A MelanieM Review: A Book of Revelations by A.C. Burch

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

“Drag performers, detectives, and community moguls meet in Burch’s (The Homeport Journals, 2015, etc.) collection, which features coming-out stories with a twist.” – Kirkus Reviews

We all keep secrets. Even from ourselves. A Book of Revelations explores the tipping point—when the truth offers liberation and continued self-deception perpetuates the status quo.

-Private Quarters: A coming of age story. With cocktails.
-Curtain Call: A spurned “mistress” crashes a memorial for her ex-lover’s wife.
-Götterdämmerung: The complex relationship between a maestro and his protégé.
-Convergence: An aging artist and would-be socialite hosts a disastrous dinner party.
-The Honoree: A local saint’s past unexpectedly threatens her future.
-Last Chance: A gay detective investigates a murder case where nothing is at it seems.
-The Midnight Suitor: A nephew unearths an old family secret–with a modern-day twist.
-Even In Death: Mourners who are strangers “bond” at a charlatan’s wake.

A Book of Revelations by A.C. Burch is truly a mixed collection of stories about passion and love of all types. Of all the stories I read, only four are ones I absolutely enjoyed, one I even laughed out loud at.  The others?  I admired them for their writing, and their characters but bittersweet themes or storylines of outright tragedy have never been ones that I have particularly liked to read.  And those I would put into either or both of those categories.

So let’s take a closer look at the ones I adored:

♦︎Götterdämmerung: The complex relationship between a maestro and his protégé.  As I said not every story is about romantic passion.  This is an amazing story about a maestro, hisprotégé, and their shared passion and love for music.  Burch makes the music, the power of the conductor and his connection to the orchestra so real and vibrant.  We are immersed in their world and the brilliance of the music and the muse.  And the agony once the muse had left.  No romance, just an unforgettable story.  5 stars

♦︎Last Chance: A gay detective investigates a murder case where nothing is at it seems.  Talk about a convoluted storyline!  This one has an actual romance but it’s at the end.  It’s a mystery, it’s a romance, and so much more.  The setting is amazing, the characters are layered and surprising and has a ton of twists and turns.  And I can say nothing because it has to be read.  Probably more than once.  5 Stars

♦︎The Midnight Suitor: A nephew unearths an old family secret–with a modern-day twist.  Another surprising short story full of twists, great characters and scenes involving a ladder that have staying power.  A.C. Burch has a wonderful way with words and the pictures the author creates with their vivid descriptions make this story lively and poignant. 4.5 stars

♦︎Even In Death: Mourners who are strangers “bond” at a charlatan’s wake.  That one sentence description doesn’t even begin to do this wildly funny story justice.  One word Berta!  I’ll say no more.   Yes, there’s a M/M romance here too.  But also other characters too that will involve you in this strange but hilarious journey into investigating who a dead man really was.  Yes, I really laughed out loud!  5 stars plus!!!!

Those are the stories I loved.  About the others?  It’s not that they are bad, they aren’t.  They are well written but just about themes I don’t enjoy.  You might feel entirely different.  Based on the stories above, I would definitely recommend this collection, they are that good.  And if you aren’t familiar with A.C. Burch it’s a wonderful way to get acquainted with this author’s stories and their style of writing.

Cover art by Madeline Sorel.  I like this cover.  Dark and its tone speaks to several of the stories.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble

Book Details:

eBook, and Paperback, Alternate Cover Edition, 299 pages
Published March 22nd 2017 by HomePort Press (first published June 13th 2016)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Literary AwardsUnderground Book Reviews

A VVivacious Review: Magnetic (Treacherous Chemistry #1.5) by Avylinn Winter

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Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
 

 

Dante finds himself in a world of pain. He can’t seem to stop thinking of Chris, especially as he realises that he isn’t entirely blameless in the blow that severed their budding relationship.

But when Dante comes face to face with Chris will he have the courage to own up to his feelings or will he crumble under his desire for approval from his parents.

This book tells the story of Dante and Chris’ separation in Volatile from Dante’s perspective and I, for one, really appreciated getting to see things from Dante’s POV.

