New Release Blitz for Professor Adorkable (Domesticated Inc. #1) by Edie Danford (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Professor Adorkable

Series: Domesticated Inc, Book One

Author: Edie Danford

Publisher: Edie Danford

Release Date: September 18, 2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 90,000 words

Genre: Romance, Boss, Housekeeper, Best Friends, Nerd

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Synopsis

What happens when a star-gazing professor falls for his hot young housekeeper? One heck of an earthy explosion…

Professor Marek Janos’s genius at analyzing stellar explosions doesn’t apply to his own disordered world. Forgetting to eat, sleep, and leave his lab has triggered some epic personal disasters. When his family insists he hire live-in help, he discovers home life has awesome benefits. His new housekeeper’s smile sparks more energy than a supernova. And the way he moves? It rocks Marek’s galaxy.

Pete Schulz took a tough fall from his high-flying life in Hollywood. But how does a guy whose best skill is getting dirty clean up his act? His new gig with Domesticated Inc seems like a great first step. Keeping house for a nerdy young astrophysics professor is exactly the low-key, no-chance-for-trouble job he needs, right?

Living together is surprisingly easy for both men. And fun. And more than a little hot. It’s when they’re faced with the idea of living apart that the truly messy work begins…

Excerpt

“I made the mess,” I tell my housekeeper. “So I will clean it up.”

“Yeah, I know you can clean it up if given several hours,” Pete responds, his smile crooked. There are no signs of exasperation on his face or in his tone. No signs that he’s upset I’ve woken him up with the sound of breaking glass, and that his once-pristine kitchen floor is now covered with a mess I could have easily avoided if I’d been paying attention. “But it’s my job. Tomorrow morning your job is to go teach a class. You’ll sleep until eight, eat a good breakfast, and then be off.”

I raise my eyebrows. “That is exactly how it will happen?”

“I’ll make sure of it.”

“What if I want to negotiate?”

“Negotiate?”

“Yes. Things can be negotiated in a democratic household, yes?”

“Democratic?”

I smile. “We have no dictators here. Or kings or queens.”

“Well.” He snorts. “There is that matter of your uncle signing my paycheck. But I get what you’re saying, I guess. What were you interested in negotiating?”

“Tonight I feel…antsy? Unable to relax.” I move my shoulders up and down to show him all this tension I’m experiencing. “I’ll go upstairs and sleep, but first I would like company. To hang out with you. For a while.”

His mouth droops as he folds his arms across his bare chest and stares at me. “So you’re saying you’ll let me do my job. But only if I give up my free time for you?”

“Um.” It’s cool in the kitchen, but my face suddenly becomes steam-burn hot.

Damn. I’m incredibly bad at talking to him—or any guy—I find attractive. Doesn’t matter where I am—Prague, Pasadena, Chicago. My language barrier isn’t about Czech versus English. It’s about my head versus my tongue.

What I want with Pete is complicated, not simple. But, as usual, I’ve said words that could be construed as—

God, I don’t even know what.

“You suck at negotiating, Marek.” He says it with a kind note in his voice.

“Yes.” I clear my throat. “I do.”

He sighs and runs his hand over his short hair—hair I want so fucking badly to touch. Is it bristly, soft? Would it sift through my fingers easily, or would it be like my hair and cling to my skin?

“I suppose we could listen to one Harry Potter chapter,” he says, lacking his usual enthusiasm for the idea. “But just one. And if you fall asleep or if I fall asleep or if we both fall asleep, it will be your job to wake up and go back to bed. No sleepovers. That’s a rule that’s not allowed to change.”

I swallow. Ordinarily I would give him shit about the unreasonableness of his request—if we’re asleep, how will we know we’re asleep and thus breaking his rules?

But I keep quiet tonight. I know I’m pushing him. I know he’s beginning to figure out I want more than just his company. So much more.

If this were a work-related matter, I would get my way with a few basic words. Logic applies in my lab. When it comes to my personal life, however, logic rarely applies. Basic words never seem to work.

If I tell Pete what I really want—to take him into his room, to put him on his comfortable bed, to kiss his clever mouth over and over and over, to blow him until his sweet hotness spills down my throat, to hold him tightly and use friction to excellent effect (inside or outside our bodies, I don’t care) until we both come—then he would say “no” quickly and firmly, and quietly shut that detestable door in my face. And I’ll be lucky if he’s still around in the morning.

The situation between us is confusing. I hope this is more than just his workplace. We are friends. He’s my best friend, actually. And he’s the one who makes this place a home.

Occasionally, I have a hard time understanding…what had my language tutor called it? Nuance. Nuanced meanings. Pete and I have a lot of nuances happening between us.

“One chapter would be good,” I tell him. “Chapter Twelve. ‘The Tri-wizard Tournament.’ I need to know all about it.”

He nods and tips his head toward the open door to his suite. “I’ll meet you in there.”

My heart bounces around in my chest—more zaps from that ionizer—but my head doesn’t like the take-care-of-business look on Pete’s face. No smile, no teasing, no dancing notes to the way his boots clap against the tile floor. He checks the locks and the deadbolts on the back door and walks toward his room.

He glances at his doorway and then me, his eyebrows rising. He looks as though he’s holding his breath, maybe holding back a sigh.

Maybe it would be better to give him space tonight. Better for me to be apart from what I want so much, but can’t have. I should walk away, go back to my room without bothering Pete.

My damp toes stick to the cold floor. I want to be more than a job for him. I want to be more than some guy he feels sorry for, some guy who can’t even say what he wants.

I walk over to the sink and retrieve a glass from the nearby cabinet. I fill the glass half full at the tap and then drink. I set it down carefully. The water is cold, but my skin feels hot. I can feel Pete watching me, waiting.

My eyes shift to the hallway. But my feet carry me toward Pete.

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Meet the Author

Edie lives in Vermont with her husband, two sons, and random creatures that might or might not be pets. She loves libraries (where she’s found play, work, and love since she was a kid), long walks (unless ice is involved), lewd language (in the right context), luscious romance (of any variety), and alliteration.

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New Release Blitz for Sentinel (Until You #2) by Karrie Roman (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Sentinel

Series: Until You, Book Two

Author: Karrie Roman

Publisher: NineStar Press, LLC

Release Date: September 10, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 71700

Genre: Contemporary, bodyguards, hurt-comfort, grief, men with children, rescue operation

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Synopsis

Never allowing anyone too close, Ethan Stone has lived a solitary life since he was disowned by his family when he discovered their darkest secret. He spends his days as a quiet sentinel, protecting others to make up for the ones he didn’t. Love, friendship, and family have no place in his world.

Ben Cronin is a warrior, haunted by a past he excelled at, which almost robbed him of his humanity. He became a professional bodyguard to save lives rather than take them. And he has loved his stoic colleague, Ethan Stone, from the day they met.

When Ethan’s sister suddenly comes back into his life in desperate need of his help, Ethan doesn’t hesitate to do whatever he needs to do. To his surprise, Ben—the man who makes him want things he shouldn’t—is right there beside him, risking everything to help him and finally coaxing Ethan’s feelings back to life.

A desperate race to find his missing nieces leads Ethan to a place he never thought he’d be and takes Ben exactly where he wanted to be—in a life filled with love and desire. But how long can they keep it when evil stalks their every step?

Excerpt

Sentinel
Karrie Roman © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
“Last question.”

“What now for you, Ryan?”

“Um…the short answer is I really don’t know. I’m going to take some time with Lucas while the show is on hiatus and think about what’s next for me. I hope people will understand why I’ve chosen to step away from the spotlight and will be gracious enough to give me the space I need to work out where to go from here. But for right this minute, Lucas and I are getting on a plane to locations unknown and we’re going to relax and enjoy being us.”

The press conference was a compromise between the very intrusive media and Lucas and Ryan. They wanted some peace, some space to recover from the events of the last couple of months, and now that their show, Witches’ Hammer, had wrapped up for a break, and Lucas had been given a clean bill of health, they were taking some time for themselves. Nobody deserved it more after what they’d been through.

