#5: JD Ruskin’s Finding Matt Blog Party: Thanks!

December 7, 2014

JDRuskin

Thank you for joining me today as I fumbled through my first blog release party. I hope I’ve piqued your interest in Finding Matt. Once last time, here’s the cover and blurb.

Finding Matt

 

Blurb: When six-year-old Matt Wilson and his Shih Tzu, Pixie, step out of the Stanton Community Hospital and disappear, his desperate parents convince Jaron Greenberg, a local pet psychic, to aid the police in the search. Jaron specializes in finding lost kitties and fixing problem pooches. He isn’t prepared for a case with so much at stake. And as soon as he starts, the abilities he’s had since childhood begin changing and growing in unexpected ways.

Paulo Silva is a veteran detective new to the small town of Stanton. As the low man on the totem pole at Stanton PD, he isn’t happy when the chief assigns him to babysit the pet psychic instead of actively working the missing child case. As Jaron uncovers clues, Paulo starts to wonder if he might be the real thing. Or maybe it’s just his testosterone reacting to what he’s sure is mutual attraction.

Length: Novel (230p.) | Genre: Other Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense

Dreamspinner: Buy as eBook | Buy as Paperback |Amazon |All Romance E-books

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For those of you that have read When One Door Opens, be sure to visit my website next weekend. I will be posting a free Christmas short story featuring Caleb and Logan. It will not be work safe!

*****E-BOOK CONTEST*****

I will be giving away two e-books today. To enter, you need to ANSWER the question given on at least ONE of the five blog posts in order to get an entry. The more questions you answer, the better your chances of winning.

Each post has a question, just comment on the blog entries before 7:00 P.M. CST, and you could win a copy of When One Door Opens or my new release Finding Matt. Your choice of which one. If you’re the winner, Dreamspinner Press will have your book placed on your bookshelf. You will need to e-mail me the email address you use in the DSP store.

Post #5 Question: Did I forget anything? Is there anything else you want to know about me or my novels?

Check back at 7:00 P.M. CST to see the winners of the giveaway. 

How to Contact JD Ruskin

E-mail | Website | Facebook | Fan Page | Twitter | Google + | Goodreads

#4: JD Ruskin’s Finding Matt Blog Party: Ripped From the Headlines

December 7, 2014

missing

I’m an avid reader of newspaper and magazine articles. Both of my novels, When One Door Opens, and Finding Matt, were originally conceived after reading newspaper articles.

When One Door Opens focuses on Caleb Klass, a housebound agoraphobic. I read an article about a woman who died in a fire in Chicago because she refused to leave the building. The woman was agoraphobic. I remember being so shocked and saddened by this article. Imagine a fear so great that it can override your instinct for self-preservation. I’d never considered agoraphobia could be life threatening. The article also made me think about my own experiences with panic attacks. I’ve been fortunate enough to have only two in my life, but they left a strong impression. There is actually a reference to the original article hidden in the novel.

The inspiration for Finding Matt is based on a real life kidnapping case that happened in my small town. The details for the case are completely different, but reading the articles helped me to understand how a small town handles these types of cases. Unfortunately, the case that compelled Paulo to leave the ISP is actually based on a real case. Reality can sometimes be far more horrifying than fiction.

On a happier note, Jaron’s Newfoundland dog, Bear, is based on a very sweet Newfie that meet.

Bear

 

In this excerpt from chapter 4, Paulo takes Jaron to the site of the kidnapping, a small park.

_____________

[Jaron] walked in a slanted line toward the road that separated the park from the hospital parking lot. After a couple of minutes, he stopped. Paulo didn’t need to look around to know they were at the edge of the hospital parking lot’s surveillance video. The very spot Matt disappeared. How the hell had Jaron found the location? His department hadn’t sent the video to the media, opting to send screenshots of Matt exiting the hospital instead since his visibility was better. Jaron must have connections in the hospital. Could someone in security have talked to him? It was doubtful Jaron had seen the footage. Officers had arrived at the hospital thirty minutes after Matt left his father’s side, and secured the footage immediately.

Paulo’s line of thinking derailed when Jaron stumbled. Arms flailing, Jaron would have fallen if Paulo hadn’t grabbed him.

“Are you all right?”

Jaron didn’t answer right away. His eyes were focused on something in the distance. Up close, Paulo could see a ring of gold around Jaron’s irises. The morning sun made his long, thick lashes look like white feathers.

Jaron blinked rapidly. “I’m okay… thanks.”

Paulo unhooked his arms from around Jaron’s waist and took a step back.

Jaron stepped on the road, causing Paulo to grab him again and yank him backward. A station wagon came within inches of clipping Jaron. “Jesus, watch where you’re going!”

Jaron looked chagrined. “Sorry, I don’t normally do this without Bear.”

Paulo stared at him. “The dog is in charge of making sure you don’t end up roadkill?”

Jaron patted him on the arm. “I’m sure you’ll do just as good a job.”

Paulo wasn’t sure whether to be offended by the comparison or not. Since Jaron seemed to take better care of his dog than himself, Paulo settled on feeling flattered that Jaron was trusting him.

_____________

 Finding Matt

Length: Novel (230p.) | Genre: Other Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense

Dreamspinner: Buy as eBook | Buy as Paperback |Amazon |All Romance E-books

 

*****E-BOOK CONTEST*****

I will be giving away two e-books today. To enter, you need to ANSWER the question given on at least ONE of the five blog posts in order to get an entry. The more questions you answer, the better your chances of winning.

Each post has a question, just comment on the blog entries before 7:00 P.M. CST, and you could win a copy of When One Door Opens or my new release Finding Matt. Your choice of which one. If you’re the winner, Dreamspinner Press will have your book placed on your bookshelf. You will need to e-mail me the email address you use in the DSP store.

Post #4 Question: What inspires you? 

How to Contact JD Ruskin

E-mail | Website | Facebook | Fan Page | Twitter | Google + | Goodreads

#3: JD Ruskin’s Finding Matt Blog Party: Somewhere, Illinois

December 7, 2014

My debut novel, When One Door Opens, takes place in Chicago, Illinois. I’ve lived within a couple of hours of Chicago nearly my whole life. But I wouldn’t call myself an expert on the city. More like an enthusiastic suburbanite. My recent trip to Chicago was the inspiration for a Free Christmas short story with Caleb and Logan. The story will be posted on my website next weekend as a thank you to all the readers who took a chance on a newbie author. *coughs* It is definitely NWS.

WhenOneDoorOpens

Blurb: Logan Sellers’s parole officer has issued three commandments: stay sober, stay employed, and stay out of trouble. At first Logan thought those three simple rules would be easy to follow. But that was before he accepted a side job assisting his boss’s housebound agoraphobic nephew, Caleb.

Caleb is deceptively normal for a guy who hasn’t left his apartment in three years, and his friendly, caring personality tugs on heartstrings Logan didn’t know he had. But hitting on his boss’s nephew is asking to be unemployed. Logan has enough problems with booze on every corner and a supervisor trying to jump into his bed. He doesn’t need to work out how to free Caleb from the anxiety that keeps him in his apartment; he needs to keep his nose clean, attend his AA meetings, and make a fresh start—alone.

