An Alisa Review: Wolf, en Garde (Wolf #2) by A.F. Henley

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

 

Three years ago, Lyle made a mistake that cost him his freedom, and almost his life. Now, sick to death of watching his father love the man that Lyle wanted, Lyle accepts an offer to leave Wolf, WY, behind and see what life in Washington, DC,. can do for him instead.

 

When Lyle comes across a seductive, attractive stranger with a fascinating yet terrifying view of humanity, he’s more than intrigued. It doesn’t take Lyle long to realize that Arius isn’t just playing games, though, and when Lyle runs across a secret in Arius’ lair he has no choice but to flee, even knowing his actions will enrage Arius.

 

On the run, with only a psychic’s second sight and his own instinct to help him, Lyle has nowhere to go but home. The only question is, will they have him when he shows up.

 

I enjoyed this story and was glad to see Lyle get the chance to have his own life.  Though in the end the story didn’t seem as settled and I felt like I was still missing something.

 

Lyle is still struggling with his father and Randy’s relationship and quickly accepts the opportunity to have the freedom he desire, though he quickly finds out that he can’t trust those around him completely, I was glad that he was able to go and look for Rafe when he knew there was something wrong, even if he didn’t know who or what he was looking for.

 

This story was mostly Lyle trying to and gaining his freedom but then realizing it isn’t quite what he wanted either.  I hated that this was also at the expense of Randy’s mother, though she brought it upon herself, I can’t believe that Randy’s father Henry stayed with such a manipulative person.  I am glad that Lyle found what he thought Randy was and was able to realize he was wrong before.

 

Once again I really like the cover art and it shows the perfect setting for the story.

 

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 225 pages

Published: 2nd edition, September 11, 2019 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781646561018

Edition Language: English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Slow Birth (Heat of Love #2.5) by Leta Blake

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

This story takes place concurrently with Alpha Heat, but this one focuses on Jason and Vale in their early months together—a follow-up to Slow Heat—as the men are finally living together as Erosgape fated mates. Vale, an older omega, a bookworm, professor, and artist, and Jason, a much younger Alpha and a businessman with a love for gardening, are happy and in love and having sex every time they lay eyes on each other. Or so it seems.

Caught in a freak storm without condoms, Vale has a sudden onset of heat and there’s no way they can stay away from each other. Jason would do anything to keep his omega from the terrible pain of heat and as a result, oops, suddenly Vale is pregnant. He once had an abortion that left scarring, so this pregnancy could lead to both miscarriage and possibly his death. Jason quite epically falls apart for much of the early segment of the story when Urho, their doctor (Alpha Heat) agrees Vale can likely carry to term or close to it. I wasn’t a fan of Jason’s whining and tantrums, but I guess it was necessary to the story. To me, it just emphasized their age gap and not in a good way.

Then toward the latter part of the pregnancy, also concurrent to Alpha Heat, they travel to Virona where Jason’s BF, Xan, now resides with his omega, Caleb. Without spoilers on the previous books, I will say that Urho accompanies them and that works out quite well for him and his secret love. This story is light on plot—being primarily only about the pregnancy and repercussions and it’s heavy on the sex scenes. In fact, I consider this more erotica than romance.

All ends well and we gets lots of family feels as Jason and Vale bond with their baby and look forward to a happy future. A nice bit of fluffy happiness to fill in the gap of what was happening with this couple while the couple from book two were focused elsewhere.

This book should only be read after Slow Heat and Alpha Heat as the basic story and character development primarily takes place in those books. But for readers who have read those stories, this one is going to be the cherry on the ice cream sundae.

The cover by Dar Albert is done in the same sepia tones as the other books and features a younger man standing behind and kissing the shoulder of an older bearded man. It’s a nice representation of the characters.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 167 pages
Published October 17th 2019 by Leta Blake Books
ASIN B07WSDZ4FT
Edition Language English

Love a Fantasy Story? Check out the Release Blitz With Excerpt for Precariously Mated (D’Vaire Book 14) by Jessamyn Kingley

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Precariously Mated (D’Vaire, Book 14)

Author: Jessamyn Kingley

Cover Artist: LJ Anderson of Mayhem Cover Creations

Release Date: October 24, 2019

Genre/s: M/M Urban Fantasy Romance

Trope/s: Fated Mates, Friends to Lovers

Themes: Friendship, Love, Self-Awareness 

Heat Rating: 3 flames   

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

 

A precarious road is no match for an enduring friendship of two strong hearts.

