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Review Tour: Eagle In The Hawthorn by Sam Burns

Eagle In The Hawthorn | Sam Burns

Rowan Harbor Cycle #7

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Buy Links:

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2WUnrxk

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2E9XuT8

Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Length: 45,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Melanie Farlow @ Clause & Effect

READ MY REVIEW


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Blurb

Rowan Harbor has had a tough winter, and Devon Murphy wants nothing more than to make it better. When he proposes a solution to the town’s low morale, it creates a rift in his relationship with his boyfriend, Wade.

They’ve hardly ever argued, and when things get tense, Devon has no idea how to handle it.

But an evil presence in his town targets the people Devon loves, he has to put his personal worries aside and face danger down again.

Will he be able to protect his town, and if he can, will Wade be waiting for him when it’s done?

The Rowan Harbor Cycle Series

Book #1 – Blackbird in the Reeds – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #2 – Wolf and the Holly – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #3 – Fox and Birch – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #4 – Hawk In The Rowan – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #5 – Stag and the Ashe – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #6 – Adder and Willow – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6.5 – In Any Light – Amazon US | Amazon UK

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About The Author

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Sam wrote her first fantasy epic with her best friend when she was ten. Like almost any epic fiction written by a ten-year-old, it was awful.

She likes to think she’s improved since then, if only because she has better handwriting now.

If she’s not writing, she’s almost certainly either reading or lost down a Wikipedia rabbit hole while pretending to research for a novel.

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Review Tour: In His Sights by LA Bryce

In His Sights | LA Bryce

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Buy Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UKJMS Books

Publisher: JMS Books

Length: 104,000 words approx.

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Blurb

Meet two men who need each other’s help but don’t realize it until it’s almost too late.

Noah is gay and terrified someone might find out. So much so that when he was blackmailed with pictures of himself with another man, instead of coming clean, he left his SEAL team without a word.

The other man is openly gay Mason, a former Marine and now part of the FBI’s Joint Terrorist Taskforce. It takes eight years after their first meeting in the desert for a chance event bring the two men together again.

Now Noah must decide if he’s ready to accept who he is or if it’s easier to cut and run. Can they navigate the obstacles in their path to build a relationship?

And why does the thought of that scare them more than investigating a group of terrorists?

Excerpt

Nausea racked his body again, but this time Mason couldn’t ignore it. He jumped up and ran to the bathroom. He made it just in time. Puking his guts out with a raging headache was the last thing he wanted to be doing, but he wasn’t given much of a choice.

Every time his thoughts went back to what had happened, he ended up perched over the toilet. It hadn’t taken long for all the ingredients in his stomach to be lost to the porcelain gods, followed by the dry heaves that kept him in a bent over position. As he wallowed in self-pity, he heard something that had him standing straight, positioned ready to fight. Someone was in his house.

His hand moved to his holster, but it wasn’t there. Dammit. He looked toward his closet, then at his bedroom door that now hung partially open. If he went to get his gun and anyone came down the hall, they’d have a clear shot at him at his safe. He couldn’t risk it. He needed to be on the offensive. He looked around the room to see if he could find a weapon. Shit. It wasn’t the best, but it’d have to do. He picked up the plunger from behind the toilet. He’d use the rubber part as a grip.

His abdomen cramped as he moved. He took a deep breath and held the air in for a second. The pain subsided. He crept to the door, sliding it open enough to secure a better view out. He hadn’t spotted anyone or anything that appeared out of the ordinary. But right then, whoever invaded his home made their presence known. Mason couldn’t believe the intruder hadn’t heard Mason puking up his guts. But the fact they weren’t trying to stay quiet said they thought they were alone.

Mason slipped out of the bedroom door. He held still, checking if his opening the door wider had alerted anyone to his presence. Reassured he had gone unnoticed, he continued to the end of the hall. Once there, he peered into the living room. The area stood empty, and again, nothing seemed out of place. He paused to listen, all his senses on alert. The noise came from the kitchen. Mason tiptoed toward the room. Once at the door, he stopped dead. He could see the person’s shadow.

