I had an interview with my friend J. Scott Coatsworth. You have until January 5th to enter my giveaway for two ebooks of Together.
I had an interview with my friend J. Scott Coatsworth. You have until January 5th to enter my giveaway for two ebooks of Together.
If you follow my blog/newsletter/Facebook, you will know that I had a rough beginning to December culminating in my furry friend passing to the great beyond a couple of weeks ago. Then the holidays arrived and I haven’t had much free time.
I wanted to get this out there since it ends January 5th. I have plans for the new year for more stories (and revamping and releasing early ones), but the actual schedule is a little fuzzy. I do plan on doing a paperback version of Together in the first month of 2019. Would people like that? Let me know in the comments. 🙂
This is going to be short because I’m still short on time. Follow me on social media as I do pop in there from time to time. I do answer posts and comments when I can, but I’m not on Facebook all the time. Twitter is easier to get in touch with me faster if you have a burning question.
Together is currently on sale in the UK Amazon space (starting 12/24) and US Amazon space will have a sale starting Jan 2019 for a week each. Act fast as they will go up every couple of days until it’s full price at the end of the week!
Available for pre-order and in Kindle Unlimited when live December 1st, 2018
Victor has loved El and En since high school. The problem is, they love each other and only see him as a friend. Victor leaves town, unable to cope with watching them together, but now he’s back—and his heart still feels the same.
El and En have had feelings for Victor for a long time, they just haven’t said anything. After all, a poly relationship isn’t something society looks upon kindly. But that isn’t going to stop them, not now they understand what missing Victor is like. They want their third, no matter what anyone says—they just have to find out whether Victor is up for the challenge.
Together again, individually, the three men know they’re meant to be a trio. The thing is, who will say so first? And will the dynamic work if Victor joins a stable couple? Can Victor fit in and have the relationship he’s dreamed of with the two men who have held his heart in their hands for what feels like forever?
Find out in Together.
Together originally published in Beautiful Skin: A People of Color Anthology. Content has not changed.
Series: Bay Area Professionals #5
Author: Mickie B. Ashling
Publisher: Mickie B. Ashling
Release Date: 11/13/2018
Heat Level: 5 – Erotica
Length: 275 words
Genre: Erotica, BDSM
A Sequel to Forged in Trust
Bay Area Professionals #5
A promising encounter takes a dark turn.
Captain Sami Soros and Father Jay Blackstone cross paths at a major European hub. When systems shut down due to a cyber-attack, flights are delayed and the resulting chaos is unprecedented.
After having served three tours in Afghanistan, recently discharged Sami struggles with his new civilian status. Emotionally depleted, and dangerously edgy, he views most of his fellowmen with utter contempt.
Jay is returning to his parish in San Francisco after a month-long retreat meant to shore up a crumbling vocation. All vestiges of spirituality melt away when he sets eyes on Sami.
They begin a clandestine affair fueled by a shared addiction to extreme forms of BDSM. Their relationship goes off the rails, and Jay reaches out to Rino Duran, a former seminarian. With the help of Dr. Ethan Marshall, Rino’s full-time Dom, the established couple attempt to separate truth from lies to give Jay and Sami a shot at happiness.
This novel can be read as a standalone.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is crowded on any given day, but the scene unfolding when I walked off the Jetway into the arrival area was absolute pandemonium. Twelve hours ago, the computer running the intricate network of arrivals and departures at this gigantic European hub—ranked third busiest in number of total passengers per year—had been hacked. The domino effect of delayed or canceled flights resulted in a maelstrom of missed connections, lost baggage, and queue upon queue of clueless passengers looking for solutions. Weddings, honeymoons, funerals, river cruises, bus tours, reunions, and once-in-a-lifetime business opportunities were too important to be derailed by a bunch of dark-web bandits. Normally efficient and accommodating personnel were inundated with impossible requests, and tempers were pushed to the limit.
I’d expected a two-hour layover before catching my flight back to San Francisco via Chicago, but my trip from northern Spain had been delayed by an unexpected snowstorm. The result was catastrophic in terms of connections, and I was one among thousands trying to find my way home. There was no point in browbeating anyone for better results as my angry voice would fall on deaf ears.
According to the giant monitors advising weary travelers of time and gate changes, my flight was supposed to board at Gate F6. The seats were all taken when I arrived at my destination, and a quick scan of the adjoining gates revealed more of the same. I’d end up on the floor for an undetermined amount of time unless the airline brought in more chairs.
As I considered my next move, my attention was drawn to a guy dressed from head to toe in unadulterated black. His face and hands were deeply bronzed, incongruous amidst the throng of pasty winter complexions. Squint lines radiated from wide-set eyes, and a thin scar sliced through one dark winged eyebrow. The resulting asymmetry changed the stranger from model perfect to dangerously attractive.
The month I’d recently spent at the Sanctuary of Loyola in Azpeitia, Spain, the ancestral home of St. Ignatius, had been an inspirational setting meant to reaffirm my faith and strengthen my resolve to stay the course. A great waste of time, I thought bitterly, all the while checking out the stranger’s physical attributes. When he met my gaze, my stomach clenched, and I quickly looked away, hyperaware of my thundering heartbeat.
