Andy Gallo on Lambda Rising, old gayborhoods, and his new release Better Be Sure (guest post)

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Better Be Sure

Andy Gallo has a new contemporary MM romance out: Better Be Sure.

The Edge of Extinction?

Thank you, Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for letting me come visit today.

For those of us old enough to remember, there was a time when the gay ‘areas’ of major cities were predominately gay; Castro in San Francisco, Oaklawn in Dallas, West Hollywood in L.A. Hillcrest in San Diego, Boystown in Chicago—I could go on, but you get the point. They had gay bars, restaurants, books stores, coffee houses, places had rainbow triangles to let you know they were gay friendly or gay owned.

In D.C. the area was ‘Dupont’—the area around Dupont Circle.  Lambda Rising (the gay book store) was there, ‘toy’ stores, a few gay bars, restaurants etc. But once that area became gentrified (meaning a lot of LGBT people moved into a dicey area and fixed it up), the ‘gayborhood moved. First to ‘P’ Street (which still has a strong presence) then further east to ‘Logan’ and now ‘Shaw.’ With each move, new ‘gay’ businesses sprung up, but not as many. Some remained enshrined in their old locations, others moved with the clientele and some—like Lambda Rising—closed up shop. 

The last—the demise of Lambda Rising— is something of a phenomenon (or perhaps better said, a tragedy to people of my generation.)

Greater acceptance of LGBT people brought with it a willingness to carry things we wanted. Soon Barnes and Noble carried our books and people could go to the closest book store instead of making a special drive into the heart of DC. Then Amazon sprang up and we could have it delivered to our homes.

In response to declining sales, Lambda Rising first closed its satellite stores in Baltimore MD. and Rehoboth Delaware. Then it closed its main location in DC. Oscar Wilde’s in NYC is gone. A Different Light in San Fran and L.A. is closed. Giovanni’s Room in Philly closed, but recently reopened in a slightly different configuration. But by and large, the stores are gone or going.  Part of it is obviously due to eBooks and Amazon’s ability to mail things to your home, but that only happened because Amazon carries our books in the first place.

Acceptance is great, and it is what we want, but the unexpected side effect is the loss of ‘our’ neighborhoods. For me, going Giovanni’s Room in Philly was a pilgrimage of sorts after I came out. I wanted to read books with positive gay characters. Mainstream bookstores had some, but only the newest or best sellers. Giovanni’s Room had hundreds. It also had ‘those’ magazines and books that you needed to keep in the bag until you were home – hey, they sold and helped pay the store’s rent.

Being a destination of sort meant people lingered once in the area. I know I did. I didn’t go that often, so I took advantage of the special trip. I went to the friendly coffee shop, maybe if it was later in the day, I’d meet friends for dinner at a LGBT owned restaurant and by that point, we’d go out to the bars/clubs. All because I was there.

Now, I order my books online for the most part, from LGBTQ publishers when able. There are no issues going to local restaurants as a couple. No one really cares – at least not in my area of the country. And because going to a gay bar is a trip all its own now, visits are much, much less frequent. (Having a child is also a huge reason not to go, but we cut back well before ‘lil q was born.)

It’s something of a double-edged sword. We want to be accepted and treated equal, but that equality means the ‘us’ only businesses we created to fill a need lost the ‘need’ they filled. Instead of being the only outlet, they became quant, quirky, something to do that was different. Sadly, that hasn’t proven to be a sustainable business model.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. One the one hand, how great would it be for our children’s children to read about ‘the good old days’ when gay book stores and businesses were common and ask, ‘why did you need those?’ If that happens, it means they didn’t know a world where marriage equality doesn’t exist. But for those of us who remember these places, they were our refugee from the less than accepting world we lived in.

This is somewhat reflected in Better Be Sure. The conflict isn’t Jack wants to take his boyfriend to the fraternity formal but is afraid his fraternity won’t accept him. They already know and don’t care. In fact, his brothers are pressing him to do it. Even his rival isn’t his enemy because Jack is gay. The problem is his date isn’t out of the closet and Jack can’t really understand why.

Homophobia absolutely still exists, and I don’t mean to suggest it’s been eradicated. There will always be some who don’t approve. But a lot of the trails have been blazed. There are fewer and fewer ‘firsts’ to be achieved. And much like the ‘mainstreaming’ of LGBTQ fiction, the conflicts in our books are inching toward the same ones found in general fiction.

I’m not sure yet how I feel about this new world. For now, I’m content to recognize it and see where it goes.

[Optional For The Tour Host]

In addition to the tour wide contest, at each stop on the blog tour, Anyta and I are giving away eBook copies of (Un)Masked) – which we co-wrote – and Leo Love Aries – the first book in Anyta’s Signs of Love series. To be eligible, leave a comment below and tell us something unique about your region that might be different from other places. We’ll pick one winner for each book*

  

  

*Readers are eligible to win one eBook during the tour and one of the three grand prizes.

 

Blurb:

When the stakes are this high, you better be sure you can win.

Jackson Murphy lost his parents to a boating accident, but they’re never far from his thoughts. He attends the same university as his parents, joined the same fraternity as his dad, and even lives in his father’s old room, along with his adopted brother Marcus. Life brightens when he meets the man of his dreams.

Edward Knowles trades full-time college for working during the day and community college at night when his father’s factory closes. He intends to stay deep in the closet to keep his job in heating and cooling. But Jack pushes all his buttons.

Jack’s college rival challenges him to bring a date to the upcoming dance. He goads Jack into accepting even though failure means he and Marcus will lose their room and Jack must leave the fraternity.

Jack is falling hard for Ed, but Ed will never agree to go the dance. Ed—not knowing the stakes of the wager—has also made it clear that Jack taking another man will end their romance.

With pressure from friends and enemies alike, will Jack hold on to his legacy… or his heart?

Dreamspinner | Amazon | Amazon NZ | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes


Giveaway

Andy is giving away a $25 Dreamspinner gift certificate, two audio codes, and 3 $5 Amazon gift cards with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win.

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4756/?

We’re also giving away an eBook copy of (Un)Masked and one copy of Leo Loves Aries, by Anyta Sunday. Comment on the post below or a chance to win.


Excerpt

Jack’s phone buzzed, and he swatted the sound away. Too early in the damn morning. Another buzz. He drowsily pulled himself from sleep. Across the room, Marcus mumbled in his sleep.

Jack checked his phone, body surging to life at Ed’s name on the screen.

Ed: Morning!

Ed: Oh, crap, it’s probably still too early for you.

Jack couldn’t type back quick enough. Ed writing to him this early in the morning, that had to mean something, surely.

Jack: Nah, I’m totally awake. Why?

Ed: Just finished a job. Am close to Harrison….

Jack was already scrambling out of bed, messaging one-handed while he emptied his drawers for a clean shirt.

Jack: Send me your location. I’m in desperate need of caffeine. Bet you could use some too.

Ed sent a grinning dog and his location. Eighteen minutes later, Jack walked into the local Starbucks. He scanned the almost empty store and caught Ed’s broad shoulders at the counter.

Jack strode over and clapped the guy on the shoulder, giving it a lingering squeeze. “I have an eerie sense of déjà vu.”

Ed’s warm shoulder shook as he chuckled. “I haven’t mowed you down yet.”

“No, no, that you haven’t.” Their gazes snagged, and Ed definitely swallowed. Probably too early—in the day and their friendship—to tease.

Jack rocked back on his heels, dug his wallet out of his pocket, and ordered.

When they both had their drinks, they sank into armchairs in the corner of the room.

Ed’s gaze kept dipping to his chest, and Jack’s lips tipped up behind his mocha. “How was your morning job?”

“I was extremely motivated to get the job done quickly.”

Jack’s grin widened, and an ill-timed sip ended up rolling down his chin. He swiped it off. “Do you often have jobs close to Harrison?”

“Not as much as I’d like.” Ed rubbed his palm over the arm of the chair.

“I mean, a lot of the time I have to drive out farther.”

“Well, any time you’re nearby….” He raised his cup.

Ed glanced at his chest again. “I like the look.”

Jack followed the sweep of Ed’s hand and—fuck. His shirt was inside out. “Right. Of course.”

Ed leaned forward in his seat, amusement lighting his eyes as he took in the rest of him. Shivers skittered through Jack, and he held his breath. “I totally woke you, didn’t I?”

“Busted.”

The deep laugh Ed gave made it all worth it. “So you’re a high-ranking anchor in your fraternity?”

Jack snorted at the muff. From the way Ed stared at him, it was hard to tell if he’d done it on purpose or really had the term mixed up.

“We prefer to pronounce it ‘archon,’ but either way, I’m one of the fraternity leaders, yes.”

“Do you like it?”

“Which? Being in the fraternity or being an officer?”

“Both.”

Of course he’d want Jack to answer both. “Yeah, for the most part. I mean, there are a couple guys I wish weren’t my brothers, but that’s how it is.”

“How’d you pick that fraternity?”

“There wasn’t really any other option.”

Ed’s brow furrowed. “I thought Harrison had a lot of fraternities.”

“No, not like that.” Jack waved his hand and shook his head. “My dad, both of them were in Pi Kappa Phi. Marcus and I grew up hearing all the stories about their days in the house.”

“Wow, that’s cool.”

“Yeah, they met when they were freshmen and were friends until… well… until my parents died.” He thought he’d been ready to deal with the issue, but confronted with it, he froze.

Ed scooted up on his chair, leaning forward. “You okay, Jack?”