 

Blurb 

At the tender age of eighteen, Prince Niko Kyrkosdraconis finds himself at a dragon fair, trying his best to maintain his strict schedule of rituals that have followed him since birth, when Fate steps in. The appearance of two strangers alters the course of his life, and Niko sets upon an unforeseen path. Centuries later, Niko is doing whatever he can to pick up the pieces of his shattered world. Unsteady and uncertain, he struggles to place faith in both himself and those around him. Much to his surprise, he finds himself with a new best friend who he grows to trust like no one else before.

Royal Duke Costas Draconis is happy to be back with the men he calls family after ten years of caring for his irascible parents. Having a knack for money, he is once again entrusted with making the dragons prosperous. Costas is surrounded by loved ones and thriving on the outside, but deep inside he yearns for his mate. Then Niko comes into his life. Costas loves the time they spend together, especially their nightly talks on the roof deck, but he must constantly remind himself that the man is not for him.

Niko and Costas go to great lengths to hide their feelings for one another and everyone else, fearful that the future holds nothing but heartache. But things are never what they seem, and Fate will always have the last word, even when you doubt her. As the obstacles before them are slowly peeled back, will Costas and Niko find a way to call each other mate? The road ahead is precarious, and in the end, Fate will have her say, and only then can Niko and Costas prove that the strongest hearts will prevail.

 

Excerpt

Niko lifted his beer to his lips and drank deeply. It was a bit cool outside as the sky darkened, but he wouldn’t dare retreat indoors—not unless he and Costas could find another beautiful spot to hang out and discuss whatever topic burdening their minds. It was not a ritual but a tradition they’d built since the moment he arrived.

“Why are you grinning at your beer?”

Glancing up, Niko smiled brighter. “I just realized it’s been three months since I moved here.”

“Wow, has it really?” 

“Yes, and this was the second week in a row I was able to handle scrubbing my bathroom and bedroom only two times.” He refused to feel ashamed of those moments when his anxiety ruled over everything and he had to give in to compulsive actions. There were days when he went to bed happy that he’d only obsessed over things he didn’t want to forget and others where he was frustrated that even while trying to rest he felt tension. It was all a part of who he was, and just like the thoughts that still circled until he forced himself to stop listening, Niko handled it the best he could.

“Is there anything you haven’t succeeded in since you arrived?”

“I don’t think I’ve improved very much with my cooking,” Niko answered thoughtfully. The men in the house didn’t complain, but so far nothing he’d made was tempting to his own palate. Maybe he was being too picky. If his new family enjoyed it, then why couldn’t he? He wished he had more time to experiment but with his rituals, desire to read books to improve at his job, and the schedule the royals had to maintain with events he had to stick with weekends and one or two nights a week. He deemed himself lucky that no matter what was going on, Costas always found time to meet him out on the roof deck each night.

“Why do you say that?” Costas’s voice sounded off somehow, but Niko didn’t see anything troubling in his gaze.

“I don’t think it’s that tasty.”

“I’m sure you just need to find recipes with ingredients you like more.”

“Perhaps that’s it.” However, he’d purposely set out to pick ones that featured his favorite things, so Niko wasn’t sure he agreed but he didn’t want to hurt Costas’s feelings by dismissing his suggestion.

“The good news is that you’re trying.”

“I feel like all I’ve done since I got here is try new things. It’s been so wonderful to have so many opportunities. I can hardly fathom everything I’ve learned of this incredible Council and the people in it. I like my job even if it intimidates me still.”

“Sometimes we have to do things that scare us for our own good.”

“That does seem to be the case for me. I thought my anxiety would grow with new experiences but instead, I’m doing better at managing it. It certainly hasn’t come close to disappearing and I do freak out internally on a regular basis, but I’m slowly learning new ways to cope.”

“I’m so proud of you.”

