Release Tour for The One Thing I Know (B-Sides #1) by Keelan Ellis (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  The One Thing I Know

Series: B-Sides, Book One

Author: Keelan Ellis

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: Aug 14, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 66600

Genre: Historical, romance, gay, bisexual, historical-1970’s, California, musicians, rock star, drugs/alcohol use, enemies to lovers, road trip

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Synopsis

Talented studio musician, Henry Cole, is offered the dream job of touring with popular rock band, the Vulgar Details. Things aren’t all rosy, though, as he is hired to replace Dell Miller, creative force behind the band, who recently flamed-out in a car accident.

Henry is all too aware that he’s no replacement for someone like Dell. He’s not the only one who feels that way, either. Terry Blackwood, band front man, has been giving him a hard time even before the tour start. He seems to resent Henry’s presence beyond all reason. What Henry doesn’t know is that Terry and Dell’s relationship was both intensely close and fraught with conflict.

Terry’s grief over Dell’s death is overwhelming and threatens to destroy not only the band but his life. It doesn’t help that the new member of the band makes him feel things he doesn’t want to. Worse, when he sings, Henry sounds just like the man Terry cared so deeply for.

With so much at stake, everything could come crashing down around them and mean the end for the Vulgar Details. Or, just maybe, Henry and Terry will find the one thing they need most.

Sometimes redemption comes from the last place you expect to find it.

Excerpt

The One Thing I Know
Keelan Ellis © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

January 1972

Henry woke up to the sound of the shower turning on in the bathroom down the hall. He got up and sorted through the clothes strewn around on the floor, separating his from his guest’s. The two pairs of white briefs were, unfortunately, the same brand and size, so he took his best guess and tossed one of them on top of the pile he was holding. He set the whole thing down outside the bathroom door and went to the kitchen to make coffee. He lit a cigarette and opened the window above the sink. The shower shut off just as the coffee finished brewing, and a few minutes later, his previous evening’s date appeared in the doorway. His name was Danny, and they’d been introduced by a mutual acquaintance. He was as cute as he was dumb, but Henry was fairly certain one night had been enough to satisfy his curiosity.

“Morning,” Henry said. “There’s coffee if you want it.”

“Thanks,” Danny said. He poured some into a cup and leaned against the counter. “Hey, I’m going to the beach later. You want me to stop by and pick you up?”

“Nah. I have work.”

“Oh, right. On the Details’ new record, wasn’t it?”

Henry nodded. He was slated to play pedal steel and Dobro on six tracks for the Vulgar Details’ upcoming album. It wasn’t the first time he’d played with those guys. The band counted on Henry to fill in the gaps whenever their songwriter and pedal steel player, Dell Miller, was off taking peyote in the desert or barricading himself in a hotel room shooting up with whoever he’d brought home that night. Henry had never met Dell and still thought of him as more myth than man. “I should get in the shower pretty soon,” he hinted.

Danny either didn’t pick up on it or didn’t care, and he poured more coffee into his cup. “You think it’s going to be a good one?”

“I think it’s the best one yet.” He rinsed his cup out and put it in the drainer. “I need to get ready. Thanks for coming over. It was fun.”

Danny raised his eyebrows at him, and his lips turned up with wry amusement. Maybe he wasn’t as dumb as Henry had thought. “Sure thing. You got my number. Call if you want.” He set his cup down and gave a little salute before he left. Definitely cute, Henry couldn’t deny that.

Henry got to the studio early and ran through his parts before the band arrived. The songs that Henry had learned for that day’s session were, hands down, the best work the band had done. The new songs were dark and personal, explorations of loss and hopelessness, set to some of the loveliest melodies he’d ever heard. The Vulgar Details had come so far from their beginnings as a brash blues rock band that they were almost unrecognizable. Henry had never thought of them as anything special until their third album, Heart’s Desire, was released back in ’69.

Henry had been lying by the pool at his friend Richard’s house, passing a joint back and forth with him, when he first heard that record. Henry was twenty-four then, and Richard was ten years older, with family money and a beautiful house he’d had built in Laurel Canyon. He threw amazing parties attended by young musicians and hippie hangers-on who were there for the free food, booze, and drugs. Richard didn’t care why they were there. He loved the beautiful boys and girls, the music, and the easily available sex. When he wasn’t partying, he liked having Henry around. Sometimes they fooled around, but Richard never made it seem like a requirement. That day, when he put on the new Vulgar Details record, Henry scoffed.

“I thought you had more interesting taste than that,” he said.

“You’re getting too old to be such a snob.”

Henry stretched and grinned up at him. “Probably getting too old for you, then, huh?”

Richard smiled, shook his head, and sat back down. “Give it a chance. You might be surprised.”

It started out sounding much like all of their previous stuff, but somehow better. Previously, their songs tended toward aimless, slightly silly rip-offs of “Mr. Tambourine Man,” or juvenile rock and roll songs about pretty girls. These were something else altogether. They dealt with love, anger, and desire—the subjects of most rock lyrics—but with a depth almost never heard in popular music.

“Jesus, this is great,” Henry said. “Where the hell did it come from? Did Terry Blackwood get a brain transplant or something?”

Richard laughed. “Not quite. They got a new member. Don’t you follow this stuff, working in the industry?”

“Must have missed that one.”

“His name’s Dell Miller. Actually, he was at that party you came to last month. Skinny, pretty, long-haired country boy? Walked around with his shirt open the whole time?”

“Oh yeah. I think I remember him. The girls were all over him. He wrote all of these?”

“All the good ones,” Richard said.

The last song on the album, “Traveling Abroad,” was the best one, and Henry insisted playing it three times in a row. It had an entirely different sound from the rest of them. It was almost a traditional country song, but the arrangement was complex and the lyrics made him want to cry. There was so much yearning in it that it was almost hard to listen to. When he left Richard’s house that afternoon, he went straight to the nearest record store to buy his own copy.

That was three years and two albums earlier. The Vulgar Details had only gotten better, despite Miller’s increasingly unreliable presence. The band’s sound drifted more and more toward the mellow country- and bluegrass-influenced style Miller had brought with him from Tennessee. A few of the blues rock numbers that were Terence Blackwood’s bread and butter still remained, but these no longer represented the bulk of their output. This new album took that even further, and Henry had to wonder how the rest of the band—Blackwood in particular—felt about that. In most bands, a shift like that would have led to at least one angry departure. Somehow, the Details had managed to keep it together without any public drama, unless you counted Miller’s multiple rehab stays and a short stint in jail for public intoxication and possession.

They weren’t planning to record any vocals that day, so Blackwood wasn’t around. The lead guitarist, Steve Smith, and drummer, Kenny Sailes, had entered the studio in the middle of a contentious but good-natured disagreement over which one of them would be harder to replace if they went into rehab. Alex Benton, the bass player, shook Henry’s hand and gave him a one-armed hug.

“Maybe you can settle that argument, Cole,” he said, grinning.

“They can both go, as far as I’m concerned,” Henry said. “You’ll have to tough it out, though, Benton. I don’t like playing bass.”

“You heard him, you assholes. Cole here is gunning for you, and he’s a man of many skills. Watch your backs.”

“Not me. I don’t want to be a rock-and-roll star. I prefer to work for a living.” They all laughed, and Henry said, “So, uh…how is Dell doing, anyway? Rehab working out, I hope?”

The mood turned slightly somber, and they all glanced down at the floor. Finally, Smith shrugged and said, “Terry said the place looked pretty nice, and Dell told him he was actually going to try this time. Who the fuck knows.”

Benton sighed and nodded. Sailes snorted skeptically and muttered, “I think we all pretty much know, Steve.”

“Sorry,” Henry said. “I didn’t mean to—”

“Don’t worry about it,” Benton said. “It’s not your fault. You gotta understand, we’ve been on this ride a few times, man. Dell is…Dell.”

Henry cleared his throat. “Well, anyway—the new songs sound great.”

“The fucked-up hillbilly bastard sure knows how to write a goddamn song. Can’t take that away from him,” Smith said, smiling again. “It’s going to be the best thing we’ve ever done.”

The session went as smoothly as anyone could have hoped for, and Henry left the studio on a serious high. He wanted to get laid, but the thought of calling Richard to see if he wanted company left him restless. As soon as the idea of going to a bar occurred to him, he knew it was exactly what he was looking for. He rarely went out to bars alone, and rarely with the express purpose of finding sex. That night, he felt like a different person.

Henry’s usual haunt, the Westside Clubhouse, was a relatively laid-back place. Guys went there for the same reason they went to any other gay bar, but mainly because it was a place they could relax and be themselves. The drinks were generous, the bartenders were cute but not intimidating, and they all knew Henry. But that wasn’t the kind of place he was in the mood for. Instead, he went to the Hammer and Nail, which he’d heard about but hadn’t yet ventured into.

He stood in line outside the club while the bouncers checked everyone out at the door. While he waited, a couple of guys got turned away for not being fit enough, young enough, handsome enough, or for not fitting who-knew-what other criteria. Henry had been confident when he first queued up, but by the time he got to the front of the line, he was nervous. The tall, blond, muscular bouncer eyed him up and down and motioned him inside without a word, smacking him on the ass as he walked past. The whole process was fairly disgusting, and while Henry was opposed to the attitude in theory, he couldn’t deny that it felt good to know he passed muster.

Inside, the bar was dark and loud. At least half the guys were shirtless, and all of them were beautiful. He bought a gin and tonic and walked through the throngs of sweaty men. He’d need at least two more drinks before he’d be able to get on the dance floor, so he didn’t wander too far from the bar.

“Henry?”

Henry turned around to see a sound technician at one of the studios where he regularly worked. “Hey, man,” he said, searching frantically for the man’s name.

“Pete.”

“Pete, right, of course. I’m sorry. From Blue Door Studios, right?”

Pete nodded. “I didn’t know you were…” He motioned vaguely around the room.

“Yeah, well,” Henry said, smiling lamely and shrugging. “I don’t usually come here, though. It’s not exactly my scene, but I was in some kind of mood tonight. I had a good day.”

“Why? What happened?”

“Laid down some tracks with the Vulgar Details,” Henry said, striving for casual, as if it was the kind of thing that happened every day. “Great stuff.”

“Oh, cool. Was Terry Blackwood there? He’s so sexy.”

“Nope. No Blackwood, and no Dell, of course. He’s the reason I got hired.”

“Right, the drug thing,” Pete said. “Too bad you didn’t get to meet Blackwood though. I bet he’d think you’re cute.”

Henry rolled his eyes. “I have met him. He treated me like the hired help, which I was. And I think those rumors are all bullshit anyway. Just because he partied with Lou Reed or got a blow job from some drag queen—supposedly—doesn’t mean he’s into guys. I think he wants people to think he’s interesting, like Bowie, instead of a second-rate Mick Jagger.”

“Meow!”

Henry gave him a sheepish grin. “I was unaware I had any opinion of him whatsoever until just that moment.”

“Well anyway, a boy can dream.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Keelan Ellis is an author of romance and detective fiction, who is always seeking to expand her literary horizons. She is a lover of music and food, and has an intense love/hate relationship with politics. Her stories reflect her passions.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Tour Schedule

8/14    Drops of Ink 

8/14    Hoards Jumble

8/14    Happily Ever Chapter

8/15    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

8/15    Stories That Make You Smile

8/16    A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog 

8/16    Erotica For All

8/17    Love Bytes Reviews

8/17    MM Good Book Reviews 

8/18    Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

8/18    Bayou Book Junkie

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It’s Release Time for Chasing Ghosts by M.K. Hardy (exclusive excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Chasing Ghosts

Author: M.K. Hardy

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 8/7/17

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 77600

Genre: Contemporary, contemporary, romance, addiction, drug/alcohol use, performance arts/visual, writer

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Synopsis

Nic is a successful ghost writer, making a decent living churning out best-selling autobiographies of celebrities and other notable figures. She’s also a recovering alcoholic—three years sober and still tempted, every day, to open the bottle again.

Luckily she has distractions—this time in the form of Isobel DeWitt, an award-winning and well-loved actor in her prime, who has decided to release a tell-all autobiography. Nic finds her likeable, charming and fascinating…but also impossible to crack. Every draft sounds like just another magazine piece full of perfectly crafted sound bytes, but there’s no soul.

