Tag Archives: LGBT

New Release Blitz: Behind the Sun, Above the Moon Anthology

Behind the Sun, Above the Moon Anthology   | Multiple Authors

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 17, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: M/NB, F/NB

Length: 91,300

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Blurb

A Queer anthology inspired by magic and the cosmos, a vast and beautiful place where planets, stars, comets—entire galaxies, even—live without borders, specifications or binaries.

Stories span science fiction, science fantasy, contemporary, fabulism and magical realism, and celebrate Non-binary and Transgender characters.

twice-spent comet
On an isolated asteroid, Fer serves out their sentence with a found family of ramshackle criminals. Life takes an exciting turn when they befriend Ophelia, a beautiful humanoid creature with a tail like a comet.

From Dusk to Dying Sun
Jay Morrison almost believes the rumors of magic and mischief haunting the US-50. But their partner, Luis Inoa, has made a career guarding the dusty Nevada trails. According to him, the only scary things on the highway are the silences, until a group of tourists break open the sun and disappear into a fiery blaze.

Lost/Found
When Hollis Griffin, a lonely sex worker living in Venice Beach, forms an unlikely friendship with a fallen star, she begins to face the truth about her life, her past, and what the future holds.

Awry with Dandelions
For thirty seconds every night, a disembodied specter named Mette visits with Orin who has long since written the ghost woman off as a recurring dream. But when Mette suggests meeting in real life, Orin’s inner world turns out to be more substantial than imaginary, and xie embarks on a journey to discover the truth of Mette and their strange connection.

The Far Touch
A long-standing coven of witches trek to their sacred space and accidentally discover life on another planet when their Solstice celebration interferes with a lone practitioner.

Ink and Stars
Locked in a contract to steal their ex-lovers ship, Chaz Neoma comes face to face with consequences, lost partnership, and the chance at a future, after discovering they aren’t the last Weaver in the universe.

Horologium
In the far reaches of the Horologium Supercluster, an astronaux is stranded alone on a long-distance astral ship where they’re visited by three apparitions, telling stories of ancestors who traveled space before them. Coeie must decide whether to follow the ghosts of the past, or forge their own path through the cosmos.

Death Marked
As chief security officer in the Lunar Guard, Enzi is in charge of the security for their sister’s coming of age ceremony. A fragile relationship with their family doesn’t make keeping Ulsa safe any easier, and neither does a group of pesky drones or a hidden plot to overthrow their sister’s place in the family.

Weave the Dark, Weave the Light
On a crisp night, Ari, a supposed elemental witch, meets Jonathan Aster, a powerful being they desperately want to understand. As they explore an intense, intimate and passionate relationship, Ari unearths long-hidden mysteries about themself and their magic.

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New Release Blitz: IM by Rick R. Reed

IM | Rick R. Reed

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 10, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: No Romance, Male/Male

Length: 91,600

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Blurb

One by one, he’s killing them. Lurking in the digital underworld of Men4HookUpNow.com, he lures, seduces, charms, reaching out through instant messages to the unwary. They invite him over. He’s just another trick. Harmless. They’re dead wrong.

When the first bloody body surfaces, openly gay Chicago Police Department detective Ed Comparetto is called in to investigate. Sickened by the butchered mess of one of his brothers left on display in a bathtub, he seeks relief outside where the young man who discovered the body waits to tell him the story of how he found his friend. But who is this witness…and did he play a bigger part in the murder than he’s letting on?

Comparetto is on a journey to discover the truth, a truth that he needs to discover before he loses his career, his boyfriend, his sanity…his life.

Because in this killer’s world, IM doesn’t stand for instant message…it stands for instant murder.

WARNINGS: Graphic depictions of violence and mutilation, murder, pedophilia, scene of underage rape.

Excerpt

IM
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
When Tony logged on to the Men4HookUpNow website, he didn’t know this would be the last time he would type in his screen name and password, the last time he would scroll through thumbnail-sized pictures of men in various states of undress, or the last time he would read an instant message.

Tony didn’t know that logging on to Men4HookUpNow.com would be one of the last things he would do.

Ever.

The simple blue-and-white instant message box was a blank canvas, containing only a list of provocative screen names: musclestud, pnpjock, pozpup4u… And any one of these screen names could spring to life by sending Tony an instant message or, as everyone called them, an IM. Anyone could arrive within its simple frame: a college football player, a construction worker, a truck driver, or just a man in tight jeans and engineer boots.

There was a pinging sound, and a message appeared on the screen. Tony leaned forward to see who had come to call.

And whoosh, a real man came through cyberspace, delivered like a gift. The box held only one word, “Hi,” yet Tony felt its author could see through his monitor, see him there in his living room wearing only a pair of boxer shorts, see the porno playing on his TV screen.

“Come on, man,” Tony whispered, fingers poised above the keyboard. “Hi? Can’t you do better than that?” He wanted someone with a bit more personality this languid August night, so he hit the Delete key and banished the guy into limbo, where someone else might take his “Hi” with a little more encouragement. Tony began a scroll through the “Available Now” guys, reading the inane descriptions (“Let this hot, beefy muscle boy serve you. I’m six two, red hair, green eyes, former All-American football player;” “Aggressive bottom looking for well-endowed top men. I’m into just about everything except for scat, and I know how to take orders;” “Looking to party with a hot stud;” “Straight-appearing and acting;” “Negative… UB2”) and stopping if one of the thumbnails caught his eye, especially if the guy had the courage to show his face.

