Tag Archives: family drama

New Release Blitz: The Secrets We Keep by Rick R. Reed

The Secrets We Keep | Rick R. Reed

The Secrets We Keep Banner

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: July 6, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 61,200

Buy Links:

NineStar Press | Amazon US

Add to Goodreads

TheSecretsWeKeep-f500

Blurb

Jasper Warren is a happy-go-lucky young man in spite of the tragedy that’s marred his life. He’s on a road to nowhere with his roommate, Lacy, whom he adores, and a dead-end retail job in Chicago.

And then everything changes in a single night. Though Jasper doesn’t know it, his road is going somewhere after all. This time when tragedy strikes, it brings with it Lacy’s older, wealthy, sexy uncle Rob. Despite the heart-wrenching circumstances, an immediate connection forms between the two men.

But the secrets between them test their attraction. Will their revelations destroy the bloom of new love… or encourage it to grow?

Excerpt

The Secrets We Keep
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
“Hey! I don’t think you should go through that,” Rob said, barely audible because he didn’t want his fear to show. He sucked in a breath and clutched his suitcase close to him, as though it were a child—or a flotation device. Or a boy he loved and didn’t want to lose…

The water spread out on the road under the overpass like a black mirror. It could have been a few inches deep or a few feet. From just a visual, there was no way to gauge how deep it was. No person with any sense would drive into it.

His Uber driver, a sallow-complexioned man in his forties wearing a black baseball cap, gave out a low whistle. “We’ll be okay,” he said cheerfully, with a confidence Rob simply didn’t have. “Just sit back and let me worry. We’ll be fine.”

Rob wished he had the nerve to speak up, to command, “No! Don’t! Just turn around.” After all, this driver was putting them both in danger. But he felt like protesting would make him seem insane or, at the very least, silly. So what’s worse, he wondered, seeming crazy or drowning? He cursed himself for the ridiculous lengths he went to so as to avoid confrontation.

A thunderclap as loud as an explosion sounded then, and Rob swore the black Lincoln Continental shuddered under its vibration. Lightning turned the dark, cloud-choked dawn skies bright white for an instant, as though day had peeked in, seen the weather, and then ducked back out.

“This baby can get through it,” the driver said, giving the car a little more gas.

Rob tightened his lips to a single line and furrowed his brows as his driver set off into the small lake stretching out before them. As the driver moved completely under the overpass, the drumming sound of the rain on the roof suddenly ceased, and the silence was like the intake of a breath.

“C’mon, c’mon,” the driver urged almost under his breath as he sallied farther into the water, giving the car more gas.

Even before the engine started to whine in protest, Rob knew they were in trouble by the way the water parted to admit the Lincoln. Waves sloshed by on either side.

Rob thought again he should speak up—like maybe to suggest that the driver could attempt to back up—but held his tongue. The guy was a professional, right? He knew what he was doing.

They’d be okay.

And the driver continued, deeper and deeper into the water standing so treacherously beneath the overpass.

The engine made a lowing sound, like a cow’s moo, as the flood rose up the sides of the vehicle.

Rob gasped as brackish, foul-smelling water covered his loafered feet, pouring in through the small spaces around the doors.

The driver eyed him in the rearview mirror. There was a defeat in his voice as he said, “You better open your door and get out while you can.”

Rob wondered, for only a moment, why he would want to. Then it struck him with the adrenaline-fueled clarity born of panic that if he didn’t open his door now, he might never get another chance. The rising water and its pressure would make it impossible to open the door.

If it wasn’t already too late…

Rob leaned over and pressed against the door. The engine stalled at that moment, and his driver reached for his own door handle up front.

For a brief moment that caused his heart to drum fast, Rob feared his door wouldn’t open. He slid over and leaned against it with his shoulder pressed against the black leather, grunting.

The door held and then suddenly gave way.

