Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Love on the Midway by Lex Chase

October 28, 2015

To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.

Love on the Midway

A Darkmore Saga Short

It felt good just to be ordinary for a change. No windigo senate disputes. No aisa council politics. No crises from kingdoms near and far. No urgent matters that had to be dealt with right that moment. Bianca had seen to that.

Darkmore’s King Sevon Maraté wasn’t the ruler of the aisa and Jack wasn’t his ungati shifter lover.

They were the same as the average humans of Port Isabel, Texas. Jack symbolically announced their relationship status by keeping his arm loosely wrapped on Sevon’s narrow waist. They strolled down the carnival midway and laughed in good humor. Their faces illuminant with joy under the hanging strings of colored lights.

Sevon shuffled in his flip-flops excitedly clop-clopping to the ring toss. He pointed to the toy panther stuffed to the gills with polyester pellets hanging off the orange and purple awning. Smiling hopefully to Jack, his lover ached a brow.

“It’ll be like sleeping with you when I can’t,” Sevon begged with folded hands.

Jack crossed his arms as he inspected the panther with the dopey grin and bristly pink fur. He snorted his disdain. “It doesn’t look anything like me.” He ensnared Sevon’s reedy wrist and pulled him close to illustrate the most obvious difference by guiding their hips to meet. “See what I mean?” he purred, his eyes half-lidded.

Sevon laughed then leaned into Jack, putting his head on his shoulder and gently scratching at his chest.

“Jack…” Sevon sighed his name in a needy tone.

Jack shuddered when Sevon snuck a nip of a fang on his earlobe. “How do you make that sound so sexual?”

“Jack…” Sevon pouted while his fingers tripped down Jack’s abdomen.

Jack chuckled and ruffled Sevon’s wind tossed curls. “Fine. I’ll win you the stupid cat.” He stepped up to the game attendant and offered the man a crisp bill. The attendant nodded and cracked the cottony paper of the dollar.

“A pink panther for the gentleman’s true love!” The attendant announced to all in earshot as if Jack were a knight jousting for the love and favor of a princess. The attendant handed him a set of flimsy plastic rings as his weapons for battle.

Sevon’s cold face heated at the very idea. People were watching.

He couldn’t tell if there were aisa about, spying on them. Sevon thought he and Jack were safe here, walking among the humans and able to openly express their affair.

For the attendant to boldly point out Sevon was Jack’s true love and Sevon felt a pang of exhilaration mixed with a roll of anxiety in his nonexistent stomach.

Love was exciting!

That is until someone pointed it out.

An aisa and a shifter in love? So taboo! Darkmore’s allies would think Sevon had gone mad! The nobility would never understand or accept what Darkmore’s king sees in an animal. It’s just not right! Not sane!

Still, Jack smiled at him over his shoulder.

“For my true love…” Jack said softly and Sevon’s anxieties swirled away on a gentle breeze.

Love was amazing.

Jack was amazing.

Sevon’s body shuddered from the top of his seraphim curls down to his glassy toenails.  Jack wouldn’t lie about such a thing.

Such importance placed on the symbol of a stupid stuffed toy.

Jack tossed the first ring.

It chimed against the glass bottle with a sharp bounce to the right.

He frowned testing the weight of the second ring and noting the difference.

“You can do it, Jack,” Sevon cheered clapping his hands.

The attendant laughed and called over the crowd of carnival goers. “Oh look. He cheers on his true love!”

“Go, Jack, go.” Sevon shifted from foot to foot in a silly little dance while pumping his fists high into the air.

Jack nodded once and gently tossed the ring.

Sevon held his breath as he tracked the ring gently sailing through the air.

Slowly, it descended and a quiet tinkle signaled it hooked around the neck of the center bottle.

The ring spun once, twice, then swiveled, and settled primly at the base announcing Jack had won.

Sevon hopped with a squeal of victory!

The attendant handed Jack the plush toy and clapped him on the shoulder in congratulations.

Jack fixed Sevon with a goofy grin and a waggle of the brows as he overdramatically crouched to one bended knee.

Sevon clapped happily as Jack put one hand to his heart and held out the silly stuffed animal.

“Will you, dearest Sevon…” Jack began, feigning breathlessness. “Take this… weird, little, malformed creature… as a token of my love?”

Sevon laughed, his anxiety forgotten and replaced with living in the moment. “Yes. Yes, my dear prince.”

Behind Sevon, a young lady elbowed her boyfriend. “Why can’t you be more like that?” she hissed in envy.

“Shaddup an’ eat your deep fried pickles, Missy,” her boyfriend groaned and dragged her away.

Sevon hugged the ridiculous Pepto-Bismol pink panther to him. They resumed their stroll down the midway past the Grav-A-Tron and Tilt-A-Whirl.

“Mmmm…My Jack kitty…” Sevon murmured into the cheap plastic scented fur of the toy.

Jack gave a snort. “I fail to see how that serves as my replacement.”

Sevon laughed. “It’s cute.” He held it out, observing the pink tuft of hair on the top of its head. “I’ll put it in a place of honor. I think the throne is perfect.”

“I can see the council now.” Jack smirked. “Your Majesty, what is that bizarre thing?” he asked in a squeaky tone.

Sevon swatted him in the shoulder. “Be nice. I think it’ll be perfectly intimidating. The valkya are special kinds of assholes.”

“You are not discussing foreign trade agreements with the valkya with that thing in the throne room.”

“Of course.” Sevon beamed.

“Sevon.” Jack scowled.

“I mean it,” Sevon said, feigning vapid innocence. He took Jack’s hand while they walked past the haunted house and freak show.

Jack chuckled. “You’re cute.”

“T-thank you,” Sevon stuttered as he watched the Ferris wheel shimmer and slowly rotate.

Jack tugged on the waistband of Sevon’s jeans to guide him into following along. He hooked a thumb to a row of penny candy machines. “Come on now. I’ll buy you a jawbreaker or two.”

“Jawbreaker for the aisa. Hilarious.” Sevon purred, making a sarcastic grin they stepped up to the fire-engine red metal and green glass machines.

Jack fished for a dime in his pocket and slipped it into the slot. Sevon stooped and held out his palms to the machine’s candy chute while Jack turned the crank.

Nothing happened.

“Well… What the hell…” Sevon pouted still holding out his hands.

Jack bumped the machine with his hip to rattle the stubborn jawbreakers loose.

Sevon chirped happily as his reward tumbled out into his eager hands.

A bloody fang.

Sevon backpedaled and flung the tooth away. “What the fuck? That’s not fucking funny!”

Sevon stepped back, and pulled his pink panther plush to his chest as if it would protect him.

Jack peered into the glass window of the machine.

“…Sevon…” Jack said slowly and calmly. “We need to go.”

“What the hell is going on?” he squealed in a panic.

“You won’t be holding counsel with the valkya tomorrow,” Jack declared with a straight face.

Sevon didn’t understand. “How do you know that?” he demanded.

Slowly, Jack raised a finger to indicate the machine.

Sevon crept toward display and peered inside the machine. He squinted to make sense of the mishmash of colors of half-dissolved jawbreakers and a glob of something gummed up against the glass. Finally it snapped into focus.

Lady Sergevik. The Queen of Zelena. Her severed head.

Crudely carved into her forehead were the crooked words:

 

I SEE YOU

 

Discover the horror and hope of the world the Darkmore Saga starting with Chasing Sunrise. Available at Dreamspinner Press!

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Day Jobs and Day Dreams with Pat Henshaw

October 28, 2015

Day Jobs and Day Dreams

Hi, I’m Pat Henshaw, and I’ve had an incredible year. In fact, I couldn’t write a fictional account of the year I’ve had and have any editor believe me.

I retired three years ago after having had a full career of jobs I’ve loved. I started after college as a costumer at the Alley Theatre in Houston. While fun, costuming—especially working with outsized egos—wasn’t me.

