Tag Archives: gay

New Release Blitz: A Family Affair by Rob Loveless

A Family Affair | Rob Loveless

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: April 27, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 50,100

Buy Links:

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Blurb

It’s been said that if you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were. But what does it mean when they come back into your life—as your sibling’s significant other?

At twenty-five years old, Cal Adams has only ever truly loved one man, the one who broke his heart three years earlier—Andrew Hall. Since then, he has searched for meaningful relationships but cannot smolder the flames of the past his family remains unaware of.

As the holiday season approaches, Cal’s younger sister, Claire, brings her boyfriend home to meet the family. When she arrives, Cal is shocked to meet her boyfriend, who is none other than Andrew. In a darkly humorous tale, Cal decides to show his ex what he missed out on.

Excerpt

A Family Affair
Rob Loveless © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Cal Adams sat at his desk and shuffled through some papers as he eyed the clock: 5:47 p.m. A mixture of excitement and anxiety churned uneasily in his stomach as the seconds hand ticked away. In thirteen minutes, he would relinquish his work responsibilities and prepare for what was sure to be a big night. A few days earlier, Cal’s parents had called to invite him to dinner Friday night for a special occasion—his baby sister would be home from college for the weekend.

Claire Adams was a senior in college and only three and a half years younger than Cal, yet he couldn’t help but refer to her as his baby sister; perhaps that was part of being a big brother. As Claire’s older brother and only sibling, Cal was a bit on edge about that night’s family dinner. After all, Claire wasn’t just coming home to visit; she was bringing along her new boyfriend to meet the family.

Cal tuned out the clinking of weight machines and the grunts of fatigued gym patrons as he sat in his office and concentrated on the circumstance at hand. His sister hadn’t had a boyfriend meet their parents since her junior year of high school, which meant this was serious. Cal and Claire had become very close in recent years, but he had not heard much about this boyfriend, including his name. Claire had always been one to maintain a low profile on social media, and only acknowledged she was “in a relationship” a month or so ago—without posting any photos. From what Cal had been able to gather from his phone calls with her, Claire and her boyfriend had only been seeing each other for about six months. So they hadn’t been together that long. Still, this was serious, which worried Cal a bit.

Being the big brother, Cal was somewhat protective of his sister, but he was happy for Claire, and he was sure he’d love her boyfriend. After all, Claire had a good head on her shoulders. However, this whole situation made Cal uneasy since it made him reflect on his own lack of success in the relationship department.

As the eldest sibling, Cal had always anticipated he would be the first to settle down. However, being twenty-five years old and never having been in a serious relationship, he often felt frustrated and unfulfilled—like something was missing in his life.

It wasn’t that Cal was undateable. On the contrary, he was quite attractive, with medium-length, dark-brown hair, piercing gray eyes, sharp features, and a lean build. He was successful, independent, and had an easygoing, fun-loving personality. In fact, he went on plenty of dates, but nothing ever seemed to pan out. Either the chemistry wasn’t there or things just didn’t advance. Cal hadn’t experienced genuine feelings for anyone since—

“Hey,” a friendly voice chimed, which snapped Cal’s attention back to work. A petite young woman with a pretty, freckled face and long, ginger tresses appeared at his office door.

“Hi, Sophie,” Cal greeted. “Getting ready to head out?”

“Yeah, my six o’clock canceled on me,” she informed him.

Sophie was a personal trainer at the gym Cal managed and also one of his closest friends. Sophie was a year his senior, and the two had been friends since childhood. They knew everything about each other’s lives: the good, the not-so-good, and the bad.

Cal glanced at the clock: nearly six now. “I’ll be leaving in a few too.”

“Any fun weekend plans?” Sophie asked.

“Well, I have that family dinner tonight, but I’m not sure if I would call it fun.”

“Ohh, that’s right!” she said. “Claire’s bringing home the boyfriend. What do you know about him?”

“Nothing,” Cal replied. “Honestly, I don’t even think my parents know much about him.”

“So this is a pretty big deal,” Sophie stated. “It sounds serious.”

“Yeah, it does,” he sighed with a lack of enthusiasm before he shut off his computer.

“Uh oh, sounds like someone’s big brother senses are tingling,” she teased.

“It’s not that. I’m sure this guy is great. And I’m happy for Claire, I really am. But I’m twenty-five years old and—”

“Cal, you can’t keep thinking like that. You’re young, and you’ll find someone.”

“That’s what all my friends say, but you guys are all in relationships,” Cal countered. “You and Rich have been together for years.”

“Believe me, you’re gonna find someone. Soon. I’m sure of it,” Sophie reassured him as she gave his arm a squeeze. “By the way, I forgot to ask, how did the date go with that guy last night?”

“Eh, it was fine…at first.”

“At first?” she questioned.

“Yeah, I mean, he was cute. We just grabbed a coffee. And he seemed to have a good personality.”

“So what happened?”

“He started talking about how he loves popping molly.”

“No!”

“Oh yeah. And then he told me Lana Del Rey’s music makes him horny. Those were his exact words.”

“What!” Sophie gasped in disbelief. “He did not!”

“I’m telling you I can’t make this stuff up,” Cal chuckled as he shook his head in disbelief. “And really, Lana Del Rey? I didn’t know melancholic songs could get someone all hot and bothered.”

“You’re such a normal guy. How come you always find these crazies?”

“I don’t know, I guess they’re drawn to me,” he joked. “But, in all seriousness, I hate these stupid dating apps. I wish I didn’t have to use them, but I don’t know how else to meet someone. Every time I do meet someone from the apps though, they’re crazy or—”

“Or you don’t feel the spark.”

“No. At least not like I had with—”

“Hey”—Sophie interrupted in a soft voice—“it’s been over three years.”

“I know. I know,” Cal stated. He stood from his desk and grabbed his charcoal peacoat. “And I’m over it—believe me—I am. I just get scared that—”

“Don’t be. You’ll have those feelings again. You’ll find that spark.”

“Yeah, I know,” he sighed with a slight shrug before he hit the lights and left his office with Sophie. The two exited the gym in silence and were soon embraced by the crisp air of late November.

About the Author

Rob Loveless is a corporate communications professional, and currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA. He has been an avid reader and writer from a young age, being influenced by authors like J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown.

When he’s not working or writing, Rob enjoys being active, exploring what the Steel City has to offer, and traveling.

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A Family Affair Now Available

Release Blitz: The Infinite Onion by Alice Archer

The Infinite Onion | Alice Archer

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Publisher: Shine Even If

Release Date: March 31, 2020

Length (Print & Ebook): Print: 388 pages

Pre-Order Link:

alicearcher.com/book/the-infinite-onion

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Blurb

The truth is harder to hide when someone sharp starts poking around.