Jack rubbed the ring at the chain around his neck and drew in a calming breath. “Yeah. Yeah.”

Ed seemed to realize Jack needed a change in conversation, because he abruptly started telling Jack how his sister had woken him last night screaming murder. She’d gone to the bathroom at night, and when she walked back to her room, someone was in there, rustling the sheets.

Ed had launched into her room with a bat only to be confronted with their cat. The first time the cat decided not to be shy. In the middle of the night, rolling around Becky’s bed. They laughed so hard, they needed to make a cup of hot milk to settle down again.

“Sounds like you’re a good guy to have around… wayward cats.” And panicking… friends.

Ed sipped his coffee. “What about you?”

“I like to think I’m a good guy to have around too.”

“I’m sure you are.” Ed set his coffee down. “Look, about last night….”

Jack clasped his cup, muscles rigid. Here it was. “Yeah?”

Air blew into the café along with a group of rowdy hipster students toting stainless steel cups. Jack shuffled forward on the cushion to hear Ed better, but Ed’s gaze strayed toward group and his mouth flattened.

Jack cursed the interruption, but it was clear the moment had passed.

“What are your plans the rest of the day?” Ed asked instead.

“The rest of the day?”

Ed laughed, and Jack soaked it up.

“Class, bantering with Brittany—she’s awesome—frat meeting about the spring formal, messing around with the guys. Might squeeze some actual study in there.” A lot of study, actually.

“Messing around with the guys?”

That piqued your interest, did it? Jack smirked. “Play a bit of ball if the weather holds. Get out the PlayStation and hit the video games if it doesn’t.”

“What’s the spring formal?”

Jack groaned. “The bane of my life.”


Author Bio

Andy Gallo prefers mountains over the beach, coffee over tea, and regardless if you shake it or stir it, he isn’t drinking a martini. He remembers his “good old days” as filled with mullets, disco music, too-short shorts, and too-high socks. Thanks to good shredders and a lack of social media, there is no proof he ever descended into any of those evils.

Andy does not write about personal experiences and no living or deceased ex-boyfriends appear on the pages of his stories. He might subconsciously infuse his characters with some of their less noble qualities, but that is entirely coincidental even if their names are the same. And while Andy leaves the hard sci-fi/fantasy for his alter ego, Andrew, in his mind a touch of the supernatural never derailed a good relationship.

Married and living his own happy every after, Andy helps others find their happy endings in the pages of his stories. He and his husband of more than twenty years spend their days raising their daughter and rubbing elbows with other parents. Embracing his status as the gay dad, Andy sometimes has to remind others that one does want a hint of color even when chasing after their child.

Author Website: https://www.andygallo.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/andygalloauthor/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/92829509-andy-gallo

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Of Wild Weather, Eostre and Spring. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Of Wild Weather, Eostre and Spring

 

I don’t know how many of you are fans of the book by Neil Gaiman or show based on it, American Gods, but the weather the nation has been having this past week has called to mind one scene from last season’s finale, when the goddess Ostara, provoked or encouraged (depending on how you look at it) by the god Wednesday, reminds those partying around her of her true origins and power with catastrophic results… removing Spring’s bounty and renewal from the lands….  setting off a withering landscape and the onset of winter.

I think it was watching that weather map showing a “bomb cyclone” sweeping across the Midwest bringing hurricane force winds and blizzards so unexpectedly, while here in Maryland we were experiencing 65 to 70 degrees of Spring.  It was Spring as its most turbulent, violent, and yet weirdly warm and calm state.  It just depended where you lived.  And yes, I do know its due to climate change.

But it did draw my mind back to that scene and to the goddess Ostara.

Ostara, or Eostre or Eastre, she has many names, the goddess of Spring.  She is responsible for the renewal of the earth each year after winter, the bringer of Spring, the symbol of fertility and birth.  Yes, rabbits (those reproducing, repopulating stars) are her symbols.  She has been pictured with a rabbit’s head but more often with them at her side.  They are the reason we now have the Easter Bunny, same with Easter Eggs.  All due to her, Eostre or Eastre.  Or Ostara.

She’s been on my mind a lot, for many reasons.  The Spring equinox approaches on the 21st, a new season of American Gods has started, and all around me, from my backyard to the news I have reminders of just how wild and unpredictable nature and Spring can be at times.

At night I’ve heard both the calls of wild geese migrating and the sound of a barred owl so out of season….must be a youngster trying to find his voice.

But it’s a reminder that rebirth can be a wild and tumultuous time.  That renewal isn’t always peaceful and calm, that wild winds and blizzards can herald the arrival of Spring just as often as the call of the bluebird.

Something to remember when pondering that Easter bunny.

Kristin Chenoweth as Ostara in American Gods

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, March 17:

  • Of Wild Weather, Eostre and Spring. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Book Blitz – LA Bryce – The Forever Kind Of Love

Monday, March 18:

  • Release Blitz – Rewind by Rowan Shaw
  • Release Blitz – Jeanne Marcella – The Demon Lord Of California
  • Review Tour – A.L. Lester – Shadows On The Border
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Blue Umbrella Sky by Rick R. Reed
  • A Caryn Review Shadows On The Border (Lost In Time #2) by A.L. Lester
  • A MelanieM Review: No Big Deal (#lovehim #1.5) by S.M. James

Tuesday, March 19:

  • Release Blitz ALL SOULS NEAR & NIGH (SOULBOUND #2) by Hailey Turner
  • Release Blitz – TL Travis’ A Heart Divided
  • Blog Tour – Marked by J. Jay Barrett
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Whiskey to Wine (Leaning N #3) by BA Tortuga
  • A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: I’m Not Who You Think I Am by Felicitas Ivey
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: A Lord to Love by Sara Dobie Bauer

Wednesday, March 20:

  • RELEASE BLITZ Clean Break (Farm College #2) by Erin McLellan
  • Book Blitz  Tour Request – Elin Gregory – Midnight Flit
  • BLOG TOUR Wicked Games by Aimee Nicole Walker
  • A Lucy Review : The Forever Kind Of Love by LA Bryce
  • A Jeri Review Clean Break (Farm College #2) by Erin McLellan
  • A MelanieM Review: Lunar New Love by Casper Graham
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: In Safe Hands by Victoria Sue

Thursday, March 21:

  • Book Blast – An Extra Alpha (Pine Wood Falls #2) by Sarah Havan
  • DSP PROMO Felicitas Ivey on I’m Not Who You Think I Am
  • PROMO BA Tortuga on Whiskey to Wine
  • An Alisa Review: How Not To Sin by Susan Hawke
  • A Stella Review: Brush Strokes by E.S. Karlquist
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review :Kennard’s Story (Cronin’s Key #4) by N.R. Walker

Friday, March 22:

  • Review Tour –  A Body In A Bathhouse by Brad Shreve
  • Review Tour – Apple Boy (The Quiet Work #1) by Isobel Starling
  • Blog Tour for A Broken Promise by Mel Gough
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Apple Boy (The Quiet Work #1) by Isobel Starling
  • An Alisa Review: Demon on the Down-Low by EJ Russell
  • A Caryn Review: Best Behaviour by Matthew Metzger
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Black (Kitty Play Romance) by Quin Perin

Saturday, March 23:

Release Blitz Memory of Scorpions Series by Aleksandr Voinov

 

 

Love CyberPunk? Check out the Blog Tour “The Hands We’re Given” by O.E. Tearmann (excerpt and giveaway)

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The Hands We're Given - O.E. Tearmann

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host O.E. Tearmann here today on tour with their latest story,  The Hands We’re Given.  Welcome, O.E.

 

I’ve been asked a few times why I write in the genre I do…usually with raised eyebrows and a slightly anxious expression. If you know me, this makes sense. I’m a naturally cheerful person who loves research. I love meeting people (though they unnerve me.) I’ve been described as chipper.

And I write cyberpunk. Queer cyberpunk.

Yeah. I get about the reaction you’d expect.

The thing is, in my head I’m not writing ‘cyberpunk’. I’m writing a possible, pretty dark future America, sure. But I’m writing about two guys falling in love. I’m writing about a rag-tag family that hangs together in the worst circumstances, and how they do it. I’m writing about what I fear in the present, what it might become, and why we can stay hopeful in spite of it. I’m telling the story of a weird family of foundlings, dreamers and fighters who just happens to live in a possible future. I’m writing about a trans guy who finds out how strong he really is when he’s given the chance to rise. I’m writing about pranks pulled and battles won, and the power of lighting a candle in the deepest dark.

My buddy and I once fully described this book, and came up with ‘queer romantic cli-fi hope-punk’.

Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t offer that as a genre category.

So what’s the point of genres? Some days the whole concept irks me. My writing’s all about getting out of constraining boxes. And then I have to find one to fit in.

They tell me genres sell books, and they have a point. Debbie Young of the Alliance for Independent Writers gives us four reasons that genre can be valuable in her wonderful article on the topic:

* A genre such as cozy mystery or police procedural provides a useful shorthand to readers and to stockists of what to expect from your book, making it more likely that they’ll choose your book if that’s the kind of book they’re after.

* Standard genres make it easier to your categorize your book on self-publishing platforms – although each might each use slightly different terminology, their categories at least it helps you reach readers who are looking specifically for books in your genre.

* It positions your book alongside others that are like yours, so you’re more likely to share a shelf in a bookstore or on an “also bought” or “if you liked that, you might like this” listing online.

* Genre expectations provide some basic rules to guide you as you write your book.