I went from the Alley to the Houston Post as a librarian before newspapers became digitalized. At the Post I wrote an art review column covering art galleries around Houston. When I met my husband who was a reporter at the Post, I quit and went to work for the Houston Chronicle where I edited the op-ed page and wrote book reviews.

Since I was a teen, I’ve been writing books, and this continued while we lived in Houston, then moved to Colorado, then to Northern Virginia, and finally here to Northern California. At every stop I had a great job: theatre and book reviewer in Colorado, public radio and TV publicist and mystery book columnist in Northern Virginia, and English composition instructor at a community college and book reviewer in California.

At each stop and all through my career years, I kept writing novels and telling myself that when I retired I’d become an author.

But when I retired I had to have major surgery which took me two years of recovery.

In 2014, I was reviewing for one print and two online sites and saw a call for submissions from Dreamspinner for a story based on a fairytale. Immediately Guy and Jimmy of What’s in a Name? came into focus, and I sat down and wrote the story. My wonderful husband proofread it for me, and I got ready to send it in to Dreamspinner.

Imagine my chagrin when I went back to read the submission details and realized two important things had escaped me: the submission date and the maximum number of words in the story. Not only was the story too long—by thousands of words!—but I’d missed the submission date by a week.

What to do? Well, what would an author do?

Yup, I sent the story to Dreamspinner as a stand-alone novella.

I was shocked when they accepted it. Voila! The Foothills Pride series began.

Today, the third in the series, Behr Facts, is being born in the world. I’m an author. No getting around it now.

As I said at the beginning of this blog piece, this has been an incredible year. I stopped writing reviews, having instead published three novellas and a short story at Dreamspinner. Dreamspinner’s motto is Where Dreams Come True. And I’m living proof of that.

What dreams do you have? And what are you doing to make those dreams come true? Tell me what you want to do and win a copy of What’s in a Name? or Redesigning Max. Step into the Foothills Pride series.

 

Author media links:

Website

Series website

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon

Email: patoisca[at]yahoo[dot]com

Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Ghost Story by Diane Adams

October 26, 2015

To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.

 

ghoststory

With a dramatic shiver Thomas Evans took a look around the dimly lit living room. “I think this is our best effort yet.” Sticky webs hung in the corners and draped over the dusty sheet covered furniture. Several Spiders hung multi-limbed and menacing on the intricately woven silk. Candles tucked into out of the way corners for safety created thick wavering shadows throughout the room.

“The place looks deserted, like no one’s lived here for years. You did a great job with the dust.” Thomas glanced up into the laughing blue eyes of his partner. “You used a ton of the stuff. It’s not going to be fun to clean up.”

Henry flashed a dimple bracketed smile. “Hey, you’re the one who said you wanted to freak them out. What’s scarier than mounds of dust?” He draped an arm around Thomas’s waist.

“Two hours with a vacuum?” Thomas chuckled. “Is Nicky rounding up the usual suspects?” He leaned into Henry’s one armed hug and pressed a kiss against his jaw. His nose wrinkled when his partner’s graying auburn hair brushed it. Thomas rubbed the tickle with the back of his hand. Henry always let his hair get a little too long before getting his next cut. Thomas liked it. He found shaggy fifty-three-year-old Henry as sexy as he had the twenty-year-old version.

“I think he’s hunting down new victims.” Henry pushed his hair out of his face with his free hand and let Thomas move away to continue his rounds double checking their efforts. “You know he likes newbie scares the best.”

Thomas pushed the door to the bathroom. The creak of the swinging door brought a satisfied smirk to his face. He stepped back and a loose floor board under his foot groaned. He startled and tossed Henry a glare at the sound of a muffled chortle.

Henry raised his hands defensively. “Hey, I didn’t say anything!”

“You laughed.” Thomas retorted.

“Not my fault! Every year you work so hard to make things super scary you end up creeping yourself out.” Henry winked. “It’s cute.”

Thomas rolled his eyes. “I’ve got too much gray hair to be cute.”

“You’re cute to me, baby.” Henry blew him a kiss and Thomas blushed despite his fifty-five years. Twenty-seven of which he’d spent in the company of his flirty partner.

“Stop that.” He muttered without heat. He watched Henry cross the room to check on their hiding place. They would sit on the window seat hidden behind the heavy drapes covering the floor to ceiling windows in the curved alcove off the living room. The view from the windows was spectacular, but the cold crept in during the harsh winters if they weren’t well covered. October was chilly, but thankfully not freezing. Their hidey hole wouldn’t be too uncomfortable. Thomas returned to his own duties. They had a few more things to do before midnight when their guests would arrive.

Hours later Thomas and Henry sat shoulder to shoulder behind the thick draperies. They knocked knees in eager anticipation as front door hinges squealed. Nervous giggles didn’t cover the sound of scuffling feet. Thomas wiggled childlike in his chair and Henry barely stifled a laugh.

“Oh my God, it’s scary in here.” The breathless quality of the girl’s voice gave away her case of nerves. “I heard it’s really haunted. What if they’re all icky or something. I mean, squished by rocks, that’s messy.” She squealed and there was the sound of shuffling feet. “Oh, my God, that’s the biggest spider I ever saw. It can’t be real…” another shriek. “It moved! Stan! Don’t just stand there! Kill it!” Table legs screeched on the hardwood and the bowl on the side table rattled against the lamp.

“Damn, don’t break stuff. Ryder gets really pissed if stuff gets broke.” Henry assumed it was Stan with the warning. He noticed Thomas peeking through two of the drapes and nudged his foot.

“It’s too soon for peeking.” He warned. Thomas pulled back with exaggerated caution. Henry shook his head. “You’re ridiculous.”

Thomas leaned close, presumably to whisper a reply and his breath felt hot on Henry’s ear. He started in surprise. Thomas frowned. “What?”

Henry rubbed a hand over his face and shook his head. “Nothing.  What’d you see?”

“Couple girls, couple boys. The usual. I wonder why they’re worried about Ryder. Nicky’s the one who gets really bent if they break stuff. Maybe we should start doing this in one of the rooms of the Inn.” Thomas looked thoughtful. Henry discerned his expression easily even in the dim light. He was experienced reading his longtime lover and hastened to reassure him.

“It’s a lot scarier in the house. Even rooms in a small B&B like ours hardly feel lived in and it’s not so odd for them to be empty, but a home?” Henry ghosted his fingers over the back of Thomas’s neck and grinned at his shudder. “Sounds like they are getting settled ready to start?”

Thomas’s eyes lit up with mischief. “You know it. Where’s Nicky? He won’t want to miss this.”

“He’s probably peeking in one of the windows making a video for blackmail or something.” Henry took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He concentrated for a long moment picturing their plan. He pressed a button on the remote control he held in the hand not gripping Thomas’s.

There was a soft thump, another, and a soft clatter. It could be the branches of a tree. It could be someone moving slow and clumsy through the house.

“What the hell was that?” a voice hissed. The other boy, Henry decided. He had a slightly higher voice, almost feminine. Henry caught Thomas’s eye and they shared a grin. The fun was about to start.

“Is someone there?” Stan sounded a little steadier than the other boy but not by much. Henry peeked out at them and saw Thomas had been right about their genders. They were young, none of them appeared older than sixteen or seventeen. They sat on sleeping bags they’d unrolled in the middle of the living room floor. Eyes wide they stared around trying to pierce the shadows at the edge of the room without going to investigate. One of the girls stared transfixed at the bottom of the staircase. The stairs led upward into pitch black.

“This is way scarier than I thought it’d be.” She whispered and wrapped her arms around herself. “Maybe it’s kind of disrespectful too. I mean those guys were real people. They might not like intruders.” She rubbed her arms and seemed to shrink into her clothes. “Why is it getting so cold in here.”