Tony idly stroked himself as the images paraded past. He asked himself why he was bothering with going online. For Christ’s sake, here it was, Saturday night. Couldn’t he throw on some jeans and head down to Halsted Street? At least in a bar, he would know for sure what the guy looked like if they decided to hook up, rather than seeing a cock shot and hoping the guy had a nice face or trusting a face pic a decade old. This way, all he had to work with was exaggeration, living in a world where “stocky” and “football-player build” meant fat, where thirty-eight-year-olds tried to pass as twenty-nine, where any bald guy could lay claim to looking like Bruce Willis, where average meant so hideous you might as well hide under a rock.

The instant message box popped up.

“Hey, what’s up?”

Well, at least better than “Hi.”

Tony keyed in: “Just real horny. Looking to hook up.” If the horny part weren’t so true, Tony wouldn’t have been able to keep himself from laughing. Trying to put a macho façade on his typed words, trying to make himself sound like he had an eighth-grade education made him feel idiotic. A queer Stanley Kowalski.

“Know what you mean, dude.”

So the guy was playing the macho game with him.

“So, man, what do you look like?”

“Twenty-four. Black. Blue. Nice lean muscular build, work out about three or four times a week. Nicely defined pecs. Good tan. Hairy chest. Eight inches cut, real thick. You?”

Tony felt himself transported. It was like the guy got into his head, reading the ingredients for his perfect fantasy man. His dick started to rise with anticipation, and he found his hand moving up and down the length of it, almost of its own accord. He clicked on the guy’s screen name on the instant messenger list, jock4play, and was disappointed to see no pictures in his profile. Still, if the description was accurate… Tony typed in: “Yeah, I’m twenty-eight. I’ve got dark blond hair, green eyes, moustache, goatee. Smooth swimmer’s build. Work out a lot too. Um. Got about seven, cut, shaved balls. Check out my pics.”

“You a top or bottom?” There wasn’t even a pause, so Tony wondered if the guy had bothered to look.

“Pretty open. I like it all. Very versatile. How about you? What are you into?”

“I’m a top, dude. Lookin’ for a good bottom boy.”

“I can do that.”

“Yeah?”

“Sure. Whereabouts are you, man?”

“North Side.”

“Yeah, me too. I’m in Rogers Park, Touhy and Ashland.”

“I’m not too far from you.”

Tony swallowed his common sense as the image of his fantasy man took over. “You wanna come over?”

“You like to party?”

“Yeah.” Tony loved little more than getting high and getting down. “Tina’s here.” Tony eyed the little glass pipe, its bottom crusted with black residue and white powder. His nerves—right along with his libido—were in overdrive.

“Poppers?”

“Got ’em.”

“Hmmm. I could be interested.”

Tony looked briefly at the TV, where a hairy-chested drill sergeant had a lithe blond “private” bent over his desk. He wanted to get things moving, so he typed: “You wanna call me?”

“Sure. Number?”

“My cell is 555-7654. Call me right back. Okay?” Was that too pushy? Many times they never bothered to call. Many times they said they would show up and never did. But once in a while, it all came together.

His cell chirped. He flipped it open. “Hey.”

“What’s goin’ on, dude?”

“God, I just need some dick. You interested in hookin’ up, man?”

“The sooner the better.”

“Got somethin’ to write with?” And Tony got busy, giving precise directions to his apartment.

Precise directions to a stranger.

After he hung up, Tony felt flushed, a deep burning radiating from chest to face. His heart pounded as if he had just done a big hit of poppers. God, the guy sounded incredible! He suddenly knew why he was doing this as opposed to going out to a bar. When the site worked, it worked. There was no bullshit, no game playing. No eye contact for an hour, no fumbling for something to say and then sounding like a dork. When it worked with the site, it was simply two lusting men getting together and pleasuring each other. They didn’t need to say a word. Then why not a bathhouse? Tony asked himself, wandering around the apartment, folding up newspapers and throwing magazines in the wicker basket he stored them in. He remembered Man Universe and the last time he was there. It was okay, he guessed; there wasn’t the usual amount of bullshit. He thought with a grin of the open doors and the guys lying within, naked on their stomachs, the white moons of their asses a focal point, the bottles of lube and poppers on the little tables beside the beds. But the bathhouse lacked one thing the Men4HookUpNow offered: the element of surprise. Having someone show up after making an online connection, there was always that breathless moment when you opened the door to see what you were getting. Even if you had seen photos, it was always a crapshoot. A grab bag. And that’s what made it so exciting. The gamble made the rewards all the sweeter. And, hey, if you lost one time, you just said “Sorry,” closed the door, and got back online.

There was no shortage of hot guys online.

Or at least adequate ones.

Tony glanced at himself as he passed the mirror in his dining room, grateful he had worked out earlier in the day, grateful for the fact that he never had to exaggerate. His blond hair was buzzed, and his muscles had good definition. His lips were slightly pouty, giving his face an aura of innocence defiled… Details in his face combined to form a very pleasing contradiction: sleazy and at the same time babyish, childlike.

Tony never lacked for admirers.

And sometimes he wished he did. He thought of him, the asshole who was always around, the one who, after three dates, couldn’t handle his request to be just friends.

But think of that another time! A party was coming up. And Tony wanted to make sure this party was of the all-night variety.

He headed for the kitchen to take the poppers out of the freezer. He held the little brown glass bottle up to the light and shook it. It was about at the halfway point, certainly enough to see him through the evening.

In the bedroom, he placed a couple of towels on the nightstand, along with a bottle of Wet. At the portable CD player, he put in Delirium—great fuck music—and he made sure the votive candles were adequate enough to burn for the hours he planned on taking with this guy, if he was as good as he sounded.

Tony turned to the mirror once more, running his hand through the blond spikes, making them stand on end. He flexed his biceps and was pleased at the image the mirror threw back.