Grant Eastbrook hit the ground crawling after his wife kicked him out. Six months later, in Seattle without a job or a place to live, he escapes to the woods of nearby Vashon Island to consider his options. When he’s found sleeping outdoors by a cheerful man who seems bent on irritating him to death, Grant’s plans to resuscitate his life take a peculiar turn.

Oliver Rossi knows how to keep his fears at bay. He’s had years of practice. As a local eccentric and artist, he works from his funky home in the deep woods, where he thinks he has everything he needs. Then he rescues an angry man from a rainy ditch and discovers a present worth fighting the past for.

Amid the buzz of high summer, unwelcome attraction blooms on a playing field of barbs, defenses, and secrets.

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Excerpt

GRANT

Grocery bags thumping against my calves, I’d trudged half a mile down Southwest Bank Road before I got a ride from the young guy, who took me all the way to Mitch’s driveway.

“Best of luck,” he said before he drove off.

Finally. Silence.

Well, not exactly silence. Birds twittered. A breeze sang through the hemlock and pine trees. My feet crunched on the gravel.

It was a long driveway.

My shoulders hurt from all the hauling. I prayed the cabin had a bathtub. A soak and a meal would go a long way toward rebooting my brain. I’d spend what remained of the afternoon in contemplation of my situation. If my crap cell phone could pick up a signal, and if I had enough credit left on my pay-as-you-go phone plan, I’d start a job search. I didn’t expect it to take long to find a new job. All I required was The Zone and enough money to keep my ass out of a homeless shelter. On the other hand, I was a thirty-eight-year-old underachiever who’d been suspended from a menial job and then quit, so maybe the ship of employability had sailed without me.

About The Author

Alice Archer has questions. Lots of questions. Scheming to put fictional characters through the muck so they can get to a better place helps her heal and find answers. She shares her stories with the hope that others might find some healing too.

For decades, Alice has messed about with words professionally, as an editor and writing coach. She also travels a bunch. Her home base is Eugene, Oregon.

Social Media

Website: www.alicearcher.com

Newsletter sign-up: www.subscribepage.com/executivedecision

Facebook: facebook.com/byalicearcher

Twitter: twitter.com/byalicearcher

Instagram: instagram.com/byalicearcher

Giveaway

Join us to celebrate the release of THE INFINITE ONION by Alice Archer with this special giveaway.

3 prizes: 1 e-copy of critically acclaimed EVERYDAY HISTORY; 1 e-copy of THE INFINITE ONION; 1 grand prize of a paperback copy of THE INFINITE ONION.

Must be 18 to enter and win. Physical prizes mailed only with the USA; international winners will receive e-copy.

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New Release Blitz: Hearts of Destiny by Kay Doherty

Hearts of Destiny | Kay Doherty

Chevalier #4

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: March 30, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 40,700

Buy Links:

NineStar Press | Amazon

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Blurb

Ean and Matthias have known they’re mates for a while, but Matthias has been unwilling to claim Ean. He believes his past and age-old secrets are too big for Ean to overcome, so instead keeps Ean away by irritating him.

Depressed and no longer able to be near the dragon-shifter, Ean leaves the pack house and, after a night of heavy drinking, makes a life-changing decision that pushes Matthias into action.

As the blood moon draws nearer, the Chevalier Pack is called before a tribunal of paranormal leaders to assess the Alpha’s rumored mysterious abilities. Matthias decides to share his secrets with a little help from Colby. And to top everything off, they face another attack by the McBane Pack, which the Chevalier decide will be the last.

Excerpt

Hearts of Destiny
Kay Doherty © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
Duray Horde Vault

After adjusting the stack of scrolls tucked beneath his arm, Matthias opened the door to the vaults and headed down the stairs. He had no idea what was contained in the newest additions to the horde library, but Sadie had insisted he take them, look through them, and archive them appropriately. The sheer number of scrolls he was carrying guaranteed weeks of sequestered reading, and he was looking forward to it. Matthias often disappeared for days within the vault stacks, and no one cared. He was moody and antisocial at the best of times and preferred his own company to that of other dragons.

At the back of the library, he dropped the scrolls unceremoniously on top of the desk he’d claimed as his, decades ago. Since no one came down to the vaults, no one had challenged his claim. As far as the horde was concerned, the vaults were Matthias’s domain. The soft thump of little feet echoed in the cavernous space, dulled slightly by the papers and leather-bound tomes that filled the shelving. Matthias knew who those steps belonged to, and his disposition lightened a bit. Sadie’s son had a thirst for knowledge that Matthias admired, even if it did mean his quiet sanctuary was invaded on a regular basis by the child.

“Hi, Matthias.”

“What are you doing down here, Luca?”

The fledgling hefted a book that was nearly a third his size, and Matthias recognized it as an old human-written story about a witch. He wasn’t sure it was an appropriate choice for a fledgling of just eight years to read, but he’d learned early on that Luca was not an ordinary little dragon. There was something special about him: something that reminded Matthias of the child he’d raised centuries before.

“Nothing in that book is factual,” Matthias told the boy.

“That’s good, because the witch ate the kids.” Luca winced before turning around and disappearing into the shelving.

“Don’t make me come behind you and straighten up,” Matthias ordered, his voice carrying through the room despite him not raising it the slightest bit.

Twenty entirely-too-quiet minutes passed before Matthias rose from his chair to go check on Luca. He found the book the boy had brought back exactly where it should be, but Luca wasn’t there. Returning to the main aisle, Matthias glanced down each row as he passed until he finally found Luca sitting on the floor with his back against the stone wall with a book opened across his little legs.

“This isn’t a row you’re allowed to be in,” Matthias said, shocking the little boy who was clearly immersed in what he was reading.

Matthias squatted in front of him, closed the book, and willed the panic he felt explode in his chest to not show on his face as he pulled the book from Luca’s grasp. He stood and placed the tome well above the boy’s head. Luca was entirely too curious for his own good.

“But I liked that story,” Luca complained. “It had a dragon married to a wolf, and I didn’t know that could happen, and I want to see what happens next.”

Matthias swallowed thickly. Luca thought he was reading a fictional story, but Matthias knew all too well that the Chevalier family had been real, and he’d be damned if he put the idea of interspecies matings into the head of the horde matriarch’s son. Pushing the memory of his own interspecies mating to the back of his mind—because what did it matter anymore?—he looked down at the fledgling.