Granted access, water rushed into the vehicle. The icy current rose up, covering his ankles and his calves. It was almost over his knees when he managed to slide from the Lincoln.

Outside the car, he stood. The water rose up almost to his neck. He felt nothing, only a kind of numbness and wonder. His driver was already sloshing forward toward the pearly light at the other side of the overpass. He didn’t give Rob so much as a backward glance.

Rob started moving against the water, wondering what might be swimming in it.

Thunder grumbled and then cracked again. The lightning flared, brilliant white, once more. And the rain poured down even harder.

He looked back for a moment at the Lincoln Continental, thinking about his TUMI bag on the seat. There was no hope for that now!

He slogged through the water and progressed steadily forward, feeling like a refugee in some third-world country, bound for freedom. In his head he heard the swell of inspirational music.

After what seemed like an hour, but was really only about five minutes, Rob reached dry land at the end of the overpass, where the entrance ramp veered upward toward the highway. Cars whizzed by, sending up sprays of water, the motorists oblivious.

His driver eyed him but said nothing. He was out of breath.

Rob stood in the rain and remembered his iPhone in the front pocket of his khakis. He pulled it out, thinking to call for help. But when he pressed the Home button, the screen briefly illuminated and then blinked out, the picture of an ocean wave crashing toward the shore first skewing weirdly, then vanishing.

“Shit,” he whispered and then replaced the phone in his soaking-wet pants pocket.

He needn’t have worried about calling for help, however, because it seemed the universe had done it for him. On the other side of the overpass, a fire truck, lights on but no siren, pulled up to the water’s edge. Then two police cruisers. And finally, surprisingly, a news van with a satellite antenna on top brought up the rear.

The rest was kind of a blur. Through a bullhorn, one of the firemen advised them to come back toward them but to use the median instead of slogging through the flood. The concrete divider was only a few inches above the sloshing water.

Somehow, Rob and his driver managed a tightrope walk across the lake the underpass had become, balancing on the concrete divider.

When they reached the other side, one of the newscasters, a guy in a red rain slicker, stuck a microphone in his face and asked him to tell him what happened. Was he afraid? Stunned, Rob shook his head and moved toward the cop cars. Behind him, he could hear the driver talking to the reporter.

At the first police car, a uniformed officer got out from behind the steering wheel. She shut the door behind her and held a hand above the bill of her cap to further shield her from the rain. She was young, maybe midtwenties, with short black hair and a stout and sturdy build.

“You okay, sir?”

Rob nodded. “Yeah, I guess.” He smiled. “Didn’t expect a swim this early in the morning.”

The officer didn’t laugh. “Where were you headed? We might be able to take you, or at the very least, we can summon a taxi for you.”

And Rob opened his mouth to say, “To the airport” and then shut it again.

One thought stood out in his head. I could have drowned. He looked toward the Lincoln, which was filled now with water up to the middle of the windshield.

“Sir? You need us to get you somewhere?”

Rob debated, thinking of a young man, perhaps out in this same rain, getting almost as drenched as he was. He opened his mouth again to speak, unsure of how he could or should answer her question.

What he said now could very well determine the course of the rest of his life.

RickRReed-524x749

Meet the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…”

Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Button 2

The Secrets We Keep Now Available

New Release Blitz: The Loyal Whispers by Kathryn Sommerlot

The Loyal Whispers | Kathryn Sommerlot

The Life Siphon #3

The Loyal Whispers Banner

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: May 25, 2020

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 78,900

Buy Links:

NineStar Press | Amazon

Smashwords | Kobo

Add to Goodreads

TheLoyalWhispers-f500

Blurb

Ravee: a pious Rad-em merchant’s daughter sailing with her family’s goods

Mairi: the Runonian king’s advisor seeing the outside world for the first time

Alesh: an alchemist’s apprentice in Joesar with a past rapidly catching up to her

Three women find themselves caught in the threads of change as the world threatens to fall apart around them. From across the Oldal Sea, the southern kingdom of Dusset has declared war, and if anyone is going to survive it, the alliance between Runon, Chayd, Rad-em, and Joesar must be solidified.

