Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: The Merran Changling by Jaime Samms

October 19, 2015

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

 

“’Kay, seriously, Kimmo, this is ridiculous.” Louis tugged his retriever’s leash. “You’re a water dog. You’re supposed to swim. You don’t swim. So fine. Can we go get coffee? I mean dude. Six AM. I need caffeine.”

Kimmo gave a short, displeased yip and plunked his ass down on the well-worn dock planks.

“Kim-mo!” The dog was not moving unless Louis physically hefted him off his ass and carried him. “You’re killin’ me here. You think if you stare out to sea long enough, some pretty girl with a tail will swim up and save you walking another block?” Something splashed and Kimmo yipped again.

“The hell?” Louis stepped closer to the dock’s edge. Wood creaked underfoot. Kimmo backed on his butt toward the grass. Swallowing his own terror, Louis leaned further, like a few more inches could bring the distant…whatever-it-was…into focus.

“What is that?” Whatever it was, it was definitely bigger than the average fish caught off this pier. Just under the mirror surface of the water, it sped toward them.

Beneath Louis, planks groaned and dipped. Louis flailed, dropping Kimmo’s leash as rotten wood gave way. The crack of wood and screech of nails was silenced by water rushing over Louis’s head. Kimmo’s yipps deepened to alarm and then were lost. Something heavy slammed into Louis’ back, pushing him deeper under its weight. Seaweed tangled about his ankles and wound around his arms.

He tried to scream. Rank water flooded into him. The sun’s rays arrowed into the deep, chasing him downward, reaching insubstantial fingers through the golden filigree of rising bubbles.

Darkness crowded in. Cold wheedled through skin into bones, making them heavy. His chest burned. His throat closed and ached. The sun glimmering above became a dream-like promise as water clogged his lungs. His vision darkened to a field of wavering plants, lashed by his frenzy. His feet touched sand and sank. He lost feeling and the battle with whatever anchored him to the harbour floor. In a last pulse, all the air left his body.

He stared up at the unattainable glow above as it slowly glinted toward darkness.

A face, ethereal and haloed in wavering fronds appeared in his fading vision. Cold, hard hands gripped his face. Something chilled covered his mouth. Icy air pushed down his windpipe into his body, freezing him from the inside out.

Kicking, prying at the hands, he tried to push his way to the surface as the weight over his back eased away. The hands didn’t let him go. Something wrapped around both legs, cold and hard, like steel, ridges cutting into his flesh. The warm flow of his blood mingled with the freezing water.

Again, the face loomed. Lips closed over his. Frigid air was forced into him. He quailed. His chest tightened, his body convulsed and he tried to break free.

Arms wrapped around his chest and water rushed over him as he was propelled through it, not upward to safety, but further from shore. He writhed, scratching and struggling but the grip only got harder, the pinch of spines into his flesh deepening. The breath once more forced into him made him scream with the pain of the cold.

He pushed at the solid chest pressing close to his, blinking through salt water at the face so near his own. Slanted silver eyes fixed on him. They didn’t look at all menacing. Curious. Worried, but not evil. Then the creature leaned close again and placed its chill lips over his.

Let me save you.

Louis blinked and shook his face free for another look at the creature. His lungs protested as the air in them grew stale and tried to force its way out to make room for more.

The creature laid it’s forehead against Louis’s temple. The Sea will take you. Alive or dead, it will take you. Let me keep you.

The creature moved back and looked into Louis’ eye. The plea was as readily apparent in that gaze as it had been in Louis’ mind.

He nodded.

The creature took Louis’ face in cold, unyielding hands, closed lips over Louis’, and pushed air into him. His body shuddered under the assault of cold and he quickly went numb. His brain screamed silently for surcease before darkness crowded in.

Heat, glorious and heavy, settled over Louis. He smiled. A dream. The Sea hadn’t claimed anything. A wet tongue lapped at his face and he laughed. “Kimmo. Cut it out.” He pushed the furry face away and opened his eyes.

Bright sunshine hammered down on him. His back was cool, but his chest and face felt like they might fry in the direct glare.

“You’ll have to turn soon.”

The unexpected voice had Louis whipping around to find its source. His body, heavy and clumsy, flopped, disobeying his orders and he looked down.

His legs…tail?