Most sensible men would have turned their backs when confronted with temptation, but I was at my most vulnerable. Daring another look, I found him digging through his pea-green duffel. Along with his puffy jacket, the bag was taking up the adjoining seat, which could be mine for the taking. Resolved to correct the immediate problem, I stomped his way with determination. Some sixth sense must have alerted him because he lifted his head and tracked my progress with hawklike intensity.
I pointed at the spot occupied by his possessions, expecting an immediate response. Instead, his grayish-green eyes narrowed with suspicion. When I didn’t move, he clenched his jaw, gathered up his things, and dropped them on the floor by his feet.
“Thank you,” I murmured, settling on the molded plastic chair.
He ignored me.
The buzz cut, laced boots, duffel, and edgy demeanor screamed military, but the turtleneck and cargo pants gave nothing away. He wore no distinguishing pins to indicate if he was one of ours or a member of some foreign entity. Trying to ascertain more was impossible while he continued to treat me like I was an interloper. While other passengers twitched in discomfort and fiddled with electronic devices, my stranger sat with his arms and legs crossed and scanned the crowd with a predatory stare. I wasn’t qualified to judge, but I got a strong feeling he’d be a formidable fighter if pushed.
His silence was oppressive, and under normal circumstances, I would have attempted a conversation. People usually responded favorably to a cleric, but my dark shirt and white collar were packed away, replaced by more practical winter wear. A thermal undershirt, flannel top, fleece-lined jeans, and sturdy hiking boots had served me well while I tramped the snow-covered pathways in the Basque country. It also worked as a disguise, allowing me to forget I was a priest in crisis with unfinished business back home in San Francisco.
An announcement came through the loudspeaker in Dutch, followed by the same in English, French, and Spanish. There would be another two-hour delay, and free vouchers were offered to anyone interested in a light snack until we were allowed to board.
“Someone will snatch my seat if I leave,” the stranger commented irritably.
“I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen if you’ll get me something to eat.”
He glared at me. “How can I be sure you won’t run off with my things?”
Incredulous, I asked, “Do I look like a hardened criminal?”
“You look like you lost your herd somewhere in the Alps.”
“I’ve been called a shepherd on occasion.”
“Can I trust you?” he asked skeptically.
“I’m more interested in black coffee and a sandwich than whatever treasures you might have in your duffel.”
“I’ll hunt you down if you’re lying,” he warned menacingly. “Is there anything you dislike by way of food?”
I shook my head.
“I’ll be back shortly.”
I admired his retreating figure as he walked away. Easily over six feet, he was prepossessing, drawing the eyes of men and women alike as he picked his way through the crowd.
Questioning my ethics was understandable, considering our circumstances, but it set me to thinking about my past. All my life, I’d been judged by my DNA, which, by all accounts, left much to be desired. The man who’d given me life was a masterful liar, and my mother wasn’t equipped to deal with his manipulative personality. She was seduced, impregnated, and subsequently rushed to the altar by her indignant parents. Predictably, Jack Underwood took off when I was three, packing enough clothes for a short business trip. He never returned, and from then on, it was only a question of time before my grandparents convinced my mother to get rid of me.
I was dispatched to an orphanage in another state where I cried myself to sleep each night. The people in charge offered no explanation, but assured me I wouldn’t be there long. Blond and blue-eyed children were always scooped up first. Within months, I was adopted by the Blackstone family, who changed my name from Jack Jr. to Justin. And thus began my second incarnation.
Mickie B. Ashling is the pseudonym of a multifaceted woman who is a product of her upbringing in multiple cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West. A little bit of this and a lot of that have brought a unique touch to her literary voice she could never learn from textbooks.
By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing—and the inevitable emptying nest—dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and she’s never looked back.
She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.
Mickie currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.
Title: Leaning Into a Wish
Series: Leaning Into #5
Author: Lane Hayes
Narrator: Nick J. Russo
Publisher: Lane Hayes
Original Release Date: November 22, 2017
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Length: 3 Hours, 29 Minutes
Genre: Romance, Holiday, Bisexual, Humor, Winery, Working Relationship
Ryan Haskell loves everything about the wine business. He’s fortunate to work at one of the most prestigious wineries in Napa Valley doing something he enjoys with the people who are like family to him. But he could do without the good-natured intern slash former jock with the wicked grin who always seems to be in the way. Ryan isn’t sure why the new guy is under his skin when everyone else loves him. Thankfully he’ll be gone after the holidays.
Danny Meyers can’t believe his luck when he lands an internship at Conrad Winery. It’s the perfect temporary gig to wrap up his graduate studies. He’s left his dreams of tennis stardom on the court to focus on a new career and a new life. However, he didn’t count on the spark of attraction he feels for his prickly co-worker. When their tentative friendship blossoms into something more than either man counted on, they may have to change direction and lean into a holiday wish.
A vacuum-like static rang in my ears. It wasn’t until Danny nudged my arm that the typical raucous bar noises filtered through again. And when he scooted his barstool back a foot or two and raised his hand to flag down a server, everything seemed to return to normal. Sort of.
“Gin and tonic for my friend and I’ll have another martini, please. Thanks.” Danny tipped back the last of his drink then handed it over before twisting to face me. “So other than being out twenty-five bucks and possibly having an awkward conversation at work on Monday, that didn’t go so bad.”
“I—I don’t get it. What just happened?”