He steered the boy into a more appropriate area of the vaults to be explored and then returned to the tome he’d confiscated. Pulling it off the shelf, Matthias thumbed through page after page of his own historical account of the Chevalier, removed the most informative and thereby damaging chapters, and then replaced it on the shelf. Luca was only going to get older, taller, and more curious with age. Matthias wouldn’t risk him finding the book again.

Later that night, after darkness had fallen and the compound had grown silent with slumber, Matthias burned one of the last firsthand accounts of the Chevalier—his own. Why he’d thought it was a good idea to put that horror down on paper, he’d never understand. Youthful folly. All that was left to do was locate and obtain Alietta’s journal, the final remaining written history of the family and subsequent events Matthias had yet to destroy. For now, he was content knowing the only memory of the Chevalier that existed in the Duray Horde was now locked safely away inside his head; a place no amount of childhood curiosity could penetrate.

About the Author

Kay Doherty is an omnisexual/polysexual who lives in Colorado with her poly-family, Mike, Keri, and Tigz. Her house is overrun with cats and dogs.

Family is important to her so there are daily texts, frequent visits to her parents, and constant banter with her brothers. She happily suffers a severe addiction to coffee and Mexican food.

She loves to read and write and can easily become consumed by it for hours, much to the dismay of Mike and Keri (Tigz is an enabler). On occasion she can be convinced to venture out into the world of the living despite being annoyed by the sun shining in her face.

Website |Twitter | Pinterest

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New Release Blitz: Why Can’t Life Be Like Pizza? by Andy V. Roamer

Why Can’t Life Be Like Pizza? |Andy V. Roamer

The Pizza Chronicles #1

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: March 30, 2020

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 55,100

Buy Links:

NineStar Press | Amazon

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Blurb

RV is a good kid, starting his freshman year at the demanding Boston Latin School. Though his genes didn’t give him a lot of good things, they did give him a decent brain. So he’s doing his best to keep up in high school, despite all the additional pressures he’s facing: His immigrant parents, who don’t want him to forget his roots and insist on other rules.

Some tough kids at school who bully teachers as well as students. His puny muscles. His mean gym teacher. The Guy Upstairs who doesn’t answer his prayers. And the most confusing fact of all—that he might be gay.

Luckily, RV develops a friendship with Mr. Aniso, his Latin teacher, who is gay and always there to talk to. RV thinks his problems are solved when he starts going out with Carole.

But things only get more complicated when RV develops a crush on Bobby, the football player in his class. And to RV’s surprise, Bobby admits he may have gay feelings, too.

Excerpt

Why Can’t Life Be Like Pizza?
Andy V. Roamer © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One—Why Can’t Life Be Like Pizza?
Why can’t life be like pizza?

I’ve been asking myself the question a lot lately. I love pizza. Pizza makes me feel good. Especially since I discovered Joe’s. Joe’s Pizza is quiet and out of the way and allows me to think. And Joe’s combinations are the best. Pepperoni and onions. Garlic and mushroom. Cheese and chicken. And if you really want that little kick in the old butt: the super jalapeno. Mmmm, good. Gets you going again. And lets you forget all your troubles.

What troubles can a fourteen-year-old guy have? Ha! First of all, I’m not a regular guy, as anyone can guess from my taste in pizza. My parents are immigrants who are trying to make a better life for themselves here in the United States. Besides the usual things American parents worry about, like making money and having their kids do well in school, my parents spend more time worrying about the big things: politics, communism, fascism, global warming, and the fact they and their parents survived violence and jail so I-better-be-grateful-I’m-not-miserable-like-kids-in-other-parts-of-the-world.

Grateful? Ha! As far as I’m concerned, life is pretty miserable already. Instead of thinking about the World Series or Disneyland, I worry about terrorists down the street or the dirty bombs the strange family around the corner might be building.

I don’t know why I worry about everything, but I do. It’s probably in my genes. Other guys have genes that gave them big muscles or hairy chests. I got nerves.

And then there’s my name. RV. Yeah, RV. No, I’m not a camper or anything. RV is short for Arvydas. That’s right. “Are-vee-duh-s.” Mom and Dad say it’s a common name in Lithuania, which is the country in Eastern Europe where my parents were born. A name like that might be fine for Lithuania, but what about the United States? Couldn’t Mom and Dad have named me Joe, or Mike, or even Darryl? My brother, Ray, has a normal name. Why couldn’t they have given me one?

I even look a little weird, I think. Tall and skinny with an uncoordinated walk because of my big feet that get in the way and make me feel like a clod. Oh, yeah. I’ve been getting some zits lately, and I wear glasses since I’m pretty nearsighted. Not a pretty sight, is it? At least the glasses are not too thick. Mom and Dad don’t have a lot of money to spend, but they did fork up the money to get me thin lenses, so I don’t look like a complete zomboid.

What can I do? I try my best, despite it all. I’m lucky because I’ve done well in school, so at least my genes gave me a half-decent brain. Hey, I’m not bragging. It’s just nice to feel good about something when most days I feel pretty much a loser at so many things. When I was in grammar school, there were enough days when I came home from school and cried because some big oaf threatened me, or I got hit in the stomach during my pathetic attempts to play ball during recess.

Mom always tried to comfort me. “Nesirūpink,” she would say. “Esi gabus. Kai užaugsi, visiems nušluostysi nuosis.” We talk Lithuanian at home. Translated, that sentence means, “Don’t worry. You’re smart. When you grow up, you’ll show them.” Actually, not “you’ll show them,” but “you’ll wipe all their noses.” Lithuanians have a funny way of expressing themselves. Not sure I aspire to wiping anyone’s nose when I get older, but that’s what they say.

Whatever. I’m determined to put all that behind me. I’m starting a new life. My new life. Today was the first day of high school. I’m going to Boston Latin School. You have to take an exam to go there, so it’s full of smart kids. Besides smart kids, it has heavy-duty history too. It was founded in 1635, a year before Harvard. They already gave us a speech about that.

And about pressure. The pressure to succeed with all this history breathing down our necks. Pressure, ha! Doesn’t scare me. I know all about pressure. I’ve gotten pressure from cretinous bullies at school. I get it from cretinous Lith a-holes, who Mom and Dad keep pushing me to hang around with because they say it’s important to be part of the immigrant community. And I even get pressure from cretinous jerks in the neighborhood.

Cretinous. A good word. That’s something else about me. I like words. Real words and made-up ones. There’s something cool about them. Yeah, yeah, I know what people would say. You think words are cool? Kid, you’ve got more problems than you thought.