He kicked—flopped—the huge fluke where his feet should be was too heavy to lift.

“You’re weak, still. You need more sun to harden your scales, but your skin will burn easily. You’re paler than most.”

Louis reared back, away from the speaker, helpless to get away.

“Careful. The rocks are sharp. Your scales aren’t hardened yet.”

A young man, eyes slightly slanted and reflecting the silver-blue of the autumn sky, gazed at him. Long, pitch-black hair hung around his shoulders, damp tendrils falling across one high cheekbone. His smooth, pale chest darkened to blueish just under his nipples. The rest of him hid behind a rock.

“The sun has no mercy for our kind.”

“Who—” Louis tried to sit up. “What?”

The man smiled at him, revealing a row of unsettlingly pointed teeth

“What…are you? What did you do to me?” His horrified glare had no effect on the man.

“Gave you to the sea. You consented.”

“I—you’re Merran?”

His companion nodded.

“But you’re a myth.”

The smile softened. He pushed some hair off Louis’ face. “Indeed. And I suppose now so are you.””

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More from Jaime Samms here!

 

Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Survival by Chris T. Kat

October 15, 2015

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

 

Survival

(This story is set between Breeding Stations and Battle Stations)

 

“Berit! Faster!” Tom yelled behind me.

What did he think I was doing? Taking a stroll in the park?

Since I didn’t have enough oxygen left in my lungs to keep breathing and ranting at him, I remained quiet. Well, as quiet as one can be when one is being chased by a group of rams. I hated those creatures. I hated all those fucking war beasts the Tash’Ba, our worst enemy, created. Period.

Rams were particularly nasty because they hunted in packs and their razor-like claws could slice you open before you realized what was happening. Add to that their sickly greenish and yellow scales and the red ridge on their heads and they were a nightmare come true.

“Berit! Run!”

“I am running,” I wheezed out.

“Watch out!” Tom’s warning came too late. A ram, a rather large one, stepped out behind a large tree with white, fern-like leaves. My momentum propelled me right into the beast’s chest where I impacted with a morbid smack.

That was it. I was dead.

I glanced up, forcing my muscles to stop trembling so much. The ram blinked at me from reptilian eyes as it tilted its head. Slowly, I moved my left hand to one of the many pockets of my pants and searched for a bluster. The ram threw its head back and emitted an ear-piercing trill. Other rams answered immediately.

A branch snapped to my left, and the ram and I looked toward the noise’s source. Tom stood there, the sun glinting on his glistening skin. His frill folded out in all his red and orange glory. “Berit.”

“I’m sorry.” My voice broke when one, two, no, three rams hurried through the undergrowth, appearing at Tom’s back. He clutched his gun in both hands and his chest heaved.

“No giving up,” Tom said.

I gave a short, startled laugh. No giving up? What were we supposed to do? We couldn’t survive this. From the corner of my eyes, I caught sight of more and more rams closing in on us. We were dead, so dead.

I opened my mouth to inform Tom of our impending demise—or maybe I was going to tell him that I loved him more than life itself—when shouts and splintering wood attracted our attention.

Carson, my best friend, crashed through the brush, followed by his wildly firing mate, Niyara. She was yelling at him to go faster. What was it with our Nadisc mates today? There was only so much a human body could do.

An elgoth chased my two friends, trampling whatever got in its way. The elgoth swished its tail from side to side, destroying trees left and right.

“Carson!” I shouted.

His head snapped toward me, his eyes widening even more in his pale face when he discovered me. I didn’t even want to imagine how I must look—on my knees in front of a looming ram—the picture of pure defeat.

He faltered in his steps, which gave the elgoth enough time to catch up with them. An overturned tree trunk cut off their escape route. Niyara took a protective stance in front of Carson. Her tail whipped through the air, obviously annoying the elgoth, who roared at them.

This couldn’t be it. We couldn’t end like that. We’d found the watcher’s station but none of us had managed to get inside because of those damn Tash’Ba war beasts. Although… where was Fleur? She’d come in handy right now.

The rams trilled to each other. What were they talking about? Who got the first dip on the tasty meat right in front of them? I shuddered. Rams didn’t kill their prey before they ate it, and I’d seen enough of my comrades mauled by rams that I knew I wouldn’t go without a struggle.

