The King’s Sun by Isaac Grisham: Exclusive Excerpt

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Exclusive Excerpt from The King’s Sun

by Isaac Grisham

Kitsune opened his eyes, finding himself lying in a bed stuffed with old hay, cloaks and blankets spread across his body to keep him warm. Makeshift though it was, he was more comfortable than he’d been in some time.

His surroundings confused him. The room looked more like a banquet hall than a bedroom, complete with rows of tables and benches for dining, two enormous fireplaces to keep the room warm, and an area devoid of clutter for mingling and dancing.

Many a celebration had been sung in this hall. Kitsune felt a sense of gaiety lingering in the air. It would be a long while before it would happen again, if ever. By the looks of things, the structure had been abandoned for several sun cycles. The roof at the far end of the room had collapsed, letting in glorious rays of sunshine. Birds nested in the rafters above. They and other rodents that had taken up residence left a mess strewn about the floor, much of which had been swept aside.

A clunking sound emanated from inside one of the fireplaces, followed shortly by a long string of curses. Kitsune froze, half expecting Jimmy, back from the dead, to come stumbling out, cradling an injured thumb. Instead, a young man close to his own age emerged, tossing aside a pile of charred wood.

The fear of his previous captors had dissipated, but Kitsune was still frozen in place. His eyes widened and his chest constricted. Though he had never seen this man before, he had the distinct feeling that he knew him.

He couldn’t be sure from this distance, but Kitsune guessed that the man was a hair shorter than he was. His dark brown mane was on the shorter side, though thick and disheveled. It framed a heart-shaped face with a strong jawline and high cheekbones. Several days’ worth of facial hair sprouted from tanned skin, accentuating his masculinity. This was further helped by the fact that he wasn’t wearing a shirt, and soot smeared his chest and abdomen. Like Kitsune, he wasn’t incredibly muscular, but the prince could see that the strength was there, as well as the will to use it. Continue reading

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Rip Cord: The Complete Trilogy by Jeanne St. James: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Rip Cord: The Complete Trilogy

by Jeanne St. James

“F wing. I wonder what the F stands for,” Rip said as the two of them stood in front of their old lockers.

The wing was dark and quiet as it was far from the action in the gymnasium. From what Gil could see, the lockers looked the same as when they’d been in school. Maybe a few more scratches and dents.

“Well, the wings went alphabetic—oof!”

Gil found himself slammed against the lockers, looking up into Rip’s eyes. In the low light, he couldn’t see the color, but he knew what they were. They were a beautiful blue that, depending on the light, could be more sapphire, indigo, or even a blue gray. He had thick lashes and thicker brows, which were pinned fiercely at the moment.

Rip had a knee jammed between Gil’s thighs and had Gil’s wrists pinned tightly against the cool metal lockers. He stared intently at Gil, his breathing slightly ragged.

Gil’s own shaky breath escaped once he realized he’d been holding it.


“Do you know why this wing is the F wing?” Rip growled.

Gil’s gaze darted to the side. He didn’t know what Rip wanted for an answer.

“I’ll tell you,” Rip continued. “No, I’ll show you instead.”

Rip lowered his head, only leaving a slight gap between them. Gil’s lips were parted, and their warm breaths mingled.

“You ready this time?”

“Oh yes,” Gil breathed.

“You’ve been wanting a piece of me for a long time, haven’t you?”

Gil’s head spun from all the blood running south.

“I remember how you watched me with that look in your eyes.” Rip pushed his hips tight against Gil, his hard length unmistakable underneath his jeans. The denim was rough against Gil’s thinner slacks. “I remember you standing here as you peeked around your locker door, thinking I didn’t notice. I noticed. Hell, I noticed. Now—” Rip thrust his hips. “Do you notice me?”

Gil struggled against the grip on his wrists, wanting to dig his fingers into Rip’s mane of hair, but Rip only tightened his hold.

“Oh no. No. I’ve been waiting a long time for this. Almost as long as you have.”

A thousand questions filled Gil’s mind. When? When did Rip discover he wanted him? When did Rip realize he was gay? Why hadn’t Rip ever approached him during high school? Why hadn’t he ever looked him up after graduation?

Why hadn’t Gil ever had a clue Rip wanted him the same way?

All those years of wanting, dreaming, fantasizing. All those lonely years, because even though he tried to date other men, there was truly only one man for him. Only one man he wanted to give himself to.