If only his heart would get with the program.

Length: Novel (210.) | Genre: Contemporary, 2014 EPIC’s eBook Awards, Award-Winning Books

Dreamspinner: Buy as eBook | Buy as Paperback |Audiobook | Amazon |All Romance E-books

 

paulo2

My new paranormal romance release Finding Matt also takes place in Illinois in the fiction town of Stanton. I’ve lived in small towns like Stanton since I graduated college, so I’m very familiar with small town life. Detective Paulo Silva has only recently moved to Stanton. He used to work with the Illinois State Police (ISP) in Springfield, IL. After a devastating case, he left ISP and came to The Stanton Police Department (SPD). Paulo also left behind his former friend/lover, Sergeant Devin Morris. Adjusting to the change hasn’t been easy for Paulo.

_____________

Devin had mocked [Paulo] for picking a town with less than thirteen thousand residents, where he’d be the token minority in the police department. Even knowing the demographics, Paulo hadn’t been prepared for an all-white police station. He’d tried to explain that he was Brazilian, not Hispanic, to the few baffled people who asked him. They’d seemed equally baffled by the fact that he spoke Portuguese, not Spanish.

Paulo shook his head. He didn’t have time to ponder the disturbing lack of diversity and cultural awareness in Stanton. He rose and walked over to the printer station. After picking up the report, he headed for the chief’s office.

_____________

The Matt Wilson missing child case requires that the SPD request help from Illinois State Police, bring Devin back into Paulo’s life. When Paulo learns that he’s been assigned the job of babysitting the psychic, he phones Devin.

_____________

Paulo had his phone out of his pocket before he exited the chief’s office. Pulling up Devin’s number, he hit the Send button. Devin picked up after only one ring, like he’d been expecting the call.

In lieu of a greeting, Paulo asked, “What is your problema, babaca?”

“Oh, he must be pissed if the Portuguese is slipping out.”

Paulo could tell by his voice that Devin was smirking.

“I have ten active cases, Devin. I don’t have time to babysit a psychic. Get one of your troopers to hold his hand.”

“Get over yourself, Silva. Keeping the parents happy is important, especially in a case with this much media attention. Someone needs to be on babysitting duty and you’re the low man on the totem pole at the SPD. You chose to hide in the land of pig shit and windmills. Now deal with it.”

Paulo gritted his teeth. “I’m not hiding.”

“The hell you’re not. I’m one floor away, but you decided to bitch at me on the phone instead of in person.” Devin sighed and his voice softened. “Eventually, everybody gets a case that gets to them, baby. But you work through it instead of running away from the job and the people who care about you.”

“Maybe it was a mistake to transfer here, but staying in Springfield wasn’t an option.”

“You’re wasted in this town and you know it. You should be thanking me for taking you away from investigating cow tippings and bootleg liquor.” Devin snorted. “And from what I hear, you’re the perfect man for this job.”

“What are you talking about?”

“People in this town love to talk about their resident psychic. Especially since he’s shacked up with Stephen Miller, the gay son of the former mayor.” Devin could perform a soft interrogation better than anyone Paulo had ever seen. He used his bleached-blond hair, pretty-boy face, and toothpaste commercial smile to his full advantage, and people willingly spilled their guts. “Are you thinking Greenberg’s involved? Because the chief is his alibi.”

“Just because he didn’t do the snatch, doesn’t mean he isn’t involved. Hell, this could be some publicity stunt.”

Paulo wished that was the case, but his gut told him otherwise. “What’s your read on the parents? Would they be involved in something like that?”

“Mr. Wilson is trying hard to stay positive, but he’s tearing himself apart with guilt. If it’s a stunt, no way does he know about it. Mrs. Wilson might be a possibility. She’s a real cold fish, that one.” Devin sighed. “Odds are Greenberg’s either a con artist or a wackjob.”

“I still don’t understand what you want me to do. Do you want me to investigate Greenberg?”

“I need you to put on those ass-hugging jeans I know you’ve got stashed in your apartment, and take the guy around town to let him soak up his supposed psychic vibes. If people see Greenberg walking around with a uniform, word will spread quickly. If tongues are wagging about their newest detective hanging out with a gay man, then they won’t be wondering if the police have resorted to hiring a psychic to save Matt Wilson.”

“Are you seriously fucking asking me to pretend I’m on a date with this guy?”

“Who said anything about a date?” Devin said, feigning innocence. “Though I hear there’s a great Chinese place on Main Street.”

“Keep it up, babaca, and you will get your face-to-face meeting with me when I smash your teeth in.”

Devin snickered. “I love you too, Silva,” he said, before ending the call.

Sighing, Paulo pressed the End button on the phone.

_____________

paulo1

FINDING MATT by JD Ruskin
Length: Novel (230p.) | Genre: Other Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense
Dreamspinner: Buy as eBook | Buy as Paperback |Amazon |All Romance E-books

 

*****E-BOOK CONTEST*****

I will be giving away two e-books today. To enter, you need to ANSWER the question given on at least ONE of the five blog posts in order to get an entry. The more questions you answer, the better your chances of winning.

Each post has a question, just comment on the blog entries before 7:00 P.M. CST, and you could win a copy of When One Door Opens or my new release Finding Matt. Your choice of which one. If you’re the winner, Dreamspinner Press will have your book placed on your bookshelf. You will need to e-mail me the email address you use in the DSP store.

Post #3 Question: Have you read When One Door Opens? Are you interested in a follow up free short story?

How to Contact JD Ruskin

E-mail | Website | Facebook | Fan Page | Twitter | Google + | Goodreads

#2: JD Ruskin’s Finding Matt Blog Party: Do You Believe In Psychics?

December 7, 2014

fish

Finding Matt features a pet psychic named Jaron Greenberg. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of horoscopes and psychics. When I looked at the sign characteristics for my sign, Pisces, I realized that I had all of the weaknesses and very few of the strengths. The Pisces is also known as having more an intuitive and psychic ability than any other sign. I haven’t bought a lotto ticket yet, but I expect to win when I get around to doing it. Eventually. Did I mention Pisces can be really lazy?

I went to see a psychic once when I was in college for a tarot card reading. The part I remember most about the reading was when she asked about what I was studying to be for my day job. After I told her, she was silent for over a minute, staring at the cards and avoiding all eye contact. Then she said, “Um…that…might be…okay for you.” Weakness attempt at reassurance ever. I did, in fact, go on to graduate and get a job. I sometimes wonder what she would’ve said if I told her I planned to write gay romance novels. What would the cards have told her?

Jaron Greenberg

My pet psychic, Jaron Greenburg, operates his business out of a walk in closet of his best friend’s pet salon. He charges barely over minimum wage, because he’d rather be seen as a freak than a fraud. He’s had this ability since childhood, but the Matt Wilson missing child case will force him to push his abilities beyond what he thinks he’s capable. Jaron desperately wants to find Matt, but first he needs to convince skeptical Detective Paulo Silva that he can help.

In this scene from chapter 2, Paulo Silva learns about Jaron’s history from Chief Tucker, who believes in Jaron’s abilities.

