Tag Archives: Audio release

Audio Tour: Contact by M.D. Neu & Narrated by Steve Connor

Contact | M.D. Neu

A New World #1

BANNER1 - Contact

Release Date: April 5th, 2022

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Narrator: Steve Connor

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/A-New-World-Contact

Liminal Fiction Link: https://www.limfic.com/book/contact/

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Blurb

A little blue world, the third planet from the sun. It’s home to seven billion people—with all manner of faiths, beliefs, and customs, divided by bigotry and misunderstanding—who will soon be told they are not alone in the universe.

Anyone watching from the outside would pass by this fractured and tumultuous world, unless they had no other choice. Todd Landon is one of these people, living and working in a section of the world called the United States of America. His life is similar to those around him: home, family, work, friends, and a husband.

On the cusp of the greatest announcement humankind has ever witnessed, Todd’s personal world is thrown into turmoil when his estranged brother shows up on his front porch with news of ships heading for Earth’s orbit.

The ships are holding the Nentraee, a humanoid race who have come to Earth in need of help after fleeing the destruction of their homeworld. How will one man bridge the gap for both the Humans and Nentraee, amongst mistrust, terrorist attacks, and personal loss?

Will this be the start of a new age of man or will bigotry and miscommunication bring this small world to its knees and final end?

Warnings: Death of a character

MEME2 - Contact

Excerpt

A New World-Contact

M.D. Neu © 2019

All Rights Reserved

The scene is a confrontation scene between one of the alien generals, Gahumed, and the leader of the alien race, Mirtoff. For me this scene is a lot of fun and it shows off these two powerful women who aren’t afraid to stand their ground.

Pronunciations:

Rádo (RA Doo) – The á is a hard ‘A’ sound.

Gahumed (Gah Mead)

Mirtoff (Mir Toff)

Tuma (Tu ma)

Candra (Can dra)

Dála (DA la) – The á is a hard ‘A’ sound.

J’Veesa (J Vee Sa)

Za’entra (Za En Tra)

Martween (Mar Tween)

U’Zraee (OO Zray)

Nentraee (Nen Tray)

***

“Madam Speaker, welcome to the Rádo.” The female officer stood and bowed.

“Thank you.”

“You honor us with your presence. I’ll let the general know you’re here.” The officer returned to her seat and started tapping on her terminal.

Mirtoff examined the reception area; unlike the civilian ships, this place had a claustrophobic feel. It was built for function, nothing more. She remembered when the ship was under construction at the Candra Shipyards. They barely had the drives working prior to the evacuation. It took five additional years to complete, but the end result was worth it.

“Madam Speaker. You can go in.” The officer bowed again.

Mirtoff bowed in return and proceeded into the general’s office.

The office wasn’t nearly as formal and polished as hers or the vice speaker’s, but it was bigger.

Probably needed to be this large for Gahumed’s girth. Or perhaps her ego.

Various monitors mounted on the walls ran status reports for ship-to-fleet control. This one office could manage the majority of the task force. The monitors displayed only the Nentraee Government Seal. The design comprised of seven gold patterns, each a symbol for one of the clans.

A bank of windows on the back wall showed a view of the internal command center. A large workstation loomed nearby, as did chairs and the conference table that could hold all the generals comfortably for any type of meeting. In this large space, the colors were drab.

I’m not a soldier. I could never work in a place like this. There needs to be plants or color. Something.

“Madam Speaker.” Gahumed offered a curt bow as she stood from her desk. She was a big woman, born for the military, with broad shoulders and a tall frame. Mirtoff was always impressed with how the general managed to keep her brown hair in such snug braids and an even tighter bun.

“General Gahumed. You run a remarkable ship. You should be proud.”

“I’m honored to have such a post within our government.” She tapped her workstation. “Dála, please, bring in two chilled cups of tuma.” She turned to Mirtoff. “You enjoy tuma, correct?”

