#Blitz The Kinsey Scale by CJane Elliott (Campus Connections 01) #LGBT #NewAdult #Contemporary #NewRelease #Rafflecopter

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

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 89 pages

Genre: Romance, New Adult, contemporary, friends to lovers, college

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Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

“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.”

Purchase

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes | Google

Meet the Author

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.

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Teacher’s Pet by Multiple Authors #NewRelease #LGBTQ #Paranormal #Anthology #Romance #MM #FF #Blitz

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

Length: 75900

Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Historical, fantasy, magic, college, grief, bdsm, athlete, friends to lovers, vacation, cleric, holiday

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Featuring

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

Blurbs

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.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Leaning Into the Look (Leaning Into Stories 06) by Lane Hayes and Nick J. Russo #audio #LGBT #romance #Spotlight #Giveaway

 

Title:  Leaning Into the Look

Series: Leaning Into Stories, #6

Author: Lane Hayes

Narrator: Nick J. Russo

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Original Release Date: March 23, 2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 8 hours and 20 minutes

Genre: Romance, friends to lovers, San Francisco, humor, businessmen

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Synopsis

Grant Kostas made a career based on his looks before joining his family’s real estate firm. He may not love his job but he’s better at sales than he thought. And when he’s poised to bring in the biggest account of the company’s history, even his father is impressed. Unfortunately, the extra attention highlights Grant’s personal life. His parents accept that he’s gay. They just wish he’d meet a nice Greek man.

Miles Harrison is a fabulous red head going through a rough patch. Between getting dumped by his long-term boyfriend and finding a new place to live in the city, he’s nearing his wits end. He’s not sure why he thought rooming with his boss’s friend was a good idea. Miles has had a crush on Grant for years. However, he knows attractive people aren’t always pretty on the inside. As the two men grapple with external problems, they form an unexpected bond of friendship and trust that feels like the real thing. The only way to know for certain is to let go of fear and lean into the look.

Listen to an audio excerpt & purchase at Audible

Excerpt

I stopped short when we reached the other side of the street and then backed him against the brick façade of a bank building and pressed my lips over his. It was a bold move and not one I’d ever tried on any man in public before. But I couldn’t help myself. It felt oddly freeing to share one of the bleaker parts of my past with him. I wanted to thank him somehow but that seemed awkward so I kissed him instead. I held his head and glided my tongue alongside his, loving the moment when he flung his arms over my shoulders and responded with fervor. When we broke for air, I rested my forehead on his and grinned.

“Your ass is pretty spectacular too, Mi.”

He chuckled good-naturedly. “Thanks.”

“No really. I think I’m love with it.” I lowered my hands down his back and squeezed his cheeks as I molded his pelvis to mine.

“That’s kind of romantic. But if you’re thinking about falling in love with me too…don’t.”

I backed up slightly to get a better look at him. “Okay. I won’t.”

“Pinky promise.” He held up his right hand and wiggled his fingers.

“What makes you think you’re so irresistible?” I asked, wrapping my pinky finger around his.

“I’m not and you’ll figure it out sooner or later. But I like you and I want you and…”

“And what you’re really saying is you don’t want to fall for me.” I kept my tone light, hoping a jocular vibe would steer us from turning this into an uncomfortable conversation.

“Maybe.”

“Look, Mi. I’m not—”

“No. Listen. Don’t make this into a big deal. It’s not. We’re going to have a grand adventure. Just me and you. We’ll do incredible things and have amazing conversations and lots of sex. And when it’s time to say good-bye, we won’t ruin it by pretending we were ever in love. What do you say?”

Nothing. I had nothing to say. All I could think was maybe he really was crazy because who said shit like that?

But when I looked past the lighthearted swagger I saw the cracks in his armor. He was scared and battered and raw on the inside. Kind of like me. And somehow I had a feeling it wasn’t an ex-lover that made him so cautious. I only knew he was right. We were a couple of oddballs who unexpectedly found ourselves inhabiting the same circle. Temporarily.

But love? I should have walked away. Or at the very least, laughed at his wild leap. Instead I cocked my head and squinted. “What kind of adventures?”

Miles grinned. A slow-moving, gorgeous upturn of the lips that morphed into something celestial. He literally took my breath away. I hoped the dizziness faded before I gave him a reason to think it was a good thing he’d issued a warning about getting too attached.

“All kinds! We’ll turn this town upside down being one hundred percent ridiculous.”

“Okay…” I gave a half laugh and pushed a stray lock of hair behind his ear. “What do you have in mind? Dancing, parties—”

“No. More like Trivial Pursuit marathons, Netflix binge-watching fests in our Pjs, the compare and contrast game and—”

“The what?”

“Don’t worry. We’ll have fun. You’ll see,” he assured me earnestly as he laced our fingers together and pulled me away from the wall.

I glanced down at our joined hands and briefly thought about joking that he should be careful about giving me mixed signals. But I knew my limits. My comedic timing was crappy and the last thing I wanted was to push him away. I might not love Miles but I liked him. A lot. And holding his hand while we wandered through town under a sea of rainbow flags on a random Sunday felt special. The way new beginnings sometimes did.

Meet the Author

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 won first prize in the 2016 and 2017 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.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Meet the Narrator

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.

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Level Up by Annabeth Albert #Romance #LGBT #Contemporay #Gamers #Review

Moonbeams over Atlanta welcomes Annabeth Albert!

Title:  LEVEL UP
Series: loosely related to the #gaymers series, but stands alone
Author: Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Annabeth Albert
Release Date: May 17, 2018
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 40,000 words
Genre: Romance, contemporary m/m romance, gay romance, geeks, nerds, friends-to-lovers, gamers, gaymers

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The Review

4.5 Stars

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This book was provided by IndiGo Marketing & Design for an honest review.

The blurb got me when a physicist is doing a nude calendar photo shoot. I had to see how this would go. Annabeth provided a painted a wonderful picture of how Landon and Bailey meet and the initial miscommunications that happen. Landon has been hurt with a past history of rape (nothing on page), and Bailey comes to provide the support Landon needs to be himself after a traumatic experience.

Bailey has his own hangups that show, and Landon helps him as well. It’s cute, fun, and neat to see these two lovebirds circle each other until their love shines through. In some ways, it’s shorter that I would want but still very good. I’ve read most of the #gaymers series but now have to go back and refresh my memory of a few of the characters that appear here. It is stand alone and didn’t detract from the enjoyment, but now I want to remember the others. I would highly recommend reading it, especially if you’ve read the #gaymers series.

Overall, I give Level Up 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Eloreen Moon

 

Synopsis

Landon can’t believe he’s let himself
get roped into participating in a charity calendar, let alone one that features
tastefully photographed nudes. The genius physicist is hardly model material
and he’s dreading the nude part of the photoshoot. Amid his reluctance, the one
bright spot is his emails back and forth with the photographer.

 

However, Bailey ends up being not quite
what Landon expects, and their first meeting is decidedly awkward. Bailey’s
persistent though, and gradually Landon warms to the burly photographer, and
they discover they have a shared love of gamer culture.

 

A tentative friendship is born, but the
road from friends to lovers isn’t easy. Landon’s battling past trauma and must
decide how much of a risk he’s willing to take. A sexy connection may not be
enough to keep them together unless both are willing to put their hearts on the
line.

 

Approximately 40,000 words. Previously
released as part of the EXPOSED anthology, and loosely linked to the #Gaymers
universe, this friends-to-lovers, hurt/comfort story stands alone with a
guaranteed happy ending. Contains a brief mention of a prior assault, but no
on-screen violence or flashbacks.

 

Excerpt

LEVEL UP EXCERPT—This is their first
kiss, because I absolutely love writing first kiss scenes!