“I’ve known Jaron his whole life. He was the first major case I caught as a detective. When he was four years old, his parents took him out to the forest preserve to experience the fall colors.” Chief Tucker put finger quotes around the words “fall colors.” With a shake of his head, he continued, “Jaron had been missing for two hours before they sobered up enough to contact the police.”

Paulo had tracked down a group of liquored up teens in those woods his first week on the job. Miles of choking trees, sharp brambles, and snake holes. It was hard for an adult to navigate the twisting paths of thick foliage and tree roots, let alone a young child.

“We didn’t have a K9 unit back then, so I called Nathan Jefferson and asked if we could use his hunting dogs. He tells me they’ve run off and his son is out looking for them. I head out to the parking lot where volunteers are being mobilized, and I see two hounds that look like Nate’s dogs, a poodle, and a chocolate lab running by. I wondered about it, but with only an hour of daylight left and weather expected to drop into the 20s, I needed to get moving and find that boy before he froze to death.

“I drove the five miles to the forest preserve quick as I could. The chief started handing out search assignments. Then I see those dogs again, standing together and looking anxious. The lab stepped forward and started barking, going quiet as I approached it. I swear to God that dog stared at me like he was Lassie and I was the dumb shit who hadn’t figured out Timmy was in the well. So I trotted after the dogs, and just about the time I’d decided I’d lost my mind, the dogs raced ahead, barking their heads off. I caught up to them and found them circled around this white-haired child covered in dirt and scratches. He put his little hand on the lab’s head and said, ‘Thanks for coming.’”

Paulo felt a chill race down his spine.

“I found that boy three miles away in the opposite direction of where his parents said they had last seen him. We would’ve never found Jaron in time without those dogs. I think God gave that boy a gift, probably as compensation for his good-for-nothing parents.” The chief shrugged. “There are plenty of other stories.” He pulled out his wallet, slid out a business card, and handed it to Paulo. “If there is even a chance Jaron can help, it would be wrong not to act on it.”

The business card featured a close up picture of a man in his midtwenties and an enormous dog that looked like an all-black Saint Bernard. Jaron Greenberg had a mop of white blond hair that many boys have, but few retain as they age. Greenberg must have Photoshop skills, because no one had eyes that blue. Looking at the man’s face, Paulo could understand the impulse to believe in him. The thought of someone so beautiful swindling people out of their hard-earned money was unthinkable. But bad guys came in all shapes and sizes, and from the sound of things, Greenberg’s parents were likely excellent teachers.

Finding Matt

Length: Novel (230p.) | Genre: Other Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense

Dreamspinner: Buy as eBook | Buy as Paperback |Amazon |All Romance E-books

****E-BOOK CONTEST****

I will be giving away two e-books today. To enter, you need to ANSWER the question given on at least ONE of the five blog posts in order to get an entry. The more questions you answer, the better your chances of winning.

Each post has a question, just comment on the blog entries before 7:00 P.M. CST, and you could win a copy of When One Door Opens or my new release Finding Matt. Your choice of which one. If you’re the winner, Dreamspinner Press will have your book placed on your bookshelf. You will need to tell me the email address you use in the DSP store.

Post #2 Question: Do you read your horoscope? If so, how well do you match your sign characteristics? 

How to Contact JD Ruskin

E-mail | Website | Facebook | Fan Page | Twitter | Google + | Goodreads

Excerpt (NSFW) from Spaghetti Western #newrelease @emlynley

September 17, 2014

cowboy8r

 

 

 Spaghetti Western by EM Lynley

 

Cordon-Blue trained pastry chef Riley Emerson arrives in Aspen, Colorado for a summer season at the best restaurant in town, only to discover his jerk of a boyfriend has dumped him, leaving his heart and his summer plans in tatters. Doubting himself and longing for a change of pace, he takes a low-paying position as chef at a guest ranch, the Rocking Z. The scenery is gorgeous, but he expects that nature up close and personal can’t hold a candle to his exciting Paris lifestyle.

 

When born-and-bred cattle rancher Colby Zane spots a newcomer letting himself be pawed at by a passel of horny cowboys at Aspen’s Club Rawhide, he doesn’t think twice before rushing in, throwing the guy over his shoulder, and rescuing him from the volatile situation. Sober, Riley Emerson turns out to be sweet and sexy, but not interested in more than a one-night stand with Colby. Initially disdainful of the guest ranch side of the business, Colby’s over the moon when Riley late arrives as the new cook on his family’s ranch.

 

But all’s not well at the Rocking Z. Unsurmountable financial problems force them to rely on a cash infusion from an outside investor, Fitz Wellington. Only Fitz is hot for Colby, and he won’t sign on the dotted line without some very personal incentives. The future of the ranch is at stake, and Colby’s just desperate enough to go along, but saving the Z might mean losing Riley.

SpagettiWesternLG

 

Excerpt:

Let me set this scene up: Chef Riley and cowboy Colby have started a relationship on the ranch. Colby thinks Riley just wants to be friends with benefits, but Colby wants a real relationship. So Colby’s trying to avoid spending time with Riley. Only today Colby has to drive Riley and the chuck wagon out to a remote spot on the ranch.

 

chuckwagonTwenty minutes later they passed the spot where they’d spent the night on their first date. First and last. Riley bit his lip and pretended his heart wasn’t aching. He couldn’t forget how sweet Colby had been that night, riding behind him on Granite, holding him close, and how they’d started out fucking, but ended up much more intimate and tender.

 

The spot was still on the horizon behind them when the wagon hit a rut and the whole thing shifted sending Riley into Colby’s lap again. Worse, something inside shifted and crashed as the wagon righted itself.

 

“What the—?” Colby stopped the horses and hopped down. He hooked the reins on a prong. “You better get down here too.”

 

Riley carefully climbed down, but tumbled the last step and landed at Colby’s feet. Colby helped him up ungraciously.

 

“Something’s busted in there.” He unlatched the door and opened it cautiously. Nothing came flying out, but when Riley peered in he saw one cabinet had come undone and tubs of marinating meat had come free. An upper cabinet door had also popped open.

 

“I’ll take care of it.” Riley pushed Colby out of the way and climbed inside, bending so his head wouldn’t hit the low ceiling. Luckily none of the tubs had opened up or broken or there would be a tidal wave of marinade sloshing around on the floor. Colby climbed in behind Riley and together they stowed the tubs of meat, hands and arms and legs bumping as they worked to secure everything in the cramped quarters.

 

sexy cowboyRiley didn’t know about Colby, but every time their hands came into contact, the temperature in the little wagon spiked. He couldn’t breathe in the cramped, almost airless space. Colby was so close, not exactly smelling like he’d just showered, but arousing all the same. It was torture being so near him again and knowing the body snatchers had turned Colby into a bastard almost overnight.

 

There was one cabinet still open, and Riley stood up to reach it. He moved too quickly and overbalanced, flailing around for something to stop his fall and taking down a container of flour. It scattered like white rain, all over the counter, the floor, Riley, and Colby, making the smooth surface of the floor slippery. Riley went down again, knocking Colby on his back. He broke Riley’s fall perfectly, and now they were face-to-face, Riley spread out over Colby.

 

Colby stared up and Riley reached for anything to help him get up. He thought Colby might punch him.

