THE SENSUALIST & THE UNTOUCHED Release Party #2: Themes

December 19, 2014

Hi again! I’m Susan Laine. I’m hosting a release party here today, Dec 19, starting from 2:00 p.m. EST for my latest release, The Sensualist & the Untouched.

I have a couple of themes that take center stage in this book.

The first is sexual inexperience and how detrimental the effect of that can be on a person’s self-esteem, especially if you are an adult. The emotions connected to that state of being are the same for both men and women: Poor self-esteem, shame, embarrassment, and feelings of inadequacy. Last but not least, there is loneliness, which is another central theme.

The physical aspect in a relationship may not be key but it is important. As social beings, we all have an instinctive need to connect with people, to see and to be seen by others. Our modern society is over-sexualized. Sex sells, as the saying goes. You can see it everywhere, not just on the pages of a porn magazine, but in huge billboards around big cities. Women with big boobs and butts, men with thick muscles and ripped abs. The imagery radiates sex.

It seems as though everyone is having sex everywhere, all the time, with anyone and everyone.

But… what if you’re not? What if you’ve never felt the touch of another, never been kissed, never been seen as desirable, never even been brushed against by someone who isn’t part of your immediate family?

That is where Corey comes from. No sex. No touch. No intimacy. No sensuality. Nothing.

He is fundamentally alone and lonely, and he’s tired of it. He’s an adult, in his thirties, and he has no practical knowledge of what it takes to be intimate with another human being. Loneliness is his best—and worst—friend.

Here’s a tiny excerpt to show how loneliness effects Corey:

Corey had never realized, not with the total awareness of this moment, how much he ached to be touched. His raw, palpable loneliness permeated his whole body, from skin to soul. Perhaps the constant solitude had fried his brain, making him mad, delusional, and wanting impossible things. But in his heart, he had more than an inkling it was this isolation that left him hollow and hurting, touch deprived and in desperate need for contact.

“Fuck. I’m sorry.” Corey was glad his face was hidden by the cushion, but he wasn’t stupid enough to believe or hope that Lucian hadn’t noticed.

Loneliness

How about a realization that others seem so capable of love—while Corey is not?:

Love….

Funny how Corey could recognize it, though he had never felt it or sensed it aimed at him. Perhaps it was instinctual and universal and undeniable.

If so, why couldn’t he reciprocate? Why could he not… feel… those better emotions, the ones that didn’t make him feel like a loser, despondent and bereft of hope? Had it been nothing more than… gasp… a fluke?

As I’m sure you can imagine, this is an emotional ride. Corey has a lot to deal with throughout the story, and because of him, so does Lucian.

Lonely Heart

And now, a question for you all: Do you find it easy or hard to talk about loneliness?

If you feel the topic is too intimate and private, there is absolutely no obligation to answer.

As I wrote, at times I almost choked on the heaviness and hollowing feeling as I experienced it through Corey. Many find it hard to admit they ever feel lonely, even in company, while others find comfort and safety in solitude. Our society labels poorly those who have the courage to admit their loneliness, as though they were abnormal or freakish somehow. That is the place where Corey’s loneliness stems from, the unwillingness to vocalize it, burying it under the condition of frigidity.

My books can be found through my website.

JD Ruskin’s Finding Matt Blog Party: WINNER!

December 7, 2014

party

The winners of the free e-book are JJ and Angela. Please e-mail me at jdruskin1184@gmail.com. I will need to the email address you use in the DSP store and whether you want a copy of Finding Matt or When One Door Opens. I will request that the title be added to your bookshelf.

Thank you to everyone for your thoughtful and interesting comments. I really appreciated the opportunity to talk with you today.

How to Contact JD Ruskin

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

#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

#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

 

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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

#1: Welcome to JD Ruskin’s Blog Party for Finding Matt

December 7, 2014

party

Hello! I’m JD Ruskin. Today is the release party for my new paranormal romance Finding Matt, which was released 12/5/14. I will be posting five blogs throughout the day, giving away prizes, talking about the making of the book, and sharing excerpts.