Well, I’m sorry. I do think words are cool. There’s something fun about making them up or learning a new one. Kind of unlocks something in the world. And I like the world despite all my worrying. It can be an okay place sometimes.

Okay, okay, I’m getting off track. I want to write about my first day of school. Mom and Dad gave me this new—well, refurbished, but new to me anyway—computer for getting into Latin school, and they keep after me to make good use of it. So, I’ve decided I’m going to write about my new life. My life away from cretins—Lith, American, or any other kind.

The first person I met at school today was Carole. Carole Higginbottom. She’s in my homeroom. She was sitting in the first row, first seat, and I was sitting right behind her. We started talking. She’s from West Roxbury, too, which is where we live.

West Roxbury is part of Boston. You have to live somewhere in Boston in order to go to Latin school. West Roxbury is a nice neighborhood, for the most part, with houses, trees, grass, and people going to work and coming home. Kind of an all-American place, I guess. We used to live in a different, tougher part of Boston, but Mom and Dad moved away from there because they said the neighborhood was getting too rough. They promised I wouldn’t get beat up so much in West Roxbury. I don’t know. West Roxbury is better, but I still have gotten a few black-and-blue marks with “made in West Roxbury” on them, so as far as I’m concerned it isn’t any perfect place either.

Carole lives in another part of West Roxbury, near Centre Street, which is the main street in the area. People like to hang out there. Mom says that part of West Roxbury is a little dicey. (Mom thinks a lot of neighborhoods are too dicey. Maybe that’s where I get my worrying from.) Anyway, Carole sure doesn’t seem dicey. As a matter of fact, she’s a little goofy. Tall and skinny with red hair, red cheeks, and a million freckles. And she has a really sharp nose that curves up like those special ski slopes you see in the Olympics. But I get the feeling she’s smart. She says she likes science. That’s good because I might need help with science. I’m better with other subjects like history and English.

Our homeroom teacher is Mr. Bologna, Carmine Bologna. He’s a little scary with slicked-back dark hair and even darker eyes that stare at you forever. He looks like he’s part of the organization we’re not supposed to talk about—you know, the scary one from Italy that’s into murder, racketeering, and drugs. Two guys were horsing around in the back of the class and Mr. Bologna came right up to them, said a few words under his breath, and just stared at them. Boy, did they settle down fast. I’m no troublemaker, but I’ll really have to watch myself. Don’t want to deal with the Bologna stare if I can help it.

Today was mostly about walking around, learning about our subjects, and meeting teachers. Besides all the regular subjects, I have to take Latin. I don’t have anything against it per se, but is it really necessary to learn a dead language? And then there’s the teacher, Mr. Aniso. He’s kind of light in his loafers. That’s another new phrase I learned recently. It refers to gay guys, and Mr. Aniso is so gay it hurts. I just hope he can’t tell anything about me. I don’t wave my wrist around the way he does, do I?

Yeah, that’s something else I have to come to terms with. I might be heading in that direction. Yeah, me. I can hardly believe it. Me! Why? It can’t be true, can it? I’ve been praying to God, asking Him not to make me gay, but I don’t think He’s listening. If He exists, that is. Maybe He’s not answering because He doesn’t exist.

I don’t know. People on TV and in books say being gay is okay. Movie stars and rock stars are gay. There are gay mayors and other gay political types. That’s fine for them, but they don’t live with my family. Mom’s a heavy-duty Catholic. Dad’s a macho, “what-me-cry?” kind of guy. And my younger brother, Ray, well, Ray probably doesn’t care one way or another, but he doesn’t count anyway since he hates everybody. And then there are all those Lith immigrants, the community that’s so important to Mom and Dad. Most of them are so Old World and conservative. I don’t think being gay would go down well with them.

Not that I am gay for certain. I’m just saying it’s crossed my mind because…well, because I think about guys sometimes. And I notice them. Notice how they look when they’re coming down the street. Notice their eyes or their hair or the way they move. Just notice them.

Oh, I notice girls, too, but something about guys is different. I can’t put my finger on it, but I think about them as much or maybe more than girls. And I want to be with them. Is that normal? What’s normal anyway? To be honest, I’m so inexperienced. Never dated. Never even kissed anyone. Not like that anyway. No, I’ve spent my time worrying about communism, terrorism, and global warming. Like I said, I’ve always felt a little out of step with the rest of humanity.

Dealing with all this is just too much. To be nervous about things the way I am. To be speaking a language most people haven’t heard of. To have a strange name. To wear glasses and look nerdy. And now I might be gay? It’s all too confusing. I might as well start on antidepressants, or something stronger, right now.

But no. I try to look on the bright side of things. Take Carole for instance. She seems nice and fun, and maybe we’ll be friends. And if she likes me, I can’t be too weird, can I? I guess I’ll find out. I better not think about it. There’s enough to worry about as it is. I just have to take a breath and focus on my homework. Yeah, we got homework already. At least that’s one thing I’m good at. And when I go to Joe’s, well, life’s not so bad, at least while I’m eating my chicken and cheese or super jalapeno slice.

About the Author

Andy V. Roamer grew up in the Boston area and moved to New York City after college. He worked in book publishing for many years, starting out in the children’s and YA books division and then wearing many other hats.

This is his first novel about RV, the teenage son of immigrants from Lithuania in Eastern Europe, as RV tries to negotiate his demanding high school, his budding sexuality, and new relationships.

He has written an adult novel, Confessions of a Gay Curmudgeon, under the pen name Andy V. Ambrose. To relax, Andy loves to ride his bike, read, watch foreign and independent movies, and travel.

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Blog Tour: The Pathfinders by Geoffrey Knight

The Pathfinders | Geoffrey Knight

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Release Date: March 12, 2020

Length: 163 Pages

Universal Link: http://mybook.to/ThePathfinders

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Blurb

JACK

Hell, I knew the divorce from Sophie would break my heart, but I had no idea how lost and lonely I would feel once she was gone. Everything ended amicably, almost too peacefully, but now I’m facing a whole new chapter of my life. The only problem is, I don’t know what that chapters holds, or if anyone will ever be there to catch me if I fall again.

My only savior right now is my cousin and best friend Hux. We’ve known each other just about our whole lives, and his invitation up to the woods to help him rebuild the old cabin by Pathfinders Lake could be the one thing I need to figure out what plans the universe has in store for me… and the path I need to find.

HUX

Hell, I knew Jack’s divorce from Sophie would break his heart, but I had no idea it would bring to the surface all the yearning and pain and hopelessness I’ve felt over the years. The fact is, Jack’s the one and only person I ever want to spend the rest of my life with. But how do you tell your best friend—your cousin—how you truly feel?