Niko grinned at the handsome man reclining next to his chaise. Costas’s approval meant the world to him, but the most important person he’d impressed was himself. His dragon flew every few days and each time they soared together, Niko was granted more of his fortitude. Together Niko and his beast were forging themselves into a more confident version of himself, less reliant upon fear. It did help that everything that made him sick to his stomach was still in Greece. Niko still woke at night from terrifying memories of his time with his mates, but he refused to stay a prisoner to it. “Me too.”

“Elf’s excited about the law to help shifters get their training.”

“I know. I’ve been fielding calls from other shifter leaders for the past two weeks. You had a great idea, and I don’t see how it won’t be passed. There has hardly been any dissension.”

“I was inspired by you. You shouldn’t have had to shift by yourself without any training.”

As Niko examined his life, those scary minutes or however long he’d sat outside waiting for his dragon didn’t resonate as deeply as other moments. Yes, he’d been afraid, but his beast has assured him they were going to be okay. It was his position as mate to Andriana and Gelon that had broken him in so many ways. But those weren’t things he could speak to Costas about despite their close friendship. “I suppose not.”

“You have a faraway look on your face.”

“I was considering my past. It seems as if each day my picture of it alters.”

“Sometimes profound changes can do that. I had a similar experience when I had to leave here to take care of my parents. Suddenly I realized how much I’d taken for granted.”

“You gave up one family to do your duty to another.”

“Yeah, and it was cold comfort when my father berated me as my mother cried because she couldn’t figure out who either of us was.” Costas leaned his head back as he frowned. “I hope they’re happy now without pain or lacking anything they want.”

“Me too, and I’m sorry you weren’t able to resolve all your issues with them.”

“My father refused to listen to my feelings on any subject. I fooled myself into believing we could ever mend what was broken.”

“My father was much the same. It was his way and I had no voice.” Niko understood now that his parents had never loved him, and they’d kicked him out at the first opportunity. Growing up without their affection had made him believe he was the one lacking when the fault lay with them.

“You know, it’s been a long time since you spoke to him. Have you considered writing to him now? We know his kingdom is part of the Council.”

“I was cast aside because he disapproved of my mates. They are still the same. And that was simply an excuse anyway. I can see now that he never cared for me or my feelings.”

“Are you sure? Once they pass, there’s no winding back the clock.”

Niko turned to Costas and set his beer down. “Do you know I never learned to ride a horse?”

Costas lifted an eyebrow. “How in the world did you get around? It’s not like we had cars when you were young.”

“He decreed that I was to ride in a cart.”

“Did he give a reason?”

“I was a shy child who was overwhelmed by things easily. I’ve mentioned before that my sister practically raised me. Nitsa was always there to take me outside to play or read me stories. My father hated it. He told me I did nothing but weep and hide behind her skirts. I think I was five or six years old at the time. When the other young boys were being given lessons in weaponry, he told me I wasn’t welcome to learn. He wasn’t going to waste any coin on having a blade made or take up any of the trainers’ time with the likes of me.”

“Your father sounds like an asshole.”

 

About the Author

Jessamyn Kingley lives in Nevada where she begs the men in her head to tell her their amazing stories which she dutifully writes it all down in what has become a small mountain of notebooks. She falls in love with each couple and swears whatever book she wrote last is her absolute favorite.

Jessamyn is married and working toward remembering to start the dishwasher without being distracted by the scent of the magical detergent. For personal enjoyment, she aids in cat rescue while slashing and gashing her way through mobs in various MMORPGs. Caffeine is her very best friend and is only cast aside briefly for the sin better known as BBQ potato chips.

Visit her website

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Other Links

 Twitter  |  Pinterest  |  Tumblr

 

 

Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

 

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Love Urban Fantasy? Don’t Miss Out on the Blog Tour with Excerpt for Mastering the Flames (The Beacon Hill Sorcerer #4) by S.J. Himes

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Mastering the Flames

The Beacon Hill Sorcerer Series

S.J. Himes

M/M Urban Fantasy

Release Date: 10.04.19

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Blurb

Guilt-ridden after the massacre of his family, Isaac Salvatore turned to binge drinking to escape the pain. Now twenty-four years old, Isaac is a recovering alcoholic woefully out of practice in the magical arts, leaving his fire affinity hanging on the edge of disaster. After a month of rehab, he returns to Beacon Hill and his family, determined to remain sober, learn to control his magic, and figure out a plan for his life that doesn’t involve drinking.