Dante is an enigma throughout Volatile and while Magnetic eases open the doors into Dante’s inner psyche the author still manages to retain his aura of mystic which is quite a feat in itself. One of the biggest draws to Dante is that you really don’t know why he is the way he is and one of my greatest fears with this book was that I would lose the Dante I had come to love in Volatile but I am glad to say I didn’t lose anything after reading this book only gained so much more. Dante is a character with an intrinsic enigma, the enigma is practically a quality of his soul and this book is a testament to that. Also I must really applaud the author’s efforts in managing to pull of such a character with such grace.

I really didn’t remember much of the details from Volatile but thankfully most of the content in this book is new and only towards the end do we overlap with events in Volatile. And I am glad we do because that kiss was magical the first time around and it was still as fairy-tale like in this one.

I definitely don’t remember that sex scene and I am pretty sure I didn’t read anything as good in Volatile so I am a bit shocked with how well written it is. For me Volatile was all about the hidden content like the looks you share to communicate your thoughts without ever saying a word. Volatile somehow managed to verbalize non-verbal communication but not so with this one. This one is all but the dialogue and the sex scene is pretty verbal in a way Volatile isn’t. At this point I have no idea if anyone can understand what I am saying. Let’s just say that Magnetic has a different charm than Volatile but they are both equally enjoyable.

I really enjoyed this short and would recommend it as a must-read for anyone who enjoyed Volatile as much as I did.

Cover Art by Posh Gosh. I really liked the cover and the model’s expression is just very Dante-like.

Buy Links: Pride | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

ebook, 45 pages
Published August 29th 2017 by Pride Publishing
Original TitleMagnetic
ISBN 9781786516
Edition LanguageEnglish

 



	

A Free Dreamer Review: Dali by E.M. Hamill

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Dalí Tamareia has everything—a young family and a promising career as an Ambassador in the Sol Fed Diplomatic Corps. Dalí’s path as a peacemaker seems clear, but when their loved ones are killed in a terrorist attack, grief sends the genderfluid changeling into a spiral of self-destruction.

Fragile Sol Fed balances on the brink of war with a plundering alien race. Their skills with galactic relations are desperately needed to broker a protective alliance, but in mourning, Dalí no longer cares, seeking oblivion at the bottom of a bottle, in the arms of a faceless lover, or at the end of a knife.

The New Puritan Movement is rising to power within the government, preaching strict genetic counseling and galactic isolation to ensure survival of the endangered human race. Third gender citizens like Dalí don’t fit the mold of this perfect plan, and the NPM will stop at nothing to make their vision become reality. When Dalí stumbles into a plot threatening changelings like them, a shadow organization called the Penumbra recruits them for a rescue mission full of danger, sex, and intrigue, giving Dalí purpose again.

Risky liaisons with a sexy, charismatic pirate lord could be Dalí’s undoing—and the only way to prevent another deadly act of domestic terrorism.

“Dalí” was simply and utterly brilliant. I loved every single second of it. It’s no secret that I’m a lover of SciFi books and I’m glad I started reading space operas a while ago. Otherwise I might have missed out on this seriously amazing book and that would have been a real shame.

The set-up is intriguing. Dalí is a third gender changeling. Essentially, they’re the epidome of genderfluid. Their body can actually change to become male or female. Or they can stay in their neutral state, where they’re neither. For a big part of the book, Dalí leans toward female, for reasons I fully understood. And the idea of changing genders was only the beginning. The author took great care to create a truly fascinating world, full of little details that showed how much care went into creating this setting. The world building was extremely well done and it all felt so natural.

I absolutely loved Dalí right from the beginning. I felt their grief and loss and suffered through their self-destruction with them. It was breathtaking and felt so very genuine it made my heart ache. Dalí is a tough person, but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel fear or pain or grief or doubt.

Now, I’ve always had a thing for the antagonists/villains in books and movies. And E.M. Hamill did a great job of creating a villain the way I like. He’s not completely and utterly evil. His actions actually made sense, in a cruel, twisted kind of way. And the tension between him and Dalí was absolutely sizzling.

