An Alisa Review: Professor Hot Pants by by Ember-Raine Winters

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Ryan

My mom always told me that I was better than random hookups but she was a drug addict, what did she know. Sex fulfilled a need in me. I’m not your average college student, but like many students I have one professor I fantasize about. Professor Marks is a great big no-no in the hookup department, so why can’t I stay away?

Philip

I’m a professor of psychology at the University. Being in my position, it was necessary to keep him at a distance. But, he’s slowly becoming an obsession of mine, the sexual tension between us is stifling. Now, we are expected to work together when all I want to do is bend his ass over the table. How will I be able to keep my hands to myself?

Can an unexpected ally bring these two people together and teach them the meaning of family?

Trigger warnings: child abuse, rape

This is really a story that makes you feel for the characters.  Ryan has spent was too much of his life having to be an adult well before he should have.  Philip loves his work and has never been tempted by a student until now but Ryan’s shadowed eyes really pull him in.

The little girl who pulls them together even more, Abby, is absolutely adorable and the things that have happened to her are horrible but she has the best advocates and supporters in Ryan and Philip. She really gives Ryan a reason to keep going after the death of his mother and something to focus on.  Phillip has really gotten to know Abby over the years and Ryan’s connection with her brings them even closer together.

The story really touched on some hard issues but does show that it can work out, not everything needs to be negative.  I got to see the story through the eyes of both Ryan and Philip so it was easy to connect with them.  I still have some trouble with some of Philip’s actions that really brought them together, I just feel like he made some really dumb moves and it he was as adamant about them being apart as he said then he wouldn’t have acted the way he did.  Also, the death of Ryan’s mother was never really settled to me.  Both Ryan and Philip had to adjust their lives throughout the story but found it is worth it to have real love and a family.

The cover art by Heather Bryant is a nice romance cover but nothing remarkable to me.

Sales Links: Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 173 pages

Publication: June 19, 2018

Edition Language: English

A Stella Release Day Review: Broken Rules (Mended Hearts #2) by Michaela Grey

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

Sanyam Desai is a Dom, a master of his craft. He knows exactly how to make a person beg, and he does it for a living, but he has no idea how to be in love.

Sterling Reynard is in desperate need of manners and someone who cares enough to take him in hand, but he knows he’ll never be loved.

When Sterling’s world crumbles around him, he turns to the one person who’s never asked for anything from him but his trust. But their relationship is built on quicksand, and one careless word will bring the whole thing down.

So far I enjoyed every new book Michaela Grey released and Broken Rules was non exception. Although it’s part of the Mended Hearts series, I actually haven’t read the first book and I got no problem because it worked easily as a standalone. In my opinion the blurb doesn’t make the story interesting, it doesn’t do the novel justice, it’s too simplistic and not so catchy. Since I already knew how  good the author is, I obviously gave Broken Rules a chance even if the blurb didn’t catch my attention.

I fell in love with the characters from the beginning of their story, I felt a strong connection with Sanyam and his being so much caring and open,and then a huge sense of protection to Sterling and his fears. Understandable fears because I have to say my heart ached for him and I so wanted to put some salt into his parents’ minds. It was a huge mess what happened to Sterling, thank god Sanyam, his big heart and his discipline were there to help the young man find his balance again.

I loved their relationship, how it developed and changed in time, although Sterling stubbornness to try and not start having feelings for Sayam, I cheered on the Dom perseverance and patience, how he was always there ready to take his boy where he needed to be.

To me Michaela Grey is a guarantee, she delivered another lovely story and I’m surely going to read the first book in this series, Broken Halo, as soon as I can, while I wait for more titles to come out. I feel to recommend her works and Broken Rules.

The cover art by Kanaxa is very well done and fitting, although at a first glance, before I read the blurb, it deceived me cause I thought the book was going to be about shifters.