Ethan watched, ever vigilant, as they stepped down from the podium and walked hand in hand toward the waiting car. His gaze rested on their joined hands for a second or two too long, but it was hard to look away from something that he desired for himself so very much. Not that he wanted either Lucas or Ryan. They were both great men and smoking fucking hot, but they weren’t for him. What he wanted was what they had—intimacy and love.

After years of self-imposed isolation from anything resembling a close relationship, Ethan wanted more.

Once his two charges were settled in the car, Ethan climbed into the passenger seat and gave the nod to Max. The big car roared to life and Max deftly drove them toward the airport and their waiting plane.

His former bosses, Patricia and Roger Krispin, had let Ethan go from their security agency when he called to resign, as he’d breached their no-skeletons-in-the-closet rule, but Lucas and Ryan had hired him as their personal bodyguard and had kept the Krispin’s professional teams as backup whenever needed. Ethan would be traveling to Australia with them, and Harry and Christina would meet them there for extra security, if needed.

“Looking forward to the Aussie girls in their bikinis, Ethan?” Ryan asked from the back seat.

“I’m more of a man in…what do you Aussies call them…boardies type of guy.”

“Oh, shit…sorry. Well, there’s plenty of them too. Maybe we can find a hot lifeguard for you while we’re there.” He didn’t need to turn to know Lucas and Ryan would be giggling to themselves, no doubt planning some kind of setup for him. He loved working for these two men and often wondered at his good fortune, especially after the shit had hit the fan following the revelation of who he was.

For almost four weeks, Ryan and Lucas had dominated the front pages and headlined the news. When the media had discovered that Ethan Lockard had come out of the woodwork and was somehow embroiled in the Lovers saga, the scrutiny had begun to border on the ridiculous. Ethan had offered to resign and had given serious thought to running again. It would be harder to pick a new identity and hide this time, but he’d manage. He was so tired of running and so fucking tired of being lonely.

Eight years ago, he’d lost his entire family, and though he hadn’t allowed any of them to get too close, the men and women he’d worked with over the last few years had become a family of sorts. He wasn’t going to let his brother take another family away from him this time.

“Okay, jet’s fueled and ready. Wheels up as soon as you arrive.” Paulina’s voice sounded in his ear.

“Copy. We’re about ten minutes out. All clear,” he replied. Despite the press coverage and the revelations that had been made about him, nobody from Krispins had seemed to care. They’d all accepted his apology for lying to them and admitted they’d have probably done the same if they were in his shoes.

The only person he hadn’t seen or spoken to since his true identity had been discovered was Ben. He hadn’t been back to see Ben since that day at the hospital when he’d been exposed. Ben’s brother, Cameron, had called to let him know the doctors had successfully woken him and called a few more times with updates, but Ethan had refused when Cameron had told him Ben had been asking for him to visit. He was such a fucking coward, but he knew he couldn’t bear to see disappointment in Ben’s eyes. What if Ben hated him for lying and keeping his past quiet? Ethan could stand anybody else’s hatred—but not Ben’s.

The private jet was waiting on the tarmac as promised, and Max drove them virtually to the open door. Ethan scanned the area as the car pulled up. He expected no trouble, and thankfully, he found none. Once satisfied, he stepped out and moved around the front of the car so he could open the back door nearest to the plane. Lucas stepped out, closely followed by Ryan, their hands immediately re-entwined as soon as they were both clear of the car. Ethan felt that pang of envy bite into him again at the intimacy the two men shared. God, he wanted it.

It wasn’t the first private jet he’d been on, but it was one of the nicest. Lucas and Ryan were already seated on the sofa that ran along one side of the cabin by the time he boarded. Ethan took the single seat across from them. He’d seen the bedroom toward the back of the plane as he’d entered the jet and wondered, with a sly grin on his face, how long it’d take before Lucas and Ryan made use of that.

“How are you with flying, Ethan?” Lucas asked as he continued to settle himself in and clip his seat belt.

“No problem with it. I can’t say I’ve done a huge amount, but I don’t mind it. Once the captain turns the seat belt sign off, I’ll pop this chair back, shut my eyes, and keep them closed until we touch down.” Ethan didn’t miss the look the two men opposite him shared, no doubt delighted they would, more or less, have the jet to themselves.

The engines had been idling since they’d boarded, and Ethan both felt and heard them roar to life now.

“All passengers, please ensure your seat belts are engaged and prepare for takeoff,” came a disembodied voice over the PA. The jet eased forward, slowly rolling toward the runway. It turned easily—nothing like the clunky turns of much larger passenger planes—before coming to a brief stop.

As the engines rumbled louder and louder and he was pushed back into his seat as the jet surged forward, increasing its speed to get it off the ground, Ethan had a sudden, inexplicable urge to run to the door and jump from the moving craft. He knew deep in his gut he was leaving something—or someone—behind.

He was sure he had everything he needed, and anything he’d forgotten he’d be able to buy in Australia, but he couldn’t escape that feeling of loss. Then, as he looked over the lights of the city below, he thought about pale-blue eyes that were usually dancing with laughter or mischief but had instead been filled with pain and determination the last time he’d seen them open, and he knew in his heart what he’d left behind—or rather who.

Purchase

NineStar Press, LLC | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Karrie lives in Australia’s sunshine state with her husband and two sons, though she hates the sun with a passion. She dreams of one day living in the wettest and coldest habitable place she can find. She has been writing stories in her head for years but has finally managed to pull the words out of her head and share them with others. She spends her days trying to type her stories on the computer without disturbing her beloved cat Lu curled up on the keyboard. She probably reads far too much.

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Release Blitz – Buckle Up by Karen Botha (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Buckle Up

Series: Commitment 1

Author: Karen Botha

Publisher: Karen Botha

Release Date: September 3rd 2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 237 pages 43800

Genre: Romance

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Synopsis

Passion, lust and desire are the fuel that drives us. So, buckle up for the ride of your life.

Elliott Judd is a superstar race car driver and hotter than hell. Men and women fall at his feet and he enjoys the easy pickings. No one has tamed this wild stallion, but is he ready to settle down for the right person?

Kyle Beaumont, a straight mechanic with a body to die for joins the racing team of his dreams, and with his mind fixed on the job, he doesn’t realise that he is Elliott’s next trophy of choice.

As the racing season and the fight to be the world number one starts, so too does Elliott’s game of seduction.

Will Elliott crash and burn, or will Kyle succumb to this gorgeous man’s onslaught?

Buckle Up is the first book in a gay romance series by Karen Botha and a story of unlikely love. The series is free on Kindle Unlimited.

Download your copy of Buckle Up now.

A note from Karen

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and my other series, it’s always great to hear what readers say directly. All my contact details are on my Amazon Author Page, feel free to message me.

Excerpt

His forehead is almost touching mine, our mouths millimeters from meeting. I want to pull away before I lose myself, but whatever my mind is saying my body is doing its own thing. My breath is fast and light, my head swimming with unspoken possibilities.

And yet I’m still unprepared. When his mouth covers my lips, it’s firm, not an innocent tease, but with his lips tight and unwavering, demanding my response. He’s shaved, but still his chin bristles against mine. And he’s taller than a woman. I don’t have to stoop, and his hair, although long for a man, doesn’t tangle in my mouth.

He presses his tongue into the seam of my lips and as they meet, an almighty crescendo cascades down from my head as the pent up tension of the last twenty-four hours releases into the pit of my stomach. It somersaults, my emotions bouncing, my breath catching, mingling with his.

My senses tingle and I don’t even realize I’ve placed my hands on his hips. His muscles ripple as he presses deeper against my body, matching my form on every level. Drunk with desire, my only need is to touch his taut muscles under the formality of his uniform so my hands creep around his back, pulling him into me. The pressure of his heart beats into my own chest. God, he’s rock solid. Everywhere.

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Meet the Author

 

Ooh, where to start? I used to work in a proper job that was KILLING me — slowly! I packed it all in and retrained as a massage therapist and reflexologist which meant I had downtime to fill and I knew just the thing.