That man finally stood in front of him, revealing a secret that would have to stay just that…a secret.

But Gil didn’t care. If he only had one night with Rip, he was going to take advantage of it.

“Are you going to tease me all night, or are you going to fuck me?”

A low growl rose from Rip’s throat at Gil’s question. “Oh, I’m definitely going to fuck you.”

Rip adjusted his grip on Gil’s wrists until he was pinning them high above his head with one hand. Freeing the other to move down Gil’s arm, his chest, over his stomach, and ending up on his belt buckle.

With ease, Rip undid the belt and popped open the top of Gil’s slacks. Gil felt a swoosh of air against the hard tip of his cock before Rip grabbed it roughly.

“This is mine tonight. Got it?” Rip said through gritted teeth.

Gil’s cock twitched in Rip’s hand as he nodded slightly. His breathing deepened and became harsh. All he wanted Rip to do was stroke him a few times. Only a few, though, because he might come at any second.

A slight tremor started in Gil’s arms and legs and moved throughout his body. This was his dream come true. Okay, maybe not getting assaulted against the lockers in his old high school, but having Rip holding him in his large hands. Jesus, he couldn’t think of anything better.

At least until Rip spun him around, plastering his face against the cool metal. Rip still had one hand binding Gil’s wrists and the other held fast to his cock. Precum leaked freely as Rip squeezed and stroked Gil’s length. He moaned against the metal locker door.

“I’m going to have you moaning a lot more than that.”

Rip released his wrists and tugged at the waistband of Gil’s slacks, pulling them and his boxers down to his knees. Rip cupped Gil’s ass cheeks.

“Damn, ripe and plump, ready for the picking.”

A finger stroked along the crease of Gil’s buttocks, up and down, until it brushed across his tight hole. Rip’s fingertip pressed against it, not penetrating, just pushing. And Gil so wanted him to slip inside. He didn’t care if it was his finger or his cock. Right now he just wanted—no, needed—something.

Instead, Rip suddenly released him. Gil turned, his pants and underwear still pooled around his knees. Hard as a rock, his cock stood straight out, visible from between his shirttails.

Rip shucked his jacket, letting it fall to the floor. The tight fabric of his black tee encased the heavy muscles of his chest and biceps. But within seconds Rip had his shirt pulled over his head and tossed aside with his jacket.

Those muscles… Gil knees almost buckled. Those muscles… Oh, Jesus, he just wanted to touch them, lick them, run his fingers, his tongue, along the ripples of the larger man’s abdomen.

Rip yanked at his own belt, jerking roughly at the snap of his jeans, then sliding down his zipper, revealing a dark pair of tightly fitted boxer briefs.

“Down on your knees.”

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Honorary Blogger Annabeth Albert: Why Get Serious? + Excerpt & Giveaway!


Why Get Serious?

by Annabeth Albert

Content Warning: This blog discusses characters with a backstory of surviving assault. The book itself includes mention of past assault, but does not include flashbacks or scenes of assault.

Thank you so much for having me today! I’m celebrating the re-release of my novella LEVEL UP which is loosely connected to my #gaymer universe and was originally in the EXPOSED anthology with some other great authors. Landon, our hero, is a genius physics professor and the book centers around his decision to pose nude for a charity calendar featuring rising stars in their professions. While much of the book is light and fun with some of my favorite banter of all the heroes in this universe, I also tackle a more serious topic—male survivors of sexual assault.

I didn’t so much choose to include this aspect of the book as much as that when I opened my heart and mind to Landon as a hero, he shared his past with me, and I knew I’d need to stay true to what he revealed to me. So I did tons of research, talked with survivors, learned and listened. And still I really worried about including mention of Landon’s past, but ultimately I knew that I had to write the book that Landon both demanded and deserved.

I also wanted to show his healing process, and let Bailey, his co-hero, be a part of that process without having a magic cure-all. Again, I listened to Landon about who he was and what he needed, and Bailey took shape as a character in his own right. I love, love, love their dynamic together. And I love that Bailey really sees ALL of Landon—he’s not just his past. He’s a gamer, a video game collector, a new home owner, a cat lover, a genius physicist, a Harry Potter junkie (with the tattoo to prove it!), dedicated professor and advocate for his students, bisexual, and has a wicked sense of humor and playful streak.