SALE LINKS Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 224 pages

Publication Date July 24th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN13 9781640805002

Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Consorting with Dragons by Sera Trevor and Philip Alces (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When I started this audiobook I never expected to take such a wonderful, heartwarming journey through a realm of magic and dragons, kings and nobles, love and jealousy, all told to me by a Brit with an amazing ability to take me to a magical kingdom where dragons are the ultimate authority and a young man falls in love with a prince.

Lord Jasen of Grumhul, an impoverished young nobleman with a gambling rascal of a father, travels to the Draelands to secure a rich husband to settle his father’s debts. Once a year, all the young eligibles of the kingdom—male and female—come to the Draelands to spend a few weeks being groomed for the wealthy lords and ladies who will show up to make their marriage offer.

Jasen is there because his father won a place for him, but he doesn’t expect to make a match at all. His province is poor, and it’s the only one in the kingdom that isn’t dragon-blessed. Dragons are not allowed in Grumhul so when Jasen meets one and later dreams of one, he’s completely charmed.

Without realizing who he’s speaking to one day, Jasen befriends a handsome young man as he’s out scouting the countryside. It turns out he’s met King Rilvor, and more importantly, the king has met him. Over time it becomes clear they each care for the other, but there’s evil and negativity among Jasen’s peers and no one wants to see the king choose him, so he’s sabotaged and undermined.

This was such a delightful story, I find it hard to describe. It made me feel good. In fact, there was excitement and adventure and I shook my head at some of Jasen’s more unworldly moves and his poor decisions, but it wasn’t a dark tale. I looked forward to each new page, each new chapter, each new adventure, and oh, how I couldn’t wait to see this lovely fairy tale end with the king choosing the young nobleman over all others. And the dragons? Simply a bonus. Bright and colorful, intelligent and making the smart choice, it was evident that Jasen was the dragon’s choice for their king as well.