 

He never expected for Colby to put a hand behind his head and pull him down for a deep, hungry kiss.

 

 

palominoColby wasn’t sure what came over him when he crushed Riley close and took that kiss he’d been fantasizing about practically since he’d seen Riley that afternoon, especially after he’d changed into shorts that showed off his shapely calves. Damn Riley and damn Marcus all to hell for breaking Colby’s two days of staying away. One smile from Riley, the way his pretty blue eyes widened when he saw Colby, and Colby was doomed. He wondered how long he could keep up the bastard routine because it hurt like hell to see fear in Riley’s eyes.

 

Colby almost lost it right then and there when Riley landed face down in his lap. It would have been so easy and so enjoyable to thread his fingers through Riley’s soft hair and let him unzip Colby and—

 

Now, Riley lay sprawled on top of Colby, their mouths still pressed together, pouring passion and loneliness into a kiss as mind-blowing as the first one they’d shared up on the ridge not five minutes back on this same trail.

 

“Colby,” Riley gasped the word as he sucked in air. “What…?”

 

“Later. Later.” The last thing Colby wanted was to stop and talk—or think. He wanted Riley bad. Not for himself, but to apologize. “Right now, let me make it up to you.” He rolled over so they were facing each other on their sides, still on the flour-covered floor of the old chuck wagon. He pushed Riley’s shirt up and kissed his smooth, flat abs. Any doubts about whether Riley was into this flew out the window when Riley shuddered and moaned.

 

“Mmm. Yeah.”

 

Colby unzipped Riley’s shorts and boxers, then slid them down so he could get some of Riley’s cock into his mouth. He liked the way Riley clutched at his hair and lay back, letting Colby do what he wanted. Using hands and mouth, Colby had Riley hard as a rock in no time. Colby’s cock was painfully stiff too, had been practically since they’d both come in to the wagon. Ignoring his own desire, he did everything he knew Riley liked, flicking his tongue across the slit, sucking his balls one at a time, and gripping the shaft of his cock tight while taking him in deep so he pressed against the back of Colby’s throat.

 

“Good, Colby. Slow down. Gonna come real soon.”

 

“Okay,” Colby said around Riley’s huge dick, then he started humming, the way he learned from a guy he’d met at Rawhide, and rubbing the spot just behind Riley’s balls.

 

It worked like magic and Riley made a sweet little whimper and shot his load down Colby’s throat, leaving him choking and nearly gagging. He had to concentrate to keep breathing and not embarrass himself.

 

“God, that was quick and dirty. Really dirty.” Riley wiped Colby’s face and his hand came away with a fine dusting of flour. “You look good enough to eat. Get your pants down.”

 

“We don’t have time. You have the dinner.”

 

“I wish I could just say forget the dinner and do something filthy to you. I missed you so much. What time is it?”

 

“Almost four thirty.”

 

Riley frowned. “I can take care of you fast.”

 

Colby shook his head. He didn’t want it to be like that. Riley deserved more. “Later. Tonight. Can I come by after the dinner’s over?” Colby helped Riley get his pants back up. “I owe you an apology and an explanation. A lot’s been happening and—”

 

“Yes. That’s fine. Come over later and tell me everything.” Riley kissed the top of Colby’s head, so forgiving Colby felt like even more of a cad. A quick blowjob was no way to make up for the kind of dick-headed behavior he’d been guilty of the past few days. It wasn’t Riley’s fault that Colby was a coward and would rather run from a wonderful guy than get his feelings hurt.

 

“Let’s clean up in here and get over to North Point.”

 

“Maybe it was North Paddock after all.”

 

Colby messed Riley’s hair up, sending clouds of flour floating around them. “You.”

 

“You sure you can’t stay for the dinner?”

 

Colby had forgotten he’d done everything to avoid the chuck wagon dinner and Riley. “Well—”

 

“Cause I have a nice piece of meat with your name on it.” Riley winked.

 

“How could I turn that down?”

 

“You better not or you’ll owe me more than a quickie in a chuck wagon.”

 

“I already do.”

 

“Damned right. And I’m going to make sure you pay up.”

 

Colby knew he had a dumb grin on his face. Why did Riley make him so happy one minute and so freaking scared the next?

 

* * * *

Buy Links

Follow EM’s board *Spaghetti Western* A Delectable novel on Pinterest.

 

EM at GRL book signingEM Lynley writes gay erotic romance. She loves books where the hero gets the guy and the loving is 11 on a scale of 10. A Rainbow Award winner and EPIC finalist, EM has worked in high finance, high tech, and in the wine industry, though she’d rather be writing hot, romantic man-on-man action. She spent 10 years as an economist and financial analyst, including a year as a White House Staff Economist, but only because all the intern positions were filled. Tired of boring herself and others with dry business reports and articles, her creative muse is back and naughtier than ever. She has lived and worked in London, Tokyo and Washington, D.C., but the San Francisco Bay Area is home for now.

She is the author of Sex, Lies & Wedding Bells, the Precious Gems series from Dreamspinner Press, and the Rewriting History series starring a sexy jewel thief, among others.

Visit her online WebsiteBlogFacebookTwitterNewsletter

 

 

 

Finally Home Release Party: Excerpt

August 29, 2014

As I mentioned earlier, Finally Home is the sequel to my short story, Krung Thep, City of Angels, where we first met novice backpacker Marco and culinary travel writer Chris in Bangkok, Thailand. Not to spoil too much, but Finally Home picks up shortly after the story left off, with Marco and Chris enjoying their last dinner together in Thailand before they part ways, possibly forever. Here, have a peek:

Thai food

Bangkok, Thailand
July 2011

Marco’s mouth was on fire.

Scratch that. His entire body was on fire, a searing burn radiating from his mouth all the way down to his toes. Buds of sweat bloomed over his already sticky skin, and the lazy fan mounted above the table did nothing to cool him. He stuck his tongue in his glass of beer, hoping the remains of the ice cubes floating inside would soothe it, but the fizz just seemed to aggravate the burn. A tormented whimper escaped Marco’s lips.

Across the scarred Formica table, Chris’s normally tanned face had gone red beneath his shaggy blond hair. However, his shoulders quaked with barely contained laughter rather than pain, his ice blue eyes filled with a mix of compassion and mirth.

“Thith isn’th funneh!” Marco cried. It was hard for him to make himself clear with his tongue hanging out of his mouth, which made Chris laugh all the harder.

“Yes it is!” Chris wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. “I warned you, the waitress warned you, but you didn’t listen!”

Marco scowled at Chris through watering eyes. The dish had seemed harmless enough on the menu, just some glass noodles tossed with prawns and minced pork. He hadn’t counted on the strength of the chili-lime dressing dousing it, though. Marco had figured that by now, after two weeks in Thailand, his spice tolerance would have increased enough to graduate from the farang level of spicy to that of the locals. How wrong he’d been.

Chris passed a small plate of cucumber slices toward him. “These should help.”

As Marco crammed two into his mouth, Chris motioned to the waitress. All he had to do was point at the sweating, panting Marco and she nodded in understanding. What seemed like an agonizing amount of time later, she plopped a small plastic bottle of milk on the table. Marco was in too much pain to care how foolish he looked, and he wrenched off the lid in one pull. As the milk bathed his tongue, the burn subsided to a dull, throbbing ache.

