Tag Archives: ghosts

Blog Tour: A Crown Of Iron & Silver by Hailey Turner

A Crown Of Iron & Silver by Hailey Turner

Soulbound III

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Release Date (Print & Ebook):  September 10, 2019

Length (Print & Ebook): 107,043

Buy Links:

 https://haileyturner.com/a-crown-of-iron-silver-03/

https://amzn.to/2HLsKt0

READ MY REVIEW

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Blurb

Never promise a life that isn’t yours to give.

New York City is decked out for the holidays, and Special Agent Patrick Collins is looking forward to a reunion with his old team when he gets assigned a new case. A human child is missing, and the changeling left in her place causes a prominent witch family to demand justice from the fae.

Meanwhile, continued harassment from the New York City god pack forces Jonothon de Vere to formally establish his own with Patrick. Doing so will mean a civil war within the were-creature community—a war they risk losing from the start without alliances. Making bargains with the fae is never wise, but Patrick and Jono have nothing to lose when a fae lord comes asking for their help.

The Summer Lady has been kidnapped from the Seelie Court, and if they can find her, Patrick and Jono will cement an alliance with the fae. But the clues to her disappearance are found in Tír na nÓg, and the Otherworld has never been kind to mortals.

Venturing past the veil, Patrick and Jono risk losing territory, time, and their very lives while searching for answers. Because the Queen of Air and Darkness knows they are coming—and the ruler of the Unseelie Court has an offer for them they can’t possibly refuse.

A Crown of Iron & Silver is a 107k word MM urban fantasy with a gay romantic subplot and a HFN ending. It is a direct sequel to All Souls Near & Nigh. Reading the prior books in the series would be helpful in enjoying this one.

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Excerpt

“Come on. Let’s go to bed.”

Patrick led him back into their bedroom, ignoring Jono’s huff of laughter when Patrick pushed him onto the bed. He shrugged out of his own jacket and stripped out of his sweater, tossing it aside. His dog tags were warm from body heat, even if he couldn’t feel where they rested on his scarred chest.

Jono watched Patrick undress the rest of the way, methodically getting rid of his weapons and clothes. He crawled onto the bed, pushing at Jono’s shoulders until he was lying down, with Patrick straddling his hips. Long fingers curled around his dog tags, tugging at the chain to pull him into a kiss that went from lazy to deep in the span of seconds.

Warm hands gripped Patrick’s hips, thumbs pressing against bone. Patrick bit down gently on Jono’s bottom lip before pulling away, dragging his mouth over the stubble along Jono’s jaw, to his throat.

“They drew first blood, and I don’t like that it was yours,” Patrick murmured against the skin stretched taut over Jono’s pulse.

He could feel it when Jono swallowed, and he tried his hardest to suck a bruise against Jono’s throat.

“Better mine than yours.”

“Fuck that.”

Blog Tour Exclusive Q&A with Hailey Turner

How do you do research for your books?

HT: A lot of reading! Especially for mythology. I have some books that I consult at home, sometimes I go to my local library, and I do a lot of online research.

Is writing your full-time career? Or would you like it to be?

HT: Writing is not my full-time career, and I’m one of those writers who really loves her day job, so I’m in no rush to try to make it a full-time career. Balancing two jobs can be tricky though, and some days I wish I only wrote full time! But I have no plans to do so at this moment.

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?

HT: I am on social media! I can mostly be found in my Facebook readers group, Hailey’s Hellions, where I post a lot of teasers and give updates on my books.

I have an Instagram account where half the pictures are book-related and the rest are my cats. I love chatting with readers.

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About The Author

Hailey Turner is a big city girl who spoils her cats rotten and has a demanding day job that she loves, but not as much as she loves writing. She’s been writing since she was a young child and enjoys reading almost as much as creating a new story.

Hailey loves stories with lots of action, gritty relationships, and an eventual HEA that satisfies the heart.

Social Media

Newsletter:  You can keep up with Hailey’s future projects by joining her newsletter, where you can instantly download several free short stories:  http://eepurl.com/cAEejL

Facebook Group:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/haileyshellions/

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/haileyturnerwrites/

Facebook Profile:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100014824811406

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/hailey-turner

Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorHaileyTurner/

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/haileyturnerwriter/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16473068.Hailey_Turner

Website:  www.haileyturner.com

Giveaway

Win one of two back catalog ebooks by Hailey Turner!