“We agreed to let Geordie win the bet, remember?”
“Sure, but how did I get stuck here with you?”
Danny snorted. “We’ve already established that you like me. Stop being an uptight fuddy-duddy.”
“A fuddy—? You’re…” I gritted my teeth and tried to think of a stinging insult to fit the situation. “Annoying.”
Lame. And the “That’s the best you’ve got?” twinkle in Danny’s eye told me he agreed with me. I was about to let him have it when the waiter stopped to deliver our drinks. When we were alone again, I leaned into him and kicked his shin for good measure.
“Ow. Relax, Ry. I still want to kiss you, you know.” He popped the speared olive from his martini into his mouth. “With tongue.”
“You’re reading way too much into a stick of spearmint gum, honey. Don’t flatter yourself. It was a joke,” I huffed derisively.
“It doesn’t have to be.”
“Are you fucking nuts? I’m not kissing you,” I announced primly.
“You want to though. Admit it,” he teased.
I blew out an exaggerated breath, sucked down half my cocktail, and slid off my barstool. “I’m outta here. See you Monday.”
Danny grabbed my belt loop and yanked me to his side. “You didn’t let me finish. I was about to say…”
“Yes?” I prompted with a rolling hand gesture.
“I want it too.”
We stared at each other for a heated moment. I had no clue what he was thinking, but it seemed weird to ask for clarification. When the growing tension went on a beat too long, I wanted out. “See ya, Danny boy.”
I pushed my way through the crowd and gulped for air when I finally reached the sidewalk. I didn’t dare stop to enjoy the refreshing autumn breeze. If I wanted to avoid any further confrontation, I had to boogie. Danny was the type of guy who liked having the last word, and that wasn’t happening on my watch. I fished my keys from my pocket and power-walked toward the parking lot behind the bar.
I ignored him and picked up my pace. I spotted my car and clicked my fob to unlock the door. Danny called my name again. I could tell from the sound of his footsteps behind me that he was closing in quickly. I had to hurry or—
Too late. A hand on my elbow yanked me sideways.
“What the fuck is your problem?” I fumed, pushing his chest to no avail.
He moved into my space until his nose was less than an inch from mine. He was too big and imposing, and the look in his eyes was straight-up dangerous.
My dick twitched in my jeans. Of course it did. I had a bad habit of coveting what I couldn’t have and getting turned on by the chase. My past was littered with embarrassing short-term affairs or crushes on guys like Wes and Finn. Men I admired but never had a real shot with. I didn’t want to add Danny to that list because against my better judgment…I liked him. Really liked him.
Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.
Nick is an award winning narrator with a fan following for his work in fiction, specifically in the romance genre. His performances in two of Amy Lane’s books, Beneath the Stain and Christmas Kitsch, made him the recipient of Sinfully M/M Book Review’s Narrator of the Year – 2015. When he’s not in the booth, Nick enjoys spending time with his wife, Jessica, and kids, (aka their beagle Frank and cat Stella), drumming in his cover band, exploring rural back roads with his wife on his motorcycle, or being enthralled in a tabletop role playing game with his friends.
Title: The Kinsey Scale
Series: Campus Connections Book 1
Author: CJane Elliott
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: 11/9/18
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Length: 89 pages
Genre: Romance, New Adult, contemporary, friends to lovers, college
Life is good for Eric Brown. He’s a senior theater major, an RA for a freshman dorm, and has a great circle of friends. Single since sophomore year, Eric isn’t looking for love. But then Will Butler—fellow senior, co-RA, and the cutest guy Eric’s ever seen—walks into his dorm. Will has a girlfriend he sees off campus—a minor disappointment that becomes a major problem when a housing shortage causes Will and Eric to become roommates, and Eric is forced to witness Will’s hotness day in and day out. For protection, Eric asks Jerry, his ex-boyfriend, to pretend they’re still together. Jerry warns him it’s a stupid idea, but he reluctantly agrees.
Too bad it won’t save Eric from losing his heart.
Will Butler has never believed in himself. His dysfunctional family saw to that. Although Will has loved music since childhood, he’s never seriously considered pursuing it, and the person he’s dating doesn’t encourage him. Then he and Eric Brown become roommates, and everything changes. Eric believes in Will and his talent. He’s also gorgeous and playful and fast becoming Will’s best friend. And that’s not good, because Will is hiding some big things, not only from Eric, but from himself.
“So how’s it going with Hottie the Roommate?” Jerry asked. He lounged in the armchair at the coffee shop and took a languid sip of his latte.
“Fine.” Eric made a face. “We stay out of each other’s way. It sucks, but nothing we can do about it now.”
“I’m surprised you haven’t taken advantage of the situation.” Jerry arched his eyebrow.
“He’s straight. He has a girlfriend who doesn’t go here. I guess he sees her on the weekends. I don’t know. We don’t talk about that.”
“Don’t talk? Oh honey, that doesn’t sound like you at all. What’s up with that?”
“I don’t know. Shut up.”
“Touchy, touchy. God. You’re not usually this grumpy. Maybe you should look at changing this RA thing, because it sounds like it’s causing you stress.”