As I stated earlier, the narration was outstanding, so if you are looking for a nice way to spend some time in a peaceful happy place, this is a great choice. I highly—no, very highly—recommend this to all who enjoy fantasy, magic, and the world of dragons.

~~~

Cover by Natasha Snow shows Lord Jason dressed in court finery against a background of the castle with a dragon flying above. It perfectly depicts the heart of the story.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Audible

Audiobook Details:

9 hours 13 minutes

Audible Audio, Unabridged edition, 9 pages
Published July 10th 2018 by Tantor Audio (first published July 28th 2014)
Original TitleConsorting with Dragons
ASINB07F3DHTVK
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Lucy Review: Curl Around My Heart by Londra Laine

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Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Tate Robinson is the owner of a salon who is unapologetic about who he is and what he likes.  Mostly, anyway.  He’s a successful business owner who has won competitions for his hair design but feels less than when he visits his family.  But he’s an awesome boss and a kind person.  So when a man walks into the salon at closing time with a young girl in a football uniform desperately needing help with her helmet head braids because tomorrow is picture day he is really unable to turn them down.  That’s how he meets Reece and his daughter, LJ.  When he finally, finally gets home after an incredibly long busy day at work all he wants to do is lay on the couch and veg.  Unfortunately, a new neighbor upstairs is causing a ruckus moving furniture and Tate can’t stand it.  He runs upstairs, pounds on the door only to find…LJ.  His new neighbors are Reece and LJ. Uh oh.

What ends up happening is Reece needs help with the hair department and is willing to trade cooking for Tate.  It’s a win-win situation. He works a lot and he cares for his clients – he is also very honest with them when they ask.  “He held a strict policy that he never commented on his clients’ lives, never passed judgement to their faces anyway, or gave them unsolicited advice.  Now, solicited advice he had no problem doling out in spades.”  And it’s good advice.  Sometimes I wanted someone to give him some advice about his family, especially when the closeness of Reece and LJ get him sad.  “That closeness jogged long ago memories from when he was a kid, before his own father stopped talking to him…”

Reece can understand family issues because even though his mama talks to him and helps with LJ, she is a nonstop criticizer who is just waiting for Reece to fail.  “But he wondered why his mama had not gotten that gene that other parents had – the one where they believed in their kids, even when their kids didn’t believe in themselves.”  What her actions do is lead him to believe that he isn’t good enough, as a man, as a parent, as a son.  He and LJ have gone through a lot, particularly because of LJ’s mom, Jenna, and he’s handled it so well but he can only see the negative.  He’s bisexual, a fact that Jenna threw in her parent’s faces as an act of rebellion and now they make comments to LJ about it.

Doing LJ’s hair and sharing meals ends up leading to them being friends and then more.  But it isn’t easy for either of them.  Tate is waiting for Reece to leave him and Reece is sure he will mess it all up. Reece is so supportive of Tate while he deals with family , getting bothered because Tate gives up the heels, the makeup, the colorful clothes for dull when he visits his family. Reece lets his daughter be who she is – football and princesses?  Of course!  He thinks Tate should have that too. 

So the story is focused on Tate and Reece (and LJ) for the majority until Jenna throws them a curveball, one that Reece doesn’t handle in the best way. I felt so awful for Tate and for Reece, even though I felt he was to blame for it.  It gives him the courage to finally stand up to his mother but at what price?   Everything isn’t totally on Reece, it’s a two way street, but it was heartbreaking.

This is where the story lost some for me, because we started getting a couple of time hops that were aggravating.  “He just hoped Tate would be open to hearing him when Reece was ready to talk.”  The next chapter is “A month later”.  I thought WHAT?  At least Tate had an ally in his brother’s new girlfriend, Keilani, and it is her that makes Tate able to stand up to his father. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book and I was pulling for everything to work out with these guys.  The writing was fine – no over the top dialogue or awkwardness I had to figure out.  Okay, I have to admit there were phrases here that made me cringe.  I’m sure it’s just a personal preference but I can’t stand to read things like “…fully exposed, grasping empty hole” or “…red, wet grasping orifice…”  Just ugh. But those were few.  I felt the connection between Tate and Reece and that was important.

The cover art by Resplendent Media is a grayscale photo of two men, Reece and Tate.  It’s a little sedate, although very fitting for the book, so I wish there had been a glimpse of Tate’s sparkle and shine because that’s what made him Tate.