“Good God you guys are a bunch of pussies. Ghosts aren’t real. There’s nothing to be afraid of, it’s just a trick they play every year on people stupid enough to be scared.” He turned on his flashlight and played it around the room. Thomas and Henry hissed and drew back behind their curtains. They held very still. “See a bunch of nothing. A bunch of sheets and dust…” The flashlight flickered once, twice, and went out.

“Bob, I’m scared. Let’s just go. We can watch movies at my house or something else. Anything else.” Henry recognized the voice of the girl he’d seen watching the stairs. The sound of Stan slapping the flashlight against his palm came to them.

“What the hell is wrong with this thing. I put new batteries in before I left home.” He sounded more frustrated than freaked. Henry frowned and nodded at Thomas. He rubbed his hands together in gleeful anticipation and made the most God awful sound Henry had ever heard. Some kind of a piercing wail low in his throat. It waivered and echoed through the house. They knew from experience the acoustics made it impossible for someone in the other room to pinpoint the sound.

The girls gave very satisfying screams and a quick look confirmed they were shoving their stuff into their backpacks determined looks on their faces. Those two were done.

“You’re a bunch of chickens.” Stan grumbled. Henry chanced another look. He saw Bob glance at the girls. His gaze lingered longer on one than the other and he shrugged. He knelt to start rolling up his sleeping bag.

“They’re right, man. This is too weird to really be fun. Let’s go.”

Stan ignored them. He stomped around the room and discovered the alcove. He stopped in front of it. “Let’s at least explore before we go. Who’s going to care. Those fags have been dead like twenty years. Maybe we can find something good to take.” He pulled a sheet off one of the larger bulks near the alcove. Dust flew as he revealed an upright piano. He choked and sneezed. “What the hell? There’s real good furniture in here, we could make a real haul.”

Henry felt Thomas freeze beside him, his eyes fixed on the revealed piece of furniture. Damn.

“Dude are you stupid? We can’t take a bunch of furniture.” Bob slung his pack onto his shoulder and let it hang against his back. One of the girls clung to his arm, her fingers intertwined with his.

“Look at this place. It’s like a damn museum or something. I bet there’s a ton of stuff we could just fit in our packs or pockets.” He was looking around with greedy eager eyes.

Henry sighed. There was always one. He chanced letting go of Thomas to reach through the curtain. He let his fingers trail down the back of Stan’s neck and pulled back into hiding. Stan let out a high pitched yelp and whirled around. Henry kept a hand on Thomas willing him to be utterly still. After a long moment, through the small gap in the curtains he had the satisfaction of seeing Stan back away. The other girl latched on to him immediately.

“Stanley.” She whined. He gave another glance over his shoulder and Henry stepped through the gap. Stan’s face went white and he opened his mouth. Henry laid a finger against his lips in warning and the boy’s mouth snapped closed.

He grabbed the girl’s hand and pulled her towards the exit without explanation. The door slammed behind them. Thomas appeared from behind the drapes. “That was weird.” He yawned. “but I’m kind of glad they were easy to scare. Can we go to bed? Nicky’s old enough to let himself in.” He caught a glimpse Henry’s face as he turned for the stairs and stopped in his tracks. Henry allowed himself a bemused smile.

“Damn. I didn’t know you’d done makeup for tonight. No wonder the kid all but ran out of here. You look awful.”

Henry caught Thomas’s hand as he reached out to touch his temple where Henry knew it appeared to be caved in with blood trickling from the broken skin over a shattered skull. “It was a surprise. Do you like it?”

Thomas looked troubled and frowned. “No.”

Henry brushed the back of his fingers against Thomas’s cheek. “It’s just a little fake blood. I’ll wash it off before bed.”

Thomas’s frown didn’t fade but he let Henry urge him towards the stairs. “We’ll clean up in the morning. You get to vacuum.” He called over his shoulder. Without reply, Henry watched him disappear into the darkness of the hallway at the top.

A noise startled Thomas awake. He lay quiet for a few minutes waiting to determine what the sound had been and soon identified voices downstairs. One he recognized. He nudged his still sleeping better half. “Hey Nicky’s back.” He was out of bed and pulled on his thick robe in a flash. Henry was still rubbing sleep from his eyes as Thomas rushed out of the room eager to spend time with their adopted son. He’d started college in the fall and getting used to him being gone was difficult. It was great to have him home even if all he could manage for Halloween was a weekend visit.

Thomas stumbled to a stop at the top of the staircase, and stared bewildered at the sight below. A man in his mid-thirties walked around the room pulling dust covers off of the furniture. For a second Thomas’s mind struggled with what he was seeing before he remembered he and Henry had gone to bed without clearing up their mess. Nicky must have hired someone to help as a surprise. Thomas stepped down the first step. Nicky shouldn’t spend his money on them, he’d have Henry talk to him about it. The front door opened and Nicky’s best friend Ryder walked in suitcases under both arms. He looked a little rough around the edges. Lines at the corners of his eyes and an ill kept beard on his chin.

Thomas blinked at the odd feeling of seeing Ryder look so old. Surely he couldn’t be more than nineteen or twenty he was only a year ahead of Nicky at school. He’d dropped out of college to come home and go to work with his dad when his mom got sick. Thomas supposed it must be hard on him to give up his life that way. And then, just as Henry caught up with him and took his hand in a warm familiar grip, the middle aged man turned to Ryder.

“Thanks, for helping out.” He grinned Nicky’s grin and spoke with Nicky’s voice. Thomas staggered. Henry steadied him.

Ryder dropped the cases to the floor without much care. “I can’t believe you’re moving back here. You must be crazy. This old place is spooky.” He looked around and shuddered. Nicky flipped his braid over his shoulder to hang down his back out of the way. He snapped a dust filled sheet at Ryder and laughed when he sneezed.

“Is that why there’s so much dust? You were scared?” Nicky drew out the last word teasing in the way Thomas knew so well.

Thomas sank to the stairs his mind spinning. “Henry. What’s happening?

”Henry was there beside him strong and solid. He wrapped Thomas in his arms. “You’ll remember. It’s okay. Just let it come.”

His touch and voice were comforting but Thomas sensed that nothing was okay at all. He didn’t pursue the issue as the conversation between the younger men reclaimed his full attention.

“Sorry Dr. Evans, you paid me to make sure the place didn’t fall down.” Ryder swept his hand out in an encompassing motion. “Not fallen down. Mission accomplished.”

“I see.” Nicky’s tone was dry and he piled the sheets in the middle of the floor. “Maybe I should have hired a cleaning crew too. The place is a mess, but really it doesn’t look too bad. Nothing a good dust-buster can’t handle.”

“Are you kidding? This is nothing. You’ve got unused twenty year-old plumbing and electricity to worry about. There’s a shit ton of renovation that has to be done before it’s good for anything. You should knock it down and build new.”  Ryder rubbed his arms and glanced around. “It’s cold and eerie as crap in here. You can stay with me while you the work’s being done.”

“No. I came to open a clinic for the town and there’s not a better building for it than the old B&B. It’d be stupid to start from scratch. I have the resources for it so don’t worry.” Thomas watched as Nicky laughed and slapped his old school friend on the shoulder. “Besides it doesn’t feel cold in here to me. It feels welcoming, like home.” His gaze lingered on the exact spot Thomas and Henry sat on the staircase but then moved on without acknowledging them. Thomas shuddered and leaned against Henry.

“He doesn’t see us.” He whispered.

“No.” Henry’s voice was gentle and Thomas appreciated the kindness. He remained still for a long time watching as the men finished bringing Nicky’s things in and he found a cloth and began to dust.

“How long?” Thomas finally found the nerve to ask. It seemed to him as if they’d sent Nicky off to college only a couple months past.

“Something around eighteen years. I think. I don’t know for sure. I tried keeping track with hash marks in the attic, but the days tend to run together.” He shrugged.

“He’s thirty-six.” Thomas knew he sounded as pathetic as a lost child but he couldn’t seem to help it. “And a doctor.”