Open Internationally. Must be 18 to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Release Blitz: A Crown Of Iron & Silver by Hailey Turner

A Crown Of Iron & Silver by Hailey Turner

Soulbound III

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Release Date (Print & Ebook):  September 10, 2019

Length (Print & Ebook): 107,043

Link:  https://haileyturner.com/a-crown-of-iron-silver-03/

https://amzn.to/2HLsKt0

Soulbound-3-FullSize.jpg

Blurb

Never promise a life that isn’t yours to give.

New York City is decked out for the holidays, and Special Agent Patrick Collins is looking forward to a reunion with his old team when he gets assigned a new case. A human child is missing, and the changeling left in her place causes a prominent witch family to demand justice from the fae.

Meanwhile, continued harassment from the New York City god pack forces Jonothon de Vere to formally establish his own with Patrick. Doing so will mean a civil war within the were-creature community—a war they risk losing from the start without alliances. Making bargains with the fae is never wise, but Patrick and Jono have nothing to lose when a fae lord comes asking for their help.

The Summer Lady has been kidnapped from the Seelie Court, and if they can find her, Patrick and Jono will cement an alliance with the fae. But the clues to her disappearance are found in Tír na nÓg, and the Otherworld has never been kind to mortals.

Venturing past the veil, Patrick and Jono risk losing territory, time, and their very lives while searching for answers. Because the Queen of Air and Darkness knows they are coming—and the ruler of the Unseelie Court has an offer for them they can’t possibly refuse.

A Crown of Iron & Silver is a 107k word MM urban fantasy with a gay romantic subplot and a HFN ending. It is a direct sequel to All Souls Near & Nigh. Reading the prior books in the series would be helpful in enjoying this one.

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Excerpt

“Park there,” Patrick said, pointing at a spot in front of a mansion that happened to be empty due to the fire hydrant at the curb.

“You want me to get bloody towed while I wait for you?” Jono asked in an aggravated voice, but he still parked where Patrick wanted.

“The Mustang has government plates.”

“Yeah, but I don’t have a badge.”

“I shouldn’t be long.” Patrick leaned across the console for a kiss Jono couldn’t deny him. “If anyone asks, tell them you’re waiting to pick me up for lunch.”

“It’d be more like brunch at this hour.”

Patrick rolled his eyes as he pulled on his gloves. “Are you still hungry? You had breakfast.”

“I made breakfast.”

“See if Wade left any snacks in the back seat.”

“Wade leaves wrappers, not food.” Jono turned off the engine and took the keys out of the ignition, not really bothered by the cold and the snow outside. “Go work. I’ll be here if you need me.”

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About The Author

Hailey Turner is a big city girl who spoils her cats rotten and has a demanding day job that she loves, but not as much as she loves writing. She’s been writing since she was a young child and enjoys reading almost as much as creating a new story.

Hailey loves stories with lots of action, gritty relationships, and an eventual HEA that satisfies the heart.

Social Media

Newsletter:  You can keep up with Hailey’s future projects by joining her newsletter, where you can instantly download several free short stories:  http://eepurl.com/cAEejL

Facebook Group:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/haileyshellions/

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/haileyturnerwrites/

Facebook Profile:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100014824811406

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/hailey-turner

Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorHaileyTurner/

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/haileyturnerwriter/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16473068.Hailey_Turner

Website:  www.haileyturner.com

Giveaway

Win one of two back catalog ebooks by Hailey Turner!

Open Internationally. Must be 18 to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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A great start to this new series from Morgan Brice

Treasure TrailTreasure Trail by Morgan Brice

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another excellent paranormal/urban fantasy opener to a new series set within the expanded worlds of Morgan Brice.

This one links into both the Badlands series, and into two of the series’ written under her Gail Z Martin name and it has just enough of a faint hint of there being more to come to leave me desperate for more.

Lightly paranormal in the majority of the book, the mystery is anchored in an investigation into corruption decades past in a small shoreside town where ghosts aren’t just things that go bump in the night but very much actively seen and spoken about and included in the town’s tourist selling points.

I loved Erik and Ben, their relationship sparked very quickly into love but there’s definitely an element of soulmates which made it a bit more workable within the timeframe for me.