But there are forces at work that could undermine all the progress King Yudai and Tatsu have made. Peace treaty negotiations between the four realms could crumble at any time beneath the building tension.

As the women’s paths converge, they must navigate the true meaning of loyalty to themselves, their countries, and their families, while at the center of it all, a shattered king, hellbent on revenge, threatens the world balance.

Excerpt

The Loyal Whispers
Kathryn Sommerlot © 2020
All Rights Reserved

One: Ravee
Choked with debris, the waves lapped at the fire-blackened hull boards left behind, and worse yet, bodies bobbed in the spaces between splintered wood. They quivered up, bobbing with each crest, clothing billowing around motionless limbs, and Ravee had to turn away with one hand pressed to her mouth to keep her meager breakfast down. The air smelled of burning softwood and singed flesh interwoven into an overpowering and inescapable tang which did nothing to help her constantly queasy belly.

“Gods above,” Captain Wret hissed under his breath. When Ravee peeked over her shoulder, she couldn’t miss how his knuckles had blanched white, his fingers clamped around the deck rail. “What happened here?”

The answer seemed very obvious: the worst. The lingering fear of anyone who took to the seas was a shipwreck, whether it be by pirate attack or by the unforgiving elements, and the evidence of just such a tragedy lay strewn around their vessel in the whitecaps. But no storms had darkened the sky in the past week, only a clear blue horizon with favorable winds. Pirates tended to strip the ships of both treasure and hostages before destroying them. Broken shards of porcelain dishes floated among the wood, and anyone searching for profit wouldn’t leave something of value like that behind. The knowledge should have helped to ease Ravee’s nerves, for they were far less safe with their trade cargo if pirates roamed the Oldal Sea. Still, the uneasiness was slow to dissipate.

As her stomach settled and stopped roiling at the grisly aftermath, Ravee turned back to peer over the ship’s side. If it hadn’t been pirates and couldn’t have been the weather, few other possibilities made sense. Ships didn’t simply spontaneously break apart, and the sea serpents had already entered their dormant months. A horrible stillness settled over the remains, as though not even the sun’s bright rays could touch the bloody mess.

“Look!” one of the deckhands yelled. “Rad-em colors!”

The man’s outburst prompted a scrambling of boots across slick boards as the sailors searched for something to reach the silk with. Eventually, the cloth floated near enough for a man to fish it out with one of the long deck mops, and while Ravee’s heart skipped at the sight of her countrymen’s flag, the shock paled in comparison to what came up after it. More silks, strung together on the single rope line, tangled together in a mess of clumped, torn fabric. Ravee had never heard of the countries sailing under a united banner, not even in the oldest orated history lessons. She whispered a prayer under her breath as the crewman struggled with the cord, grateful her hands weren’t visibly shaking.

Captain Wret pushed the sailor aside to grab at the bulk, and his hands were steadier than the deckhand’s had been. He pulled the Rad-em colors free, and then the rest one at a time, peeling the sopping layers apart until four flags lay spread across the deck. Four silk banners, fraying and burned on the right side as though they’d caught fire as the ship went down and only the briny seawater had stopped them from being completely devoured.

Four silk banners representing the kingdoms of the southern coastline.

Ravee’s stomach twisted again with a painful throb.

“Rad-em,” Wret said, pointing, “Chayd, Runon, and Joesar.”

“Impossible,” one of the men argued. “They’d never sail together like this, and under united colors?”

All the flags had been displayed on a single vessel, and to have such a bold showing could mean only one thing.

“They were on official business,” Ravee whispered, speaking before she could stop herself. Wret’s head snapped in her direction, his eyes sharp, but he didn’t stop her from continuing, which was something. “In an official capacity.”