“It sounds like it. I guess we did good.” Henry smiled and Thomas managed a tremulous one in return.

“I guess so. Why didn’t you ever tell me?” He felt lost. “Eighteen years. So long.”

“I didn’t know what would happen. I knew you’d figure things out sooner or later. I didn’t want to risk upsetting you. I didn’t know what would happen.” Henry paused. “You do remember, don’t you?”

“It was the rocks.” Thomas sighed. “Poor Nicky, both of us at once.”

“It was a long time ago, and he sure seems like he’s doing fine.” Henry hugged Thomas closer. “I’m so glad we can touch.”

Thomas nodded. “It makes it better.” He agreed. “I know he can’t see us or anything, but do you think we can stay for a while? Watch over him a bit.”

Henry sighed. “Well, I don’t know where we’d go. So why not? Just don’t head off into any bright lights without me.”

Thomas pressed a gentle kiss to Henry’s jaw. “I promise.”

There was another long silence. Thomas broke it.

“Ghosts, huh.”

“Seems like.”

“Boo!”

“Thomas, what?”

“Did I scare you?”

“No.”

Thomas frowned. “Next time I will.”

Henry pulled back a little to glare at him. “Thomas, you don’t scare me.”

“Challenge accepted!” ‘

“I liked you better ignorant.”

Thomas snuggled close. “Liar.”

Henry didn’t contradict him as they returned to watching their son.

Nicky stopped in front of the half uncovered piano and stared at it in silence for a long moment. He glanced over his shoulder at Ryder with a wry look before the sheet the rest of the way free. He settled onto the bench in front of it and touched the keys with a tentative hand. The music was anything but sweet. The old instrument was stiff and out of tune but the memories the sound evoked for Thomas were dear. He closed his eyes and rested his head on Henry’s shoulder.

Thomas remembered sharing the bench with a much younger Nicky at his side. The boy had talent but hated to practice.  Now he picked out a tune that Thomas recognized despite the wrong notes and Nicky’s unsure playing. He smiled and began to hum.

“There’s no place like home.” Henry murmured in his ear.

Thomas chuckled.  “Even if home is stuck in the middle of the weirdest ghost story ever.”

They shared a gentle kiss and settled back to watch quietly content as Nicky resumed his dusting and despite his complaints Ryder bundled together the sheets for disposal.

 

http://dianeadams.virtualdelusions.com/

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Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: THIRDS Sweets, Treats, and Space Princesses by Charlie Cochet

October 26, 2015

To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.

***

This was going to be so much fun!

Dex was practically bouncing with excitement. Or it could be the five chocolate bars he’d inhaled over the last ten minutes. This was his first year participating in the THIRDS annual Halloween charity funfair.

Every year five squads would be chosen at random to help oversee the activities and manage the crowds. This year Destructive Delta was up, and costumes had been selected for each partnership using the very sophisticated method of scribbled names on a piece of paper thrown into a helmet and chosen at random.

The Princess Leia bra had been more of a challenge to get into than Dex had anticipated, but Letty and Rosa had come through for him, though not before Letty threatened to shoot the thing several times.

Assisting with the funfair was the highlight of Dex’s month, and not just because his boyfriend was dressed as Han Solo, complete with snug pants and a pair of black knee high boots that Dex had every intention of making Sloane keep, but because there were rides, games, and lots of yummy food.  Lots of yummy food with copious amounts of sugar. Real sugar.

Their sergeant walked by wearing his purple MC Hammer parachute pants and Dex erupted into peals of laughter. The costume—which wasn’t a costume at all but actually a part of his dad’s wardrobe at one time—came complete with yellow and black cropped jacket. It couldn’t get any better than that. At least until Ash stomped out of their team’s tent dressed like the Cowardly Lion.

“I just want to go on the record saying this is bullshit and I never agreed to this,” Ash growled.

Dex was laughing so hard he couldn’t breathe, and Sloane was at his side patting his back, telling him to breathe before he ended up passing out.

Tony didn’t bother looking up from his tablet. “Your complaint has been heard and ignored, Keeler.”

“But why couldn’t we pick our own costumes?” The more Ash glowered at Dex, the harder Dex laughed. Seeing Cael dressed up like Dorothy had been hilarious, but his brother just looked as adorable as always. It had taken days for Dex to pick a costume after he’d drawn Ash’s name. The possibilities had been endless, but he had to take Letty into consideration. So he’d cheated a little after Sloane had plucked Cael’s name from the helmet.

Between the two of them, they decided on Cael as Dorothy, Ash as the Cowardly Lion, Rosa as the Scarecrow, and Letty as the Tin Man. Rosa hadn’t been impressed by their choice, but she’d gotten her own back when she’d plucked Dex’s name and decided on his current somewhat drafty costume.

Ash glared at his floppy lion tail so hard Dex thought it might spontaneously combust at any moment. “Come on, Sarge.”

“Suck it up, Keeler.” Tony was having none of it. If he had to suffer, so did the rest of them.

“Guess you’re just too legit to quit,” Ash said with a snort.

Tony glanced up, one eyebrow arched. “You want to be smothered up in these pants, son? Because I will do it.” With no further protest coming from Ash, Tony scrolled through his tablet. “All right. You all have your assignments, now get lost. Dex, get Sloane his first round of candy. Sloane, make sure you get two sealed bags.”

“What genius put Daley in charge of the candy run?” Ash asked, shaking his head in disbelief, making his fake furry mane swish. Dex couldn’t help snicker.

“PR,” Tony grumbled. “When they go over budget it’ll be their own fault.”

Dex spotted Calvin in his red with black stripe shirt, black jeans, and red converse heading toward them. He was holding onto Hobb’s tail, and as soon as Calvin and Hobbs reached them, Calvin flipped Ash off. Ash cackled. He hadn’t been able to resist himself after drawing Calvin’s name.

“You two look so adorable,” Ash said, grinning wickedly.

Hobbs hissed at Ash. Their tabby tiger Therian friend was clearly not as amused as Ash was.

“All right, that’s everyone. Letty and Rosa are actually getting work done, so you six get lost.” With that Tony was off. Dex turned when Sloane took hold of his wrist. He placed a kiss to the top of his head and subtly trailed a finger up Dex’s spine. He could feel the tingle through the skin-tight, skin-colored long sleeved T-shirt under his princess bra.

“Tell me again why you couldn’t wear a jacket or something?”

Dex gasped in mock horror. “And ruin the authenticity of my costume? You know me better than that.” The only reason he was wearing the skin-tight T-shirt underneath was so he wouldn’t get too cold.

“You’re half naked,” Sloane grumbled. “There are a lot of people here.”

“By people you mean….”

“There are a lot of guys checking you out.”

Dex turned with a big smile. “Doesn’t matter. You’re the one I go home to every night.”

“Aw, but seriously. Letty will give you her silver jacket if you want it. Last I heard she was about to strangle Rosa with it.”

“Ha! I’d pay to see that go down. Nice try, sexy-pants.”

With a huff, Sloane pulled Dex in for a kiss. “Fine. But if you change your mind, you tell me. I’ll see you soon?”

“Promise.” With a wink Dex made his way to the tent holding all the candy for the various bowls around the park. PR really didn’t know what they were getting into when they put him in charge of the candy. His assignment was supposed to keep him out of trouble. Those poor souls.

Just as he reached the large tent, he heard sniffling. Pausing, he listened. It was hard to hear anything over the laugher, chatting, and screams coming from the rides and haunted houses, but he heard it. Faint and soft.

Rounding the corner, he found a little cheetah Therian boy in a Star Lord T-shirt, a pink puffy tutu over jeans, and Converse sneakers. Big fat tears rolled down his pink cheeks. His blond hair was sticking up in all directions around his tiara. He was the cutest thing Dex had ever seen, and couldn’t be any more than six years old, maybe seven considering he was a cheetah Therian. Dex waved as he approached so he wouldn’t frighten him. The lanyard around Dex’s neck stated he was a THIRDS agent, and when the little boy saw it, his crying turned into sniffles and hiccups.