He reached in his dresser drawer, pulled out his metal cock ring, and slid it over his dick and balls. He strapped a metal band with studs around his right arm “Perfect,” he whispered to his grinning reflection.

Blood pounded in his ears. A line of sweat formed at his hairline and under his arms.

He couldn’t wait.

The buzzer sounded.

Tony walked slowly to the intercom box in the front hallway, not wanting to appear too eager. Desperation was never pretty.

It sounded once more before he placed his hand on the Talk button. “Yeah?”

“It’s your buddy from online.”

Tony pressed the button marked Door and then the one marked Listen so he could hear the guy coming in. He hoped he wouldn’t be disappointed.

It was hard to tell, but the guy’s voice didn’t sound quite as deep as he thought it had when the guy called his cell. Perhaps the intercom was just distorting his voice a bit.

But there was something else. No, it couldn’t be…but the voice had a familiar cast to it. Tony wondered when the day would come when he ran into someone he knew from Men4HookUpNow.

Perhaps the day was today.

But the familiarity of the voice didn’t have pleasant associations.

Imagination. Tony, bud, you’re imagining things.

Anyway, there was no time to think about that now, not with the guy tapping on his door.

Tony peered through the peephole.

And saw nothing.

He didn’t like that. But the guy was probably standing to the left or right of the hole, that’s all. Good sense deserted Tony, usurped by lust.

He opened the door, and the color drained from his face. “What the hell are you doing here?”

RickRReed-524x749

About the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love.

He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…”

You can find him at http://www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his beloved husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

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New Release Blitz: No Parking by Valentine Wheeler

No Parking | Valentine Wheeler

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 10, 2020

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 63,300

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Blurb

When Marianne Windmere’s bakery customers begin complaining that her parking lot is always full, she assumes it must be customers for the new restaurant next door. She’s never met her neighbor, and with the parking lot situation, she has no interest in doing so.

But when a snowstorm knocks out the power and traps both women in the building overnight, sparks fly—until the next morning, when the buried argument comes to a head.

Can they find a way to reclaim the magic of that night? And as decades-old secrets about the history of the town and Marianne’s family come to light, can they work together to save both their businesses?

Excerpt

No Parking
Valentine Wheeler © 2020
All Rights Reserved

The travel mug banged against the counter. Marianne jumped. “Jesus, Kevin! I didn’t hear you come in.”

“It’s full again.” Kevin crossed his arms and glared. “The parking lot back there.” He made a show of glancing around the nearly empty bakery, eyes pausing on Zeke in the corner, mug in his hands and laptop open as usual, big red headphones covering his ears. He crossed his arms. “Why do you pay that kid if all he does is ignore you? And the customers?”

“You’re in a mood this morning.” Marianne pushed herself off the stool and grabbed his aluminum coffee mug. Her ex-husband was still an attractive man fifteen years after their divorce, and she couldn’t work up the energy to be annoyed at him for it anymore. “If you want to go next door and complain about the cars, go ahead.” She filled his mug with hazelnut coffee, added an espresso shot, capped it, and handed it back. “It’s not like our customers are beating down the doors for spots right now.”

“I did go next door,” Kevin grumbled, taking the cup. “It wasn’t productive.” Now it was him avoiding her gaze.

The parking lot issue wasn’t a new one—it had been a problem for a few months—and on a busy day Marianne would be filled with a low-level simmering rage as customer after customer complained about it. Still, she wasn’t going to tell Kevin that. Their relationship had improved in the years since their divorce but not quite that much.

“Not productive?” she pressed.

He sipped his coffee to cover the slight flush in his pale cheeks and didn’t answer.

“She threw you out, didn’t she?” Marianne’s estimation of her neighbor and nemesis rose a notch. “You tried to yell at her, and she didn’t take it.”

“I was very polite!”

“Hm.” Marianne put her hands on her hips and considered the man she’d spent nearly twenty-five years married to. He could be charming when he wanted to be—the whole silver fox, sparkling blue eyes and white teeth politician thing—though he never tried it with her anymore. Many women had found him suave and attractive during their marriage and probably still did. But when he wanted something from someone with no interest in what he was peddling? Politeness wasn’t his style. Generally, once charm had failed, he whined worse than any of their three kids had as toddlers. She’d learned that plenty during their marriage, and again during the divorce. “I’m sure you were.”

“I can talk to Bruce and Andrea,” said Kevin. “Just because I’m retired—”

“No need to get the city council involved, Kevin. I’ll handle my own property, thanks.” She glanced at the clock on the wall, its tarnished brass pendulum swinging below the cracked glass. “Aren’t you going to be late for your train?” He was still showing up at transit meetings in the city every other week since he had been appointed to the regional transit board as community representative now that he wasn’t an elected official. Kevin had a habit of holding onto things too tightly and refusing to let them go.

Kevin glanced down at his watch and swore. “Yeah. Shit.” He took another long gulp of coffee and leaned over the counter to kiss Marianne’s cheek. “Thanks. Who knew retirement could be so busy?” He turned to hurry out the door and then stopped and glanced back over his shoulder. “You be good, all right? Don’t work too hard.”

Marianne rolled her eyes and shooed him out with a towel.

About the Author

Valentine is a latecomer to writing, though she’s always been a passionate reader. Through fanfiction she found her way to an incredible community of writers who’ve taught her to love making stories.

When she isn’t writing, she’s making bad puns, yelling about television, or playing with her small child.

Her life’s ambition is to eat the cuisine of every single country. You can find Valentine on Twitter.

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Blog Tour: The Empires of Luxor City by Sasha Hope

The Empires of Luxor City | Sasha Hope

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 3, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 77,400

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Blurb

In the aftermath of his father’s funeral, Dom Wesa, the new Alpha of Luxor City’s Central Empire, stumbles upon an Omega in desperate need of help. The Omega, Lin Vasiliev, wakes to find he’s been taken into Dom’s home to be rehabilitated.