Speaking of sizzling: The sex scenes were smoking hot. Incredibly erotic, without being overly detailed. Dalí’s unique body made the whole experience even hotter for me. But the sex wasn’t just there to get the reader hot and bothered, it always furthered the plot. The balance between hot smut and essential plot device was perfect.

There’s so much going on in this book, with so many unexpected twists and turns, it left me completely unable to put down the book. It was full of action and suspense, but also full of feelings. There were more quiet parts of the book, but those were just as addicting as the fast-moving spy parts.

Another thing I loved about this book was how diverse it was. There are so many different types of relationships and genders portrayed. It always felt completely natural to have such diverse characters. The author didn’t get lost in unnecessary terms or explanations, the characters were just there.

Although this book is set in the distant future and the world as we know it no longer exists, the plot touched on many issues we’re facing right now as well. There’s terrorism, human trafficking, drugs, religious extremism, gender identity and so on. It’s not easy to make a space opera feel like it deals with problems of our day and age.

Every lover of good SciFi with a bit of Erotic thrown in should read “Dalí”. I, for one, enjoyed every single second of it and I really, really hope there will be a second part sometime soon. You’ll love it too, trust me.

I like the cover by Natasha Snow. The colours are gorgeous and the space ship looks great. The young man’s face spoils the otherwise great cover a little. I think it would have looked even better without any human on it.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book details:

ebook
Published August 7th 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781947139572
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Kai Review: Yanni’s Story (Spencer Cohen #4) by N.R. Walker

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

When Yanni Tomaras is kicked out of his family home, his parents’ final words are religious insults and an order to never return. Homeless and desperate, he’s lured in by Lance, charming on the outside, an evil predator underneath, who abuses him until he finds the courage to leave.

After years of being trapped, Yanni should feel free, but by the time Spencer Cohen finds him, he’s resigned to being handed back to Lance, and once again being caged by fear.

Starting school and a part-time job, Yanni starts to reclaim his life. But a love for silent films leads him to Peter Hannikov, a man twice his age with a kind heart, and an unlikely friendship between them blooms into so much more. Neither man knows what he wants, at first. Finding out exactly what he needs is Yanni’s story.

I liked this story. Although it wasn’t as awesome as the previous books, it was a nice addition to the series.

It is standalone, but I think it will be more enjoyable if it read in order.

I loved Yanni and Peter. Yanni was so terrified at the beginner and the book was mainly about his recovery and psychology heal after a super abusive relationship.

Peter helped him in that process and was there for him. First as a friend and then- after much patience and time- as a lover.

I loved Peter for how much he was willing to wait for Yanni. I was truly cheering for them.

They have an age gap – Peter was 43 and Yanni was 21 – but even with that (maybe, because of) they were connected. I didn’t feel as the age difference was a big deal in their story. For them, the age didn’t matter. Their connection just felt natural.

And we have a daddy kink here, guys. That was really interesting and hot. Yeah yeah.

I liked the plot in general, but I missed a big conflict or something like that. The story had some little challenges, that was quickly resolved, so we can see Yanni’s evolution along the novel. But didn’t have a big conflict. Everything was smooth. Maybe a little too much. And so you know: I don’t like much angst or many dramas. So saying I missed a conflict means that really there wasn’t any.

The story was quite slow paced. I mean, really slow paced. One could say it would be better if it was a little faster, but I understood where it came from. I mean, after everything Yanni went through, he needed time to heal. And I really liked this the process wasn’t rushed.

I loved the supporting characters and their journey. Jordan was my Yanni’s roommate favorite. I was so touched by her story and loved her interaction with Yanni.

I also felt in love with the Landons. They were so great. Spencer and Andrew appeared a little bit as well. I was missing them, so it was awesome to revisit the couple. Even if a briefly.

In resume, I really liked this book. N.R. Walker sure did a great job in writing here. 🙂

The cover art by Sara York is so amazing and match with the other covers in the series. I love it.