“What’s the matter, buddy?” Dex asked, kneeling down in front of his new friend.

“They said… I can’t… fight… the space monsters because… I’m too little.” The boy pointed off behind him at the Space Invasion ride. It was a moving ride with laser guns attached to each “ship”. Aliens popped up all over and the aim was to shoot as many as possible. He and Cael had kicked butt at it when they were kids.

“Then… my brother Ronnie says princesses can’t fight, but… I’m a space princess, I can too fight.”

“Hey, I’m also a space princess,” Dex said cheerfully. “I’m Dex.”

The little boy gazed at Dex with wide blue eyes before a smile stretched from ear to ear. “I’m Alex. I like your dress.”

“Thanks. I like your tutu.” Dex held out his hand, his smile wide. “How about we go in there and kick some alien butt?”

“Yeah!” Alex skipped along beside him, his hand in Dex’s as they made their way over to the Space Invasion ride. At that moment Alex’s brother Ronnie approached with his friends, all laughing, joking, and roughhousing. There was a small group, ranging from maybe ten to twelve years old. Ronnie looked about twelve. When he noticed his little brother, he rolled his big brown eyes.

“Alex, you’re too little. Go back to the kiddie rides with mom and Lenny.”

Alex shook his head, his expression determined. “Princesses do too fight, and we’re going to kick your butt.”

Ronnie and his friends looked Dex over, their eyes wide. They noticed his badge and he received several deep frowns.

“That’s cheating,” one of them whined. “He’s a THIRDS agent.”

“Actually,” Dex corrected, “today I’m a princess. Though technically I’m a princess agent.”

Ronnie rolled his eyes. “Whatever. There’s lots of us and one and a half of you, so we’re still going to get more aliens.”

Dex let out a snort. “Yeah, I don’t think so. I was Duck Hunt champion of my school three years in a row.”

He was met with blank stares.

“Duck Hunt? You know, Nintendo game where you shoot the ducks flying out of the bushes?”

More blank stares.

“I weep for your generation.”

Inside the ride, he and Alex climbed into one of the spaceships and each manned their space zapper. The ride was as much for teens and adults as it was for kids, so there were plenty of monsters to shoot at, some moving quicker than others, and all with green dots on them that would turn red when hit. Ronnie and his friends were in the two spaceships in front of them, but even so, Dex put his Duck Hunt skills to use. And his law enforcement training of course.

By the time they reached the end of the ride, Alex and Dex had beaten Ronnie and his crew by twenty three aliens. Dex had missed some on purpose. He hadn’t wanted to make Ronnie and his friends feel too bad about losing. Dex carried Alex out of the ride since Alex had gotten a little scared by the dark tunnel with stars. Outside Dex spotted Sloane waiting for him.

“What happened to the candy?” Sloane asked, his eyes narrowed. “You didn’t eat it, did you?”

“No, I was helping my pal Alex beat some space monsters.” He walked over to Sloane and gave him a wink. “Sloane, this is Alex, fiercest space princess in all the galaxy.” He subtly motioned over to the group of bigger boys.

Sloane blinked in surprise before turning his attention to Alex and smiling warmly. He bowed regally, making Alex giggle. “It’s an honor, your majesty.”

“Princess Alex, this is my space prince Sloane Brodie.”

All the kids looked up at Sloane, mouths hanging open. His sexy boyfriend was big to average sized Therians, Dex could only imagine what Sloane looked like to the tiny ones. Even larger and more imposing. Dex put Alex down and Sloane kneeled. He put his fist over his heart.

“Thank you for keeping my princess safe.”

Alex bowed before patting Sloane’s head. “You’re welcome.”

Dex and Sloane said their goodbyes as Ronnie and all his friends made a fuss over Princess Alex who’d guarded the fierce jaguar Therian’s princess. It was more likely that Ronnie and his friends were impressed at Alex’s association with a THIRDS agent like Sloane. The guy was impressive. Didn’t matter that he was out of uniform. He just had a way of drawing attention.

“Thanks for that,” Dex said, slipping his hand into Sloane’s. His boyfriend was not good with kids. It wasn’t that he didn’t like them, but more that he had no idea what to do with them. He was also slightly terrified by them, but whenever he was needed, he was always there, putting aside his insecurities to help any way he could.

Sloane smiled down at him, his amber eyes sparkling. “Anything for you, princess.” He squeezed Dex’s hand, and Dex couldn’t help himself. He pulled Sloane behind the candy tent for a kiss. It was sweet, warm, and full of love.

“What was that for?” Sloane asked, nuzzling Dex’s temple.

“For you just being you.”

“Are you sure you didn’t eat a whole bag of candy?” Sloane teased.

Dex laughed and threw his arms around Sloane’s neck. “Just kiss me.”

Around them folks were walking around in all kinds of costumes. Kids ran around, squealing with delight as they ate candy and headed for the next ride. Some agents were in their Therians forms, from cheetahs to bears. Despite the music, the squeals, the noise, the somewhat organized chaos, and laughter, there was just him and his space prince. What more could he ask for? Except maybe a chocolate bar, or five.

Charlie Cochet

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Halloween with Andrew Grey #dreamer

October 25, 2015

This month I wanted to do Halloween.  After all it’s October and I thought it would be fun.  When Dominic and I first met, he was working as a pastry chef.  We got along great, but there were things I didn’t find out about him until that first year.  You see Dominic had a love of Halloween.  The costumes, parties, especially giving them, and jack-o-lanterns.  He used to carve eight to ten a season, with all kinds of amazing faces and designs.  When we bought our first home together in Whitefish Bay, he discovered that they held the Great Pumpkin Festival where 1000 jack-o-lanterns were carved and displayed in the village park.

He showed them what he could do and they latched onto him.  He became one of the master pumpkin carvers and would spend evenings down at the park for a week or more, carving the really big pumpkins.  One year he did one with candy corn eyes and another with an amazing face that screamed in real terror.  He was great.  His most amazing pumpkin was one that was misshapen.  Part of it had collapsed and it seemed pinched in part.  I remember being with Dominic when he picked out that pumpkin to carve.  I thought he was nuts.  The following day he called me and said it was done and asked me to come see it.  I was floored.  He’d turned that pumpkin into a crocodile head complete with multiple layers of teeth, eyes on the pinched part and even hands that he’d made with the parts he’d cut away.  It was the best jack-o-lantern ever.

Now here’s the sad part.  I have been trying to find a picture of that jack-o-lantern for two years and haven’t been able to.  It’s very sad because I would love to show it to you.  However I am including some more recent pictures of what he’s done.  I hope you like them and trick or treat.

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This Too Shall Pass with Kate Pavelle

October 23, 2015

This Too Shall Pass

Hi, I’m Kate Pavelle, and my book “Sire” is coming out today. It’s classified as “new adult” because it deals with two 17-year olds. You’ve met one of them, Brent, in the “Steel City Story” series books “Wild Horses” and “Broken Gait.”

One of my beta readers remarked that he and his boyfriend act a bit over-the-top. “But they are teenagers,” she said.  “I guess they can be forgiven.” Which is my point precisely – teen thought and action is often punctuated by black-and-white drama. All or nothing. Triumph or disaster. Love or hate. Which is why I decided, about 15 months ago, to write a book about Brent.

A news headline had caught my eye back then: a 17-year old girl, who was a star student with a bright future, had committed suicide because she couldn’t bear the thought of her religious, conservative parents rejecting her once they were bound to learn she was a lesbian.

Her grieving parents had been appalled. They would’ve loved her the way she was.

 

You might think this is an isolated example. Maybe she was stressed (who isn’t?), or depressed (we all are, on occasion), or scared. You might think there was “something else wrong with her.” That’s not what I thought. I thought, “This could’ve been me.”