My fingers closed around the bluster when the ram next to me scurried away. Confused, I watched it leave, whistling a sharp, commanding trill. The other rams formed into a triangle-like formation and scuttled after the one who was obviously in charge.

Inhaling deeply, I rose to my feet. Relief flooded my veins when Tom materialized at my side, sliding his tail around my waist to anchor me to him.

“What just happened? I can’t believe they let us go,” I asked.

Tom’s tail tightened and his eyes darkened. Something was wrong, horribly wrong. I glanced in the direction the rams were heading. A shocked gasp tumbled over my lips. The rams took up position around the elgoth and Carson and Niyara.

“No! Carson!”

Tom pulled me against his chest, leaving me absolutely no room to move. Niyara wound her tail around Carson, imitating Tom’s movement. Even from this distance, I could see tear tracks on Carson’s face. Everything in me turned to ice. This was my best friend. I couldn’t just stand by and do nothing.

“Tom,” I groaned. “I gotta help him.”

“If we shoot now, we might hit him or Niyara.”

“But—”

I was cut off by the elgoth’s roar. The rams snarled before they attacked. I screamed, “Carson!”

One second one of the rams closed its muzzle on Carson’s right arm and the next moment it dissolved into a puddle of stinking glob.

Carson stared at me, disbelief and relief written all over his face. Niyara pumped a fist into the air, yelling in triumph before she whirled Carson around to kiss him senseless.

I sagged against Tom, battling the urge to curl into a ball and cry. Tom caressed my face as he folded up his frill. “Fleur. She must’ve gotten inside the watcher’s station and found the decoder.”

A yank on my leg caused me to jump. When I looked down, Fleur climbed up on me in her typical lizard-style gait. She bumped her cold, wet nose against mine, then purred, “Berrrit. Fleur help.”

“You did. Thank you,” I said softly.

For now we’d survived. Again.

***

Thank you for reading!

 

You can learn more about my books on my blog (there are also links to a couple of free stories):  http://christikat.blogspot.com. You can also follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/christi_kat and on GoodReads http://www.goodreads.com/ChrisTKat.

Character Creations with Antonia Aquilante – Post + Giveaway

October 14, 2015

Hi, everyone! My name is Antonia Aquilante, and I’m excited to be here today to talk with you about my debut novel, The Prince’s Consort, releasing October 16th. The Prince’s Consort is a fantasy romance about a prince and the son of a glass merchant. Here’s the blurb:

 

Legends tell of large cats defending the principality of Tournai, but such creatures have been lost to time. 

Or have they?

Prince Philip inherited the throne at a young age, and since then, his life has centered around ruling his country and resisting those pressuring him to take a wife and conceive an heir—forcing him to hide his attraction to men. When kind-hearted Amory is offered to the prince in exchange for more time for Amory’s father to complete a commission, both Philip and Amory are horrified. But Philip agrees to keep Amory at the palace, where they gradually become friends, then lovers. For the first time in his life, Philip is free to share not only his heart, but the magical shape-shifting ability that runs in the royal bloodline.

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

***

When I’m writing, the ideas for my stories often come in the form of characters first, and that’s what happened with The Prince’s Consort. I was actually writing a different story entirely, and Amory and Philip were meant to be minor characters who were only in a couple of scenes. They were much older in that story and had been together for a long time. The first scene I wrote with Amory in it just flowed – and I loved Amory immediately.

More about Amory and Philip’s characters kept coming to me, but I was writing a story about someone else. So I made notes about Amory and Philip and set them aside, telling myself I would write their story later, after I finished what I was working on. But even as I wrote that other story, Amory and Philip kept filtering in. I suddenly knew how they meet; I could see the scene in my head. I learned more and more about who they are – Amory’s quiet strength and huge capacity for love, Philip’s protectiveness and hidden vulnerability. And I really wanted to know how they got from that first meeting to the place I knew they’d be in the story I was writing at the time (living happily ever after, of course).

I repeated to myself – and them – over and over to be patient. Soon – I’d write their story soon.

And then I hit a wall in the story I was writing. Something wasn’t working, and I couldn’t quite place what. I beat my head against that wall for a long while, but I got no closer to the problem, and Amory and Philip were still demanding their story be told.