Sales Links

Amazon

:

Book Details:

Ebook: 120,000 words

Expected publication: August 29th, 2017

Series: Spencer Cohen #4

Audra North On Favorite Themes, Inspiration, and her latest novel ‘Midlife Crisis’ (author guest post and giveaway)

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Midlife Crisis by Audra North
Riptide Publishing
Cover Artist L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Purchase it Here at Riptide Publishing

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Audra North here today talking about her release Midlife Crisis.  Welcome, Audra!

✒︎

 

 

One of the reasons I loved writing Midlife Crisis is because the story is about three things I love very much: 1. self-acceptance; 2. family and friendship bonds; and 3. Texas.

In Midlife Crisis, Cam McGhee—one of the main characters—is on a fifty-year journey of self-acceptance. Because of the time in which he was born and raised, because of his familial and community background, because of so many things that go into influencing a person’s sense of self, he has spend the first half of his life wanting to accept who he is and live fully as himself, but resigning himself to never being able to. When circumstances change, and the opportunity to change his way of living is presented to him, though, he realizes the shift is easier said than done…even for a man in his fifties.

Family and friends play a big role in the book, too. Cam’s family is a source of angst and support at the same time. Dave Montoya, the other main character, has a tight-knit group of friends that looks out for him, and a sister who always has his back. For this particular story, I didn’t want to write any characters who were directly trying to undermine Cam and Dave’s journey, especially when Cam’s biggest enemy is himself—his own fears.

Oh, Texas. The third thing I love very much, though I have a complicated relationship with the state where I was born and raised (I now live in New England). Midlife Crisis takes place in Texas because of the ease of which a person can travel between rural farm communities and big cities, but still maintain that fundamental identity of Texan (it’s a thing, if any of y’all are from Texas or know Texans or watch Texans on TV). It’s an anchor point for Cam as he moves through an emotional tumultuous time in his life, and the constant of “Texas” helps him explore a new life of self-acceptance with more security.

In the end, this book is about the things I love, but at its core it’s about love, itself. Love through the self, love through connections, and love of one’s home are all secondary to the ability to love, in the first place.

 

About Midlife Crisis

 

Cam McGhee grew up like any other small-town Texas farm boy: he played football, went to church every Sunday, and married his high school sweetheart. But thirty-five years after he said “I do,” Cam finds himself nursing a beer in a gay bar, thinking about what might have been.

 

Dave Montoya is confident, self-assured, and cautiously single. But when he meets shy, uncertain, and clearly-still-not-out Cam in a coffee shop in Austin, his reservations about getting seriously involved again disappear. Cam is everything he’s looking for in a partner . . . almost, anyway.

 

No matter how much Dave wants him, and how good they are together, Cam can’t bring himself to openly embrace the life he was meant to live. After all, when his secret finally gets out, he faces the very real possibility of losing everything that kept him going for the first fifty years of his life, just like he’s feared for so long. But with a little faith—and a lot of love—his dream of living fully, truly, as himself might finally be within reach.

 

Available now from Riptide Publishing. http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/midlife-crisis

About Audra North

 

Audra North is a contemporary romance author of more than twenty romances, including the Stanton Family series, the Hard Driving series, and the Pushing the Boundaries series. She is the owner and publisher of Pink Kayak Press, which focuses on the publication of diverse romance works. Winter Rain, a Pink Kayak Press anthology, won a gold medal in the 2015 Independent Publisher Awards.

 

Audra enjoys speaking to writing groups and at industry conferences. She is also an avid jogger and loves running marathons. She has three children and lives with her family outside of Boston.

 

For more about Audra, and to sign up for her newsletter, visit audranorth.com.

 

Connect with Audra:

 

Giveaway

 

To celebrate the release of Midlife Crisis, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 2, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Release Day Blitz for The Highlander (The Order #2) by Kasia Bacon (excerpt and giveaway)

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ELFYY_2_NOWSZA_Novelette

Book Title:  The Highlander (The Order series #2)

Author:  Kasia Bacon

Cover Artist: Marek Frankowski 

Release Date: August 31 2017

Genre/s: Fantasy/Paranormal M/M Romance

Length: Words: 16K  No. of Pages: 65

Buy Links

Available on Amazon and KU.