Eric shifted in his chair and sipped his latte. Jerry knew him too well. He was grumpy lately, but it wasn’t the RA thing. He enjoyed being an RA and counseling the kids. He and Will functioned well as an RA team, seeming to know instinctively when one of them would do better than the other in handling a situation, and then debriefing about it later. They talked about stuff really easily, and laughed a lot, having discovered they shared the same kind of crazy humor. And Will composed his own songs, which Eric thought was totally cool. He loved lying on his bed listening to Will play his guitar and sing.
“Yeah, it’s not that bad. We get along great, actually.”
And it wasn’t true that they never talked about Will’s girlfriend. Her name was Jessie, and Will sometimes mentioned her in passing, but Eric never pressed for details. In fact he had a strange reluctance to regale Will with his own sexual escapades, the way he always had in the past with friends or roommates. It was a weird thing, almost like a force field or something. They both shut up whenever the conversation veered too close to sex or relationships.
And then having to look at Will every day, with his bedhead when he woke up and his naked chest when he came out of the bathroom in his sleep pants, or when his face was animated and he threw back his head and laughed at something Eric said and…. God. No wonder he was grumpy.
“Let’s go out tonight. You need to dance and get laid.” Jerry’s voice brought him back.
“Okay.” It was Friday, so Will would be out of the room, thank God. Maybe Eric would even get lucky and bring someone back with him tonight… or go to their place, given the shitty dorm beds. He yawned, all of a sudden weary.
“Oh yes.” Jerry peered at him critically. “We’ve got to get you back to your perky self, my dear. I’m getting you another latte, for starters.”
After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.
CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming-out stories. In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her family supports her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.
CJane is the author of the award-winning Serpentine Series, New Adult contemporary novels set at the University of Virginia. Serpentine Walls was a 2014 Rainbow Awards finalist, Aidan’s Journey was a 2015 EPIC Awards finalist, and Sex, Love, and Videogames won first place in the New Adult category in the 2016 Swirl Awards and first place in Contemporary Fiction in the 2017 EPIC eBook Awards.
Title: The Art of Hero Worship
Author: Mia Kerick
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: October 29, 2018
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Genre: contemporary, bisexual, new adult, college, self-discovery, crime/school shooting, PTSD/disability, grieving/depression, family drama, violence, stalking
College junior Liam Norcross is a hero. He willingly, even eagerly, risks his life to save a stranger as a murderous, deranged shooter moves methodically through the darkened theater on the Batcheldor College campus, randomly killing innocent men, women, and children.
The stranger he saves is college freshman Jason Tripp. Jase loses everything in the shooting: his girlfriend, who dies on the floor beside him, and his grip on emotional security. He struggles to regain a sense of safety in the world, finally leaving college to seek refuge in his hometown.
An inexplicable bond forms between the two men in the chaos and horror of the theater, and Liam fights to bring Jase back to the world he ran away from. When Jase returns to school, they’re drawn together as soulmates, and soon Liam and Jase fall into a turbulent romantic relationship. However, the rocky path to love cannot be smoothed until Jase rescues his hero in return by delving into his shady past and solving the mystery of Liam’s compulsion to be everybody’s savior.
The Art of Hero Worship
Mia Kerick © 2018
All Rights Reserved
At this point, he’s in the back of the theater, and the shooting hasn’t slowed down at all. Gunshots ring out steadily in the shadowy darkness…always in sets of three, letting me know where he is. I’m scared…so fucking scared…but not too scared to wonder what I did to deserve this special little slice of hell.
And I’m frozen…I can’t even move enough to swallow my spit. I know what I have to do—I have to search for Ginny, but I can’t since I’m frozen solid, like a leg of lamb in a walk-in freezer.
“I’ve been shot! Oh, sweet Jesus, I’ve been shot!”
Earsplitting blasts of sound—one, two, three. The gunshots have a life and a plan—no, a mission—all their own, to maim and kill by ripping through the flesh of everyone in this theater. I’m panting and sweating and wishing to God I knew how to pray because I’d so pray right now.
And as suddenly as it started, the shooting stops. Is it over? With the utmost caution, I exhale the breath I’ve been hanging on to so jealously…as if part of me fears I’ll never get the chance to take another. But one more wary breath moves in and out, and I know I have to get hold of myself so I can find her. Because it’s over now… yes, I think maybe it’s ov—
Life-sucking and blood-spattering and gurgle-inducing, evenly spaced sets of three that are becoming so horribly predictable. I brace myself for the impact because I just know the next pop is going to come with excruciating pain that explodes in my head or my back or, if I’m lucky, my ass. Or, if I’m not so lucky, in all three places, one right after another.
This isn’t happening. It can’t be happening.
Is nineteen too old to want my mommy?
“Get down! Get on the floor!” Somebody yells. Too late for that warning. I’m already flat on the floor in the narrow space between the rows of seats; my head is bleeding all over the arm it’s resting on… My left arm? My right arm? Somebody else’s arm? Not so sure. Not so sure it matters.
“Don’t shoot me—please don’t—”
“Put the gun down! Put it do-o-own!”
I belly crawl forward a few inches and reach around in search of Ginny’s hand, but when I pat the floor all I can feel is a pool of blood that wasn’t there the last time I checked, and then there’s this cooling mound of flesh in its center.
“I don’t know what to do…” These words escape on a single breath followed by a few sharp coughs from an elderly man.
Annoying cough…forever suppressed.