The suspense itself is similar to those which take part in the Badlands series, involving mystery objects, ghostly encounters and long cold police investigations and I really liked the vibe of this new setting.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

View all my reviews

An incredibly detailed and complex paranormal romance from Tibby

34506657.jpgTaste the Dark by Tibby Armstrong

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Firstly, can I just say – Random House, you’re idiots. You cancelled a series that not only is brilliantly designed with incredible world building, but you canned a series which genuinely took a new approach to vampire mythology.

So sucks to be you because Tibby Armstrong has generously released the unedited – and I just want to say here that it needs very little work at all to bring it up to publishing level – draft of book two and it is glorious.

As much as I loved book one, and if you’ve read my review of that one you’d know how much I gushed, this is even better.

While book one was a true enemies to lovers romance between men who genuinely hated the other, this one gives the reader an entirely different tale.

Akito is a wounded soul flailing and drowning, literally, when Lyandros enters his life. The former vampire Justice Giver has been dead for decades when he’s drawn to the young man standing on his bridge over Boston’s River Charles.

Theirs is a romance of supportive discipline, Akito has committed great wrongs against Lyandros’ people and he has the weight of guilt pressing him into nothing.

Coupled with a reveal over the fate of the third Dragoumanous brother which I didn’t see coming, this narrative winds around the idea of servitude, atonement and a continual fight for survival as the plotting coven of witches from book one continue their bid to take over Faerie.

Everything about this book just worked. The relationship is complex and continually evolving.

Akito is such a study in contrasts, he’s always felt worthless but has the strongest sense of determination, he’s rash and occasionally unthinking but also dedicated to his friends and desperately trying to find his place.

Lyandros is my kind of guy. He’s dutiful, loyal, truthful and honest, but also capable of losing himself to his past and with a burning desire for doing the right thing, he is blindsided by Akito.

The world Tibby has created here is incredibly detailed, it’s Boston but not as we know it. There are familiar tropes given a new take and I really really hope she concludes this series with Nyx and Isander’s romance.

If you’d like to read this stunning paranormal urban fantasy romance, then grab yourself a copy of the unedited PDF here: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/bhylgdmlm0 If you do, though, please leave a review on Goodreads or mention it on your social media, because it really would be a crying shame for this series to pass into the ether.

View all my Goodreads reviews

 

Release Blitz: Give Up the Ghost by Jenn Burke

Give Up the Ghost | Jenn Burke

Not Dead Yet #2

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Published By: Carina Press

Release Date: June 3, 2019

Buy Links:

Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781488036262_give-up-the-ghost.html

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07LGBFM99/

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/give-up-the-ghost-7

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/give-up-the-ghost-jenn-burke/1130026240?ean=9781488036262

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/ca/book/give-up-the-ghost/id1449963995?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Jenn_Burke_Give_Up_the_Ghost?id=6BSADwAAQBAJ

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Blurb

The bigger they are, the harder they maul.

Immortal not-ghost Wes Cooper and his vampire partner, Hudson Rojas, have it all—rewarding private investigation work, great friends and, most important, a love that’s endured.

But ever since Wes sent a demon screaming back to the beyond, his abilities have grown overpowering and overwhelming. He’s hiding the fact that he’s losing control the best he can, but it’s hard to keep anything a secret for long when your partner’s a former cop…and especially when your partner’s a former cop who wants to move in together.

When all hell literally breaks loose in Toronto and superstrength ghosts are unleashed on Wes and his friends, he and Hudson are thrown into a case unlike any they’ve seen before. To save the city, Wes needs to harness his new power…and find some answers. But when he gets them, the solution to fix it all could mean losing everything.

Excerpt

I lifted my head and he took the invitation for what it was. His lips brushed mine, his skin cooler than a regular human’s, but not cold, not deathly. Lexi had explained more than once that Hudson and Evan weren’t dead—in fact, they’d never died, unlike what traditional Hollywood vampire lore would have you believe. They simply traded their human life force for blood-driven magic at the moment before their death.

Hudson’s tongue slipped inside my mouth, dancing with mine, and I sighed into the kiss, feeling the tension I’d been carrying around—for forever, it seemed—melt away. This was what I’d craved, without even knowing it. Hudson’s warm but not too warm touch, his slightly elongated fangs as he fell into the sensations we brought out in each other, his smoky cedar scent that surrounded me, infused me.

We were suddenly moving—Hudson’s doing, not mine, because I couldn’t even remember I had legs—and in an instant, I was lying on my bed, looking up at him. His eyes were glowing a soft yellow, a sign he was aroused.

“Do you want to?” he asked.