So, now I spend more hours than I work in my office conjuring up all manner of sex scenes and scrapes. I say I’m so happy because I have whichever imaginary friends with me, doing exactly what I like, when I want. Who could ask for more? Hah!

By the way, now I have NO downtime.

Please follow me, I’m on Facebook and Twitter Twatter and Instagram and I have my own website, http://www.KarenBotha.com. It would be great to get some interaction from you guys. Much as I love my imaginary friends, it’s great to speak to real people too.

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New Release Blitz for 2230: The Perfect Year by CM Corett (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: 2230: The Perfect Year

Author: CM Corett

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: August 6, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 30600

Genre: Science Fiction, time travel, research lab, scientist, aliens, fated mates

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Synopsis

Alex Coulson spends his days as a lowly laboratory assistant. At night, he watches movies in his lonely apartment and dreams of exciting adventures and handsome leading men.

When an electrical fire breaks out in the lab, an experimental machine malfunctions and Alex is caught in the explosion. He awakens, injured and confused, to learn he has traveled two hundred years into the future—to the year 2230. Under the care of the gorgeous Doctor Baylin Davies (a definite contender for a leading man) Alex recovers quickly, and his feelings for Baylin deepen each day. Baylin is handsome, sexy, caring, and a verified genius—everything Alex could ever dream of. Add in the whole concept of living in the future, and Alex soon decides the year 2230 is the perfect year to begin his new life.

But then there’s the major…

Whenever the intimidating military man, Major Marcais, is near, a strange power overcomes Alex’s senses, clouding his mind and weakening his desire to be with Baylin.

When the major reveals he is an alien and declares Alex to be his life mate, Alex must find the strength to resist him. And while fighting for the man he truly desires, Alex just might discover he’s the leading man in his own adventure.

Excerpt

2230: The Perfect Year
CM Corett © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Alex Coulson’s sports shoes made a loud squawk on the polished floor. His step faltered. Had anyone heard? He scanned the cavernous office foyer. With gray marble floors and clusters of expensive couches, it looked nothing like a scientific research center and more like an exclusive hotel. An empty hotel. Of course it was empty; only the truly dedicated work on Sunday. Actually, the dedicated and people like him—sad, pathetic losers without a life. He shook his head.

Okay, Alex, quit the self-pity party. No one likes a whiner.

After another quick glance around the foyer, he strode forward and headed down the long corridor lined with identical doors. The small panes of glass in each one allowed him a glimpse inside the research labs—all empty. He appeared to be the sole, sad, pathetic person here today. At the end of the corridor, he stopped in front of the door labeled “Authorized Personnel Only.”

One wave of his security pass over the sensor and the lab door slid open. The sharp smell of smoke and plastic invaded his senses. His nose twitched. Crap! Electrical fire! No doubt about it. As the wire’s plastic coating melted, it gave off a distinct smell. He scanned the room, searching for the source, but everything appeared normal. He dashed through the main room and into the smaller lab.

Like an early morning fog, a veil of smoke hovered near the far wall, centered over the control panel. In seconds, his heart rate hit full throttle. “Crap! Crap! Crap!” The Accelerator control panel! His focus flicked to the partition wall protecting the experimental machine from prying eyes. Good. No sign of smoke there. That would be bad. Very bad. He dashed into the thickening cloud of smoke and headed toward its source.

With short, gasping breaths, he swallowed and choked on the thick acrid air. What about the fire alarm? Why hadn’t it triggered yet? He slammed his hand onto the control-panel power button and then stepped back. No shutdown. Nothing. Like ocean buoy lights viewed through the fog, the faint glow of backlit buttons and switches remained. He blinked rapidly as his tear ducts reacted to the invasive smoke, creating a torrent of tears. From beneath the watery veil, he focused on the computer screen embedded in the wall. What the hell? Why was the program running? Had he forgotten to close it the previous night? His boss would have his—

A flame erupted behind the control panel.

“Oh, God!” Coughing, he stumbled backward. What should he do? Brave the flames and try to turn off the program? Call the fire department? Fire extinguisher?

Yes! Fire extinguisher.

He spun around and grabbed the red cylinder hanging on the wall. Maybe he could put the fire out before it caused too much damage. Maybe it wouldn’t even come to the attention of management. He ripped off the safety guard thingy, pointed, and pulled the trigger. The white substance spewed out toward the flames, dousing them in a cozy blanket of white powder. “Ahhh, yes. Against all expectations, Alex Coulson saves the day!”

His boss would be pleased with him. Okay, not pleased exactly because he had most likely left the Accelerator program running, but pleased because a major fire would have brought their unauthorized work to the attention of management. “And that would be bad.”

With a few short blasts of the fire extinguisher, he completed the blanket of white over the control board. He frowned and contemplated the scene. A little more wouldn’t hurt. Better to be safe than sorry. Crouching down, he directed the nozzle under the desk and pulled the trigger. Just in case.

He stood up and surveyed the room. Okay, it could have been worse. The whole lab could have gone up in flames, destroying countless hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment. Not to mention the oh-so-secret data his boss guarded as if it held the answers to the universe. Yes, it could have been much worse.

He drew in a deep breath…and doubled over with the force of a violent coughing fit.

Crap. Smoke. Not a good idea to take deep breaths.

Fire extinguisher still in hand, he stumbled back to the main lab. His breath rasped in his throat, forcing its way past raw, inflamed flesh. At least the air in the main lab remained relatively smoke-free. In a few minutes, he would re-enter the inner lab and clean up the mess. With a bit of luck, the damage would be minimal. Maybe he could fix it himself. Clean up the fire retardant, replace a few wires, and—hey presto! Good as new with no evidence of the program he left running—no cause to fire him.

The shrieking of an alarm pierced the air, assaulting his eardrums with shrill vibrations. He closed his eyes and mouth, scrunching and squeezing his face as if trying to block the sound from entering any other orifice. A millisecond later, a deluge of water erupted from the ceiling sprinklers like an unexpected shower of summer rain. The muscles in his jaw slackened, and his mouth fell open.

Oh, crap!

Water drummed on his head and shoulders, seeping under the collar of his jacket. Mini rivers flowed across computers and desks before cascading to the shallow lake forming on the floor. The fire extinguisher hit the ground beside his foot with a waterlogged clunk.

I’m a dead man. Not to mention fired!

His shoulders slumped. Could his life get any worse?

The floor shook, sending vibrations up his legs and into his queasy stomach. Oh shit. Rule number one: never ask if it could get any worse. What the hell? An earthquake? Light exploded from the inner lab, propelling bright sparks through the doorway like tiny shooting stars. Water sloshed around his feet as he stumbled backward. The Accelerator! “Oh, shit, shit, shit!”

So. Not. Good.

A loud humming joined the vibrations. It pulsed through his body, loud enough to be heard over the sprinklers and fire alarm, shaking him to the core. Paralyzed, he stood transfixed. The inner lab glowed with a pulsating green light, matching its beat in harmony with the tremors running through the building and his body.

The vibrations were so intense he couldn’t move his legs. His head hurt and numbness crept over his face. He clutched his head and squeezed his eyes shut. Vibrating, pulsating, and humming. Could his brain explode? Would they find his gray matter splattered all over the lab and floating in the newly formed lake?

As he opened his eyes, a fresh shower of sparks shot toward him. Burning! His arm burned, stinging like the devil at a precise spot on his forearm. He slapped the sleeve of his jacket like a maniac until the pain receded to a dull ache.

Okay, time to run.

In his mind, he stumbled toward the door, but his body refused to cooperate. He looked down. His legs were—

What the hell? His body appeared pixelated and a few sections were…missing? Whoa! There was some weird, scary shit happening.

The humming intensified, sending a wave of nausea through his stomach. He couldn’t feel his legs. Were they still attached to his body? The world tipped and then faded around the edges. No, no, no! He’d seen the experiments, and he had no way to stop the Accelerator from frying him—like those rats.

So. Not. Pretty.

At least no one would miss him.

Oh, God, that’s a sad and pathetic fact.

Searing hot pain exploded in his head like a—

“Ahhhhh!”