I do have to take a second to address the dedication of this book.  Dedicated to the uncle of the author, it was so bittersweet that it made me want to cry.  We don’t know the story of the uncle but the sadness comes through. 

Sales Links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

Blurb

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 210 pages
Expected publication: July 24th 2018
ASINB07DTNBSNV
Edition Language English

Release Blitz and Giveaway for Fusion (North Star Trilogy #2) by Posy Roberts

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Cover Design: Olive Us Designs
 
North Star Trilogy
 
Spark (Book #1) – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Flare (Book #3) – Amazon US | Amazon UK – Pre-Order
 
Blurb
 

Kevin and Hugo make plans to blend their lives, but bleak news changes everything. Building a future together is still a priority, but only if their relationship can survive.


Love strengthened by adversity.


Everyone in Kevin’s life knows him as straight rather than bisexual. There was no need to come out until now, but loving Hugo is worth any prejudice he’ll encounter. Hugo does his best to be patient while Kevin navigates his way toward openness, but he refuses to be put back in a closet for long.


Kevin wants to tell his kids without screwing up their newfound stability, and he worries about telling his ex because Erin might use the truth against him to renegotiate custody. Kevin wants it all finalized, but time isn’t on his side.


When Erin gets grim news, it shakes everyone to the core and rips Kevin away from the life he planned with Hugo. The news brings Hugo’s past hurts bubbling to the surface. Yet when Erin turns to Hugo for support, their new connection shows him how essential he is to Kevin and his kids.


Despite the chaos, it’s clear Hugo is very much a part of this unconventional family.

 

Author Bio


Posy Roberts started reading romance when she was young, sneaking peeks at adult books long before she should’ve. Textbooks eventually replaced the novels, and for years she existed without reading for fun. When she finally picked up a romance two decades later, it was like slipping on a soft hoodie . . . that didn’t quite fit like it used to. She wanted something more.


She wanted to read about men falling in love with each other. She wanted to explore beyond the happily ever after and see characters navigate the unpredictability of life. So Posy sat down at her keyboard to write the books she wanted to read.


Her stories have been USA Today’s Happily Ever After Must-Reads and Rainbow Award finalists. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with her family and friends and doing anything possible to get out of grocery shopping and cooking.

 

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Release Blitz – Curl Around My Heart by Londra Laine (excerpt)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Title: Curl Around My Heart

Author: Londra Laine

Editor: Jae Ashley

Cover Art: Aria Tan

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: July 24, 2018

Rating: 18+

Page Count: 168

Word Count: 61,923

Themes: California, single dad, beauty shop, contemporary, neighbor romance, African-American, drug addiction

Add on Goodreads 

BUY LINKS – AVAILABLE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

Blurb

At Pearl’s Hair and Nails, no one questions Tate Robinson about his high heels, crop tops, and lipstick, because he’s the boss and he can wear what he damn well pleases. The shop is his life, and he doesn’t need anything more. Until a man walks in with his adorable daughter, and Tate has to untangle her helmet-hair…and his growing feelings for the single dad.

Reece Evans has been on his job for years, has his own place, and now has custody of his eight-year-old daughter. But he doesn’t trust himself to avoid screwing up. Adulting is not his strong suit—or so he’s been told.And now a sexy beautician, who also happens to be his new downstairs neighbor, has Reece wanting and reaching for more than he thinks he’s capable of.

As Tate and Reece move past their own fears about relationships, Reece’s ex issues a threat that could destroy everything. Will Reece’s worries about other people judging him undermine his budding romance? And will Tate’s fear of rejection make him push Reece away? Or have the sweet single dad and his precocious daughter curled too tightly around his heart to give them up?

***Please be aware that this book contains references to drug addiction.***

Excerpt 

Eventually they eased away from each other, their lips pressing briefly against a cheek, an eyelid, the corner of a mouth, until their foreheads were touching as they shared slightly labored breaths.

“I like you, Tate.” The words spilled from Reece as though Tate had wrung them from him. Tate pulled back, forcing Reece to disentangle their legs. Tate was in profile to Reece now, his head dropped against the back of the couch. His stomach seized and his confidence drained, waiting to hear Tate’s response.

“I like you too, Reece,” the other man mumbled.

Oh, thank fuck.

Reece sighed in relief as Tate shifted to meet his gaze.