Dom thinks the young addict may have information about the illicit drug trade going on in his Empire. He gets Lin sober to question him only to discover that Lin is new in town and ignorant of Luxor’s laws.

Dom and Lin are both suspicious of each other at first for their own reasons, but as that wariness wears away a deep attraction develops between them. Dom dotes on Lin, leaving the once stone-broke Omega bathed in finery he never could have imagined.

They start planning for Lin’s upcoming heat, when they will be driven together by their kindling bond and strong compatibility as an Alpha and Omega pair.

However, in the midst of their swelling romance, Luxor’s most notorious Alpha reappears sparking a gang war that threatens to turn the entire city into a battleground.

Excerpt

The Empires of Luxor City
Sasha Hope © 2020
All Rights Reserved

There had never been fewer tears shed at a funeral.

It was strange. Crowds had wailed at funerals for worse men, but not a single soul in Luxor City wept for Malik Wesa, a business magnate who’d left behind a wife and two sons. They just stood there, all of them staring straight ahead with cold black eyes as the funeral director rolled the old man’s coffin into the crematory. Visible through a tiny char-stained window, the man who’d once been their leader burned down to ash and bone until there was nothing left of him but dust.

Shaking the image from his mind, Dom Wesa walked out through a wrought-iron fence and left the inner-city funeral home. He buried his hands deep in the pockets of his overcoat and made his way back across the busy city streets toward his office on the east side of town.

A chill rolled off the water near the docks as the year moved into fall. Dom originally drove to the funeral home with the rest of the family, but he couldn’t bear to spend another second with them even if it meant enduring the icy wind.

When a family member dies, all too often they are given a whole new life story. This was a universal truth Dom struggled to wrap his head around. There weren’t any tears at his father’s funeral, but there were enough artificial words of kindness to make him grit his teeth and bite his tongue until his eyes watered.

They all loved to mention how hard things would be for Dom with his father gone; how much weight would now fall on his shoulders.

Dom wanted to laugh. He’d been running this town without his old man’s help for ages. The death of the man he had stopped calling father a long time ago wouldn’t change a thing in his day-to-day life; it just made his position more official. Dom was now the eldest Alpha of the Wesa family, one of the great crime families in Luxor City, the capital of New America.

Decades back, when the government’s power over New America first started to crumble, the gangs of Luxor City went to war, fighting for control over the expansive city’s lucrative ports. As Dom walked through the streets, he passed the remnants of that conflict in the form of bullet holes etched into brick walls that lined the sidewalks and boulevards. Luxor hadn’t always been a haven of prosperity. These wounds were stark reminders that they should not let war tear their city apart again. They’d been preserved during reconstruction.

After years of brutality and gangland warfare, the dust finally settled over the metropolitan battleground. Only three factions were left in a city divided by chaos. They brokered a peace treaty, a deal that divided Luxor into three Empires, each ruled firmly by the Alpha heads of the surviving crime families: Wesa in the Center, Faraji in the North, and Sun in the South.

Dom Wesa was the sole Alpha heir to the Central Empire, a great strip of land stretching from the high-rises along the city’s eastern ports all the way to the cliffs on the western coast. Their portion of city was the smallest, but the Center also included the West Island, the final stretch of green pasture and woodland in Luxor, a place where only the wealthiest families could afford acreage.

Sila Wesa, the family’s Omega matriarch, still maintained an estate there. She would probably return home once the ladder-climbing mourners all left her in peace. As an Omega, she was expected to stay home and mourn her Alpha’s death for at least a year. Dom hated thinking of her returning to that vast hollow estate, but she wouldn’t be alone. She had his younger brother, Atsadi, with her.

Maybe they could be happy there now, but Dom couldn’t stand the place.

He made his way to his portside office, the private sanctuary where he conducted the family business, far removed from his father’s offices across from the luxury hotels and nightclubs downtown. It was an old-fashioned Deco-style building, relatively small compared to Luxor’s expansive high-rises, but taller than the nearby brownstone residences lining the old dock’s edge.

Dom entered through the public hall and took the stairs to his office instead of his private elevator. He couldn’t stand still, not even for a minute, not until he got a drink in him.

His office took up most of the fifth floor. A large window lined the street-facing wall, giving him a view of his docks and businesses as well as the swaying blue horizon of the Pacific Ocean.

Ships pulled in and out, always coming and going. The ports were the center of all business in Luxor. They had been around since the city’s foundation and wrapped around the entire coastline, enclosing Luxor in a circle of docks extending out into the water like a sea urchin’s spikes. It was a well-known fact that he who controlled the ports, controlled the trade, and he who controlled the trade, controlled the city.

Dom was fond of the old portside architecture. He had always been keen on the brutalist, Deco styles of ancient cities. He even decorated his office to match with polished wood and geometric patterns of gold emblazoned on black surfaces.

Inside the familiar space he’d made his own, he poured himself a glass of whisky from a decanter on his side table. He took a good long swig before taking a seat in the plush leather chair behind his mahogany desk.

Sighing heavily, he closed his eyes until a quiet thud on his desk drew them open again.

A thin newssheet folded down the middle sat in the center of his desk. Images flashed across its holographic surface. Dom recognized himself, his brother, and his mother in more than one. Fucking paparazzi.

The Luxor City Times headline read: Death of Malik Wesa leaves Central Empire in hands of son, Dominik.

Dom stared at the paper with a deadpan expression. Unblinking, he took another sip of his drink.

“Somehow I figured you’d be back in the office today.”