I’m the type of person who likes to finish a project before moving to the next. Every story I’ve written, I’ve finished before beginning another. Normally I just keep working at it, keep thinking and writing, and I get back on track. I didn’t this time. I did something I never do; I put the other project aside and turned to Amory and Philip’s story. I’m so happy I did. And not just because The Prince’s Consort has become my first published novel (even though I’m still giddy about that!), but because I loved figuring out who Amory and Philip are and the world they live in, and what happens to them on their road to happily ever after. I hope you enjoy reading their story as much as I did writing it.

***

For a chance to win a copy of The Prince’s Consort, tell me about a time when you did the opposite of what you would normally do and the situation turned out better than you expected. Or did it not turn out so well?

***

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

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

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

 

Website: www.antoniaaquilante.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AntoniaAquilanteAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/antoniaquilante

Tricks is Out! Win a FREE autographed copy with Rick R. Reed

October 12, 2015

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I confess: the world of sex workers fascinates me.

And what fascinates me more is how love can flourish in such an environment. This was the question I posed to myself when writing TRICKS.

I also love the idea of an opposites-attract love story. What could be better, I wondered, than taking a male stripper and a kind of nerdy, straight-laced guy who hardly would ever even frequent a place where male strippers dance and…have them fall in love?

I based my stripper bar, Tricks, on an actual bar I went to once in a while back when I lived in Chicago called the Lucky Horseshoe (it’s still there, if you’re a Chicagoan or visiting, on Halsted, just south of Belmont Ave,). The Lucky Horseshoe was good sleazy fun with an endlessly rotating roster of young male dancers (and a mostly older clientele). The times I went in there, I was probably storing away the details for the romance novel I would one day write. Once I got beyond the tight pecs, firm asses, and bulging straps of the men on stage, the writer in me wondered if they ever met anyone engaging or special in their work. And, if they did, were they able to sustain a relationship? It’s an interesting question. Could you let your significant other go out night after night and strip down to almost nothing for strangers? Quit laughing! It’s a serious question! Could you allow him or her to be fondled by those same strangers for money? And, if you could, how would you make it work? My male dancer, Arliss, besides being super-hot, is also a real sweetheart. He’s deserving of love. But how would Sean, whom most of us would think of us as pretty conventional, answer those questions?

If ever the path to true love never did run smooth, TRICKS is one story that proves the old saying…in spades…or jockstraps.

BLURB

Tricks can mean many things: sex partners, deceptions, even magic—or maybe all three.

Arliss is a gorgeous young dancer at Tricks, the hottest club in Chicago’s Boystown. Sean is the classic nerd, out of place in Tricks, but nursing his wounds from a recent breakup. When the two spy each other, magic blooms.

But this opposites-attract tale does not run smooth. What happens when Arliss is approached by one of the biggest porn producers in the business? Can he make his dreams of stardom come true without throwing away the only real love he’s ever known? This question might not even matter if the mysterious producers realize their dark intentions.

WIN A COPY
To win a free autographed copy of TRICKS, simply comment below (leaving an e-mail address so we can get in touch if you win). And, just for fun, let me know: could you allow your significant other to work in a stripper bar? I will draw a winner from all entries submitted by October 19. Please note that this offer is only available for US residents (because of the prohibitive cost of foreign shipping). Those outside the US will win an ebook of TRICKS.

EXCERPT
Attired in a costume that would make the construction worker from the Village People look demure, Arliss turned in front of the mirror to ensure he was the perfect fantasy specimen of pornographic machismo. He was grateful he had added the angel wing tattoo to his back and the snakes that twisted around each bicep. And the one on his chest, the tiny heart with the name “Helena” in it, always brought a lump to his throat—or a splash of bile to the back of it, depending on his mood and how forgiving he felt. But now was not the time for being sentimental! Arliss was glad for the tattoos because they added a bit of manliness to his six foot two inch frame that held only 160 pounds in weight. He was what the older men at Tricks referred to as a twink and, thankfully, was a desirable commodity in some circles.

He set the cigarette down in a tin ashtray and took a swig of vodka. He could feel as much as hear the heavy bass of the techno music playing in the bar and knew that Antonio, a Puerto Rican dude with a shaved head and heavy stubble, was probably just about finished with his set, which meant his boxing ensemble cluttered the small stage.