I really appreciate the courage of the brave survivors of all genders who have publicly shared their stories as well as those who privately answered my questions and helped me with this project. Landon and Bailey and their journey are very special to me.  To those out there who may identify with Landon, you are loved. Your stories matter. To other writers out there thinking of tackling this subject matter, I can’t stress enough how valuable multiple sensitivity readers can be. I learned so much by listening to careful feedback from amazing readers.

Thank you again for having me today! I hope you enjoy LEVEL UP! Continue reading

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Release Blitz: Last Defense by RJ Scott & V.L. Locey + Excerpt & Giveaway!

Last Defense by RJ Scott & V.L. Locey

Two men afraid to feel, have to make choices that could end up breaking down their defenses and leading them back to love.

Every time Max Van Hellren steps on the ice he knows it could be his last time. At thirty he’s past his hockey prime but he’s also hiding a life-threatening injury that private doctors warn could kill him. This is his last season, and there’s a chance he could lift the Stanley Cup after fourteen years in the NHL. He just needs to stay safe and healthy; difficult when he’s known for his heavy hitting and with a propensity for dropping the gloves and putting his body in the way of pucks to keep his team safe.

A one night stand with a sexy man was just what he needed, dangerous and hot, but what if it turned into more? Would he actually have to share the secrets he so desperately tries to hide?

Ben Worthington had it all. A fulfilling job running the CrossRoads Shelter, his loving aunts, and a husband that understood his devotion to animals. Then, the love of his life left him, succumbing so quickly to an unexpected sickness that Ben never had time to say goodbye. The violent loss scarred him.

Unable to move past his fears, he moves from lonely encounter to lonely encounter, slaking a desperate need that is eating away at him, but never making a connection that could lead him back into love. One night with Max makes him want more, but will giving into the temptation open the door to feelings he can’t contain?

Can these two broken men ever find a way to be together?

Available at: Amazon

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Into the Mystic, Volume Three Anthology: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Heart’s Thaw

by Bru Baker

The day was hardly one made for riding, between the gray skies and the cool temperature, but Calliope had not been able to dissuade Lady Helena from her daily outing.
Not that Calliope blamed her. Their daily ride was Helena’s only time to let her hair down and be herself. Figuratively, of course. A woman of Lady Helena’s station would never be so coarse as to actually be seen in public with her hair unbound.
They were at the midpoint of their ride, the eastern forest, where they often stopped to let the horses drink their fill in the stream while they dismounted and explored. Calliope enjoyed this part most of all—Helena was freer with her language and quick to laugh and play, hidden by the trees and a good forty minute’s hard ride from her duties as Her Ladyship, daughter and only child of the Duke of Keering, Helena Alexandra Gertrude Heart.
“Shall we swim this summer?” Calliope asked, dangling her fingers in the icy stream. “It is cold now, but it would feel divine in the heat of August.”
“I think not,” Helena answered primly, but a smile twitched her lips. “What would become of us if someone stumbled upon us?”
Calliope laughed. They’d never once seen another person on their outings, and they had been riding this circuit for four years. Helena’s desire to explore the estate had been a large part of the reason Calliope had been brought on as her companion.
“Ah, the scandal if someone saw your dainty ankles,” Calliope teased. “You would be married by sundown.”
Helena swatted her. “No marriage talk. Not even in jest.”
It was a sore subject. Many suitors had bid for Helena’s hand, but Helena rebuked them all. Her doting father had yet to force her to wed, but from the way the tongues wagged in the court, Calliope thought it was only a matter of time before his indulgence ended.
But that was a problem for another time. Calliope leapt up from the mossy stone she’d been perched on and flicked water from her hand at Helena, who shrieked and ran. They chased each other through the trees, breathless with laughter, until a sight brought them both up short.
There was a man in their forest. He was draped in fine linens and dripping in jewels that highlighted his ethereal beauty, lounging against a tree. He watched them with dark eyes, and Calliope shivered with unease. She looked around wildly for companions but found none. He was far too finely dressed to be travelling alone. This had to be some sort of trap.
“How fortuitous,” he said, his voice like honey. “I find myself abandoned in the wood and in need of assistance, and two lovely maidens appear.”

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Honorary Blogger Rhys Ford: Slices of Life + Giveaway!


Slices of Life

by Rhys Ford

Time for Last Call at the bar. Well, at least for the Sinners boys. We’re at the final book in the series and I want to say thank you to everyone who’s been with me on this six year journey. Well almost seven for me but I started before the rest of you did.