“Better?” Chris asked, his blue eyes twinkling with humor.

Marco simply scowled at his travel companion over another slug of the sweetened milk. Embarrassment kicked in as the pain subsided. It would have been one thing if Chris were just some random travel buddy he’d met at a youth hostel, another green twentysomething out seeing the world for the first time. But Christopher J. Springer was a noted culinary travel writer, who made his living sampling what the world’s food carts and hole-in-the-wall joints had to offer. Marco had watched Chris sample chili-studded soups and grilled crickets with equal amounts of gusto. Marco couldn’t even handle a plate of noodles.

“Hey.” Chris’s voice grew suddenly tender, drawing Marco’s gaze away from the offending dish. “It’s okay. We all get burned sometimes.”

Chris reached out a hand and placed it over Marco’s with a squeeze. Marco’s heart skipped a beat, the solid warmth of Chris’s calloused fingers soothing away some of his shame. That was the other, more important reason Marco had been so eager to show Chris he’d absorbed some of his adventurous spirit: Chris was the first real lover that Marco had ever had.

Chris had appeared out of the blue three days after Marco had arrived in Bangkok, materializing like some khaki-clad guardian angel to guide Marco through the convoluted streets, sois and canals of the city. It had only taken them a day to fall into bed together, though it had taken a bit longer to figure out that they made a good traveling pair. Now, after ten days of trekking side by side across Thailand, Marco was having a hard time imagining what life was going to be like once he boarded his plane back to Los Angeles tomorrow.

“Really, it’s okay!” Chris said. “You don’t have to look so sad, Marco. We’ll order something else.”

Marco tried to shake off his melancholy and offered Chris a weak smile. “Can we get that one dish—‘the catfish exploded’?” He remembered the crispy-sweet seafood salad he’d fallen in love with during their two days in the beach town of Hua Hin. Best of all, it was flavorful, yet barely spicy.

Yam pla dook foo?” The Thai syllables rolled off Chris’s tongue with enviable ease. “If they have it.”

Chris gave Marco a smile that spread a different type of heat through him. As Chris waved down the server to order, Marco couldn’t help but study him, struck again by how he’d managed to attract such an intensely good-looking traveling companion. Chris’s physique was wiry and toned from years of constant travel, not too built, not too thin. He had a smile that stood out like pearls against sand on his lean, tanned face, which time had only begun to line. Marco’s gaze drifted from Chris’s face, down the long column of his throat, to the wide triangle of bare flesh peeking out from his unbuttoned collar.

As Marco watched, Chris’s fingers fluttered unconsciously against the spot, quick as a hummingbird, before falling back to the table. Marco felt a pang, as he always did when he saw Chris’s tic. When Marco first met Chris, that spot had been decorated by a worn silver St. Christopher’s medal, a talisman of protection that had been with him on all his travels. Now it hung around Marco’s neck, a testament to the bond they had forged in such a short time. Marco wondered if he should return it to Chris before he left, seeing as it had been so precious to Chris, but part of him didn’t want to let it go. After tomorrow, it would be all he would have to remember Chris by.

While they waited for their dish, Marco pulled his smartphone out of his pocket and snapped a picture of the offending noodles. Within a minute, he’d posted the picture to his Facebook account, the caption reading: “I think I just ate noodles made out of the sun.” When he finished, he noticed Chris watching him with equal parts bemusement and disdain.

“You know your phone bill is going to be huge when you get back home,” Chris said.

“Maybe, but it’s worth it. I’ll have a record of my day-to-day trip.”

“A travel journal would work just as well. Cheaper, too.”

“Nowhere near as fun,” Marco scoffed. His phone made a cheerful bleep. His older sister, Angela, had already commented, most likely from her office computer, seeing as it was around 11:00 a.m. back home in Culver City.

“You kids and your constant need to share everything,” Chris griped cheerfully. He leaned back in his seat, gnawing on a piece of cucumber. “Back in my day, we used postcards and e-mails to keep in touch.”

“Okay, Grandpa,” Marco snorted. “You’re only nine years older than me!”

“Might as well be twenty, the way things are speeding up these days.”

Chris’s tone was light, but there was a new crease across his brow. This wasn’t the first time their age difference had come up, though the gap didn’t bother Marco in the slightest. In fact, he liked that Chris was older, even if it meant having arguments like this again and again.

“You know, for a travel writer, you’re an awful Luddite,” Marco said.

Chris shrugged. “I have my laptop—”

“That thing is older than I am!”

“And I have my camera. You can’t tell me that little phone takes better pictures than my Nikon D3.”

“No,” Marco conceded, “but at least I can upload them to the web right away.”

“See, I don’t need that.” Chris took a sip of his beer. “Why bother putting things online for free when you can find a magazine or a website to pay you for it?”

“Because sometimes it’s not about the money.”

Marco was getting exasperated. They’d had this argument almost every day. If only Chris would understand how using social media could expose him to new readers and boost sales of his photography books and travel guides. Sometimes Marco thought Chris deliberately didn’t want recognition, despite his awards and high-profile articles. At least Chris had finally taken Marco up on his offer to let him help by recording video footage of Chris’s street-food encounters. It wasn’t high quality, but Marco figured it would help give Chris reference materials, if nothing else.

“Social media is about being connected,” Marco continued, “sharing your experiences.”

“Who would I want to stay connected to?” Chris rolled his eyes in irritation. “The marketing manager pretending to be Anthony Bourdain on his Facebook? My roommate from college? Anyone I want to stay connected with, I do, on my own terms. I don’t need a face-twit-blog-whatever.”

“What about me?” It came out before Marco could stop himself. “After tomorrow how are you going to stay connected to me?”

Finally Marco had asked the question they’d both been avoiding. Marco knew he’d been a rare exception to Chris’s usual rule of not mixing business and pleasure, a lover who had become a travel companion and assistant. The color drained from Chris’s face, and his cool gaze slipped away from Marco to study his half-empty beer glass. For a long moment, the only sounds at their table were the clink of melting ice in their metal bucket and the whir of the cheap plastic fan above.

“All right,” Chris said slowly, “I’ll set up a Facebook account.”

“Really?” Marco’s eyes went wide. “You serious?”

“Maybe you’re right.” It seemed like it physically pained Chris to admit it, which made Marco smile. “It wouldn’t kill me.”

A little side note, if I may, the picture at the top of the page is a meal very similar to the one Chris and Marco shared. The “catfish exploded” dish is on the upper left, and beside it are the “noodles made out of the sun.”

How about you? Have you ever had a dish so spicy it made you cry?

Finally Home
When novice backpacker Marco and seasoned travel writer Chris parted ways in Bangkok, they thought it was the end of their summer romance. Three months later, though, a change of assignment reunites Chris and Marco, and the pair embarks on an adventure greater than ten days trekking through Thailand—forming a real relationship amid family drama, coming out fears, career woes, and personal demons.

Now available from Dreamspinner Press in eBook and Paperback!

Finally Home Blog Tour and Giveaway

Finally Home blog tour banner

Join me on my blog tour (August 29-September 12) and enter to win an autographed book bundle of Finally Home and Two Tickets to Paradise!