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Goodreads Link

Blurb

I, Lochan of the famed Féyes clan, know all about fighting.

As a half-breed Elf, I have struggled against prejudice and feelings of inadequacy.

A recluse by nature, I have battled my aversion to touch and interaction with others.

To become an assassin of The Order, I have learnt to overcome the limitations of my mind and body.

But denying the power Ervyn Morryés holds over me might be the one fight I lose. The truth is—damn it all—the relentless Highlander brings me to my knees.

Note: This novelette is the second in the Order Series and not a standalone instalment. Reading The Mutt is crucial for its full enjoyment.

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Excerpt

I knew my insomnia worried him. Elven Army regulations regarded bedtime as a serious matter. A soldier’s body—well-honed, fed and rested—served as their primary weapon. A tired soldier made errors. And errors claimed lives.

To escape further scrutiny, I backed towards my cot and hopped under the blankets.

Of course, Ervyn took it as an invitation. Not that he ever acted as if he needed one. He shrugged out of his heavy leather jerkin and pulled off his boots.

“Come now.” In the near darkness, I heard a smile in his voice. “Let me tuck you into bed, mu’hrōnye.”

He’d fallen into the habit of calling me that. I asked the meaning of it once, but he simply laughed and distracted me by biting on the shell of my ear.

Ghor still hadn’t stirred. For once, I didn’t mind his snoring.

The narrow cot made for a tight fit for Ervyn and me.

Something else felt tight, besides. The crotch of my trousers.

Ervyn’s hand immediately rose to brush my cheek and jaw line. “I missed you,” he murmured.

My pulse jumped a notch.

He tended to say things like that, nonchalant, as if betraying one’s thoughts cost nothing. His impulsivity meant he rarely bothered to conceal his wants and intentions. Such a barefaced approach shocked the hell out of me, although I partly admired, partly envied his readiness to show emotion.

My eyes slid closed at the warm, rough feel of his thickened fingertips: the draw hand of the archer. Somehow this heightened my pleasure. The smell of pine needles, leather and horses hit my nostrils.

His thumb skimmed my bottom lip.

I moaned, already so aroused I could kill with my hard-on. Which, in fairness, would be a handy skill to have for an assassin.

Mountain Forest Covered By Fog

Meet the Author

Kasia Bacon Pic Bio

A linguist and an avid reader with a particular fondness for fantasy and paranormal genres, KASIA BACON lives in London with her husband. When not tearing her hair out over a translating project, she writes stories about the shenanigans of emotionally constipated assassins and sexy Elves. Otherwise, she can be found shaking her loins at a Zumba class, binging on anime or admiring throwing knives on Pinterest. She has a mild coffee and lemon tart addiction. A lover of MMA and Muay Thai, she also enjoys nature and the great outdoors. She dreams of becoming independently wealthy, leaving the city and moving into her wooden mini-manor—located in the heart of stunning forests resembling those of the Elven Country depicted in her tales.

Social Media Links

Blog/Website

Pinterest

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

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Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway to win an ebook from Kasia Bacon’s backlist, including The Highlander.

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Release Blitz Schedule

Highlander SCHEDULE

August 28

Gay Book Reviews  The Mutt #1 The Highlander #2

From Top to Bottom Reviews  

MM Good Book Blog Tours  

Lily G. Blunt  

August 29

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words   

Rainbow Gold Reviews 

August 30

We Three Queens  

The Way She Reads 

August 31

Making it Happen  

Valerie Ullmer 

Tangents and Tissues  

Louise Lyons

Bayou Book Junkie  

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

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Release Blitz for Magnetic (Treacherous Chemistry #1.5) by Avylinn Winter (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Pride | Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 14,000 words
 
Publisher: Pride Publishing
 
Treacherous Chemistry Series
 
Volatile (Book #1) – Pride | Amazon US | Amazon UK
Toxic (Book #2) – Pride | Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

He’d been afraid of me, and I had used fear to keep him away until I couldn’t stand to be anywhere but close.