Constantine Batiste is the oldest, most powerful vampire in the city. Born in ancient Gaul, the bastard son of a Celtic king, his long life has been shrouded in tragedy and horrors. Recent mistakes have left him wary and determined to guard his clan from all foes. When two of his clan members fall victim to an ancient evil, he summons the Necromancer of Boston for aid. Accompanying his older brother to the Tower is the handsome young fire mage once wounded by Constantine’s arrogance, and their encounter reignites an attraction that burns within both Constantine and Isaac.

The answer to who is targeting the vampires of Boston is buried in the dark, early days of Constantine’s transition to an immortal life. Isaac finds himself saddled with a painful insight into the evil cutting a swath through the supernatural population of Boston. While his brother, Angel, takes over the hunt to find and stop the threat to the city, Isaac struggles to find a balance between helping his brother and finding his own purpose and place in the world, free from his brother’s shadow.

Falling in love wasn’t part of his plan, but mastering the flames that burn between him and Constantine soon becomes the most important thing in his life, even as an ancient evil seeks to destroy them.

Mastering the Flames is the fourth book in The Beacon Hill Sorcerer series and is not a standalone. The series should be read in order for maximum enjoyment and understanding of the plot and characters.

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YM2XF52

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07YM2XF52

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07YM2XF52

Amazon AU: www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07YM2XF52

Amazon FR: https://amazon.fr/dp/B07YM2XF52

Amazon DE: https://amazon.de/dp/B07YM2XF52

Amazon IT: https://amazon.it/dp/B07YM2XF52

Amazon ES: https://amazon.es/dp/B07YM2XF52

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Excerpt

Isaac woke to an incessant pounding in his head. He groaned, sat up, and realized his mistake. Someone was pounding on his door and he wasn’t hungover. Being back in his bedroom in the apartment after so long was fucking with his mind.
He tossed back the covers, brushed his long brown hair out of his eyes, and got out of bed. The sun poured through the bedroom window, warming the floor beneath his bare feet as he went to the door. He flung it open and scowled at the impish grin on his best friend’s face. Daniel flung himself forward and Isaac caught him, hugging the apprentice tightly. They were nearly the same height, and both were built lean with similar frames. If not for the hair and skin coloring, they could pass for brothers. Daniel was fair and bright, and Isaac had naturally darker skin that was tanned as if he spent his days under the sun, his hair dark brown with remnants of fire-red highlights.
“You’re home! I’m so glad!” Daniel cried, and Isaac chuckled.
“Hey, Danny,” Isaac replied in greeting. “Angel said he made you go out last night. Lemme guess, Rory was lonely again?”
Daniel pulled back, Isaac’s teasing making him blush. Daniel was a pretty man. Isaac suspected Daniel was entirely unaware of just how gorgeous he was, as there wasn’t even a hint of vanity to be seen in his personality.
“I wanted to stay and see you when you got home, but Angel said you were probably going to crash.” Daniel hedged, biting his lip. “Rory is all alone out there. He still refuses to stay in the Mansion, sleeping in the greenhouse instead. I feel bad for him.”
“I’m sure that’s all you feel,” Isaac teased, and Daniel’s blush went inferno. “My first night home and my best friend bails to hang with a super-hot fae.”
“Hey!” Daniel glared, but his eyes were twinkling. “I am glad you’re home. Going to Nevermore to visit was awkward.”
After the chaos of the first week of his stay, and when his horrific withdrawal was over, Daniel came to visit three times a week, bringing news from home. The High Council was booted from New York City, Portland, Seattle, and Miami, after those cities refused to cooperate with the consulates and magisters stationed therein. They took the chance after Angel defeated the High Magister, forcing the Council to abandon their footholds in Montreal and Boston. In two weeks’ time, half a dozen American cities declared their independence, and rumors swirled that New Orleans was next, with a certain female necromancer and her undead army leading the charge. Angel was being credited with a major shake up in world governments, and he was grumpy about it.