 

***

 

Bailey was the type who moved a lot as
he gamed, biceps flexing, knees wiggling, shoulders jostling. Landon always
liked people who got so into gaming, but it was more than a little distracting.
His body was quickly coming to associate that orange scent of Bailey’s with
good things, and other parts of him apparently liked Bailey’s nearness, which
was a novelty because instead of intimidated, as he would have expected, he was
more than a little turned on.

 

“Oh man, that was a rush.” Bailey
laughed as both of their health meters dipped to zero. “I’m almost wishing I’d
gone into game art, not photography. Amazing how these graphics have held up
over the years.”

 

“Totally. And speaking of art, let me
find the Space Villager stuff.” Landon reluctantly stepped away from the game.
He headed to the nearby kitchen, where he was pretty the papers were buried
with a stack of mail. Paper control was not his strong suit. “You’ll go nuts at
the latest screen shots and promo teasers.”

 

“Cool.” Rather than follow Landon,
Bailey went to sit on the couch.

 

“You want a drink while I’m in here?”
Landon called to him after he found the papers under a pile of pizza ads. “I’ve
got four flavors of Snapple, soda, and water.”

 

“Surprise me with a Snapple flavor.”
Bailey looked right at home on Landon’s couch, lounging back.

 

He really did not look at all like any
photographer Landon had ever met, and curiosity had him asking, “So why
photography? You said you could have done game design?”

 

“Yeah, I had plenty of friends at the
art institute go that direction. But I’ve been in love with photography ever
since I worked on our middle school yearbook. I figured out quickly that taking
pictures of events and sports was far more fun than trying to do the sports
myself, so I did yearbook all through high school, got a photography scholarship
to the art institute in Portland.”

 

“So you don’t play a sport?” Landon had
a hard time believing that. With Bailey’s height and breadth, he totally looked
like he lived for weekend games of some type.

 

“Nope. Hopelessly uncoordinated.” Bailey
shot him an endearing smile when Landon handed him the bottle of tea.

 

“Me too.” Landon clinked bottles with
him, then held up the papers. “Found the codes. But can I show you some stuff
on the TV screen while you have your drink?”

 

“Absolutely.” Bailey took a long swig of
tea, and Landon had to look away before he got mesmerized by Bailey’s full
mouth, how it looked when his tongue chased a stray drop of moisture, how pink
it was in contrast to his paler skin and brown beard.

 

Landon queued up the pre-release trailer
Josiah had sent him a link to. Bombastic music filled his small living room as
on the screen, and a spaceship pulled in for a landing on a planet filled with
ruins of a once-powerful civilization. The narrator had an iconic voice and
detailed all the special features of the expansion pack. Landon had already
watched this a half-dozen times, and it still gave him happy chills.

 

“Wow. I can’t wait.” Bailey looked
suitably awed. “This is even cooler than when War Elf added the mystic raids.”

 

“I know, right? Now look at the in-game
screen shots.” He brought up another video, body relaxing more and more despite
Bailey’s nearness. It was just so awesome to have someone new to share this
with. He’d been hyped about this all week, but Pike was distracted by his
boyfriend Zack’s deployment, Savannah didn’t game much, and the rest of his
regular crew seemed to have other things occupying their attention.

 

Somehow, as he shared more video clips,
he drifted closer to Bailey, so that their knees were almost rubbing. It wasn’t
a giant couch, so there wasn’t a ton of room to move back, but even so, Landon
wasn’t looking for an escape. He was aware of Bailey, very much so, but not
nearly as freaked out as he’d been a few hours ago. Instead, his senses seemed
to soak up Bailey’s scent and nearness, and it wasn’t until the fourth or fifth
video that he realized that he was aroused.

 

Clink. Somehow Landon’s left hand,
holding his drink, and Bailey’s right hand tangled.

 

“Oops.” He tried to extricate himself
without spilling both beverages. Bending to put his on the floor, he hadn’t
realized that Bailey had also leaned down until their heads collided.

 

“Ow,” they said simultaneously.

 

“Oh my gosh. I’m so sorry.” Bailey
reached out, feeling around on Landon’s head. “Did you see stars? Break the
skin?”

 

“I’m fine.” Landon didn’t pull away.
Bailey’s hand felt damn nice. Gentle. Soothing more than just the bump on his
head. Their eyes met, and he really needed to move back, break this spell, but
he didn’t, instead leaning into to the touch. Bailey’s eyes darkened, and he
stroked down Landon’s jaw. God, that felt so good, like an extra blanket on a
chilly night, warmth he hadn’t realized he was missing. How long had it been
since he’d been touched like this? Hugged, sure. He’d hugged Savannah
goodnight, and hugged and wrestled around with his best friend Pike at the last
LAN party, but neither of those things was touch like this. Caring. Sweet.
Arousing.

 

Bailey leaned in again, way slower this
time, all the time in the world for Landon to stop him. But he didn’t. Bailey’s
beard tickled an instant before their lips met, a soft slide of mouths. Not
aggressive at all, not the on-a-tight-schedule rush of a hookup, Bailey kissed
like they had a sleepy Sunday afternoon to kill, like each reaction of Landon’s
mattered, like he was trying to memorize something important and was going to
take his time learning the lesson.

 

Landon was the first one to take things
further, mouth opening on a sigh, welcoming Bailey’s agile tongue. He tasted
sweet, like tea, and minty like the gum he’d popped after the pizza, familiar
yet new at the same time. How had he managed to forget how awesome kissing
could be? A laugh bubbled up in his chest, but quickly transformed to a groan
of pleasure as Bailey nipped at his lower lip.

 

Not content to let Bailey be the one
exploring, Landon sent his own tongue on a quest, tracing Bailey’s full lower
lip, delving inside to rub tongues, retreating playfully to earn another nip.
Fuck. This was nice. The video switched over to something random, and he barely
registered it. He couldn’t say how long they kissed, just that he didn’t want
it to ever end.

 

Purchase at Amazon

 

Meet the Author

 

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance
novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in
the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf,
she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer. The #OutOfUniform series
joins her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ romance #Gaymers,
#PortlandHeat and #PerfectHarmony series. To find out what she’s working on
next and other fun extras, check out her website: http://www.annabethalbert.com or
connect with Annabeth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify! Also, be
sure to sign up for her newsletter for free ficlets, bonus reads, and contests.
The fan group, Annabeth’s Angels, on Facebook is also a great place for bonus
content and exclusive contests.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny
stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding
happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights
supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a
rewarding day job and wrangles two active children.

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter |
Goodreads
| Instagram | Annabeth’s Newsletter | Annabeth’s Angels

 

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New Release Blitz: Level Up by Annabeth Albert #Romance #LGBT #Contemporay #Gamers

Title:  LEVEL UP
Series: loosely related to the #gaymers series, but stands alone
Author: Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Annabeth Albert
Release Date: May 17, 2018
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 40,000 words
Genre: Romance, contemporary m/m romance, gay romance, geeks, nerds, friends-to-lovers, gamers, gaymers

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

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Landon can’t believe he’s let himself
get roped into participating in a charity calendar, let alone one that features
tastefully photographed nudes. The genius physicist is hardly model material
and he’s dreading the nude part of the photoshoot. Amid his reluctance, the one
bright spot is his emails back and forth with the photographer.
However, Bailey ends up being not quite
what Landon expects, and their first meeting is decidedly awkward. Bailey’s
persistent though, and gradually Landon warms to the burly photographer, and
they discover they have a shared love of gamer culture.
A tentative friendship is born, but the
road from friends to lovers isn’t easy. Landon’s battling past trauma and must
decide how much of a risk he’s willing to take. A sexy connection may not be
enough to keep them together unless both are willing to put their hearts on the
line.
Approximately 40,000 words. Previously
released as part of the EXPOSED anthology, and loosely linked to the #Gaymers
universe, this friends-to-lovers, hurt/comfort story stands alone with a
guaranteed happy ending. Contains a brief mention of a prior assault, but no
on-screen violence or flashbacks.