“Yes,” Wret said. “They were traveling as ambassadors. Peaceful ones, likely, given the treaty negotiations.”

“Who would attack a ship containing peaceful representatives from all four of the coastal kingdoms?” the sailor nearest to Ravee asked.

Wret’s gaze shifted to the broken, charred pieces of the ship still floating out on the sea. “The easiest way to answer that is to figure out where they were going.”

Then his expression morphed, cycling through surprise and shock before hardening in resolve. He crossed to the rail with long steps and hesitated only for a moment, scanning the water before shouting, “Get a lifeboat dropped! Someone’s alive down there.”

In the resulting chaos, Ravee was pushed back, shoulders bumping into her arms with such force her skin would bruise. She couldn’t see around the sailors to confirm for herself, and she knew better than to try to fight it; Captain Wret was displeased enough already to have her aboard his ship accompanying her family’s goods and hadn’t bothered to keep his feelings quiet. Making her presence known could result in banishment to the belowdecks sleeping quarters afforded to her.

A lifeboat splashed down into the sea and a few of the sailors started up nervous muttering, but it wasn’t until several moved to the rigging that Ravee felt confident enough to slip through the small crowd to the railing again.

The sailors in the lifeboat were pulling a body out of the water, and despite Wret’s earlier outcry, the man looked very dead to Ravee. He didn’t so much as twitch as the sailors rowed toward the ship’s side and prepared the dinghy to be lifted back up. When one of the crew hauled the man over the rail and deposited him onto the deck, his head lolled lifelessly to one side. Bits of his shirt had been eaten away by the flames and a nasty-looking cut sliced across his forehead, the red of the still flowing blood mingling with the sea water clinging to his skin. The sailors spent a long moment staring at him in silence.

In the stillness, the air above the ship’s deck shimmered as shivers ran the length of Ravee’s spine in a familiar tremble. Bithlad, God of healing, appeared behind her with all four of his hands ghosting over her biceps as he whispered, He’s alive. Help him.

Ravee darted in between the sailors, nostrils burning with the lingering smell of the less fortunate passengers and her feet propelled by the murmured command. She pressed her head to the injured man’s chest, shoulders sagging at the muffled breath sounds. He was alive, but only barely so.

“How did you know?” she asked Captain Wret, who had advanced to hover uncomfortably over her shoulder.

“He was clinging to one of the bigger pieces of the ship’s hull, and his position was too unnatural to have been the result of post-death rigor.”

Ravee studied the man’s body. “I doubt he would’ve lasted much longer out there in this state.”

“He may not be the only one. The lifeboat’s already prepared—we should search the area for more survivors,” Wret said, and he walked away to bark the orders at his crew.

Ravee stayed where she was kneeling with one hand on the man’s shoulder, wishing she could will him to wake up. His eyes stayed closed, though it was comforting to see his chest rise and fall, even if the breaths were shallow. The lack of movement gave her a better opportunity to check him for injuries. Though bleeding steadily, the cut on his head wasn’t deep, but as she peeled back the soaking layer of clothing from his torso, she exposed a fresh wave of crimson. Along his side darted a dark gash, and it seemed his shirt had been the only thing holding what remained of the skin together. Ravee clasped her hand against the wound in shock.

“Please!” she called, and one of the crewmen thrust a rudimentary first aid kit into her open hand.

At least she had a needle and thread, even without time to sterilize the metal. Ravee sent up a quick prayer to Urutte, God of fate. Her family sold leather goods, and while she’d never had to sew flesh before, her needlework skill ranked high. Her hands trembled so badly she pricked her own finger trying to stitch the wound, and all she could think of was how thankful she was the man remained unconscious. It would’ve been agony if he’d been awake to feel the needle threading through his already flayed skin.