Undeterred, Nic continues to dig into the actor’s history in search of the clue that will unlock it all and finds it in the form of one Melody Graham, a reclusive playwright and, if rumours are to be believed, Isobel’s erstwhile lover. Nic chances everything to reach out to her and unbelievably she responds, sharing stories about her time with the tempestuous actress and helping Nic get further and further into Isobel’s head. The problem now is figuring out where Isobel Dewitt starts and Nic ends…

Excerpt

Chasing Ghosts
M.K. Hardy © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

“Hi, my name is Nicola, and I’m an alcoholic.”

Not much of a way to begin a story, is it? But as James, my agent, always says, “truth is what makes the story.” On the other hand, my sponsor Mary likes to tell me to “be honest with yourself and screw the rest of them.” Either way, you can’t get any more truthful than that, can you?

“It’s been two years since my last drink.”

I was sitting in a dingy church hall on a flimsy folding chair, surrounded by people who looked as if they’ve been chewed up and spat out by Fate like disused pieces of chewing gum on the pavement. Some of them couldn’t even bring their eyes up to meet the gazes of their fellow addicts. Instead, they focused on the streaked wooden floor, following the whorls and gouges with their bloodshot eyes. I didn’t recognize all the faces; for every regular there was a newcomer, who more likely than not would come for one, maybe two weeks before disappearing off the map in a haze of empty vodka bottles, never to be seen again. Sometimes on my weaker days, it made me angry to see them, knowing by looking at them that they wouldn’t be back next week, and hating them for being weak enough to succumb. Just like I wanted to.

You’re supposed to share your story at these meetings, but that wasn’t really why we were here, was it? You don’t want to hear my story. Nobody does. There’s a reason my name never shows up on the front jacket—why if you read between the lines of each tell-all memoir you won’t find me mentioned there. It’s because I’m very good at my job, you see. I can draw out even the most reluctant person, put their words, their life down on paper so that the masses can’t help but want to read it, and the supposed author can’t help but rake in the cash. So I hope you don’t mind if I just give you the bare highlights of my own life—my name might be all over this, but it still really isn’t my story.

The smattering of half-hearted applause at my testimony had stopped now, and I was talking again. I was sharing my experiences of the past week—the times I’d wanted to drink, the times I’d been glad of the clarity I now had… You don’t need the details.

The truth was I could do without the clarity. Clarity, if you ask me, is overrated. I wasn’t sober because it made me clear-headed or better able to deal with my day-to-day life—honestly, I was a high-functioning drunk. That’s the thing about a Calling—you don’t have to be sober to be able to do your job. I could write just as well—maybe better—when I was drunk. I met my deadlines, I made meetings when I had to, my cat never went hungry, and I was never the type to get into fights or wake up in a gutter because, like all good alcoholics, I drank alone, at home.

No, to be brutally honest, I got on the wagon because when I hit thirty I was starting to develop a slight gut, and that’s not attractive on anyone. And believe me, some days I wish I had just switched to gin and slimline, but here I am now and so here I stay. Never let it be said I don’t see a story through till the bitter end.

After the meeting finished, the group disbanded, drifting away from each other like autumn leaves pushed by a capricious breeze. There was a table set up with orange juice, tea, and biscuits; some of the newcomers lingered there, hoping to meet kindred spirits who would reassure them that everything’s okay and it’ll just get easier with time. The regulars knew better.

Me, I picked up my sleek black laptop bag and hoisted it over my shoulder, exchanging curt nods with a few people before heading for the door. I wasn’t in full Bitch Mode, which on a normal day meant I might stop and exchange pleasantries, but I’d got a meeting to get to across town and not a lot of time. Chances were I’d probably be late. Why didn’t I just skip the meeting, go to a later one, you ask. To which I reply: you’ve never been an addict, have you?

I grabbed a taxi as soon as I could, promising the driver a generous tip if he could get me to my destination by four o’clock. That’s the other thing about having a Calling—you can make plenty of money doing it. I have even more now that it doesn’t all go on booze and mixers, but it mainly just sits in my bank account or occasionally serves to entice cab drivers to get me where I’m going on time.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that what I do is necessarily what I saw myself doing when I majored in Creative Writing at college (you don’t really care where, do you?). My starry-eyed teenaged self thought I was going to be the next Kerouac, or the next Tartt, or at worst the next Stephen King. I think my younger self would probably want to knife me in my sleep if she saw me trampling all over her dreams of renown and accolade, making a tidy little profit without my name ever appearing on a single dust jacket.

It’s still writing, though. It scratches that eternal itch. And I’ll tell you what, it’s satisfying, in its own way—getting into someone’s head, finding their voice, putting their life into their own words when they can’t make that transfer from mind to page for themselves. I’m like a conduit—weirdly, I feel connected to them. It’s an addictive sensation in its own right, and I am, after all, an addict.

Some people go from vice to vice, trying to find something that fills in that emptiness. I knew a guy in the early nineties who, after nearly killing himself on a five-year bender, sobered up almost overnight only to begin falling into bed with a different person each evening. What alcohol couldn’t accomplish, AIDS did. When you look at it like that, my way doesn’t seem so bad, does it?

We got to the hotel at five past four—even though we were technically late, I still gave the driver his promised tip. It wasn’t as if he had any control over London traffic, after all. I slid out of the cab, barely looking around to check my surroundings before heading inside. I have a lot of meetings at hotels, so I’m well acquainted with them—the plush beige carpets, the myriad mirrors, the waxy, sunlight-starved pot plants. These initial meetings are always in the bar, so perhaps it’s unsurprising that I ended up the way I did. Liquor is a natural lubricant; it gets peoples’ tongues wagging. Even now, hours before dinner time, the bar was half full, cluttered with businessmen soothing their jetlag with a pint of ale, nervous tourists tittering over a glass of merlot.

I caught sight of myself in the mirror behind the bar. It’s a rule, in writing—you have to tell the reader who they’re looking at. Never mind the picture on the cover, they want to be reminded of the sparkling blue eyes, the crisp white smile, the smooth, even tan. And you won’t be seeing my picture, so I suppose I ought to lubricate my own descriptive skills with a bit of introspection. Not that I’m going to tell you what you want to hear.

See, unsurprisingly I guess, I’m about as ordinary-looking as it gets. I’m about average height, maybe a little over but not enough to be tall. I’m average weight—maybe a bit extra on the hips and thighs from time to time; it comes and goes. My eyes and hair are a mid-brown that’s neither particularly drab nor particularly inspiring—my hair pretty much lives in a perpetually slightly dishevelled ponytail. I’m the kind of pale that you only get by staying indoors most of the time, summer or winter, and only holidaying to northern European cities that don’t require you to wear sunscreen or mosquito repellent. My wardrobe is mostly brown, black, and navy. I don’t wear rings and my ears aren’t pierced. I’m basically the definition of a cipher.

I didn’t start out that way—I am told by reliable though biased sources that I was a very pretty little girl. And I went through all the normal teenage rebellion phases—heavy eyeliner, dyed hair, outrageous clothes (though who could live through the eighties and not claim fashion victimhood?). But somehow, I ended up like this: a plain Jane, nondescript and unmemorable. Maybe it’s the exterior reflecting the interior, since my job is more or less all that defines me these days. Or maybe it’s just that spending so long in a drunken, intensely personal, and yet wholly impersonal haze erased all desire for self-expression. But if that’s the case, why am I writing this? I honestly don’t know. You tell me.

The woman I was there to meet wasn’t hard to find. Unlike me, she was well-known enough to create a bubble of impermeability around her, one which no tipsy tourist or errant waiter was likely to overstep. And even if they didn’t know who she was, she was striking in a way that caused people to stop and stare rather than come too close. And as used to celebrity as I am, I’ll admit I hesitated for a moment before breaching that no man’s land and approaching her table.

“Ms. Dewitt? Nicola Booth. Sorry I’m late.”

“Oh, are you?” she said politely, in that tone where it was obvious she’d noticed and was pretending not to—which I hate, by the way.

“Yep,” I said, tamping down the urge to roll my eyes as I took a seat opposite her at the table. Lord, save me from the well-meaning ones—give me a stone-cold bitch any day. They’re so much more fun. “Anyway, I’ve just got a few questions before we get started. I assume your agent told you what I’ll be doing?”

“Well, I know what a ghostwriter does, of course, but I’m sure you all have your own methods…”

“Sure.” I sat back in my chair, nodding a little. “A lot of writers like to pore through articles, past interviews, watch appearances on Jay Leno, that sort of thing. Really bumps up the research fee.”

She raised an eyebrow—just the one. You know how in books everyone can do that? I’ll tell you what, not everyone can do that. “And you?” she said in this arch tone and I’m not sure whether it’s getting my back up or turning me on a little.

Not wanting to give her the satisfaction of watching me jump through any of her little hoops, I turned a little, motioning for the single waiter who’s loitering by the bar. He hurried over, more for her sake than mine, I knew, and I ordered a mineral water with lemon before looking back to Ms. Isobel Dewitt with all her arched eyebrow and perfect lips.

“I like to talk.”

“To talk.”

“Mm. I mean, yes. To talk. You’re supposed to be telling your life story, right? So the best way to do that is to… talk about it. To me. I’ll record it, take notes, ask questions…and then I’ll whisk it all away and transform it into a bestselling account of your life.” Maybe it sounds conceited, but trust me, it’s true. I have never failed to turn out a book that exceeded the publisher’s expectations, and I’ve even helped a few minor celebrities to climb the social ladder to better recognition.

The great Isobel Dewitt pursed her perfect lips and tossed her perfect hair and relaxed back in her chair with a nod. “All right. So when do we start?”

Well. This is it, then. “We can start right now,” I told her, leaning over to pull my recorder out of my bag, then set it on the table between us. No time like the present. “Let’s talk about what you want out of this book.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

MK Hardy is the pen name for two geeky women living and writing together in Scotland. They’ve been writing partners for eleven years and life partners for nine. When they’re not typing frantically at one another they like to walk the dogs, cuddle the cats, drink cocktails and play boardgames.

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Tour Schedule

8/7      Divine Magazine

8/7      Love Bytes reviews

8/8      Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

8/8      My Fiction Nook

8/9      MillsyLovesBooks

8/9      A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog

8/10    The Novel Approach

8/10    Boy Meets Boy Reviews 

8/11    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 

8/11    Happily Ever Chapter

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BOOK TOUR and Giveaway for Crimson Storm  (The Crimson Nights Saga #3) by V.L Moon & J.T Cheyanne (excerpt)

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Title: Crimson Storm  (Book Three in The Crimson Nights Saga)

Authors: V.L. Moon and J.T. Cheyanne

Cover Art by:   http://www.soxsationalcoverart.com/

Genre/s: Gay, Romance, Paranormal

Length: 155K/658 Kindle pages

ISBN:  978-0-9899725-6-7

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Blurb       

As their allies grow and their circle of friends discovers true love, their enemies advance.

Shadows watch, waiting in the distance as an age old power threatens to reveal the secrets of a past steeped in sorrow.

War is upon them and with its advance comes a force of unity bound by love and sealed by blood.

Together, Malachi and Laziel fight to protect those they hold close.

When Rome trembles and the bowels of Hell spew forth its spawn, the wolves and the rogue Nephilim join forces with Malachi Denali and his vampires to fight against evil and tip the scales in favor of the just.

Fractions divide, lives lay in ruin. Is the call of the wild their only hope of survival?

Or will Rome finally fall under the weight of an angel’s untold grief?

Read on to assuage your thirst as the Crimson Nights Saga continues.

EXCERPT SEVEN

He reached out to take his father’s hand and was immediately drawn into the familiar

warmth of his parents’ embrace. He’d missed it. Missed them. Everything was happening so

fast. Their lives and the world they lived in hurtled toward war. For the briefest of time, Tobias allowed himself the pleasure of his family and what the reality of being with them meant to him. If only Roman was there to experience it.

“Son.” His father’s grip tightened around his fingers, pulling Tobias closer. The power of

the Summus swam around him in a torrent, engulfing him. He drank in the gift. Energy filled

him with life and power. Linked as they were, the outside world ceased to exist. Images of their homelands flickered through his mind to marry with the thoughts plaguing his parents.