But man, it’s been a ride.

When I first brought Miki to the page, I never imagined he’d go as far as he has. From the series being picked up and writing a second book to audiobooks then translations, this series has been a labour of both love and hate. I hate to see it go but I loved getting to the end.

Throughout this tour, I’ll be sharing vignettes / scenes I wanted to write about the characters but weren’t really pertinent to the books. Some were suggested by readers in my Facebook group, Coffee, Cats and Murder while others just felt right to include.

I hope you enjoy these slices of life with the characters from the Sinners series and join me on this final stop on this journey I started with Sinner’s Gin.

Oh… and before I forget, there’s a GIVEAWAY. You’ll be entering to win a $25 USD gift certificate to the online retailer of your choice!

So, Last Call and I promise you’ll see bits and pieces of the boys as the years go by. We’ll at least drop in to say hello once in a while.

Much love to you all. And thank you…so very damned much.

Miki and Donal

“So you just stand here. And wait?” Miki resisted the urge to poke at the rice in the skillet. “How do you know when it’s done?”

“Ye’ve worked in Chinese restaurants, son. Didn’t ye pay attention when they were making fried rice?” Donal worked his knife through a slice of carrot, turning it into slivers.

“Dad, the only view I got from the kitchen was from the sink and the table they put in the back where you sat and made wonton.” Miki gestured at the pan with his wooden spatula. “This shit is actually cooking. Do you honestly think they would let me near anybody’s food? I like burnt grilled cheese sandwiches.”

“Honestly, who doesn’t?” Donal tsked at him, gesturing with the knife for Miki to step away from the stove. “Leave off of that and come help me. Do me a favor and chop up that chicken and all of the leftover bacon. About the size of a dime for the chicken and a little bit smaller than that for the bacon.”

It was one of the things he loved about Donal — one of the many things. His adopted father knew Miki needed reference points, especially when faced with things he’d never done before. As stupid as it sounded, the kitchen was a waystation of sorts for him and to enter it with the intention of creating an actual meal was as scary as the thirty-foot drop ride they’d gone on in Japan.

“If I cut my fingers off, you’re going to have to explain to the band why I can’t play guitar anymore,” Miki warned, picking up the knife. “And maybe to Edie too. And the record label guys.”

“Well don’t ye be cutting your fingers because while I could take them on, I’m more afraid of what my bride would do to me,” Donal replied, chuckling. There was a warmth to his laugh, a gravitas mingling humor with comfort. Miki liked that Kane laughed as his father did, a low roll of thunder spiced with a bit of joy and sometimes teasing.

The teasing was the hardest thing to get used to.

Damien seemed to get the knack of it but for all of his years on the road with the Sinners boys, Miki never quite got the hang of poking fun at others and himself. It felt mean even though other people seem to enjoy it and there’d been a few times when Miki sat in the middle of the Morgans’ living room and the mood shifted around him, going back to normal when Donal cleared his throat and everyone found something else to do.

Donal’s teasing was out in the open and never meant to make Miki feel small. Maybe that’s what he really didn’t like about being poked at. There’d been too many years where he’d been shoved into a tiny space and told to be invisible, or worse, told he didn’t matter at all.

“Does it have to be like squares? Or does it matter?” Miki poked at a piece of chicken, wondering if he should take the skin off as well. “And do I just cut it up? Like do you want the skin?”

“Yer making it too hard on yourself there, son.” Donal leaned over to take a peek at the rice. “Skin on or off is fine. However you want to make it.”

“I just don’t want it to be wrong.” Miki scowled at the mound of cooked chicken in front of him. “Food’s a big thing. They’re always giving me shit about how I eat. I just don’t want to fuck this up.”

“That’s not going to happen. That’s the best part about fried rice,” Donal remarked, cracking an egg into a glass bowl. “It doesn’t have to be perfect because it’s made out of everything ye have the refrigerator. It’s kind of like an omelette.”

“Yeah, I don’t know how to make those either.” He shook his head. “Kane makes them sometimes. Like he takes a couple of eggs and pulls crap out of the fridge then all of a sudden we’ve got this five course meal with hot biscuits and these perfect half-moon egg things on everybody’s plates.”

“Well now, that’s just him showing off then.” A few more eggs joined the first one of the bowl then Donal added a dollop of water from a nearby cup. “Hand me that fork there, will ye? It’s time to add the eggs.”