“Of course.”

Gahumed pointed to the conference table. “Please, come. Let us sit.”

Taking a seat at the table, Mirtoff waited for Gahumed to join her. “I assume you’re here to talk about my suggested plan for dealing with these humans?” Gahumed almost hissed out the word ‘humans.’

“I am.” Mirtoff pulled out her datapad and loaded the information, then swiped it over to the largest of the monitors on the wall. The image started with the Earth rotating. Once it hit the area of the planet she wanted, she zoomed in on a small island continent. The image moved in closer to a smaller island mass off the island continent’s coast. “Your proposal to occupy the area known to the humans as New Zealand is dangerous.”

“I don’t agree.” Gahumed rested her hands on the table. “I picked that area with defense in mind. It’s remote. The land mass is small enough, and we can easily control the surrounding space. They have a limited population of four point six million that can be relocated to Uztralia—”

“I believe they call it Australia,” Mirtoff interrupted.

“Regardless, they share a similar language and background. I don’t see an issue.” Gahumed brought up demographic information of her own. “New Zealand can be made to become sustainable for our needs and allow us business options with the humans.”

“A forced relocation won’t work.” Mirtoff’s ears started to swell and warm up.

Relax. Don’t let this plan anger you.

Mirtoff took a breath. “How will that help us build a positive enough relationship with them so we can conduct trade?”

“We could offer them helium-3 for the territory,” Gahumed countered.

“And what if the Australians don’t want four point six million new humans?”

“Why not?” Gahumed smirked. “They have the land mass, and from the reports, the two territories have good relations.”

“The issue, as I understand it, is none of Earth’s governments are willing to give up their territory to us—”

“Madam Speaker,” Gahumed interrupted, “they are a barbaric species that fight among themselves for land all the time.”

“And how would we be any different?”

“It’s not the same thing,” Gahumed said.

It’s exactly the same thing. You don’t want to see it. You’re a hypocrite.

“We can’t trust them.” Gahumed swiped her hands over her datapad. “They won’t work with us in peace and certainly we can’t trust them to be truthful with their motives. Despite what you and the vice speaker may think. We can easily go there and use our military to take over the area. Then we move the humans and make reparations.” She picked up her datapad. “Denes and my staff have run the scenario based on the information we’ve gathered. The losses were negligible.” She swiped the data up to the monitor.

“Yes, General Gahumed, I’m sure the work of your son is admirable and perfect.” She rubbed the tips of her ears. “Just like him—”

“Are you mocking the abilities of my son? He is a fine male with a brilliant military mind. He is the type of male that every Nentraee of his gender should strive to be.” Her full lips pulled into a stiff line, and her ears started turning an angry shade of blue.

“Of course, General Gahumed, he’s the perfect male. Unlike all others. We are all aware of this fact.” Mirtoff forced her gaze not to move from the general’s. How poor Denes lived with the pressure for perfection was impressive.

It’s possible, on that fact alone, he may actually be perfect.

“I don’t appreciate your tone, and as a full member of the Speaker’s House, I would expect better.” Gahumed didn’t bother to hide the tips of her ears.

This isn’t going well.

“My apologies.” Mirtoff offered a stiff bow. “You want to go to war with the humans for territory? That is not the way of J’Veesa.”

“Don’t assume to understand J’Veesa’s will. Your people don’t have the relationship with J’Veesa that mine do.” Gahumed’s ears flared.

Mirtoff kept quiet.

Your people. My people. What is the difference? J’Veesa sees us equally.

Gahumed swiped information to the largest monitor. Battle statistics filled the screen. “I don’t consider it a war, more of a forced relocation. We’ll be fine.”

“And if they decide to involve other countries?” Mirtoff rested her datapad on the table. “Then what? It’ll be the Clan Wars all over again. Haven’t—” She stopped and her chin dropped to her chest.

We’ve been through that once on our world. How can we force that on another?