I know I need to help him through the dark days following his divorce, but will I be able to keep myself from betraying all his trust by letting my true feelings show? Will inviting him up to the woods to help me rebuild the old cabin by Pathfinders Lake be the end of our relationship? Or will we finally find our very own path in this world together?

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Excerpt

OH. My. Fuck.

Jack was gonna strip. He was seriously gonna strip and go skinny-dipping, right there, right then. I knew that look on his face.

“Ah… Jack? What are you doing?”

“What does it look like I’m doing?”

“It looks like you’re about to get naked.”

“Finish your beer and grab another,” he told me. “I’m in the mood to feel young and daring again. Like the old days at the quarry. I wanna feel free again, Hux. Don’t you?”

I chugged down the rest of another bottle in one gulp, watching as his shirt came off, revealing that toned, smooth torso of his.

“You seriously wanna go skinny-dipping?”

He unraveled the bandage around his hand. He unbuttoned his shorts, then unzipped them. “Why not?”

He dropped his shorts to the jetty boards and stepped out of them. Then, sliding his thumbs under the waistband of his briefs at the hips, he pushed his underwear down the length of his strong legs, kicked them out from under his feet, and stood upright in all his naked glory.

I stared up at him, trying to keep my mouth shut, my eyes close to watering as I marveled at his perfect form, his handsome face smiling somewhat nervously back down at me. His muscles were white in the bright sunlight. His nipples were hard even though the air was hot and still. His cock, the one I had tried so many times not to stare at, was flaccid and thick, but I could see it was gaining length with each passing moment that I stared at it.

I wondered whether I was allowed to stare at it, now that I had come out.

Or whether it was completely off limits forever.

As if to answer my question, Jack said, “It’s okay, you can look at it. I don’t mind. In fact, I think I kinda like it. I’m a single man now. So are you. We’re already stripped bare. What do clothes matter now?”

God, he shrugged so casually I could have kissed him.

Before I had a chance, Jack launched himself off the jetty and dived into the lake.

My heart was a thunderstorm of excitement.

Of terror.

Of panic when he didn’t surface after a few moments.

Suddenly he broke through the water and flicked his black hair out of his eyes, and with that enticing grin of his he said, “Well? Are you coming in?”

I sucked in a breath. “I would, but I’m kinda… you know.”

Jack just laughed. “Hard again?”

I nodded almost guiltily, but Jack just responded with, “I’d be insulted if you weren’t, knowing what I know now. So, are you coming in or what?”

He splashed me with water and drenched my shirt and shorts. He seemed determined to get me wet, either in or out of clothes.

“Okay, okay. Calm down, Flipper.”

He made a dolphin noise then turned and dipped under the water, the moons of his bare ass briefly breaking the surface before he submerged.

“You fucking tease,” I muttered to myself as I watched his air bubbles leave a trail through the water, heading away from me. “You have no idea what you’re doing to me.”

Or did he?

He surfaced again and called out once more, “Come on!” before breast-stroking his way to the middle of the lake.

I took a deep breath and stood from the edge of the jetty. I hesitated a moment longer, enough to make me try and imagine what would happen next. Naturally one of the many fantasies I’d kept buried deep my entire life began playing in my head.

The cool, shimmering water.

The movement of our feet treading water to keep us afloat.

The kiss I would suddenly steal, wet and tender.

And his reaction?

“Just keep your shit together,” I warned myself quietly. “He’s trying to prove that things are still normal between us. Don’t fuck it up.”

With another breath I peeled my T-shirt off and began to unzip my shorts. The bulge in my crotch was impossible to hide so there was no point trying. All I could do was act like it was no big deal. Like everything was still normal between us, right?

Anxiously I pushed my shorts down to my ankles and stepped out of them.

As I did, my enormous hard-on slapped up against my hairy belly.

“Woah,” called Jack from the lake. “You really do need to keep a leash on that thing, don’t ya.”

I felt myself blush, but I knew there was no malice in his remark. Hell, he was just using humor to deal with the situation, to make it feel like this was no biggie, excuse the pun. After all, he would have made the same joke before he knew I was gay, so why hold back from using it now?

“Jealous much,” I joked back. “Envy won’t make yours any bigger, you know.”

Yes, everything was just as it had always been.

At least that was the line we were both trying to walk. We sounded like teenagers unable to face the situation with any amount of seriousness. We relied on wisecracks to avoid my coming out turning our friendship into a train wreck. We chose levity over gravity, as men often do. Was I truly expecting anything else?

I wondered if he had detected the overcompensation in my words. I wondered if he knew he was trying too hard to overcompensate too. Or whether he was convinced by his own denial that me being gay changed nothing.

I honestly didn’t know what he was thinking.

I wasn’t sure he even knew himself.

All I knew was, I couldn’t stand there a moment longer thinking about it.

Quickly I dived into the lake, swimming as far as I could under the water before breaking the surface and freestyling toward him. I stopped swimming and started treading water a short distance from him. I wouldn’t allow myself to get any closer.

“Okay, so you win. I’m wet. I’m naked. We’re skinny-dipping. Happy now?” I asked.

It was Jack who paddled closer to me, stopping within a few feet of me. Our arms swished the water and my fingers accidentally brushed his forearm. I felt my hard dick flinch. I tried to glance down, to see if my cock was noticeable through the water. The lake was crisp and clear and the shape of my dick rippled under the waves, unmistakeably hard.

But then again, so was Jack’s.

Water splashed into my mouth. I swallowed some of it and coughed up the rest, quickly looking up before I got caught eyeing Jack’s hard-on.

It was too late.

“Yes, I’m happy now,” he said, answering my question. “See? Not threatened. Nothing’s changed. Just like the old days.”

Playfully he lunged at me in the water and pushed me under. I got a breath of air just before disappearing under the surface, then wrestled my way out of his grip. For a moment I was there, submerged and directly facing his distinctly erect penis.

I couldn’t take it anymore.

I broke the surface with a splash, sucked in a lungful of air and said, “Okay, wait. Stop. I have to say something.”

Jack was about to splash me again but he saw the troubled look on my face and stopped. “Hux? What’s the matter?”

“This,” I said, gesturing to the two of us. “This is the matter. Us pretending that nothing’s changed when in fact a lot has changed. Jack, I just told you I’m gay. I know it’s still the same old me, but that doesn’t mean I want to shrug off that fact that the two of us should maybe try to deal with who I am now. I can finally be myself around you. I don’t want to keep pretending to be someone when you’re only seeing half the man I am. I want you to know all of me.”