“Shit, I’m not of done chopping up the meat.” After handing Donal a fork, Miki began to diligently separate the chicken from the bones.

“Take yer time. See? The eggs just go on top of the cooking rice and then let that sit for a while.” Donal made sure Miki’s attention was on the pan as he poured the beaten eggs slowly around the skillet. “Just finish up what ye’ve got and we’ll toss it in after the vegetables. Then we’ll broil the short ribs. Those will go fast and the rice will keep in the oven under the warmer.”

He finished the chicken and then the bacon, tossing them all into a bowl before handing it over to Donal. There was a space on the counter he’d been told he could sit on, a controversial decision protested by the Morgan siblings since they hadn’t been allowed to do so growing up. Being overruled first by Donal and Brigid, there was a tiny storm of grumbles but Miki was assured the rest of the family would simply have to adjust.

Although he did notice Ryan had been promptly told to get off the counter when she’d tried to sit up there.

Miki nearly breathed a sigh of relief when Donal turned the rice over with the spatula. He watched attentively when Donal showed him the crackle then leaned back on his hands. “Can I ask you something?”

“Ye can ask me anything. Ye know that, Mick.” Donal continued to work the pan then tapped the spatula against its edge. “What’s on your mind?”

“Did you know what kind of person you wanted Kane to be with?” He shifted on the counter, careful not to bang his heels against the kitchen cabinet. “I mean, I hear people talk about what they want for their kids sometimes. And it’s kind of weird because they’ve got these huge ideas about what this kid is going to be when it grows up and sometimes even the type of person they want it to be with. Did you and Brigid ever do that? Like try to plan out their lives?”

“Truth be told, I think every parent does that.” Donal turned the fire down with a flick of the knob then leaned against the counter, crossing his arms over his burly chest. “Funny thing is about raising kids is that a parent shouldn’t go into it thinking they can mold or make what they want out of this person. Not to say that we didn’t make our mistakes. For the longest time, I’d wanted Connor to be a lawyer but that wasn’t in the cards.”

Miki snorted. “I can’t imagine Connor being a lawyer. Maybe Kiki. Or even Kane.”

“Well, I had it all planned out. I knew what schools I wanted him to attend and figured one of us was going to have to learn how to play golf so we could teach him when Brigid’s da told me something while we were getting pissed over a new bottle of whiskey he’d brought in.” Donal grinned. “And ye’ve been around me long enough to know pissed means drunk, right?”

“I think I know how to say drunken hangover in about fifteen dialects and twelve languages,” Miki made a face. “It’s right up there with where’s the bathroom and no I don’t have any money and I am not looking for a hooker.”

“Very good life skills that,” Donal agreed. “So we were passing a fine Sunday afternoon when he looked at me and said; ye’re a fool if ye think ye’re going to have a say about the boy will be. Here ye are laying down a path for him to walk on when what ye should be thinking about… what ye need to be doing… is to be concerned about what kind of man he’ll become. Raise the man, Donal, he scolded me. If ye raise the man right, the path he chooses will be the one he’s meant to follow.

“Since they stuck with me even after I sobered up, I figured those words were a truth I couldn’t deny.” The vegetables joined the rice but Donal held off mixing them in. “I never wanted any of my children to pick up the gun and the badge. For me it was a way to help people find justice, for me to help people who may be needing a voice but couldn’t speak up. I never imagined any of them would wear my uniform. And any plans that I might’ve had for them were set aside because their passion for justice is even stronger than mine.

“Now to get to yer question about did I ever imagine the person I saw Kane with? The answer to that is no because I know love hits without warning or reason.” Donal’s smile grew wistful and he laid a warm hand on Miki’s thigh. “I never imagined I would fall in love with Brigid Finnegan but when I finally saw she’d made a place for herself in my heart, I knew I couldn’t ever love anyone else. It was that way with ye and Kane. I knew the moment I heard him speak about ye that he’d lost himself in loving ye.”

“Wouldn’t you want your kid to have somebody less fucked up?” Miki bit at his lower lip, looking away. He was poking at a brittle shell of insecurity he’d been avoiding for months but the doubts about him fitting into Kane’s life and the family always resurfaced. “I mean, I’m not —”

“Yer exactly who he needed to fall in love with, Mick,” Donal said, cupping the back of Miki’s head until their foreheads touched. “Ye challenge him. Ye challenge his world and make him think. Ye tell him no when the world bows to his pushiness and forced him to rethink the way he approaches people. If there is one great disservice I’ve given my children, is that they sometimes believe they are always right.”