The post with the steamy excerpt!

August 11, 2014

Here it is, my last post before announcing the winners of today’s giveaways!

Thank you for visiting the release party for my first full-length novel, The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds! I’m so glad you stopped by, and hope you had a little fun.

Speaking of fun and sex (we weren’t talking about sex? Well, why the hell not?) Strange Birds is an erotic romance so naturally sex figures prominently in the growth of both men. They come into the story with their own ideas of what sex is, and what it should be. Those ideas don’t always mesh, because that would just be too easy. ;)

Besides, sex is different for everyone (I’m guessing here, since I haven’t actually had sex with everyone). What it’s like, and what it includes, both depend on a lot of variables. Not the least of which is who your partner is and what they bring to the table (or the sofa or the backseat of the car or…). Sex for same-sex partners is different than it is for opposite-sex partners too—not only in the most obvious ways.

It’s pretty obvious that same-sex partners don’t go into it with the idea that sex is about procreation. It’s about pleasure, about showing your partner how you feel about them, about the connection. So, very often, it’s not about penetration either. I’m not going to knock it in general, but penetration doesn’t have to be the culmination of every sex scene—or every relationship, for that matter. Most of the opposite-sex romance novels I’ve read seemed to be saying that it is, that penetrative sex is the ultimate goal two people should have (along with marriage, but that’s a whole post unto itself).

What’s the point of this, you ask? I enjoy same-sex romance because you never really know how it’ll end. Sure, if it’s marked romance you expect someone to be in love with someone else by the end and for those feelings to be returned, but it seems to me this is the only hard and fast rule. The mysteries of how they’ll get there and what they’d do along the way are the fun parts. The journey can look wildly different for every couple.

Okay, I’ll stop rambling and make with the steamy excerpt now. :)

I’ll be back by 7 p.m. Pacific Time to announce the winners.

In the meantime, tell me about your expectations when you read male-male romances. Do you like a lot of sex, or just a little? Wild or vanilla? The sky’s the limit, and every post is an entry for my giveaways.

No fair saying “it depends on the story” either–everyone has a favorite thing and I want to hear ‘em!  In this, as in all the truly fun things in life, there are no wrong answers. :)

All the excerpts today have been from Phil’s POV, but Lee has a voice in this book too. Here’s a little from him. The context for the excerpt is a little spoilery, so I hope I’m not too horrible if I don’t share it. :D

Lee moaned when Phil knelt on the floor in front of him, and again when he leaned against him and kissed him slowly, deeply, circling Lee’s tongue with his like a preview of coming attractions.

Lee didn’t have to wait long, after that kiss, Phil moved faster with every passing moment. He pulled at Lee’s shirt, and as soon as it was off, tossed it behind him without a glance, and dove forward to kiss a path down his abs. Phil’s hands shook as he slid the elastic waistband of Lee’s sweats down, and by the time his dick was free, both panted loudly in the otherwise silent room.

Phil sucked gently on the head until Lee raised his hips. After a long teasing moment, he opened his lips and let Lee fuck his mouth. A few strokes like that and Phil lowered his head, just a little, every time Lee pushed up. Lee fought the urge to bury both hands in Phil’s hair. He wanted to tangle his fingers, feel Phil’s head banging from both sides, but settled for watching as his hair bounced up and floated down.

Whoa, it’s getting long—it hardly even curls anymore.

Lee grunted with the effort to keep from grabbing Phil’s hair as he sped the pace. Almost like he’d been listening to a Tool song but then Metallica came on the radio. Lee smiled and pulled his good leg up over the arm of the little chair. More leverage meant more friction and—oh shit—and then Phil wrapped a hand around the inside of Lee’s hip. He gripped the crease where leg and ass met, massaging until Phil’s thumb found his hole. For a moment, that felt much longer than it could’ve been, time stopped, just like the hummingbird wings in Phil’s pictures. The moment ended when Phil gripped harder and traced a circle with his hot thumb, ripping a hoarse scream from Lee’s throat as he came.

“Oh shit,” Lee panted, his head lolled to the side, his ass hanging off the chair. He opened his eyes and saw the ottoman about four feet away, his casted foot barely hanging on to the corner.

Phil kissed Lee’s deflating prick and then turned away. He lifted his cast and slid the ottoman under Lee’s leg.

“Oh man, I think you should pay me now.”

“What?” All the happy disappeared from Phil’s face and his body got very still.

“You need to feel this good too.”

Lee leaned forward and rested a hand on Phil’s shoulder. When he didn’t look any less happy, Lee drew his palm down across his chest. He scooted a little more upright and then slipped his hand around Phil’s hip, drawing him closer. Phil shook his head but didn’t really seem to be saying no. After a careful moment spent watching Phil’s face for any sign he was going too far, Lee pushed his fingertips past the waistband of his jeans. Phil shivered, and he took that as a sign and opened the snap.

“Come up here?”

Phil turned his face up to Lee, panting through his beautiful swollen lips. When Lee slipped both hands under his arms and pulled, he didn’t resist. Lee kissed those luscious lips as he arranged Phil across his lap, and didn’t stop while he opened his pants. He was about to pull them off, but at the last minute just brought them down enough to get at Phil’s burning erection.

“Oh shit, you’re so hot.”

Lee grabbed a big handful of Phil’s ass and lifted until he could lick the glistening tip of his cock. When Phil moaned in response, Lee closed his lips over the head. He was tempted to move to the bed so he could watch Phil’s face—his gorgeous face—while he came, but didn’t want to stop sucking his dick to do it.

As though getting off had erased the tough workday, Lee lifted Phil in a faster and faster rhythm until he got close.

Much more fun than free weights.

 

Thanks again for hanging out with us today—hope you enjoyed the excerpts! I’ll be back in a couple of hours for the drawing. If the train is on time, I’ll be back before then to answer any questions and enjoy the party from the comfort of my PC instead of my phone. :)

 

Buy The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5271

Follow me on Twitter or Goodreads

Rainbow Rose

And Now an Excerpt…

July 30, 2014

And Karenna Colcroft continues her blog takeover. Since it’s the release day for my contemporary novel Love Like Vampires, you guys probably want to see an excerpt, huh? There’s one posted on my website, but I’ll save you a bit of trouble. (Though if you want to go over to my site, you could sign up for my monthly newsletter and get a free PDF short story. The story is hetero romance, though.)

This is from the beginning of the book, and I think gives a pretty good sense of Shane McCarthy and Thaniel Robichaud, my main characters. If you like it, you can get your copy of the book in ebook or print from Dreamspinner Press.

LoveLikeVampires200

 

The roar of adrenaline and rush of the crowd. Or something. High from excitement and fame, Shane didn’t even care whether he had it right. He and his band, Love Like Vampires, had just finished opening for Jareth frigging East, one of the biggest names in the business.

A small-time band from Maine had played the show of a fucking lifetime. How could he care about something as menial as a cliché?

And the audience had loved every second of it. They had screamed. They had danced. A couple of cuties in the front row had even tried to grab Thaniel, the lead singer, when he leaned toward them during the band’s ballad “Your Love Staked My Heart.”