Dante Heron has lived a life surrounded by pointless affection and impossible demands. Driven to the brink by his parents in pursuit of fame and fortune, he has learned to circumvent anything that would force him to feel more than he can stand. Until Chris. But then, he drove away Chris just as surely as he’d chased off everyone else.


Lost and afraid of the truth of that rejection, Dante pines from afar—more used to suffering than facing his problems. However, his feelings continue to torment him and no matter how many times he wants to leave the past behind, it won’t let go.


Publisher’s Note: Magnetic is a companion book to the Treacherous Chemistry series and should be read after Volatile to appreciate the story.

Excerpt


The spotlight nailed me to the parquet, blinding as I faced an audience I couldn’t see. Drops of sweat ran in rivulets down the nape of my neck, caught by the white starch collar before they could travel farther. The steadfast rhythm from the orchestra pulsed through my blood, holding me grounded while my fingers pressed against the harsh strings of my violin, moving from place to place in a dance my mind barely followed. I simply played, pouring out every last shred of emotion I had from the bottom of my core. Emptying myself of everything.

As always, I was close to losing control. One slip, one finger misplaced, and the night would be ruined.

I could hear Mother’s voice in the back of my mind. Don’t fail us. We have sacrificed so much for you. I opened my eyes and saw her sitting on the front row, a frown on her forehead. Father sat beside her, clasping her hand as if to soothe her annoyance. They were never content, never proud. I wondered if they ever would be.

The cello section initiated the final build-up, stroking their strings with utmost care. I banished Mother from my thoughts, letting myself be swept away, carried in the moment. I had to succeed—and I would. The beast was mine to temper, reined in with the tips of my fingers.

You can do it. This time it was Chris’ voice, gentle and reassuring. Inhaling a rugged breath, I almost lost my focus. I couldn’t think about him. Not now.

The conductor moved the orchestra into the last part of my solo and I followed, clinging to the sounds beneath my bow. It was a desperate chase to the finish—a chase that had been thrilling in the past, but everything had changed since Chris had left after those disastrous days in Athens. I had been so angry. I’d felt betrayed and abandoned with emotions I hadn’t been able to handle.

Pushing myself to the limit, I held on until the audience broke out in applause. It was a tame response, not the wild cheers from a delirious crowd.

I had failed.

At any other time, it would have been mortifying. My stomach would have dropped and my heart would have thumped loud and scared. But I couldn’t feel a thing once the music had ceased. I was already numb.

* * * *

“You have got to take this seriously, Dante,” Mother snapped as she caught me off-stage. Lara, my sponsor or manager, or whatever it was she called herself these days, trailed behind and winced at my dear mother’s tone.

“I am,” I replied, even if I knew it was far from the truth. I didn’t care anymore.

“I heard you miss several notes. Do not disappoint us like that again.”

“I won’t.” It was an automated response, designed to avoid conflict.

“I know you’re still sulking about that boy, but don’t you understand now why I told you to get a grip of yourself?” She folded her arms across her chest. “He’s meant nothing but trouble and he would have ruined your career.”

“Mrs. Heron, please, not here,” Lara interjected.

Mother pursed her upper lip but said nothing. She knew it was foolish to cause a scene while the members of the orchestra still lingered around us. Keeping up appearances was everything to her. Producing a loud huff, she took my arm and steered me through the narrow corridor, aiming for my private dressing room. Not for the first time, I wished it was truly private and not a room where Mother, Father and Lara could enter at will.

After finding out about Chris, my parents hadn’t let me out of their sight. It hadn’t mattered how many times I’d asked them to go home. They’d refused, bringing up painful memories of what I had lost. Lara had tried to persuade them to leave me alone, but even she balked when it came to my parents. I resented her for it, almost wanting her gone, as well, but she still made herself useful by cushioning their attacks.

I was old enough to shut the door in their faces if necessary, but some part of me still wanted their approval, an approval I’d never gained as a child.

Lara opened the tall door, letting us inside the dimly lit room. Scattered candles gave it a muted glow but there was nothing warm about the atmosphere. Rooms like these evoked unpleasant memories, at least if I discounted those moments spent with Chris.