Arliss would come out, dance briefly and flirtatiously with Antonio, and then have the stage to himself. He didn’t know how he did it, night after night, but somehow he managed. He had always been the shyest boy in Ruskin, Florida, where he had grown up. He remembered his hometown with no nostalgia, only with relief that he’d managed to escape its flat, charmless stretches, so unlike what most people thought of when they conjured up images of Florida. Ruskin had no coastline, no beaches, and no picture-postcard landscapes. If they could see me now…. Well, if they could see me now, they’d probably still call me a fag and try to beat the crap out of me, as they once did. Once again, my dear, now is not the time for sentimentality. He took another swig of vodka, draining the glass and feeling the warmth of the liquor as it spread through his chest and extremities. Showtime!

Arliss hurried to the door that separated the cramped dressing room from the bar proper. Tricks didn’t really have a stage, although the dancers liked to think of the bar upon which they danced as one. It was Friday night, and from the rise of conversation and laughter beneath the pounding electronica beat, it sounded as though they had a sizable crowd. He sucked in a breath, looked down at his perfectly smooth pale skin and six-pack abs, and told himself he was gorgeous.

“Don’t forget to smile, toots! You always look like some gloomy Gus out there!”

Leave it to Emmett Myers, owner of Tricks and Arliss’s boss, to try to unsettle him just before he went on stage.

Arliss flashed the man a big Farrah Fawcett smile. If the prissy older man with the pencil moustache recognized it as fake, he gave no indication.

“There! That’s what they like to see! For heaven’s sakes, you have to remember that if they think you’re having a good time, they’ll have a good time. And a good time means more money for all of us.”

Arliss listened as the song wound down, morphing into yet another bass beat that signaled him it was time to stride out through the door, amble across the crowded room, ignore the covert feels and pinches he got as he made his way to the bar, and climb up on it to join Antonio in front of the crowd.

This moment, just before he went out, was always almost surreal. There was a paradoxical rush of nerves that made him feel both nauseated and tingly with electric anticipation. He felt as though he became someone else when he opened that door, or more properly, that his everyday world changed when he opened it. It was kind of like when Dorothy opened the door to Oz and saw the hyper colors of Munchkinland. But instead of munchkins and good witches who descended in translucent bubbles, his world was populated with bitter old queens, alcoholics, and trolls trying to put some oomph into their libidos by staring at boys young enough to be their sons—and in many cases, grandsons.

“Get out there, gorgeous! Shake your groove thing!” Emmett cackled and placed a hand on Arliss’s back to propel him forward.

Just as much to get the hand off his back as to get to the stage, Arliss threw open the door, plastered on a big smile, threw his shoulders back, and strode through the crowd, keeping his eye on the narrow strip of bar that would, for the next fifteen minutes, be his stage.

BUY
Dreamspinner ebook
Dreamspinner paperback

Also available at Amazon, AllRomance, and other fine booksellers.

NOH8Rick

Rick R. Reed BIOGRAPHY
Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction.  Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

Web: http://www.rickrreed.com
Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed
E-mail: jimmyfels@gmail.com

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Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Coffee Boys, Cops, and Werewolves, Oh My! with Ki Brightly

October 11, 2015

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

Moonphoto

Steven, Mark, and Thomas are from The Shape of Honey

Steven Wright

I twitch the thick gray curtain back from the dark window. The bright face of the moon streams down onto me. The stars glitter crisply on this frigid night. “I wish Thomas wasn’t out.” I shiver, feeling ridiculous, and roll my shoulders. I’m a cop, for god’s sake. I’m comfortable in my own home on the edge of town. I want my gun, but I’m out of uniform and it’s locked away in its case. I let the curtain drop back. With a smile I go to Mark where he’s busy digging around in his backpack and wrap my arms around him, pull him close. My chin rests on the top of his blond head while he ignores me. The smell of coffee and a bright cologne he prefers wraps around me. “There’s just something about a full moon this close to Halloween that gives me the heebie jeebies.” With a shiver I drop a kiss onto his temple. His elbow smacks sharp pain into my hip as he digs deeper into his bag.