It wasn’t an unusual response, but they weren’t at their usual little club. They were at TD frigging Garden in Boston. Opening for Jareth East. If Shane repeated that to himself enough, maybe he would be convinced this wasn’t all a wonderful dream.

As Love Like Vampires left the stage to let Jareth’s crew set up, Shane felt like his feet barely touched the floor. His heart raced and he was panting for air. He was so soaked with sweat his hair dripped, but none of it mattered.

The show had been fucking amazing. Every note, every lyric, every beat had been perfect. Not a single mistake. Other than Bryan, their drummer, they’d all been nervous as fuck before the show. Thaniel had almost had a goddamn panic attack sitting out in the van, and Shane had had to score him some weed from one of Jareth’s roadies so the singer could calm down.

Then again, stage fright for Thaniel wasn’t unusual either. Once Thaniel walked onstage he loved it, but every single time they had a show, he freaked out beforehand. Only the guys in the band knew, and only Shane realized how bad Thaniel’s panic truly was. He kept the secret, along with never letting on to Thaniel how much he admired him for pushing past the stage fright and putting on damn good shows.

In the end, the nerves hadn’t mattered. They’d played their best show ever. And watching Thaniel work the stage and the audience was even better. Shane could have stared at the singer all night. Half the people who’d watched probably wished Thaniel would drag them into bed, and Shane definitely counted himself in that group.

Even in the postshow haze, he had to roll his eyes at his fucking ridiculous crush. He’d had a thing for Thaniel for years. It was never going to happen. By now, he should have gotten reality through his head. They were friends and Thaniel was straight. End of story.

Backstage, Thaniel grabbed Shane in a bear hug that would have been a hell of a lot more pleasant without the sweat soaking both of them. “Holy fuck, man, that was amazing!” Thaniel jumped up and down, still holding Shane.

“Hell yeah.” Shane grinned and pulled away. The sweat was bad enough. The fact that excitement, adrenaline, and being held against Thaniel’s wiry body made him hard was worse. He just hoped Thaniel wouldn’t notice.

“They motherfucking loved us! Yes!” The keyboard player, Jace, tried a chest bump with Thaniel. Thaniel stepped back and Jace almost fell flat on his face. Shane stifled a laugh. The kid always got way too hyper after shows, and sometimes before and during them. And often during rehearsals. There were times Shane wanted to clobber him, but the band kept Jace around because he was a damn good musician.

They were all damn good. That was why Jareth East had personally invited them to play.

“Cool it, Jace.” Todd set his bass guitar on their equipment cart and frowned at the younger guy. “Professional, remember?”

“Fuck professional,” Jace muttered. “Famous people celebrate too. We were awesome, you guys. What am I supposed to do, a fucking golf clap?”

Because of Jade Release Party (official) post #4: Sonny on bridges, Luki on parenting, and Jade on tulips and tossing cookies

May 24, 2014

Some of you have seen this graphic before with it’s teensy excerpt. Here’s the longer bit it comes from. Setting the scent, this is chapter one, and Sonny’s driving the home from Seattle, where Luki has finally gotten the good news that, after five years, he remains cancer free.

Yellow and red tulips with dark background

AFTER THEY’D had Full Sail Amber Ale and hamburgers at the Metro, and Luki had gotten upset at the staff for ignoring Sonny, and Sonny had reminded Luki he didn’t care—all of which is exactly what happened every time they went to the Metro—Sonny piloted the flying Mustang down I-5, over the Tacoma Narrows bridge, up and around the Kitsap Peninsula, the long way home.

As they made the trip through Bremerton, Luki said, “An Officer and a Gentleman.”

Sonny said, “Yeah, they filmed some of it here. And supposedly the story took place here.” He was surprised, though, because Luki didn’t really watch movies or television.

“My dad liked that movie. I think he secretly wanted to be a romantic.”

“Maybe he was a romantic,” Sonny suggested. “You know, with your mom. Kaholo said he never got over her dying, right?”

Luki looked as though the thought was completely new and possibly a little painful. Eventually he said, “Yeah, could be. Maybe I’ll ask Kaholo about it when we get everybody together to celebrate my five years cancer free.” He smiled—the second real smile in a single day—and held that expression until Sonny was able to turn his head and smile back.

Sonny switched hands on the wheel so he could reach for Luki’s broad, brown hand currently at rest in his lap, his white gold, black opal, and colorless sapphire wedding set sparkling in the afternoon sun. When Sonny touched it, Luki turned that hand up and caught Sonny’s in his sure but gentle grip. Something delicious traveled all through Sonny, an invisible shiver of pleasure and probably anticipation. He thought, magic hands, but what he said was, “Maybe that’s why he couldn’t accept you as you are, Luki.”

“You mean that’s why he ‘hated what I am.’”

“Well, that’s the way he said it, yeah. But what if he just was afraid you being gay would be another terrible loss, and he wouldn’t be able to deal, just like he couldn’t deal with losing your mother.”

Luki shook his head and raised one corner of his mouth in a wry expression that all by itself dismissed any excuses for his father’s cruelty. “Sonny, I can’t deny my dad gave me a lot of personal power in other ways, and it serves me well. And he said he loved me—he only said it once, but he did say it. And he saved me from being carved up like the bar-b-que pig. Growing up in his shadow and at his command, I couldn’t help but love and admire him. I still do. But I can’t think of anything to excuse his repugnance toward me because I’m gay. Maybe you’re right, but if you are, he was selfish and childish, and that’s not an excuse.”

Sonny didn’t say anything for a while, driving onto the long, flat Hood Canal bridge, which would take them from the Kitsap to the Olympic Peninsula and, still on Highway 104, up and around the coast, past Discovery Bay, and eventually home.

“This is a long bridge,” Luki said.

“Mm. About 7,000 feet.” Sonny changed his voice to his version of tour-guide-Sonny, and added,

“The longest floating bridge in the world located in a saltwater tidal basin.”

Luki chuckled appropriately. “Well, while we’re on it, maybe you can tell me, do you think my dad could be excused for hating… my being gay?”

“Hell no, Luki!”

The answer was vehement enough to actually startle Luki. Once he recovered he said, “You know, Sonny, I don’t think I’ve ever talked about this, but…. The way my dad was, it’s a big reason I’ve never wanted to be a parent. I mean, I remember my mom, barely, and as far as I know she was great, and then of course there’s Kaholo. If I know anything about how to treat a kid, it’s probably because of him. But I’ve always worried I’d be a lousy parent. And if I was, I can assure you I’d blame Peli Vasquez, my good old dad, for at least part of it.”

“Honey, I don’t think there can be an excuse for a parent treating their child like that. I was only talking about understanding it a bit more—more for your peace than his benefit, certainly. And who knows what kind of parent either of us would have made. Chances are, we won’t know. But we’re damn good uncles.”

“True. But speaking of Nebraska—”

“We weren’t.”

“Doesn’t matter. I can’t wait to call Kaholo when we get home. Tell him the news, see if he’ll come out to celebrate.”

“Why wait?”

Luki looked blank.

“Cell phone.”

“Oh yeah!”