Right after the second round of shots, when everybody had started rushing around, all frenzied and scrambling, I’d lost track of Ginny… In fact, I’d lost track of everything. Maybe because it had suddenly sunk into my stunned brain that this place was now a death chamber. My death chamber.
It seems as if so much time has passed since the first bullet whizzed past my right ear…that for a month or a year—or for my entire lifetime—I’ve been waiting for the gunshots to stop. But a tiny voice inside my head suggests that I’ve been in this living hell for less than five minutes, at most.
Right after the shooting started, but before I lost Ginny, I caught a glimpse of the gunman’s silhouette against the bright stage. He’d seemed huge in his dark baggy clothing. He towered over the audience, or maybe it just seemed that way because he was pointing a long gun at us. I recognized the shooter from seeing him around campus. And when I saw his face profiled in the light—the bulging forehead, prominent nose, and receding chin—a name had sped through my brain, but soon the name was as lost to me as my girlfriend’s lax hand.
The gunman doesn’t say a word; his weapon does the talking. And the deafening popping sounds are closer again, like the gun has something it wants to say to me personally…something like, “You’re gonna die today, Jason.”
“I’m gonna push on your back really hard, and I want you to squeeze as much of your body underneath the chairs as you can, got it?” The voice seems to come from a million miles away, but it’s coming from right behind me. On top of me, really. I feel his breath on the back of my neck.
“Are we going to die?” I’m not sure if I ask this or if it comes from the lips of the little old lady who’d been sitting on the other side of Ginny at the start of the play. The old lady who told us she’d come to the Harrison Theater to see her granddaughter play Ophelia in the Shakespeare in the Spring Performance Series, not to die in a hail of bullets. I know that Ginny didn’t ask the question, though. She’s been silent since the second volley of gunshots when her head slumped over unnaturally onto my shoulder, and by instinct, I’d pulled her to the floor.
Batcheldor College’s small theater has been called “an acoustic gem,” and right now, it’s ringing with the erratic sounds of screaming and moaning and crying and shouting and shooting. But most impressive is the resounding silence of the gunman, which speaks louder than words, or gunshots, ever could.
All in all, it’s noisy and confusing and crazy…the Beatles’ tune “Helter Skelter” comes to mind. This is not how I want to die. Mostly because I don’t want to die!
The guy on my back is poking a single finger into the blood on my head, then twisting in such a way that I think he’s reaching to his back…like maybe he’s smearing my blood there. I’m distracted from his action by the squealing of the fire alarm, and I find my blurry mind wondering if, in addition to the problem of a crazed gunman, we also have a fire to put out.
Would I prefer my death be a result of hungry flames or a hail of bullets?
“We’re gonna survive; just stay still. Completely still. ’Kay?” I feel the pressure on my back that he promised me, and even though it hurts to have my belly pushed into the metal rungs at the base of the seats in front of us, I feel strangely safe. He speaks into my ear. “Play dead, dude.”
No, I’m not even remotely safe. But thankfully, I play dead far better than my dog Goliath did when I tried to teach him that trick at the age of seven.
The shots are already earsplitting, and growing louder, as the shooter’s heading our way. I’m so fucking scared I tremble as if I’m having a seizure, and I promised the guy lying on top of me that I’d stay still. I concentrate on taking short shallow breaths, one after another, in my effort to stop shaking. To stay frozen—the way my heart has been since I pulled Ginny to the floor and promptly let go of her hand so I could curl up into a tight fetal ball.
Somebody near me sits up, scrambles to his knees, and impulsively crawls toward the far aisle.
“Bang, bang…you’re dead.” The voice comes from directly above me; it’s blank and monotone and controlled. The snicker that follows is chilling. I want nothing more than to throw the big guy off my back and run like hell toward the double doors, but I just keep on going with the short, shallow breaths and stay as still as I’ve ever been in my life. The guy on top of me is totally exposed; I can’t move because if I do, I’ll cheat him out of his life, for sure. Which is so not cool when he’s trying to save mine.
I smell blood. Never noticed the smell of blood before. It reminds me of Grandma’s penny collection…if it got spilled onto the sticky floor of the theater. The scent of old copper is everywhere like wet pennies strewn all around me on the floor.
Shooter’s practically on top of us now. Don’t move…don’t move…don’t move…
“Dear God, help me!” This request seems to catch the shooter’s attention, and he turns around and steps away from us. I curse myself for feeling as relieved as I do.
We wait and it seems like forever. We wait as voices beg and plead and pray and he shuts them up with bullets. We wait as the sound of shots moves to the front left near the exit, where I figure he’s shooting at anyone who tries to get out through the double doors.
And then, for a second, it’s quiet.
“Now…” The big guy whispers, but the sound seems to blast into my left ear. “We have to make our move now.” Before I agree, the heaviness of his body lifts and I feel cold and exposed. “This is our chance to get outta here…”
His hand is attached to the back of my wrist, clutching me so hard I’ll have fingerprint bruises for a week…if I live so long.
“Come on! Get up!”
“Ginny…” I whisper back. “I can’t leave Ginny.”