For a moment I almost kept going. I almost blurted out how much I loved him, how I had been in love with him since the day we met. But I slammed the door on that fast. Coming out to him was already a big deal and he was trying to deal with it as best he could. He didn’t need me to bury him in an avalanche of secrets and revelations.

And so I held it in.

We treaded water for a few moments longer, just looking at one another.

Then quietly Jack said, “I do wanna know all of you, Hux.” He paused and added, “But that’s not all I want. There’s something else.”

“What is it?”

“I want you to kiss me.”

I creased my brow and squinted my eyes at him, as though the words I’d heard couldn’t possibly be the same words he just said. “What did you say?”

It took him a while to repeat it, as though he was considering backing out and changing his words to something else. But he didn’t. “I said I want you to kiss me. Will you kiss me?”

I kinda gave a half-smile of disbelief. My face didn’t know what it wanted to do. “What are you saying? Are you saying now that I’m out you’re feeling all… I dunno… gay curious? I think you’ve had one too many beers. Are you drunk?”

Jack shrugged and his arms made angel-wing movements through the water. He looked more beautiful to me in that confused moment than ever before. I had no idea why I insisted on asking questions and delaying something I’d dreamt of almost my entire life. Maybe I was having trouble accepting that what was happening was indeed real and not another fantasy. Maybe now that my wish might finally come true, I was petrified of what consequences it might hold. Or maybe I was holding back, terrified he was about to burst out laughing at any second and tell me he was just joking. My heart couldn’t have survived that kind of taunting and rejection.

But Jack didn’t laugh.

His gaze didn’t flinch, and neither did the earnest expression on his face. “I’m not drunk. Well, not that drunk. But maybe I am a little… I dunno… gay curious, maybe? I don’t really know. I don’t know what I want anymore. I don’t really know who I am. I’ve been with Sophie for so long, I’m not sure who I’ve grown into. Part of me doesn’t even want to find out.” He swam closer to me then and added, “But part of me does.”

My heart was a drummer with delusions of grandeur. My stomach was a sheet in a washing machine, twisting itself into knots. I didn’t know what to say other than, “You want a kiss?”

Jack paused. Then nodded. “I do. But not here. Take me inside. Take me to your bed.”

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About The Author

Geoffrey Knight is the author of more than 25 gay fiction novels, novellas and short stories, ranging in genre from gay adventure, gay romance, gay suspense and gay comedies. He is the recipient of two Rainbow Awards including Best Mystery Winner and Best Overall Gay Fiction Runner-up. His work has been featured in several anthologies including Best Gay Erotica 2013, and he appeared as Guest of Honor at the inaugural Rainbow Con in Florida, 2014.

Geoffrey has worked in advertising, politics and journalism, but nothing is as fun as telling stories. He lives with his partner, their young daughter and their small furry family in a rambling old house in North Queensland, Australia, where the paint is fraying and life is good.

Social Media

Facebook: https://facebook.com/Geoffy.knight

Twitter: @FathomsFive

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Geoffrey-Knight/e/B002F89TV6

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New Release Blitz: The Prince’s Consort by Antonia Aquilante

The Prince’s Consort by Antonia Aquilante

Chronicles of Tournai #1

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: March 16, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 103,300

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Blurb

Legends tell of large cats defending the principality of Tournai, but such creatures are only myth.

Or are they?

Prince Philip inherited the throne of Tournai at a young age, and since then, his life has centered around ruling his country and resisting those pressuring him to do as they want both in matters of governance and those more personal. He’s become isolated and lonely. Amory is the second son of a wealthy merchant who has never approved of anything about him or had any use for him. Until now.

When kind-hearted Amory is offered to the prince in exchange for more time for Amory’s merchant father to complete a commission, both Philip and Amory are horrified. But Philip agrees to keep Amory at the palace, where they gradually become friends, then lovers. For the first time in his life, Philip is free to share not only his heart, but the magical shape-shifting ability that runs in the royal bloodline—something the royal family has kept secret from all but those closest to them for generations.

Neither Amory nor Philip imagined falling in love, and they certainly don’t expect what those who oppose their relationship will do to keep them apart—maybe even resorting to murder.

Excerpt

The Prince’s Consort
Antonia Aquilante © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Amory giggled as he and Tristan practically fell through the garden gate. He slapped a hand over his mouth, but Tristan must not have heard. If he had, he would have teased without mercy, as was his right as Amory’s closest friend. But Tristan tugged him along, barely giving him a chance to latch the gate behind them so the lock spell would reengage.

All morning, Tristan had been in high spirits—unusual as he was usually the more focused one in classes. But when Amory asked him what was going on, Tristan only shrugged. Maybe it was the weather. All of Jumelle seemed livelier since the warmth of spring had burst over the city.

He let Tristan pull him down the stone path to a secluded corner of the garden shaded by large trees. The walled garden was blooming, giving them plenty of dense foliage to duck behind. With a wicked grin, Tristan turned and pushed him back against a sturdy tree. Before Amory could say a word, Tristan sealed his mouth over Amory’s in a breath-stealing kiss.

The kiss wasn’t a surprise, not then. They had been kissing a lot over the past year or so. The first time had been a surprise, even for Tristan who’d seemed shocked at his own actions. Amory never thought his friend would want to kiss him. He hadn’t thought Tristan saw him in such a way, was attracted to men at all. Their first kiss had been tentative and awkward. They’d gotten better at it quickly.

Much better.

He moaned into the kiss and pulled Tristan closer, urging him to settle his weight against Amory and relishing the feel of Tristan’s firm body against his even as it pushed him into rough tree bark. But who cared about tree bark when Tristan was kissing him as if he wanted to consume him? Deep and passionate, with tongues tangling and teeth nipping. Yes, they had definitely gotten better with all the practice.

“Tris,” he gasped when Tristan pulled back. He wasn’t done with the kiss. But Tristan said nothing, just began kissing along the line of Amory’s jaw. The light little kisses made him shiver and stifle another moan. Though they were in a back corner, away from the house, they were still in his family’s garden, and he didn’t want anyone finding them. They should go somewhere else. A nip to his earlobe made him shudder, and a nuzzling kiss under his ear drove the thought right out of his head.

He grabbed the back of Tristan’s neck and pulled his lips back to Amory’s own for another kiss. Tristan’s slightly larger frame still pressed him into the tree, but Amory took control of the kiss, deepening it and exploring Tristan’s mouth with his tongue. He nearly laughed when Tristan whimpered, loving his ability to provoke such a reaction in the other man. Tristan pulled back with a gasp, and they leaned there together, panting.