God, if I didn’t already love him, I would have fallen right there.

I didn’t often feel sexual attraction. Objectively, I could evaluate a man’s appearance as handsome, rugged, beautiful—but it was an esthetic appreciation, not an “I want to jump his bones” kind of one. I rarely felt the need to be close to someone, to kiss someone, to make love to them.

In fact, there had been only two men in my life I had felt that way about—Michael and Hudson. But even though I desired Hudson and most of the time, just looking at him was enough to get my engine revving, sometimes my body wasn’t on board with the sex stuff. Sometimes it wanted cuddles and closeness rather than passion and orgasms. And the best thing? The absolutely amazing best thing?

Hudson accepted that without question. He always had.

“Yeah,” I said with a grin.

He yanked off his shirt. Commence drooling. Hudson wasn’t model-chiseled—his chest was too broad, too hairy, too much of a barrel shape to fit into society’s image of a perfect body. But I loved it.

Hudson hooked his thumbs into his waistband, then paused. “Aren’t you going to join me?”

I folded my arms behind my head. “Too busy enjoying the show.”

He smiled, the full-wattage version that rarely made an appearance, the one that made the corner of his eyes crinkle. I loved that smile. He shucked off his pants and kicked them aside, then held out his arms so I could look to my heart’s content.

And look, I did.

Hudson’s body was all power. From his barrel chest to his plump biceps to his thick thighs, everything about him was solid. Unmovable. Just looking at him, a sense of safety and security flooded me. He would never let anything hurt me.

After eighty-some-odd years spent mostly alone, that was incredibly reassuring.

His cock twitched under my perusal—half-hard and standing up farther with every second that passed. It wasn’t obscenely huge, but thick enough and long enough to be in scale with the rest of him, and make my mouth water.

I licked my lips and scooted back so I was sitting against the headboard. “C’mere.”

Hudson didn’t have to be told twice. He knelt on the bed and crawled over me, straightening again when he was straddling my waist. His dick was pointing at me, daring me to lick it. He grabbed the base and waved it in front of me. “You want it?”

“God, yeah.” I opened my mouth wide and he leaned forward to place the tip against my tongue.

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About the Author

Jenn Burke has loved out-of-this-world romance since she first read about heroes and heroines kicking butt and falling in love as a preteen. Now that she’s an author, she couldn’t be happier to bring adventure, romance, and sexy times to her readers.

Jenn is the author of a number of paranormal and science fiction romance titles, including the critically acclaimed Chaos Station science fiction romance series (authored with Kelly Jensen) from Carina Press.

She’s been called a pocket-sized and puntastic Canadian on social media, and she’ll happily own that label. Jenn lives just outside of Ottawa, Ontario, with her husband and two kids, plus two dogs named after video game characters…because her geekiness knows no bounds.

Social Media

Website: http://www.jennburke.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jeralibu

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jeralibu/

Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/295814398039168/ (Jenn Burke’s Epic Adventurers)

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jeralibu/

Newsletter sign-up: http://bit.ly/jennburkenewsletter

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9869819.Jenn_Burke

Giveaway

Win a spooky ghost-themed prize pack, including paperback copies of Not Dead Yet and Give Up the Ghost (not available in stores!) and other goodies!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Blog Tour: Matchmaking Beyond the Veil by Mara Townsend

Matchmaking Beyond the Veil | Mara Townsend

Telltale Ghosts #1

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Release Date: May 28, 2019

Buy Links: 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QWJZQSP

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07QWJZQSP

Blurb

Emery Belmont is a snarky realist who likes his life ordinary. Like any skeptic, he’s content using mundane explanations to write off signs of paranormal activity. That’s no longer an option when the spirit haunting his house wrecks his new kitchen, forcing Emery to face the supernatural truth. Desperate for a new handyman, he unknowingly hires his hot ex-rival from high school to fix it.

Paxton Santos, Emery’s former lacrosse team captain, followed in his father’s footsteps to take over the family business. Annoyingly, Emery requires his talented hands more than he needs to keep Paxton out of his life. However, getting Paxton to leave after the repairs may prove difficult with the meddlesome ghost taking a shine to him, which Paxton seems to take in his grating, good-natured stride, remaining irritatingly unruffled by numerous weird occurrences.