“It’ll be nothing like the Clan Wars.” Gahumed sat taller in the seat. “Once, these humans see our military might, they won’t challenge us. They would lose even if they used their strongest military deterrents. It would be nothing like the slaughter that your clan caused back then.”

Mirtoff’s eyes shot up. “The Za’entra? They were fighting back your clan because they had no choice. Your clan and the Martween and U’Zraee clans were slaughtering them. It was only because of their numbers that they were able to endure. How can you say—”

“I speak the truth.” Gahumed slammed her hands on the table, causing it to shake. “You and your clan have always blamed us for that war. We never started it—”

The soft chirp of the door interrupted them. They both turned as Dála entered, holding a tray with two cups on it. She quietly placed a cup in front of each of them and left the room.

“I’m sorry, General Gahumed.” Mirtoff stood, the tips of her ears on fire. “I appreciate your proposal. However, I came to inform you that your suggested plan for New Zealand has been rejected. We will not risk war with the humans to gain territory.” She glanced at the tuma and then back to Gahumed. “I appreciate the offer of the cup of tuma. However, I’m afraid I can’t stay.”

“This is a mistake, Mirtoff.” Gahumed stood. “You’ll see when they resist the arm of peace that you and others in the Speaker’s House extend to them. My idea is the only one that can guarantee the safety of our people.”

“No, General. I would sooner leave this planet than go in and slaughter them.” Mirtoff headed out of the office, her hands in tight fists.

There is a peaceful solution. I need to find it and keep the military generals from forcing us into an armed confrontation. I won’t be the first speaker general to go to war with an alien race.

About the Author

AUTHOR PIC - Contact - MD Neu

M.D. Neu is a LGBTQA Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be.

Specifically drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.

Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man, he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.

When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric, his husband of eighteen plus years.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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M.D. is giving away a choice of The Called or Conviction in eBook format to five winners during the tour

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Audio Tour: Frat Wars: King Of Thieves by Saxon James

Frat Wars: King Of Thieves | Saxon James

Narrated by Iggy Toma & Alexander Cendese

Frat Wars #1

FW AT Banner

Release Date: December 9th, 2021

Universal Link with Audio

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Blurb

We’re basically Romeo and Juliet. But dudes. And without all the dying.

Chad
Being VP of Sigma Beta Psi is wild. I get all the benefits of being in charge with hardly any of the responsibility.

Parties, pranks, and frat politics—college life has never been sweeter.

Until I meet Bailey Prince.

He has the face of a goddamn angel. I don’t know where he came from or why I’m so obsessed.

But I do know he’s a Kappa.

And our houses have a rivalry that’s written into legend.

Bailey
At Rho Kappa Tau, I’m a legacy.

It’s a lot of pressure, but I’ve always been responsible, never had that rebellious need to rock the boat, and I like it that way.

But after a party at Sigma—the jock frat—I meet Chad Doomsen, and for the first time in my life I want to step outside my square.

Our houses have always had a rivalry, but some of the guys seem to hate Chad specifically, and I don’t know why.

He’s surprisingly sweet and kind. At least to me.

I need to stay away. A relationship with Chad would be betraying the very legacy that brought me here.

But I can’t help myself. And it seems, neither can he.

Frat Wars is a romance between MCs from rival houses. It has friendly competitions, no hazing, and a swoony romance kept secret.

fw-at-teaser-2

Excerpt

Chad

“No, bit higher. Yeah, there you go.”

I watch as the pledges seal the black contact paper over the windows at Rho Kappa Tau. I can already imagine the look on the face of their prez, Charles, when he realizes we’ve outsmarted them.

One day a week, they have their chapter meetings on campus at West Haven University since their house isn’t big enough for all the members to attend, and they always leave some dumbass pledge in charge of watching the house.

Well, he can watch it from where we’ve zip-tied him to the kitchen cabinet.

“This is the shittiest prank ever,” Carter scoffs from his place on top of Raymond’s shoulder.