 

Excerpt

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LEVEL UP EXCERPT—This is their first
kiss, because I absolutely love writing first kiss scenes!
***
Bailey was the type who moved a lot as
he gamed, biceps flexing, knees wiggling, shoulders jostling. Landon always
liked people who got so into gaming, but it was more than a little distracting.
His body was quickly coming to associate that orange scent of Bailey’s with
good things, and other parts of him apparently liked Bailey’s nearness, which
was a novelty because instead of intimidated, as he would have expected, he was
more than a little turned on.
“Oh man, that was a rush.” Bailey
laughed as both of their health meters dipped to zero. “I’m almost wishing I’d
gone into game art, not photography. Amazing how these graphics have held up
over the years.”
“Totally. And speaking of art, let me
find the Space Villager stuff.” Landon reluctantly stepped away from the game.
He headed to the nearby kitchen, where he was pretty the papers were buried
with a stack of mail. Paper control was not his strong suit. “You’ll go nuts at
the latest screen shots and promo teasers.”
“Cool.” Rather than follow Landon,
Bailey went to sit on the couch.
“You want a drink while I’m in here?”
Landon called to him after he found the papers under a pile of pizza ads. “I’ve
got four flavors of Snapple, soda, and water.”
“Surprise me with a Snapple flavor.”
Bailey looked right at home on Landon’s couch, lounging back.
He really did not look at all like any
photographer Landon had ever met, and curiosity had him asking, “So why
photography? You said you could have done game design?”
“Yeah, I had plenty of friends at the
art institute go that direction. But I’ve been in love with photography ever
since I worked on our middle school yearbook. I figured out quickly that taking
pictures of events and sports was far more fun than trying to do the sports
myself, so I did yearbook all through high school, got a photography scholarship
to the art institute in Portland.”
“So you don’t play a sport?” Landon had
a hard time believing that. With Bailey’s height and breadth, he totally looked
like he lived for weekend games of some type.
“Nope. Hopelessly uncoordinated.” Bailey
shot him an endearing smile when Landon handed him the bottle of tea.
“Me too.” Landon clinked bottles with
him, then held up the papers. “Found the codes. But can I show you some stuff
on the TV screen while you have your drink?”
“Absolutely.” Bailey took a long swig of
tea, and Landon had to look away before he got mesmerized by Bailey’s full
mouth, how it looked when his tongue chased a stray drop of moisture, how pink
it was in contrast to his paler skin and brown beard.
Landon queued up the pre-release trailer
Josiah had sent him a link to. Bombastic music filled his small living room as
on the screen, and a spaceship pulled in for a landing on a planet filled with
ruins of a once-powerful civilization. The narrator had an iconic voice and
detailed all the special features of the expansion pack. Landon had already
watched this a half-dozen times, and it still gave him happy chills.
“Wow. I can’t wait.” Bailey looked
suitably awed. “This is even cooler than when War Elf added the mystic raids.”
“I know, right? Now look at the in-game
screen shots.” He brought up another video, body relaxing more and more despite
Bailey’s nearness. It was just so awesome to have someone new to share this
with. He’d been hyped about this all week, but Pike was distracted by his
boyfriend Zack’s deployment, Savannah didn’t game much, and the rest of his
regular crew seemed to have other things occupying their attention.
Somehow, as he shared more video clips,
he drifted closer to Bailey, so that their knees were almost rubbing. It wasn’t
a giant couch, so there wasn’t a ton of room to move back, but even so, Landon
wasn’t looking for an escape. He was aware of Bailey, very much so, but not
nearly as freaked out as he’d been a few hours ago. Instead, his senses seemed
to soak up Bailey’s scent and nearness, and it wasn’t until the fourth or fifth
video that he realized that he was aroused.
Clink. Somehow Landon’s left hand,
holding his drink, and Bailey’s right hand tangled.
“Oops.” He tried to extricate himself
without spilling both beverages. Bending to put his on the floor, he hadn’t
realized that Bailey had also leaned down until their heads collided.
“Ow,” they said simultaneously.
“Oh my gosh. I’m so sorry.” Bailey
reached out, feeling around on Landon’s head. “Did you see stars? Break the
skin?”
“I’m fine.” Landon didn’t pull away.
Bailey’s hand felt damn nice. Gentle. Soothing more than just the bump on his
head. Their eyes met, and he really needed to move back, break this spell, but
he didn’t, instead leaning into to the touch. Bailey’s eyes darkened, and he
stroked down Landon’s jaw. God, that felt so good, like an extra blanket on a
chilly night, warmth he hadn’t realized he was missing. How long had it been
since he’d been touched like this? Hugged, sure. He’d hugged Savannah
goodnight, and hugged and wrestled around with his best friend Pike at the last
LAN party, but neither of those things was touch like this. Caring. Sweet.
Arousing.
Bailey leaned in again, way slower this
time, all the time in the world for Landon to stop him. But he didn’t. Bailey’s
beard tickled an instant before their lips met, a soft slide of mouths. Not
aggressive at all, not the on-a-tight-schedule rush of a hookup, Bailey kissed
like they had a sleepy Sunday afternoon to kill, like each reaction of Landon’s
mattered, like he was trying to memorize something important and was going to
take his time learning the lesson.
Landon was the first one to take things
further, mouth opening on a sigh, welcoming Bailey’s agile tongue. He tasted
sweet, like tea, and minty like the gum he’d popped after the pizza, familiar
yet new at the same time. How had he managed to forget how awesome kissing
could be? A laugh bubbled up in his chest, but quickly transformed to a groan
of pleasure as Bailey nipped at his lower lip.
Not content to let Bailey be the one
exploring, Landon sent his own tongue on a quest, tracing Bailey’s full lower
lip, delving inside to rub tongues, retreating playfully to earn another nip.
Fuck. This was nice. The video switched over to something random, and he barely
registered it. He couldn’t say how long they kissed, just that he didn’t want
it to ever end.

 

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Meet the Author

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Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance
novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in
the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf,
she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer. The #OutOfUniform series
joins her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ romance #Gaymers,
#PortlandHeat and #PerfectHarmony series. To find out what she’s working on
next and other fun extras, check out her website: http://www.annabethalbert.com or
connect with Annabeth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify! Also, be
sure to sign up for her newsletter for free ficlets, bonus reads, and contests.
The fan group, Annabeth’s Angels, on Facebook is also a great place for bonus
content and exclusive contests.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny
stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding
happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights
supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a
rewarding day job and wrangles two active children.

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter |
Goodreads
| Instagram | Annabeth’s Newsletter | Annabeth’s Angels

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Leaning Into Touch (Leaning Into Stories 04) by Lane Hayes and Nick J. Russo #audio #LGBT #romance #Spotlight #Giveaway

Title:  Leaning Into Touch

Series: Leaning Into Stories, #4

Author: Lane Hayes

Narrator: Nick J. Russo

Publisher:  Lane Hayes

Original Publication Date: October 5, 2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 80k words

Genre: Romance, Bisexual, Humor, Second Chance, Friends to Lovers, San Francisco, Office

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Synopsis

Josh Sheehan is unlucky in love and now… newly unemployed. He’s not sure what to do next, but he’s sure he should give up on romance. Especially after last time. His friends warned him that falling for the hunky Irishman was a bad idea. Josh can’t help feeling torn even though he knows it’s best to move on. But when an unexpected dose of family drama blindsides him, Josh finds himself leaning on the one man he’s supposed to forget.

Finn Gallagher is driven by success. He makes no secret that building a name for his tech company is his number one goal. Finn left home a decade ago with a ton of regret, a heavy heart, and a vow to never repeat the same mistake twice. However, there is something undeniably appealing about the self-deprecating man with the silly sense of humor that makes it difficult for Finn to remember why falling for Josh is a bad idea. It soon becomes clear they’re both in deeper than they intended. There is no way to remain untouched. And there is so much to gain, if they’re brave enough to lean in.