Dom’s gaze shifted in the direction of the voice.

His right-hand woman, Isa Saqui, stood over his desk smirking down at him.

Isa had been Dom’s eyes and ears ever since terminal illness took his old man out of power and put Dom in charge. She was an Alpha, a member of the dominant sex, like everyone in his inner circle. Isa stood tall, a muscular and imposing woman with angular bone structure casting dramatic shadows over her olive skin. Her long hair was tied in an intricate brunette braid that fell over one shoulder.

Dom turned away from her and picked up the newssheet. Without giving it another glance, he tossed it back across the desk toward her.

“The headline is hilarious,” he muttered before taking another drink.

Isa chuckled as she snatched the thin device back up.

“Isn’t it?” she said as she examined the article. “I mean, it’s not even news. Your old man hadn’t been running shit for years.”

Dom huffed.

It was true. Even before his father’s illness, Dom had been in charge, but Malik’s stint in the hospital had truly put him in power. In under a year, he’d earned the city’s respect and made vast alterations throughout the Central Empire to counter his father’s ineffective rule. Dom had always been in control; nothing would change now Malik Wesa was gone.

“We shouldn’t speak ill of the dead,” Dom said, smiling around the rim of his glass.

“Then let’s talk business.” Isa grinned like a shark. “Because I haven’t got anything good to say about the old bastard. How was his funeral, by the way?”

Dom simply shrugged in response. “Let’s talk business.”

With another snort of a laugh, Isa pulled out her phone and started going over a list of the day’s imports. The ships had come in on time, and their guys on the docks were already warehousing their “product,” storing it until it could be shipped throughout Luxor.

“So, we finally received those luxury cars we’ve been waiting for, two weeks late, but that’s the Southern trade route for you. Same shipment had a few crates of unprocessed opium—”

Dom cut in with gritted teeth, “Make sure that goes straight to the labs. Apart from heat suppressants, I don’t want to see that shit on my streets.”

“Already done.” Isa hardly even glanced up from her phone. “The independent Omegas of Luxor are already thanking you. You truly are a hero, Dom, providing them with suppressants and saving them from their dreaded heats. Less mating means more working. Off your backs and on your feet. That can be your campaign slogan.”

Dom eyed Isa, trying to gauge her level of sarcasm before gesturing for her to carry on with a short huff of amusement.

“What else?”

“Firearms from the mainland,” Isa said before listing off the models and manufacturers. “About half of this shipment is being sold to the Sun family in the south. They’ve got an underground trade problem on their hands.”

In the south of Luxor City, the Sun family controlled the majority of the city’s ports, but only imported from the Second Continent, across the western seas. This made them an excellent trading partner for Dom whose eastern ports shipped to and from New America. Whenever the Southern Empire wanted products from the New American mainland, Dom was their man, and when he needed Second Continent shipments, he knew just who to ask.

“All right.” Dom stood from his chair, rubbing his hands together. “The agent from the Sun family will want to see the guns before we truck them over. I’ll call—” Dom stopped abruptly when a terse shout erupted from the streets below, loud enough to resonate through the glass window and into his fifth-floor office.

“What the hell was that?” Isa asked with a furrowed brow.

Dom walked over to glare out of the window. They were right above the lobby, so a glance down offered a clear view of the ground below.

Across the street, a young man stumbled along the sidewalk. Even from the distance, Dom could tell there was something off about him. He swayed with each step, unable to keep to a straight line and using one hand to balance himself against the wall of the opposite building to keep from falling over.

He disappeared into an alleyway, followed closely by another man. This much larger man was the one shouting furiously as he marched into the narrow passage after the boy.

Dom turned from the window and grabbed his coat. Without a backward glance, he stormed out of his office.

“Dom? Hey! What the hell was that?” Isa repeated as he passed. She tried calling after him again, but he was already out of the door.

10 TEOLC BOOK CLUB QUESTIONS

If there are any book clubs out there who’d like to take on ‘The Empire of Luxor City’, I have 10 questions for you!

  1. Who was your favourite character and why?
  2. Who was your least favourite character and why?
  3. What do you think about the struggle each character is facing?
  4. What do you think of the character’s choices? Were they moral? Were they right?
  5. If you could live in Luxor City, which Empire would you choose? Where and why?
  6. If you could insert yourself into the novel who would you want to be? (You don’t have to be one of the characters! Who would you be if you lived in Luxor City?)
  7. If they made TEOLC into a movie, who would your dream cast be?
  8. What kind of TEOLC fan fiction would you read?
  9. Do you have a different pairing or couple you wish you could see?
  10. What was your favourite scene in the book?

Not part of a book club? Answer these questions for fun or post them wherever you’d like! At me! @sashahopewrites! I’d love to see your responses!

About the Author

Sasha Hope is a lover of story, art and design based in Canada. As a writer and an artist, she enjoys having the opportunity to create new characters and build new worlds for readers to explore.

Having studied linguistics and a myriad of languages from a young age, she is passionate about including characters of different backgrounds in her work. Whether the setting is fantasy or reality, she believes that a diverse cast with diverse languages and cultures is a wonderful thing.

Crafting stories that embrace MM romance and erotica is her modus operandi. When she is not creating new worlds she is travelling this one looking for inspiration or enjoying her career in the videogame industry.

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New Release Blitz: Halfway to Someday by Layla Dorine

Halfway to Someday | Layla Dorine

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 27, 2020

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 110,300

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Blurb

Rocker Jesse Winters just wants to be left alone. If he could melt into oblivion, he would and bid farewell to the wild child of rock n’ roll so many had dubbed him in recent months. Truth is there was never anything reckless, wild, or even deliberate about most of the things that had happened on Wild Child’s last tour, but had anyone cared to listen? No! Which was precisely why he was sitting in a cabin high up in the Colorado mountains, hoping the incoming blizzard would bury him forever.