But that’s not what made him stop. What rendered Mason immobile was the fact the culprit in his kitchen was now singing. Singing. What the fuck? Rob a house, sing a song? It hadn’t made sense. He hadn’t cared. Again, he took a step and froze waiting until the shadow got closer — then he attacked — slamming the wooden stick toward the head of the intruder. He came in contact with skin and bone and the wooden handle broke and fell to the floor. The man shouted, and Mason recognized the voice. His stomach roiled and nausea burned the back of his throat.

Instead of running for the bathroom, he opened up the French doors and ran outside. He made it to the grass just in time. It surprised Mason that something actually came out, but before long he was back to the dry heaves, his stomach cramping. Before realizing Noah had moved, he stood outside next to Mason.

Noah placed his hand on Mason’s back and rubbed, and Mason body went rigid. What the hell was he doing there? Why couldn’t Mason remember? Part of him wanted to know, and the other wanted Noah to just leave. Mason knew that thought was bullshit before it fully formed. Deep down, he was glad Noah was there, no matter the reason.

Mason pushed himself up, closing his eyes while the blood rushed to the rest of his body. Cinderblocks crushed down on his head. Noah helped hold him up. Mason wanted to shake Noah’s grip off. But he also wanted to grab it and wrap it around himself. Mason stayed still and did neither.

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About The Author

LA writes MM romance with a splash of suspense. She loves her men to work hard, play hard and love hard. It doesn’t matter what their walk of life, although she has a special place in her heart for Military heroes, those that put their life on the line every day to keep us safe, trouble always seems to find them.

Whether it’s a homicidal maniac, someone with a grudge against the country, or an ex who’s seeking out revenge – LA’s guys aren’t always faced with just fighting for love, they often have to fight for their lives.

LA has always lived in the North East and has recently stretched her boundaries and moved further North—the more relaxed lifestyle giving her more time to write—in theory anyway.

Among the things she loves besides writing and her family are her friends, those she writes with and those she writes about, reading, games (the kind with boards, not in love), playing poker, her dogs, Nutella and Bok Choy, and of course, the men and women from the Military, past and present, who keep us safe.

When she finds herself stuck at the keyboard, her fingers refusing to move, her characters refusing to talk, she likes to take a break, blast some music, and dance like no one is watching her or sing her heart out into her hairbrush microphone.

She’s living her happily ever after and wants the same for all her characters. LA believes love comes in all different packages and each should be wrapped in a ribbon and cherished.

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Review Tour: The Other Book by Roe Hovat

The Other Book | Roe Hovat

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Buy Links: Amazon USAmazon UK

Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Length: 42,000 words approx.

Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing

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Blurb

It was supposed to be just sex… Famous last words.

Tyler doesn’t overthink pleasure and avoids complications. He knows it might be stupid to get involved with his closeted boss, but the temptation is too great. At first, the cold and beautiful Joel Sandstrom seems to loathe Tyler’s guts.

Except, one late night at the office, his reasons become clear…and his control breaks.

Every time they touch, Joel’s stony face comes alive, harsh lines smooth out, and for a minute, he looks serene. Happy, even. Just sex – dirty, intense, spectacular sex.

During their covert encounters, Tyler discovers the power he has over the lonesome man, and it’s a heady feeling. What if he could set Joel free and give him peace of mind?

When Tyler realizes how much Joel needs him, he doesn’t regret breaking his own rules.

Excerpt

Warning: adult language, but no explicit scenes

Thursday was a long day.

I messaged Christoffer to say I wouldn’t be able to make it this weekend because my boss was a slave-driving ass.

At least it’s a good-looking ass, Christoffer replied.

Tina knocked on my booth at half past eleven.

“Tyler? Joel says he wants you in the conference room at one for the meeting with Mercury.”

I scowled, my mood getting worse by the second. “He could have emailed me, messaged me, or come down here to tell me himself. You’re not his secretary.”

Tina rolled her eyes. “Calm down, Avenger. I bumped into Joel in the kitchen. He mentioned you might need to be there. I told him I’d let you know.”

It took me a while, but in the end, I had to admit I had no comeback to something so…normal. Damn it. He didn’t even give me valid reasons to hate on him.

“I’ll be there,” I mumbled, turning back to my screen.

“He’s a good guy, Tyler. Cut him some slack,” Tina said.

“Me?” I pivoted on my chair to face her. Joel was the one being a jerk. And he was the boss! How was I supposed to cut him slack?