I still remember the cold ball of dread in the pit of my stomach and the writhing shame I felt when I had been dismissed from my AP chemistry class, and demoted to the slow, uninspiring chemistry for stupid people. I can still see the warm autumn sun drift through the pebbled bathroom windows of the third-floor girls’ bathroom. The small, antiquated tile in cream and mint green, the single sinks and the drip-drip-drip of a leaky faucet.

I should’ve continued to the stupid people chemistry class, but I needed to escape for just a little bit. Or, maybe, forever.

Would my father, the world-famous chemist and inventor, hate me?

Would his father, another world-famous chemist, scoff?

Would my mom drink away her disappointment?

I had brought shame upon the family.

My English still sucked and I couldn’t keep up.

I was a failure.

The pain, it cut deep. Twisted my gut, squeezed my shoulders, pricked my eyes with tears. I tried to envision a positive outcome of this situation, but I couldn’t.

It wasn’t there, and I wanted it to stop. Stop the stress of constant little failures, mediocre grades, and parental expectations. Stop the shame, eliminate the failure, cleanse my family’s honor.

There had to be a way to wipe the slate clean.

The windows were the kind that tilted in instead of opening wide. I walked all the way to the wall and leaned for a better look.

I could’ve fit through the window – I’d have to squeeze, but there was just enough space to crawl out. The interior courtyard of the school had a little concrete pad in the middle, and grass all around it. I couldn’t see where I was going to fall. Would it hurt? For just a little while, maybe. Unless I fell on grass and survived. If I lived, I’d be in a world of pain and my parents would have those mad, irritated faces and they’d call me stupid again, and… dammit, it sure looked like it would hurt a lot.

I backed away from the window, washed my face, and trudged on to the classroom where only losers too slow, too ignorant, too unintelligent to carry on a glorious family legacy, sat in an unruly gaggle of seats. As I joined them, I held on to the thought that later I’d find a way to wipe the slate clean and stop the horrid and unbearable shame.

My parents’ reaction was a revelation. They didn’t explode. They just nodded and carried on, burdened by their own troubles. It wasn’t all about me and about my AP chemistry class failure. Life wasn’t black-and-white. There was no “big talk,” except for my dad letting it slip that he failed a class at my grade level too.

Inconceivable!

 

That girl who’d discovered she was into girls, she too couldn’t comprehend a world without absolutes, and I feel for her. I connect to the turmoil of helplessness she must’ve felt, the conclusions she must’ve reached given both limited information and a limited perspective on life.

Then I thought of Brent, and his father, and the kiss Brent had shared with Lindsey in “Broken Gait.” The kiss that was merely okay, and didn’t even begin to compare to the one Brent had shared with Robbie. And I thought, Brent, this book’s about you.

If I can convince just one young person that parents are both fallible and loving, that this, too, shall pass and a better day will come, writing late into the night will have been worth it. If I can convince just one person of any age that disappointing a parent does not equate to being a failure at everything, the painstaking timeline coordination with “Broken Gait” will have been worth it. If I can keep just one teen from thinking that erasing their existence is the one and only way to stop the pain, then all the endless edits will also have been worth it.

Live on, my friends. Cherish your triumphs, but also cherish your learning experiences. For no one can grow without falling flat on the face, scrambling up to the feet, and moving forward again. And spread kind, loving words to offset the sting that comes with these lessons. You never know – even a boy or a girl who seem to have it all together might think a reasonably benign situation is the end of the world.

For them, it might be.

 

If you’d like to put your name into the hat for a drawing of two free e-book copies of “Sire,” leave a comment below. Respond to this topic. People with hidden inner lives are all around you, and a kind word can make a world of a difference. So, go on! Interact! I’ll respond to your comments as best I can.

 

Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Feeling You by Santino Hassell

October 22, 2015

To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.

 

 

Stygian opened with their fastest song partially because their set was less than thirty minutes, but mostly because the crowd’s energy was so low that Watts seemed to think they could infuse it by force. You’d think people would be more amped on Halloween, but it wasn’t going to happen.

They were in a nowhere bar between Austin and Houston. A less exciting stop along the route than the gigantic Buc-ee’s gas station sprawled just up the road. It was a sad reality but one Kennedy had accepted since he was the one who’d allowed Watts to book the gigs for this tour while stoned.

But despite the disaster of the sound equipment and a sneery audience in half-assed costumes, they nailed the first couple of songs. Watts, in his Mad Max inspired outfit, crooned into the microphone while hanging on Quince, and Jeremy drummed to perfection. A stranger would think he’d been in the band for years rather than a couple of months, and Kennedy wouldn’t blame them. The kid belonged.

Jeremy was soft in places where the rest of them were hardened from old battle scars, but he was the puzzle piece they’d been missing for months. He played with a passion capable of giving Kennedy the shivers, and during each song his expression was so blissed out it probably resembled his come face. Eyes half shut, platinum blond hair clinging to his sweaty forehead, and lips parted. Jeremy didn’t need a costume—he was a fucking angel. It was hard to look away.

And each time he slammed his sticks against the drum kit and his biceps flexed, Kennedy didn’t look away. A couple of times, Jeremy caught him staring. The third time—when they were both very briefly still right before transitioning into the next song—Kennedy’s eyefuck game was so strong that Jeremy released a little laugh. Unsure. Nervous. Just like him.

Kennedy half-smiled and flashed a thumbs up. That, more than the ogling, sent a flush scorching over Jeremy’s fair skin. It was so easy to get a reaction out of him. Kennedy wondered if that extended to sex.

Jeremy’s eyes widened, and it was almost like he knew what Kennedy had been thinking. It was impossible of course, but—

“Quit flirtin’ and play, ya fuckin’ queers!”

Watts kept singing without missing a beat but he sauntered to the middle of the stage and grabbed his crotch before giving a suggestive hip cant. A collective grumble started in the center of the crowd and intensified after Watts adlibbed a lyric about wondering how many rednecks it takes to fill a Grindr dashboard.

Quince broke into hyena laughter but Kennedy wasn’t amused. The adrenaline burning up his spine felt a lot like the warning sign for an impending brawl, and Jeremy keyed into his tension.

He moved his lips in a silent question: Should we leave?

Kennedy shook his head. Just play.

And that’s when one of the motherfuckers nailed Jeremy in the head with a bottle.

There was barely a thought between the moments when Kennedy dropped his bass and dove into the crowd. He went blank and reemerged from the haze of fury in the middle of a melee. His fist connected with someone’s jaw but there were so many people swarming that he couldn’t tell if he was assaulting the right homophobe.

He knew the rest of the band had thrown themselves into the ruckus because of Watts’ exuberant whoops and Quince’s string of meme-like insults. A quick look confirmed Jeremy was holding his own.

When it was all said and done, the police cleared out the bar and they were kicked out with their instruments half packed. They celebrated surviving the gig, and the fight, by sharing two bottles of Jack Daniels. By midnight, Quince and Watts were screwing in the next room while Jeremy drunkenly crawled atop Kennedy’s prone form and straddled his lap.

“Why’d you get so mad?” Jeremy teetered forward before bearing down harder with his knees. “You went rage-blackout after that guy threw the bottle.”

“He could have hurt you.”

“It was plastic.”

“Doesn’t matter. He shouldn’t have touched you.”

Jeremy bit his lip and nodded seriously. “You’re confusing.”

Kennedy got grabby when he was drunk and then everything was a little bit more dangerous. Which is why he didn’t stop himself from putting his hands on Jeremy’s narrow hips, fingers just grazing the swell of his ass.

“Why do you say that?”

“Because sometimes I can feel how much you’re into me even though you act like you’re not.”

Kennedy peered at Jeremy from beneath his lashes. “What do you mean you can feel it?”