Ryker Jorgensen left the VA hospital with a bunch of prescriptions and pamphlets on how to deal with reentering the civilian world, not that he’s in any hurry to do so. His nightmares still keep him up at night, and every new limitation he discovers gives him more reason to believe that he’s hopelessly useless now. Better to drive up to his cousin’s cabin and lick his wounds. Come spring, maybe, he’d look into being around people, if only for long enough to make the kind of money he’d need to buy his own secluded place.

The last thing Ryker ever expected to see was the man whose face had been plastered in his footlocker and his dreams for the better part of the past six years, but Jesse Winters is nothing like he imagined. When trying to leave Ryker out in the storm doesn’t work, Jesse resorts to ignoring him.

But two wounded souls trapped in a snowed in cabin have little choice but to reach out for one another when emotions get frayed. His only hope is that Jesse will trust him enough to let him drag him back from the edge before he’s just another burned out star in the legacy that is rock n’ roll.

Excerpt

Halfway to Someday
Layla Dorine © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Firelight flickered against the stone mantel of the fireplace, yet despite its warmth, Jesse shivered and huddled in the blankets he’d wrapped around his shoulders. The winds outside had picked up as the sun sank lower in the sky. Now, as the minutes ticked closer to sunset, they howled like the crowds in the stands at every show he’d ever played. Staring into tear-blurred flames, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever climb up on a stage again. His fingers itched to touch his guitar, but what was the point in creating anything with the way his bandmates had turned their backs on him.

“Way to go.”

The sarcasm in Tish’s voice was unmistakable. Whirling, Jesse turned to glare at her.

“You think I ruined the concert on purpose?”

“What are we supposed to think!” she spat, crowding into his space. Didn’t matter that she was shorter, she had a way of getting right in his face. “The way you played tonight was abysmal. The fans didn’t deserve that. We didn’t deserve to have you out there ruining the set like that. You let everyone down tonight, so instead of making excuses, why don’t you tell us what the hell you’re on so you can get the treatment you need!”

“I’m not on anything!” he roared; then Kyle and Griffin were there, crowding him back against the wall.

“You garbled half the words to songs you wrote!” Griffin shot back.

“Not to mention how many times you were off-key and singing in an entirely different pitch than you were supposed to!” Kyle rebuked, staring into his eyes. “Were you drunk up there? High? Are you high now?”

“It was a bad night, okay? Why the hell can’t you all leave it at that?”

“One night is a bad night,” Tish hissed. “Hell, even two nights out of an eight-month tour, but this was what, the eleventh, twelfth time you’ve fucked everything up?”

“Fourteen,” Griffin said. “You’re forgetting the show he had to cut short in Reno, and the one we had to cancel in San Diego when he called and said he couldn’t perform. Couldn’t even bother to come tell us to our faces, he was so strung out.”

“I. Don’t. Use,” he snarled, exhausted, throat hurting as they’d loomed over him like vultures ready to pick him apart.

“Then tell us what the fuck is going on!” Kyle snapped.

Jesse shook his head, defeated, as he stared up into the eyes of his oldest friend. “I-I can’t.”

“You mean you won’t!” Tish chided. “And you’ll drag all of us down with you as our band, our dream, fizzles and burns.”

“It’s not like that. That’s the last thing I want.”

“Could have fooled me,” she snapped, sidestepping him and walking away, leaving the others to follow her.

“I just need time to work a few things out,” he called after them, cringing at the burn in his throat any time he tried to get loud. None of them even so much as turned back to look at him.

Pain sliced through his insides like broken glass, and he cringed and curled inward, rocking in the hopes of easing the ache. It wasn’t fair—he’d never set out do anything that would hurt the band or their music, never meant to get up there and fail or worse, not make it up there at all. But he’d screwed up both his personal and his professional life in all the worst ways possible…well, all except the ways they’d thought. He wasn’t stupid. He’d never use any of the hard stuff; he knew what it could do to bands, and he didn’t drink to get drunk, despite how free-flowing the whiskey and liquor got. Pot was different; it came from the earth, and besides, he only smoked it in the states where it was already legal recreationally. It mellowed him out when his brain was racing a mile a minute, and sometimes, that hazy silence was the only way he could relax enough to sleep. They knew him; they knew how deeply he loved the music, how it was all he had aside from them, and yet…

Did he even have them anymore?

Not knowing the answer doubled his pain, leaving him desperate to make it stop shredding his insides. The wind screamed and he raised his head, stared out the window, and watched the trees wave like angry shadows across the sad, gray sky, before turning his attention back to the song he’d been struggling since morning to write. The half-filled page in the journal on his lap taunted him with all its unfilled lines.

Too soft. It wasn’t enough. It wasn’t anything but another feel-good fluff piece like the rest of the shit he’d been writing for the past year. With a growl, he ripped the page out, crumpled it, and tossed it into the flames. Orange licked around white, curling the edges, blackening them before devouring it completely.

Good riddance.

Glaring down at the previous song, he skimmed a couple lines, then yanked it from the journal and hurled it into the fire too. The sound of tearing paper brought some sick kind of satisfaction, so he ripped out several more and consigned them to the flames, leaving nothing but the darker pieces he’d penned earlier in the week. Now those words he could connect with.

“Holy shit, guys, do you know what this means?”

They all turned their attention toward Kyle, who was still bent over the contract on the table, rereading every line of the document they were preparing to sign.

“Yeah,” Griffin called out. “It means no more ramen-noodle stew and day-old Bolivian creams. We can finally buy the fresh ones instead of the stale fifty-nine cent kind.”