“You know what I mean,” Tina threw over her shoulder, walking away toward her desk.

“What?” I called after her, but she didn’t reply.

Two hours later, I parked my butt in the conference room, opposite Joel. He was looking at his laptop screen intently, not acknowledging me. He never talked to me unless he absolutely had to.

“Nice tie. Matches the ice in your chest,” I commented.

“They will be here in three minutes. Please behave,” Joel said evenly, still not lifting his gaze from the laptop.

“You don’t like it when I behave,” I told him, leaning back.

His eyes flashed to me for an instant, and his lip twitched. Otherwise, expression Number One: immaculate control and contained rage. “Tyler, can you act professionally for ninety minutes?” he hissed.

That was it. How come I was suddenly the unprofessional one?

“How’s your throat today, Joel? Sore?” I asked loudly just as the door creaked open.

Joel sucked in a breath and clenched his jaw. Red stain crept up his neck, but he stood gracefully and offered his hand to the forty-something woman who entered the room. A tall young man in a lovely dark-blue suit followed her. He had high cheekbones and porcelain skin, and he blushed fiercely when he saw me. Nice. I made sure to smile at him when we shook hands. His eyelids fluttered. Matt, who held the door for the Mercury people, gave us a tight greeting and closed it.

We sat, and my attention shifted from the young beauty back to my boss. Joel’s stare became glacial. I smirked. This was going to be fun.

It wasn’t fun. At all. Their requirements were unspecific, their expectations exaggerated, and the pretty boy was a pretentious jerk. I suffered through the hour and a half trying not to let them know they had only wasted my time.

Joel accompanied the Mercury people to the hall and shook hands with both. I tried to slip past them back to my soundproof sanctuary, intent on closing myself in there for the rest of the day. I hated client meetings with a passion—even when they involved pretty young things. But Joel called after me, ruining my escape.

“Tyler? Can you wait in the conference room? It will only take a minute.”

I let out my frustration by making the face of a backstabbed warrior, and slowly turned around.

Back in the conference room, I sat down on the same chair, which was still warm from my butt. Hopefully, Joel would only want to go through the details of the meeting and then I could go hide again.

He stepped inside and closed the door.

“I have a request,” he began slowly. He stayed by the door, as far from me as possible.

I leaned forward and supported my chin in my palm, waiting.

“I can’t let the situation get out of hand,” Joel continued, suspiciously vague. “I have some serious private matters going on right now. I hope you will understand and help me to…handle this gracefully. I can’t afford any added complications.”

Oh, it was that kind of a request!

“Joel, I told you, I won’t out you. I’m not a complete shit,” I said with disgust. What the hell did he think of me?

Joel flashed me a disturbed look. “No, I know that. I only need us to…stop being personal.”

“You mean you won’t suck my dick anymore, boss?”

He had the grace to wince, yet he didn’t reply.

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Jan 30 – The Way She ReadsBoulevard des PassionsDiverse ReaderGay Book ReviewsTwo Chicks ObsessedFeb 1 – Sanaa’s Book BlogCupcakes And BookshelvesAmy’s MM Romance ReviewsWhat’s Amy Reading?Kimmers Erotic Book BanterMikku-chanXtreme DelusionsFeb 4 – Book Corner ReviewsMy Fiction NookMainely StoriesLove Unchained Book ReviewsFeb 6 – Making It HappenFeb 8 – Mirrigold: Mutterings & MusingsValerie UllmerLillian FrancisBayou Book JunkieScattered Thoughts & Rogue WordsWicked Reads

Author Bio

Queer fiction author Roe Horvat was born in the post-communist wasteland of former Czechoslovakia. Equipped with a dark sense of sarcasm, Roe traveled Europe and finally settled in Sweden.

He came out as transgender in 2017 and has been fabulous since. He loves Jane Austen, Douglas Adams, bad action movies, stand-up comedy, pale ale, and daiquiri, with equal passion.

When not hiding in the studio doing graphics, he can be found trolling cafés in Gothenburg, writing, and people-watching.

Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/roe.horvat.98

Twitter: @roehorvat

Website: roehorvat.com

Publisher: http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/?n1=authors&id=107


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Review Tour: Rat Park by Marina Vivancos

Rat Park | Marina Vivancos

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 71,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Natasha Snow

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Blurb

Dominic has lived with an empty ache inside him for as long as he could remember. Maybe it started when he was six, hiding beneath his blankets as the wild animal noises of one of mom’s parties echoed in his head. Maybe it began the first time an adult plied him with drinks just to watch him stumble about.

Or, maybe, it was that he couldn’t even imagine what being loved should feel like.

Drugs washed all that away. It didn’t cure the ache, but it made him forget it for a while. Anything was better than being conscious. Than being himself. But life had another hard lesson for him: With drugs, the only way is down.

Dominic hits rock bottom when he’s twenty-three. Turns out, rock bottom looks a lot like the bars of a jail cell. With little left but his own thoughts, Dominic has to decide: Is this what I want for the rest of my life?

The world has never been kind to Dominic, but when he meets the Romeros, he wonders if that is about to change. Officer Catalina Romero seems to see something in Dominic that he is sure isn’t there. The more she pulls him towards her family, however, the harder it is not to go.

All his resistance disappears under the force that is Flor Romero. Spitfire, stubborn Flor—even at sixteen, he refuses to be taken lightly. As he grows older, putting a stop to what Flor obviously wants to happen between them is harder than Dominic would ever want to admit.

Dominic knows that he has too many demons to let anybody get too close. But life doesn’t prepare him for Flor, who just might be ready to fight tooth and nail for a place in Dominic’s life—and his heart.

The question is, will Dominic’s past keep him from his future?

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January 28 – OMG ReadsAmy’s MM Romance ReviewsFebruary 6 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue WordsWicked Faerie’s Tales & ReviewsFebruary 8 – Diverse ReaderBoys Meets Boy ReviewsMirrigold: Mutterings & MusingsBayou Book Junkie

Author Bio

When Marina was a child she couldn’t sleep. Night after dissolving night she just couldn’t sleep. Nothing much worked – until she started making up stories in her head. Suddenly, the transition into unconsciousness was a smooth dive into calm waters.

Marina is currently in a period of sleepless upheaval, and she hopes writing down the stories in her head will cast the same spell it did decades ago.

Marina hopes to write in a variety of romance sub-genres, from contemporary to supernatural to sci-fi. Her style, however, tends to focus on character-centred stories that explore different facets of the human experience, such as mental health. She also enjoys writing explicit, drawn-out sex scenes, so expect those to be a prominent feature of her stories.

Marina tends to keep to herself unless prompted, so don’t be shy in approaching her!


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Review Tour: Cash by Garrett Leigh

Cash | Garrett Leigh

Lucky #2

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 60,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Black Jazz Design

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Blurb

Cash is a car mechanic with a secret. Head down, sleeves up, he hides from the past as much as his shattered heart, until a reluctant stumble into a Tottenham bar ends in the one night stand of his dreams.

Hunt saboteur Rae can’t believe his luck when he wakes up the next morning. Cash is gorgeous, and the hottest hook up he’s ever had. He doesn’t expect to see him again, until a twist of fate lands him on Cash’s doorstep a few months later.

United by a cause that’s broken Cash before, they are drawn together. They have more in common than they ever imagined, but with Cash haunted by the past, and Rae so tangled in the present, it’s not long before love isn’t enough to keep them alive.

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Jan 22 – Urban Smoothie ReadSexy Erotic XcitingDilyana’s WorldJan 24 – Amy’s MM Romance ReviewsCupcakesAndBookShelvesXtreme DelusionsBooks, Tattoo’s and TeaLelyana’s ReviewsJan 26 – Mikku-chanDiverse ReaderOpen Mind For A Different ViewWhat’s Amy Reading?Jan 28 – Love Unchained Book ReviewsMainely StoriesJan 30 – Gay Media ReviewsWicked ReadsFeb 1 – My Fiction NookWe Three QueensFeb 4 – Book Corner ReviewsFeb 6 – Mirrigold: Mutterings & MusingsSarandipity Book ReviewsSmall Queer, Big OpinionsJim’s reading RoomLillian FrancisBayou Book Junkie

About The Author

Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.

Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.

Garrett is also an award-winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with photographer Dan Burgess.