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Meet the Author

CM Corett is an Australian author of M/M romance who has given up on trying to limit herself to one sub-genre. She writes contemporary, historical, sci-fi, and time travel… and she may have a few paranormal drafts hidden under the bed! An avid writer and reader of love between men, she has lived in the USA and traveled the world gathering inspiration for her stories. She loves movies, superheroes, and video games with awesome graphics. She hates housework and anyone who expects her to notice (or care about) the dust on top of the fridge.

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New Book Release Blitz for Death Days by Lia Cooper (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Death Days

Author: Lia Cooper

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: August 6, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 70000

Genre: Paranormal, college, teaching, magic, dark, slow burn, age gap, vampires, shifters

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Synopsis

By day, Professor Nicholas Littman works as an itinerant professor at a small college in the Pacific Northwest. He teaches seminars on mythology and the intersections of folklore and magic in the ancient world. By night, he’s the local necromancer, a rare magical talent that has left him alienated from other practitioners.

All Nick wants from life is to be left alone to run his magical experiments and teach kids the historical context of magic without anyone being the wiser. Unfortunately, his family is sworn to sit on the council of the Order of the Green Book—a group of magicians dating back to the Crusades—and they aren’t willing to take Nick’s no for an answer.

As though that wasn’t bad enough, a coven of Night Women has arrived in town, warning Nick that there are wolves at his door he had better take care of. But what can one necromancer do when every natural and supernatural card seems stacked against him?

Excerpt

Death Days
Lia Cooper © 2018
All Rights Reserved

One: The Professor
“Today we’re talking about the elision that occurs between Thoth worship in pre-Ptolemaic Egypt and early Greece. Let’s break into four groups for seminar,” Professor Nicolas Littman said, eyeing the half-empty teaching theater. He divided the room with a sweep of his arm and glanced at the clock on the back wall.

“We’ll meet back here in thirty minutes to discuss your thoughts as a group. And I want every small group to come up with a question to pose to the rest of us.”

He felt gratified at the way they began shuffling together into little clusters without further prompting.

“One of you should go use the lounge outside,” he said, waving absently at the small group at the very back of the room.

He didn’t care if they took the direction or not. He trusted in every student’s desire to escape the four walls of the classroom given a millimeter of freedom. All that mattered was that he now had thirty minutes of his own time in which to play hooky.

Nick grabbed a book and the vape out of his bag, and slipped out of the left-hand exit.

Why someone in the administration had decided to give him a corner theater for this class was beyond him. Four credits on Hermetic Mythologies and Cosmologies was hardly in demand. Especially when it was offered as a four-and-a-half-hour option on Saturdays. But if it meant they got a spacious room and the otherwise empty SEM II C building to themselves, he shouldn’t complain. His students could spread out to their hearts’ content, leaving him to steal outside to smoke without anyone around to gripe at him.

“Not even a proper smoke,” he muttered, flicking the round silver device on, warming the metal under his hand.

Nick sat on the concrete with his back to the building’s cement exterior and his knees bent, pressed the tip of the vape between his lips, and held down the button for a long, comforting drag. He closed his eyes to the bright sun and tipped his head back against the wall. Vapor streamed out of his pursed lips in a thick, fragrant cloud and pooled in the air above his head.

“Hiding from the students again?” an amused voice asked from above.

“I’m not hiding,” Nick grumbled.

A thin body lowered itself down onto the ground next to him, all long spidery limbs that folded with the kind of soft careless agility Nick hadn’t felt in a decade or two.

He looked over at his—teaching assistant wasn’t the word. Technically, Josiah didn’t work for him at all. He was just an independent contract student working on an eight-credit history project, but he let Nick use him like a TA so that’s how he always thought of him.

“What do you call this?” Josiah asked, knocking their shoulders together.

“Seminaring.”

Josiah’s face crumpled up with amusement. His flexible mouth stretched into a laugh while his shoulders shook. Nick held out the vape on offer and waited for Josiah to notice.

“Is it peppermint?” he asked.

Nick nodded.

“No thanks.”

“I’m not buying cake or whatever it is you like.”

“Are you trying to say there’s something wrong with cake?” Josiah returned Nick’s stony look with a nonplussed expression.

“It’s unna—”

“First of all: I don’t remember tobacco ever coming in ‘peppermint flavor’ before, and second: everything you do is unnatural, so that’s not a valid argument coming from you, Professor Littman.”

Nick grimaced. “Don’t call me that.”

“Nick.”

He sighed and took another long drag off his vape, waiting for the nicotine to soothe the flutter in his heart that Josiah’s words had kicked up. Nothing he did was natural. The kid had no idea just how right he was. Nick glanced down at his empty hand, automatically checking his nails for pesky traces of dirt, but there was nothing unusual to see. He’d scrubbed up hard the night before. Done a thorough job not to leave any of those unnatural traces that might have given Josiah a better-formed picture of what his professor and academic adviser got up to in his free time.

Shit, even in his head, he sounded like a pervert.

“You’re wrong. Some things I do are perfectly natural.”

“Like what?”

Nick gave the young man a slow look. “You have a very active imagination, Mr. Wexler.”

“The imagination is a hungry organ, seeking perpetual nourishment. I like to think that it’s not so much I’ve got an active imagination, but rather a well-fed one.”

“That you feed on thoughts of me?” Nick smiled, playing the comment off as a joke even though it left something low and hot in his body to sit up with interest. A curl of amused interest that quivered at the thought of a bright young man captivated by thoughts of him, even if they were merely frustrated or prurient or the passing whim of childish fancy, as he suspected was the case.

“Sometimes,” Josiah admitted, looking away.

The two of them sat in companionable silence until the phone in Nick’s pocket hiccupped its alarm to let him know that the requisite thirty-minute small group had passed, and he had to return again to face the lethargy of his classroom.

“Did you need something?” he asked, using the wall to push himself to his feet, and slipped the vape back into his pocket.

Josiah pulled out a sheaf of printouts from his backpack and held them up for Nick to take. “Two new chapters. I wanted to get your thoughts on them before I continue. It took a—the narrative took a direction we haven’t discussed before.”

“All right. I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thanks.”

“Do you want to come in?”

“Nah, I’ve got to meet Jen. Talk to you next week?”

Nick nodded.

Above them, the sky had dimmed as sure as if someone had taken a dimmer switch to the sun. Dark clouds cast a clear, watery gray light over campus, the edges of the quad hemmed in on all sides by towering dark trees that only helped to feed into the illusion of night creeping over them. The air smelled as though it were about to rain, bitterly cold and damp.

“Do you think it’s going to snow?” Josiah asked, climbing to his feet.

Nick shook his head. “Not a chance.”

He filed back into the teaching theater behind the stragglers. Sixty minutes for discussion and in-class readings, and then he’d be free for the rest of the weekend. Nick perched his feet on the edge of his desk, saw the streaks of mud clinging to his shoes, and dropped them again. He cleared his throat and looked out at the crowd for the first person to meet his eyes.

“Ah, Amelia, why don’t you start us off with a brief summary of what your group discussed.”

He folded his arms over his chest and listened with half an ear while his focus strayed repeatedly to the darkening sky and the promise of rain.

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Meet the Author

Lia Cooper is a twenty-something native of the Pacific Northwest, voracious reader, pop-culture addict, and writer. She cultivated an early interest in writing through fandom and completed writing her first full length novel with the help of NaNoWriMo.

In the years since, she’s dabbled in catering, barista-ing, and working as a pastry chef before finally returning full time to the thing she loves most: storytelling.

When she’s not glued to Scrivener, Lia enjoys playing video games with friends and reviewing books for her booktube channel.

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New Release Blitz for Push Me Pull Me by Amanda Rhodes (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Push Me Pull Me

Author: Amanda Rhodes

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: July 30, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 20000

Genre: Contemporary, lesbian, pansexual, BDSM

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Synopsis

At twenty-four, Mallory Grant is still struggling with adulthood. She can’t seem to make it in to work on time and deals better with her Tumblr friend on the other side of the world than a face-to-face with a real live human. But when her boss threatens to fire her as a rental agent, Mallory has to buckle down with her new client or end up jobless.

