
“I’m gonna run to the grocery store while the kids are at preschool. Any requests?” Sean asked, grabbing his wallet off the counter and shoving it in his pocket.
“If you get a can of crushed tomatoes and some spaghetti, I’ll cook.”
“Thanks. The kids loved that the other night. Anything else?”
I tried to think but couldn’t. All that registered in my brain was that Sean was going out. Tanner and I would be alone in the house. My entire body was totally onboard with this thought.
“I think that’ll do it. Tanner, you need anything?”
Tanner looked up from wiping off the kitchen tables. His pupils were huge. I knew that look. I loved that look. He was thinking the same thing I was. I twitched with anticipation.
“I’m good,” Tanner said, tossing the rag on the counter.
“Okay, then.” Sean headed for the door. “It’s my turn to drive carpool home, so I’ll probably take the kids to Mickey D’s for happy meals. Lock up if you both leave, okay?”
“Sure.” My heart raced as I watched Sean trot down the back porch steps. I held my breath, listening as the car door slammed, the engine revved, and the tires crunched down the gravel driveway.
I turned to look at Tanner, but before I could even focus my eyes, he was on me. Hands on either side of my face, body pressed up against mine, lips prying mine open, tongue—oh, God, I’d missed that tongue—swirling in circles with mine.
Groaning, I grabbed him and tugged him closer. I needed to feel as much of him as possible. All of him. Immediately, if not sooner.
For another chance to win an ebook from me, tell me how many times you’ve moved in your life or the longest you’ve lived in any one place. I’ll announce winners in the comment section of each post at midnight tonight (EDT).