Listen to an audio excerpt & purchase at Audible

Meet the Author

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.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Meet the Narrator

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. 

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Leaning Into the Look (Leaning Into Stories 06) by Lane Hayes #LGBT #romance #Spotlight #Giveaway

Title:  Leaning Into the Look

Series: Leaning Into Stories, #6

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Release Date: March 23

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 82000

Genre: Romance, friends to lovers, san francisco, humor, businessmen

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Synopsis

Grant Kostas made a career based on his looks before joining his family’s real estate firm. He may not love his job but he’s better at sales than he thought. And when he’s poised to bring in the biggest account of the company’s history, even his father is impressed. Unfortunately, the extra attention highlights Grant’s personal life. His parents accept that he’s gay. They just wish he’d meet a nice Greek man.

Miles Harrison is a fabulous red head going through a rough patch. Between getting dumped by his long-term boyfriend and finding a new place to live in the city, he’s nearing his wits end. He’s not sure why he thought rooming with his boss’s friend was a good idea. Miles has had a crush on Grant for years. However, he knows attractive people aren’t always pretty on the inside. As the two men grapple with external problems, they form an unexpected bond of friendship and trust that feels like the real thing. The only way to know for certain is to let go of fear and lean into the look.

Purchase at Amazon

Excerpt

I stopped short when we reached the other side of the street and then backed him against the brick façade of a bank building and pressed my lips over his. It was a bold move and not one I’d ever tried on any man in public before. But I couldn’t help myself. It felt oddly freeing to share one of the bleaker parts of my past with him. I wanted to thank him somehow but that seemed awkward so I kissed him instead. I held his head and glided my tongue alongside his, loving the moment when he flung his arms over my shoulders and responded with fervor. When we broke for air, I rested my forehead on his and grinned.

“Your ass is pretty spectacular too, Mi.”

He chuckled good-naturedly. “Thanks.”

“No really. I think I’m love with it.” I lowered my hands down his back and squeezed his cheeks as I molded his pelvis to mine.

“That’s kind of romantic. But if you’re thinking about falling in love with me too…don’t.”

I backed up slightly to get a better look at him. “Okay. I won’t.”

“Pinky promise.” He held up his right hand and wiggled his fingers.

“What makes you think you’re so irresistible?” I asked, wrapping my pinky finger around his.

“I’m not and you’ll figure it out sooner or later. But I like you and I want you and…”

“And what you’re really saying is you don’t want to fall for me.” I kept my tone light, hoping a jocular vibe would steer us from turning this into an uncomfortable conversation.

“Maybe.”

“Look, Mi. I’m not—”

“No. Listen. Don’t make this into a big deal. It’s not. We’re going to have a grand adventure. Just me and you. We’ll do incredible things and have amazing conversations and lots of sex. And when it’s time to say good-bye, we won’t ruin it by pretending we were ever in love. What do you say?”

Nothing. I had nothing to say. All I could think was maybe he really was crazy because who said shit like that?

But when I looked past the lighthearted swagger I saw the cracks in his armor. He was scared and battered and raw on the inside. Kind of like me. And somehow I had a feeling it wasn’t an ex-lover that made him so cautious. I only knew he was right. We were a couple of oddballs who unexpectedly found ourselves inhabiting the same circle. Temporarily.

But love? I should have walked away. Or at the very least, laughed at his wild leap. Instead I cocked my head and squinted. “What kind of adventures?”

Miles grinned. A slow-moving, gorgeous upturn of the lips that morphed into something celestial. He literally took my breath away. I hoped the dizziness faded before I gave him a reason to think it was a good thing he’d issued a warning about getting too attached.

“All kinds! We’ll turn this town upside down being one hundred percent ridiculous.”

“Okay…” I gave a half laugh and pushed a stray lock of hair behind his ear. “What do you have in mind? Dancing, parties—”

“No. More like Trivial Pursuit marathons, Netflix binge-watching fests in our Pjs, the compare and contrast game and—”

“The what?”

“Don’t worry. We’ll have fun. You’ll see,” he assured me earnestly as he laced our fingers together and pulled me away from the wall.

I glanced down at our joined hands and briefly thought about joking that he should be careful about giving me mixed signals. But I knew my limits. My comedic timing was crappy and the last thing I wanted was to push him away. I might not love Miles but I liked him. A lot. And holding his hand while we wandered through town under a sea of rainbow flags on a random Sunday felt special. The way new beginnings sometimes did.

Meet the Author

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 won first prize in the 2016 and 2017 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.

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Aerie by Jon Keys (The Chinjoka Saga 01) #Spotlight #LGBT #Romance #Fantasy #NewRelease #Giveaway #Rafflecopter

Title:  Aerie

Series: The Chinjoka Saga, Book One

Author: Jon Keys

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: February 19, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 77900

Genre: Fantasy, NineStar Press, LGBT, shifters, magic, gods, friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, slow burn

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Synopsis

Askari, Dhala, and Gyam grew up as childhood friends during happier days for the Chinjoka, an Iron Age people with the ability to shapeshift, but now they must learn their place among the tribe while dealing with both a devastating plague and war with the Misiq.

Ena is a young warrior for the more savage Misiq, a tribe whose cruelty exemplifies their deity—the Angry God. The Misiq, also shifters, have declared a genocidal war against the Chinjoka, blaming them for the disease devastating both tribes. As a result, they are locked in a battle for survival. But when Ena is shown compassion by those he means to harm, he begins to question all he’s ever known.

A chance meeting changes their lives, and maybe their tribes, forever.

Excerpt

Aerie
Jon Keys © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Dhala’s world overflowed with desperation as he filled a bowl with crystalline water trickling along the edge of the sky portal for Gyam’s aerie. His attempt to spot Gyam in his flyer form was thwarted by the dense early spring fog that limited the visibility of the surroundings. Even the river running along the cliff was hidden from Dhala’s sharp eyes.

Assigned to be the Saat responsible for the last two Athru, Dhala took his worker caste’s responsibility of caring for Gyam and Choro with much weight, especially since Choro was in the final throes of the deadly plague that had devastated the Chinjoka over the last few cycles. As Choro’s health diminished ever more rapidly, Dhala and Gyam had become ever more desperate until, before first light, Gyam had left on the final attempt to gain their friend and mentor more time.

A gust sent a spray onto Dhala’s face and moistened the nest of short curls framing it. With the bowl having long ago been filled, he wiped the water from his skin and sighed.

“You can’t will him to travel faster, Dhala.”

Startled from his dower mood, he grabbed the bowl of fresh water from the trickle and moved to Choro’s side. “I’m so sorry. I was lost in thought.” He dropped a soft piece of trade cloth into the liquid, squeezed it almost dry, and ran it over the man’s face. Choro’s labored breathing echoed through the room, a symptom of how far the disease had progressed. Dhala found some solace knowing they’d had no new cases for a cycle. But sadness overwhelmed him each time he allowed himself to consider Choro losing his battle against the sickness.

With a hand withered to little more than talon and sinew, Choro caught his wrist. “Dhala, I’m neither fevered nor in need of cleaning. We both know my time is limited. Gyam set himself on this task hoping to change my fate, but this sun cycle is likely my last.”

Dhala scrubbed the tears from his face and scowled at the feeble figure lying before him. With a fierce determination, he grabbed the older man’s hand between his. “Choro, you will live. Gyam will find an osa herd, and the fresh meat will give you the strength to last until we discover a healing.” Dhala glanced out the cave opening to the fog-swathed valley that stretched to the forests surrounding Mother Falls high in the mountains to the north. Nothing of Gyam was visible, but he turned to Choro filled with a stubborn glint. “Soon. He must return soon.”