Isaac grabbed his shower kit and a towel and left his room for the bathroom down the hall. He and Daniel shared the hall bath, since Angel had his own in the master bedroom. Daniel followed him in and sat on the sink while Isaac used the toilet then stripped, turning on the shower and waiting for the hot water to start. They didn’t really have any boundaries, not like Isaac and Angel did. Angel was big on personal space and privacy. Isaac really didn’t care. Daniel chatted away, sharing that he’d taken Rory to the City Museum, watched the Marathon at the finish line, and convinced the fae to let Angel front him some money and a credit card.
Isaac hopped in the shower, but left the curtain partially open, listening to Daniel. “I’m with Rory in the bank, and he drops a pouch of gold on the counter, and the teller’s eyes get huge! Some nuggets were bigger than a tennis ball! It was a mess though, since the bank manager thought Rory was his crazy brother, then the cops got called and I had to use the SOS on my phone and Angel came and made everyone leave us alone….” Daniel was excited and his run-on sentence was a non-stop adventure from beginning to end. “Angel puts his foot down, though by this time O’Malley has shown up, the cops are all like, ‘Where did all this gold come from, how’d ya get it?’ Some of them seemed to think Rory was suspicious—he told them his last name, and tons of the police know what Cian looks like, so things got really tense. Rory got all haughty and declared he’d got it from a Roman Caesar for dispatching an orc raid pillaging through a province over 1,800 years ago.”
Daniel shook his head, sighing. “When Angel arrived, I’d never seen humans get so quiet before. Everyone shut up, let Rory gather up his gold, and Angel gave Rory an account in his name from the Salvatore fund and the bank gave him a debit and credit card and a pile of cash.” Daniel was animated, talking with his hands, heels kicking against the cabinet under the sink.
Isaac laughed while he washed, dunking his head under the spray. Watching Daniel talk with so much emotion was enjoyable. His friend was blooming. There was a huge difference in him even in the last month.
Isaac rinsed, then hopped out, Daniel tossing him the towel. He dried off while thinking about the shenanigans his family experienced while he was going through boring group therapy and meditation sessions. “How did Angel get Rory out of the bank?”
Daniel grinned and flipped back a strand of bright blond hair from his eyes. “Eroch saw the gold, curled up on the pouch in Rory’s arms, and hissed at anyone who got too close. No one wanted to piss off the fire-breathing dragon, so Angel declared we were leaving. We went out to eat then took Rory home. Angel refused the gold in exchange for the modern currency, saying the currency was payment for restoring the gardens and the greenhouse. Rory gave Eroch a huge nugget of gold in thanks, and Eroch has it stashed in Angel’s bathroom on a stack of towels in the corner behind the toilet.”
“What? Oh, I bet Angel loves that!” Isaac laughed at the image of Eroch nesting on a gold egg, grumbling whenever Angel went in to use the toilet. Isaac stopped laughing, a sudden thought worrying him. “Wait. Eroch doesn’t think it’s an egg, right?”
Daniel shrugged, and his face fell with sympathy. “No idea. That would be sad, though. Maybe Angel knows. Poor Eroch, if he does.” Daniel paused, eyes wide in alarm. Isaac stopped drying himself, wondering what was wrong. Daniel leaned in and whispered, “What if we got Eroch’s gender wrong? What if he isn’t a he? What if he’s a girl?”
Isaac wrapped the towel around his waist. “We’ve been calling him a male for a year, Danny. If he cared at all, he would have made it known. I think we’re okay.”
“I don’t wanna assume. We’ve been so rude.”
“If he were humanoid and had human ideas of gender, then yes, we’ve been rude.” Daniel rolled his eyes at Isaac then slid off the sink. “Ok, fine. We can ask him at breakfast.” Daniel waved at Isaac over his shoulder as he left the bathroom, dismissing him. “What did I say? Make me some tea!” Isaac called after Daniel who grumbled back at him about being rude, but the water running and the clicking of the stove burner told him Daniel heard him.
Hopefully they didn’t make anything explode this time.

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My name is Sheena, and I have more pen names than I probably should. I write as SJ Himes, Revella Hawthorne, and Sheena Himes. I reside in the mountains of Maine (closer to Canada than I am to fresh lobster) on a 300-year-old farm beside a river in the woods.