Tobias stilled as the beautiful image of his cousin Sage danced through his mind. Her pain

speared his heart. A ravaged growl ripped from his lips. Sage was more like a sister than a

cousin to him. Their families were bound tighter than most. Tobias’s father and Sage’s father were brothers and their mothers were sisters.

“She’s missing. The last link I managed to receive was of her somewhere in Ontario.

She’s putting all of her energy into blocking out her whereabouts, but I was able to collect

enough to know she’s terrified and badly hurt. It’s why I’ve kept the news to myself and

away from the rest of the pack. If what I suspect is true, then she’s shielding to keep herself

safe from Khurn. I can’t risk going after her myself. Not with the Nephilim being here and

the Fae somewhere out there. There’s too much hanging in the balance.”

The pain in Jorn’s words spoke volumes. Sage was more than pack; she was blood kin and

a powerful omega. Hadn’t they suffered enough after losing Khad? Were they going to lose

Sage, too? Tobias refused to let it happen. Not again.

 

Buy Links:

Available on KU

Amazon UK   |   Amazon.com

 

Book 1

 

Book 2

 

The Crimson Nights Saga Book and Review Tour Schedule

Check out the reviews, guest posts, interviews, and exclusive excerpts from Crimson Storm

July 31st

Gay Book Promotions

Hearts On Fire Reviews 

August 1st

Lily G Blunt

Tangents and Tissues

August 2nd

Stories That Make You Smile

August 4th

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

August 5th/6th

Diverse Reader

The Way She Reads 

Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

My Fiction Nook

Millsy Loves Books

Hoards Jumble

August 7th

Immortal Crimson Reviews

Slashsessed 

August 12th/13th

Alpha Book Club 

Lily’s Reviews 

Bayou Book Junkie

Drops of Ink  

Love Bytes Reviews 

 

 

Meet the Authors

Multi-genre romance and fiction writing duo V.L Moon and J.T Cheyanne span a continental divide to bring together their love, support, and admiration for the LGBT communities they belong to. With their ever growing families’ support, they make the most of what little time they have to write the love, angst, and turmoil that hopefully reflects the struggle that is, modern day life.

 

 

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Facebook   |   Website    |   VL Moon Twitter   |  JT Cheyenne Twitter

 

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RELEASE BLITZ for Trust with a Chaser by Annabeth Albert (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Trust with a Chaser

Series: Rainbow Cove, Book 1

Author: Annabeth Albert

Publisher:  Annabeth Albert

Release Date: 08-01-2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 75,000

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Law Enforcement, Small Town, May/December

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Synopsis

One hot cop. One bar owner out for redemption. One smoking-hot summer fling destined to leave scorch marks…

Mason Hanks has returned to Rainbow Cove, Oregon with one goal in mind: turn the struggling coastal community into a thriving LGBTQ tourism destination. Step one is transforming an old bar and grill into a gay-friendly eatery. Step two? Don’t piss off Nash Flint, the very hot, very stern chief of police who’s not so sure he’s on board with Mason’s big plans.

Nash Flint just wants to keep his community safe and enjoy the occasional burger in peace. He’s not big on change nor is he a fan of Mason’s troublemaking family, especially his rowdy older brothers. But Mason slowly wins him over with fantastic cooking and the sort of friendship Nash has been starving for.

When their unlikely friendship takes a turn for the sexy, both men try to steer clear of trouble. Nash believes he’s too set in his ways for Mason, and Mason worries that his family’s reputation will ruin any future with Nash. Burning up the sheets in secret is a surefire way to crash and burn, and discovery forces a heart-wrenching decision—is love worth the risk of losing everything?

Trust with a Chaser is a 75,000 word stand-alone gay romance with a May/December theme, a hot law-enforcement hero, opposites attract, plenty of sexy times, and one hard-fought, guaranteed happy ending with no cliffhangers.

Excerpt

Chapter One

Mason

When Adam stepped inside the glorified closet I was using as an office, eyes all twitchy and hands wringing a bar towel, I knew I wasn’t going to like what came out of his mouth.

“Sheriff Sexy just walked in. He’s your problem.”

Fuck. I squeezed my eyes shut and took a deep breath. “Please don’t call Police Chief Flint that. He might hear, and I’m pretty sure he’d find a citation for you. And I am not bailing your ass out.”

“You’re just worried that one of these days you’re going to slip up and call him that.” Adam grinned at me. This was an old argument—he’d been calling Flint that stupid nickname since we were in high school. The hard-nosed cop wasn’t one to cut teen drivers any slack—especially if they were in any way associated with the name “Hanks.” “Anyway, you know he freaks me out. I’ve got no idea what he wants—all our permits are in order, right?”

“Of course.” Standing, I grabbed the folder with the permitting paperwork. I prided myself in the organization I was bringing to the bar and grill that I co-owned with Adam and our friend, Logan. Flint wouldn’t find anything to complain about, not with me in charge. “I’ll go deal with him. You go back to the bar in case we get a rush.”

Adam snorted. Despite it being opening weekend, traffic had been embarrassingly light. We’d worked for weeks transforming the old tavern—a Rainbow Cove institution for decades—into the newly renamed Rainbow Tavern. The gay-friendly bar and grill was our vision for pulling our sleepy little coastal town into the twenty-first century. Logan had crafted a new menu of upscale bar food ready to go, and Adam had innovative drinks specials at the ready. All we needed were customers. And to not run afoul of Nash Flint on our first day of operation.

Flint was a Rainbow Cove institution himself—born and raised here, same as Adam and me, but unlike me, he’d never left, sliding into his father’s shoes as police chief and apparently fitting the role as easily as a pair of broken-in jeans. He’d been Officer Flint last time I’d seen him, almost ten years prior.

Guess I could have seen him had I come down for Freddy’s trial, something I still felt niggles of guilt over, and I told myself that was why my stomach fluttered on my way out to the tavern’s dining room. Unlike Adam, I’d never found Flint particularly…

Sexy. All my thoughts fled as I took in the man sitting in front of the plate-glass window. He dwarfed the small wooden chair, one of dozens that Adam and I had painted bright colors. Broad shoulders stretched the confines of his uniform shirt, biceps bulging under the short sleeves. His cut-glass jaw was firm as ever, as were those hard hazel eyes. But what had been frankly terrifying to my teenaged self made my twenty-seven-year-old libido sit up and take serious notice.

Flint blinked as I approached, head tilting to one side. I’d been getting a lot of that since I’d been back in town. “Mason…Hanks?”

“The one and only.” I stuck out my hand. “What can I do for you, Chief Flint?”

He returned my handshake with a sure grip, only a moment’s hesitation. I guessed he wasn’t all that used to shaking hands with a Hanks. Oh well. I was out to prove to the whole damn town that I wasn’t like my father and brothers, and if I had to start with Flint, so be it.

“Nice place you’ve got here.” His eyes swept around the renovated room—restored antique bar on the far wall where Adam wasn’t bothering to conceal his nosiness, dance floor beyond that, colorful tables and chairs in the front of the bar, only a handful occupied despite the dinner hour.

“Thanks. Our permits are all in order.” I held out my folder. “Liquor license is on top.”

He waved the folder off. “Not worried about that.”

No? Then why the heck was Flint in my establishment? “Good. We’re on the up-and-up. You won’t have trouble from us—”

“Glad to hear it,” he said levelly, eyes skeptical, reminding me that I was, after all, nothing more than a Hanks. “Cheeseburger?”

“Pardon?”

“That Ringer kid didn’t see fit to give me a menu, but I’m trusting you all offer something approximating a burger? Salad, no fries, and an iced tea.”

“You want to order?” I was still struggling to keep up with him.

“This is a food establishment, right?” He shook his head as if he hadn’t expected more from me, and that rankled.

“Of course.” I crossed the room in long strides, grabbed an order pad from the bar, ignoring Adam’s gaping. As soon as I returned to Flint’s table, I added, “Anything you want. On the house.”

“None of that.” He sighed like my very existence was tiring. “Got my meals from the old tavern for years. They kept a tab open for me.”

“We can do the same—”

“Let’s see if you can cook first,” he said, voice drier than yesterday’s toast. “I thought I’d come by, check the place out.”

“Appreciated,” I said and meant it. Business, any business, was good, but people in Rainbow Cove trusted Flint. If he gave us the seal of approval, more locals might give us a try, make us less dependent on the tourist trade that we were going after. Tourism took a while to build, and our grand plans of making Rainbow Cove an LGBTQ travel destination weren’t going to happen overnight. We needed every customer we could get, Flint included, even if he was the unlikeliest of allies.

“You still haven’t brought me a menu.” He shook his head. “But whatever you’ve got passing for a burger is fine. Nothing vegan though.”

“We’ve got local grass-fed beef, third-pound patty on a brioche bun with a pesto mayo and local gouda. Or—”

“I reckon that will do fine.” Flint always had a bit more country than coastal in his voice. Not Southern, but you could tell he was rural Oregon through and through, and I liked the slow, deep rumble of his words. What I didn’t like, however, was the implication in his tone that he wasn’t expecting much from us.

“Sure you don’t want fries? We have hand-cut sweet potato as an option with a chipotle dipping sauce. As far as salads, I’ve got side, Caesar, spring berry and pecan—”

“I’m on duty here. Kind of pressed for time. The burger and a side salad are fine. I don’t need anything fancy.”

Yeah, well, maybe I want to give it to you. I quashed that thought, same as I had the one about how hot he looked in his uniform. Wanting to impress Nash Flint wasn’t going to get me anywhere.

“I’ll put a rush on it.” I made a note on the order pad, not that it was really needed since Logan hardly had a packed house to worry about.

As I walked over to the window to put in Flint’s order, I noticed more than one table giving him curious glances. Hell, maybe I was wrong about any business being good business. Last thing I needed was Flint scaring away what few customers we had. Not that he was known as a gossip or anything like that, but he was awfully…old school. Traditional. The last kind of guy you’d expect to find at a gay bar, that was for sure, and even though we were attempting to attract a mixed clientele, he stood out.

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

Annabeth’s Angels Facebook Group | Annabeth’s Mailing List

 

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RIPTIDE TOUR & Giveaway: Heat Wave (Seasons of Love #3) by Elyse Springer

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Heat Wave (Seasons of Love #3) by Elyse Springer
Riptide Publishing
Cover by: Natasha Snow

Read an Excerpt/Buy It here at Riptide Publishing

♦︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Elyse Springer on her Heat Wave tour.  Welcome, Elyse!

♦︎

 

Summer is here, and what better way to relax by the pool than with a steamy romance! I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that Sara and Laura’s relationship is hotter than Manhattan in July, and I can’t wait to introduce you to these snarky and sexy ladies. I’ll be touring throughout the week to talk about my new release, Heat Wave, and I hope you’ll follow along. Plus, there’s a pretty sweet prize in it if you do!

About Heat Wave

Sara Walker’s life is going nowhere fast: she has a job she enjoys but doesn’t love, friends who are too busy to hang out with her, and no boyfriend in sight. Then a phone call on a lonely Friday night changes everything, and suddenly she’s spending her weekends with Laura. Newly single and openly bisexual, Laura makes Sara think decidedly not-straight thoughts.

Laura Murphy, with her red hair, freckles, and killer curves, is any guy’s wet dream. But Laura’s done with guys for now, and it’s Sara who can’t stop dreaming about her. When Sara finally gives in to the curiosity, Laura blows her mind and pushes her further than she’s ever gone before.

But Laura makes it very clear that this is only a rebound fling, and she’s still planning to move to California. She’s more than happy to tie Sara up, but she’s not ready to be tied down. If Sara wants to keep her, she’s going to have to work hard to convince Laura that New York is worth staying for . . . and so is she.

Now available from Riptide Publishing. http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/heat-wave

About the Seasons of Love Universe

New York is the city that never sleeps: where everything can change in the blink of an eye, and where anything is possible—especially romance. In the bitter cold of winter or the impossible humidity of mid-summer, your own happily ever after might be right around the corner.

The people of New York come from all walks of life, and the relationships are just as diverse. So whether you’re a waiter or an aspiring actor, a banker or a model, falling in love can happen quicker than the seasons change.