Choro lay back with a rattling breath. “Fledgling, we have not cured what is killing the Chinjoka in all the cycles since it began. Each caste suffered losses. Once I am gone, Gyam is the last Athru. None of the fledglings show signs of the Athru change, and the responsibilities weigh heavily on Gyam.”

Dhala dropped his gaze as Choro reminded him of his greatest shame. But there was a gentle touch on his chin, and he lifted his head. He took the elder’s hand in his, and Choro smiled sadly.

“It’s no fault of yours that you never left the Saat caste. The Father of the Twins decides who takes to the sky, who are the protectors, and who cares for others. We are all born with the abilities of the Saat, and many become able to shift to the protective plates of the Onija. But the few who are gifted with the faculty to shift into one of the Chinjoka flyers guard us from the sky. We all stop where the Father decrees.”

Dhala sighed again but released Choro and moved the bowl aside. The elder was right. Dhala needed to accept his place and the disappointment of never becoming one of the Athru caste as his father always believed he would. He would never develop the stone-hard plate of the Onija, much less the ability to become the taloned and winged protector of the Chinjoka.

Dhala’s father held several unique beliefs, including that the earthbound Saat were as important as the soaring Athru. When he was a child, Dhala spent many hours with his friends, climbing the precipice above the village as the Athru flyers glided across the azure sky. He’d loved the time among the heights, regardless of the season, but warm summer mornings were his favorite. By afternoon, the sun would heat the rocks, making them uncomfortable, but during the early mornings, the breeze coming from the warming grasslands northward to the cutleaf forest made it easy to imagine what flight over the last Chinjoka settlement would be like.

He glanced again to the outside, thrilled at the rays of sun cutting through the dawn haze and bringing the river far below them into sharper relief. The dry-fit stone wall that formed the flight path for this aerie glowed with the golden light of morning.

“He’s fine. Gyam is the strongest Athru I’ve met during my time in the aeries. When the Father takes me, he will need your help.”

Choro’s reference to the afterlife made Dhala cringe. He and Gyam had been determined to heal Choro of the plague since his first symptoms. Anyone who’d shown signs of the disease had left on the Long Flight with no exceptions. Dhala lost far too many of his friends, as had most of the Chinjoka. But when Choro showed the difficulty breathing that was the typical first symptom, Dhala fought with ferocious determination to save his friend and advisor. Choro’s downward spiral caused Dhala and Gyam to drift apart. They’d been among the best of friends since they were fledglings, but Choro’s terminal condition left Gyam bitter and unpredictable.

The result might be different if their only Athru healer hadn’t been one of the first to die. Others tried to find a cure, including his mother who was a well-versed Saat healer. The failure to determine a cure made people doubt their skills and, in some cases, blame the spread of the disease on the Saat healers. Regardless of the truth, no healer had been successful, and most had stopped their efforts, for fear they might be blamed.

“He comes.”

Dhala glanced at Choro, who nodded toward the aerie’s sky portal. An instant later, the slow beat of wings came closer. Dhala swept the room with his gaze and found everything to his satisfaction. He moved close as Gyam landed on the rock opening. Dhala couldn’t keep from gasping in awe any time he saw Gyam.

Each smooth wing was as long as Dhala’s height. The muscles across his shoulders and down his torso flexed with each swipe of his webbed appendages. Dhala stepped away when Gyam thrust his elongated muzzle toward him and screamed a high piercing call, demanding attention. Dhala wanted to clasp his hands over his ears but knew instead he would do as Gyam demanded. Gyam tensed and released another scream.

Dhala dashed forward and grabbed the blood-dripping osa heart from Gyam’s taloned hand. The fresh organ from the small grazer still quivered with the final throes of life. He rushed to Choro’s side, ignoring Gyam’s cry.

He knelt beside the older man and offered him the fist-sized heart. Choro preferred the meat of the smaller grazers, and a freshly harvested heart was a special treat. Both Dhala and Gyam hoped it would give him more strength, but Dhala feared it was Choro’s last meal. More of Choro’s presence in this world disappeared with each breath.

But he wouldn’t give up hope. Dhala arranged Choro’s bedding to make him as comfortable as possible while he enjoyed the treat. Choro sank his teeth into the morsel with clear relish as blood coated his fingers. Dhala couldn’t help but smile at the elder attacking the tidbit with the same enjoyment as a fledgling with a sweet treat. A short time later, Choro finished and glanced around him.

Dhala squeezed out the cloth he’d been using earlier and handed it to Choro, who took it with a grin and wiped himself clean. Once he’d finished, he lay back on the bed, closed his eyes, and sighed.

His voice rolled across the room. “Delicious, Gyam. That was the best osa I’ve eaten in many seasons.”

Dhala glanced over his shoulder to find Gyam in the midst of his change from his Athru form. The webbing was absorbing into wings, which were disappearing into Gyam’s muscular body, and interlocking scales were becoming supple skin as Gyam left the form marking him as Athru. Dhala relished the beautiful body being revealed to him. When front paws and talons became work-roughened hands, Gyam made his final shift to leave his Athru form and stood nude behind him. Dhala tried not to stare but lost his struggle. Usually, Gyam covered himself, but today, he held his loincloth in one hand while watching Choro. His stout, muscular body demanded Dhala’s attention until he realized how inappropriate he was being, especially given Gyam’s current state. Dhala was painfully aware of the attraction he’d had for Gyam since they’d both grown beyond fledglings, but he would keep his role as Saat for Gyam and Choro during his time of sorrow for them all.

He wrenched his gaze to the ailing man and got a smile and quick wink. Caught staring at Gyam, Dhala dropped his attention to the floor. A slight rustling served as warning when Gyam walked past him, making the last tie on his loincloth before kneeling at the side of Choro’s pallet.

“Elder, how are you feeling? Did the osa help?” Gyam asked.

Choro smiled and tapped Gyam’s cheek. Gyam grinned, and Dhala caught a glimpse of his friend from cycles past. He leaned in to give Choro a kiss on each cheek, but Choro’s gaze included both of them.

“It was warm and delicious, exactly what I needed. We must be honest. In spite of all your work, there is no cure. I am not long for this flight. My wings are tattered and bones are brittle. I will soon be with my mate. Both of you must accept this.”

Hot tears rolled down Dhala’s cheeks as he listened. He knew the truth of Choro’s assessment. His body was failing. Dhala’s gut twisted with grief, and a sob leaked from his lips.

Gyam turned on Dhala and snarled. His face elongated and his canine teeth grew as his emotions overtook his body. But before anything happened, Choro spoke.

“That’s enough, Gyam. You two stretched my life further than any of the others who have fallen victim to this illness. For that, I thank you. But the time is here.”

Gyam motioned at Dhala as he spoke. “He’s given up. He’s letting you die.”

Choro glared and sat up. Dhala scrambled to change his bedding to make it easier, but Choro waved him away. The movement threw Choro into a coughing spell that left him gasping for air.

“Please, Elder. Don’t strain yourself. I will do as you wish,” Gyam said.

Choro again motioned them off, but not before Dhala saw the flecks of blood on his lips. He lacked none of the weight of his role as elder Athru when he turned to Gyam.

“You will be the last Athru. You need your friends. You have been together with Dhala since you both ran free of clothing during the warm moons. You’ve protected and guarded each other through your time together. Now you have let this come between you, and it must stop. Dhala is your friend even though he is Saat. You have grown up together and must regain your ability to work together. Athru, Saat, or Onija, you are all Chinjoka. This disease has almost destroyed our people. So many have died, and only one village remains. You must rebuild the people. You cannot succeed without all three castes who make up the Chinjoka.”