Corinne Ibori is moving to the Chicago area and needs a place to call home. Mallory’s goal is to find just the right location for Corinne’s needs and show her boss she’s turned over a new leaf. Corinne is thirty-five, self-confident, beautiful, flirty, has a French accent, and knows what she wants.

Mallory is finding it hard to believe that what Corrine wants might be her.

Excerpt

Push Me Pull Me
Amanda Rhodes © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Today has to be a new record for me. Forty-five minutes late for work and I’m sitting in the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru behind a line of cars at least a half mile long. One might think I have no respect for punctuality. And they’d be right. I’ve been on a losing streak lately with my alarm clock. It tries so hard to wake me up with the beeping and the screeching.

I have to have my coffee before I meet the day head-on, though. Therefore, I wait. Might as well be productive while I sit here. I text Helena, asking her if she’s seen my Tumblr post with the new pictures of Charlize Theron. She’s cut all of her hair off, and it’s sexy as fuck. Maybe she did it for a new movie role, maybe just to torture me. It’s hard to say.

Helena replies back, “Duh, Mallory. Of course, I’ve seen it.” She immediately saved it to her hard drive for safekeeping. This is why we are friends. Unfortunately, though, she lives on the other side of the ocean so most of our conversations are in the form of emails and texts.

I don’t really do so well with live humans unless I’m getting paid to customer-service them. I’m perfectly content with the friends that live inside my computer as far as my personal life goes. Helena gets me, and I make her laugh. Works out perfectly.

A few more cars move, and I’m almost to the ordering screen. I check the clock. 9:15 a.m. Yikes. This is super late, even for me. Silently, I pray that my boss isn’t in this morning—still traveling or has tripped on her kids’ Legos and sprained her ankle.

“Mallory, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to make it in today. You’ll be able to hold down the fort without me, right?”

“Absolutely, Shelly. You can count on me. I’ve been here for hours now. Everything is going smoothly.”

“Perfect. You’re an amazing employee. I’m definitely giving you a raise and maybe even an expense account. Also, I think you should take a month-long vacation when I get back. Honk.”

HONK. HONK. HONK.

The person who’s waiting behind is obviously super pissed by my delayed response.

“Sorry!” I yell from inside my car where no one can hear me. I wave, hoping they forgive my idiotic daydreaming.

Quickly, I pull through, order my coffee and the bagel I swore to myself I wouldn’t get.

When I make it to work, I realize that my daydream was exactly that. There’s a sticky note lying on my desk from Shelly.

See me when you get in.

There’s no “Thanks!” or her name with a smiley face. She knows that I’ll be aware of exactly who wrote the note. And she knows that I’ll be aware of exactly what I need to see her about.

The sense of dread I feel at moments like this never motivates me to do the right thing (i.e. show up on time), but only serves to remind me of how much I suck at life. That nasty little voice in my head is chanting “loser alert!” over and over.

Staring at the note, I take a minute to contemplate my next move. I could fake the stomach flu, invoking her pity. Well, at least temporarily. I’ll have to face the facts at some point, and that some point might as well be now. Sucking it up, I throw my things on my desk and do the walk of shame to her office.

I could easily walk through this maze of dull gray cubicles with my eyes closed. I’ve done it so many times. The chatter of twenty different people on the phone, scheduling apartment viewings, fills the air. Ben’s giant pair of green foam Hulk hands sit atop his bookshelf. I give them a fist bump. Ben glances up from his phone call, nods, and winks. He’s the only tolerable human here.

Almost every desk has one or two framed pictures of loved ones, boyfriends, kids, husbands. A candid of a group of friends at a wedding taunts me as I walk past Tracy’s desk. She also has a Post-it note holder in the shape of a red high-heeled shoe. She thinks it’s cute, and I think it’s hideous.

Each time I have to make the trip from my desk to Shelly’s, I’m forced to think about the absence of pictures and mementos on mine. Yeah, I could frame a picture of my brother or of my childhood dog, Scrabble, but I don’t actually want anyone here to know that much about me.

Peeking around the corner, I check to see if the boss-lady is on the phone or possibly reaming some other poor soul a new asshole, in which case I can hightail it out of here. No such luck. She peers up from her desk, her face the picture of annoyance. She extends her hand, waving me in.

“Hi, Shelly! You wanted to see me?” I ask cheerily.

“Save it. Sit down. We need to talk.” Her tone isn’t angry, just fed up. Honestly, this makes me feel even worse. She used to like me. And she’s stuck her neck out for me more than once. I’ve disappointed yet another person in my life. I might need to start a spreadsheet in order to keep track.

Awkwardly, I take a seat across from her, trying to work out if I should cross my legs or leave them uncrossed. Which leg position makes a person seem less like a failure?

“Listen,” she says, sighing deeply. “I know this isn’t your dream job. Nor would I expect you to treat being a leasing agent as such. But I do expect that you show some respect for me. I don’t make office hours for shits and giggles, Mal. You had an appointment this morning with a client. She sat in the lobby waiting for you for almost an hour.”

Fuck. Me.

“Exactly.”

I didn’t realize I’d said that out loud.

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Meet the Author

Amanda Rhodes watches way too much TV and has a ridiculous amount of books on her to-be-read pile, yet she keeps buying them. She’s been writing since… well for a long time. Amanda loves the paranormal, sci-fi, and fantasy but could never ever write it herself. She’ll leave that up to the weirdos who do it best. Amanda lives in Chicago with her wife, four children, and pitbull who is a lazy bum.

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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

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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.”

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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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New Release Blitz for Love it Like You Stole It by Ki Brightly (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Love It Like You Stole It

Author: Ki Brightly

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: July 9, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 99400

Genre: Contemporary, contemporary, blue-collar, mechanic, classic car love, age-gap, mobsters, crime, family drama

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Synopsis

Michael Levine is backed into a corner. He started tearing apart cars for the local mob with the best of intentions—to save up money to pay for his mechanic certifications and impress his crush and mentor, Ben. But Michael soon finds himself in way over his head. He knows stealing is wrong, but it’s only cars, and the insurance will pay to replace them, right? What started out as a small job to make some extra bucks soon turns into a nightmare he’s not sure he’ll ever be able to find his way out of.

Ben Jelen isn’t sure where his life is going. On the surface everything looks fine. He has a successful business, he’s raising his niece into a strong person, and he has a boyfriend most guys only dream of—sexy and rich. But nothing feels right. The only things that really keep Ben’s attention anymore are his classic Road Runner, his niece, and Michael—his Meeko. Ben took him under his wing forever ago, and their love of old cars and fast driving has forged a strong bond. Ben’s days don’t feel right if he doesn’t get to see Meeko at least once. But something seems drastically wrong in Meeko’s life, and Ben hopes he can put the pieces together to help him before it’s too late.

Excerpt

Love It Like You Stole It
Ki Brightly © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
BEN JELEN

“It’ll be a month, Bennet.”

I clutched the small silver bolt so hard it cut into my palm. The pain wasn’t enough to distract me. Rick’s bottom lip jutted out. It always did when he was on a roll. He crossed his heavy arms, eyes shadowed by his ball cap. With a sigh, I ignored my big brother, cutting my attention to the object of our current bitchfest. Vandi, his daughter, lounged nearby with tiny pots of fingernail polish out on the dusty, paperwork-covered desk.

“I’ll be good, Uncle Ben,” she chirped, her bow mouth turned up into a wide smile. She almost wasn’t a little girl anymore. It wasn’t long ago that I’d sit with her and do the painting. The sun cutting into the garage through the open bay door lit up her gold curls making them shine brightly. Her eyebrows furrowed in concentration as she dabbed a little brush covered in pink paint at her thumb. In her white summer dress, she couldn’t have looked more out of place.

I bent back over the motor of the beat-up, blue Ford Taurus and stared at it without seeing much of anything.