Emery is bombarded by paranormal hijinks, keeping Paxton at arm’s length, and solving an inescapable mystery. There’s nothing Emery hates more than an unfinished puzzle. In his determination to solve this one, Emery reluctantly opens himself up to new possibilities all while trying to remain firmly rooted in life the way he prefers it—orderly, logically explainable, and, above all else, ghost-free.

Join Emery and Paxton as they face off with a spirit that has no limits to how far it will go to push them together, enduring locked doors, faulty plumbing, and sharing a bed. Together they are determined to navigate their way out of this mess using any means necessary to send the ghost packing.

Will they make it out of the traps awaiting them before their pesky tormenter gets any other ideas to make things worse and further blur the line between them?

Matchmaking Beyond the Veil is a 100k slow burn MM romance tale of rivals to friends to lovers. Featuring a meddling ghost playing at matchmaker, forced proximity, bed sharing, ghost tours that totally aren’t dates, and tongue-in-cheek humor.

This story ends on a HFN ending with a soft cliffhanger. Emery and Paxton’s story will continue in Telltale Ghosts Book 2. This book contains denial, two men experimenting with sex magic, fighting what the heart wants, and steamy explicit sexual scenes and colorful language intended for adults 18 and older.

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Excerpt

“You want me to fake flirt with you as if I’m pulling you for a dirty hook up in the toilets?” Emery asked. Paxton’s eyes darkened and his breath hitched. Emery latched on, a switch flipping in him, and he pushed him back until he herded Paxton to the wall.

“Oh? Your expression right now tells me you’d like that. Is that why you’re all right with doing this, because you’ve got an exhibitionist streak in you and you don’t mind the ghost watching?”

Paxton’s lips parted and his eyes dropped to stare at Emery’s lips with a laser focus. He leaned his head forward and Emery put his mouth to Paxton’s ear, darting his tongue out to swipe at the edge of it. Paxton shuddered and grabbed Emery’s hips, squeezing them in a firm grip.

“Emery,” Paxton whispered, wrecked and raspy.

Emery moved his hands, skirting around Paxton’s pecs and running his fingers over the muscles of his stomach.

“If you were someone I saw across the bar, first I would be hacked off that you were there,” Emery said into Paxton’s ear. His lips brushed against the heated skin. “You always pissed me off so much at Hardwyck.”

“Why?” Paxton’s thumbs moved in circles over Emery’s hips, teasing beneath the hem of his jumper.

“Shh, this is my fantasy we’re talking about now.” Emery nudged his nose into Paxton’s temple. “Fantasies don’t have to make sense, anyway. Roll with it.”

“You fantasize about me?” Paxton’s mouth quirked up, flirting with smugness before it grew into a joyful grin. He slid his hands under Emery’s shirt, learning the shape of Emery’s spine.

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About The Author

Mara Townsend is a bisexual indie author of LGBTQ+ romances. She loves to explore intimate relationship development of the feels-inducing variety to invoke the eternal just kiss plea from the reader, as well as crafting strong platonic friendships with heaps of heart and soul. Her stories showcase diverse representation, love stories with realistic emotions—never mindless fluff, a healthy dose of humor, and a side helping of her favorite tropes.

She hangs out in fan communities online and learned how to write the kind of stories that she’s passionate about through experimental character-driven fiction based in her favorite worlds. When not writing, she can be found soaking up sunshine at the beach, traveling the world to fill in her passport, perpetually collecting plants, and reading as many fake-dating romance books as she can find.

Social Media

Website: www.maratownsendauthor.com

Instagram: http://instagram.com/maratownsendauthor

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dPxDVf

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/90219047-mara-townsend

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/maratownsendauthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/authormarat

Giveaway

Win a physical or an e-copy of Matchmaking Behind the Veil

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

New Release Blitz: The Cost of Living by Emilie Lucadamo

The Cost of Living | Emilie Lucadamo

In the Darkness #2

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 25, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Female

Length: 50,800

Genre: Paranormal, LGBT, paranormal, college, demons, magic, fantasy, ghosts, horror

Purchase

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

Add to Goodreads

Blurb

Once people die, they’re not meant to wake up.

For college student Beck Murray, this doesn’t quite sink in until he’s sitting in a stranger’s apartment, reading his own obituary. He has no memory of how he died or how he happened to wake up—all Beck knows is that he’s been dead for six months, and now, incredibly, is not.

He assumes his biggest challenge will be explaining himself to his family and friends. This proves not to be the case as, one by one, Beck and his friends become the target of something evil.