But maybe I’ll take a leaf out of William Allan’s work. He writes: ‘The first thing to observe is that a genre is not a rigid mould which works must fit into, but a group of texts that share certain similarities – whether of form, performance context, or subject matter. For example, all the texts that make up the ancient genre of tragedy share certain ‘family resemblances’ (they are theatrical texts written in a particular poetic language, they reflect on human suffering, they show gods interacting with humans, and so on) that allow us to perceive

them as a recognizable group. But although certain ‘core’ features characterize any given genre, the boundaries of each genre are fluid and are often breached for literary effect.’

So romance readers tell me what I write isn’t in their genre. Cyberpunk readers leave comments that read ‘not cyberpunk.’ And solarpunk fans say the world’s too dark to be Solarpunk.

Genres can help sell books. But they’re a tool. Not a trap.

And me? I just keep writing. I’ve got a story to tell.

——

 

O.E. Tearmann has a new MM (trans) hard sci fi/cyberpunk tale out, book one in their “Aces High, Jokers Wild” series: “The Hands We’re Given.”

Aidan Headly never wanted to be the man giving orders. That’s fine with the Democratic State Force base he’s been assigned to command: they don’t like to take orders. Nicknamed the Wildcards, they used to be the most effective base against the seven Corporations owning the former United States in a war that has lasted over half a century. Now the Wildcards are known for creative insubordination, chaos, and commanders begging to be reassigned.

Aidan is their last chance. If he can pull off his assignment as Commander and yank his ragtag crew of dreamers and fighters together, maybe they can get back to doing what they came to do: fighting for a country worth living in.

Life’s a bitch. She deals off the bottom of the deck. But you play the hands you’re given.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads


Giveaway

O.E. is giving away an eBook copy of “After Hours Game: A Wildcards Christmas: with this tour – for a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4754/?


Excerpt

The Hands We're Given meme - O.E. Tearmann

The dark shapes of three drones flitted over the junkyard, blotting out the stars. Aidan desperately turned the keys, slamming his foot on the accelerator. The truck’s engine finally revved. Kevin flung open the passenger side door and leapt inside. “Go, go, go!”

Aidan slammed it into reverse and hit the gas. They jumped backward. Once the truck was far enough away from the fence, he changed gears and wrenched the wheel around. They bumped and rattled into the night as fast as Aidan dared without the headlights on. The heat of the engine would make them easy to follow for the drones’ thermal cameras, but the short-range guard drones couldn’t go too far from their base of operation before their programming called them back. Aidan just hoped they could outrun them.

He gripped the steering wheel so hard it hurt. He could feel the suit tightening down against his skin. His heart pounded in his chest. Kevin’s breathing was ragged beside him. Another burst of bullets sprayed the ground right in front of them. Aidan yelped and yanked the wheel to avoid getting hit. The truck jittered to the side. Aidan slammed on the gas. The desert night sped past in a blur of blue and red under the starlight. Slowly, the whir of rotors faded into the distance. Aidan’s grip on the steering wheel began to relax. Kevin pulled his tab out of the bag and set it on the dashboard, watching as the screen flipped through the security channels they’d hacked into, keeping track of the location of dozens of drones.

Finally, Aidan pulled up under an overhang of red rock and cut the engine. The wide-range security drones were due to make their fly-over soon. Better to stop for a while and recover, get back on the road when it was safer.

They sat in silence for a long time, listening for rotors over the quiet buzz of the night insects. Aidan rested his arms on the steering wheel and propped his chin on his wrist, watching the star-studded sky.

“You all right?” Kevin breathed. At some point during the drive, he had deactivated his slick suit.

Aidan sighed and leaned back so he could manually flip his face screen up.”Yeah. Think so. Banged my knee pretty bad. Your shoulder?”

“Bruised. Doesn’t feel severe.” Kevin shrugged.

“Um, good,” Aidan whispered eventually.

So. They were alive. They’d gotten out with most of what they’d gone in for.

At the expense of a bad bruise across Kevin’s cheek, that or worse to his shoulder, and an action that could have caused so much more.

Slowly, some of his anger seeped back. He took a breath. “You scared the hell out of me back there and acted like a complete gamma, Kev. Don’t do that again.”

Kevin ducked his head in a slow nod. “I’m sorry, Aidan. I—When I saw you like that, I guess I panicked.”

Aidan sighed. Kevin was normally so level-headed. He’d been utterly cool on-Grid, when Aidan had been scared shitless.

So why had he acted like this out here?

On the tab screen, the red dot of a drone approached their location. They waited in breathless silence as the long-range drone passed, not even the sound of whirring to announce its presence. The red dot moved out of range.

Aidan breathed out. Kevin looked up with a smile. So close. They were so close.

“That’s the last of them. A very fine night’s work if I do say so.”

Aidan tried to smile, but it faltered. “I didn’t get the holo board. That was the part we needed most.”

Kevin smirked as he pulled the bag up from the floorboard and into his lap. He rifled quickly through the materials they had managed to grab, yanked, and pulled out the board with a wink.

“Oh, I don’t know about that.”

“What? How…?” Aidan breathed, feeling the wave of defeat that had been threatening lift.

“Fell down the pile when you did,” Kevin whispered, grinning. “I simply grabbed it up. After all, I am the requisitions officer. Snatching things is my forte.”

A rush of joy shot through Aidan. They’d done it. They’d gotten everything. Nose to nose with Kevin, he grinned.

“Holy shit, we- Holy shit! You… wow. Kevin, holy shit! This is like one of your vids!”

Kevin’s eyes glittered like silver in the low light. “You know, if this is a vid, I know how the scene ends.”

“Yeah?” Aidan asked, still giddy with relief.

Kevin was still smiling, his teeth white outlines in his grin. And he was leaning closer. Aidan could feel the heat of his skin, his breath.

“Heroes always get a kiss at the end of the adventure. That’s the convention.” Kevin tipped his head, eyes holding Aidan’s. “Would the hero like a kiss?”

Aidan froze. Was Kevin actually… Was he…?

He wet his lips. His voice escaped as a whisper. “Am I supposed to be a hero?”

Kevin’s smile was soft now, and he was so very close. “I don’t see anyone else in the driver’s seat. So you must be.” Then he pressed his lips against Aidan’s.

Kevin’s lips were hot. Aidan’s brain turned inside out. Kevin was kissing him.

Kevin had started kissing him.

This was real.

He leaned into the warmth with a pleasure that was almost pain. This was only going to be a second, but if only this second would last.

Softly, Kevin drew back. “Was that okay?”

Kevin’s whisper barely made it through the buzzing in Aidan’s brain. He gasped in a breath. “Um, okay. Yeah.” He swallowed hard and forced himself to sit up. “We-we should get going home…”

Kevin nodded, eyes still holding his as he drew away. “I suppose we should.”


Author Bio

AUTHORBIO

O.E. Tearmann lives in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, in what may become the Co-Wy Grid. They share the house with a brat in fur, a husband and a great many books. Their search engine history may garner them a call from the FBI one day. When they’re not living on base 1407 they advocate for a more equitable society and more sustainable agricultural practices, participate in sundry geekdom and do their best to walk their characters’ talk.

Author Website: http://aceshighjokerswild.com/

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/wildcards1407/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18359444.O_E_Tearmann

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/O.E.-Tearmann/e/B07J62VX9W

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New Release Tour for Abaddon’s Locusts (A BJ Vinson Mystery #5) by Don Travis

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Abaddon's Locusts - Don Travis

DSP Publications author Don Travis has a new gay mystery book out: Abaddon’s Locusts.

When B. J. Vinson, confidential investigator, learns his young friend, Jazz Penrod, has disappeared and has not been heard from in a month, he discovers some ominous emails. Jazz has been corresponding with a “Juan” through a dating site, and that single clue draws BJ and his significant other, Paul Barton, into the brutal but lucrative world of human trafficking.

Their trail leads to a mysterious Albuquerquean known only as Silver Wings, who protects the Bulgarian cartel that moves people—mostly the young and vulnerable—around the state to be sold into modern-day slavery, sexual and otherwise. Can BJ and Paul locate and expose Silver Wings without putting Jazz’s life in jeopardy? Hell, can they do so without putting themselves at risk? People start dying as BJ, Paul, and Henry Secatero, Jazz’s Navajo half-brother, get too close. To find the answer, bring down the ring, and save Jazz, they’ll need to locate the place where human trafficking ties into the Navajo Nation and the gay underground.

About the Series:

BJ Vinson, a gay former-Marine, ex-cop licensed private investigator tries to pick his cases carefully, but prior loyalties or his sense of justice or something always gets in his way. He finds himself traveling all over his beloved state of New Mexico with his companion Paul Barton to mend other people’s problems.

DSP Publications (eBook) | DSP Publications (paperback) | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Google Play


Giveaway

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Excerpt

Abaddon's Locusts banner

Prologue

Two men gazed down at the sleeping youth sprawled across the mattress. The older, his pleasant features blemished by a glint of cruelty in his dark eyes, smoothed silver wings of luxuriant hair at his temples before handing over a number of $100 bills to a young Hispanic almost as handsome as the boy on the bed.

Now fully clothed, Silver Wings exuded the authority of a player, of someone who counted. “Fucking beautiful. How old did you say he is?”

“Eighteen. Barely. Know that’s older’nyou usually like. But he’s a rare one, no? As lindaas a woman and as macho as a man. He took care of you, huh?”

Silver Wings rubbed his eyes as if remembering the last hour. “Fantastic. Must have worn himself out. Does he usually go comatose?”