He reaches out to touch the flesh mound in the center of the pool of blood and whispers firmly, “Ginny’s already gone.” He releases my wrist just long enough to adjust his grip. “I worked here last year. I know how to get away. Come on…”
He pulls me to my knees and drags me. Ginny. I only think her name this time because I’m literally too petrified to speak. We crawl like two sneaky toddlers through the narrow alley between the rows of seats and then down the outside aisle, over a couple of bodies—small ones, kids’ bodies that are way too still and cool—and to a trapdoor at the base of the stage. It’s a small gray square in the wall. I never noticed it before, and I’ve been to the Harrison Theater at least five times this year to see Ginny’s roommate perform. The guy beside me pulls out a pocketknife and fiddles silently with the screws holding the little door in place.
The thin slab of metal covering the small door drops to the floor and contributes a new sound to the quieting chaos. It clangs in such a way that nobody left alive in the theater could miss it.
“Where do you think you’re going?” The gunman has stopped shooting, and I hear the heavy stomping of combat boots coming toward us, down the aisle. Not running…just walking in swift, determined steps. My guardian angel grabs me and stuffs me through the opening in the base of the stage. I land on my chin in a pile of music stands. My helper isn’t far behind in squeezing his bulky frame through the small square in the wall. We’ve landed in some type of a cluttered crawl space, maybe the orchestra pit, and I struggle to make my way through the music stands in the pitch-blackness. When we’re halfway through the mess of metal, crawling through unruly stacks of folding chairs, the overhead light in the pit flicks on.
“What’s going on in the theater, you guys? It’s mega-loud in there.” A clueless college girl’s voice. I can’t see her clearly because the sudden bright light stings my eyes, making me squint.
“Get out of here, lady—just run for it!” shouts my guardian angel. We can’t run yet because we’re still trapped in a dense forest of metal.
“I see you two… I see you.” The shooter’s voice is deadly calm. “And I think I know you.”
For some reason, he doesn’t climb into the orchestra pit to come after us but pushes the gun through the opening and pulls the trigger three times. Bullets ricochet off the metal chairs and stands. Again I freeze, not sure which way to go. I’m grabbed fiercely by my right forearm and dragged over the remainder of the chairs to the door.
I expect more shooting, but there’s none. Instead, that cold, creepy voice increases in volume, to assure us, “Don’t worry, I’ll find you.”
We take to our feet and start to run. Soon we’re holding hands in a narrow hallway…running for the back of the building…and then we’re outside in the breezy darkness, still clinging to each other. We sprint through the muddy grass in the direction of the parking lot.
And we stop at an old model, cherry-red muscle car—a Dodge Charger.
“Get in!” His voice is husky as he opens the passenger door, pushes me inside, and quickly shuts it. Then he scrambles over the hood to get to the driver’s side. He flings the door wide open and jumps into the seat, not gracefully, but with more speed than I could ever have imagined was possible for a guy his size. Adrenaline counts for a lot… And soon we’re driving off the college grounds, out of the supposed safety of the “Batcheldor College Bubble,” and into the real world.
Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—one in law school, another at a dance conservatory, a third studying at Mia’s alma mater, Boston College, and her lone son still in high school. She has published more than twenty books of LGBTQ romance when not editing National Honor Society essays, offering opinions on college and law school applications, helping to create dance bios, and reviewing English papers. Her husband of twenty-five years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about this, as it is a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships. She has a great affinity for the tortured hero in literature, and as a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with tales of tortured heroes and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to NineStar Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.
Her books have been featured in Kirkus Reviews magazine, and have won Rainbow Awards for Best Transgender Contemporary Romance and Best YA Lesbian Fiction, a Reader Views’ Book by Book Publicity Literary Award, the Jack Eadon Award for Best Book in Contemporary Drama, an Indie Fab Award, and a Royal Dragonfly Award for Cultural Diversity, among other awards.
Mia Kerick is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology. Contact Mia at email@example.com or visit at http://www.miakerickya.com to see what is going on in Mia’s world.
Title: Teacher’s Pet, Volume Two
Author: Lee Welch, Elizabeth Coldwell, Elna Holst, Riza Curtis, Danielle Wayland, Karmen Lee, Morwen Navarre, Maryn Blackburn
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: October 22, 2018
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male, Female/Female
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Historical, fantasy, magic, college, grief, bdsm, athlete, friends to lovers, vacation, cleric, holiday
Eight Stories of Lessons Outside the Classroom
A Spell for Master Vervain by Lee Welch
Finding the Words by Elizabeth Coldwell
The Silent Treatment by Elna Holst
One Small Step by Riza Curtis
Shedding Doubt by Danielle Wayland
Academic Temptations by Karmen Lee
The Sidhe’s Apprentice by Morwen Navarre
Press “Copy” to Begin by Maryn Blackburn
A Spell for Master Vervain by Lee Welch
Apprentice magicians aren’t supposed to fall for their masters, but after a year of longing, Kit is desperate for Master Vervain. Kit casts a forbidden spell to raise an incubus doppelganger of his master—oh, the things he’ll do with that incubus! But Kit’s invoking forces he can’t control and anything can happen when love and magic are mixed.
Finding the Words by Elizabeth Coldwell
On a simple night out, Brendan’s life changed forever. He gave up college lecturing for the world of private tutoring. He may be a virtual recluse, but at least he’s safe. When student Zack approaches him for help with understanding poetry, he’s reluctant to take him on, afraid any connection to his old life might stir up the memories.