Website: http://www.garrettleigh.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/garrettleighauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Garrett_Leigh


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Review Tour: One-on-One by V. L. Locey

One-on-One | V. L. Locey

Cayuga Cougars #5

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 57,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Rêverie Design & Formatting

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Blurb

The past few years have been a bit chaotic for Cougars new associate coach, Lancaster Hart. After an amiable divorce he began living his life as the gay man he’d kept closeted for far too long.

With the recent move to Cayuga, he’s away from his support system and properly made sweet tea. Despite a roster filled with new friends and associates, he’s spending his nights alone.

As his team gears up to make a run at the Calder Cup, Lancaster discovers that not everything in upstate New York is wine, woodlands, and chilly conservative ideals.

At a summer music festival, he first lays eyes on Townsend Harris, folksy/blues singer by night and mayoral office assistant by day. Lancaster is enraptured with the man’s powerful sultry voice. Also, Town just might be the most beautiful man he has seen in all his forty-one years.

The two hit it off at an informal meet and greet after the show, where they spend the night talking and sipping wine. One evening of conversation and an incendiary goodbye kiss leads them into a scorching love affair that might be exactly what Lancaster has been searching for his whole life.

Can his team pull off professionally what he’s hoping to do privately as well? Or will capturing their dream evade both the Cougars and Lancaster?

Cayuga Cougars Series

Book #1 – Snap Shot – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #2 – Open Net – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #3 – Coach’s Challenge – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #4 – Overtime – Amazon US | Amazon UK

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Jan 16 – Xtreme DelusionsBooksLaidBareBoysOMG ReadsDrops of InkReading In Sarah’s CornerJan 18 – Amy’s MM Romance ReviewsJan 22 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue WordsLove UnchainedJan 24 – Making It HappenMM Good Book ReviewsMainely StoriesWicked ReadsJan 26 – We Three QueensMirrigold: Mutterings & MusingsJim’s Reading RoomNerdy Dirty and FlirtyBayou Book JunkieLillian Francis

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, Doctor Who, Torchwood, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.)

She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, two Jersey steers and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.

When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.


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Review Tour: Is It Over Yet? by L.A. Witt

Is It Over Yet? | L.A. Witt

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Buy Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Length: 60,000 words 

Cover Design: Lori Witt

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Blurb

Rhys Powell and Derek Scott are divorcing. Mistakes have been made, lines have been crossed, and there’s no going back. Both men are exhausted and ready to move on.

But their daughter is getting married soon. In the name of not putting a damper on her wedding, Derek and Rhys agree to keep the divorce on the down-low and show up as the happy couple everyone still believes they are.

And between a roller coaster of a road trip and the love and joy surrounding the wedding… Derek and Rhys just might remember why they fell for each other in the first place.

Are they only kidding themselves? Or can a rekindled spark really light the way to forgiveness?

Excerpt

 

Chapter 1

Rhys

The suburban Chicago house I’d lived in for the past six years came into view, and my stomach knotted tighter. It was the same feeling I’d had on my way to a job I’d hated a lifetime ago, when pulling up to the building made me groan out loud at the prospect of another shift in that godforsaken place. Didn’t seem right to feel that way coming home, but there it was, same as it had been for the past two months.

By the time I pulled into the garage beside the familiar red Corolla, my jaw ached from clenching my teeth. Probably because that’s what I’d been doing every night this week at the same time. Ugh. If I didn’t move out of this place soon, my dental bills were going to be astronomical. That was a good enough reason to step things up, wasn’t it? So I didn’t grind my teeth to dust?

As if I didn’t already have a laundry list of reasons why I needed to get out of here.

With an ache in my jaw and a sour feeling in my throat, I collected my coffee cup, lunch bag, and briefcase, and got out of the car. On the way inside, I couldn’t help limping a little, which added to my festering annoyance. It wasn’t unusual for my leg to be sore by the end of the day, especially after I’d been coaching basketball, but it wasn’t doing much for my shitty mood. I couldn’t think of much that would, though. Nothing short of substances that would get me fired. Or maybe finding a note on the counter that said I moved out. There wasn’t a plant on this earth that would get me higher than reading those three sweet little words.