“Ah, that is the drug. He claims he gets a bigger bang by charging up. But you benefit as well, no?” He eyed his companion. “He is yours for $25,000.”

Interest flickered and died. “Tempting. But my household isn’t set up for that kind of arrangement. I prefer to call when I feel the need. Even if that means sharing him.”

“You don’t take him, then we move him south.”

“South? To Mexico, you mean? Juárez?” That wouldn’t be too bad. El Paso was a short hop, and Juárez lay just across the border.

“At first, but then we gonna trade him up.”

Silver Wings understood the human trafficking language of trading up, but it was unusual to move members of the “family” out of country these days. “In Juárez? Sounds more like trading him down.”

¡Órale! There’s some big money in Juárez. But a bigwig in the Middle East went apeshitover the kid’s pics. He wants him. And for a lot more than twenty-five. I only give you that price to let you know how much we ’preciateyour help.”

“Middle East, huh?” Silver Wings licked his lips. “Put off that transfer while I see if I can work something out.”

“Two days. Then I gotta move him. You know, easier to ship him overseas from Mexico than from the States.”

Silver Wings’ voice hardened. “You can do better than that. Give me a week to reorder my life. I’d like to visit him a couple of times. Usual fee, of course. That gives you reason enough to hold him here.”

“Okay, but not no more’n a week. I got people to answer to, you know.”

“I’d like him again tomorrow night, but it will have to be late. I have a dinner meeting.”

Hispano lowered his head. “As you wish. All you gotta do is call me.”

Silver Wings left the motel reluctantly. What would take place in that room now that they were alone? Just thinking about it raised a bead of sweat on his upper lip.

His mind returned to the offer he had received. The boy was expensive, and the economy was still struggling to recover from the Great Recession of 2008… but it was only money.

Chapter 1

Monday, August 9, 2010, Albuquerque, New Mexico

I parked the Impala in front of my detached single-car garage and sat for a moment trying to figure out the cacophony on the radio. I’d failed to reset the station after Paul and I went for a rare game of weekend golf at the North Valley Country Club. Paul Barton was the sun in my sky, but I still struggled to understand my companion’s taste in music. Now something called “Alejandro” by a gal proclaiming herself to be Lady Gaga committed assault on my classical-music-loving ears. As I switched off the noise and stepped from the car, a high, uncertain voice snagged my attention.

“Yoo-hoo, Mr. Vinson. BJ!”

Mrs. Gertrude Wardlow, the late-afternoon sun catching in wayward strands of her white hair, waved at me from the foot of her driveway. She had lived in the white brick across the street for as long as I could remember. Mrs. W. and her husband, Herb, had been with the Drug Enforcement Administration from the time it was formed in 1973 until their retirement. Some ten years ago, Herb passed on to his reward—an urn on his widow’s mantelpiece. I walked out to meet her in the middle of Post Oak Drive.

“I’m so glad I caught you.” She fiddled with frilly lace at the neck of her lavender blouse. “A man on a Harley has been driving up and down the street. He stopped at your place twice. Rang the bell and then rode off.”

No doubt she was recalling the time when two thugs on another motorcycle attempted to gun me down. When she’d yelled to distract their murderous attention, they shot up the front of her house, scattering her husband all over the carpet.

I touched her shoulder. “Don’t worry, I’m not involved in any gang disputes at the moment. Not that I know of, anyway.”

Her smile turned impish. “That was an interesting day, wasn’t it? I just thought you should be aware someone was trying to contact you.”

“Thank you, Mrs. W. I’ll be on the lookout.”

After exchanging pleasantries, we parted. I mounted the steps to my front porch and paused to enjoy the welcoming aroma of tea roses my late mother planted. No evidence of a note on the door or in the mailbox. That meant the mysterious biker would probably return. I went inside and forgot the matter as I removed one of Paul’s casseroles from the fridge and got out a pan of rolls. I enjoyed their yeasty aroma almost as much as I liked their yeasty taste. Our household mantra was Paul Barton, freelance journalist, whips up gourmet meals; B. J. Vinson, formerMarineand ex-cop turned confidential investigator, burns toast.

We planned to stay home tonight and watch an episode of a new gumshoe program on the tube called The Glades. Matt Passmore, the guy who played the detective, was a way-cool customer who Paul claimed should be my role model. I’d no sooner set the dishes to heating than a rumble on the street caught my attention. A moment later the doorbell rang.


Author Bio

Don Travis is an Okie turned New Mexican. Each of his B. J. Vinson mystery novels features some region of his beautiful adopted state as prominently as it does his protagonist, a gay former Marine, ex-cop turned confidential investigator. Don never made it to the Marines (three years in the Army instead) and certainly didn’t join the Albuquerque Police Department.

He thought he was a paint artist for a while but ditched that for writing a few years back. A loner, he fulfills his social needs by attending SouthWest Writers meetings and teaching a free weekly writing class called Wordwrights at the North Domingo Multigenerational Center, an Albuquerque community center.

Author Website: http://www.dontravis.com
Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/dontravis3

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Is Sci fi/fantasy a Favorite of Yours? Check out the collection of stories in Spells & Stardust by J. Scott Coatsworth (giveaway)

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Spells & Stardust

J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer sci fi/fantasy anthology out: Spells & Stardust.

Spells & Stardust is Scott’s first anthology – eight sci fi and fantasy shorts that run the gamut from regeneration to redemption.

The Bear at the Bar: A gay fish out of water tale with a pinch of magic.

Tight: What happens when your lover disappears in midair?

Morgan: The year when everything changed.

Re-Life: What if you were reborn in a strange new future?

A New Year: They met every eleven years. And each time, Hank’s life changed.

Repetition: What if you wanted to go back in the closet?

Gargoyle: Sometimes you get what you deserve. Sometimes it happens on All Hallows Eve.

Avalon: A few bright moments in the sun, stolen from outside time.

Most of these stories have been previously published in various anthologies and journals. This is the first time they have all been collected in one place.

Get It On Amazon


Giveaway

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Unique Excerpt – From “Re-Life”

The taxi from the Re-Life Clinic dropped out of the sky onto a raised landing pad. It alighted twenty feet above ground level like a giant dragonfly. The door lifted, and Eric looked out uncertainly. “The hostel?” he said.

“Down the ramp, on the left,” the taxi told him in a suave, gender-neutral voice.

He clambered out, dragging his shiny duffel bag along, trying hard to ignore its ever-changing ripples of color. It epitomized the gaudy nanotech that seemed to be in everything here. He’d just completed his six-week orientation and rehab at the Clinic. It had taken four weeks just to get used to this new body they’d grown for him using his own DNA. It still didn’t feel entirely… his.

It was finally time to get out into the world. The long weeks of rehab had chaffed at him—he was itching to explore this strange new city, Safris. He couldn’t wait to take a look around and see what had changed. And though he had nothing but a few personal belongings and a credit on his account, he was young and healthy again.

The cancer that had killed him half a millennia earlier was gone.

It had been utterly strange to open his eyes in the clinic for the first time, after he’d had himself frozen on the off chance that someone, sometime in the future would be able to cure him. It had also been traumatic, processing the loss of everything and everyone he had once held dear.

He’d spent a week straight crying and morose, sitting in a dark room and counting all the things he’d lost. All of that is behind me now. I hope.

He looked around. There were few people about, most of them standard-form. The buildings were so unlike those back home—they thrust upward at strange opposing angles, and they went up and up and up. Like the carry sack, some of them changed colors as he watched, and he was half-convinced that one of them moved.

He fought down his panic. It was perfectly normal to feel out of place the first time out, his counselor had told him.

Maybe so, but it was also painful.

He missed many things: Levis, trolley cars, Wild Cherry Pepsi, and the smell of sandalwood.

But he missed David most of all.


Author Bio

Scott lives with his husband of twenty five years in a Sacramento suburb, in a cute little yellow house with a brick fireplace and two pink flamingoes out front.

He inhabits in the space between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into science fiction and fantasy by his mom at the tender age of nine, he quickly finished her entire library. But he soon began to wonder where all the queer people were.

After coming out at twenty three, he started writing the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Crown Books. If there weren’t many queer characters in his favorite genres, he would will them into existence, subverting them to his own ends. And if he was lucky enough, someone else would want to read them.

His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently than most – he makes connections between ideas that others don’t, and somehow does more in a day than most people manage in a week. Although born an introvert, he forced himself to reach outside himself, and learned to connect with others like him.

Scott’s stories subvert expectations that transform traditional science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something different and unexpected. He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark.

His romance and genre fiction writing brings a queer energy to his stories, filling them with love, beauty and power. He imagines how the world could be – in the process, he hopes to change the world, just a little.

Scott was recognized as one of the top new gay authors in the 2017 Rainbow Awards, and his debut novel “Skythane” received two awards and an honorable mention.

Author Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/jscoatsworth/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ

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Cover Reveal for Ithani by J. Scott Coatsworth (excerpt and giveaway)

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Ithani

On February 19th, J. Scott Coatsworth has the final MM sci fi book in his Oberon Cycle series coming out – Ithani – and we have the cover reveal today!

Time is running out.

After saving the world twice, Xander, Jameson and friends plunge headlong into a new crisis. The ithani–the aliens who broke the world–have reawakened from their hundred millennia-long slumber. When Xander and Jameson disappear in a flash, an already fractured world is thrown into chaos.