Choro lapsed into another coughing fit. This one left him flat on his bed, sweating and gasping for air. He covered his eyes with an arm and tried to breathe. A morning breeze curled around them, bringing a mix of scents of the Chinjoka Basin, from the verdant growth of the shortgrass plains in the south to the crisp scent of the great cutleaf trees nourished by the Pilea River. The single wisp of air reminded Dhala of everything at stake for the Chinjoka nation. Dhala moved closer, pushing an immobile Gyam aside. He checked Choro’s pulse and found a weak thread. He ran his hands down the older man’s neck, but halfway along his path, Choro grabbed his wrists with the strength of a failing butterfly. The silent command left no doubt. He met Dhala’s gaze and nodded.

“Soon. But not now.” His gaze moved to encompass both of them. “You look like the gods are testing you. Both of you should rest, but I know neither of you will listen. I plan to sleep and won’t argue with either of you any further.”

With that, Choro sank into his bed and closed his eyes. Dhala waited but worried. He moved when Choro parted his lips.

“If you check my heartbeat, Dhala, I will hurt you in ways to prevent any enjoyment with a mate for the rest of your life.”

Dhala drew away and turned at a snort from Gyam. His dark eyes twinkled as he looked at both Choro and Dhala. “He’s not making idle threats. Even as he is now. Come. We can build up the fire and plan the evening meal. I asked a group of Onija caste hunters to bring the osa carcass. We must be ready for its arrival.”

They had created a bed of glowing coals when a voice came from the passageway carved into the interior of the cliff as a way to reach the upper caves.

“I could use a little help here! Gyam picked the biggest Twins-blessed osa in the entire basin.”

Dhala recognized the voice as another of their friends. Askari was of the Onija caste and one of the most successful hunters among the Chinjoka, but as a warrior, he was unequaled in the village. The plates he formed as Onija were as strong as iron but as mobile as Dhala’s soft skin. Dhala should have known it would be him who retrieved Gyam’s kill. That the three of them had been inseparable since they began to walk made it even more certain that Askari would be the one who would retrieve Gyam’s take. Even though the Father had spread his gifts through the castes as they went through puberty, bodies changing in line with their castes, their friendships had remained. They rushed to the path and found Askari balanced precariously while gripping the carcass he’d thrown across one shoulder. Dhala moved down the first few steps, grabbed the carcass by the stag’s straight-spiraling horns, heaved it upward, and settled it onto his shoulder. Once the body was securely in place, he carried it into the aerie.

Askari followed a few steps behind him, and as they reentered, he spared a glance toward Choro’s sleeping form before turning to the other men. Dhala stripped to his breechcloth and used his long knife to cut openings in the hind legs’ tendons so he could hang the osa from the tripod kept for that purpose. With practiced knife work, he peeled the hide from one side while Gyam worked on the other. With a soft crackle, he pulled the skin loose around the neck and glanced toward Askari. The plates from his Onija shift were still prominently displayed over his torso and brow. While scales proved invaluable in protecting one from the Onija caste during battle or hunting, they limited Askari’s finger mobility. The limitation made tasks requiring fine dexterity more difficult. Askari maintained his distance from the work being done, but Dhala knew his friend too well to allow him to avoid the dirty work of butchering the carcass.

“Askari, wake up and shift back from your Onija form. You can help.” He gestured his knife toward Gyam. “We want osa for dinner. The rest needs to be spread on a drying rack.”

Askari closed his eyes and skewed his face in an expression Dhala recognized as he shifted from his warrior form. Once Askari began, it took little time before his skin was as smooth, flexible—and vulnerable—as Dhala’s. He flexed his fingers a few times before pulling his side knife. Askari’s skill with a blade was evident by the speed the meat was prepared. With the three of them working together, butchering proceeded with well-practiced efficiency. As often as the three of them had hunted together, they should be skilled at sharing the work.

Dhala checked on Choro and saw his chest rising and falling. Signs of life, even if his breathing was shallow, gave Dhala hope. He had the urge to evaluate further but considered Choro’s earlier threat. He found the others cleaning the osa blood from their hands. Askari held out the bowl of water he’d filled earlier.

“Here, use what’s left, and I’ll get more.”

Dhala nodded and let Askari pour the cool liquid over his hands. He rubbed them together to loosen the drying bits from his skin. Once that was done, Askari splashed more water onto Dhala’s hands. After a few repetitions, Dhala was clean, and the pottery bowl was empty. He dried himself on his tunic and nodded to Askari.

“Thank you. We appreciate your help.”

Gyam glanced up and one brow lifted. But a moment later, he returned to the task he was trying to complete. His knife flashed in the light as he sliced the loin free from the backbone, cut the meat into thick slices, and threaded them onto fire-hardened skewers before hanging them over crimson coals. The meat was soon sizzling and filled the aerie with delicious aromas.

They tended the meat, constantly turning it to get a perfect sear on all sides. But while they did, Dhala kept a continual watch on Choro. All three friends worked to carve what remained into thin strips and hang them from the drying rack Dhala put in the small fire’s draft. The sun approached its peak when they finished. The skewered loin had cooked to perfection. Askari had always claimed a talent for cooking. He’d often said if Gyam had no choice but to eat his own cooking, he would learn how to do a decent job with its preparation. The smells of food had Dhala’s stomach growling, but he checked on Choro first to see if he might be interested in eating.

He walked over and squatted beside Choro’s bed. When he leaned forward to shake him awake, Choro’s eyes fluttered open.

“I’m still here, Dhala. The aroma of cooking osa was enough to keep me. It smells delicious. I haven’t eaten a meal from Askari in too many moons.”

“You will enjoy his cooking many more—” Dhala’s throat tightened, and he could not complete what he and Choro both knew was a lie. The older man patted his hand and smiled sadly.

“I relish sharing this meal with you. Bring me a piece of that delicious meat, fledgling. Invite the others to join us. I think we’ll have the best meal we’ve had in seasons.” He studied Dhala and continued. “Be certain to put out an offering of the osa to the gods, especially the Father. Their favor is needed by all of us.”

Dhala rushed away, glad to be focused on anything other than Choro’s rapid decline. The others turned to him as he approached. He glanced at them as he brought his emotions under control.

“Choro says the meat smells delicious and would like for us to share the meal with him,” Dhala said.

Askari leaned closer and whispered, “How is he?”

Dhala motioned toward the sleeping area. “He asked me to assure the offerings from the successful hunt. I will take care of their placement on the fire. Go. Sit with Choro and enjoy sharing our meal with him.”

Dhala drew his blade and carefully sliced thick pieces from the osa’s mineral-rich liver. After adding more wood to the fire, he dropped the raw meat into the searing hot coals. As the scent of the roasting delicacy filled the aerie, Dhala began a simple chant of thanks every Chinjoka was taught before their first blooding. As the last of the flesh turned dark, a breeze blew across the fire, hiding it in the smoke. Once Dhala’s sight returned, no trace of the meat remained. He hesitated but then joined the others with a shake of his head.

The three young men gathered the food they had prepared and sat on the floor surrounding their elder. Dhala brought small drinking bowls, one for each of them, filled with clear water Askari had brought from the river while they cooked. The mood was somber; everyone had seen the disease progress too many times. Choro only nibbled at his meat before setting it to one side. He lowered himself into the bedding and stared toward the open sky as they finished the rest of the meal.

“There are so few of us left. I don’t know how the Chinjoka can survive. Our gods have deserted us and the sickness destroyed the tribe until we are tempting targets to our enemies,” Choro whispered. The others fell silent as they explored their own dark memories. Blood-laced saliva and the gradual failure of the victims’ ability to breathe were the symptoms burned into the memory of any Chinjoka. The number of people Dhala had eased onto their Long Flight left him numb. Even at his young age, he remembered when the plague began. Hysteria made a bad situation worse. Early, when so many were dying, terror ruled people’s actions. Saat healers suggested any possible cure or at least a way to stop its spread. Its progression was slow but always fatal. It didn’t seem to spread through contact. In many cases, some members of a family would not develop symptoms, while their fathers, mothers, brothers, or sisters perished. The Athru healer who might have been able to develop a cure died in the first wave of fatalities. Saat healers could do nothing, but ignorance and malice caused them to be blamed for the disease. The first season was devastating for the Chinjoka, physically and emotionally.