But unless my soon-to-be ex-husband had won the lottery since this morning, he was just as stuck here as I was.

At the door, I paused for a deep breath to steel myself, then went inside. The kitchen and living room were empty. Derek’s car was here, so it was a safe bet he was home, but he was somewhere else in the house. Good enough for me. If I was lucky, he’d stay that way long enough for me to wind down.

I went through my usual motions—cleaning out my lunch bag, rinsing the Tupperware dishes, checking the cats’ food and water, perusing the mail. For years this routine had soothed me. Helped me shift from work to home so I could relax. Not so much these days.

Our long-haired calico, Lucy, hopped upon the counter and chirped at me, and I managed to crack a smile as I scratched her back the way she loved. She arched under my hand and purred. I chuckled, and I didn’t even mind that she was kicking the mail everywhere as she strutted back and forth on the counter.

“Hey, sweetheart. You miss me?”

More purring.

I kept scratching and petting her for a moment, trying not to think about the future. Or the fact that Derek and I still hadn’t come to a custody agreement about the cats. They were littermates, and though they could fight almost as loudly as we could, they were inseparable. There was no “you take Lucy and I’ll take Chico.” When this was all over and we finally went our separate ways, someone was taking both cats, and someone would be living without them.

I scooped Lucy into my arms, and I hugged her tight, which just made her purr louder and my conscience burn hotter. Guilt had been a constant friend for the past couple of months, and every time I thought about either losing my cats or taking them away from Derek, I wanted to cry. As if I hadn’t done enough of that recently.

I’m so sorry, guys. I buried my face in Lucy’s plush fur. I fucked everything up.

The click of a door at the opposite end of the house made my spine stiffen. Lucy tensed too. By the time Derek was halfway up the hall, she’d stopped purring. As he cleared the corner into the living room, she wriggled in my arms, and I sighed as I set her back down on the counter. She jumped to the floor and trotted out of the room, probably to the office where Chico was likely watching birds.

I watched her go, fresh guilt gnawing at me. Things had really gone to shit when even the cats didn’t want to be in the same room with the two of us.

Without the cat to hold my attention anymore, I turned to see where Derek was headed so I could make my own escape. I still needed to change clothes anyway, not to mention take off my prosthetic and sit for a while to give my joints a rest. If he was going to hang out in the living room, then I could go into my bedroom or join the cats in the office.

But Derek wasn’t heading into the living room. He was coming into the kitchen. And from the way his gaze was fixed on me, he wanted to talk about something.

I swallowed. “Hey.”

“Hey.” He slid his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “Do you have a few minutes?”

I struggled to hold his gaze. He didn’t seem like he was looking for a fight. There was some tension in his features, but it didn’t read as hostility or anger.

I shifted my weight, wincing at the vicious ache in my hip. “Yeah. Do you mind if we sit, though?”

“Sure. Yeah. Living room?”

“Okay.” I followed him out of the kitchen, and we sat on opposite ends of the sofa. As soon as I was seated, I leaned down, rolled up my pant leg, and disconnected my prosthetic. Derek didn’t speak while I removed it; for all our inability to coexist lately, he was still in the habit of giving me a minute to get situated, particularly when I needed to kick off the prosthetic after a long day on my feet.

I leaned the prosthetic against the end table and sat back, releasing a relieved sigh. Everything ached, especially my hips, knees, and right ankle, and taking some weight off them felt so good. I might’ve even relaxed if not for Derek waiting a cushion away to have a conversation. Ugh. God. What now?

Schooling my expression, I twisted toward him. I stole a second just to look at him. There would come a time in the very near future when all I had left of him was pictures, and even with the constant tension hanging between us, it hurt to imagine not seeing him anymore.

Seeing him like this hurt too. The dark eyes that had tongue-tied me on day one were cold now. Beside his eyes and mouth were lines that deepened whenever he smiled or laughed, and they were barely visible now. The near-black hair I’d run my fingers through millions of times, the soft lips I’d tasted more times than I could count, that spot on his neck where a single kiss could make him shudder all over—it was all out of my reach now.

Maybe it was time to take my sister up on the offer to come stay with her. I wasn’t sure how much more of this I could handle.

Forcing back my emotions, I tried to sound casual. “All right. What’s up?”