The ithani plans, laid a hundred thousand years before, are finally coming to pass, and they threaten all life on Erro. Venin and Alix go on a desperate search for their missing and find more than they bargained for. And Quince, Robin and Jessa discover a secret as old as the skythane themselves.

Will alien technology, unexpected help from the distant past, destiny and some good old-fashioned firepower be enough to defeat an enemy with the power to split a world? The final battle of the epic science fiction adventure that began in Skythane will decide the fate of lander and skythane alike. And in the north, the ithani rise….

Series Blurb:

Oberon is one of the natural wonders of the Universe – a half planet that shouldn’t exist, at least according to the laws of nature.

Oberon is also a nest of secrets. The Skythane – the first human colonists of Oberon – keep some of them, and so do the “landers” who work for OberCorp, the company that is exploiting the planet for its natural resources.

Now Oberon is in danger. A solar flare threatens to end most life on the planet, but an ancient prophecy leads Quince, Xander, Jameson and a small group of landers and skythane on an epic quest to save the planet – and unravel its secrets along the way.

Other challenges await on the horizon, for the world, and its inhabitants. Will they find the answers they need, and their way to each other, in time?

DSP Publications eBook | DSP Publications Paperback


Giveaway

Scott is giving away five eBook copies of the first book in the series, “Skythane.” Enter via Rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

Venin stood under the dome of the chapel, the waters of the Orn rushing past the small island to crash over the edge of the crater rim, where they fell a thousand meters to the broken city of Errian below.

The Erriani chapel was different from what he was used to back home. The Gaelani chapel in Gaelan had sat at the top of a tall pillar of stone, open to the night sky, a wide space of grass and trees that intertwined in a natural dome through which moonlight filtered down to make dappled shadows on the ground.

This chapel, instead, was a wonder of streaming sunlight, the columns a polished eggshell marble with glimmering seams of gold. Red creeper vines climbed up the columns, festooned with clusters of yellow flowers that gave off a sweet scent.

Both were bright and airy, but the Erriani chapel lay under a dome supported by fluted marble columns, a painted arch of daytime sky and the rose-colored sun blazing overhead.

The last time he’d gone to chapel had been with Tazim, before his untimely death.

Long before the troubles that roiled the world now.

Something drew him back. A need to reconnect with his past. To bridge the gap between then and now, between who he was and who he had become. Taz would have liked this place.

The chapel here had survived the attack, while much of Errian had not. The city below was a jumble of broken corrinder, the multistory plants that were the main building stock for the city. They would grow again, but the sight of the city’s beautiful white towers laid low struck him to the core.

So had Gaelan looked, after the flood.

Venin turned back to the chapel and unlaced his boots, baring his muscular calves before he approached the fountain that splashed at its center. The cool flagstone beneath his feet sent a shiver up his spine, and green moss filled the gaps between the stones.

Some builder whose name was lost to time had tapped into the river itself to make the fountain run, and the water leapt into the air with a manic energy around the golden statue of Erro, before falling back down to the pool.

Venin knelt at the fountain’s edge on one of the well-worn pads, laid his hands in the shallow water, and let his wings rest over himself, making a private place to pray.

Erro and Gael, spare us from danger and lift us up into the sky with your powerful wings. He gave Erro deference, being that this was his chapel, but he hoped Gael would hear him too. The god of his own people had been known to intervene in mortal affairs before, and if what Quince had told them about these ithaniwas true, they would need all the help they could get.

Venin’s wings warmed.

He looked up in astonishment to see the statue of Erro giving off an intense golden glow. His mouth dropped open, and he stood and stared at its beautiful male curves and muscles. Maybe the gods were answering him.

Venin reached up and touched the statue’s outstretched hand. The shock knocked him backward onto his ass, and he hit the ground hard, slamming into one of the marble columns.

Venin groaned, stunned, and reached back to feel his wings and spine. He seemed to be in one piece.

Taz would have laughed his ass off at the whole thing.

After a moment he sat up cautiously. He wrapped his arms around his legs and stared up at the statue, his chin on his knees.

The glow was gone.

Did I imagine it? He stood and felt the back of his head. A lump was already forming there. That’s gonna leave a mark.

Something had changed. Venin didn’t know what yet, but he was sure of that much.

He pulled his boots back on and laced them up. With one last suspicious glare at the statue, he turned and stepped out of the chapel, taking a deep breath of the moisture-laden air.

Then he leapt into the sky to soar down to the broken city.


Author Bio

Scott lives with his husband of twenty five years in a Sacramento suburb, in a cute little yellow house with a brick fireplace and two pink flamingoes out front.

He inhabits in the space between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into science fiction and fantasy by his mom at the tender age of nine, he quickly finished her entire library. But he soon began to wonder where all the queer people were.

After coming out at twenty three, he started writing the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Crown Books. If there weren’t many queer characters in his favorite genres, he would will them into existence, subverting them to his own ends. And if he was lucky enough, someone else would want to read them.

His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently than most – he makes connections between ideas that others don’t, and somehow does more in a day than most people manage in a week. Although born an introvert, he forced himself to reach outside himself, and learned to connect with others like him.

Scott’s stories subvert expectations that transform traditional science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something different and unexpected. He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark.

His romance and genre fiction writing brings a queer energy to his stories, filling them with love, beauty and power. He imagines how the world could be – in the process, he hopes to change the world, just a little.

Scott was recognized as one of the top new gay authors in the 2017 Rainbow Awards, and his debut novel “Skythane” received two awards and an honorable mention.

You can find him at Dreamspinner here, Goodreads here, on Amazon here, on QueeRomance Ink here, and on Facebook here.

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Love M/M Paranormal Romance? Check out The Cub Club by Ardy Kelly (giveaway)

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COVER - The Cub Club - Ardy Kelly

Ardy Kelly has a new MM paranormal mpreg book out:

What would you do if your adopted son shifted into a wolf cub before your eyes?

For single dad Steven the choice was simple – find the boy’s family and hope they had the answers.

As the alpha of Lone Wolves Ranch, Mack trusted in humans as much as he trusted in love. Not at all. But he has a soft spot for the brave man searching for his son’s relatives. When he discovers Steven is his fated mate, he’s stuck between a soft spot and a hard place.

The Cub Club is a gay wolf shifter romance containing Mpreg and knotting. A complete 65,000-word novel – no cliffhanger!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN


Giveaway

Ardy is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour – for a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

BANNER3- The Cub Club - Adry Kelly

“We got company. There’s a biker at the gate.”

Mack looked up from the paperwork, staring at the walkie-talkie. It was unusual to have visitors. It was even more unusual for Sarge not to handle it on his own. The man was an excellent head of security, but he favored shifting and playing a rabid dog every time someone approached the ranch. It was effective. There wasn’t a repairman within fifty miles who would take their calls.

Mack picked up the radio. “I didn’t hear a motorcycle.”

“He’s on a friggin’ bicycle. Dressed in khakis and a button-down shirt. Who the hell dresses business casual in the Sierra backwoods?”

“Real estate agent?” Mack switched to the security camera feed on his computer. The mystery man stood outside the gate, holding a bicycle. “What’s he want?”

“Won’t say. Says he needs to talk to whoever runs the school here. Says it’s personal.”

Mack took another long look at the screen. If someone wanted to appear non-threatening, this man had it down pat.

“But here’s the weird thing,” Sarge continued. “I can’t smell him. I mean, he had to bicycle three miles down that dirt road, and in this heat I should be able to smell something.”

Sarge was of the old guard. Paranoid about discovery. Distrusting of humans. There was always a perfectly reasonable explanation for any visit, rare as they were. “I’m coming.”

Mack walked out of his office, into the hot afternoon sun. Everybody has a scent, he reasoned. Is Sarge getting a head cold?The gate was less than fifty feet away, and he saw the man waiting patiently.

He locked eyes with the stranger. The gaze he received in return wasn’t threatening or defiant. It held an intense curiosity. Too curious. This wasn’t ranch business.

Mack didn’t need to be any closer to take in the details. His suspicion heightened his senses, and he was on the alert for any potential danger. The man was attractive. Maybe in his mid-thirties, though prematurely gray. He was dressed exactly as Sarge had described, holding a mountain bike.

The only thing odd was what Sarge had already noticed: the man didn’t have a scent. There was something, but no stronger than salty sea air. Considering there wasn’t an ocean for more than a hundred miles, it was the only unique thing about him. Maybe he’s a merman.

Mack amped up his alpha attitude, swaggering the last few steps to the gate, before slapping his hand on the metal bars. “Can I help you?”

The stranger looked exhausted and tense. There were dark circles under his eyes, and his knuckles were white where he gripped the bike. He was covered in dust, much more than was usual. By late summer, the dirt road kicked up thick clouds of the stuff, but this was still June. Where had he bicycled from?

“I need to speak to whoever is in charge,” he said. The voice attempted to sound authoritative but cracked in the middle of the sentence, displaying an undercurrent of fear. Mack thought it strange he couldn’t smell it on him. “It’s about one of your students,” the stranger said.

Great. The man was a local, dressed in his Sunday best. The policy of the ranch was to be respectful but distant from their neighbors. Sometimes it was hard to accomplish that when you had teenagers. “Have they been causing trouble?”

The man shook his head. “No. An old student. Carol Rydell.”

Carol?Mack hadn’t thought of his cousin in years. She had been a rebellious teenager, with an overbearing alpha father. Uncle Jon was the alpha, and the old man didn’t like to be questioned. Carol had been too much like her father and didn’t like to be ordered around. She ran away at sixteen, and no one spoke of her since.