“I just…” Jeremy gestured too wide and nearly lost his balance. “Sometimes when we’re really close. Like this. Or when you’re looking at me, I can… feel what you’re feeling.”

“Could you feel me when we were on stage?” Kennedy’s fingers tightened. “Before that guy threw the bottle?”

“No.”

“But then how—“

“That time I got a flash of what you were imagining. I… saw it.”

Kennedy’s heart sped and his skin prickled. “Does this happen a lot?”

“Nuh uh.” Jeremy shook his head, blond hair flying. “Mostly with you. Because you’re so—“

Kennedy silenced the sentence with a hand pressed over that wide mouth, and Jeremy dissolved into giggles. He collapsed on top of Kennedy, burrowed into his side, and was so drunk there was no way he’d remember this in the morning.

But the slim limbs wrapping around Kennedy and the soft mouth grazing his jaw acted as seals imprinting the moment into his brain. He’d always known there was something special about Jeremy—something other than his talent and pretty face. There had seemed to be so much more behind those haunting gray eyes, and now Kennedy knew the truth.

“Maybe don’t tell anyone else about this, okay kid?”

His answer was a low snore. Kennedy laughed quietly and pulled Jeremy closer.

 

Author Bio:

Santino Hassell says that while New York City is his heart, writing is his soul. He writes LGBTQ romance heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of NYC, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

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Find Santino:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

 

STYGIAN:

http://www.amazon.com/Stygian-Santino-Hassell-ebook/dp/B016H8X136/

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6830

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Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Necro-Quellers by M.D. Grimm

October 22, 2015

To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.

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Pain spiked through my shoulder and knee as I leaned against the wall to stay standing. My best friend in the entire world stood in front of me, acting like an immovable barrier between me and the ten corpses possessed by the jiangshi shuffling toward us. Maverick told me the jiangshi were evil spirits known to the Chinese, and they infested newly dead corpses and reanimated them. How such monsters showed up in freaking San Francisco, Maverick told me was courtesy of an amateur conjurer named Mr. Chinn. Maverick would know—this was his business. He was a clairvoyant, often communicated with the dead, and every now and then expelled demons from possessed persons. He hated his gift, but used it to help those in need. I loved his strength and courage… of course, I loved everything about him. I was hopelessly, pathetically in love with my best friend who also happened to be supremely straight.

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“Reggie, time to go buddy,” he said.

I cringed. “Right. What with my fucking shoulder and knee, I’m sure I’ll outrun them.”

Maverick grunted. With two machetes in each hand, he succeeded in keeping the Jiangshi at bay, but he couldn’t keep this up forever. Two corpses suddenly pounced, and I flinched even as Maverick sliced and diced them like some badass movie action hero. I guess having a retired, ex-Army sniper for a father helped with stuff like this.

Maverick suddenly took a step backward, closer to me, and crouched.

“On my back,” he said.

“What—?”

“Now.”

Gritting my teeth, I limped forward and climbed on Maverick’s back. A groan of pain escaped me before I stifled it. I wrapped one arm over his shoulder, the other slipped under his arm, and I gripped my hands tightly against his chest. My knee didn’t like me bending it but I didn’t have a choice. I tightened my legs around his waist and he only grunted as my weight settled on his back. I might only be five feet tall compared to his six foot frame, but I was more muscled than him. I wasn’t a lightweight.

“You will hold on to me.” There was steel in his voice. “You will not let go. I will not lose you.”

I tightened my grip and pressed closer to him. “Right.”

I felt Maverick take a breath, then he launched forward, running at full speed. The jiangshi surged forward and hands tried to grab me. I held on tighter and trusted Maverick with my life. Maverick’s arms never stopped, never slowed, and limbs and bodily fluids flew everywhere, drenching us it disgusting crap. But suddenly we burst out of the chaos and Maverick ran faster down the deserted street before turning sharply into an alley. I felt him stagger and as he stumbled forward and fell to one knee, I shoved off his back, falling to the ground beside him. We both gasped for breath, shaking with adrenaline.

A few minutes passed before I gripped his shoulder. He looked at me, and I was always struck by his pale, blue eyes. They were unusual eyes, unique and hypnotizing.

I smirked. “My hero.”

He scowled, his lean face tightening. “Bite me.”

“Anytime, anywhere.” I chuckled at his obvious discomfort. He knew I was gay—he didn’t care—but he hated it when I flirted with him. Which, of course, made me flirt every chance I got.

“Get off,” Maverick said, but he chuckled.

“What now?” I asked.

His expression turned cold, his smile sharp. “Now we find the bastard who caused all this and end him.”

I knew it was my fault, but I couldn’t kick myself right now, I had to focus on survival. Mr. Chinn gripped my shoulder with one hand and the other pointed a gun at my temple. I hated being the damsel in distress.

Maverick stood a few feet from us, his own gun pointed at Mr. Chinn, the look in his eye deadly. Maverick was irrational when it came to protecting those he cared for. I had to hope he’d keep a level head.

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“Put your gun down, now! Or your friend becomes one of my pets!” Mr. Chinn was screaming threats but I don’t think Maverick was listening. His eyes were cold, calculating, and even I was a little scared. He suddenly met my eyes and jerked his head in a nod. I swallowed hard. I knew self-defense, had trained for years, and it looked like it was time to employ some.

I took a deep breath before gripping Mr. Chinn’s wrist and shoving his arm up even as my body dropped to the floor. I obviously caught him off guard and his hand convulsed, firing the gun. A second shot quickly followed, and I yelped as Mr. Chinn jerked backward and collapsed onto the floor. With wide eyes, I looked over to see that a neat bullet hole marred his forehead. I swung my head around to look at Maverick. His expression was frigid, hard, unforgiving.

“You good?” he asked.

I cleared my throat to make sure I could speak. “Yeah. You?”

“Yeah.”

***

I sat on the bumper of the ambulance. The EMT patched me up as much as she could, insisting I go to the hospital. I wasn’t about to argue, but I wanted to see Maverick first. The cops interrogated both of us separately, but we’d had time before they arrived to coordinate our story. It’s not like we could mention zombies and get away clean.

After about an hour, Maverick approached, and the EMT stepped away. He watched me cautiously before easing down beside me on the bumper. He wondered if I was afraid of him. Silly man.

“Hey, ghost boy,” I said, smiling.

Relief relaxed his features. “Hey, gay man.”

We were silent for a long moment as activity went on around us.

“While I don’t condone taking the life of another,” I said softly. “I will thank you for saving my life.”

He rested an arm across my shoulders. “You’re welcome.”

I leaned into him, resting my head against his chest. We got looks, and I know Maverick didn’t care. We’d been through a lot together and I knew he loved me. Just not that way. Oh well, I was damn lucky to know him.

“Wanna grab a beer?” I asked.

“Yeah. After I shower for about fifty years.”

I chuckled.

Website: www.mdgrimmwrites.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=md+grimm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001710645622

 

Picture credits:

Pic 1: Jiang Shi by Anja Millen at DeviantArt

Pic 2: J for Jiang Shi by tohdaryl on DeviantArt

Pic 3: Zombie-art JD Rucker

 

Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Big Bad Wolf by Piper Vaughn

October 21, 2015

To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.

Big Bad Wolf (A Portland Pack Chronicles Flash Fic)

It wasn’t often Avery and Jaden’s schedules allowed them time to shift and play together, but on Halloween, they got a rare opportunity to run and pounce in Forest Park.

As Avery stripped, shivering at the blustery wind, he took a moment to admire Jaden’s animal form. Simply put, Jaden was beautiful. Where Dylan, Avery’s mate, was a powerhouse of a wolf, large and heavily muscled, Jaden was compact, built more for speed than brute strength. Shades of cream and russet accented his shiny auburn coat. He lifted his rear, tail wagging, and yipped encouragingly, his amber eyes gleaming with mischief.