A darkness hangs over Beck, following every footstep he takes in his new life. He cannot fight it because he does not understand it. Soon, it becomes clear that Beck isn’t the only person who’s returned to life, and far from the only person in danger.

With the help of a young witch and a mysterious bookshop owner, Beck must learn to overcome the evil plaguing him before it drags him back down to the grave… and takes everyone he cares about with him.

Excerpt

The Cost of Living
Emilie Lucadamo © 2019
All Rights Reserved

After his fourth failed attempt to pull himself to his feet, Beck gives up and collapses against the pavement once more.

It’s no use. He could have the willpower of Hercules, yet he wouldn’t be able to haul himself off of the ground. His body is too strung out; his limbs are exhausted. He feels drained from head to toe. Whatever happened to lead him here, it sure did a number on him.

Here—where is here? Beck has no clue. Naked, in the middle of an unfamiliar street, with a dizzying headache and no memory of where he is or how he came to be there. That’s where he is right now.

It’s far from the best situation to be in. Not to mention the fact that the world’s biggest storm cloud seems to be focusing all its wrath on him alone. Rain lashes his skin, chilling him, and the thunder booming overhead rattles in his bones. He tries to move once more, and a fiery pulse of pain shoots through his entire body.

Beck has had better nights.

He’s wound up in some pretty undignified places over years spent growing up with his best friends, but this has to take the cake. This is a lot worse than the time his best friend James dared him to sleep on the roof in his underwear. This is even worse than the time he and his brother, Dylan got locked out of the house during a snowstorm and had to spend the night huddling for warmth on the porch. At least in those situations, he knew where he was. He had some choice in the matter, (even if it was between Dylan’s bony elbow in his side or freezing to death). This—this is a whole new level of weird.

He tries to lift his head, and a pulse of pain sends it right back down again. Thunder crashes overhead, followed by a flash of lightning. Beck swallows past his parched throat, realizing for the first time what a dangerous situation he could be in.

“Oh man,” he rasps, realizing too late that these are the first words he’s said since waking up. This absurdity is not helped by the fact that he’s scrambling around on his back like a lethargic bug. It seems like a miracle he’s able to speak at all. “Mmm…c’mon, c’mon…”

It’s no use. He can’t pull himself to his feet. Defeated, Beck collapses back onto the pavement again and closes his eyes. He’s so tired… Maybe a few moments’ sleep will give him the energy he needs.

He’s just about to drift away, when a sudden interruption startles him from his haze.

“You look like you could use some help.”

The voice is deep, clear as a bell over the roaring storm around them. Beck jumps, eyes springing open. It would take more self-control than he possesses not to gape up at the shadowy figure towering above him, silhouetted against the distant glow of a streetlight.

He blinks up at the stranger in a daze, trying to make out any features past the rain and his blurry vision. The man looming above him is slender, not too tall and not too muscular. The fact that he seems unfazed at finding a naked guy in the middle of the street probably says the most about him. Being the naked guy in question, Beck’s not about to judge.

Beck weighs his options. Common sense tells him not to trust shadowy figures in dark alleyways. Common sense also tells him not to pass out in the middle of the street naked, and not to wake up in the middle of a street with gravel digging into his back. Common sense is failing him today.

He isn’t about to get up without assistance, anyway, so yeah, he probably could use some help. “Wow, you figured that out?” he croaks, and tries for a laugh. It comes out as a wheeze. Beck is left choking when he attempts to take in a breath. He collapses again onto the street, landing hard on his side. His chest convulses with each ragged cough. By the time he is able to breathe again, he’s quaking like a leaf in a thunderstorm. Hell, that’s just about what he is.

“Easy…” The figure is kneeling by his side now and has a hand on his back. He’s warm; subconsciously, Beck leans into the touch. The smooth hand runs along the curve of his spine, leaving a trail of tingling heat in its wake. The pressure in Beck’s lungs slowly ebbs away, like water receding after high tide.

“Feels like you’ve got a pretty bad fever,” the man says, his strange, precise accent twisting the words until they sound more like a melody. “This rain can’t be helping. Wanna get out of it?”

“Yeah…” Beck nods hazily. “That’d be real great.”

Hands grip his biceps, helping him to his feet. Beck’s legs feel like noodles. He stands up, wavers, and would have fallen back down were it not for the grounding presence keeping him upright. He tries to straighten up, and his stomach does a perilous somersault. Hot bile rushes up his throat, and he only has time to double to the side before he’s heaving up acid.