“Yeah, I don’t know where they got that from,” Miki coughed, “Brigid.”

“I’m not going to say that ye’re wrong but I had a hand in it.” He laughed, kissing Miki on the temple before letting him go. “Ye make Kane stretch outside of himself. With ye he learns to compromise because while he is an irresistible force, ye are an immovable object at times and this makes him stop and change course. So while I have made him the best man than I could raise, ye are making him a better man because ye love him but won’t take any of his shit. So that, Mick, is why I could never imagine anyone but ye by Kane’s side and it was one of the happiest days in our lives when he brought ye home so I knew right then and there, ye’d be a son of our hearts and a blessing on this family.”blogger_bee_trans Continue reading

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Survivors by Jessie Pinkham: Exclusive Excerpt

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Exclusive Excerpt from Survivors

by Jessie Pinkham

It’s day three of clouds and we’ve progressed to a reasonably heavy rain, which is good for the crops and also for spending the afternoon inside with Nate. Sure, Lily is home too, but she’s upstairs in her room leaving us the living room and we’re taking advantage of that by making out on the couch.

I have to say, I miss movies less now that making out is an option. We didn’t start with making out. We started playing dominoes but there’s only so long dominoes can be entertaining. Kissing Nate I could do for a long time, though the longer we kiss the more restricting my shorts are.

If circumstances were different I’d be dragging Nate up to bed about now. Actually, who do I think I’m kidding, I’d have him not only upstairs but naked, an image which definitely doesn’t help in the restricting shorts department.

My guy is a fantastic kisser with nimble lips, and I’ve finally gotten my hands in his hair, so this day is a complete success as far as I’m concerned. I’m reluctant to separate myself from him, but for one thing we could both probably use a break to catch our breath and for another my shorts are getting really uncomfortable. It’s best to cool things down if they aren’t going any further.

“I’m developing a new appreciation for rain,” he says.

“We are turning you into a farmer.”

“Oh right, it’s good for that too.”

I steal another quick kiss, to no complaint, and go grab some tea. We don’t have ice so I could never call it iced tea in the first place and now it’s lukewarm, but still a nice break from our usual plain water. I’ve never cared for hot tea but real iced tea, not the premixed crap, is refreshing on a hot summer day and I accumulated a reasonable tea stash in my scavenging.

“I’d like to draw you,” Nate tells me. He must’ve gone upstairs because his sketchbook and pencils are on the side table.

“Are we talking starving artist on doomed ship with star-crossed lover kind of drawing?”

He chuckles. “No. Not now, anyway. Your face, I mean, if you don’t mind.”

“I don’t mind. Is there anything special I need to do?”

“Try to hold still, mostly.”

“That much I can manage.”

In actuality holding still is more of a challenge than I thought. Because I’m supposed to minimize movement I should’ve expected that I’d get an itch and then have to sneeze, and I’m not sure I get my three-quarters pose exactly the same after I let Sadie out for a bathroom break. Plus I laugh once at Lucky’s attempt to catch his tail.

Posing for Nate is a different kind of intimacy. We aren’t talking, just sitting while he draws and I try not to move. The intimacy is in the careful way he looks at me, the scrutiny I’m allowing. This is an entirely new experience for me and a good twenty minutes have gone by before I’m comfortable.

He’s not the only one looking closely. For lack of anything else to do I watch Nate as he draws, noting the way he frowns slightly in concentration then smiles when he gets something right. He begins with broad strokes and then settles into adding detail.

“Done,” he says after close to an hour.

“Do I get to see it?”

In response Nate hands me his sketchbook, from which I’m looking up at myself in greyscale. He’s a good artist, though it’s possible I’m biased.

“This is good,” I tell him.

“I’m glad you think so.”

Now, I’m not an artistic guy by any means. My high school art teacher despaired of me half the time, though I’m pretty good at woodworking. The point is, drawing better than I do is ridiculously easy, but Nate’s portrait is a completely different level. He’s really talented and probably has put in a fair amount of practice.

“You’re really talented.”

“I’m no Michelangelo, but I’m not bad. Everyone needs a hobby, right?”

“I’m inclined to agree with any statement I can use to justify even unproductive fishing trips.” Especially since unproductive trips are the most common kind around here.