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

 

If you’re interested in learning more, check out the book trailer I made on YouTube.

Book Trailer for Finding Matt by JD Ruskin

 

****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 #1 Question: Do you have a pet? If so, tell me about your furry friend.  

How to Contact JD Ruskin

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

 

The winner of an eBook copy of Tethered Pair

November 23, 2014

Congratulations Sula! I’ll be sending you an email.

 

Thank you to everyone who came, enjoyed and participated.

 

Happy Reading,

 

Elizabeth Noble

Keeping the Romance Alive

November 21, 2014

Elizabeth Noble here, and I’m back for my final post of the day. I’d like to give a very hearty thank you to everyone who has stopped by today. Remember, to be entered into a drawing for a free eBook of Tethered Pair simply comment on any of today’s Release Party Posts. If you’re the winner Dreamspinner Press will have your book placed on your bookshelf after it is released on November 26, 2014.

HoldingHandsShadowSome of my favorite characters are established characters. The story of how two men meet and fall in love is nice, but what I really enjoy is watching them keep their love-and romance-alive. That becomes a challenge when writing a longer series. Any marriage goes through ups and downs, and the marriage between two men is no different. Different things happen during their lives that influence their relationship.

Todd and Nick are no different. Now that Todd and Nick’s story is farther along and more developed it’s been fun and interesting to explore their lives as a couple. They’ve learned a lot about one another, they know each other in that way that only comes with time spent with your partner. They’ve become comfortable with each other and that allows me to add a whole new dimension to their characters and relationship. Throughout Tethered Pair we see the love and comfort they have for one another. To me that’s the most romantic sort of romance.

Recently I took part in a blog hop focusing on the positive of sex. Sex is as much a part of loving relationships as other shared experiences between couples. Sometimes things don’t always go so smoothly and in Tethered Pair Todd and Nick learn to deal with broken beds and interruptions.

Here is one last excerpt. This one has some spice to it!

 

~|~ ~|~ ~|~

Nick walked to the doorway of the bedroom, looking inside. “So, we look there for him?”

 
“I think so. It’s the most logical place.” Todd closed the distance between them, slipped one arm around Nick’s waist, and ran the other hand up his young mate’s spine to twine his fingers in Nick’s hair. “We’ve got some time to kill.”

 
Licking along Nick’s neck to the corner of his mouth, Todd planted what were at first soft, gentle kisses, each one becoming more assertive than the one before. When Nick arched his back and pressed closer, moaning softly, Todd intensified his grip on Nick’s waist, holding him tight. Walking them into the bedroom, Todd gave Nick a playful shove and dumped him backward onto the bed.

 
Nick laughed softly, grabbed Todd’s belt, and tugged Todd down on top of him. He stretched his neck, returning Todd’s kisses with ones just as aggressive. “There was talk of tying,” Nick said softly between kisses. He rolled his hips up, grinding his groin against Todd’s.

 
“Yeah, there was.” Todd sat up, straddling Nick and pulling him to a sitting position. In one quick move, Todd grabbed Nick’s shirt and yanked it up and over his head, wrapping it around Nick’s wrists.images
Nick flopped back onto the mattress and groaned more loudly when Todd pounced.

A loud and rude pounding on the door accompanied Heidi’s voice. “Ruger! I know you two are in there. We have work to do.”

 
Todd blew out a breath and pushed off Nick far enough that he could rub at his forehead and groan. Looking down at Nick, Todd sighed. “Is she kidding?”

 
Beneath him, Todd felt Nick’s body tremble, and a chuckle rolled up from his belly. “I don’t think so.”

 
“I’m not going away,” Heidi called through the door, and there was more pounding.

 
“We could let her watch,” Nick said and shrugged.

 

~|~ ~|~ ~|~

 

Thank you again for joining me and helping me celebrate the release of Tethered Pair!

Riverboats!