As much as Mack wanted to lie and say, “Never heard of her,” he found himself asking, “What do you want to know?”

The man’s poker face slipped, and worry was written all over it. “Did she have any family?”

“Why?”

He took a breath, and then blurted out, “Because she died thirteen years ago. In childbirth. And I adopted her son.”

If this was a ploy to get Mack to admit the ranch catered to the supernatural, it was a good one. Carol’s son could have come into puberty just in time for the full moon three days ago. And Mack recognized the look in the man’s eyes. Shift-faced.The human had seen the boy change. Or had he? He looked tense. But why can’t I smell his anxiety?

Mack realized he needed to be noncommittal. Get the man to tell him everything, while revealing nothing to him. “What’s your name?”

“Steven.”

Mack didn’t bother introducing himself. He was going to give the stranger the absolute minimum until he knew who he was talking to. “So, you’re raising Carol’s thirteen-year-old boy.” He opened the gate. “I bet you have questions.”

“You have no idea. I mean, I’m hoping you do.”

He wheeled the bike inside, while Sarge closed the gate behind them.

“You can leave that here,” Mack instructed, pointing at the bike.

Sarge stood beside him but Steven hesitated, as if this were his last chance to escape. No one said a word while Mack held his gaze, signaling my turf, my rules. Steven relinquished the handlebars, and Mack’s wolf purred. It’s fun bossing around humans.

The two walked the short distance to Sarge’s shack. It was half-jokingly called the guard house because all business with outsiders was handled here. No strangers got farther than this point without Mack’s approval, and few even made it that far. However, thisconversation needed four walls around it.

Once inside, Mack sat behind the desk. He needed to be intimidating and distant. “So, Carol’s son…” Mack waited to see whether Steven would supply the name of the boy. The long pause let him know he wouldn’t. “Has he recently come into puberty?”

When Steven nodded, Mack gave him a guarded smile. “I assume you’re not here because you caught him masturbating during the full moon.”


Author Bio

Ardy Kelly is my paranormal pen name. I work for one of the top boutique event planning companies in San Francisco, and I can’t risk having our clientele (or my boss) discover my passion for aggressive, sexual, alpha men.

I started writing steamy contemporary romance in 2015 under the name Robyn Kelly. At that time, only virgins seemed to be nabbing troubled billionaires, and I thought it was time to write a book where experience counted for something. When I discovered the Omegaverse last year, I noticed a lot of stories where Omegas were weak little victims, and decided to tackle that issue as well.

Much as I love writing all types of romance I don’t mind poking fun at the genre, too. My books always have a lot of humor, and usually one character is reading or writing a particularly silly romance book.

Author Website: www.robynkellyauthor.comm/ardykellyauthor

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Release Day Blast for Mama, Me, and the Holiday Tree by Jeanne G’Fellers (excerpt and giveaway)

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Mama Me and the Holiday Tree

Jeanne G’Fellers is sharing the cover for her new enby/pansexual queer paranormal fantasy book: Mama, Me, and the Holiday Tree.

A dozen handmade holiday ornaments, that’s all, but it might be an impossible task.

Centenary Rhodes and her mother are at constant odds. It’s one of the many reasons Cent left home when she was eighteen. Mama’s difficult for anyone to manage, but now that Cent’s back home, she has to try. Mama, however, won’t acknowledge who Cent’s become, even though she’s repeatedly been shown the truth.

It’ll take more than popcorn strings and paper snowflakes to heal the rift that’s formed between Cent and Mama. It’s going to take bushels of patience, heaps of magic, and assistance from everyone on both sides of Embreeville Mountain to reset the Balance between them.

But with Yule and Christmas just around the corner, it might already be too late.

Join Cent and her Mother for a heart-warming, magic-filled holiday tale of acceptance, family of choice, family of blood, love, magic, and patience all served with a queer Appalachian twist.

Warnings: This novella broaches the subject of mental illness, specifically Schizophrenia, within families and the relationships struggles therein.

About the Series:

Four elements plus one, four seasons, over a hundred lives – Centenary Rhodes has returned home to discover she isn’t who she thought. Join her on a journey through history, family of blood, family of choice, and love that renews. The mountains are alive, y’all, everything hinges on the Balance, and a little moonshine can cure what ails you in this identity-exploring, imaginative queer Contemporary Fantasy series steeped in Appalachian magic and folklore.

Mountain Gap Books | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | Goodreads


Giveaway

Jeanne is giving away two eBook copies of the first book in the series, Cleaning House, with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

Mama Me and the Holiday Tree

Chapter One

A Cedar in the Corner

December 19, 2017: 5:30 p.m.

This is what I get for marrying an earth elemental.I stare with dismay at the dirt trail leading across the porch and through the front door. I don’t get rare gems or sparkling geodes placed lovingly at my feet by my elemental spouse. No, I get a cedar tree, bare roots caked with half-frozen mud, wedged into the living room corner.

Stowne’s dragged a holiday tree into our home while I was at work today.

“No one saw you do this?” I scratch my head as I consider the leaning mass of fern-like, scaly, sticky needles. “And I thought we’d talked about getting a tree tomorrow.”

“No one was here.” Stowne’s grinning ear to sandy ear. “It is a surprise. You have worked so hard lately that you have forgotten how close it is to Yule.”

Yeah, Yule. About that.This is my first Yule with Stowne. No, let me correct that. This will be my first Yule celebration thislife, and they’re trying to make it special for me, so I can’t sound as upset as I’m feeling at present. “Two days. I know. Thanks, honey, but can we do something about the mess?”

 

“I’ve got it.” Stowne’s fire elemental friend, Pyre, rolls into the living room on a cloud of white smoke, and they’re holding the old half-barrel planter from beneath my Aunt Tess’ trailer’s back porch. “I found something to line it.” Pyre holds up a faded canvas tarp they’ve found Gods know where.

“Thank you.” Stowne’s smile still spans their face. They’re happy about this, about the tree in the corner, the leaky planter, and faded tarp, so I try my best to look happy too. “Go to the kitchen, relax, and drink some coffee, Centenary. Pyre and I will finish setting up the tree.”

“Sure.” I tuck my messenger bag under my arm and head to the kitchen, where Rayne is waiting for me, an earthenware mug of steaming coffee in their translucent, watery hands. Water elementals make wonderful coffee, by the way. Rayne claims the secret is spring water filtered through their form, and I’ve no reason to doubt them.

“Stowne’s really excited about the tree.” Rayne gives me the mug and takes my bag, setting it on the kitchen table. It’s a huge piece of well-loved furniture, a good eight-foot-long trestle, and handmade from American Chestnut, a species that’s widely considered extinct. “They’ve been looking for the perfect one since Samhain.”

“They have?” Who knew there was so much to Yule? Certainly not me, at least that I can remember. See, I’ve got this whole multiple-lives thing I’m sorting through. Most of those lives, I’ve been with Stowne, and I remember a lot, but some issues, like their excitement over holidays, have eluded me. I’ve been reading about different Yule traditions online and in the stack of magical books I left behind, but I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface, and I’ve been asking Stowne questions every night while we cuddle in bed. “They’ve gotten excited every sabbat and esbat since we’ve been together, but they seem even more excited about Yule. Why is that?”

“You don’t remember?” Rayne shifts the lower portion of their form to what resembles flowing blue pants, making it easier for them to sit. “You’ve celebrated Yule with Stowne for centuries, and during your last two lives, you actually let them bring in a tree every year as long as it could be replanted afterward.”

“Yeah, Stowne told me.” I sip my coffee then rise from the table in search of the quart of cream we keep in the homestead’s old Kelvinator fridge. “But that doesn’t explain why they’re so happy.” I add three heaping teaspoons of sugar to my cup, deep in thought as I stir. I remember that Stowne and I built this homestead together in the early nineteenth century. That version of me was Irish and desperate for a home that resembled Ireland, and this place certainly looks like pictures I’ve seen. My motivations might change each life, but I’m in many ways the same, and I always try to come here, to reach Stowne and this mountain. That’s what I’m told, anyway, but I don’t actually know.

My heart, however, says this is correct.

Here’s the thing about me and my memories. This life, I left Northeast Tennessee when I was eighteen years old. Actually, I didn’t just leave, I ran. I ran from my mother and her chronic mental illness, from everyone I thought wouldn’t accept me as genderqueer, from the magic I wasn’t ready to understand, from the looming pile of memories I’m now sorting through. But mostly, I ran from myself. Now I’m back, and I’m trying to cram three thousand years into my head, but I sometimes think space is running out.

“Stowne loves every sabbat, but especially Yule.” Rayne shrugs hard enough to fling water across the table top. “Oops.”

“It needs cleaned anyway.” I return with a dishrag, sitting across from Rayne as I wipe up. “Why Yule?”

“It represents rebirth.” Rayne stares at me with their blue eyes wide and one pale, translucent brow cocked, the look they always give me when I should be remembering something. “Re-birth.” Their stare becomes hard.

“Oh.” I bite my bottom lip to hide my embarrassment. Sure, rebirth. Myrebirth. Stowne sees Yule as a chance to celebrate my return to Embreeville Mountain. I’m almost thirty years old, a tiny blip in the grand scheme of time and infinitely younger than Stowne, even when you add all my lives together, but they want to celebrate like it’s something new. More so this year because it’s our first Yule together as eternal lovers.

Yeah, I’m immortal now too, but that’s a story for some other time.