I clenched my fingers around the fragile neck of the Stradivarius. I had to move on. It had been Chris’ choice to leave—even Lara had said so. In my desperation to save him from my parents’ wrath, I had pushed him too far away from me, and now he was gone. Swept away like dust in a harsh wind.

I was the wind, and it pained me. I was poison, destroying everything in my path, something he should have known from the start.

The door shut with a loud bang behind me.

“You know we do this because we love you,” Mother said, her voice laced with forced maternal care. She excelled at the act, but I knew better. It had taken years to understand that she only said these things to pull the strings even tighter around me, and when Chris had opened my eyes to real love, I had finally thought that I could break free. But he’d left and she remained.

“You don’t do it because you love me,” I replied, strengthened by Chris even if he wasn’t around. It came out of nowhere, pushed forward with rush of adrenaline.

“What did you say?” Her tone screeched and bellowed at my conscience.

I turned toward her, meeting her harsh glare. “I said that you don’t do it because you love me.”

“How dare you!” She shook with anger, her face pinched into a sneer. The carefully crafted mask of makeup cracked at the edges and she raised her arm as if to slap me. She had done it before. Many times. Red marks left by harsh fingers, bruises around my wrists where she’d held me. Years of living in fear of unjust discipline.

Breathing deep, I straightened my shoulders and stared her down, daring her to take that last step. She lowered her arm, perhaps realizing that in a physical fight she didn’t stand a chance against a grown man. I had never done anything in retaliation, but maybe she understood that this time would be different.

I was sick of her. I was sick of Father. I was sick of them ruining the small scraps of happiness I felt while playing the instrument I loved. It was the same every time—they would point out the mistakes, always saying that I should have played better. However, they’d never been able to take my passion away, no matter how hard they pushed me. It was the only reason I’d managed to keep playing. I had learned to accept their anger and disappointment. I had even learned to expect it, but their disapproval had ultimately taken Chris from me and that was a different story altogether. I should have been stronger. I should have stood my ground to keep Chris by my side when they’d flown all the way to Athens simply to break us apart.

“Be glad that we’ve supported you all these years. You would be nothing without us.” She waved me off, approaching the side table to pour herself a glass of chilled champagne. Even angered, she would only drink one serving—too controlled to loosen up.

Lara gave me the smallest of nods, almost imperceptible to avoid Mother’s detection. She knew how hard this was for me, and more than anyone else, she wished that I would break free from my parents. In many ways I already had. When Lara had taken me in as a fragile thirteen-year-old boy to nurture my talent, my life had changed for the better. But she’d never had the power to protect me completely. My parents were always around in one way or another. Their words echoed across oceans.

I wiped off my instrument, handling the beauty with the reverence it deserved. It was the only relationship in my life that still worked, but a violin didn’t keep me warm at night. That role had been given to endless girls, but the vicious cycle of dead affection had dragged me down even further. I hadn’t noticed until Chris had entered my life and changed everything.

The reflection of a candle flame glimmered on the dark screen of my phone which stared at me from the table as if urging me to pick it up. I wanted nothing more than to call him, but it had been weeks and the more time that passed, the harder it became.

The first time I’d dared to call, desperate to hear his voice, Mother had entered the room, staring at me while Chris had uttered my name as if he’d been waiting for my call but had feared it at the same time. I hadn’t been able to say anything and her presence had reminded me of why I should just let it be. It was useless to stir up emotions when nothing would come out of it.

The second time I’d called, he’d never picked up.

Author Bio


Raised in one of the cold corners of the world, Avylinn spends her days either wrapped up in a blanket or basking in the precious sunlight. When she can’t choose herself, she’s holed up in an office working with climate research that has little to do with the worlds and characters she creates in her vivid dreams.


Always the emotional one, she has found her outlet in writing, voicing thoughts, emotions and fears through her characters that feel very much alive to her. And, what began as a hobby soon took more and more time in her life until she realized that she had left her old life behind and entered a new one where her emotions turned into a super power—ready to launch at her poor readers.


She recharges with the help of coffee, cinnamon buns, popcorn and occasionally a healthier alternative.

http://www.avylinnwinter.com/
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