“Less talk, more focus, pledge.” I smirk. “You’re getting bubbles in it. Have some pride in your work.”

Even though I can’t see his face, I know he’s rolling his eyes as he pulls back the contact paper and reapplies it.

“Seriously though,” Raymond says. “Why this? We could piss on their grill or leave roadkill in their air ducts.”

“First up, both those things are gross. Second, we wanna keep operating on this campus. What did the rules say?”

“No serious fuckery.”

“And?”

“No hazing.”

“And?” I prompt.

“Misconduct of a serious nature will result in the suspension of Sigma Beta Psi.”

“Exactly.” I stuff my hands in my pockets as I admire their work. “Plus, we’re not total assholes. We might wanna piss off these guys, but we don’t actually want to go too far.”

“But they’re Kappas,” Carter says like that explains it all.

I grin. “Yeah, but we don’t hold it against them.”

Mostly. One of the first things I learned being initiated as a Sigma was our long-standing rivalry with the Rho Kappa Tau house. It used to be bad, well before rules were brought in on campus about how fraternities could behave. There’re rumors of some really nasty shit like actual assault and sexual abuse, which I don’t want to believe but have a bad feeling might be accurate. Especially if the back room at the Sigma house is anything to go by. It’s only maybe two decades old, whereas the rest of the house was built sometime in the twenties, and our president, Zeke, swears it’s because the Kappas set dynamite to one of the back posts.

Some of the more hard-core brothers long for those days.

But I prefer not having to fear physical injury.

“This will piss them off,” I say, giving more information, since I’m a nice guy. “Ever tried to get sticky shit off a surface? It’ll leave crap all over the windows, and they’ll have to spend hours cleaning that off too.”

“As if,” Raymond says. “The rich bastards will pay someone else to do it instead.”

“Know thy enemy. They might be richer than God, but they believe in hard work, and I’d put my next week’s wages down that they do the cleanup themselves.”

That’s the thing about the Kappas—I want to hate them, but they make it hard.

Our frats couldn’t be more different. They’re the future leaders. Bankers and managers and politicians. Their idea of a good time is an intellectual gang bang, whereas Sigmas don’t count it a weekend unless we’ve done something stupid. They have Beemers; I’m driving a beat-up old station wagon.

Our chapter members are all here on sports scholarships, and nearly all of us are holding down a part-time job on top of coursework and training and frat duties.

Kappas aren’t bad people. They’re just different people.

Carter finishes covering the last window, and I check the time on my phone.

“All right, pack this shit up. They’ll be back any minute.”

I was planning to toss the poor pledge inside some scissors, but his brothers can deal with him when they’re back, which …

The sound of a car pulling up out the front makes me stop. I creep up the side of the house to check, and yep, they’re back early.

“Shit.” I laugh as I jog back to where Carter has jumped down from Raymond’s shoulders. “Back already, let’s go.”

I run for the fence separating Kappa House from the frat next door and hoist myself up over it. The pledges beside me do the same, and as soon as we drop to the other side, we bolt. I fly past two Betas relaxing in a blow-up pool, and neither of them looks shocked to see us.

“Fucking Chad,” one of them calls right before I round the side of their house and make for the street.

Shouts start coming from the Kappa house as I hit the street and take off. The Sigma Beta Psi house is on the complete opposite side of Greek Row to the Kappas. Our houses bookend the street with other frats and sororities in between.

The pledges should easily keep up, but if they can’t, it’s not my problem—they knew what they were getting into. Everyone always wants in on my dumbass ideas until we almost get caught. I swear the Kappas will report us one of these days, but until that happens, I’ll keep having my fun. This is my last year of school, and no way am I going to spend it holed up in my room studying.

Cs still get degrees.

I self-five as I jog across the grass and up the steps at Sigma Beta Psi. I’m panting by the time I reach the porch, and I bend to catch my breath before glancing up at Zeke, who was clearly watching the whole time.