“So…” I take a deep breath and scratch beneath my undercut at the stubbly hair that’s already growing back. “What do I need to do?”

“Act happy and don’t get in their way.” Rayne takes the dishrag to the old enamel sink, wrings it out, and drapes it over the side before turning to face me. “All elementals love the Winter Solstice, what you call Yule. Even death elementals like Exan. But you don’t remember that either, do you?”

“Afraid not.” I finish my coffee and go to the sink to stand beside Rayne, looking out the window to where the mountain rises behind the house in shades of tired brown splashed with winter evergreen. “I wish I did.” And I really do. It might help me to understand all this. “It’s like Christmas, isn’t it? I mean they’re similar, right?”

“In some ways, yes. But others…” Rayne shakes their head, this time slinging water from their deep blue locks. “Drains and dribbles. I’ll call it back.” They chant low, drawing the water to their form, smiling as it disappears into their bare, puddling feet. “I think you need a holiday refresher.”

“A refresher?” The house smells like cedar so I breathe deep. It’s not a bad smell. In fact, it’s fresh, clean, and familiar. Yes, I remember having a tree in this house before and Stowne’s joy each time. “Are you going to tell me about all those holidays?”

“You’ll do best to remember for yourself.” Rayne smiles as they glide toward the living room. “That tree needs water.”


Author Bio

AUTHOR PHOTO - Mama Me and the Holiday Tree - Jeanne GFellersBorn and raised in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Science Fiction and Fantasy author Jeanne G’Fellers’ early memories include watching the original Star Trek series with her father and reading the books her librarian mother brought home. Jeanne’s writing influences include Anne McCaffrey, Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Isaac Asimov, and Frank Herbert.

Jeanne lives in Northeast Tennessee with her spouse and their five crazy felines. Their home is tucked against a small woodland where they regularly see deer, turkeys, raccoons, and experience the magic of the natural world.

Author Website: https://jeannegfellersauthor.com/

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/Jeannegfellersauthor/

Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/jlgfellers

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/106949.Jeanne_G_Fellers

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/jeanne-gfellers/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Jeanne-GFellers/e/B01N0YWCT7/

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New Releases Tour for Shadow Voice (Blackwood Pack #5) by Mary Rundle (excerpt and giveaway)

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Shadow Voice

Mary Rundle has a new MM paranormal mpreg book out: Shadow Voice.

The Blackwood Pack saga continues…

This is part of an on-going series and reading the previous titles is advised. Readers of the past books will enjoy meeting old friends once more as the pack does what it does best ̶ caring for each other.

Slate, one of the last Dire Wolves, has carved out a life which suits him fine—plenty of traveling to exotic locations and an abundance of one night stands to handle his needs. While he’s happy for his brother, who has found his Fated Mate, Slate isn’t interested in finding his—at least not for a long time. That is, until his body betrays him. Seeking his mother’s help—who is an Oracle—Slate pays a visit to the Blackwood Pack where he finds the Fates have once again, messed with his life.

Dakota, the chef for the Blackwood Pack, fell in love with cooking as a young child and ultimately the kitchen became a place of refuge for him. Suffering with a ‘curse’ through much of his childhood, he relied heavily on his mother’s help to deal with it. After the massacre of his mother and siblings by their greedy uncle, Dakota barely survives, but finally forges a life for himself, content to stay home and take care of the people he loves.

About the Series:

Blackwood Pack

Join the journey of the Blackwood Pack, seven brothers who are gay wolf shifters in search of their fated mates – stories about love at first sight with twists and turns, angst and humor, romance and adventure. Each book has two main characters who meet, fall in love, mate and achieve an HEA but the stories also chronicle the continuing saga of the Blackwood Pack. The series is best appreciated by reading the books in order.

A long-hidden secret, rejection of a mate, acceptance of rare gifts, and a brutal kidnapping are just some of the obstacles Dakota and Slate must battle together to save their relationship. As the pack rallies around them, both must learn to trust the other before they can find the happiness that the Fates have ordained for them…

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon UK | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads


Giveaway

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Excerpt

Meme - Shadow Voice

Slate ran down the hall, scenting his mate’s cum, determined to find him. Fuck! I don’t even know his name.Down the stairs he went, into the great room, then to the front door. Nearly tearing it off its hinges, Slate stepped out on the porch and saw the torn clothes scattered about. Just as he was about to shift and follow his mate, his father took hold of his arm and using his Alpha voice, forced Slate to stop.

“Dad, let go…my mate ran off and I have to find him!”

“Son, your mother wants to speak to you first.”

Slate fought his wolf, finally gaining control and, as the tension left his body, he slumped against the house. He stared into the woods, hoping to see his mate and when that didn’t happen, he shifted his gaze to his father. “Why did he run off? I thought a mate would rather die than abandon the one the Fates had chosen. I don’t understand it. Why didn’t he like me?”

“Slate, your mate is safe. Talk to your mother. She can help you.” Maximus gently pushed his son into the house to see his mother.

Exhausted, Slate walked to his parents’ suite. He was numb, unable to comprehend what happened and how it went wrong. Never expecting to find his mate so soon after the onset of his first toirchigh, he was confused at his need—the overpowering drive to claim his mate. All Slate knew as he entered the sitting room was that somehow he had fucked up badly. Even his wolf knew it as he keened for his mate.

The man who walked in was in pain, that much Oracle could see. But it was going to get worse before it got better. How much worse depended on her son and what he decided to do. Taking his hand, Oracle led Slate over to a chair, pushed him down in it, then sat beside him. Holding his hand, she began. “Sweetie, tell me what happened.”

Sitting next to Oracle, Slate, remembered all the times during his childhood when his mother was there for him, comforting him when he fell, and chasing the demons in his nightmares away. Drawing in her sweet scent, he confided that he’d found his mate but had been rejected. Rubbing his heart, Slate hated even saying those words, because it made the pain there more intense, so much so, he was sure it was breaking in half. Finally, when he admitted he didn’t even know his mate’s name, the tears began to flow.

Oracle put her arms around her son, gently rubbing his back as he cried. She could feel the sadness enveloping Slate, but she had no quick fixes to make it better for him. Only he could do that and she wondered, for the thousandth time, why her youngest son always had to travel such a hard road in his life. Together they sat, one trying to find the strength to continue, the other giving love and support.

When the tears had finally stopped, Slate took stock of himself, trying to find the hidden well of strength he always seemed to have. Wiping the remnants of his tears away, he looked at his mother. “Mom, I fucked up big time but I don’t know what I did wrong or how to make it right.”

“Let’s see if we can sort it out, okay, sweetie?”

“I’d appreciate it.”

“What are your intentions? Do you want him?”

Slate thought it over and much to his surprise—considering his feelings just a few hours ago—said, “Yes, I do, but I don’t even know who he is.”

“His name is Dakota and he is Jackson’s brother.”

Dakota…Dakota…oh I know him.“He’s the chef, right? Colton told me about his cooking when we were in Mexico.”

“Yes, he is and he loves it. Right now, he is teaching Theo.”

“Maybe I can share some of my recipes with him. Colton said Dakota is always looking for new recipes.”

“That might be a good way for you to get to know him.”

“Good idea, Mom,” Slate exclaimed, but then his face fell. “But first I have to find him and see if he wants me. He ran away from me. What did I do wrong?”

“May I give you some advice?”

“Sure. As you can see, I need all the help I can get.”

“Before you claim Dakota, take some time to know him and let him learn about you, Slate. His story is the key to who he is and will help you understand why he ran.”

“Okay,” Slate said, “I promise I’ll talk to my mate before throwing him down and biting him.”

“That would be a good thing to do sweetie,” Oracle said, smiling gently. “One other thing. I must talk to Dakota before you claim him to explain the gift the Fates have for him.”

“I understand, but first I have to find my mate, Mom, and I’ll bring him back here so you can tell him what you need to.” Slate stood, extending his hand to his mother and helped her up. “I don’t think we’ll make it back for lunch, so will you make my excuses to Jackson?”

“You can do that after you tell him Dakota is your Fated Mate.”


Author Bio

The first book I ever wrote was Dire Warning in 2017 and, much to my delight, it became an Amazon Best Seller. Readers loved it and I was on my way to chronicling the Blackwood Pack, seven brothers who are gay wolf shifters in search of their fated mates– stories about love at first sight with twists and turns, angst and humor, romance and adventure and, of course, happy endings.

Now, five books later, Shadow Voice, another Best Seller, has just been released to critical acclaim. I love the M/M paranormal genre because it gives my imagination a lot of territory in which to roam. My mind can really run wild and come up with some amazing stuff when it doesn’t have to stay inside the box.

My readers tell me they feel like they’re a member of the pack as the stories unfold. As if they’re right there in the middle of the action. Others tell me it’s like watching a fast-paced movie. My writing style pulls no punches– readers love it and are always clamoring for the next book.

Stories come to me as if they were being channeled by my characters, all of whom I love (except for a few villains). They are eager to recount their lives, loves and adventures and are not inhibited when it comes to revealing steamy details.

I currently live in the Northeast and love the beautiful change of seasons, my husband, and our quirky calico cat, though not necessarily in that order. I’m always happy to hear from my readers throughmy website or on Facebook!