By the time he straightens up again, he’s trembling from the exertion. He feels dizzy enough that he’s afraid to close his eyes, doubting his capability to open them again. When he tries to turn to his good Samaritan, he finds himself confronted with a sharp-featured face, dark eyes studying him and brows creased in concern.

“Sorry,” Beck tries to say. It comes out garbled. Fortunately, the guy doesn’t seem to care.

“Come on,” he urges, hooking an arm around Beck’s waist. “Let’s get you someplace warm and dry.”

Needless to say, Beck’s in no state to argue. Besides, he isn’t sure he wants to. The guy’s being nicer than he has any obligation to be, and it’s probably the fever talking, but his touch is the most soothing thing Beck can remember in a long time.

They don’t walk far. The stranger leads a stumbling Beck down the street, and they pass only a few shops before coming upon one with its windows piled high with books. A sign above the door reads Lehexe’s Books in spindly hand-painted lettering. The shop is dark enough that Beck can’t make out much through the window, but Beck’s new friend—Lehexe, presumably—doesn’t hesitate to open the door. He hustles them both inside and shuts out the storm behind them. No sooner are they standing in the middle of the shop floor than Beck finds rain pooling at his feet, soaking into the wooden floor. He sways in an effort to keep from dripping, and nearly overbalances again.

Lehexe—busy fumbling with a set of keys near a door behind the counter—casts a look over his shoulder and huffs. “Try to keep upright for two seconds. You can do that.”

Beck definitely can. He’s not an infant. (If he maybe has to grab hold of the counter to keep his balance, well, he thinks the other man is too preoccupied to notice.)

The right key finally slips into the lock, and Lehexe opens a door to a darkened hallway. He turns to look at Beck, raising an eyebrow as he gestures to him. Beck lets go of the counter, takes a step forward, and gets blindsided by a head rush that sends him falling on his face.

Being naked on the floor of some poor guy’s very nice bookshop is better than being naked on pavement in the middle of a storm…but only just. There’s a lot more indignity to his situation now that Beck is actually trying to keep himself upright. He can’t. It’s not just his legs refusing to cooperate with him. His entire body feels sluggish, achy and weighed down. His veins feel like they’ve been pumped full of lead. His skull is throbbing, stuffed with cotton and running with all the efficiency of a dying engine.

“I’m really sorry about this,” he manages to slur into the nice stranger’s woodwork. “’S not my day.”

“I figured,” Lehexe says as he helps peel Beck off the ground—and he is really being much nicer than Beck deserves. “I hope stuff like this don’t happen to you often.”

“It really doesn’t.” This is the weirdest thing Beck can remember happening to him in, well, ever. He’s not handling it well.

By some miracle, Lehexe manages to get him back on his feet again and leads him out of the shop. The hallway behind the door is small, narrow, with several doors lining the walls. One clearly reads Bathroom; the other, Beck suspects is a closet; as for the third, he doesn’t have a clue what could be behind it. (His half-delirious mind flashes back to the vintage game shows his grandma used to love, where shoulder-pad-flaunting contestants chose between Door One, Door Two, and Door Three for the chance to win “the prize of a lifetime!” Lehexe doesn’t make a good game show host, and Beck’s hairstyle isn’t nearly exciting enough for 80s television.)

There’s a final door at the end of the hallway, styled differently from the others. This one is great mahogany, with a firm frame, and another lock just beneath the knob. Lehexe turns to his set of keys yet again, and in seconds he has the door open to a set of stairs that tower over Beck’s head, making him feel dizzy.

His heart sinks. His stomach drops. He feels himself slump further to the floor, until Lehexe stubbornly hoists him back up again. Just looking up there makes his head spin, and the notion of dragging his noncooperative body up the stairs is nothing short of a pipe dream. There’s no way he can do it—just no chance.

“Yeahhh,” he groans. “Dude…don’t think that’s gonna happen…”

“You gotta try for me,” Lehexe says. “Can you do that?”

Beck considers this. “If I pass out, will you catch me?”

“I’ll try my best.”

Well, that’s good enough for him.

Meet the Author

Emilie Lucadamo has too many stories, and not enough words to tell them. At eighteen years old, she has been writing for most of her life, and telling stories even longer.

Her dream is to one day become a critically acclaimed author. When not writing, she’s probably reading, or spending quality time with her dog.

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