Being around Zack awakens long-buried desires in Brendan. He wants to act on his impulse to get closer, but he needs to find the words to say how he really feels.
The Silent Treatment by Elna Holst
Reverend Jane Sinclair has been preaching nothing but fire and brimstone lately. After being dumped by her long-term partner, her mood has been going from bad to worse, and it deteriorates further when her vicar strong-arms her into going off on a yoga retreat. Once she arrives at Serenity Farms, however, the sultry and playfully dominant yoga instructor soon has her singing quite a different tune. A very, very quiet one.
One Small Step by Riza Curtis
Student mage Ilya regrets not paying more attention in class when he teleports two hundred miles instead of the hundred yards he was supposed to go. Concussed, exhausted, and completely underdressed for the bitter winter weather, Ilya is rescued by the handsome Søren.
Sparks fly between the two mages while Ilya recovers, but Ilya must return home. Unable to use his magic and not skilled enough to attempt teleporting back, even if he could, Søren insists on making the journey with him. But train rides and bandits reveal something more between them.
Shedding Doubt by Danielle Wayland
Twenty-six-year-old Grayson is on a mission to get the most out of his gym membership, but when he goes at it too hard on his first day and slips off the treadmill, embarrassment makes him want to quit. Heath, a gym rat, rushes to his aid and offers to help. Initially suspicious of his motives, Grayson reluctantly accepts his help.
The more time they spend together, the more their friendship grows. They both have internal battles keeping them apart, but a Halloween party might just be the place to have a heart-to-heart.
Academic Temptations by Karmen Lee
Twenty-three-year-old Savannah Archer has kept her sexuality buried for years out of fear of being ostracized by her disapproving community. After getting pregnant in high school and putting off college for five years to raise her son, she is finally attending college—away from the prying eyes.
In her first class of the semester, she meets Anetta Springs, who is not only her professor, but also her academic advisor, and the attraction is immediate. Savannah and Anetta both know that the potential consequences of a teacher-student relationship are life-changing, but a book club and a meddling sister may not give them a choice.
The Sidhe’s Apprentice by Morwen Navarre
For anyone serious about magic, studying with a Sidhe Master is essential. Alistair Brady is very serious, and when he’s chosen at a Calling—a search by the Sidhe for new students—he’s elated. However, his assigned Master, Cianán, doesn’t want a new student and makes it painfully obvious.
Despite Cianán’s disdain, Alistair is determined to learn magic. But Alistair has difficulty finding the place inside where magic lives, and even the simplest spells continue to elude him. He just needs to figure out what’s missing, while trying not to let his growing attraction to the cold and aloof Cianán show. It takes a backfiring spell to show both Alistair and Cianán exactly what’s missing to make Alistair’s magic come alive.
Press “Copy” to Begin by Maryn Blackburn
Dr. Marissa Muniz worked hard to earn her Ph.D., so she is rightfully outraged when she detects plagiarism in the work of wealthy grad student. When Muniz confronts Libby Highsmith, the young woman begs for a second chance.
Ms. Highsmith must propose a new master’s thesis and design a project to serve as punitive measures. Muniz accepts the thesis proposal but balks at the project—a replica of the paddle used in private schools and a contract promising secrecy.
Moonbeams over Atlanta welcomes 6 incomparable authors: Rhys Ford, C.S. Poe, Jordan Hawk, TA Moore, Ginn Hale, and Jordan Castillo Price with their anthology Devil Take Me. It released today, October 16, 2018, and is published by DSP Publications. It is approximately 450 pages.
Temptation lurks around every corner in worlds sometimes dark, sometimes lurid. Giving in is both dangerous and satisfying, though never in the ways one expects. While these enticements offer a vast range of benefits and boons, the cost is a soul and the devil expects his due. Sometimes suave and charming or calculating and cruel, these devils have schemes and desires of their own. They can be creatures to run away from… or toward.
Join the most unique and celebrated authors of LGBT urban fantasy and paranormal fiction for a fast-paced and unpredictable ride, from a city on the other side of reality, to a world suspended in dusk, to a twisted version of the 1960s and 70s.
Meet devils in top hats and waistcoats, a defrocked motorcycle-riding priest, and a genderfluid antihero—among many more. Full of humor, romance, horror, action, intrigue, and magic, these stories have one common element….
They’re one hell of a good time.
Full blurbs included with excerpts from each of the stories!
Cover Artist: Reece Notley
I won an ARC of this book in Rhys’s Facebook group contest in exchange for an honest review.
When I read the blurb and noticed the horror portion, I had misgivings. I’m not a horror person: In print or TV/Movies. Along with zombies, they are my number one genre that I don’t really go out and read or watch. Shudder. I will read them–even Zombies–but they have to have a good blurb or story premise. So good that I don’t miss the happy ever after or happy for now. Since I love all the prior works for these authors, I took a chance that I would enjoy them despite that at least one was not going to have my favorite ending.