“It’s damned good money. They need mechanics for when the machinery goes down. If her mother hadn’t—”

“Rick,” I warned. Vandi’s head snapped up at the mention of her mom. I had no intention of mopping up tears today. He leaned a hip against the front quarter panel of the car and rested an elbow there, sending me a winning grin. It was the same bullshit one I used when trying to get my own way. “I’ve known you your whole life. That shit don’t fly.”

He chuckled, but his smile didn’t waver as he leaned in close, pushing his cap back with a thumb. I caught a whiff of the cologne I used and sighed. He’d raided my dresser again. Looking at him was like looking in a mirror—his brown eyes and long face with its blunted nose were just like mine, except mine was cocked a little to the left. He wiggled his eyebrows, and I blew out a hard breath.

“Those oil rigs are dangerous, and ask next time you steal my stuff.” I poked him on the shoulder with my ratchet as he shrugged, not at all bashful about his thievery.

“It’s a month on, three weeks off. And with the bonuses, I could be pulling in over a hundred grand next year. We can get the garage set up right, get more clients in…I won’t do it forever.”

I frowned and rubbed at my chest. He winced and scowled right back, like maybe he understood why I was upset. The idea of Rick being away for more than a few days made me nauseous. We’d always been a little too close, and it only got worse after Mom died. I sneaked a look at Vandi to see what she was thinking about all this, but she didn’t seem to be listening.

“I’m not sure it’s worth it,” I muttered. Shit. Money. We sure could use more of it.

A low humming started up from Vandi—a familiar song from the radio. “Check it out!” She flashed her pink fingernails at us. Rick turned and nodded at her.

“Real pretty, baby doll,” he said fast, not quite covering up the irritation in his tone. Her smile vanished.

I smacked his arm, but he was back to cajoling me with his half grin. I smacked him upside the head, sending his ball cap flying, but he ignored it and patted my cheek.

“I want this garage to get off the ground,” he said, “and so far, we’ve only been getting in about five or six people a week because we don’t have a lift. I had to send Mrs. Hopper to fucking Firestone because we didn’t have the right size tires.” He waved his hand toward the empty space stretching out behind us that practically begged to be filled with equipment. “We don’t have half the shit we need…”

“What if you’re out there in the middle of the ocean and there’s a hurricane or a blowout or—”

“Get back here you four-eyed fuck!” someone shrieked from outside. The low voice cracked on the swear word.

“What the hell…” I turned to look over my shoulder, and the bolt from the oil filter slipped from my fingers. With a ting, it disappeared into the abyss of hoses in the engine. “Shit.”

I slammed my ratchet down on the motor casing, and the air compressor at the rear of the work area chose that moment to kick on, filling the old cement-block garage with its chugging clatter. I strained my ears, but the voices outside were drowned out. “Turn that off, Rick.”

Nodding, he headed back to flip the switch. Vandi craned her neck forward to look out the wide door.

“He thinks he’s too good to talk to us. Mickey Mouse won’t open his mouth.” The bully’s voice dipped deeper on that last word, and an instinct for trouble sent me striding out the door into the gravel parking lot, past the few sad vehicles waiting for their turn in the repair shop.

Across the small side street, three teen boys surrounded another one on the sidewalk. He was hunched in on himself with his arms crossed protectively over his gut, his stance practically screaming, “Hammer me.” One of the boys—short, with a mean twist to his lips and a cheap buzz cut on his carrottop—smacked the glasses off his prey. Sparkling in the late afternoon sun, the lenses sailed in an arc and landed in the street.

“Should we do something?” Rick’s long shadow loomed near mine, arms crossed.

“Come on, hit ’em back,” I muttered, clenching my fists. “Protect yourself.”

Instead, the kid just rubbed at the bridge of his nose with one hand. He was coltish and stretched thin, like he’d grown too fast. But he was tall, and if he would throw a punch, he’d have reach. He didn’t move to defend himself or say a word, though, simply stared at his feet. I glanced at Rick, but when I looked back, the tall boy was shaking his head. Sunlight caught and glimmered on blue highlights in his black hair. The short asshole shoved him hard while the other guys circled, grunting out guttural encouragement that puffed up Mr. Attitude.

Outrage propelled me toward them at a fast clip.

“Ooooh, fuck,” Rick said on a chuckle.

I hadn’t planned on anything more than bitching out the bullies—until the short kid threw a hard jab. The tall one gasped and staggered back a step at the blow, but one of the kids in the circle shoved him upright so he could take more abuse. Wincing, the tall kid shook his head so hard he seemed to make himself dizzy. He staggered to the side but righted himself at the last second.

“You’re no better’n me—us.” The short kid hopped up and down imitating a wet chicken, darting his gaze around the circle. “You’re no better than us!” He screamed out a war whoop as he lunged forward to land the next punch. The tall kid took it on his left cheek and—pow!—crumpled to his knees.

“You little shits! Knock it off!” I ran toward them, hands pinwheeling, but had to slow down as a car shot by, going way too fast on the narrow street, separating me from the teenagers. Crunch. I winced and sighed as I jogged past the flattened glasses. No coming back from that.

The kids stilled as I approached—became panicked, malicious little statues. But when I stepped onto the sidewalk, fists balled up at my sides, my shadow fell across them, and the obnoxious brats scattered, helter-skelter—like I might actually chase them down and dish out a taste of their own medicine.

“You better run, you little pricks. Stay off my block!” I yelled after them. “I’m badder than you’ll ever be!”

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Meet the Author

Ki grew up in small-town nowhere pretending meteor showers were invading aliens, wild flowers were magic potions, and secret agents hid around every corner. (Ki probably read more than was healthy.) They had one amazing best friend, one endlessly-out-of-grasp “true love,” and a personal vendetta against normalcy.

College was a catapult out of that sleepy little hamlet into a slightly larger, more entertaining city—Erie, Pennsylvania.

In their adopted hometown they enjoy the sandy beaches, frigid winters, and a wonderful fancy water addiction. Ki shares life with two sweet Muses, their Sugar Plum, and two children. Every day with these wonderful people is full of adventure.

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New Release Blitz for Nectar and Ambrosia (Amaranthine Inheritance #1) by E.M. Hamill (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Nectar and Ambrosia

Series: Amaranthine Inheritance #1

Author: E.M. Hamill

Publisher:  Star Bard Books

Release Date: June 30, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Female, Male/Male

Length: 81576

Genre: Fantasy, urban/mythical

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Synopsis

Callie, a Classics major, flees home to protect her family from a monster straight out of mythology.  Visions lead her to Nectar and Ambrosia: the weirdest pub on Earth, where inter-dimensional travelers with attention seeking issues get drunk in between the A-list celebrity lives they create. They can’t pretend to be gods anymore—not since a treaty with the current Supreme Deity promising they won’t intervene in human affairs.

The Doorkeeper of this threshold, Florian, rides herd on the rowdy Amaranthine and offers her shelter and a job. Callie likes the lonely, mysterious bartender more than she should. For Florian, her presence is a ray of light in the gray monotony of his sentence behind the bar, but he keeps a cautious distance—the truth of how he became Doorkeeper could change Callie’s perception of him forever.

When angels show up for a war council over Zeus’s irrational mutters about a comeback, Callie has uncontrolled visions of an apocalypse.  Ex-gods realize she’s the first Oracle Priestess in generations. All Callie wanted was keep her parents safe, and now it seems she must sacrifice her future to keep the rest of humanity safe, too. Ambrosia could be the key to harnessing her visions— or it could cost her life.

War is coming. The threshold between worlds has never been more fragile. Callie must discover who is pulling Zeus’s strings and avert the final battle—before the immortal vying to become the next Supreme Deity kills her first.​

Excerpt

Callie turned away, trying to decide if Florian and all his clientele were delusional or if it was some kind of big role-playing game for rich people. Folks could have a thing about dressing up in furry animal costumes. She supposed they could pretend to be gods and goddesses too. If it was a mythology RPG, they weren’t concerned with the classical part, except for the guy she saw yesterday afternoon. She was relieved to have a rational explanation for the horns.

Something moved outside the glass front door. Her heart seized in momentary panic. What if the monster still lurked out there?