My companions are my furbabies: Micah, my large dog who hates birds; and Wolf and Silfur, two cats who love me but hate each other. I write romances with an emphasis on plot and character development, and almost all my characters are LGBTQ+ and that’s on purpose.

To keep current on what I’m working on and where to find me on social media, go to my website: http://www.sjhimes.com

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Don’t Miss Out on the Blog Tour with Excerpt for Wrestling With Hope by DH Starr

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Wrestling with Hope

DH Starr

MM Romance Contemporary & Erotic

Release Date: 10.07.19

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Blurb

Forced to move from place to place, never setting down roots, robbed Scott Thayer of any thread of stability during his childhood. No matter how hard he tried, he could never please his distant and judgmental father. If his own father couldn’t love him, who could?

Two years after last setting eyes on the man whose approval he’d never win, he’s found a good life, attending college, become a star on the wrestling team, built a home with his lover Derek, and surrounded himself with people who love him.

An unexpected note from his father, saying, “I want to see you,” turns Scott’s world upside down. Why, after all this time, does the man want back into his life, just when Scott’s wounds have begun to heal? Should he risk his happiness and peace of mind to accept the invitation from someone who’d left him so damaged?

Or will he finally find closure and slam the door on his pain and never look back?

Amazon US: http://bit.ly/WrestlingWithHope

Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/WrestlingWithHope_UK

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Excerpt

The scent of coffee wafted up the stairs to Scott’s room. Ah. Christmas morning. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes, slipped out of bed, and meandered toward the kitchen, stopping at the bathroom along the way.

His mother sat at the table reading a newspaper, gripping the sides so they crinkled. “Morning.” She put the paper aside, crossed the room, and placed an awkward kiss on his cheek. “Want some coffee?”

What’s got her twisted in knots? “Merry Christmas, Mom. I can get it myself.” Scott trudged to the cupboard, procured a mug, poured himself some coffee, and heaped two large spoonsfuls of sugar into the steaming black liquid. Heaven. The heat going down his throat. The bitter scent filtering into his nose. The caffeine which seemed to instantly filter into his system. They all melded together into one perfect waking up experience. He propped himself against the counter and closed his eyes. Coffee drinking, a bad habit he didn’t intend to quit. Plus, he needed to mentally prepare for whatever his mother stressed about.

After a few sips, he opened his eyes to find his mother ogling him, her hands folded tightly. The newspaper lay forgotten on the table. “Scott, there’s something I think you should see.” She motioned toward the kitchen table where a white envelope took the place where his breakfast should be.

No “Merry Christmas” or “how’d you sleep?” Scott gripped the edge of the counter, preparing himself for the worst.

His mother continued without any buildup or preliminary warnings. She picked up the card. “This came for you the other day. I wasn’t sure when to give it to you, and it’s Christmas so I’m probably an idiot to give it to you today, but it’s not right for me to hold onto it”.

She’s rambling. His mother handed the card to Scott, then scurried to the sink and rinsed out her mug for much longer than probably necessary.

Scott’s heart skipped a beat, then pounded. He recognized the handwriting. Dad.

“What’s this?” A stupid question, but at least asking gave him a minute to process what he held in his hand. Why would his father, after two decades of never giving him a card or any other kindness, reach out to him now?

“I think you should open it and find out for yourself.” His mother kept her back to him and, upon closer inspection, he noticed her shoulders pulled up close to her ears, her posture as rigid as a board.

What could be so earth-changing his negligent father would take the time to write him? For the past two years the man had dropped off the face of the planet. No phone calls. No nothing.

Scott peeled back the corner of the seal and slid his finger along the top of the envelope. Each act seemed independent from the other. Opening the envelope, retrieving the card, reading the front. Steps to prolong actually seeing what dear old Dad had to say.

No sense in delaying things any further. Scott flipped the card open.

Son,

Odd way to begin since his father never called him son before. Sometimes Scott wondered if his dad remembered his name. Their interaction usually consisted of barked orders.

I know it’s been a while and I’m sorry. Mom says you’re doing well. I’d like to see you.

Dad.

Scott read the words three more times before placing the card on the table facedown. His heart, which had thrashed feverishly moments earlier, slowed to a steady, even beat, eerily slow and calm. Dad asked about me? Apologized? Wants to meet?