There’s only one of the six stories that I would label as not having that HEA/HFN ending. Romance is optional but I like to read that most of the time too. It didn’t have romance per se either. But it was still really good. The rest ranged from light-hearted business venture (a hell hound named Fluffpaw) to a race against time (a glowing blue dog-like animal named Blue) to save Wonderland City, and all with the common theme: the Devil bargained for their souls to provide them an opportunity they didn’t have before meeting the stranger with the proposition. The Devil’s ranged from those that MC loved to those you wanted to tear apart. You wanted to tell all of them what were they thinking when they made their bargains. But then, most of them wouldn’t have met their loves or interesting new friends. So, you have to take it that it was meant to be. At least for some of them. 😉
They were all really good. So good that I debated for thirty minutes while I setup this blog post as to whether I wanted to give it a 4.5 or a 5 out of 5 stars. They made you think what would you do if you were dying and wanted to live. Or if you would be tempted to live longer than a lifetime. One thing to note. Read the fine print. 🙂
I would definitely buy it (I might still buy it), and you should as well. It is definitely worth the read. It was definitely “one hell of a good time.”
I give Devil Take Me 5 stars out of 5.
About the Authors:
Ginn Hale lives with her lovely wife in the far northern reaches of the Pacific Northwest. She spends the many cloudy days observing fungi and she whiles away the rainy evenings tinkering with words.
Her first novel, Wicked Gentlemen, won the Spectrum Award for best novel. She is a Rainbow Award winner as well as a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Her most recent publications include the Lord of the White Hell and Champion of the Scarlet Wolf as well as the Rifter trilogy: The Shattered Gates, The Holy Road and His Sacred Bones.
She is also the voice of 12 year-old Lauren in the podcast, Lauren Proves Magic Is Real
TA Moore genuinely believed that she was a Cabbage Patch Kid when she was a small child. This was the start of a lifelong attachment to the weird and fantastic. These days she lives in a market town on the Northern Irish coast and her friends have a rule that she can only send them three weird and disturbing links a month (although she still holds that a DIY penis bifurcation guide is interesting, not disturbing). She believes that adding ‘in space!’ to anything makes it at least 40% cooler, will try to pet pretty much any animal she meets (this includes snakes, excludes bugs), and once lied to her friend that she had climbed all the way up to Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, when actually she’d only gotten to the beach, realized it was really high, and chickened out.
She aspires to being a cynical misanthrope, but is unfortunately held back by a sunny disposition and an inability to be mean to strangers. If TA Moore is mean to you, that means you’re friends now.
Moonbeams over Atlanta welcomes Piper Scott and Virginia Kelly with their collaboration, Clutch, the start of a new series called Forbidden Desires. It released today and is independently published. It is approximately 239 pages.
Bookish, snarky, and fiercely independent Nate Boudreaux leads a solitary life. Between teaching classes at the university and working toward his PhD, he doesn’t need a partner to occupy his time, and he certainly doesn’t need a man like Alistair Drake complicating his future.
Alistair Drake, black sheep of the tremendously wealthy Drake family, is more interested in adding another notch to his bedpost than another zero to his bank account. When a Grindr message brings him to Nate’s doorstep, then straight to his bed, he has no reason to believe that what they share will be more than a simple hookup, until, three months later, a tug on his soul informs him otherwise.
For the Drake family has a secret—one that will force Nate and Alistair together as much as it will demand that they be torn apart. One that Alistair and his brothers have carried all their lives… and one that Alistair and Nate’s future children will carry, too.
Bound to each other by the three precious impossibilities, Nate and Alistair have no choice—no matter the consequence, they will fight for their forbidden clutch.
Clutch is a 64,000 word steamy omegaverse mpreg-ish romance that will leave you in stitches. It contains a Grindr hook-up gone very wrong (or very right); giant magical lizards; a pig named Olive; a wank throne; and a HEA, right down to the white picket fence.
I won an ARC of this book in a group contest in exchange for an honest review.
So, I was in this group on Facebook when someone who beta-read for it posted about how they liked this story. As part of the descriptor, they mention dragons. Sold. The mention of the wank throne was secondary. *big smile*
I went found the group it was going to be posted and posted. Later, I got notified that I had won a copy. 🙂 I was so happy. I got the book and then got inundated with work. Finally, I got time to read and finished it two sittings.
It was fun, witty, and heart-breaking in places. It was a great pacing for a hookup from Grindr, hot cum, and what happens when you have life-changing secrets. The secondary characters and place descriptions almost stole the story. You have got to read about Olive the pig and the wank throne. Definitely the highlight of the story after the main plot.
It really is mpreg-ish. Even if that is not your thing, you might want to read it anyway. The ‘pregnancy’ resolves near the beginning of the story, and then the focus is fairly focused on these two different men: Nate, a human, and Alistair, a dragon, becoming more than that first time together. The world building is great and paces with the storyline wonderfully. Other family members pop up through out and there are a few I would like to know their story.
I won’t talk anymore so that I won’t spoil anything. I will say that you must read this book. Flying magical lizard shifters, cheeky omegas, and mates are wonderfully blended to a new and different omegaverse story with a happy ending. I’m so looking forward to the next one that I’m probably going to be messaging the authors to see when it’s coming.
Overall, I give Clutch 5 out of 5 stars.
About the Authors:
Virginia is the alter ego of Lynn Van Dorn, writer of MM contemporary romances. Virginia listens to the voices in her head that are far too fantastical and silly for Lynn. If it’s mystical or otherworldly, Virginia is all for it.
In her spare time (ha!) she herds three cats, twelve rats, a pesky husband, and a son. Also a host of noisy fictional characters.
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