Avery smiled and stepped out of his briefs, letting the change overtake him. The trees swirled as he shrank into his hedgehog form, his spines bursting forth with the familiar flash of pain. When it was over, he sneezed at the overwhelming scents of loamy soil, moss, and decaying leaves.

A wet tongue dragged over his snout and then Jaden nuzzled at him gently. Hedgehogs weren’t tactile creatures like wolves, but Avery nuzzled back, drawing in Jaden’s sweet, musky smell.

For a while they romped through the trees, Avery scurrying on his tiny paws, and Jaden loping ahead before circling back to keep pace with him. With a wolf as his companion, any predators that might have eyed Avery for a snack kept their distance.

Eventually they returned to where they’d left their clothing. Avery shifted to his human form and sat to reorient himself until the cold compelled him to start yanking on his clothes.

“That was fun,” Jaden said once they were dressed. “I need a shower before we go out, though.”

Avery nodded. “Me too. I have a surprise for Dylan tonight.”

Jaden arched his eyebrows. “You didn’t mention any surprises.”

“Wait and see.”

“Is he meeting you at Wolfhound?”

“Yeah. He had to go look at Miss Betty’s car. She’s helping me by making him stay for dinner.”

Jaden smiled and shook himself, sending a dried leaf flying from his ginger hair. “Well, I’ll see you there. Eight o’clock?”

“Yep. But I might be fashionably late.”

Jaden snorted. “When aren’t you?”

Avery grinned cheekily. “Just have your camera ready.”

 

****

 

Two hours later, he hesitated in front of Wolfhound. Two men stood smoking to the left of the entrance and they eyed him with open fascination as Avery adjusted his skimpy costume.

Here goes nothing.

Chin raised, he swept into Wolfhound. As usual, hair metal greeted him. Avery ignored the screeching guitars, eager to see Dylan after spending the day apart.

Sensing his mate’s presence on the other side of the bar near the pool tables, Avery hurried his steps. He ignored the side glances and comments from the other patrons. He wasn’t the only one in costume, but he stood out for several reasons.

Jaden and Sawyer saw him first. Quiet, implacable Sawyer choked on his mouthful of beer while Jaden let out a bark of a laugh that drew everyone’s attention.

When Dylan spotted Avery, his eyes bugged. Avery approached him and slowly spun around so Dylan had a view of the back of his costume. He shook his ass, swinging the fake bushy tail suspended from the broad belt above his hips.

“What. The hell. Are you wearing?” Dylan sounded constipated.

Avery shot him a coy look over his shoulder—which Dylan missed, as he was staring at Avery’s tail in horror.

“I’m the big bad wolf.” Avery turned to face his mate. “Sort of.”

The costume was a loose interpretation. It consisted of a skintight gray romper with a low-cut halter top that left most of Avery’s chest bare. Furry leg warmers made up his hind paws and a hood with big ears and tassels completed the outfit. Avery hadn’t bothered tucking, and the material hid nothing. Both his bulge and lower asscheeks were on full display. Any other time, he wouldn’t have been caught dead in something so tacky, but it was Halloween. If there was ever time for a trashy costume, it was now.

“I brought you something too.” Avery dug into his messenger bag and pulled out the sweater, nose, and ears he’d purchased for Dylan. The sweater had fake spines and padding on the back, meant to mimic the look of a rounded hedgehog.

Dylan snapped his jaw shut. “Fuck no.”

Around him, their friends watched with open amusement. Too bad Lucas wasn’t there. He would’ve at least leered at Avery a little.

Avery pouted. “Come on. Don’t be a spoilsport.”

“Nope.” Dylan turned away.

Avery narrowed his eyes at his back. Dylan could play hard to get if he wanted, but Avery would wear him down.

He started his attack with a lot of bending—over the pool table to line up a shot, down to the floor when he “accidentally” dropped his cue stick. He felt eyes on his ass every time, and once or twice, he might have wiggled his hips a little just to set the tail swinging.

Finally, Dylan growled and snatched the bag off the table where Avery had set it.

“Fine,” he snapped. “I’ll wear the damn costume if you stop flashing your ass! I don’t want anyone else seeing what’s mine.”

Avery widened his eyes and amped up his Southern twang. “Me? Flashing? I haven’t the slightest idea what you mean.”

Dylan glared. “Shut it.”

Avery watched as Dylan pulled on the sweater and then set the ears on top of his head. The nose came last, and it made Dylan look absolutely ridiculous. Avery smiled gleefully and pounced on his mate. He kissed Dylan, not caring that Wolfhound wasn’t a gay bar. No one in their group would mind, and Avery didn’t care about anyone else.

Dylan growled again and dragged him close. “Such a brat,” Dylan whispered against his mouth. “I oughta put you over my knee.”

Light flashed and a shutter clicked as someone nearby took a picture.

Avery laughed and nipped at Dylan’s lower lip. “Maybe later. And if you’re a good boy, I’ll keep the tail on.”

 

****

 

Meet Dylan and Avery in Prickly Business, now available from Dreamspinner Press.

PB - 500x750

Buy link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6530

And look for the sequel, Prickly By Nature, on November 19th!

 

****

 

Piper Vaughn Bio

Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a two-thousand-book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life… even if it’s only in a book.

 

Visit Piper at:

Website

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Loss, Recovery, Hope… and Cannibalism with Evelyn Esrig

October 21, 2015

Loss Recovery Hope and Cannibalism

Hi! I’m Evelyln Esrig and today I’m releasing my novella Sweetbreads and Sweet Nothings. It’s a strange little book about loss, recovery, hope, … and cannibalism. If you watch NBC’s Hannibal I’m pretty sure my story will seem tame by comparison.

The idea for Sweetbreads and Sweet Nothings came about ages ago, when I rediscovered the Consensual Cannibalism case. The story of a cannibal and his willing prey first cropped up in the news cycle in the early 2000s back when I was in high school. Apparently a two German men named Armin Meiwes and Bernd-Jurgen Brandes met in a cannibal forum and arranged to meet so that Meiwes could butcher and eat Brandes, with Brandes’ full and enthusiastic consent.  Needless to say, my friends and I, geek scifi/horror nerds the lot of us, were obsessed for weeks. But like many teenagers, our attention spans were fleeting and we eventually moved on.

Years later, I had a shiny new creative writing degree and a lot of free time on my hands when the story crossed my path again. It popped up on something like Facebook or Twitter in February 2012. Once again I was enthralled. Consensual cannibalism. How was that possible? The ethical ramifications alone made for some pretty meaty material.

I almost began writing about a cannibal but then I thought “What about the man he ate? What must his family think of this person they thought they knew willingly consenting to be consumed? What must it be like to be that person’s next of kin?” and suddenly I had a whole different story on my hands.  I had a story about someone who lost someone they loved for reasons beyond their understanding and that was a story I wanted to explore more than I wanted to get inside the mind of a killer.

I wanted to be as non-judgmental as possible. I wanted to try and understand. I wanted to understand what would motivate someone to commit the crime of cannibalism, assisted suicide by cannibalism, and what it was like to have someone disappear from your life without a trace. I tried to make it about empathy and rebuilding and recovery. I parked myself at my local Cheesecake Factory listening to My Chemical Romance and The Arctic Monkeys and ate a lot of complimentary bread as I worked.

But what started as a simple story about being left behind evolved from an experiment in fiction for me in the spring of 2012 when someone close to me committed suicide. Needless to say, suddenly I was much deeper in touch with my main character than I had been before. The story became an exercise in acceptance and understanding something that is beyond comprehension – How do we come with the reality that sometimes people choose to leave us in violent and tragic ways? How do we move on? How do we heal? These are the questions that I tried to explore in this story. I don’t know if I accomplished it but I know that when I finished writing it, I certainly felt healed.

Have you ever had an experience like that – where you fell into something that helped you just the way you needed in the least likely way? It’s a beautiful thing and I’d love to hear about it.

<3

@evelynesrig

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evelynesrig@gmail.com