Check out Seasons of Love! 

About Elyse Springer

Elyse is an author and world-traveler, whose unique life experiences have helped to shape the stories that she wants to tell. She writes romances with LGBTQ+ characters and relationships, and believes that every person deserves a Happily Ever After. When she’s not staring futilely at her computer screen, El spends her time adding stamps to her passport, catching up on her terrifying TBR list, and learning to be a better adult.

She’s always happy to chat with other readers, and you can find her online at:

Website: http://elspringer.com

Twitter: @ElyseSpringer

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elysespringerwrites

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Heat Wave, one lucky winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on August 5, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

RELEASE BLITZ for Teresias Bound by Rebecca James (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Teresias Bound
Author: Rebecca James
Publisher:  Rebecca James
Release Date: July 29
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: approximately 81k
Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Science Fiction, mpreg

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Synopsis

Aiden is a man in a woman’s body. His dream is to fly to Aquarix where the elusive Fluens–the only species capable of changing his life record and physically making him a man–reside, and for years he’s been working at a seedy brothel in Solarias to save enough money to make that dream a reality.



Lydo, the prince of Teresias, has spent his youth leading his father’s army and avoiding his responsibilities on his home planet. On brief leave during a dangerous mission, he stops at a brothel and acquires the services of a feisty young prostitute who insists Lydo refer to her as a boy. Amused by the girl, the prince pays her way to Aquarix.



Aiden is euphoric at his transformation, but Lydo is more than a little disconcerted by the fact he is attracted to Aiden as a man. When it’s time to part ways, Aiden fulfills his second dream by taking a job on a spaceship. Resigned to step into his expected role on Teresias, the prince returns to his homophobic planet. But as the king parades princesses before his son in hopes of a betrothal, Lydo finds his heart remains with a certain adventurous boy somewhere out in space.

 

Excerpt

“Good to know now you’re not a man of
your word, before I start to trust you in any way,” Lydo said, face tight.
Aiden feigned ignorance. “What’s that
supposed to mean?”
“We had a deal.”
Aiden crossed his arms over his chest,
still a little surprised at the feel of the taut, muscular pectorals rather than
the soft breasts he’d lived with for so long. “You never believed me in the
first place.”
Lydo bent close to Aiden’s face, and
Aiden straightened his spine, refusing to be cowed. Tilting his head back, he
looked at the big man face-to-face, heart rocketing into overdrive on multiple
levels. Lydo was threatening, sexy, and unreadable, and if Aiden wasn’t
careful, he was going to do something incredibly stupid like allow his crush to
deepen into something much more dangerous.
“Are you able to get me out of here?”
Lydo’s warm breath brushed Aiden’s face. “Or was it all a lie to get into my
pants?”
“Answer me.”
Aiden sighed. “I could do it. The
question is, is leaving what you really should do?” He put his hand on Lydo’s
arm and touched the corded muscle of bulging bicep before snatching his fingers
away again.
“There’s so much you could do here if
you ruled as king. You saw those people, Lydo. The Konnics. They live a
miserable existence on a barren wasteland because they have no other choice. If
you were king, you could fix all that.”
Lydo’s eyes burned into Aiden’s for a
long moment before the prince stepped away, putting some space between them.
Inwardly, Aiden sagged with relief.
“You don’t know what you’re talking
about,” Lydo grumbled.
Aiden considered that perhaps Lydo
didn’t have it in him to be a good ruler. Remembering the sharp disappointment
not an hour earlier when he’d realized it wasn’t Lydo giving him pleasure,
followed by the twist of the knife when the Pusari female reported Lydo had
been the one to send her, Aiden reminded himself only an acute sense of
self-preservation had gotten him this far in life, and right then that sense
was flashing a red light of warning.
Aiden’s desire for Lydo was blooming
into something that threatened to throw him off course. The demanding, arrogant
man who had come into the brothel had turned out to be more complicated than
Aiden had at first thought. After managing to crawl beneath Aiden’s defenses,
Lydo continually ran hot and cold. He seemed perfectly willing to give his body
in payment for the favor he desired, yet he obviously had a problem with the
concept of sleeping with a man.

 

 

Pre-Order at Amazon

Meet the Author

Best-selling author of contemporary and paranormal gay romance, Rebecca James is an English major with a life-long love of reading and writing who found her niche in M/M romance.
Rebecca will be a supporting author at GayRomList 2017 this October in Denver.  Let her know if you’ll be there and if you’re one of her newsletter subscribers, she’ll have a special gift set aside for you!

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail | Amazon | Newsletter

Check out Rebecca’s River Wolf Pack Series!

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Release Day Blitz for Lying Eyes by Robert Winter (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Lying Eyes

Author: Robert Winter

Publisher:  Robert Winter Books (self-published)

Release Date: July 7, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 84300

Genre: Romance, Mystery, BDSM

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

This bartender’s art lies in more than mixing drinks …

Randy Vaughan is a six-foot-three mass of mysteries to his customers and his friends. Why does a former Secret Service agent now own Mata Hari, a successful piano bar? Where did a muscle daddy get his passion for collecting fine art? If he’s as much a loner as his friends believe, why does he crave weekly sessions at an exclusive leather club?

Randy’s carefully private life unravels when Jack Fraser, a handsome art historian from England, walks into his bar, anxious to get his hands on a painting Randy owns. The desperation Randy glimpses in whiskey-colored eyes draws him in, as does the desire to submit that he senses beneath Jack’s elegant, driven exterior.

While wrestling with his attraction to Jack, Randy has to deal with a homeless teenager, a break-in at Mata Hari, and Jack’s relentless pursuit of the painting called Sunrise. It becomes clear someone’s lying to Randy. Unless he can figure out who and why, he may miss his chance at the love he’s dreamed about in the hidden places of his heart.

Note: Lying Eyes is a standalone gay romance novel with consensual bondage and a strong happy ending. It contains potential spoilers for Robert Winter’s prior novel, Every Breath You Take.

Purchase

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA

 

Excerpt

Saturday rolled around, and Randy headed to town early to make sure everything was ready for Mata Hari’s busiest evening of the week. Although the bar officially opened at five-thirty, it was rare for anyone to wander in much before seven o’clock. Randy was surprised when the front door opened at six to admit a good-looking man.

The stranger was probably about five foot nine or ten, and wore a three-piece suit that seemed tailored to accentuate a lean build. His dark hair was cut stylishly short on the sides but thick and swept back on the top, and his mustache and full beard were closely trimmed. A brightly colored necktie contrasted with the somber gray of his suit. Randy had trouble assessing the man’s age, but he would go with thirty. European, though—Randy would stake the bar on that guess.

The newcomer contemplated the walls of Mata Hari, passing almost dismissively over the art on display. He studied each piece for no more than a second before moving to the next, but Randy had a distinct impression the man sought something in particular. As he completed his survey, he kept turning and eventually met Randy’s eyes across the bar.

Immediately desire flared in the man’s face as his hungry gaze drifted over Randy’s tight white shirt and up to his face, lingering on his mouth. Shoulders tightened almost imperceptibly as he drew himself to his full height, yet Randy recognized a softening of hard edges. He lazily ran his own eyes to the stranger’s luxurious beard, and he imagined stroking the softness there. He sensed something accommodating. Something potentially submissive, yet more subtle than the wanton displays of obedience and posing he was used to on Mondays at his private club.

Something he would enjoy channeling and rewarding, in the right circumstance.

The man started toward the bar. As he moved, Randy had the odd sense that the suit he wore was ill-fitting, even though it seemed perfectly tailored. A step away from the bar, his face just—closed. That was the only word for it. One instant he was cruising Randy; the next he was stone.

Randy sighed to himself. The guy was probably a closet case on his first night at a gay bar. That usually meant an unsatisfying encounter, even if the newbie didn’t rabbit. In any case, it wasn’t Randy’s thing. He’d had plenty of virgin ass over the years, and preferred his men experienced.

Fine. Nothing for me here. He waited at the bar, vaguely disappointed.

“Sir, good evening.” The man’s accent was English, his words precise and elegant like his hair and his clothes and his beard. Probably from London. Up close, Randy could see his eyes were a deep shade of brown graced with streaks of gold around the pupils that caught the lights over the bar. “I’m looking for a Mr. Randall Vaughan.”

Despite forswearing his immediate attraction to the stranger, that honeyed voice caused Randy to smile slowly and show his teeth. He registered the slight widening of the eyes behind the stranger’s mask as he focused on Randy’s mouth.

“I’m Randy Vaughan. And you are…?”

The man blinked in surprise. “Oh. The Mr. Vaughan I was seeking is an art collector.”

Shit. Just another jerkwad, making assumptions right away. Randy was a big man so he couldn’t possibly be knowledgeable about art, could he? Well, fuck that noise. One more chance.

“I wouldn’t use the term collector, but…” Randy gestured at the walls.

“Quite so,” the man said distantly, and turned to sweep his gaze over the works on the nearest wall. “Neither would I.”

Randy’s back stiffened immediately. The stranger—no, the asshole—turned his attention back to Randy and held out a hand. He seemed oblivious to the fact that he’d just royally pissed Randy off. “My name is Jack Fraser. I’m from the Kensington Museum in London.” Fraser paused as if waiting for Randy to be impressed. “I sent you a letter recently.”

Randy willed himself not to think further about Fraser’s whiskey-colored eyes or the luxuriousness of his beard, and he didn’t take the offered hand. Instead, he wiped a small spill on the counter before him. “You did,” he agreed in a bored tone.

Fraser dropped his hand. “Ah, yes.” A pause. “My secretary didn’t hear from you to set up an appointment.”

“Which was my answer to your request,” Randy said, letting some snarl appear as he met Fraser’s eyes. They were still guarded and closed off, but Randy could see embers burning deep inside. In the right setting, and with proper motivation, he could imagine making those embers flare and ignite in the slender man before him. For the moment, though, the eyes just narrowed in calculation.

Before Fraser could say anything, Randy turned away. “If you’ll excuse me, I have work to do.”

“May I buy a pint?” Fraser asked, desperation shading his smooth accent.

Randy considered calling Malcolm over to deal with it, but stopped in front of the beer taps. He was annoyed at his lingering attraction, and he decided to push back on this prick a bit. “Fine. What’s your pleasure?”

“Guinness. If you have it.”

“Of course you’d drink Guinness.” A little scorn curled Randy’s lip. “Well, the closest beer I have is a stout from Flying Dog.” He let his sneer turn feral. “It’s called Pearl Necklace.” He dropped his eyes to Fraser’s necktie, as if he could picture that very thing replacing the colorful silk.

Fraser blinked nervously. Probably he could picture it too. Maybe he even imagined Randy’s hot jizz splattering his chest and neck as his reward. Well, he shouldn’t have been a condescending shit out of the gate then. Randy waited, one hand on the tap, the other idly scratching his ear to make his bicep flex under his white shirt. Fraser focused on his arm and swallowed audibly.

“That’ll be fine,” he said. “A, uh, Flying Dog then.” Randy drew the pint to set before Fraser on a coaster. He didn’t wait for the man to take a sip or comment, but headed to the other end of the bar to check inventory.

He stayed busy but somehow noticed that Fraser lingered at the bar for several minutes, apparently hoping Randy would come back and let him ask again about the piece Randy had purchased from the Gates Gallery. When Randy deliberately kept his distance, Fraser took his beer (which, Randy was pleased to note, was more than half gone) and wandered around the room to examine more carefully each painting displayed. Sometimes he moved on quickly to the next piece of art. Other times, he gave a slight shake of his head.

Randy’s ears burned, and he considered throwing the guy out. Since he’d opened Mata Hari no one had given him grief about his collection. To be honest, no one had studied it the way Fraser did, but still. Each piece had been acquired because Randy connected to something in it. To have this handsome English stuffed shirt look down his nose offended Randy in a way he couldn’t even articulate. He seethed inside the longer Fraser spent on his dismissive tour of the room.

When Fraser reached a landscape that was hung over a small settee, he gave a distinct snort. He set his empty beer glass on a nearby table and Randy swooped over to pick it up, ostentatiously swiping the wood as if it had left a ring. “Another Pearl Necklace?” he snarled.