“I’m crazy attracted to you. Obviously. But, I’m just nervous because guys like you⎯”

Reece’s hackles rose. “Guys like me?”

Tate closed his eyes briefly then opened them. “Yeah. Guys like you. Stereotypically male. Not so obviously queer. Well, they’ve been attracted to me, dated me. But inevitably break things off, because they think I’m too femme. Too flamboyant.” Tate’s shine flickered, and a well of heat raced up Reece’s chest.

“Well, fuck those dudes,” Reece said, throwing himself back on the couch. “And don’t ever compare me to them. I see you, Tate.” He turned his head and waited until Tate met his gaze. “I like what I see. All of it. All of you. You look good to me in heels,kicks, tight-ass ladies’ jeans, and sweats too. I just like you, man.” He ended his little tirade on a shaky breath and then leaned over to brush his lips against Tate’s.

As he went to pull back, Tate trapped Reece against him, gliding his tongue across the seam of Reece’s lips, coaxing Reece to open then luring him into an urgent kiss. Their lips and noses smashed, teeth bit and clacked as they clutched at each other before Tate pulled back abruptly.

“What am I doing?” Tate whispered, resting his head against Reece’s. “You have a kid. You’re my client. My neighbor.” He pulled back, his face serious, eyes searching Reece’s. “And I like to top. Mostly. Like seventy-thirty.” Tate lifted his chin as though waiting for Reece to object.

Reece just smiled, his dick twitching at the thought of Tate topping him, bending him over the couch and making him wail. He brushed his lips against Tate’s. “Well, lucky for both of us then that I like to bottom, mostly. I’d say about sixty-forty. I figure we can meet somewhere in the middle. As far as the other stuff goes… What? You discriminating against me?”

Tate shook his head. “No, it’s just that I’ve been here before, okay. With the straight guys, the bi guys, even the gay ones, and most of them just wanted to fuck and didn’t even want to take me out on a date because I was too effeminate for them.” Tate waved his hand. “Too whatever, too…me, and I just…” He trailed off.

“You expect me to be like them,” Reece finished.

Tate groaned then covered his face briefly. “No, okay? Maybe. Ugh. It’s hard not to expect this to be the same, you know?” Tate grimaced.

Disappointment surged through Reece but then quickly dissipated. Tate didn’tthink Reece would personally fuckup whatever this was that was starting between them. No, this had nothing to do with Reece. Tate had been burned, and Reece could relate.He couldn’t make any promises about the outcome of their budding whatever it was, but he damn sure wanted to try. He didn’t want to be to Tate what all the other men who’d come before had been.

Reece grabbed Tate’s hand, turning to face the man. “Well, how about we do the unexpected? Can I take you out next Friday after work?” Reece held his breath.

About the Author 

Londra Laine

A forever-man for every man

Londra has loved to read since she discovered The Baby-Sitters Club. As a child, her parents would ground her by taking all the books out of her room for several days. Londra began reading romance in 2008 and fell in love with the M/M romance genre after purchasing a book by accident several years later.

After decades of daydreaming, and jotting down story ideas, Londra decided to give life to the characters in her head. She writes to give her guys the happy ending she wishes everyone––no matter their race, religion, gender, or orientation––could experience in real life.

During the day, Londra is a communications manager for a consulting firm. She is a recovering journalist. Londra loves the New York Yankees, Seinfeld reruns, tacos, and Friday nights on the couch with wine and a new book.

In 2010, she moved from her native California to New York City where she lived in Harlem for nearly eight years. In early 2018 she relocated to Seattle with her husband

Social Media Links

Londra on Twitter

Londra on Amazon

Londra on QueeRomance Ink

Londra on Goodreads

Londra on Facebook

Amazon 

Goodreads

RELEASE BLITZ SCHEDULE

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Release Blitz for Cold Like Snow by Sita Bethel (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Cold Like Snow

Author: Sita Bethel

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: July 23, 2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male, Male/Male Menage

Length: 65400

Genre: Paranormal, paranormal, ghosts, established couple, musicians, mild BDSM, ménage

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

When René moves into his new home, he didn’t expect it to come with roommates. Two handsome roommates, to be precise. Too bad they’re ghosts.

The fact that they’re dead doesn’t stop them from running their fingers through René’s hair or tackling him onto the bed. It’s not long before things escalate and René finds himself with two ghost lovers that treat him better than any living partner ever has.

However, they can’t eat, can’t go far from the house where they died, and their fingers feel like icicles against René’s skin. The longer René is with them, the more he can sense them, but nothing can reduce the chill of their bodies against his. Still, it might be worth the hypothermia.