She wanted to vomit, and somehow managed to keep all the bile in until she’d finished. Running to the railing took two heart-pounding moments, and she only barely made it in time to avoid her breakfast splashing across the deck. Her cheeks warmed, but there wasn’t time to be embarrassed; the lifeboat was hauling another body from the sea, and Ravee wiped her forehead with her shirt sleeve before moving to the newest one. Bithlad’s presence behind her faded, but she murmured a prayer the God might watch over the rest of the poor souls fished out from the brine.

By the time the entire area had been scoured, the sailors had found two more survivors, and Captain Wret called the search off as the sun set bright behind the wreckage. Fewer pieces of the unfortunate ship remained than had floated earlier along the whitecaps, and even many of the dead had been pulled beneath by the undertow. Wret’s men found four survivors total, including the first man: two more men and one woman. The crew carried the limp bodies to the bulkhead closest to the rudder and did what they could with the extra bedding supplies. But it wasn’t much, and as Ravee stood looking over the remnants of the ship’s unfortunate passengers, she could hardly breathe.

The man whose side she’d stitched closed seemed to have stabilized, and the woman had surface burns seemingly unrelated to her head trauma, but the last one, an older male whose arm had been severed at the wrist, was unlikely to make it through the night even with the tourniquet and linen wrapping they’d employed. Knowing the background of their survivors was impossible. They could have been crew on the ship, servants accompanying the envoys, or the dignitaries themselves, but until one of them woke with a clear enough head, Wret’s Sheersilk was sailing blind.

An entire ship destroyed, with nothing stolen and the passengers left to bloat.

“Where was their course?” Ravee asked as Captain Wret’s heavy footsteps sounded down the wooden stairs behind her.

“This far south? Dusset, probably, the same as us.”

Ravee swallowed hard. “You said earlier we’d know who did this by studying their heading. What does this mean?”

Wret’s face, almost unrecognizable without its usual sneer, was grim. “It’s possible someone has declared war on us all.”

The man missing his hand let out a low moan, and Ravee wrapped her arms around her chest to try to fight the sudden chill sweeping through the bulkhead.

About the Author

Kathryn Sommerlot is a coffee addict and craft beer enthusiast with a detailed zombie apocalypse plan. Originally from the cornfields of the American Midwest, she got her master’s degree and moved across the ocean to become a high school teacher in Japan.

When she isn’t wrangling teenage brains into critical thinking, she spends her time writing, crocheting, and hiking with her husband.

She enjoys LGBTQ fiction, but she is particularly interested in genre fiction that just happens to have LGBTQ protagonists.

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Button 2

The Loyal Whispers Now Available

New Release Blitz: Big Love by Rick R. Reed

Big Love | Rick R. Reed

Big Love Banner

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: May 18, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 64,100

Buy Links:

NineStar Press | Amazon

Smashwords | Kobo

Add to Goodreads

BigLove-f500

Blurb

Teacher Dane Bernard is a gentle giant, loved by all at Summitville High School. He has a beautiful wife, two kids, and an easy rapport with staff and students alike. But Dane has a secret, one he expects to keep hidden for the rest of his life—he’s gay. But when he loses his wife, Dane finally confronts his attraction to men.

A new teacher, Seth Wolcott, immediately catches his eye. Seth is also starting over, licking his wounds from a breakup, and the last thing Seth wants is another relationship—but when he spies Dane on his first day at Summitville High, his attraction is immediate and electric.

As the two men enter into a dance of discovery and new love, they’re called upon to come to the aid of bullied gay student Truman Reid. Truman is out and proud, which not everyone at his small-town high school approves of.

As the two men work to help Truman ignore the bullies and love himself without reservation, they all learn life-changing lessons about coming out, coming to terms, acceptance, heartbreak, and falling in love.

Excerpt

Big Love
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Truman Reid was white as a stick of chalk—skin so pale it was nearly translucent. His blue eyes were fashioned from icy spring water. His hair—platinum blond—lay in curls across his forehead and spilled down his neck. He was the kind of boy for whom adjectives like “lovely” and “pretty” would most definitely apply. More than once in his life, he was mistaken for a girl.