“I love kissing you,” Tristan gasped.

Relief exploded in Amory’s chest. Tristan hadn’t said he loved Amory. Tristan was his best friend, but even with all the kissing, Amory wasn’t in love with him. “Me too.”

Tristan grinned and dropped a quick kiss on Amory’s lips. “I want to do more.”

“M-more?” His cheeks heated at the stutter.

Tristan grinned and kissed him again. “Yep. More.”

Amory’s nerves didn’t abate at the confirmation, though he wasn’t sure where they came from. In all the time since that first awkward moment, they hadn’t done anything but kiss. Oh, they touched a little, but never on bare skin and never below the waist. They’d never discussed the concept of “more” before.

The idea did intrigue him. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t thought about what it would be like—he had. But imagining it and doing it were two separate things, and the idea of doing more with Tristan made him vaguely uncomfortable. He wasn’t sure why. They were best friends, and they’d come this far. There was no reason not to go a little farther.

Tristan watched him, his blue eyes intense and a little quizzical. How long had Amory stood there, not saying anything? He smiled past his nerves. “Like what?”

Tristan grinned, slow and wicked, and reached out to unfasten Amory’s pants without a word. Before Amory could protest, before he could decide whether he wanted to protest, Tristan had his hand inside Amory’s pants. He gripped him and began a tight, slow stroke. The feel of another man’s hand on him for the first time stole Amory’s breath, and when he got it back, all he could do was moan.

Tristan’s grin widened at the sound, and his hand sped up, working Amory faster. After a few moments standing there, struggling to breathe, Amory realized he wasn’t doing anything for Tristan. He scrambled to unfasten Tristan’s pants with fumbling fingers as Tristan whispered encouragement. Finally, Amory wrapped his hand around Tristan’s hard member and began to stroke him in time with Tristan’s strokes. It felt awkward at first, different from touching himself yet not so different, but Tristan didn’t voice any objections.

“Yes, yes, yes. Amory,” Tristan gasped into Amory’s ear.

It didn’t last long. Amory might have been embarrassed at how quickly he found his release if Tristan didn’t finish just as fast, spilling over Amory’s hand, and collapsing against him. He was glad of the tree at his back, rough bark and all, because his wobbly knees didn’t have a chance of holding both of them up.

He didn’t know what to think about what they’d done. He’d enjoyed it, but the uncomfortable feeling still plagued him. Before he could begin to analyze it, Tristan was chuckling, low at first, quiet in Amory’s ear, his body shaking against Amory’s chest. Tristan pulled back enough to look at him. His eyes sparkled with happiness, and Amory’s laughter bubbled up to join his friend’s.

The laughter eased the way as they fumbled for handkerchiefs, cleaned themselves up, and neatened their clothes again. Then they leaned against each other and the tree, still laughing a little. It was Amory who moved for another kiss. Both of them were grinning when their lips met, and they couldn’t seem to stop laughing as they kissed, as they kept kissing. But the laughter was soft and light, like the kisses, and Amory relaxed into them, wrapping his arms around Tristan. Telling himself he would think about everything later.

“Good afternoon, brother.”

The unexpected voice and its snide tone had Amory jerking away from the kiss. The back of his head thunked into the tree trunk behind him. Tristan jumped back, separating them much more effectively. Amory almost wished he hadn’t. The short distance between them seemed like a vast gulf, and Amory felt very alone as he straightened away from the tree and turned to face his older brother.

Alban’s handsome face was twisted in a sneer even more disgusted than the one he habitually wore when looking at Amory. He studied Amory and Tristan in silence while Amory struggled not to squirm. No use saying anything to Alban, he knew from bitter experience.

“Now I know why you wanted no part of that pretty little maid last week.” Disdain dripped from Alban’s every word. “You’re more of a disappointment than I thought. Worthless. How are you even my brother?”

With a shake of his head, Alban turned and strode away, likely heading directly for the house. Amory remained frozen for a long moment, not even blinking.

“He’s going to tell your father.” Tristan’s voice was flat, so different from its usual exuberant, almost musical quality. The shock of it broke Amory’s paralysis, and Amory turned to face him. Tristan still stared at the spot where Alban had stood.

“Yes, he is.” Amory ran a shaking hand through his hair and slumped back against the tree. Alban hadn’t hit him, which was a pleasant surprise, but the consequences were still going to be bad. How would Father react? With disappointment, certainly, but that was nothing new. Most likely with anger as well. However disgusted Alban was, their father would be ten times more so.

“Do you think they’ll tell my father?” Tristan turned fear-filled blue eyes on Amory.

“Tris.” Amory reached out. He couldn’t bear seeing him so afraid, and though he couldn’t say much to reassure him, he couldn’t stand by while Tristan was upset either.

But he stepped out of Amory’s reach. “Do you?”

Amory tried to hold back a flinch. “I don’t know.”

Tristan groaned and scrubbed his hands over his face. “He can’t. I don’t know what my father will do if he finds out I prefer men. I’m his oldest son. I’m supposed to take over for him in the business, get married. Have sons to take over the family business after me.”

“You still can. All right, the children part would be difficult if you don’t marry someone who can carry them, but you can still take over the family business.” He didn’t bother mentioning that Tristan had four younger brothers and a younger sister. Surely at least one of them would have children someday who could inherit the family’s business if Tristan never had any of his own and his father insisted on an heir of their blood. But Tristan took his responsibilities as first son seriously. Too seriously. He wouldn’t want to hear that at the moment.

“Not if he disowns me.”

“Now you’re being dramatic. Preferring men is not illegal. It’s not wrong. Your father loves you. He’s proud of you, and you’ll be the same son he’s proud of after he finds out.”

“You don’t know that, Amory.”

No, he didn’t. But Tristan had a better chance of everything working out fine than Amory did. Tristan’s father was proud of his accomplishments, which was more than Amory could say.

“I may not, but I believe it will be all right. Don’t borrow trouble. My father and brother might be too busy killing me to remember to tell your father.”

Tristan huffed out a half laugh and whacked him on the shoulder. “Don’t joke about that.”

“Who’s joking?” Amory smiled crookedly. “Seriously, though, I do think everything will be all right with your father.” He took Tristan’s hand and squeezed and then let go before Tristan could pull away.

“Maybe. I need to go.”

“All right. I’ll see you soon.”

“See you.” Tristan slipped out of their little corner of the garden and was gone before Amory could get another word out. He tried not to think about how unsure Tristan’s parting words sounded. He didn’t want to lose Tristan. Not when he would likely need his friend more than ever.