Strange, visible turbulence seemed to ripple the panes. Callie squeezed her eyes shut to clear her sight and prayed it wasn’t the aura of an oncoming seizure. Cool relief extinguished the rising sparks of panic as the effect dissipated.

The door opened and revealed a spiky-haired, punk rock kid years too young to be in any bar. Callie was forced to squint in order see him clearly as he strode in, his outlines strangely blurred and soft. Sullen teenaged fluidity rolled in every line of his body. He surveyed the bar, narrow kohl-ringed eyes settling on the heavily intoxicated Zeus. A sneer comprised of equal parts contempt and satisfaction flickered over his mouth.

“There he is, the great king of the gods,” he muttered. He moved toward the bar, a glare of disdain sweeping over the other patrons. His eyes widened in appreciation as they passed over Callie, a little smirk growing as his gaze lingered too long on the front of her college t-shirt.

Despite her confusion on how he’d arrived, she gave him a thin smile and a cool nod, crossing her arms over her chest. He stopped short, an expression of shock on his face. Then a quick, sunny grin took over. His blurry outlines sharpened as he drew closer and she relaxed her squinted eyes, no longer struggling to focus on him. She decided it was a trick of the neon-tinted lights hanging in garish advertisement on the walls of the bar.

“My, my, my. Who have we here?” His voice, thick with Cockney vowels, dipped to an intimate tone as he approached. His body language changed to something more unsettlingly mature. He was older than he appeared. “Who do you belong to?”

“I’m Callie. I don’t belong to anybody, but I work for Florian,” she corrected him politely. “Can I get you something?”

“Well, for starters, tequila.” He smirked suggestively. “And your undivided attention.”

Callie resisted the urge to roll her eyes. No matter where she worked, the pickup lines were the same.

“I’m sorry, I’m busy working. I’ll ask Florian for your tequila. On the rocks, or a shot?”

“On the rocks, love.”

“I’ll need to see some ID first.”

“You are new here, aren’t you?” He flipped two fingers out, a driver’s license between them.  She took it. No stranger to fake ID’s, this one appeared to be real, and passed him as twenty-one. Still…

“John Smith, huh?”

He captured Callie’s fingers as she returned the license and kissed the back of her hand in old-fashioned courtliness, sea-colored eyes glinting in mischief. An odd, visceral twinge from her early warning system made her startle as his lips touched her skin. Goose bumps flecked her arms. A totally alien sensation overwhelmed her senses: it was as if something crawled off her skin toward his mouth. She shivered in response and tried to pull her hand away. His grin widened as he tightened his grip, apparently delighted by her discomfiture.

“Oh, ho. That’s a lovely surprise. Don’t mind me. I’m incorrigible. Call me Puck.” He scribed an expansive circular gesture with his free hand. “Welcome to the watering hole of the damned bored.”

Callie forced a smile. “Thank you. Now, if you’ll let go of my hand, I’ll get your drink.”

Puck made a mocking bow over her hand and released it, smirking again as he backed away, still admiring her in undisguised interest. Between them, a well-dressed man stepped directly into Callie’s path. He swerved with a graceful spin and apologized as Callie’s sneakers squeaked to an abrupt halt on the concrete floor.

“Sorry, hon. Good evening, gods and goddesses!”

“Herm!” came a shouted group greeting from the room at large.

“And fairies,” the man belatedly added, nodding at the punk rocker.

Puck offered him an extended middle finger and a dangerous smile. Callie’s mouth fell open, recognizing the Armani-suited guy from the previous afternoon.

“Jeeze, homophobic much?” she muttered.

“Trust me love, I am all fairy and he is far from homophobic. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with him being a prick.” Puck glared at the man’s back with undisguised hatred before another lightning-quick mood change and a devilish grin took over. “Make that tequila a double.” He winked at her, eyes making another head to toe rake of her body before he disappeared into the clump of huge Scandinavian-looking, Corona-swilling dart players.

Callie’s hair still prickled on the back of her neck even after Puck left, and she rubbed it, troubled. She turned back to the room, stopped short, and stared. More customers sat at tables and in the shadows of the booths, each group just a little stranger than the last. None of them used the door.

And the Armani guy—he’d stepped into her path. Right out of the air.

Something intensely freaky was happening that she couldn’t rationalize away, no matter how hard she tried.

Was Florian telling the truth?

Instead of fear, a deep, visceral excitement flip-flopped in her abdomen, butterflies on steroids.

She never pinpointed exactly when wonder began to crowd out her reservations. Rushing between the cooler and the tables, she caught snatches of conversation and shouted greetings when others appeared. Having to bite back questions when she delivered their beverages replaced the urge to roll her eyes. She fought to keep a professional demeanor rather than fangirl all over herself when Florian introduced the Armani guy to her as Hermes. Hermes! One of her favorite characters in Greek mythology.

Three hours into the shift, she took a quick bathroom break. Her back against the door, Callie put her hands over her mouth and muffled something that sounded suspiciously like a shriek. Whether it was fear or excitement, she couldn’t quite say. Her breath came fast and short until she got dizzy. She spun the tap on the sink and the shock of cold water on her face helped bring her back down.

“What the hell, Callie? Are you really going to believe this?” she muttered to herself in the mirror. She grabbed a paper towel to blot the moisture away and waded back out into the crowded bar.

Purchase

Star Bard Books | Amazon Kindle | Amazon Paperback |Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Meet the Author

Elisabeth “E.M.” Hamill is a nurse by day, unabashed geek, chocoholic, sci fi and fantasy novelist by nights, weekends, and wherever she can steal quality time with her laptop. She lives with her family, a dog, and a cat in the wilds of eastern suburban Kansas, where they fend off flying monkey attacks and prep for the zombie apocalypse.

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JP Jackson on His Writing Process and new release ‘Magic or Die (Inner Demons #1’) (guest blog, excerpt, and giveaway)

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Title:  Magic or Die

Series: Inner Demons, Book One

Author: J.P. Jackson

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: July 2, 2018

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 87300

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, paranormal, demons, witches, magic

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have J.P. Jackson here today on tour for his latest novel, Magic or Die. Welcome, J.P. Please tell us a little about what your writing process is like?

JP Jackson and My Writing Process

Writing for me is very organic, and raw. I choose not to outline or plot too much of the story in advance.

I take delight and pleasure in watching the words form their own worlds, and having the characters I develop come to life. They are the ones who dictate what action comes next. I have a general idea of where I want the tale to take the reader, but it’s the magical beings and demonic beasties who really own the book. After all, it is their story.

I’m fortunate that I can carve out free time to indulge myself in this creative art form. I love doing it, telling stories. Unlike some authors I know, I quite enjoy the spotlight. I’m 100% an extrovert, and it’s not uncommon to see me at parties and social gatherings ‘holding court’ as my husband would say. I like to gather people and regale them with our latest adventures. Writing is no different. I get to share my imagination and tomfoolery with anyone who’s willing to pick up one of my books.

Do you create an outline first?

I currently have two books out.  Daimonion, Book One of the Apocalypse, which is the first in a trilogy, and is my retelling of how the world ends, and then Magic or Die about a broken psychic teacher and the five students he’s charged with helping. Each of these were pantster created. No outlines, no cue cards with notes. I do write supporting documents, character sheets with details I can refer back to. I may or may not have written a spellbook or two – depending on the characters in the story.  I’ve even done timelines and maps, just to make sure that the story has progressed in an accurate manner. But as I mentioned above, I usually just create my characters and then set them free.

They run amok, creating havoc and chaos.

I just sit back, laugh maniacally and document their lives.

Do you seek out inspirational pictures, videos or music?

Absolutely. I have a Tumblr account [(18+ only, please) http://canuckbear88.tumblr.com/} where I store images that inspire me. I also have Pinterest boards [https://www.pinterest.ca/jacksonbear88/] where I collect images that I pull and use for various characters. I have an extensive music library where I pull together a new playlist for each project. Every time I start a new work, I have to have new music too, so I’m always on the lookout for haunting music.  Here’s my YouTube channel and the Magic or Die playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMD–CnQs723AsxRz1FEN4dI0Vkrg9rIV. All of this helps put me in the right mood to create fantastical worlds, intricate magic spells and creatures who are more likely to eat you than help you.