“Of course you are.”

The rest of the afternoon speeds by with a lot of movie impressions and a few more kisses. Before I know it the time has come for evening chores.

Nate goes to the well while Lily and I take care of the livestock. On the way to the barn she asks, “What’s the deal with Nate’s celibacy?”

“It’s really not my place to get into that.”

“Right, I just mean, I can’t see you being happy with that.”

“If you’re asking if we’re going to be celibate forever, Ms. Nosypants, the answer is no.”

“I’m not nosy. I’m looking out for your wellbeing.”

She’s right that a celibate relationship wouldn’t cut it for me. Still, “By delving into my sex life. I think that qualifies as nosy.”

“Nope. Try concerned sister.”

“Fine. I hereby relieve you of the need to be concerned about my sex life, which is heading in the right direction, thank you very much.”

“Only heading, huh?”

“At least now I know you weren’t spying on us making out earlier.”

“Please. I have boundaries.”

She does, but it’s so easy to rile her up on the subject.

“Besides, last time I checked you were the one prone to spying on siblings who are making out.”

“That was years ago.”

“Sure, but you still have a history of it where I don’t.”

For lack of a more clever response I simply roll my eyes. I really need to work on better comebacks.

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A Chance at Love by Silvia Violet: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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by Silvia Violet


Chance put the straws in their drinks and arranged Darren’s fries on the console where he could easily reach them as Darren brought up the observatory on his GPS app and headed out of the parking lot.

“So what should we do after you let me be impulsive?”

“After I let you be insane.”

Chance waved off his comment. “Whatever.”

“What exactly should one do after getting blown under the stars?”

“Take your man home and ride his ass until he can’t breathe?”

Darren thought he might choke for a second. After a fit of coughing, he said, “You’ve got to stop doing that while I’m driving. And eating.”

“Well, you asked; but probably we should have dinner before you take me home.”

Dinner was a reasonably safe topic. “What’s your favorite kind of food?”

“I don’t really have a favorite. I love trying new things. My roommate, Joon, is Korean, and he’s been cooking a lot for me. I thought I could take things super spicy, but he’s nearly killed me a few times.”

Darren could just imagine Chance’s reaction to insanely hot food. “Maybe I should have asked what you don’t like?”

“Mangos. I’ve tried, but I just can’t stand them.”

“I think I can manage to find an excellent place to eat with absolutely no need to consume mangoes.”

“Then why don’t you pick such a place and surprise me. It’s only fair since you’re indulging my whim.”

They were silent for a few moments, and Darren enjoyed the scenery as they moved out of the city and farther into the hills. It was that time of evening when it got darker every minute, and he loved watching the shadows gather in the scrub on the hillsides.

“What is your favorite type of food?” Chance asked after they’d both finished their fries.

Darren thought for a few seconds. “Thai, I think. No, Italian. No. I guess I don’t have one either.”

“Anything you hate?”

“There are things I don’t like, but nothing I absolutely won’t eat, and I’ll try anything.”

“That is very good to hear.”

Darren glanced over at him. “Are you still talking about food?”


Darren chuckled. “Of course you’re not.”

“I love making you laugh.”

“You do?”

“Yeah. I get the feeling you don’t do it enough.”

Darren thought about that. He certainly didn’t laugh nearly as much when he wasn’t with Chance. He couldn’t decide if that was wonderful or frightening, because every time Chance amused him, Darren longed for him to do it again.

Chance turned the XM radio on. Darren had it on the talk station he usually listened to on the way to work, but Chance flipped it to Willie’s Roadhouse, and a song about a lonely man crying in his truck flooded the car.

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Owned by the Sea by L.M. Somerton: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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by L.M. Somerton

“Hey, everyone—Jonty’s gonna do an art auction fundraiser for the lifeboat. Who’s in?”

There was a general yell of support.

Tears prickled in Jonty’s eyes.

“You can use this place to coordinate, have meetings, that kind of thing,” Kelly offered.

“When were you thinking?”

“The last week in April. Not the exact date of the anniversary—the closest weekend, maybe, so more people can make it.”

“Have you spoken to anyone at the lifeboat station yet?”

Jonty shoveled down more food before answering. “No. I was going to ask if you knew anyone. I didn’t want to just wander in there.”

“What you mean is, you’re too shy.”

Jonty blinked. “Maybe.”