When he was a very little boy, well-meaning strangers (and some not so well-meaning) would ask if he was a boy or a girl. Truman was never offended by the question, because he could see no shame in being mistaken for a girl. It wasn’t until later that he realized there were some who would think the question offensive.

But this boy, who, on the first day of school, boldly and some might say unwisely wore a T-shirt that proclaimed “It Gets Better” beneath an image of a rainbow flag, didn’t seem to possess the pride the T-shirt proclaimed. At Summitville High School, even though it was 2015, one did not shout out one’s sexual orientation, not in word, not in fashion, and certainly not in deed.

Who knew what caused Truman to break with convention that morning when he made up his mind to wear that T-shirt on the first day of school? It wasn’t like he needed to proclaim anything—after all, the slight, effeminate boy had been the object of bullies and torturers since, oh, about second grade. Truman could never “pass.”

He was a big sissy. It was a fact and one Truman had no choice but to accept.

His shoulders, perpetually hunched, hunched farther during his grade school and junior high years, when such epithets as “sissy,” “fag,” “pansy,” and “queer” were hurled at him in school corridors and playgrounds on a daily basis. Truman knew the old schoolyard chant wasn’t true at all—words could and did hurt. And so, occasionally, did fists and hands.

And yet, despite the teasing—or maybe it’s more apt to say because of it—Truman was not ashamed of who and what he was. His single mom, Patsy, his most vocal supporter and defender, often told him the same thing. “God made you just the way you are, honey. Beautiful. And if you’re one of his creations, there’s nothing wrong in who you are. You just hold your head up and be proud.” The sad truth was, Patsy would often tell her boy stuff like this as she brushed tears away from his face.

It wasn’t only tears she brushed away, though. Her unconditional love also brushed away any doubt Truman might have had that he was anything other than a normal boy, even though he was not like most of the boys his age in Summitville, Ohio, that backward little burg situated on the Ohio River and in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. In spite of the teasing and the bullying—and the pain they caused—Truman wasn’t ashamed of who he was, which was what led him to wearing the fated T-shirt that got him in so much trouble his first day as a freshman at Summitville High School.

The incident occurred near the end of the day, when everyone was filing into the school gymnasium for an orientation assembly and a speech from the school’s principal, Doug Calhoun, on what the returning students and incoming freshmen could expect that year.

Truman was in the crush of kids making their way toward the bleachers. High school was no different than grade school or junior high in that Truman was alone. And even though this was the first day of school, Truman already had a large three-ring binder tucked under his arm, along with English Composition, Biology, and Algebra I textbooks. Tucked into the notebook and books were papers—class schedules of assignments and the copious notes the studious Truman had already taken.

Kirk Samson, a senior and starting quarterback on the football team, knew the laughs he could get if he tripped this little fag in his pride-parade T-shirt, so he held back a little in the crowd, waiting for just the right moment to thrust out a leg in front of the unsuspecting Truman, whose eyes were cast down to the polished gymnasium floor.

Truman didn’t see the quarterback’s leg until it was too late, and he stumbled, going down hard on one knee. That sight was not the funniest thing the crowd had seen, although the pratfall garnered a roar of appreciative laughter at Truman’s expense. But what was funnier was when Truman’s notebook, books, and papers all flew out from under his arm, landing in a mess on the floor.

Kirk, watching from nearby with a smirk on his face, whispered two words to the kids passing by: “Kick ’em. Kick ’em.”

And the kids complied, sending Truman’s notes, schedules, and texts across the gym floor, as Truman, on his knees, struggled to gather everything up, even as more and more students got in on the fun of sending them farther and farther out of his reach.

Now, that was the funniest thing the crowd had seen.

Who knows how long the hilarity would have gone on if an authority figure had not intervened?

RickRReed-524x749

About the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction.

He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…”

Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Button 2

Big Love Now Available

« Older Entries