Do you just let the words flow and then go back and try and make some sense out it?

As I said above, my writing is organic. I just let it all fall out. But then I’m also a little OCD and so I find myself writing a page or two, and then going back to edit and alter the writing. I hate the little squiggly red lines Word puts underneath things it doesn’t recognize. They drive me nuts, and I can’t look at them. So I have to go back and correct the word. Same can be said for the blue grammar and technical suggestions.  I need to see black and white. That to me is clean, and non-distracting. It allows me to read what I’ve written unencumbered. I know, I’m crazy.

Synopsis

James Martin is a teacher, a powerful Psychic, and an alcoholic. He used to work for the Center for Magical Research and Development, a facility that houses people who can’t control their supernatural abilities, but left after one of his students was killed, turning to vodka to soothe his emotional pain. The problem is he still has one year left on his contract.

When James is forced to return to the CMRD, he finds himself confronting the demons of his past and attempting to protect his new class from a possible death sentence, because if they don’t pass their final exams, they’ll be euthanized.

James also discovers that his class isn’t bringing in enough sponsors, the agencies and world governments who supply grants and ultimately purchase graduates of the CMRD, and that means no profit for the facility. James and his students face impossible odds—measure up to the facility’s unreachable standards or escape.

Excerpt

Magic or Die
J.P. Jackson © 2018
All Rights Reserved

One: Call Back
“YES, MIRIAM. YES, I know. I know it’s been over a year. I’m not sure I’m ready.”

The knuckles on my hand cramped from clasping my cell phone in a death grip. I glanced at my watch. This conversation had gone on too long. In the span of two minutes, Miriam had managed to exhume memories and history I wanted buried and forgotten. I sucked in a short breath as nausea surged like a tsunami of fear. Its behemoth wave washed bile against the back of my throat.

I slumped down the stained and weathered wall of the coffin-sized studio apartment I reluctantly called a home. It wasn’t a bad place to live, except for the cockroaches I found on a daily basis. I’m sure they considered it a veritable paradise. Absentmindedly, I toed an old pizza box near my foot while listening to Miriam. One of the insects scampered across the matted Berber carpet.

Gross.

Cody. A pale ghostlike face flashed before me. His hair, the exact colour of fall fallowed fields, hung listlessly over one eye, as blood trickled out of the corner of his mouth. His chapped lips parted, asking me, “Why?”

I ignored the vision. Well, ignored wasn’t the right word, more like boxed it up with a heavy rock and pitched it into the abyss of my mind with all the other terrifying nightmares.

“I know. I owe you, yes. I’m just not sure—” I crawled over to the upended crate being used as a coffee table, grasping for my last pack of smokes. I lit one, enjoying the soothing crackle of the tobacco as it ignited, and then inhaled deeply.

Ah, yes. Hello, nicotine, my demon friend.

Miriam continued blithering while I half-heartedly listened to her soul-sucking voice. She was demanding my presence.

“What? You mean, tomorrow? Miriam, I don’t think it’s a good idea.” I drew in another steady stream of the toxic smoke. It burned my lungs as the addictive chemicals flooded through my body. I really need to quit. Scraping together the smallest ounce of courage, I attempted to defy her. “No, I can’t.”

A wraithlike hand, desiccated and fragile, inched its way across my shoulder and gripped my tense neck muscle. Its sharp nails dug into my flesh. Its bite, a warning.

Cody’s lifeless lips brushed my ear, sending cold shivers skittering across my back. Eruptions of goose flesh covered my neck and shoulders. His voice was a memory and a sound I would never forget.

“Don’t do this. You’ll kill me again.” His icy breath whispered to me.

Another box, a bigger rock, another addition to the pit of despair in my head.

“No,” I replied to one of Miriam’s inane questions. “There’s an Arcane too? I’ve never been good with them. They creep me out. No, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. Shit.” Miriam had just described a scene for me. My flesh turned buggy, as if I had chiggers nesting and burrowing deep into my skin. “Oh god that’s gross. It’s also not a good sign.” I pointed uselessly at the wall, waving my finger, trying to make a point to the caller. “I never took the exam for the third class.” Miriam had asked if I’d kept up my licensing. I instantly felt guilty. I should have done it years ago. One thing was becoming evident from the conversation—she needed my help. Help only I could give.

“All right, maybe, I think I can. Consult only. Do you hear me, Miriam? Just a consult.” I had tried desperately to stay the hell out of this. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to go back there. “What time? Yes. I’m pretty sure. Miriam—” A thousand reservations ran through my mind, a wild stampede, unbridled, laced with dread and fear. “How many? How many in this class?”

The question sat like the world perched on my shoulders. The higher the number, the bigger the world, the more responsibility, an undeniable possibility of…

“Five! Are you kidding me? I can’t do five. No. No! It’s not possible.”

She was out of her mind.

“Yes, my sister is still on the streets. You know that’s close to blackmail, right?” I stubbed out the cigarette. The lacquer of smoke in my mouth tasted like I had just licked the bottom of an ashtray, and it was suddenly very hard to breathe. Why do I smoke again?

“Fine. Tomorrow. Yes. Ten a.m. Yes, I’ll be there. What do you mean dress appropriately?”

I looked at my cell phone, disgusted as the call ended.

I flipped the device onto the floor as if it had burst into flame and branded the conversation into my hand. I snorted. Like, I’d forget.

Stretching around to the other side of the crate, I grabbed blindly for a bottle I hoped was there. By all the gods’ great divine gifts, it was. And it still had liquid in it. In fact, it was surprisingly half-full.

I tipped the vodka bottle back, allowing its burn to strip away the cancer stick’s smoky film inside my mouth.

Swaying back and forth with my eyes closed, I tried to drown out the endless voices in my head. The words inundated my impending thoughts of doom and failure, and I could feel the chaos and panic mounting. Steadying myself and regaining my mental capacities, I gazed out the window. It was dark already and only six, early evening at best. Yay for daylight-savings time and late fall in Canada. Lights from the downtown cityscape lazily twinkled and danced before me. It should have been a pretty sight, but the darkness always seemed too oppressive, like a shroud. And I knew better. Things lived in the shadows.

I took another swig from the clear glass bottle. The burn hit my throat and disintegrated the bile that had crept up there.

Five very gifted students.

I rubbed the stubble covering my face and took yet another nip. Except it wasn’t a quick sip, it was a good one. A long one.

The window acted like a mirror, and my image reflected against the backdrop of the city skyline. I looked like shit. My short brown hair had cowlicks; thank god I kept it close. But the rest? No wonder Miriam instructed me to clean it up. The shirt I was sort of wearing was only half buttoned and stained in several spots. I had no pants on, but the pair of tighty-whities, which weren’t exactly white anymore, or tight, were ripped and showed more flesh than they were supposed to. Jesus.

How did my life get here?

Five young people had no control of their gifts.

And I had a sister who was lost out in the sparkle-light of downtown’s darkness, up to who knew what, and doing it with god only knew who, mired in her own addictions.

I glanced around my shit-hole apartment, wondering what the fuck I was going to do.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

J.P. Jackson works as an IT analyst in health care during the day, where if cornered he’d confess to casting spells to ensure clinicians actually use the electronic medical charting system he configures and implements.

At night however, the writing happens, where demons, witches and shape shifters congregate around the kitchen table and general chaos ensues. The insurance company refuses to accept any more claims of ‘acts of the un-god’, and his husband of almost 20 years has very firmly put his foot down on any further wraith summoning’s in the basement. And apparently imps aren’t house-trainable. Occasionally the odd ghost or member of the Fae community stops in for a glass of wine and stories are exchanged. Although the husband doesn’t know it, the two Chihuahuas are in cahoots with the spell casting.

J.P.’s other hobbies include hybridizing African Violets (thanks to grandma), extensive travelling and believe it or not, knitting.

 

 

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