“Well, you could be in luck, because Jed Curnow will likely be in before long—he comes in most nights for hot chocolate and a natter or to eat. He’s the deputy coxswain on the crew.

You can run the idea past him.” Kelly glanced at the counter where a queue was forming.

“Better get back to it. You’ll know Jed when he comes in—you can’t miss him—he’s six feet six.”

Jonty focused his attention on the remains of his meal. He was scraping the last remnants from his bowl when the door opened, letting in a blast of cold air. There was no doubting that the new arrival was Jed. He had to duck to get through the door. Jonty didn’t want to get caught staring so he tried to get a good look from beneath his lashes. Jed was broad-shouldered and narrow-hipped with a thatch of dark brown hair and a strong chin dusted with stubble.

His lips curved naturally into a smile and his eyes were dark, though Jonty couldn’t tell what color from where he sat. Jed had a commanding presence and, while he waited patiently for Kelly to serve him, he scanned the room. His eyes rested on each individual for a moment then moved on. When his gaze rested on Jonty, it took all Jonty’s courage not to hide beneath the table. He stared at a fixed point on the floor, counted to ten and when he raised his head, Jed’s attention was elsewhere.

Letting out the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding, Jonty tried to decide whether to stay or make a run for the exit. Before he could make up his mind, his light was blocked by someone standing in front of his table. He hardly dared look up but he found the courage from somewhere.

Blue. His eyes are blue. Like cornflowers on the cliffs.

“Kelly said you’d like a word.” Jed held out a hand. “Mind if I join you?”

Jonty allowed his own hand to be engulfed by Jed’s huge paw. The crushing grip Jonty feared didn’t happen. Jed’s hold was gentle and warm.

“I…yes…no… I mean I don’t mind at all, please do.” Jonty shuffled his seat to one side to make more room. He couldn’t help but notice how Jed’s thighs, wrapped snugly in faded denim, only just fit beneath the table. “I’m Jonty.”

“The artist from Cliff House. I know.” Jed grinned. He put his mug of hot chocolate on the table. It was topped with a pile of whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. “Every man needs a vice. Kelly’s chocolate is mine. He makes it properly—none of that powdered rubbish.

He melts chocolate into the milk while it heats.” He took a sip and cream clung to his lips.

Jonty had a sudden urge to lick them clean and lost the power of speech. Continue reading

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This Time Around by Aimee Nicole Walker: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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by Aimee Nicole Walker

My second time up to the apartments was a little slower and a whole lot more hesitant without anger and annoyance propelling me up the steps. I rehearsed what I wanted to say, but totally lost my train of thought when I came face-to-face with Andy. More like face to chest. Oh. Dear. God. His bare chest was sexier than I even imagined. I just stood there staring at his masculine perfection, not bothering to ask why he was sweatier than normal. I was just grateful for my blessings.

           “I think something is wrong with the thermostat,” Andy said. “It just keeps getting hotter and hotter in here.” You could say that again. “I’ve called Paul to come check it out. It could be something simple, so don’t worry that you’ll have to replace the heating system.”

           “I’m not worried,” I said when I could finally speak.

           “My eyes are up here,” Andy said wryly.

           I snapped my eyes up to meet his. He smiled broadly, and I think I breathed easy for the first time that day. It was the carefree grin I had known and loved so much when we were teenagers. “About Tucker—” I stopped when the smile slid from his face.

           “I don’t want to know.”

           “Andy,” I said patiently. “Let me finish. There is nothing going on between Tucker and me. He wants there to be, but he knows it won’t happen.”

           Andy snorted. “You sure looked chummy this morning, or do all your early-morning clients kiss you?”

           “He kissed me on the forehead and cheek,” I explained. “It was a gesture to show he accepted that friendship was all I could offer him.”

           “Forehead kisses are your favorite, or has that changed?”

           I was still a sucker for them. If I thought about it hard enough, I could recall how right Andy’s lips felt pressed to my forehead. Of course, his kisses lingered and led to more kisses. That’s probably what he thought happened between Tucker and me that morning. Later, I could speak my mind about him jumping to conclusions, but right then I only wanted to assure him of one thing.

           I closed the distance between us until I was close enough to smell his intoxicating, masculine scent. “Ask me why Tucker has accepted that he has no future with me, Andy.”

           “Why? So you can toy with me some more.”

           “Take a chance. Say the words, Andy.”

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