For the rest of the trip, Luki made calls and arrangements. Kaholo definitely would come. Jackie and Brian would try to carve out time from their work with British intelligence to make the cross-Atlantic trip—it was that important to them. Josh and Ruthie wanted to get together but had some issues with traveling. Ruthie was midpregnancy and for some reason had morning sickness and general nausea much later into the pregnancy than was usual.

“It’s a little inconvenient, Mr. Vasquez,” she drawled.

“Does everyone from West Virginia call their uncle-in-law ‘mister,’ Ruthie?”

She laughed, which was a sound Luki always enjoyed. It reminded him of a slow, deep creek running over rocks, in and out of eddies and pools. He inwardly smiled, but it did worry him when she said she was having problems. She apologized for her formality with a smile in her voice. “Sorry, I keep forgetting. I don’t know why. So, Luki—there is that better? Anyway, it’s a bit of a problem. I never know when I’m going to be sick, and also the doctor told me I shouldn’t travel until after the baby comes.”

“Okay, Ruthie. Maybe we can figure something out, but I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time. You didn’t with Jade, right?”

“Sheesh. That girl was easy. She acted like she knew exactly what she was doing—even during the birth. She’s still easy, Luki, and you know she talks about you, misses you. That’s another reason I wish we could come. But then, you know Josh just finally got the job transfer he wanted. He was permanent at the refinery, but he’s on the offshore crew now, maintenance out on THUMS Islands. I don’t think he could get off work—he’s still training and on probation.”

“Huh…. Well, congrats to him on the job. Hey, hold on a minute okay?” Luki held out the phone so Sonny could point to the button he needed to press to put the call on hold.

Once he’d done that Sonny said, “What’s up?”

Luki explained the reasons Josh and Ruthie couldn’t come north for a celebration, but before he could ask about an alternative, Sonny spoke up again.

“Well, how about we go down there? It’ll be a great chance for a road trip.”

“That is exactly what I hoped you would say, sweetie…. Well, not the part about the road trip. I was thinking we’d fly.”

“Nope. Road trip.”

With that settled, Luki took Ruthie off hold but found instead that five-year-old Jade was waiting.

She explained, “Mommy’s throwing up, Uncle Luki. And I can’t come to your house right now.”

“Um. Okay. Why not?”

“’Cause at my preschool I just planted my orange tulip bulbs, and I have to be here to take care of them when they pop up out of the dirt.”

“Well, that’s very conscientious of you.”

“What’s conscientious?”

“Responsible?”

“Good?”

“Yeah, little girl that I love, good is a great word for it.” It was a diversion. For some reason, “little girl that I love” always made Jade giggle madly. This time was no exception. When she slowed down, Luki asked, “Is your mommy done throwing up yet?”

“Nope. Still tossing her cookies.”
“Tossing her cookies?”

“Yeah, silly. It means throwing up. Don’t you know that?”

“Oh, well. Thanks for explaining. Why don’t you tell me good-bye, and after we hang up tell Mommy that Uncle Sonny and I are going to come there where you live, so you don’t have to leave your baby tulips. Okay?”

Next, food for thought and the promised contest, and after that, a steeeeeeamy excerpt.

Exclusive Excerpt of Holding on to Hope

February 14, 2014

I am sending my hunky waiters around to serve you all some drinks ;) Please enjoy while I share an excerpt from my book – Holding on to Hope.

 

Excerpt

Holding on to HopeLeslie felt eyes on her, and she looked across their table. A pair of freakishly blue eyes stared in their direction. They belonged to a man, a bit older in age—probably in his fifties, she guessed—with long gray hair. His face was round and wrinkled, making him look very ugly. He wore a black trench coat over a white shirt and a striped tie. Leslie noticed the big rings on his finger and deduced that he must be some wealthy man. However, his stare was making him appear scary.

When he realized he was caught in the act, his lips curved into a cold smile.

She quickly looked away and tried to concentrate on what her boyfriend was saying. However, Leslie kept getting the weirdest feeling that nothing around her was safe anymore. The worrisome thoughts kept her occupied. An unmistakable panic was slowly settling in.

All because of an old man who was probably innocently looking at the college kids as they sat right across from him and reminiscing about his past!

Leslie shivered. “Guys,” her voice wavered. “I’ll be right back.”

Thankfully, none of the boys noticed the change in her tone, and she quickly made her way to the ladies room. Once she was in, the first thing she did was empty her bladder.

Somehow, the old man had freaked her out so much that she felt the need to pee. She couldn’t put her finger on what it was exactly that triggered such emotions in her. This had never happened to her before.

She splashed some cold water on her face, fixed her makeup once again, and exhaled, feeling a lot better than before. Hoping that the old man was gone, she slowly stepped out.

Her heart felt lighter when she saw his seat was empty, and the smile then came easy to her. At that moment, she even wanted to laugh at herself for having a stupid panic attack.

After all, he was a harmless old man.

She found her boyfriend standing by the counter, buying another coffee for himself. She walked over to him. “I thought you promised me that you’d cut down on your caffeine consumption for a day.” Leslie narrowed her eyes. He looked at her like a deer caught in the headlights and smiled very cutely.

“I told you too much coffee isn’t good for my Patty-pie’s health.”

“I promise this is the last one,” he said and leaned down to kiss her. He obviously wasn’t going to keep his promise. But she let it slip. Pushing the matter wasn’t going to help. Leslie believed that Patrick needed to decide to stop on his own.

However, she couldn’t help but worry too.

When he broke the kiss, she shook her head, giggling slightly, and looked in the direction of their booth. “Where’s Brad?”

Patrick turned to look. “I don’t know. He was sitting right there before you came back out.” They trailed back in the direction of their booth. “Maybe he went to the restroom.”

“Couldn’t have happened.” Leslie shook her head. “Or else I would have seen him when I came out.”

“I don’t understand.” Patrick gazed at her. “He was right here a minute ago, talking to the old dude, and I went to get….”

“Old dude?” Leslie’s heart skipped a beat. “Who?”

“I don’t know who he was, but I guess he was sitting in this booth.” He pointed to the space where the scary old man had once been. “He came over to Brad and was like, ‘Can I talk to you in private?’ So I just left the booth for them to talk.”

“Pat!” Her blood was running cold by then. “How could you leave him alone with a stranger?”

“Baby, overreact much?” Patrick looked around, and Leslie realized that everyone was looking in their direction. “Brad is not a little child.”

“Hey, what’s the matter?” Ian’s voice interrupted them, and Pat tightened his jaw.

Leslie tried to calm herself down before replying. “Brad is… I don’t know… he went somewhere. It’s probably nothing, but Pat says he was talking to this old man before and….”

“Shit, no!” Ian yelled. “Old man? What did he look like?”

There was panic in his eyes, and his voice and fright suddenly found a home in Leslie’s system. “Freakishly blue eyes, wrinkled face, Rings on his fingers.”

“Long gray hair?” Ian asked anxiously.

“Yes!” Leslie was certain something pretty awful had happened to Brad, and she couldn’t stop cursing herself for lack of better judgment. “Ian, do you know something?”

His lip quivered. “I do.” He stepped closer and looked between the two of them. “Brad is in big trouble right now, and there’s only one person who can get him out of it.”