One village had thrown a Saat healer from the burial heights in a confused effort to gain attention from the Father. Choro, and the other Athru caste who lived then, championed the Saat healers. But people still feared the illness that was wiping out entire villages, and the healers’ fear of retribution led them to stop aiding, not only those afflicted with the plague but other diseases normally not considered serious. This caused more deaths, this time from lack of rudimentary healing. The last of the plague victims received the best possible care. But even with the finest healing, like Choro was given, the ending was too predictable. And too tragic.

The small group finished their meal, and Dhala cleared the remains, dropping them into the cooking fire. The other two sat near Choro to fulfill any request. Dhala studied them, trying to think of anything to make Choro more comfortable. But he’d done all he could. To give Dhala something to occupy his thoughts, he began the work of tanning the osa hide. First, he brought a frame from the storage room. He cut a thin strip from the outer edge of the skin and made small slits along the edge. With care, he laced the pelt to the frame, stretching it into place.

“You have a skill to appreciate, Dhala. Don’t forget others take note of your labor,” Choro said.

Dhala faltered at his task. Tears flowed again as he met the gaze of the elder. He broke contact to refocus on his task even though emotions overwhelmed him. One thing he had learned early in life, emotional and fragile Chinjoka suffered short and miserable lives. He nurtured the strength to continue even when overwhelmed with impending loss. This was no different as he focused on scraping the hide clean, fingerwidth by fingerwidth.

But his walls broke and loneliness poured into Dhala. Too overwhelmed to continue, he let his hands drop to his side as he wept. No one chastised him for his lack of control, even though it was certain everyone heard. His strength waned as his sorrow leaked out as salty tears.

A light touch shocked Dhala, and he turned to find Gyam standing beside him. He stiffened, expecting a reprimand. But no rebuke came. Gyam instead knelt beside him and hugged him. Dhala returned his embrace. During that moment, his friend since birth returned, and the formal Athru of recent seasons vanished.

“He will be fine. I think the fresh meat brought him new energy. He will recover. Don’t grieve for him.”

Dhala schooled his expression before meeting Gyam’s gaze. Unable to lie, he spoke a different truth. “I believe Choro is one of the strongest Chinjoka I’ve ever met. If anyone can conquer the disease killing us, it will be him.”

Gyam patted his shoulder and flashed a smile at Dhala.

“Exactly. Now, one of us will sit with him so we are close if he needs anything. Otherwise, we will continue our day.”

“Of course, Gyam.”

Dhala tried to add more, but his knowledge of the Saat healing was too limited to enable him to sense the state of Choro’s rapidly deteriorating health. He nodded and turned to his work.

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Meet the Author

Jon Keys’ earliest memories revolve around books; with the first ones he can recall reading himself being “The Warlord of Mars” and anything with Tarzan. (The local library wasn’t particularly up to date.) But as puberty set in, he started sneaking his mother’s romance magazines and added the world of romance and erotica to his mix of science fiction, fantasy, Native American, westerns and comic books.

A voracious reader for almost half a century, Jon has only recently begun creating his own flights of fiction for the entertainment of others. Born in the Southwest and now living in the Midwest, Jon has worked as a ranch hand, teacher, computer tech, roughneck, designer, retail clerk, welder, artist, and, yes, pool boy; with interests ranging from kayaking and hunting to painting and cooking, he draws from a wide range of life experiences to create written works that draw the reader in and wrap them in a good story.

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.@GoIndiMarketing #BookBlast: “The Other Half of Me” by Lor Rose #newrelease #contest

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Author: Lor Rose

Title:  The Other Half Of Me

Series Title and Number: Patryk’s Branch Book One

Publisher:  Thirteen Below Press

Release Date:  September 15, 2015

Genre:  Contemporary

Tags:  friends to lovers, gay for you, rock star, secret, detective

Heat Level: 4

Pairing: MM

Length: 50,434

Purchase Links: eBook:  Thirteen Below Press  | Print:  Thirteen Below Press

 

The Other Half Of Me CoverBook Blurb: As a homicide detective for the greater Houston area, Detective Barrack Invar’s job was stressful enough without his Lieutenant breathing down his neck to do more, not to mention his girlfriend, Isabella. His partner, Calhoun, was a joke. It didn’t help that over the years Barrack earned a reputation as being a bit of an asshole at work. Things for Barrack didn’t look any brighter in the wake of a murder case with absolutely no leads at all. Until he came home to a wonderful surprise. His best friend since the age of three had finally come home.

Willow only survived. His best friend since childhood, Barrack, was all that mattered to him. Willow craved any small scraps of affection Barrack was willing to give. Every look, every praise, every touch, tore Willow’s soul because he was constantly reminded of what he couldn’t have. Barrack. When Willow unexpectedly returned home his insides burned with the need for the man he loved. The need to give control…

Barrack found his feelings towards Willow slowly twisted and changed. He loved his best friend. A man. For Barrack it was a very simple thing. Willow on the other hand could not accept what Barrack was freely willing to give. Willow did the only thing he knew. He ran.

Returning home, Willow’s fears were confirmed when Barrack refused to come with him. Barrack’s promises to follow seemed long in coming. Willow was left devastated feeling abandoned and alone.

Can Barrack convince Willow of his love? Will Willow allow Barrack to love him?

Excerpt

The energy of the crowd and passion from the band was infectious. Barrack stood as close to the stage as he could. His body ached and his eyes itched with need for sleep after a long day at work then the concert, but it was worth it. Seeing him made it worth it.

He headed for the VIP line forming next to where NRG Stadium kept their performance stage when not in use. Other bodies ran into him, one group nearly running him over with their purple VIP passes swinging from their necks. Barrack shook his head. Purple badges like theirs only allowed them into VIP after-show signings, nothing special. Black was the next level up, with after-show backstage access and a gift signed from all the band members for Christmas. White, like his, allowed backstage access before and after shows, as well as the yearly gifts at Christmas and the holder’s birthday, plus special one-on-one time with the band at a scheduled party near Halloween.

The organizers broke up the white badges into groups of seven per party to allow more one-on-one time. Hence, only twenty-one people had a white VIP badge. If a white badge didn’t come to a white party more than twice in a row, they automatically lost their white VIP status since other people would use it to its full advantage, like him.

“Hey Barrack!”

He turned to see Bridge, the band’s head of security, waving him over, then shouldered his way through the crowd, slowly making his way to the front of the line.

“Annoying, isn’t it?” Bridge’s voice had a slight rasp to it. He was a tall broad man with a stern-looking face and jaw. His hair looked swept back by the wind.

The two clasped hands and Bridge pulled him into a one-armed hug, each patting the other heavily on the back. “If I had to deal with this all the time, then shit yeah. Doesn’t it get annoying?” Barrack asked and gave Bridge one more hearty pat on the arm before releasing him.

Bridge shrugged. “Not really, no. How you’ve been?”

Barrack smiled at his old friend.  They had gotten close once a long time ago when they’d been undercover. When everything was all said and done with that case, the men had lost contact, only to be reacquainted a few years later when Emotio hit the scene.

He shrugged. “Same old, same old.”

Bridge shook his head. “Come on.” He opened the door to allow them inside. Barrack stepped into a much quieter but still busy space. Stage personnel hustled about doing whatever it was that they did. One was carrying a large stuffed rhinoceros—he didn’t want to know.

“Barrack.” Rex Louis Clark, the drummer waved and Barrack waved back. The man stood shirtless with raven black hair that shined blue in the light. A white stripe accented the side of his head. The tabloids had nicknamed him ‘Skunk’, and for good reason. He’d been known to have a bad temper. He was talking to Luxe, the band’s stylist. Why, he didn’t know since the man seemed to be allergic to shirts.