“Ah, no. Thank you.” Fraser seemed surprised to find Randy standing so close, though his eyes remained closed off and stony. “But it was a quite nice stout after all. Thank you for the recommendation.”

Randy gestured at the landscape with his chin. “Is that painting offensive to you for some reason? You’re practically laughing at it.”

“What? Oh no, it’s…fine. Competent. It’s the presentation, the arrangement of the art, that I find amusing.”

Randy ran his gaze over the pieces arranged on that wall of the bar. He’d decided where to hang each and every work over a long stretch of time as he’d readied Mata Hari for opening. He revisited the collection frequently and rotated different pieces in and out of prominent positions. Most of his customers were oblivious but Randy took great satisfaction in presenting something unique in the atmosphere of his bar.

“What’s amusing about it?”

“Well, there’s no story, is there?” Fraser answered him.

“What do you mean?”

“Individually each piece is presentable. A few are even intriguing. But see here,” he gestured at the landscape, “this is a nicely executed pastoral, yet it’s positioned between a Japanese scroll and a watercolor of a monarch butterfly. The pieces say nothing about each other, and have no intrinsic relationship.

“But over there,” he indicated the wall opposite, “is a modern landscape. Change the frames to something complementary, place them side by side, and the two landscapes together suggest a conversation in, oh, quite a lot actually. Painting techniques, the subject and tonal changes in works separated by two artistic traditions. You see?”

Randy did see, but he’d be damned if he’d admit it. “Two landscapes here wouldn’t fit,” he said stubbornly.

“Ah. Art as furniture. Of course,” Fraser said with a smirk, and that did it.

“No charge for the Pearl Necklace,” Randy barked. “Since you made the trip for nothing.”

Meet the Author

Robert Winter lives and writes in Provincetown. He is a recovering lawyer who prefers writing about hot men in love much more than drafting a legal brief. He left behind the (allegedly) glamorous world of an international law firm to sit in his home office and dream up ways to torment his characters until they realize they are perfect for each other. When he isn’t writing, Robert likes to cook Indian food and explore new restaurants. He splits his attention between Andy, his partner of sixteen years, and Ling the Adventure Cat, who likes to fly in airplanes and explore the backyard jungle as long as the temperature and humidity are just right.

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail

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Release Blitz for Force of Nature (Coming About #4) by J.K. Hogan (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Force of Nature

Series: Coming About, #4

Author: J.K. Hogan

Publisher:  Euphoria Press (self)

Release Date: 7/4/17

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 80,000 words

Genre: Romance, contemporary, adventure

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Synopsis

Everyone knows that bonds formed under extreme circumstances never last.

Harbor Patrol officer Neal Hesse has had his life turned upside down by a sudden break-up with his partner of ten years. After sleeping his way through Seattle failed to take his mind off his broken heart, he decides to take a leave of absence from work to find himself again. He hires a professional wilderness guide to take him up into the mountains, so he can get away from everything and live off the grid for a few days.

Travis “Rock” McCreary, ex-Army Ranger turned survivalist, hates doing guided excursions, but it’s his primary source of income while he’s working towards getting his own survival show. Working in such a testosterone-fueled profession has forced him so deep into the closet, he feels like he might never see the light of day again, which makes it even harder to put on a friendly face for his happy, normal clients.

When Rock is hired by clumsy city-boy Neal to take him up into the North Cascades for a survival adventure, his patience and his resolve are tested at every turn. He has to teach Neal to survive in the wilderness while fighting an attraction he can’t allow himself to act on. When their trip doesn’t go as planned, Neal’s getaway turns into a true survival situation, and he and Rock are forced to rely on each other to stay alive. If they make it out of the wilderness, can their newfound connection survive in the real world?

Excerpt

Neal didn’t see how this was supposed to help take his mind off his ex because, as they trudged up the trail mostly in silence, he had nothing but time to think. Time to think about how he’d fallen for and spent years with a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He thought he’d been settled, that Tony was The One, that they had been on their way to growing old together. How wrong he’d been.

When the party reached an overlook at the highest point on the trail, they stopped for a panoramic view of the waterfall. Even Neal had to admit, with the sun streaming into the gorge and casting rainbows from the mist, it was a beautiful sight. It was still hard to drag himself out of his head, though. He knew his friends meant well, and they were right, of course. He needed to get up, get out, get back on the proverbial horse of life. But he didn’t wanna. He wanted to be at home on the couch moping, damn it.

He wished for that even harder when he saw the so-called trail that descended from the overlook to the foot of the falls where hikers could walk around or swim on warm-enough days. This trail was also steps, but natural ones of smooth, flat rock. It was narrow. Very narrow, and the lower part had a thin coat of slime from the water spray and mud. So it was fucking slippery.

When he’d almost made it to the flat riverbed, Neal lost his footing on a slick rock. He barely avoided taking a tumble—probably would’ve cracked his skull open—but he gained his balance again at the last moment. He breathed a sigh of relief when he stepped off that part of the trail. The falls dumped into a wide open part of the gorge, forming a broad pool that was bordered by a large, semicircular bank of river rock. There, day-hikers and tourists spread out on the rocks, picnicking, sunning themselves, or generally just taking in the scenery. Neal’s friends spread out to do their own thing.

Addison stalked off to the tree line with her cell phone, probably trying to get a signal so she could call her girlfriend. Bennett led Rory around the edge of the pond so they could get close to the actual waterfall. He was wearing a chest harness that held his Go-Pro, the action camera he usually kept on his boat. Rich and Paddy sat down on some large rocks and got out their trail snacks. And Nic Valentine, the crazy fucker, was wading in the frigid pool while Justice looked on, shaking his damn head.

Neal shivered just thinking about it. It was the tail-end of summer, so it was still quite warm, but these high lakes and rivers were always brisk, even on the hottest days. He’d been trained to withstand cold water temperatures for marine rescues, but that didn’t mean he had to like it, and he certainly didn’t do it for fun. Turning away from the splashing idiot, Neal looked around at all of the tourists and vacationers. Everyone had phones out, taking pictures, and he was sure they were tweeting and Instagramming like mad whenever they could find a bar or two.

He shook his head, then smirked and took his own phone out. “When in Rome,” he muttered. First, he snapped a picture with the reverse camera of himself with the waterfall in the background. Then he flipped the view so he could get a shot of the gorge. His frame wasn’t wide enough, so he took a few steps back, mindful of the rocks that became more slippery the closer he got to the falls.

His foot slipped and plopped down into water still cold enough to make him gasp, and right at the same time, he backed into something hard. Solid. Something alive. Neal winced when he heard an outraged cry and a splash behind him. Oh, fuck. Had he just…knocked someone into the water? He knew he needed to make sure they weren’t hurt or anything, but damn, he was afraid to turn around…because that had not felt like a small person.

Cautiously, he turned around and looked down, where he saw a man flailing around in the shallows of the pool. Once he got control of his feet, the man sprang up in the perfect kip-up. Neal cringed when he saw that his clothes and trail pack were completely soaking wet. And when he looked at the man’s face, he froze. His brain registered three things almost simultaneously: he looked vaguely familiar, he was very attractive, and he was really fucking mad.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” the stranger shouted.

He stepped forward so aggressively that Neal backed up, and his right hand went instinctively to his hip, where he would’ve put his hand on the stock of his service weapon—only there was nothing there because he was off duty.

Not wanting to seem like an equal aggressor, he covered the move by sticking his hand in his pocket, hoping to appear non-threatening. This guy was about his age and shorter by a few inches, but he was ripped. He looked rugged and whipcord strong and looked ready to kick some ass in a heartbeat. Neal might’ve been able to take him—he had him on height and weight, but the guy looked like he might be stronger…and a lot meaner. Neal really didn’t want to fight. That was a helluva lot of paperwork.

He held his arms out in front of him, both as a gesture of peace and to stave off an attack if that were to happen. “Man, I am so sorry. I didn’t realize anyone was behind me.”

“Clearly,” he growled, shrugging out of his pack. He unzipped it and started digging through it.

“Again, really sorry. If anything in your pack got damaged, I’ll reimburse you.”

He scowled at me. “This is a waterfall hike. I’m not an idiot. Anything of value is inside a dry bag.”

Neal bristled because the guy was basically calling him and everyone with him an idiot because they hadn’t brought dry bags. They’d just figured they could avoid, you know, falling in the water. Probably should’ve planned better, because if Neal hadn’t knocked into this guy, it would’ve been him in the water. But Neal had been the one to cause the fall, so he tried not to let his attitude get to him. “If you need a towel, I think one of my friends might’ve brought one.”

He sat down on a large, flat rock and pulled off his hiking shoes, probably to let them dry a little in the sun. His socks looked dry, so Neal assumed his footwear was waterproof. That also would’ve been a good idea, since Neal’s right sneaker was soggy as hell from stepping in the water.

The guy shook his head and didn’t make eye contact. “I’ve got more hiking to do. I’ll air-dry. Just try not to drown anyone, will ya?”

Neal’s eyes narrowed, and he fought a valiant battle not to tell the guy to fuck off. Instead, he fell back on his usual façade of charm and reached out a hand. “I’m Neal. Wish it had been under better circumstances, but it’s nice to meet you.”

His mega-watt smile, the one that had gotten him laid all the time when he was with Tony and before, bounced off this angry stranger like he had some kind of nice-guy force field. He glared at the proffered hand until Neal got the hint and put it back in his pocket. Just when he was about to say ‘fuck it’ and walk away, the guy mumbled, “Travis.”

“Pardon?” Neal asked, raising his eyebrows.

“Name’s Travis.”

“Well…Travis. It’s been a pleasure. I’ll get out of your hair.” About maxed out on politeness, Neal turned on his heel and started walking, stumbling slightly on the wet stones.

“Hey, Neal?”

He turned and looked at Travis. “Yeah?”

“You should stick to walking in the park or going to the gym. You don’t belong out here.”

Rage burned in Neal’s gut. He’d apologized profusely, and this guy just wouldn’t let it go. Where the hell did he get off? “The fuck did you say to me? I’ll have you know, I’m a police officer.”

Bennett had obviously picked up on the tone because Neal sensed his partner and Paddy creeping up on his flanks.

Travis’s eyes flicked back and forth between the three men, then he shook his head with a scoffing sound. “I’m just trying to give you some advice. It’s guys like you who come out here and fall down into the ravine because you don’t have the instincts to pay the fuck attention to where you put your feet.”

Neal lunged forward, but Bennett stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. “Nuh-uh. Walk away, Hesse.”

“But—”

“Nope.” Paddy started pulling him backward.

Travis spoke again, and the sound of his voice grated over Neal’s nerves like sandpaper. “I’m not just trying to be an asshole, although I’d be justified, considering.” He gestured down at his wet clothes. “But seriously, if you want to be all outdoorsy and shit? Get yourself some survival training, because you seem pretty fucking hopeless.”

Neal growled and lunged again, but was stopped by his two strong friends.

“Aaaand we’re done here,” Bennett said, as he and Patrick hauled Neal to the other side of the river where the rest of their group was waiting.

“Come on, just one swing!” Neal shouted over his shoulder. It was just for show because his pride was more bruised than he wanted to let on, but the boys kept a firm grip on him just in case.

Why the fuck did it matter that some asshole stranger thought he was incompetent? But Neal knew the answer to that—because his own boyfriend had as well. Tony had basically unmanned him by suggesting Neal’s career and choices didn’t matter, and now some random guy was telling him he couldn’t even wipe his own ass without help.

Neal seethed quietly all the way back down the trail. He’d never see that crazy fucknut again, but he’d be damned if he’d let the guy be right. So as soon as he got back, he booked himself on a survival excursion with a professional wilderness guide. That’d show that asshole. The one he would never see again.

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Euphoria Press (self) | Amazon

Meet the Author

J.K. Hogan has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, beginning with writing cast lists and storylines for her toys growing up. When she finally decided to put pen to paper, magic happened. She is greatly inspired by all kinds of music and often creates a “soundtrack” for her stories as she writes them. J.K. is hoping to one day have a little something for everyone, so she’s branched out from m/f paranormal romance and added m/m contemporary romance. Who knows what’s next?