The room began to spin. Scott sat where his mom had been sitting. Just when his life seemed to be leveling out, this had to happen? “What’s going on, Mom?”

His mother turned from the sink and scrutinized Scott without saying anything. By the soulful expression on her face and the shimmering in her eyes, no words were needed to let Scott know something big was up. “You’ll have to make a decision about whether you want to call your father. When I spoke to him, I told him I’d let you choose what to do without getting involved.”

“Mom!” Now wasn’t the time for bullshit.

“All right. Okay.” She wrung her hands together, the whites of her knuckles showing. “He doesn’t simply want to reach out. He needs to talk to you about something.”

His heart sped up again. “What!”

Nervous chuckles filled the space between them. “Was that a question or a statement?” Her tightly clenched hands revealed nervousness, but she made eye contact. “It’s not for me to share, but I think you should meet with him.”

Panic clasped Scott’s throat with a vice grip. “Where is he? I haven’t heard from him in two years. Has he been living in Massachusetts all this time?” Scott wasn’t sure what he wanted the answer to be. Part of him hoped he’d moved across the country. At least that might explain why he’d simply disappeared from their lives so completely.

“He’s been living out of state. He came back because…” She closed her eyes, her lips thinning into narrow lines. “It’s for him to share with you, honey. He’s staying at the Marriot in Boston.”

Dad, in Boston, a ten-minute subway ride away. Why reveal all of this on Christmas morning? “When does he want to see me?”

“You’ll have to call him and set something up.” She crossed the room and caressed Scott’s cheek. Despite the fact she’d squished all the blood out of her hands, her palms were warm. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, but at least give him a call.”

Apparently, Hell finally froze over. He’d have believed icicles formed on brimstone far easier than believing his father had a sudden change of heart and wanted to get to know the son he’d ignored and used as a personal slave for the entire duration of their relationship. “He didn’t leave a number.”

“I’ve got the number right here.” Mom reached into her jeans pocket and withdrew a tightly folded sheet of paper. “I told him I’d give it to you but made it clear you would be the one to decide to use it.”

“Does he want me to call him today?” Scott looked at his mother’s hand but made no move to retrieve the slip of paper.

Her expression softened to one of silent understanding. “I’ll leave it here on the fridge.” She secured the number facedown to the steel surface with a I Heart My Gay Son magnet.

Scott stared at the tiny slip of paper, silence growing like a storm cloud between them. No words. No thoughts. Just the thrumming of his heart and a lead weight hanging from his shoulders. He left the kitchen, tramped to the bathroom, stripped, and turned on the shower. As he waited for steam to fill the room, he inspected himself in the mirror. Other than his mussed-up hair and a slight flush to his cheeks, this morning seemed like any other. Better. A second holiday in a row surrounded by love and warmth.

Funny how a few words written on a card and ten measly digits sticking to the refrigerator could change everything.

Scott thought he knew his stance on his dad. The guy was an asshole. A cruel, unloving, abandoning butt-muncher who Scott learned to push almost entirely from his mind.

His reflection slowly disappeared from view, erased by a thin layer of fog on the glass. He stepped into the shower. Whatever decisions he needed to make, they could wait until later.

He tried thinking of Derek. Not even his cheerful smile and adoring eyes filled with love could delete the last ten minutes or the image of the slip of paper on the fridge. What in the hell did his father want? Why would he reach out now… just when Scott had finally put his past behind him and begun to view the future as bright with possibility?

“Damn him to hell.” He hadn’t meant to speak out loud, and he certainly hadn’t meant to curse his father to eternal fire. Forgiveness was the best cure… so said all the self-help books espousing the bullshit line. But were the strangers who wrote those thinking of his dad when they sold their psycho-crap?

Clean, shaven, and just as confused as he’d been before he entered the bathroom, Scott made quick work of dressing. Whatever he decided about calling his father, Christmas at Derek’s and a day sure to be filled with holly-jolly-joy awaited him.

DH Starr logo

D.H. Starr is an educator by day and an author at heart.

Writing erotic romance in any genre and young adult stories as well, he likes to explore the emotions of discovering oneself while also allowing someone else into your heart as well. His style has been called angsty at times, and he takes pride in torturing his poor protagonists, making them work for their happily ever after.