November 21, 2014

I’m Elizabeth Noble and I’m here today talking about my upcoming release, Tethered Pair (book #5 of Sentries).TetheredPairFS

I love finding new and interesting locations to set the Sentries stories in. So far in the series they’ve covered a good bit of North America and in this book they’re heading to the rivers on a high stakes gambling riverboat. There was lots of fun things I could add to the main plot. We find out that Todd Ruger loved a series of books as a young boy that was centered around a riverboat gambler, so of course he wants to reenact some of his favorite parts and be like his favorite character.

Neither Todd, nor Nick have ever been on a riverboat before, so their trip on the Annabelle is more than a mission, it’s one new experience after another. Their mission lands them on a riverboat, undercover as a gambler and his slave, to ferret out and stop weapons dealers. Little do they know those weapons dealers are demons!

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One of my favorite parts of writing this book was creating situations and places, unraveling a story that mostly takes place on a riverboat. Of course, there are a variety of people for them to interact with and Todd finally makes good on his threat-er promise- that Nick learn to dance!

Todd loves riverboats and he’s not really on vacation, but its exciting for him anyway. What sort of vacation travel do you like? Boats, trains, pack mule?

I’ll leave the contest open until Sunday morning. Nov 23. Everyone commenting will be entered in a chance to win an eBook copy of Tethered Pair. The book will be placed on the winner’s Dreamspinner bookshelf after its release date of Nov. 26, 2014.

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee…these guys are real addicts!

November 21, 2014

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Hi, I’m Elizabeth Noble and I have returned to share some more goodies about Tethered Pair, the 5th book in the Sentries series.

There have been a few constants for Todd and Nick Ruger and one of those began in the opening chapters of book #1, Marked Yours.

Todd introduced Nick to coffee and it was love at first sip!

There is a general theme running throughout the series of the Rugers and their coffee. They take it on the road with them, they find it in cafes and they make sure they never run out.  Whole beans are what they prefer, and grind them as they need them. Everywhere they stay is judged by the quality of their favorite beverage.

In Tethered Pair the guys have lucked out in the coffee department. Their mission takes them to a luxury riverboat, which among other things leads to some adventures with coffee. Here is a little bit of one of Nick’s coffee related adventures.

~|~ ~|~ ~|~

 

Half the bag was full when Nick let go of the little door, expecting it to snap shut. Instead, it stayed open, and the beans began flowing out faster.

 

“Shit. No. Crap. Stop!” Nick tried jamming the little door closed, but it was useless; the thing was stuck. The bag filled, then overflowed. Beans were accumulating fast around his feet. Nick set it to the side and put one hand in the river of beans, trying to catch some. Stretching as far as possible, his fingertips brushed over the stack of bags, but he couldn’t grasp even a single one.

 
Giving up on the bags, he used both hands and pushed down with all his weight on the little door. He heard a snap and felt something pop, and the door gave way, finally slapping shut, but not before several pounds of coffee beans had flowed out to land on the floor at Nick’s feet. Nick looked around. He didn’t readily see anything to clean the beans up with or put them in. He had a moment of panic when he heard the door open and footsteps approach. There wasn’t anything else to do but stand there and get caught.

 
Someone cleared their throat. Nick looked down at his feet for a few seconds, sighed, and looked up sheepishly into the face of his captor.

 
“I see you couldn’t wait for me to make my delivery,” the trolley girl said.

 
“Um, yeah, I… uh….”

 
She cocked her head to one side. “Not chatty before you have your coffee, are you?”

 
“I’m sorry,” Nick finally mumbled out. He looked at all the beans everywhere. “It’s sort of like coffee-geddon. My mate really likes your coffee, and all I wanted to do was surprise him.”

 

“You’re one of the men tracking me down all the time. All that was for your mate?”

 
Nick looked away for a few seconds, but he had to admit the truth to her. “Well, I probably like it a little more than he does. Um… got something to clean this up with?”

 

~|~ ~|~ ~|~

 

This little scene was inspired by a trip to the grocery store I made. Yes, I caused a coffee-geddon. Dumped a few pounds of coffee all over the place! Today I’m enjoying a lovely blend called El Diablo. I purchased the beans, because like Todd and Nick Ruger I grind my own, from a local store. They keep the beans in big barrels, which is much, MUCH safer.