Author Website: www.maryrundle.com

Author Facebook (Personal): www.facebook.com/maryrundle69

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/mar

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A Paranormal Highlight! Check out Panther Queen (Morrighan House Witches #3) by Amir Lane (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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Panther Queen

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Amir Lane 

 Panther Queen by Amir Lane

  • Describe yourself using… ( a food, a book, a song, a movie, an animal, a drink, a place etc)

Not how I would describe myself but a friend of mine calls me 6ft of Anger, after the song by Corroded. The joke is that I’m actually 5’3”, so it’s a shot at my height. I don’t really listen to the sort of music you want to describe yourself as but food-wise, I’d call myself microwave mug cake. Everything you love about cakes, but in a smaller form.

  • When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?

I can’t think of a time when I didn’t want to tell stories. A teacher of mine once said everyone starts out making up stories, most people just grow out of it. I never did grow out of it. I was in, I think, sixth grade when I started putting those stories on paper. It’s always made me happy. As for when I discovered I was good at it, I think it’s not that I discovered I was good but that I got good because I practiced so much. And still, it’s a back and forth of, ‘this is garbage’ and ‘wow this is decent’ that keeps going until the book is good, not me.

  • Do you ever base your characters on real people? If so, what are the pitfalls you’ve run into doing so?

I really try not to base my characters on real life people. I might borrow a trait or a turn of phrase from someone, but I don’t like using whole people. I have borrowed names, usually for throwaway characters who are mentioned in passing or one scene, which has the problem of people I know reading those bits, seeing the name they recognize, and trying to pick out who everyone is supposed to be.

  • What was the hardest part of writing this book?

The hardest part of this book was the research. This book takes place in Brazil, which I’ve never visited, and I wanted to do it right. There wasn’t a scene where I didn’t have to open Google to look something up, or as someone. I’m lucky to have a few friends from Brazil who were happy to help me out. That made it a lot of fun, where they would just tell me the same kind of stories I always love hearing from any of my friends; things like a vacation they took, or a funny thing their siblings did. So, really, it was the most fun part of the book, but it presented a unique challenge because it was an exercise in, ‘you don’t know what you don’t know.’

  • Who did your cover, and what was the design process like?

The cover was done by Daqri Bernardo at Covers by Combs. She’s done all the covers in the Morrighan House Witches series, and I can’t be happier with how they came out. Panther Queen is probably my favourite.

Daqri is super easy to work with. I comment on a lot of the covers she posts in her Facebook group, so I think she’d had a bit of an idea of what I liked before we started on this series. What I did was find the main photo I wanted – the person or, with Panther Queen, the jaguar – and tell her what kind of background I wanted, and the colour I associated with the character. For Panther Queen, I did find a few backgrounds, too, since it’s a less conventional setting. For the rest, I just told her some settings that show up and she did the rest. I try to be pretty hands-off, since I’m not a designer. She does the rest.

  • What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?

I am working on Gift of Curses, the second book in my Barrier Witch Trilogy. The series follows gay witch and detective Fairuz Arshad as she investigates supernatural crimes and tries to take down a dryad gang. The whole series will be out in 2019.

♦︎

QSFer Amir Lane has a new queer/transgender paranormal book out: Panther Queen.

When cattle rancher Lenna Alvarez rescues a black jaguar, she discovers there’s more to the animal that meets the eye. Bonding with a centuries-old Aztec Warrior wasn’t part of her plans. Then again, neither was simultaneously facing off against an American businessman and poachers encroaching on her family lands.

With her newfound powers, Lenna is sure the poachers don’t stand a chance. Only, Lenna isn’t the only one bringing strange animal powers to the game. The poachers have them too, led by businessman Ansen Peters. Lenna is in over her head, and not even the jaguar can save her.

Ansen Peters doesn’t want the ranch. He wants the jaguar. And he’s willing to kill her for it.

Get It On Amazon


Giveaway

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Excerpt

BANNER 4 - Panther Queen

Night fell around Lenna, and her ass had long since gone numb. Her camera was full of new pictures but she didn’t have anything for night photography. The equipment was bulkier and heavier than she was willing to carry through the Pantanal.

As she prepared to dismount from her tree, she tried to see how awake her legs were. Not very, judging by the tingling in her feet. She scanned the riverbank for her boat while she kicked her heels against the tree trunk and spotted two others. That was odd. When had someone else shown up? Maybe it was Valente and Luciano looking for her. But she had taken their only boat, and they would never venture this deep into the Pantanal unless she’d been missing for at least a day, not just a few hours. They didn’t know their way around like she did.

It was probably just wildlife photographers trying to get shots of the nocturnal animals. Something made her feel uneasy, though. She looked around for the occupants of the boats and spotted them approaching her jaguar.

The two men were not wildlife photographers. She knew hunting equipment when she saw it. She also knew the hunting regulations for the area. The regulations were pretty simple: no fucking hunting.Which meant there was no way these men were allowed to be killing anything out here. Which meant they were poachers. Their faces were only just visible in her camera. She doubted anything would happen to them if she reported them. Nothing ever happened to poachers.

The poachers found a spot close enough to the jaguar to hit it, but not close enough to attract its attention. She had to do something before they fired. At this distance, they wouldn’t miss.

She thought of her own shotgun tucked uselessly in the back of Luciano’s truck. She’d never needed it before, and there didn’t seem to be any point lugging it with her. It would have done her a hell of a lot more good than the machete at her hip. It looked like she was going to have to get creative.

“Hey!”

Her voice carried over the Pantanal, farther than she would have thought possible. The deep shout certainly got their attention. They shot at her, grazing the trees around her.

“Shit!”

Lenna couldn’t stay up here. She’d be a sitting duck. She climbed down the top branches to avoid breaking her legs and jumped down from the tree. It was still too high, and she hit the dirt with bruising force. She pushed herself back up without a moment of hesitation. She could have lost them in the wooded area, easy. But the odds of getting lost or eaten by an anaconda were higher than the odds of getting shot before she made it to her boat.

Hopefully.

Camera still in hand and binoculars thumping painfully against her tattooed chest, she took off across the grassy plains of the Pantanal. The silencers on the guns muffled the shots, making them sound more like thumps than bangs. Though, that might have been her heart pounding in her ears. The still-rational part of her brain that was still working told her to run in a zig-zag to make herself harder to hit. The animal part of her brain told her the shortest distance to her boat was a straight line run as fast as physically possible. She had no idea where the bullets were or whether or not they were even close to hitting her, and she sure as shit wasn’t going to stop to check.

A roar that sounded more like a throaty cough filled her ears. For a split half-second, she thought the jaguar was on her. But that wasn’t her screaming. No, it came from behind her. She didn’t dare look back, not even as she heard more gunshots, not even as she heard the jaguar cry out in pain.

They shot it! They shot her jaguar!

Rage filled her, and she had half a mind to turn around, but self-preservation won out. Her boat was right there. Right there, just eight, six, four feet away. Keys, where the hell where her keys? Where were her goddamn fucking—

Found them.

Lenna shoved her keys into the ignition, her eyes scouring the Pantanal for the jaguar and the poachers. The jaguar was limping away, and the poachers’ bodies were lying on the grass. One was shifting, dragging itself away from the animal. The other was not. Lenna had no sympathy for them, and she wasn’t about to stick around to make sure they were okay. They could be eaten by caimans for all she gave a fuck.

The boat started without any issue. Though the poachers were down and the jaguar was obviously in no state to come after her, Lenna couldn’t wait to get as far away from here as possible.

She ran on foot through the brush, never wanting to leave her horse alone with the night predators, until she found her truck, the green paint chipping to show the silver metal underneath, in the same place she always left it. The roar of her engine drowned out the shriek of birds. Muscle memory alone guided her back to the ranch house. She practically threw herself through the front door and slammed her bedroom door hard enough to rattle the walls.

“Lenna?” Vidonia called.

Lenna leaned against the door. She knew Vidonia wouldn’t hurt her. Nobody in this house would, and not just because she could practically bench press one of their cows. She was safe here. So why did she feel the urge to push the dresser against the door and hide under the bed?

“Lenna? Honey are you okay?”

No, no she wasn’t.

She slumped down against the door and pressed her forehead to her knees. Exhaustion washed over her. This day suddenly felt so long. The solace she’d found watching the Pantanal was gone. She just wanted to curl up somewhere safe. Home should have been safe, but the memory of Ansen Peters’ standing just down the hall from her room with that sly smile made her shudder.

“Lenna, please talk to me. Did something happen? Luciano!”

There was panic in Vidonia’s voice. She was afraid for Lenna.

This place was safe, Lenna reminded herself. Nobody would get past Vidonia and Luciano. Nobody could hurt her here.

“I’m fine,” Lenna said, though her voice cracked and she wasn’t sure she believed herself. “I’m fine, I’m just tired.”

There was a long silence. Lenna struggled to keep her sobs quiet. She didn’t want them to know. She didn’t want to get in trouble.

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure, auntie.” Her voice trembled, and cleared her throat. “I’m— I’m going to sleep. I have an early morning.”

She changed into a pair of boxers, crawled into bed, and pulled the pillow over her head to drown out the screams ringing in her ears.


Author Bio

Amir Lane is an LGBT+ supernatural and urban fantasy writer from Northern Ontario. Engineer by trade, they spend most of their writing time in a small home office or in front of the TV watching every cop procedural on Netflix. They live in a world where magic is an every day occurrence, and they strive to bring that world to paper.

When not trying to figure out what kind of day job an incubus would have or what a Necromancer would go to school for, Amir enjoys visiting the nearest Dairy Queen, getting killed in video games, absorbing the contents of comic books, and freaking out over how fluffy the neighbour’s dog is.

Author Website: http://www.amirlane.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/amirlaneauthor/

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