He mirrored me, pulling his knee up onto the cushion and drumming his fingers on his inseam. “Um.” He stared down at his hand. “So, I talked to Vanessa this morning.”

My gut clenched. Instantly my mind was filled with a million worst case scenarios. I’d expected him to have something on his mind about us, not about our daughter, and panic shot through me. Had something happened? Was she hurt? Sick? “What’s going on? Is everything okay?”

“Yeah. Yeah. Everything’s fine.” He made a calm down gesture. “Nothing’s wrong.”

“Okay. Good.” I exhaled, my heartbeat coming back down. It wasn’t unusual for her to call him, but the whole “we need to talk” thing had me on edge. “So…” I raised my eyebrows. Oh God, had he told her? Did he finally tell her we were divorcing? He’d been dancing around that for two months.

Derek cleared his throat, and to my surprise, he smiled, though he still seemed guarded. “She’s, um… She’s getting married.”

I blinked. “She is?”

He nodded. “Corbin proposed last night.”

“Oh. Wow.” I actually laughed because I was so relieved that instead of something horrible, he was breaking the news that Vanessa was engaged. “That’s great!”

“Yeah. It is.” He met my gaze, but then he broke eye contact, and his smile faltered.

How could a conversation be this much of a roller coaster after thirty seconds? Oh, right, because it was us and we were a disaster. A disaster our daughter still didn’t know about.

Derek took a deep breath and sat up a little. “Here’s the thing—they want to get married sooner than later. Corbin is going to be transferring within the next year, and he’ll probably deploy at some point. So they want to get all their ducks in a row quickly.”

I nodded. “Makes sense. How soon is soon?”

“They’re thinking February.”

I whistled. “Really not letting the grass grow, are they?”

He laughed quietly. “No. But it’s still three months away. It isn’t like they’re eloping next week.”

“True.” And why was this line of conversation making me apprehensive? Like it was going somewhere I really didn’t want it to go? I was thrilled for our daughter and her husband-to-be, but something about this discussion with Derek…didn’t feel right. After nine years together, I knew him, I knew his tells, and I knew there was more to this than just telling me Vanessa was getting married.

Chewing his lip, Derek dropped his gaze and watched his fingers drumming on his knee again. There was definitely something on his mind. Something he needed to say, but either couldn’t figure out how to or couldn’t quite work up the nerve.

“Derek?” I nudged. “What am I missing here? You’re happy about this, right?”

“Yeah. Of course. I’m… There’s just…” He closed his eyes. Finally, he met mine again. “Vanessa still doesn’t know about, um, us.”

I winced. In the two months since we’d decided to split up, we’d debated more than once when and how we should tell her. The holidays were almost upon us, so that hadn’t seemed like the right time, and we’d agreed to keep a lid on it until after the New Year. She couldn’t make it out for Thanksgiving, and she was spending Christmas with her mom, so it wasn’t as if we’d have to play happy husbands right in front of her. Just keep up the illusion on social media and on the phone.

Easy. Except for the part where it meant we’d had to keep it quiet from almost everyone else so no one accidentally let it slip on Facebook. And we were still stuck living together anyway because neither of us could afford to move out yet, so the whole fucking world thought everything was quiet on the home front. The closest we’d come to letting it slip was when a friend noticed our wedding portrait wasn’t on the mantle anymore. Derek had quickly said the frame had broken, and the subject had dropped. For now.

“Right,” I said. “So what does that have to do with her getting—” I tensed, then inclined my head. “Derek, please tell me you’re not going where I think you’re going.”

He looked at me plaintively. “It’s her wedding, Rhys. The next couple of months are going to be stressful as hell for her, and I’d rather all that stress be about planning her wedding. Not worrying about her dads splitting up.”

Closing my eyes, I pushed out a long breath through my nose. We’d been married for seven years, and even though our happier days seemed like a lifetime ago, I remembered the stressful months leading up to the wedding like it was yesterday.

The thought of my parents dropping a bomb like that in the middle of all that chaos? Of trying to enjoy my damn wedding while I worried myself sick about making them be in the same room? Okay, yeah, I got what he was driving at. But…fuck.

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L.A. Witt is an abnormal MM romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain.

In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies.

She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren.

And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut…

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