To be entered for an opportunity to win a free eBook copy of Tethered Pair tell me about your favorite beverage and any mishaps you may have had while purchasing it.

I’ll leave all my contests today open until Sunday morning and will announce the winners then–over coffee of course. The winner’s eBook will be placed on their Dreamspinner bookshelf, so I’ll need the email associated with your account. You will be able to download your book after its release on November 26, 2014.

 

 

 

 

Tethered Pair Release Party

November 21, 2014

TetheredPairFS

Hello, hello. I’m Elizabeth Noble and welcome to the blog party for my upcoming release of Tethered Pair.

I’ll start the fun off today with a blurb and an excerpt from Tethered Pair. It is the fifth book in the Sentries series. I have six books in all planned for the series. Tethered Pair will be released on Wednesday, November 26, 2014. Check out the rest of my posts today for opportunities to win a free eBook copy of Tethered Pair.

Blurb:

New Colorado Protectorate is entrenched in war. Both sides employ natural as well as supernatural soldiers and weapons. Sentries such as Todd and Nick Ruger are men with the talents and training to combat those supernatural threats.

Sent by New Colorado’s Chancellor Clarke after weapon smugglers, they find themselves on the riverboat, Annabelle. They make the horrifying discovery the smugglers are demons, something Todd and Nick have never dealt with before. It will take all their skills and their ability to depend on the powerful bond they’ve forged just to stay alive.

When the Chancellor is assassinated events are set into motion that will alter the Rugers’ lives forever.

Excerpt:

“Let’s try other music.” This tune wasn’t quite as slow and had a more pronounced beat. Positioning Nick’s hands, then his own, Todd leaned forward far enough to brush a light kiss over Nick’s cheek. He whispered into Nick’s ear, “Listen to the music and try to follow it… and me… and relax… and—”

“Have fun, damn it!” Nick grinned, pressing his head close to Todd’s, his tongue swiping a wet path over Todd’s ear.

“Damn straight!”

“Anyway, launch is in a few hours, and there’s a party in the formal ballroom after that,” Todd said. He snickered when he got his foot out of the way of Nick’s just in time. “Don’t look down.”

Todd hustled Nick out of their suite, and they headed toward the main deck. They could have watched the launch from the small balcony off their room, but Todd wanted to see everything. He’d never understood why launches were always at night, but once they reached the main deck and the companionway that ringed it, he understood immediately.

Slave porters were moving along the deck, lighting small oil lamps and cranking Faraday lights that were hung in strings along the rail. The engines hummed. Todd could feel the vibration under his feet. He glanced sideways at Nick, took his hand, and pulled him closer to the rail so they could lean over and look.

Nick’s face split into a brilliant smile when he looked out. The river was dark, lights from the boat reflecting off the water. He turned and leaned back against the rail, facing Todd and looking up.

“That is worth this whole trip,” Nick said, motioning to the upper part of the boat.

Todd twisted around and followed Nick’s gaze with his own. The steam stacks were ringed with polished metal—it looked like brass, from the coloring. Red and black streamers flowed in the gentle breeze. The horn blared, and Todd could feel how the engines rumbled, their power ramping up.

Nick looked down, then back up at him, and grinned. “Wow.”

“Yeah,” Todd agreed.

“Okay, now I get why you are so fascinated with these boats and wanted to see this for yourself,” Nick said.

Other passengers cheered and waved to people seeing them off on the pier as the paddle wheels came to life and the boat began its journey. As it pulled away from the shore and docks, it picked up speed until, once in the center of the river, Todd could actually feel a slight breeze from its movement on his face.

He twined his fingers through Nick’s and tugged him in for a light kiss. “This is how I always imagined it would be,” he said. He’d dropped his voice so it was low and husky. It had the desired effect on his young mate. Nick sucked in a breath.

Nick pressed close, shivering, his lips curled into a smile against Todd’s mouth. “This is pretty amazing,” Nick said softly.