J.K. resides in North Carolina, where she was born and raised. A true southern girl at heart, she lives in the country with her husband and two sons, a cat, and two champion agility dogs. If she isn’t on the agility field, J.K. can often be found chasing waterfalls in the mountains with her husband, or down in front at a blues concert. In addition to writing, she enjoys training and competing in dog sports, spending time with her large southern family, camping, boating and, of course, reading! For more information, please visit http://www.jkhogan.com.

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Cover Reveal for Lying Eyes by Robert Winter (excerpt)

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Title:  Lying Eyes

Author: Robert Winter

Publisher:  Robert Winter Books (self-published)

Release Date: July 7, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 84300

Genre: Romance, Mystery, BDSM

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Synopsis

This bartender’s art lies in more than mixing drinks …

Randy Vaughan is a six-foot-three mass of mysteries to his customers and his friends. Why does a former Secret Service agent now own Mata Hari, a successful piano bar? Where did a muscle daddy get his passion for collecting fine art? If he’s as much a loner as his friends believe, why does he crave weekly sessions at an exclusive leather club?

Randy’s carefully private life unravels when Jack Fraser, a handsome art historian from England, walks into his bar, anxious to get his hands on a painting Randy owns. The desperation Randy glimpses in whiskey-colored eyes draws him in, as does the desire to submit that he senses beneath Jack’s elegant, driven exterior.

While wrestling with his attraction to Jack, Randy has to deal with a homeless teenager, a break-in at Mata Hari, and Jack’s relentless pursuit of the painting called Sunrise. It becomes clear someone’s lying to Randy. Unless he can figure out who and why, he may miss his chance at the love he’s dreamed about in the hidden places of his heart.

Note: Lying Eyes is a standalone gay romance novel with consensual bondage and a strong happy ending. It contains potential spoilers for Robert Winter’s prior novel, Every Breath You Take.

Excerpt

Saturday rolled around, and Randy headed to town early to make sure everything was ready for Mata Hari’s busiest evening of the week. Although the bar officially opened at five-thirty, it was rare for anyone to wander in much before seven o’clock. Randy was surprised when the front door opened at six to admit a good-looking man.

The stranger was probably about five foot nine or ten, and wore a three-piece suit that seemed tailored to accentuate a lean build. His dark hair was cut stylishly short on the sides but thick and swept back on the top, and his mustache and full beard were closely trimmed. A brightly colored necktie contrasted with the somber gray of his suit. Randy had trouble assessing the man’s age, but he would go with thirty. European, though—Randy would stake the bar on that guess.

The newcomer contemplated the walls of Mata Hari, passing almost dismissively over the art on display. He studied each piece for no more than a second before moving to the next, but Randy had a distinct impression the man sought something in particular. As he completed his survey, he kept turning and eventually met Randy’s eyes across the bar.

Immediately desire flared in the man’s face as his hungry gaze drifted over Randy’s tight white shirt and up to his face, lingering on his mouth. Shoulders tightened almost imperceptibly as he drew himself to his full height, yet Randy recognized a softening of hard edges. He lazily ran his own eyes to the stranger’s luxurious beard, and he imagined stroking the softness there. He sensed something accommodating. Something potentially submissive, yet more subtle than the wanton displays of obedience and posing he was used to on Mondays at his private club.

Something he would enjoy channeling and rewarding, in the right circumstance.

The man started toward the bar. As he moved, Randy had the odd sense that the suit he wore was ill-fitting, even though it seemed perfectly tailored. A step away from the bar, his face just—closed. That was the only word for it. One instant he was cruising Randy; the next he was stone.

Randy sighed to himself. The guy was probably a closet case on his first night at a gay bar. That usually meant an unsatisfying encounter, even if the newbie didn’t rabbit. In any case, it wasn’t Randy’s thing. He’d had plenty of virgin ass over the years, and preferred his men experienced.

Fine. Nothing for me here. He waited at the bar, vaguely disappointed.

“Sir, good evening.” The man’s accent was English, his words precise and elegant like his hair and his clothes and his beard. Probably from London. Up close, Randy could see his eyes were a deep shade of brown graced with streaks of gold around the pupils that caught the lights over the bar. “I’m looking for a Mr. Randall Vaughan.”

Despite forswearing his immediate attraction to the stranger, that honeyed voice caused Randy to smile slowly and show his teeth. He registered the slight widening of the eyes behind the stranger’s mask as he focused on Randy’s mouth.

“I’m Randy Vaughan. And you are…?”

The man blinked in surprise. “Oh. The Mr. Vaughan I was seeking is an art collector.”

Shit. Just another jerkwad, making assumptions right away. Randy was a big man so he couldn’t possibly be knowledgeable about art, could he? Well, fuck that noise. One more chance.

“I wouldn’t use the term collector, but…” Randy gestured at the walls.

“Quite so,” the man said distantly, and turned to sweep his gaze over the works on the nearest wall. “Neither would I.”

Randy’s back stiffened immediately. The stranger—no, the asshole—turned his attention back to Randy and held out a hand. He seemed oblivious to the fact that he’d just royally pissed Randy off. “My name is Jack Fraser. I’m from the Kensington Museum in London.” Fraser paused as if waiting for Randy to be impressed. “I sent you a letter recently.”

Randy willed himself not to think further about Fraser’s whiskey-colored eyes or the luxuriousness of his beard, and he didn’t take the offered hand. Instead, he wiped a small spill on the counter before him. “You did,” he agreed in a bored tone.

Fraser dropped his hand. “Ah, yes.” A pause. “My secretary didn’t hear from you to set up an appointment.”

“Which was my answer to your request,” Randy said, letting some snarl appear as he met Fraser’s eyes. They were still guarded and closed off, but Randy could see embers burning deep inside. In the right setting, and with proper motivation, he could imagine making those embers flare and ignite in the slender man before him. For the moment, though, the eyes just narrowed in calculation.

Before Fraser could say anything, Randy turned away. “If you’ll excuse me, I have work to do.”

“May I buy a pint?” Fraser asked, desperation shading his smooth accent.

Randy considered calling Malcolm over to deal with it, but stopped in front of the beer taps. He was annoyed at his lingering attraction, and he decided to push back on this prick a bit. “Fine. What’s your pleasure?”

“Guinness. If you have it.”

“Of course you’d drink Guinness.” A little scorn curled Randy’s lip. “Well, the closest beer I have is a stout from Flying Dog.” He let his sneer turn feral. “It’s called Pearl Necklace.” He dropped his eyes to Fraser’s necktie, as if he could picture that very thing replacing the colorful silk.

Fraser blinked nervously. Probably he could picture it too. Maybe he even imagined Randy’s hot jizz splattering his chest and neck as his reward. Well, he shouldn’t have been a condescending shit out of the gate then. Randy waited, one hand on the tap, the other idly scratching his ear to make his bicep flex under his white shirt. Fraser focused on his arm and swallowed audibly.

“That’ll be fine,” he said. “A, uh, Flying Dog then.” Randy drew the pint to set before Fraser on a coaster. He didn’t wait for the man to take a sip or comment, but headed to the other end of the bar to check inventory.

He stayed busy but somehow noticed that Fraser lingered at the bar for several minutes, apparently hoping Randy would come back and let him ask again about the piece Randy had purchased from the Gates Gallery. When Randy deliberately kept his distance, Fraser took his beer (which, Randy was pleased to note, was more than half gone) and wandered around the room to examine more carefully each painting displayed. Sometimes he moved on quickly to the next piece of art. Other times, he gave a slight shake of his head.

Randy’s ears burned, and he considered throwing the guy out. Since he’d opened Mata Hari no one had given him grief about his collection. To be honest, no one had studied it the way Fraser did, but still. Each piece had been acquired because Randy connected to something in it. To have this handsome English stuffed shirt look down his nose offended Randy in a way he couldn’t even articulate. He seethed inside the longer Fraser spent on his dismissive tour of the room.

When Fraser reached a landscape that was hung over a small settee, he gave a distinct snort. He set his empty beer glass on a nearby table and Randy swooped over to pick it up, ostentatiously swiping the wood as if it had left a ring. “Another Pearl Necklace?” he snarled.

“Ah, no. Thank you.” Fraser seemed surprised to find Randy standing so close, though his eyes remained closed off and stony. “But it was a quite nice stout after all. Thank you for the recommendation.”

Randy gestured at the landscape with his chin. “Is that painting offensive to you for some reason? You’re practically laughing at it.”

“What? Oh no, it’s…fine. Competent. It’s the presentation, the arrangement of the art, that I find amusing.”

Randy ran his gaze over the pieces arranged on that wall of the bar. He’d decided where to hang each and every work over a long stretch of time as he’d readied Mata Hari for opening. He revisited the collection frequently and rotated different pieces in and out of prominent positions. Most of his customers were oblivious but Randy took great satisfaction in presenting something unique in the atmosphere of his bar.

“What’s amusing about it?”

“Well, there’s no story, is there?” Fraser answered him.

“What do you mean?”

“Individually each piece is presentable. A few are even intriguing. But see here,” he gestured at the landscape, “this is a nicely executed pastoral, yet it’s positioned between a Japanese scroll and a watercolor of a monarch butterfly. The pieces say nothing about each other, and have no intrinsic relationship.

“But over there,” he indicated the wall opposite, “is a modern landscape. Change the frames to something complementary, place them side by side, and the two landscapes together suggest a conversation in, oh, quite a lot actually. Painting techniques, the subject and tonal changes in works separated by two artistic traditions. You see?”

Randy did see, but he’d be damned if he’d admit it. “Two landscapes here wouldn’t fit,” he said stubbornly.

“Ah. Art as furniture. Of course,” Fraser said with a smirk, and that did it.

“No charge for the Pearl Necklace,” Randy barked. “Since you made the trip for nothing.”

 

Meet the Author

Robert Winter lives and writes in Provincetown. He is a recovering lawyer who prefers writing about hot men in love much more than drafting a legal brief. He left behind the (allegedly) glamorous world of an international law firm to sit in his home office and dream up ways to torment his characters until they realize they are perfect for each other.

When he isn’t writing, Robert likes to cook Indian food and explore new restaurants. He splits his attention between Andy, his partner of sixteen years, and Ling the Adventure Cat, who likes to fly in airplanes and explore the backyard jungle as long as the temperature and humidity are just right.

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In the Spotlight: Jordan’s Pryde (Pryde Shifter #1) by Giovanna Reaves (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Jordan’s Pryde

Series: Pryde Shifter Series Book 1

Author: Giovanna Reaves

Publisher: Independent

Release Date: June 30th 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 83K

Genre: Romance, Science Fiction, Mpreg, Paranormal Romance

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Synopsis

All he did was apply for a job and then his world was turned upside down.

Thrust into the world he had no idea about, Jordan Sutton’s only goal was to get a job working for Duncan Pryde of Pryde Industries. He thought werewolves, vampires, and faes belonged in fairy tales, not in the real world. What will he do when he finds out that there’s more than meets the eye to his boss and his family?

Duncan Pryde had too much going on in his life. He became the sole guardian of his twin niece and nephew along with the addition of his pack and company. He had no time to think about a mate when trouble came to his front door. What happens when the man he hired for one job turns out to be his destined mate? Does he deny what he feels or embrace it?

 

Excerpt

Chapter One

Jordan 

Jordan pulled up to the address he was directed to by his GPS. His mouth fell open in complete shock at the mansion looking back at him. He was applying for a position to work for the CEO of Pryde Industries. The handsome and jaw-dropping Duncan Pryde. The position was as his personal assistant. Unless people had been living under a rock, everyone knew exactly who Duncan Pryde was. A self-made billionaire who had his fingers in everything from computer software to fashion design.  The man was intelligent, wealthy, and drop-dead gorgeous and didn’t look a day over forty. Simply put, everything Jordan could want in a man. But with one snag—the man was completely straight according to all the magazines he’d read.

When he heard there was a position opening up at Pryde Industries and it would be working for the CEO, Jordan researched everything he could about Duncan Pryde. One thing was evident, Pryde was never without some slim, beautiful female model or actress hanging off his arm. Other than his attraction, Jordan admired Duncan Pryde from afar, since he started tracking his success.