Excerpt

Cold Like Snow
Sita Bethel © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
René stood in front of the doorway and ran his finger over the outline of the key’s metallic surface before wedging it into the lock and stepping inside his new house. The cold air puckered the skin of his arms and neck. He rubbed his shoulders to keep them warm as he looked around. The flooring throughout the house was black-and-white linoleum. A wide living area faced him—to his left was a fireplace, straight ahead stood double glass doors leading to a small garden, and to his right a half bathroom, dining area, and kitchen. Between the dining room and the glass door, a staircase with a thick cherrywood banister curved up to the three bedrooms and a full bathroom.

René walked to the staircase and stopped short of the first step. He examined the black-and-white squares. They looked clean at first glance, but since he was searching, René noticed the thin rust-colored lines between the tiles. It was why he had bought the house. He’d heard the two previous owners had died after falling down the stairs. Afterward, the old building fell victim to exaggerated ghost stories. True, it did make the building more affordable, but the real reason it appealed to René was because he loved ghost stories and all things macabre. Ever since he was a child, tales that made others grimace had made René smile. He squatted to the floor and reached out to graze his fingertips against the tiles.

A long sigh escaped from between René’s lips. He stood and headed to his moving truck. After several hours of carrying boxes in, he decided to save the larger furniture for the next day. René lit a fire; orange light crawled across the floor and walls. He unrolled his sleeping bag near the hearth and slipped inside. The old house creaked. The silence in the house amplified every other noise, which echoed like a lullaby and soothed René into a hard sleep.

At dawn, before René was fully awake, he dreamed someone dragged their fingers through his hair. He rolled on his side, muttering, “It’s too cold to get up.” The next time he opened his eyes, sunlight brightened the room through the garden doors. He sat up, rubbed his face, and remembered the odd dream of being petted. He smiled at the dream as he stretched and moaned. René slipped out of the sleeping bag and shuffled toward the kitchen to make coffee.

The day labored on as René set upon the tedious mission of dragging his furniture inside his house by himself. Most items—the bed, the office desk, his baker’s rack—he had dissembled before loading into the rental truck, but a few pieces—the washer, dryer, and sofa—he had to strap to a dolly with bungee cords, making it slow to get them inside the house. There was nothing better to do during the constant back and forth than think. He’d spent most of his thirty-four years of existence rushing past his own life. He’d sped through junior high and high school as fast as he could, desperate to get away from the small-minded town where his aunt and uncle had raised him after his parents died of heat exhaustion during a camping trip. After he graduated, René fled to the nearest city, waiting tables to scrape up enough cash for a small apartment while he earned his associate degree. He jumped into a relationship with the first guy who openly pursued him, infatuated by the bold, flirtatious attitude that René never experienced from any of the guys back home. Even after his heart broke, René hurried straight to the next boyfriend, who ended up being much worse than the first.

He learned his lesson after that one, sticking to casual hookups as he focused on work and his studies. Once he finished school, René was desperate to find a job where he could afford more than ramen noodles and dollar-store socks. Now he was at a point in his life where he wanted nothing more than to appreciate everything he obtained and accomplished over the years. He escaped the small town. He made enough money to pay his bills. He finally bought a house. René wanted a chance to breathe and enjoy it. Perhaps find a decent partner who wanted to settle down, or at least get a dog.

He went through an entire box of granola bars and a pot of coffee before he decided to go to the store for groceries.

When he returned, René made a sandwich for lunch and then continued to set everything in order. By the end of the day, each stack of boxes sat in the correct room and the furniture was more or less placed where he intended to keep it. Too exhausted to assemble the bed, René spent another night in his sleeping bag near the fireplace, feeling like a strange post-modern male Cinderella.

In the early gray dawn, he had the same dream. Fingers, barely felt, ran through his hair and gingerly touched his cheeks and collarbone. René exhaled with content at the soft, misty caresses, and he wished ghosts were real before sinking into a deeper sleep.