“Everyone else is in back,” Bridge said. “The public signing will start in half an hour.” Bridge patted him on the back and walked off, leading the way.

“That’s it?” Half an hour seemed like a short break after such a performance.

Bridge shrugged. “Aksel and Patryk wanted to be done early.”

“Wonder why,” he mused aloud while they turned a corner.

Bridge sighed, but it sounded more like a disbelieving tsk. He opened another door and walked inside with Barrack following behind.

“You know you’re the only fan we actually like enough to hang out with,” Bishop, the lead guitarist, said from the wet bar. His silk black pirate shirt caught the light, highlighting his exposed chest. His shoulder-length bleached hair sported pink highlights at the tips, which faded up the length.

“That one isn’t so bad,” Aksel, the bass player, said as he plopped on the couch. His purple Mohawk didn’t even move.

Titus, the piano or keyboard player, threw wadded paper at Aksel, which he caught. “Do ya mean Greg?” Titus’s slight Irish accent came through. His all white hair almost glowed in the fluorescent lighting.

“I hate him,” Bishop said as he took a long drink.

“That’s because—” Patryk Sama’el, the lead singer, walked in from another door on the opposite side of the room. “—he drinks just as much alcohol as you.” His hair was black, the sides of his head shaved into a military buzz, and the center was long, thick, and styled effortlessly to the side. A chunk of white highlighted his bangs. Diamond stud earrings decorated his ears. He had changed from his earlier outfit into skinny jeans and a loose rock and roll T-shirt. “And even we cannot afford that.” His comment won a round of chuckles and the finger from Bishop.

The singer shook his head and plopped on the couch next to Aksel. Heavy black makeup framed his eyes, as did an elegant gray and black masquerade mask. This air of secrecy heightened Emotio’s fame. No one had seen Patryk’s face, not even Emotio’s other members. Rumors soared over Patryk’s looks, but the man in the center of it all, Patryk, neither confirmed nor denied anything. Patryk Sama’el symbolized mystery, and mysteries were intriguing.

“Hey Barrack,” Patryk said with a tiny wave, looking relaxed but tired.

“Hey, guys.” Barrack entered the room while Bridge said his goodbyes. “You want a water?” Barrack asked Patryk who nodded. Barrack had to practically shove Bishop out of the way to get to the wet bar.

He retrieved two waters, then handed one to Patryk while he sat between Aksel and Patryk. “Where’s Dominik?” Another scan of the room confirmed the electric violinist wasn’t there.

Titus tossed him the wad of paper, and he tossed it back. “Good question.”

“Bathroom,” Patryk supplied with a sigh.

Barrack looked him over. Patryk seemed to have melted farther into the couch since he sat down, “Okay?”

Patryk nodded. “Just tired.”

“If I danced like you in them damn high heels, I’d be tired too.” Bishop twirled and went back to the bar for another drink.

Before anyone could answer, Dominik walked in from the same door Patryk had. He stopped short when he saw Barrack. “Hey.” On stage, Dominik was a force worthy of the band’s fame, but in that moment, he seemed tiny and timid, as if he were two different people.

His emerald-green hair had white accents. Dominik’s style was the most formal. A well-tailored suit showed off his form. The jacket was opened, exposing a white button-up shirt and loosened black silk necktie.

“You okay?” Barrack asked while getting up. “Here, sit. You look tired.”

Dominik smiled, but it seemed sad to Barrack. “I’m fine.”

“Please, sit.” He motioned to the spot he’d given up. Dominik meekly nodded and slowly made his way to the sofa. To Barrack, he seemed to move a little too gingerly. “Thanks,” Dominik said as he passed. Barrack’s gaze zeroed in on him pressing his arm to his side. A small bruise visible on Dominik’s knuckles made Barrack frown.

“Son of a bitch.” Rex burst into the room and chucked something against the wall, but Barrack didn’t see what it was. Barrack was too focused on Dominik’s barely there flinch and subsequent wince.

He covered it up well. “Lose a bet?” Dominik’s response was more subdued than usual as he sat.

Rex growled as he strode across the room to the other door. “Shut up,” he snapped. “I’m taking a shower.” The poor door almost groaned under Rex’s grip as he wrenched it open, and the reverberating slam when he left sent a crack throughout the room.

“Well he’s a ray of sunshine, isn’t he?” Bishop listed to the side with a giggle.

Patryk sighed, but Barrack could tell he was watching Dominik, too. “Stop drinking. We still have the signing to do.”

Bishop flipped him off again. “You gonna stop me?”

“And mess up this manicure?” Patryk waved black fingernails at him. “I don’t think so. Barrack can subdue your drunk ass.”

Bishop looked at him with bleary eyes. He must’ve been drinking on stage. “Wouldn’t mind ‘hat at all.”

“Barrack is off limits. He’s got that Willow fellow,” Titus said while still tossing the wad of paper around.

Barrack shook his head. “We’re not together.”

Patryk chuckled. “The way you talk about him sure makes it seem you are.”

Barrack moved and sat on the arm of the couch closest to Patryk. “Well, he does have a nice ass.”

Bishop spit out his drink. “You’re gay!”

“No.” Barrack took Patryk’s water and opened it, then gave it back. “Drink that,” he said under his breath, then turned his attention back to Bishop. “But I can appreciate a nice ass when I see one.”

“We have got to meet this Willow,” Titus said. “He’s all ya talk about.”

Barrack shrugged. “He’s busy.”

Aksel heaved himself up. “The fucker is always busy,” he said while retrieving his own water.

“Be nice,” Patryk said.

Aksel made a jacking off motion. “Suck me.”

Barrack laughed, but Patryk punched his thigh. “What?” He asked then took a drink of water.

“Don’t encourage him,” Patryk quipped, then took a swig of water.

A knock on the door stole everyone’s attention. Bridge stuck his head in. “Signing starts in 5. Where’s Skunk?”

Bishop giggled. “Ima tell you said ‘hat.”

“That’s great, where is he?”

Barrack nodded to the other door. “Showering, should be about done.”

Bridge walked into the room and to the other door. “You guys get out there and I’ll get him.”

“Better you than me,” Patryk said as he got up.

The rest of the band followed with their own brand of sarcasm except for Dominik. He sat on the sofa and looked a little pale. “You okay?” Barrack asked again.

“Yeah. Help me up.” Dominik offered his hand, and Barrack pulled him up. The man seemed too light even for his smaller physique.

Barrack watched Dominik walk. He had a slight hitch to his step. “If you ever need anything, I can help you.”

Dominik stopped and turned. The gaze that met Barrack’s could only be described as broken. “You’re a really good friend.” With that, Dominik strode off with Barrack following. They arrived at the signing and Dominik took his place between Aksel and Rex.

Bridge came up behind him. “Everything all right?”

He stepped back so he and Bridge were behind the band but out of earshot. “You know what I think.”

“Yeah” was all Bridge said, and the two lapsed into silence.

 

Author Bio

 

Lor RoseLor is a snarky, over the top genderfluid polyamorous demipansexual with dark hair and pink highlights. Although, sometimes the color varies. She is almost constantly fighting with her muse, Animus, or referring the fights between Animus and Epicene, her other muse. Lor started reading very questionable M/M fanfiction at a very young age in the closet. Literally. Though that didn’t stop her from getting caught once or twice. This early love of things M/M sparked her writing career. Without a doubt, her Christian high school English teacher Mrs. B didn’t expect Lor to fall into the M/M genre. Mrs. B did know Lor would be a writer someday because when the class had a minimum, Lor had a maximum. It truly was unfair.

Besides writing, Lor may also be found with one of her two horses, the Chihuahua or her cat. Any un-caught typos are courtesy of the cat, who shoves Lor’s things out of the way when it’s her time for cuddles or playtime… Which is about every ten minutes.

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