It was only by chance Jordan found out about the job opening and jumped at the opportunity. He admitted to himself that he had a selfish reason for wanting to work for Pryde Industries. It was the opening Jordan needed to get his foot in the door in the business world. Even if he was starting out as a personal assistant. Jordan would be foolish to pass up the chance. Being rich was not his primary goal, success and recognition for what he could do were what he was after. Call him ambitious, but Jordan learned a long time ago that success didn’t come easily. You have to step over a few people to get where you want to be in life.  He practically bit his nails down to the knuckle the day he sent off his résumé.  It was not a job at the corner store, but working for a CEO with a major Fortune 500 company.

The minute Jordan got the call for the interview, he did a more in-depth research on Duncan Pryde, that was available on Duncan, and his businesses. There was not a lot. He could find little on Duncan’s personal life, but there was more than enough information on Pryde Industries. It frustrated Jordan, to the point of obsession, that he could not learn more about the man he wanted to work for. The only personal information he could find was that a tragedy had occurred in his life six months earlier.

He had turned the running of the business over to the hands of his vice president until he was able to return. No matter how much he searched, Jordan was not able to find out what had happened. Duncan Pryde had also withdrawn from public life.  No one seemed to know what happened. Wild speculations swirled around that he had been severely injured in a car accident and his company was covering it up. Some reported that he was bound to a wheelchair and would never walk again.

Taking a deep breath, Jordan looked at the file sitting in the passenger seat next to him. It was his résumé and work experience. There wasn’t a lot to go on, but Jordan had glowing letters of recommendation from previous employers along with those of volunteering administrators. He was ready, and he was pretty confident that the job belonged to him and no one else.

No need to keep sitting here, the job’s not going to come to me this way. Jordan nervously got out of the car closing the door.

Checking his suit to make sure that everything was pristine, he smoothed out invisible wrinkles and lint while praying to the gods that he wouldn’t come off as an idiot in his interview.  He wanted to make a good impression the first time meeting Mr. Pryde, who was conducting the interview himself. Jordan squared his shoulders, and looked at the large white painted mansion with black window trim in front of him. The lawn was well manicured with shrubbery and trees on both sides of the walkway leading up to the door.

What he could not understand was why the interview was at a mansion and not at the head office located downtown. Jordan shrugged his shoulders, again. As long as Jordan got the job he did not care where the interview was held. Wealthy and influential people had their quirks, it wasn’t for him to judge. Determined that he was ready to meet the man he was hoping to work for, Jordan walked to the red painted front door and cleared his throat, he raised his hand, ready to knock on the door when it was flung open for him. A ragged-looking woman burst through the door.

“I don’t care how much you pay me; I will not take care of those hellions!” she yelled, walking or rather running down the driveway and got in the car parked next to his, speeding off like a bat out of hell.

Well, that’s interesting.

Jordan quickly stepped to the side holding his folder to his chest, not sure if someone or something else was going to come flying out of the house and hit him. His heart was pounding in his chest. Instead of feeling nervous he was starting to get scared out of his fucking mind. The little voice in the back of his head told him to cut his losses and get his ass back in his car and go home, and let someone else be terrorized by Duncan Pryde. He ignored the voice and waited a few minutes before he decided that nothing else was going to come flying in his direction. Peeking his head through the door, not seeing anyone, Jordan stepped forward and walked in the foyer looking around for someone to ask for directions. The place was just as large on the inside as it was on the outside.

Shouldn’t there be a maid or a butler to answer the door? Jordan heard voices coming from down the hall and followed it. His previous apprehension went away as his curiosity took over.

“You guys, know that I have meetings to attend, I might not go into the office, but I cannot stay with you pups all day long.”

“We know, Uncle Duncan,” a cute, tiny little voice said.

“But she was so mean,” another small voice added.

“She promised if we behaved she would let us have ice cream,” they chimed in together.

Kids, nothing I read said that Duncan Pryde had kids.

“And we were especially good,” one of the kids said.

From the tone, Jordan assumed it was a little boy. He stood outside the door listening shamelessly to their conversation. He found it adorable how the kids finished each other’s sentences.

“Be that as it may, you were both wrong for putting mud in her shoes and lizards in her pockets.” Duncan Pryde’s voice sounded quiet but stern, not frightening considering the conversation with the kids.

“We’re sorry,” they chorused together.

“What am I going to do with you both?” Duncan Pryde asked.

“Please, don’t be mad at us, Uncle Duncan,” one of the tiny little voices said. To Jordan, it sounded like a little girl. The pleading and the sniffle at the end broke Jordan’s heart, he was so tempted to go into the room and comfort the little one himself and call Duncan Pryde out for being mean to his kids.

“I’m not angry. But, guys, I need to be able to go back to work.”  The room was quiet for a few seconds before Duncan Pryde spoke again. “Promise me you will give the other nanny a chance.”

“We promise, Uncle Duncan,” they said together.

“Okay, now let’s hug it out.”

Jordan heard an oof sound and then peals of laughter. He stood in the hall a bit longer letting the small family enjoy their time together before he interrupted. Pulling himself off the wall, he walked the short few steps and stood at the entrance to the room and knocked on the door.

“Come in,” Duncan Pryde’s voice echoed strongly from the other side of the door.

Jordan took a deep breath, letting it out slowly before opening the door and stepping over the threshold and stopped, he had to hold back the gasp that threatened to escape. Magazines and television did not do Duncan Pryde justice because standing in front of Jordan was one of the sexiest men he’d ever laid eyes on.

Nope, Duncan Pryde is not wheelchair bound, he doesn’t even look as if he has a scratch on his perfect muscled body.

The only disappointment, in Jordan’s opinion, was the confused expression on the man’s handsome face. Duncan Pryde stood about six feet four inches. Wide muscled shoulders and arms that looked like they could bench press the two kids in one hand and him in the other without breaking a sweat.

“Who are you?” Duncan Pryde demanded and stepped in front of the kids, shielding them from Jordan’s view. To Jordan, it had sounded as if he growled his words rather than spoke them.

“Y…your front door was open, and I heard voices so I…” Jordan stuttered through his response.

“You didn’t answer my question, who the hell are you and what are you doing in my house?” he demanded again, placing the children entirely behind him.

Jordan was about to walk further into the room, but paused at the man’s deep voice and hoped he did not let on just how much Duncan Pryde’s very presence was affecting him in a few short seconds. With his pale complexion, he was probably blushing from the tips of his ears to his toes.

Fuck, the man’s tall.

Jordan took a deep breath, finally he was able to string a few sentences together. “I’m sorry, my name is Jordan Sutton. I was told to meet you here for an interview.”

Duncan Pryde stared at Jordan as if he’d lost his head. His blue eyes widened as if he just remembered their meeting.

“Oh shit,” he said, and the kids gasped.

“Uncle Duncan, you said a bad word,” the little girl said looking up at her uncle.

“Now you gotta put money in the bad word jar,” the little boy added to the conversation.

The kids are adorable.

“You’re right, guys,” Duncan Pryde said, he still had his eyes trained on Jordan, but his tone was gentle when he spoke to the kids. “I’m sorry, I completely forgot, things got a bit out of control this morning,” he apologized to Jordan.

“That’s okay,” Jordan assured him with a shrug of his shoulders.

Jordan watched as Duncan turned and kneeled in front of the kids who looked so much like him. The twins had the same dark brown hair with sprinkles of silver highlights. His curiosity was piqued, wondering if it was a family trait kind of thing.

“Okay, my little pups, here is what I need you to do for me.” The twins nodded, looking up at him. “I need to meet with Mr….” He turned and looked at Jordan.

“Sutton,” Jordan answered for him.

The twins were staring at him, and Jordan knew why. He always got the same look everywhere he went. It used to bother him when he was a kid growing up, but he wasn’t bothered by it anymore. There had to be other people in the world with white hair and red eyes. Many thought he dyed his hair and wore contacts simply to freak them out or was being rebellious and balked when he told them that he was born this way.

“Thank you,” he said to Jordan then looked back at the twins. “I need to speak with Mr. Sutton for a few minutes. I need you both to go to your rooms and play with your toys. I promise I won’t be that long.  Afterward, we can do anything you guys want to do.” Their heads bobbed at the same time nodding, before hugging their uncle then walked out of the room, whispering to each other and looking back at him. Jordan smiled and waved.

“Did you see his eyes?” the little boy asked.

“Yeah, and his hair,” the little girl said. “I want my hair like his.”

Duncan got up from his position and looked at Jordan. “I say we have a good twenty minutes before they get bored, and I will have to think of something to bribe them with,” Duncan told Jordan with a smile.

“In that case, how about we cut to the chase, then,” Jordan said. “And I just lay out why I’m the perfect candidate for the job as your assistant, you hire me, and I can start working immediately.”

“Bossy, demanding, and confident, I like that. But, let’s go through with the formalities and see how you do.”

Jordan tried not to smile, but the sudden change in Duncan Pryde’s demeanor put him completely at ease.

Duncan walked over to his desk and sat down. He looked over to the young man standing in front of him. He was properly dressed, which impressed him. He only hoped he continued to impress him during their short interview. He wasn’t kidding when he told Mr. Sutton that they had twenty minutes, Maddison and Benjamin were a handful. Duncan could not believe the morning he’d had, and it wasn’t even noon. He’d planned on going into the office, but had to shift his schedule around by doing the interview at his home. Because the twins begged him to stay home with them, and he gave in with the promise they would behave for Charlotte. That didn’t work out so well since they decided to terrorize Charlotte, who was nanny number, hell if he knew, he went through them quicker than it took him to blink an eye. At times the twins reminded him more of him and Mari than he would like to acknowledge.

“Have a seat,” he instructed.  “I assume that you have a résumé in that folder you’re clutching tightly to your chest?”

Duncan extended his hand, waiting for the young man to give him the folder. After sitting down, the young man gave the folder to him. Duncan got comfortable as he flipped it open and began reading through Sutton’s qualifications. An indescribable sweet scent wafted under his nose, but Duncan ignored it. As a lykosian, or a werewolf, he was sensitive to certain smells.

Duncan felt his skin prickle, and the scent got stronger. Pulling on his restraints, he ignored the way his body was reacting and concentrated on the reason the young man was there in the first place. Even in the height of protecting the twins Duncan couldn’t help but stare the first moment he saw the young man standing in front of him. He was entranced by his glistening ruby jeweled eyes and his silver white hair. If the kids’ fingernails were not digging into his skin, Duncan would have surely forgotten they were in the room.

Not many humans that he’d seen were born with such exotic appearances, it made Duncan wonder if he was something other than human. If he weren’t sure that there was a male standing in front of him, Duncan would have mistaken Jordan for a woman with his delicate features. Duncan tried to distract his wandering thoughts by looking through the file in his hands. He already read a few things he liked. Duncan was a very busy man and needed someone who could keep up with him. He was organized and by his references he seemed to be more than qualified for the position as his personal assistant.

This was the part Duncan hated, he’d gone through six assistants in the past year.  All women and all under the illusion that he would fall in love with them. There were three lykosian females from his pack that tried to trap him into mating with them. They were immediately fired from the company and banished from the pack. There were consequences for such actions. Trying to manipulate a member of the pack into a mating when they were not mates would result in the member being banished from the pack for ten years. Duncan hated doing it, but he had no other choice.

Duncan was the pack leader of one of the largest lykosian packs of Cypress Prince Island. Cypress Prince was much more than an island; it was a bustling city filled with all walks of life. Duncan looked up from the file in his hands and stared at Jordan for a few seconds assessing him before a thought popped into his head. He was in need of an assistant and a new nanny, why not interview for both positions and see which candidate would fit perfectly for either position.

“Tell me, Mr. Sutton, why do you want to be my personal assistant?”

Duncan watched as a worried expression crossed over Jordan’s face before he answered. “Do you want me to be honest or give you the placated version that would make sure you hire me on the spot?”

Duncan chuckled, he liked the kid. He was also glad that the timidness he saw a few seconds earlier was no longer in his posture. “If you do get the job, what you need to know about me is that above all things, I value honesty from my employees.”

“I really need a job,” Jordan started. “I’m pretty close to moving back in with my parents and my little baby parked in your exquisite driveway is being held together by luck, hope, and Gods know a lot of prayers.” Jordan finished with a sigh. Duncan could tell he was trying not to sound desperate about needing a job, but he did ask the man for honesty. “I’m also inexperienced in the sense that I have never worked in the world of business, but I have admired you and your drive to succeed. I feel working for your company, or you specifically, will help me achieve my goals.”