They all broke into laughter then, the energy level in the room so high everyone was vibrating with it. Tish moved to stand behind Kyle, hugging him and rereading the contract over his shoulder.

“Means we beat the odds,” Tish said, her voice trembling with awe. “We really did it. We got a record deal.”

“Hell yeah, we did!” Jesse laughed, high-fiving Griffin, who caught him by the wrist, yanked him into a headlock, and proceeded to muss up his hair, which turned into a wrestling match that Jesse had no chance of winning. He’d resorted to tickling Griffin instead, their drummer writhing on the carpet as Tish decided to get in on the action and tickle him too. Of course, that had led to Kyle tickling her and all of them eventually collapsing into a laughing pile beside the couch.

Now, as he poured all his angst and rage onto the page, he found it impossible to remember when they’d last laughed together. Back in the studio, maybe, when they’d recorded their last album before the tour? He tried to think back that far, tried to temper the darkness of the would-be song with thin tendrils of lightness and hope, but the only images he could conjure in his mind were angry ones. Bitter accusations hurled at him the way he was hurling sarcasm and ire at the page, dotting it all with a heavy dose of scorn and a metric fuckton of guilt.

Snarling, he scrawled a few more words in the journal then tossed it aside, kicked a blanket off to the side, and squirmed around until his back was against the couch and his fingers were beside his pillows. For several moments, he caressed one of the soft, fluffy pillows before jamming his hand underneath, fingers fumbling below the plush overstuffed feathers, brushing against the coolness of the blade he kept tucked there. He curled his fingers around it, pulled it from its hiding spot, and let the firelight glint off the sharpened steel, the sparkle mesmerizing him for a moment. The flashing red-and-orange hues reminded him of strobe lights. He ran the blade up the back of his hand and arm, watching the tiny lines of blood well up and drip over the scars. Old white lines, angry red raised ones, an endless pattern that disappeared beneath his sleeve. If the photographers ever saw, they’d have a field day selling those shots to every music magazine they could find, which was why he never went sleeveless on stage. Here though, in the solitude of this borrowed cabin, he’d left his scars uncovered, if only to make it easier to carve in more.

Turning his hand over, Jesse pressed the blade against his wrist, traced the sharp edge along his flesh, but didn’t part it. Not this time. It was so tempting though. Maybe later when he dreamed of all his failures and woke up crying again.

How long he sat that way he’d never know, firm grip pressing the knife to his arm, body poised for action, muscles tense, beginning to ache from being held on edge so long. The voices in his ear warred, screamed, raged, one telling him to do it, the other pleading with him to think. All he wanted was the shame to stop and the heavy pressure in his chest to ease up enough to let him breathe.

The wind raged, and he longed to go out in it, throw his head back, and howl until his voice was shot. It wasn’t fair. He’d been scared and sick and struggling with what to do, choking on feelings of inadequacy and rage, a whirlwind of words in his head, and yet he hadn’t been able to string them together. Each time he’d attempted to stammer out something, they’d hit him with another accusation; if anything, that had hurt more than what Troy had done.

His fingers shook, so he pressed the knife deeper into his arm, trying to still the shaking. Pain shot up the back of his neck, throbbing in his temples and behind his eyes, his body coiled so hard it hurt.

There was no one left to believe in him, so why keep fighting? His band was the only family he’d had since his folks died. Without them, why keep playing? Why write another song? Why even bother to live another day? It would be so easy to give in, become another statistic. There was no one to stop him, no one to find the body until spring, and by then it wouldn’t matter—they’d have already replaced him anyway.

Taking a deep breath, he let it out slowly, the vicious voice in his head telling him to get it over with.

Meet the Author

Layla Dorine lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places.

Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls.

She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes its aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.

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New Release Blitz: Sky Full of Mysteries by Rick R. Reed

Sky Full of Mysteries | Rick R. Reed

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 27, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 76,700

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Blurb

What if your first love was abducted and presumed dead—but then returned twenty years later?

That’s the dilemma Cole Weston faces. Now happily married to Tommy D’Amico, he’s suddenly thrown into a surreal world when his first love, Rory Schneidmiller, unexpectedly reappears.

Rory has no memory of those years. For him, it’s as though only a day or two has passed. He still loves Cole with the passion unique to young first love.

But Cole has so many questions: where has Rory been and what happened to him two decades ago when he disappeared without a trace? He has never forgotten Rory, but Tommy has been his rock, by his side since Rory disappeared.

Cole is forced to choose between an idealized and passionate first love and the comfort of a long-term marriage. How does one make a decision like that? The answers might lie among the stars…

Excerpt

Sky Full of Mysteries
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

After they made love, they were polar opposites in how they reacted.

Cole, barely minutes after coming, would be asleep, mouth open and snoring, body lax. A baby who’d just been fed. Rory looked down on him as he sat perched with his back against the headboard. Despite—or maybe because of—the spittle that ran out of one side of Cole’s mouth, he felt a shock of warmth go through him as he gazed at Cole, wondering how he’d gotten so lucky. Although Rory was a few years younger, he was a nerd with glasses. He wasn’t bad-looking; he just wasn’t all that noticeable in a crowd. How had he snared a guy like Cole, with his perfect runner’s build, his dark brown wavy hair, and the perpetual five-o’clock shadow that accentuated, rather than hid, the angular planes of his face and his sharp jawline. Rory snickered in the darkness at Cole as a snore erupted from him, almost loud enough to shake the glass in their bedroom window.

It was always like this—maniac in the sack until he came, and then it was lights-out for Cole, as though he’d been drugged.