In the morning, he started unpacking in the kitchen until he found the toaster and a skillet. After eating breakfast and unpacking the kitchen, he assembled the bed. Two nights on the floor had his shoulders stiff. René cursed as he balanced the sideboard of his bed frame in his lap and worked the first screw in one turn at a time. For the cost of a six-pack of beer and some pizza, May would have been more than happy to help René both move his furniture and set up the bed, but René relied on his best friend too much already. The next time May visited, René wanted to go out and have fun, not unpack a mountain of boxes, so he finished tightening the first screw and wondered where his bag of extras had disappeared. René groaned when he saw them on the other side of the room. He would have sworn he’d set them beside his lap when he started, but apparently he hadn’t. By the time he pushed the box spring and mattress onto the completed frame, René was worn out. He dropped onto the bed and made snow angel motions with his arms and legs before resting.

“Forget unpacking. I should just go to sleep,” René spoke to the bed, having no one else to talk to.

His muscles ached from carrying boxes and furniture, and the bed was firm but soft enough for him to sink a little. René shut his eyes and pulled a deep, intentional breath into his lungs. Daydreams played out behind his closed eyelids. It’d been awhile since anyone else had been in his bed with him, and he imagined a mystery lover sneaking to his bedside, sitting beside him, and kissing his stomach as he unzipped René’s pants. His fantasy spun out of control. The mattress felt like it really did shift with the weight of another person sitting close. René sat up and shook his head to rid himself of the ridiculous daydream. He made the bed before going downstairs to finish unpacking the living room.

By the third night, the house resembled a home. René examined his progress in the living room and nodded his head in satisfaction. As he stood in place, René’s hair slid against his shoulders, as if someone had brushed the long strands away from his face. He froze a moment, wondering if his imagination played tricks with his mind again, but the distinct pressure of a hand lighted on his shoulder and fingers ran down his cheek. He blinked, trying to process the strange sensation of being touched by invisible hands.

“Hello.” René’s voice sounded loud in the visibly empty living room.

The touching stopped after he spoke.

“Wait, don’t leave,” René said, afraid he’d somehow startled whatever had interacted with him. René’s gaze darted across the living room, searching for any indication that he wasn’t alone. Nothing was out of place. René sighed, his shoulders slumping forward. “I didn’t imagine that,” he whispered, to convince himself he hadn’t daydreamed the experience.

An idea drifted into René’s head. He spoke to the air in a bashful tone. “If you can hear me, would you follow me. Please?”

He walked up the stairs and opened the door to his office. Stacks of boxes lined the walls and surrounded the desk like strange cardboard obelisks. René pilfered through the boxes until he found one labeled office odds and ends.

He pulled the tape from the top of the box and set aside small statues of gargoyles, skeletons, and imps. With both hands, René removed the old Ouija board from the cardboard box. He’d never used it before and only owned it for the aesthetic, but now he sat on the tiled floor with the board in his lap and the heart-shaped planchette under his fingertips.

“I know this is dumb,” he said. “I know this is a stupid toy, but why not use it? Crap, I hope I’m not talking to myself. I just want to—” A breath hitched in René’s throat as the planchette scrawled across the wooden surface of the board.

“Oh good! I was hoping you’d want to talk. Hold on. Let me get a pen.” René rummaged through another box until he found a pack of pens and a notebook. He held the paper in his lap so he could write down the letters. “What’s your name?” René asked, but to his disappointment, the planchette only swerved in between the yes and no options at the top of the board. He frowned, thinking of what he might be doing wrong. Another question came to mind. “How many of you are here?”

The pointer swerved to the number two on the board.

“What are your names?” The planchette moved without him touching it, freeing up his hands to write each letter.

Marcus.

Bastion.

“Really?” René raised an eyebrow. It was a rhetorical question, but the heart planchette spelled another sentence.

“You have a problem with our names?”

“No.” René smiled. “My name’s Rembrandt. Our mothers should be slapped. Call me René, though.” A nervous chuckle slipped past René’s lips. “Not that I can hear you say my name.”

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Sita Bethel obtained a B.A. in Creative Writing at Arkansas Tech University; however, she learned how to write fiction on sites such as Archive Of Our Own and fanfiction.net. She keeps coloring books near her computer for when she’s “writing,” and owns an awful lot of dice for someone who’s never played a tabletop RPG. Sita Bethel currently lives in Arkansas, teaches Zumba Fitness and Salsaton classes at a local gym, and hopes to someday own a fortress of solitude staffed with incompetent henchmen.

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