He smelled the honesty coming from the young man. “Are you trying to butter me up, Mr. Sutton?” Duncan asked raising an eyebrow.

“Only if it’s working,” Jordan countered back with a smile that had Duncan thinking thoughts he really shouldn’t about the applicant.

Duncan chuckled at their natural banter, it had been a while since he smiled so much in an interview. He spent a few more minutes asking Jordan questions. Duncan liked what he was hearing from the young man with each answer he gave to the questions posed. He had a few more applicants to interview by the end of the week, but he was positive that Jordan would be a value to his company. Twenty minutes on the dot Duncan’s keen hearing heard the pitter patter of little feet heading in their direction. He stood to his feet as did Jordan. Duncan extended his hand wrapping up their meeting. He would have loved to sit and speak with the young man a few minutes more but knew that wasn’t possible. Not with the twins seconds away from his office door.

“I will have someone contact you by the end of the week to let you know if you have the job.”

Jordan shook his hand as they walked to the door. “Thank you for taking the time to see me.” A spark of electricity ran down his spine, but again Duncan ignored it. Maybe he would examine what was going on later if he was still bothered by it.

When he opened the door, the twins were standing at the entrance with an innocent expression on their tiny faces that Duncan did not believe for a second. The twins were so much like he and his twin sister, Mari, were when they were their age. A sad feeling settled in the bottom of his stomach.

“Are you ready now, Uncle Duncan?” they asked together.

“Yes,” he answered. “Let me walk Mr. Sutton to the door and I’m all yours for the rest of the day.”

They nodded and followed behind him and Jordan. Duncan opened the door for the young man. He watched as the younger man walked to his car, or what resembled a car. The kid wasn’t lying; Duncan was not sure how much longer that car was going to last. Once the kid drove off, Duncan turned around and focused his attention to the twins who were starting to get that impatient look on their faces.

“Okay, my little munchkins, I canceled all my other appointments to spend the day with you. So, what will it be?” he asked them. They smiled, and he knew exactly what he would be spending the rest of the day doing, and there was no way he could get out of it.

Later that week, Duncan was found slouched on the sofa, a drink in his hand and three applicants’ files sitting in his lap. He’d spent the rest of the week taking care of the twins and truth be told he was exhausted. Duncan needed someone quickly. He loved having and taking care of Maddison and Benjamin, but he had a pack and a company to run, he never thought he’d miss getting up and going to work so badly. Six months earlier, when he told his sister, Mari, that he would watch the kids while she and her husband, Ben, went on their second honeymoon, Duncan did not expect that it would be for the rest of his life. The private jet that Mari and Ben were on crashed on their way back from Paris. Duncan was devastated and had no idea what he was going to do. He had to bury his sister and his brother-in-law.

He had a hard time trying to explain to his five-year-old niece and nephew that their mom and dad would never be coming home again. Duncan had to change his life drastically to accommodate the twins. He’d gone from a doting uncle who saw them when he missed them, to a father figure in the span of months. He’d also gone through about the same number of nannies as he had personal assistants in the past few months. Duncan was a perfectionist and wanted things done his way. Mari used to tease him that he needed to loosen up a bit and give people a chance to make mistakes.

Mari and Duncan were twins, but the public had no knowledge of her existence. As wealthy and well-known as he was, Duncan respected Mari’s wish to keep her away from the public. So not to be recognized as his twin in public, Mari dyed her hair and grew it out to the middle of her back. It was her choice to live a modest life and taught at the school that Duncan had built when he took over as Alpha of his pack.  The same way he protected Mari he did with his pack, keeping their existence a secret.

It had not been easy, but Duncan felt it was better to hide in plain sight.  The employees that worked in his company were both pack members and humans who had no idea that they were working with lykosians. Duncan thought about hiring other creatures, but since the great war, each sect had lived separate lives. The thought of intermingling was considered blasphemous. He was not under the naïve impression that his pack was the only living among them. There were a few other shifter clan leaders that Duncan had known since childhood whom he had relied on over the years. There were even sanguine, or vampire, covens on the other side of the island.

The world was filled with many other sects. Many believed that lykosians were the first beasts formed. It was written that the gods—that once roamed the earth—wanted more than human worshipers and decided to create beasts and creatures who would not only protect their providence but be their warriors. The mistress of the moon, created the lykosians. In the beginning many beasts mated with humans before realizing they could also mate with their own kind. Lykosians and other shifted sects were given unmanageable strength and the ability to change from man to beast. Other sects were also given special abilities, some known and some not. The nyxian sect was known for their beauty and mysterious abilities. The elfkins, or elves, who were just as mysterious as the nyxians, were close in relation with their appearance. Both sects were created by the gods of the sun and given abilities to defend themselves.

There were many other sects that had hidden their people away and had remained a secret even to him. One sect Duncan was sure they had died out centuries ago, were the draconem. They were hunted and killed for their blood and heart. Men and beasts were attracted to the idea of a long life. By eating the heart of a draconem a person could live up to one hundred years plus. It was also written that draconems were quite powerful and possess magic liken to that of witches and warlocks, it was how they controlled their fire that dwelled deep inside of them while in their human form.

Duncan had always wondered how a sect as powerful as the draconems could have failed to protect themselves and died out. Some died during and after the war.  After the great war, a treaty was signed by the leaders of each sect. No matter how much he researched, Duncan could not find the reason why or who started the war in the first place. The only thing that was apparent was that many died senselessly. In the end, each sect decided it was better that they all lived their lives and didn’t intermingle. Duncan and a few other lykosian alphas had worked together to keep the peace with other packs and shifter clans across the globe.

As with humans, there was always a bad apple in with a bunch of perfectly good ones.  Duncan would never deny how competitive he was and the lengths he’d gone through to ensure his pack’s safety. One of his primary goals was to make sure that his members would have the best life possible. He was quite young when he took the pack over after challenging—and killing—his uncle for leadership. Duncan hated the way his uncle used and abused his power as Alpha of the pack. Women were being used for his sole pleasure, couples were not allowed to mate until the Alpha had his way with the females first. Some tried to run away but were caught before they could leave the island.

Some were killed in front of the rest of the pack as an embellished way to keep the members in line. On the full moon, the pack was not allowed to shift and run together. According to his uncle, that pleasure belonged to him alone. Duncan’s uncle told the pack that the previous Alpha was weak, which was why he was easily defeated by their enemies. He put more fear in the pack members telling them the goddess of the moon saw fit to bless him with her strength and considered the members weak and needed him to guide them.

Duncan was a child when his father, Thorin, was killed. He was not aware the role his uncle, Bradley, played in Thorin’s death. There were two things his uncle wanted: Galicia, who was Duncan’s mother, and the pack. Duncan couldn’t believe his uncle held such jealousy in his heart to kill his own brother. No one spoke of how his father died. It was forbidden, punishable by death to even mention his name. After Thorin’s death, Bradley approached Galicia and offered to be her mate, but Galicia turned him down. Bradley became furious and punished the pack instead.

When he got older and found out what happened to his father, and that his uncle was the one that killed him, Duncan acted by challenging his uncle. He was only eighteen when he took over the pack.  Galicia who was still depressed because of her mate’s death moved to Virginia to live with her sister. She was too heartbroken at the loss of his father to stay in the pack. His mom looked happy when he saw her a few months before Mari died. Duncan and Mari were ecstatic when she announced that she had opened her heart again to the possibility of love and finding a new mate. Her mate was gone, but there was nothing wrong with having someone to love again in her life.

After taking over the pack, Duncan was ridiculed by the same pack members he saved from his uncle’s tyrannical rule. That was so long ago, but at times it still felt as if it were yesterday. It took him quite a while to gain the trust of his pack members. Duncan was one hundred and fifty years old but looked like a man in his late thirties. After taking over the pack, he appointed his best friend, Ryland Burnett, as his Beta. Ryland’s father was also killed by his uncle for being an opposition to his uncle’s tyranny and for the color of his skin. He and his mother were allowed to remain in the pack because she was the right color and his uncle was not afraid of a weak-minded woman.

Duncan also named Ryland’s three cousins, Parker, Charlie, and Sebastian, as his enforcers of the pack. They had been more than just his Beta and enforcers; they had become his family. Duncan worked hard on building up his pack and changing their image. He attended community college and studied business and finance. He used his smarts and invested money into the pack and ultimately his company.

Before Duncan took over, the women in the pack were not even allowed to better themselves, such as attending school. The men were considered the authority apart from the Alpha. Little things were seen as punishable offenses, such as associating with humans. Duncan had done a lot to change the image of his pack. He felt the more the pack stayed hidden, the easier it would be for them to be found out.  They had a target on their backs, no matter if they stayed hidden or not. Duncan wanted his pack to live in the light instead of staying hidden.

There are other organizations like the Blackburn hunters who would stop at nothing to try and eradicate his pack and others like him. However, they are not as organized or well-funded as the Blackburn Organization. Duncan felt hiding would bring more suspicion. Living in the spotlight also has its disadvantages, one would be his appearance. Duncan reinvented his image so that it would not draw too much attention or questions from reporters. Duncan had lived a long time, and if others looked close enough, there would be questions as to why he hadn’t aged in his early thirties and how he was able to keep his youthful appearance.

To the humans of this world, he was Duncan Pryde, the fourth who took over his father’s company after the man died. No one seemed to question why he looked almost the same as his father. The easy answer was the strong genetics that ran in their family. The Pryde pack had come a long way. He had to work hard to get over the emotional scar that continued to hang over the pack. Duncan prided himself, knowing that his pack was more accepting than others. A few years after he took over, the pack started to grow. Members were finding their mates and having pups. Duncan prided himself on being an open-minded Alpha and allowed his members to voice their likes and dislikes with respect. He practically bought the entire island of Cypress, so that his pack could expand and his members could live in peace.

Coming back to the present, Duncan looked down at the files resting on his lap.  He needed someone he could trust to take care of the twins when he had to travel out of town or when he had to work late at the office. Duncan knew he had to be selective. It would be easier to choose one of the female lykosians from his pack. But in the past, he realized they were using the pups to get close to him. Being the mate of the Alpha came with a lot of privilege. The pups they would have would be powerful, and the next to become the Alpha of the pack, no matter the gender. Duncan was not above naming a female as the Alpha of his pack. Strength came from how an Alpha cared for the members of its pack and not how well they could thrash his or her opponent in a match.

As old as he was, Duncan was not ready to settle down with a mate; which was why he was not looking or pining for one. Duncan was aware of his obligation to provide Alpha pups for the pack. As crazy as it might sound to others, he wanted to be in love and not be forced to sleep with a female lykosian because of the needs of the pack. Love mattered to him. He wanted what Mari and Ben had. He saw and felt the love between them, and at times it made him jealous. But he was also happy for them.

Duncan sighed as he flipped through the file of Jordan Sutton and Samantha Jones. Both candidates answered his questions truthfully, he did not smell any deceit coming from them. Also, their references checked out, as well as their background check came back clean. Decision made, Duncan made specific notes on each folder as to who was hired for what position. The next morning, he would send the documents off to his human resources department and have someone contact both applicants, informing them they got the job.

Copyright © 2017 by Giovanna Reaves

Available to Purchase on Amazon

Meet the Author

 

Giovanna (Gia) Reaves is my alter ego, who is a dreamer. I spend my days and nights dreaming and thinking of the worlds I want to create with words. I started writing about three years ago, when I was introduced to the world of fan fiction. I loved the idea of creating a new world around characters that people already knew about. And ones that are original of my own making. I have written two novels and a few free stories.

I am a mother, wife, and a military veteran. I enjoy trying new things such as traveling, cooking, and reading. I try to incorporate some of the things I have experienced into my books.

Currently living in Newport, RI with my two favorite men. If I am not hidden in my cave writing, I love to read and spend time with my hubby and son. I love listening to R and B along with neo soul when I am writing. When I’m not writing, I am trying to perfect my baking and decorating skills or try to pick up something new. I love spending time with my husband and son playing video games and traveling.

 

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