He didn’t think Father would kill him, but he couldn’t rule out Father hitting him. It was partly why he was so surprised Alban hadn’t—his older brother was a perfect replica of their father in every way. But even without actual murder, Father could make Amory’s life miserable, and Amory wouldn’t be able to do anything until he came of age next week. A week seemed like a short time but was long enough for his father to…

He needed to think about his options. Father would never accept his preferences. Once his father knew, Amory’s time in his family’s house was limited. He hated to leave his younger siblings, especially Adeline, but he doubted he would have much of a choice. It might be best to leave before he was thrown out.

Sighing, he pushed himself away from the tree and started for the house. He hoped he could avoid Father long enough to spend a little time with Adeline and make some plans. And to get his hands to stop shaking.

About the Author

Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent—they all end in happily ever after.

She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats (which she shares with friends and family), and of course, reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to e-books, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Antonia is living there again after years in Washington, DC and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.

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The Princes Consort Now Available

Release Blitz: Soul Weave by A. Nybo

Soul Weave | A. Nybo

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Release Date: March 10th, 2020

Cover Artist: A. Nybo

Universal Buy Link: https://books2read.com/SoulWeave

Soul Weave

Blurb

TREACHERY IS afoot among the wizards of Tangia. The wizard king bids his northern champion, Aquilon Tenista, to seek and destroy those responsible for the theft of the wizards’ mindseers.

To shield his own mindseer from the thief, Aquilon needs a bag woven of thread spun from his soul in which his can hide. He solicits the aid of Lucien, a clan witch, to weave the bag.

A low-caste widower, Lucien is betrothed to his clan’s war leader. The only way he can delay the arranged marriage long enough to affect his escape is to accept Aquilon’s commission and join his quest.

Watching the enchanting spell weaver interact with the fiber of his soul is pure torment for Aquilon. As the attraction between the two men grow, a sinister presence within the magic cloth begins to emerge. Threads of the enemy’s deception must be severed if they are to have any hope of preventing war and saving their people.

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Excerpt

In searching for firewood, his icy feet made walking through the undergrowth painful, but Lucien wasn’t prepared to return to camp for his hide shoes. Stepping gingerly around a prickle bush, he spotted an old gray branch that would burn nicely. As he picked it up, he heard rustling in the undergrowth to his right and quietly straightened to see what caused the noise.

The spark of fear of being confronted by a stranger lessened when he peered into crystalline blue eyes. They sparkled with wisdom and youthful vitality. A charming smile stole across the man’s face.

Lucien finally blinked.

“You’ve taken me by surprise, gentle man.” The stranger spoke softly, his low voice sounding like amiable music.

Lucien covered the feather tattoo on his neck with his hand when he noticed the stranger’s eyes dart to it.

The man appeared to be in his late twenties. His features brimmed with spirit. Tousled black hair hung to broad shoulders, and when he tilted his head slightly, Lucien caught a glimpse of a silver earring.

Entranced, Lucien couldn’t avert his gaze.

“I see I have taken you by surprise also.” Straightening, the man peered over the undergrowth and laughed. “It appears we have the same desperate purpose. Is your fire lit yet, sir?”

Lucien managed little more than to snap his mouth closed.

“Would you care to share mine?”

It was dangerous to share a fire with an unknown man. But those eyes…. “Yes.”

“Bring your branch and together we will warm the entire Tabbrela clan territory,” he said humorously.

As the man helped Lucien pick a path through the undergrowth, Lucien snatched glimpses of him. His hide trousers were like any clansman’s, but the floppy-necked green-and-gray-flecked woolen tunic was unlike any other he’d seen.

“Where are you from?” Lucien asked when his branch was taken from him to add to the collection. “You’re not from around here.”

The man tilted his head as he laughed, and his hair fell back to expose the black symbols etched into the thick silver earring. “Am I not dressed appropriately?”

Apparently his assessment hadn’t been quite as covert as he’d intended. Lucien smiled. “That rather depends. For what occasion are you dressing?”

The man’s eyebrows lifted and then lowered in amusement. “I was dressing for the festival to be held between the Jarani and Tabbrela.” Holding his armload of wood away from his body, he looked down at his clothes before turning merry eyes back to Lucien’s. “Do you think I’ve miscalculated?”

“No one will take offense at your attire.” Lucien tried to rid himself of the smile that possessed his lips. “But I think they might wonder who, other than Jarani and Tabbrela, dare come to their festival.”

“Years of experience tell me no bard is turned from a celebration,” he said.

“A bard?” Delight sparked Lucien’s curiosity. “What is your specialty?”

“I play music far better than I tell stories.”

Already Lucien was looking forward to hearing him play. “What instrument?”

“Several.”

Approaching the fire, Lucien tried not to drool at the sight of three rabbits cooking or the warmth the glowing coals promised. The sight of the flames alone was enough to remind him how cold his feet were.

As the bard stoked the fire, Lucien crowded the other side, sitting with his feet almost among the embers.

“Why are you not at the Tabbrela camp?” the bard asked.

Lucien warmed his hands. “Ah, well, that is a story only a bard could do justice to, and I am no bard.”

A wry smile crept to the bard’s lips. “Sir, you have gracious manners, but ‘mind your own business’ would have sufficed.” He feigned a sigh of dejection. “Perhaps I’m not worthy to confide in, but am I worthy enough to share a meal with?”

“Definitely. My name is Lucien.”

“You may call me Aquilon. But should you choose to confide in me, then you may call me Ilon.” He waggled his eyebrows.

His beguiling grin almost persuaded Lucien to relate the woeful tale of his impending life sentence—what others preferred to call “marriage.”

He leveled a cautious gaze at the bard. “Was there something in particular you wanted to know?”

“I do think it a little odd that such a gentle soul is in the sylvans alone when there is warmth, food, and protection at the Tabbrela camp.”

“Being forced to partner their war leader doesn’t sound like protection to me.”

Aquilon’s eyebrows lifted, and he chuckled. “You must be a man of high regard if you find it beneath you to partner a war leader.”

Lucien’s irritation flared.

“Tell me,” Aquilon said. “Do I have a prince in my midst?”

“No, you have the company of a black-feather epicene who would prefer to partner the clan fool should he be the person he loved.”

About The Author

A. Nybo lives in Western Australia. She believes the perfect recipe for reality includes imagining, creating, chocolate and coffee. Amounts and tools for each vary for any given day, but the magic is in the making.

Her perfect creative storm is fired by music, travel, nature, and the ever-expanding dimensions of the mind.

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