“Done stealing my pledges?” he asks. He’s smiling, which takes the bite out of his words.

Carter and Raymond thunder up the steps behind me, and Zeke immediately drops the smile. “Get your asses inside. We have work to do.”

They hurry to apologize and head inside, way more respectful of Zeke and his authority. As the president, people listen to Zeke. I’m just the shithead VP.

As soon as they’re gone, he laughs. “Wait until they find out it’s their turn to stay sober tonight.”

“I do not miss those shitkicker days.”

Zeke and I rushed together as dumbass freshmen. We’ve been through the ritual of being bottom rung in the house, so I have no sympathy for those guys. We’ve all gotta pay our dues—literally and metaphorically—and if they end up initiated, they’ll be where we are one day.

Living out the best days of our lives.

Before it all goes downhill from here.

Who knows where I’m going to be this time next year? Probably back at home, drowning in student debt that my partial scholarship doesn’t cover, while I struggle to get a job. I’m not good or interested enough in football to go pro, and while I thought studying business would cast my net wide, I still have no goddamn clue what I’m going to do with it.

So until then, head, meet sand.

We walk inside and join the others. The large living room has been almost cleared of furniture. We have thirty people living in the house and another fifty members spread out between off-campus housing and the dorms.

Almost all eighty of us are here, filling out the one room.

“Shut up, you animals,” Zeke calls, making his way over to a spot in front of the fireplace. For some reason, that’s always been considered the head of the room by unspoken agreement.

It takes a minute, but slowly everyone falls silent.

“In a minute, Robbie is going to take you through how the night will run and who’s in charge of what,” Zeke says.

A hum of excitement ripples through the guys waiting. This is our first big party of the semester, and everyone expects that Sigma House will go epic or go home. It’s a good thing Robbie is our social chair this year. He might dress like a dad and have the kind of loud voice that borders on obnoxious, but he’s friendly and fun, so people give him a pass on just about everything.

Being six foot four with two hundred and thirty pounds of fat and muscle probably helps too.

“Yeah, yeah, it’s exciting, but shut up a minute.” Zeke gives everyone a few more seconds. Unlike our president last year, he’s laid-back and only takes the job as seriously as he needs to. “Tonight, pledges, you’re on dry duty. Not a single lick of alcohol, and if your Big catches you breaking the rules, you’re out. No second chances.” Some of the Big Brothers—guys in charge of looking after our pledges and teaching them the ropes—puff out their chests and try to look intimidating. They take this shit seriously. “Because when we party in Sigma House, your job is too important. First, you’ve got to keep people from fucking shit up and getting the dean’s attention—that goes without saying. Second, you keep an eagle eye on those Kappas. See, the rivalry isn’t just a rivalry. It’s a competition. Every year Kappas and Sigmas engage in a game called King of Thieves, and we’re on a three-year winning streak. I’d like to end my time as a Sigma completely undefeated.”

Him and me both. And after spending the whole week before the semester started by helping Zeke go through the house and relabel every item that wasn’t attached, I’ll be pissed if they screw this up for us.

“Everything in the house has a number of points.” He picks up a vase on the top of the fireplace that’s probably been there since the stone ages and points to the number on the bottom. “The small, easy-to-take things have a low score. The big things—like our beds—have an insanely high number. Basically, the harder it is to get something out, the more we reward for it. At Harmony Week in six months’ time, we return what we’ve taken, tally the points, and whoever has the most wins. Got it?”

The pledges hurry to agree, because if they’re still lost, their Bigs will catch them up to speed.

“So tonight, you make sure nothing gets past you. That’s it.”

“No worries, Zeke,” Carter says. “We’ll pat them down on the way out if we have to.”

I can’t see a reason that’ll be necessary, but hey, I appreciate the dedication.