Rory, on the other hand, always felt energized, pumped up, alive, as if he should hop from the bed, go outside, and run a mile or three. Or make a meal. Or write the great American novel. Or catalog his collection of books alphabetically, and then by genre.

Tonight was no different. They’d just moved into the one-bedroom apartment in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood. The neighborhood, the Windy City’s farthest east and north before heading into suburbia, afforded them a chance to live by Lake Michigan without the higher rents they’d encounter closer to downtown.

They were young and in love, and cohabitating was a first for both of them. Rory felt they were already having their happy-ever-after moment.

The apartment was a find—a vintage courtyard building east of Sheridan Road on Fargo Avenue. Their unit’s bedroom faced Lake Michigan, which was only a few steps away from their front door. A lake view, high ceilings, crown molding, formal dining room with a built-in hutch, huge living room with working fireplace, and an original bathroom with an enormous claw-foot tub were just a few of the amenities they were delighted to find—all for the “steal” monthly rent of only five hundred dollars.

The apartment, which would eventually be filled to bursting with a hodgepodge of furniture and belongings, ranging from family antiques supplied by Cole to Lost in Space action figures from Rory, was now a scene of chaos with moving boxes everywhere, almost none of them unpacked.

They’d spent the whole day moving and were exhausted when they were finished. Even though it was August, by the time they were done dragging the boxes out of their U-Haul truck, through their building’s courtyard, and then up to the tenth floor via the rickety but thank-heaven-reliable elevator, the skies above the lake had gone dark. They ordered stuffed spinach pizza from Giordano’s, just south of them on Sheridan, and feasted on it, melted mozzarella on their chins, on a couple of beach towels they found at the top of one of the boxes.

And of course, Rory being twenty-three and Cole twenty-six, with their blossoming love all of six months old, they did find the time and the energy to make love, once on the beach towels and once in their bed. Rory knew there’d be more of the same come morning’s first light.

Ah, sweet youth.

But getting back to postcoital bliss, Rory now found himself feeling restless as he lay beside the snoring Cole. The moon was nearly full and they’d yet to put up blinds, so it shined in the bedroom window, casting the room in a kind of silvery opalescence. Rory thought the boxes and the furniture—Cole’s oak sleigh bed and Rory’s pair of maple tallboy dressers, plus an overstuffed chair they’d found in an alley just before moving—all had a kind of grayish aspect to them, almost unreal, as if he were observing his own bedroom as a scene from a black-and-white movie. Maybe something noir…with Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray. Rory smiled and turned away from Cole. Just a half hour or so earlier, with the overhead light fixture shining down on them, Rory thought the movie would have been a porno, with himself cast as the insatiable bottom.

He chuckled to himself.

He tried to relax, doing an old exercise he’d learned from his mom. Starting with his feet, he’d wiggle, tense, and then allow that body part to go slack to relax. He worked his way up his whole body, wiggling, tensing, and relaxing as he went, until he reached his head.

And—sigh—he was still wide-awake.

Behind him, though, as if he had eyes in the back of his head, he noticed something odd.

It was like there was suddenly a waxing and waning of light.

Rory turned and looked toward the uncovered window. He couldn’t quite see the moon, but it seemed like it was brightening and darkening, brightening, then darkening…

But the whole of this August day, it had been clear, with nary a cloud in the sky. Rory wondered if a cloud bank had moved in, obscuring the moon and then revealing it as the wind pushed it away. He could see this in his mind’s eye but couldn’t quite believe it.

About the Author

RickRReed-524x749

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love.

He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…”

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

You can find him at:

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New Release Blitz: Winter Masquerade by Kevin Klehr

Winter Masquerade | Kevin Klehr

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 20, 2020

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 32,800

Buy Links:

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WinterMasquerade-500

Blurb

Ferris wakes on the Sea Queen, an enchanted cruise ship sailing on a chocolate sea. He has no idea how he got here, but he desperately wants to go home to his boyfriend.

The alchemist is the only person who can help Ferris, but he’s been kidnapped. The ransom is high tea with scones and jam.

Meanwhile, the passengers are gearing up for the Winter Masquerade, a ball where love and magic reign.

With a murderous musician, an absent boyfriend, and a mystical party, Ferris soon learns that Wednesday is not the day to fall in love.

Excerpt

Winter Masquerade
Kevin Klehr © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Pitch black. Then candlelight. One lonely flame lit the face of a plump-faced man in a robe.

“How did I get here?” I asked.

“That’s not important right now,” the monk replied. “It’s where you’re going.” He reached for a journal, which sat on the stool to his right, and set the candle in its place. He flipped several pages and held it to the flame. “Are you fond of voyages?”

I shook like nervous prey. “I really need to know how I got here.”

“You’re a troubled man in need of rest and recreation. And a healthy dose of self-reflection.”

“But—”

“I wish you’d stop asking questions. You’ve never bothered listening to those who’ve responded.”

Harmonious chants filled the silence. These men’s voices calmed me, even though a dozen questions still needed answering.

Another light appeared coming from a round window. I shuffled toward it. There I was in the dark on the other side. I lay sleeping.

About the Author

Kevin lives with his husband, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.

His tall tales explore unrequited love in the theatre district of the Afterlife, romance between a dreamer and a realist, and a dystopian city addicted to social media.

His first novel, Drama Queens with Love Scenes, spawned a secondary character named Guy. Many readers argue that Guy, the insecure gay angel, is the star of the Actors and Angels book series. His popularity surprised the author. The third in this series, Drama Queens and Devilish Schemes, scored a Rainbow Award (judged by fans of queer fiction) for Best Gay Alternative Universe/Reality novel.

So, with his fictional guardian angel guiding him, Kevin hopes to bring more whimsical tales of love, life and friendship to his readers.

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