Robbie takes over, and the energy in the room jumps up to a thousand. “Okay, assholes. Rick and Miles—kegs. Get them out back and hooked up. Pledges, start scrubbing, I want this house spotless. It’ll be good practice for the morning when you get to do it all again.” He finger guns them. “We’ve got to get the soundproofing up in the windows and a sweet backdrop for the sorority sisters to snap some pics. You know the rules. The more hotties posting about our party, the more people through the doors at twenty a head.” He points at Brandon. “Once you guys are done, run everything past this killjoy and get his sign-off. We good? Good. Get to it. Oh, and if you’re not costumed the fuck up, you can sit on the front lawn in your briefs all night.”

Brandon shakes his head as he approaches Robbie. “You’re an asshole.”

“Guilty. What’s your point?”

“I’m not a killjoy. I’m the risk manager. If I didn’t put a halt to half the idiotic things you want to do, we’d be shut down by now.”

I’ve heard this argument a million times from all the people who held their roles before them. Social chair and risk manager somehow work together while being completely at odds. Robbie and Brandon have always been complete opposites—from their opinion on the correct length of shorts, to whether elbows on the table should be called in beer pong—and these roles have made the divide between them even deeper.

“Just get it done,” Zeke says. He walks over to me. “Think they’ll be up to it?”

“All we can do is wait and see.”

He rakes a hand through his sandy hair and nods.

“Hey, it’s not like this year is riding on tonight, right?” Except it totally is. If tonight isn’t crazy and word gets out that Sigma House is throwing subpar parties, no one will come to any of the others. Parties are the way we make money and keep the membership dues down. Unlike Kappa, no one here can afford paying any more than we need to, which is why, year after year, we’re known as being the house that knows how to have fun.

It’s the thing that keeps us running.

Zeke groans. “Thanks for that reminder, Doomsen.”

“Hey.” I nudge him. “We’ve got this. The frat’s ours this year, and no Kappa douche is going to make us look stupid.”

Frat first, everything else second.

That will never change.

Frat Wars: Masters Of Mayhem

Frat Wars #2

standinfrat2

Release Date: March 21, 2022

Pre-Order: Universal Link

About The Author

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Saxon James unapologetically writes happy endings for LGBT+ characters.

While not writing, SM is a readaholic and Netflix addict who regularly lives on a sustainable diet of chocolate and coffee.

Member of SCBWI.

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Facebook Author Page: http://bit.ly/2QSVCmS

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To celebrate the Release of Friendly Fire, Saxon is giving away a $20 Amazon Voucher

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Audio Release Blitz: The Holiday List by Lane Hayes

The Holiday List | Lane Hayes

Narrated by Alexander Cendese

The Script Club #4

The Holiday List Audio Banner

Release Date: December 3rd, 2021

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 3 hrs and 44 mins

Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Holiday-List-Audiobook/B09NDWFZLZ

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The Holiday List 500

Blurb

The Mars maestro, the single dad, and a wish list…

Chet-

Boy, am I lucky! Finding a living situation with a houseful of passionate scientists just before the holidays is ideal in every possible way. As the newest member of the Script Club, I feel it’s important to step up and tackle the to-do list my friends would prefer to avoid. Item one, address the tutoring request from the neighborhood-hottie-slash-single-dad on the next block. I’ve got this!

Or do I?

Handsome, older, sporty gentlemen intimidate me. And Mr. McSwoony doesn’t like the holidays. This may be a daunting task.

Sam-

What do you do when a new neighbor shows up on your doorstep with cookies and a wacky plan to spread holiday cheer? I don’t need cheer, but I could use help with some of the experiments my son wants to try. I know football, not science. Hopefully, I can talk Chet into a mutually beneficial trade. The only snag is that I’m seriously attracted to my local Mars expert. He’s unintentionally charming…in the very best way.

Don’t quote me, but this holiday elf with thick glasses and a mile-long list might be exactly what I need.

The Holiday List is an MM bisexual, geek/jock romance with a holiday twist featuring a lovable scientist and a single dad who’s probably on the naughty list!

The-Holiday-List-teaser

Excerpt

“Who said I was lonely? I’m not lonely. I’m just tired of being with myself. That’s not the same thing,” I argued.

“Close enough. One thing that helps me fight the blues is an immediate change of scenery,” Chet pronounced with a wide grin.

“Thanks, Doc, but Linc is coming home this week. I’m not going anywhere.”

“You don’t have to physically go anywhere. You can just switch up your routine and add—”

“Let me guess…holiday cheer?”

Chet beamed. “Yes.”

I had to give the guy credit…he was tenacious.

I couldn’t let him think he’d won too easily, though. I furrowed my brow, giving him my best cranky scowl, and huffed. “You really want to decorate my house?”

He frowned. “No. I want to reset your karma. And mine. You’ve done a good deed here tonight, and I owe you one in turn. I also owe my roommates for their kindness.”

“Putting up a tree is going to help your karma?” I snorted.

“And yours.”

Somehow, I doubted that, but I liked the idea of having an excuse to see him again. “Fine. You can decorate my house.”

Chet whooped as he jumped to his feet. “A nice noble fir would look perfect in that corner of your great room near the fireplace. But of course, closer to the window. We don’t want to worry about fire hazards. What’s your ornament situation? I’m happy to purchase some if needed. Simple red and silver balls are always nice and—”

“I’ve got plenty of balls.” I stood, testing my shoulder to be sure I didn’t do any real damage, as I met him at the door. “It’s getting late. We can talk about this later. You seem like the kind of Christmas elf who needs parameters.”

He snickered, pushing his glasses to the bridge of his nose. “There might be some truth to that statement.”

“Just so we’re clear, I’m not gonna want to wake up in a winter fuckin’ wonderland.”

“Right. Got it.”

I braced my hand on the doorknob, scanning the dimly lit foyer briefly. “Come over Saturday. We can talk about it then. And…you can meet Linc.”

Chet narrowed his eyes. Not gonna lie, his immediate transformation from skinny geek to bad-ass science guy was kinda hot.

“Is this trickery?”

“No, but it might be a good trade. We’ll see.” I shot a lopsided grin his way as I opened the door, pointing at the chair that knocked me on my ass. “This is not an adequate security system. I’ll give you my number. If anything seems suspicious or if you need anything, call me.”

Chet typed my contact info into his cell obediently, then pressed Call so I had his number too. Courtesy complete, he fixed me with a no-nonsense look. “Thank you. For the record, while I appreciate your help tonight, I didn’t agree to—”

“I know, I know.” I stared at him for a long moment.

This had to be one of the oddest yet most interesting nights I’d had in a while. This was probably a good time to remind myself that Chet was my neighbor. My much younger neighbor.

But damn it, he was tempting.

I leaned in and pressed my lips to his. It was featherlight touch, hardly a real kiss at all. It was just enough to make him blush. Chet’s cheeks pinkened, and a flush rose low on his neck.

“Mr. Rooney…”

“Sam,” I gently reminded him. “Good night.”

Don’t ask me how I did it, but I somehow managed not to turn around as I headed down the pathway and up the street to my house. My lips twitched in amusement, giving way to a smile that grew with every step. When I finally got home, I let it fly, grinning like a madman as I chomped on a rosemary shortbread cookie made by my own personal elf.

Was I vaguely alarmed at the concept of letting him put a bunch of holiday crap up in my house? Fuck, yes, I was. Hot kiss or not, nothing was going to happen between us. And I was okay with that. Mostly.

Maybe he was just the diversion I’d needed, ’cause hanging out at home for the next couple of weeks suddenly didn’t seem so bad.

Lane Hayes

About the Author

Lane Hayes loves a good romance! An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters.

Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016, 2017, and 2018-2019 Rainbow Awards.

She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a not quite empty nest.

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