“Mark, what are you doing?” I step back and rub the spot. He grins apologetically over his shoulder, a quick tilt of his magnificent lips. I lean forward, grab them with mine for a few seconds. He chuckles and stumbles away from me, his arm still fumbling in his bag. With a triumphant yell he brings out a small mason jar of clear liquid.

“Checking to make sure I have my holy water.” He cradles it close and drops the bag. I smack my hand to my face and massage the bridge of my nose.

“What?”

“Thomas is a werewolf, no joke, right?” He bounces from foot to foot, jittery as usual. “So, game on man. And he’s not here tonight…so…” He shakes the jar around.

“What are you talking about?” With a smile I drop my hand and shake my head at him. “I’ll keep you safe,” I promise with a smirk as I go after him again. Bed is starting to sound pretty good. He’s fast though, and sidesteps me.

“Vampires. There have to be vamps. And mermen.” He shakes the jar around while he rambles.

“Mermen?” I try hard to hold back my snicker, but snort it out anyway.

“Yep. Watcha think, that he’s the only weird thing out there? Our wolf ain’t the only strange shit, guaranteed.” He’s so serious as he stalks to my front door and shoves the jar into his sneakers.

“There’s no such thing as vampires…he would have told us.” But now I’m not so sure. The werewolves sure are into their secrecy. Maybe they wouldn’t tell us something like that. I glance nervously at the front door before I smack myself mentally. Even if there are vampires, it’s not like they’re going to burst in here right now.  A loud thump from my front porch has Mark throwing himself at me. I’ll never mind having an armful of my boyfriend, but damn it I want my gun. I sit him on his own feet and go to the coat closet to get my gun out of its box. I’m a fucking idiot for letting Mark shake me up, but the smooth, cool metal is a better shot of confidence than anything else I’ve got. I go to the door and put my ear against it. Mark, wielding his holy water like it’s a moltov cocktail, snuggles up to my back.

“Did you hear that?” he mutters.

“No.” I lie. He nips the back of my arm with blunt teeth and I grunt. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. I tense. Feet across my front porch.

“Vampires!” Mark whispers. I glare at him and he smiles brightly. I snag another warm, sugar sweetened kiss from him, push him back and throw open the front door with more confidence than I’m actually feeling.

“They don’t exist. Stay behind me.”

We sneak outside, gun in advance. Mark hides behind me. I groan and drop my gun when a piece of white thin paper clings to my face. It’s a mess. A big, fucking, vampireless mess. The entire front porch is drenched in waving white toilet paper. There are giggles from the bushes. I step toward them. There’s a stampede of feet. A herd of kids scatter in all directions. Some take off down the sidewalk, some through my neighbor’s yard.

“Hey! You kids almost got shot. Get back here!” I yell, but I only get laughter in return.

“Fuck you!” one kid with a Nixon mask actually stops to yell at me. When I start down the front steps he runs for it.

“Gonna go get ‘em, Officer?” Mark snickers and I sigh. They got both the trees on the front lawn too. Son of a bitch. Better than vampires though. I join Mark and we both laugh.

“Be good or you’ll have to help clean up.”

“Make me.” I lunge for him and catch him in one arm. With a yelp he struggles, half-heartedly, but in the end I have him pressed to my chest, and I’ve caught those pretty lips with mine. We lose some pleasant time together while all the warm air leaks out the front door. A wet nose on my hand startles me so badly I almost drop my gun. The wolf is huge, and seems like he’s laughing with his tongue lolling out. I relax and my eyes almost cross for a second as I try to watch Thomas transform from an animal into our other loyal, loving boyfriend. Water smacks Thomas on the face and he sputters, wiping it out of his blue eyes, scraping it off his short beard.

“What?” he laughs. Mark scowls.

“Jesus, you scared the shit out of me,” he yelps.

“I missed you two.” With a quick grin he leans forward and presses a kiss to my cheek, then Mark’s.

“Don’t you need to…Ow…Ow…Owoo.”

Tom rolls his eyes at the attempted howl. I stop for a second to check for my neighbors, but I don’t have the porch light on, and the toilet paper mess is making a nice bit of camouflage for us. “I need something.” He says with a leer. My eyes flash downward and my entire body warms at what I see. Oh, man. Naked werewolf on my front porch. I steer my boyfriends inside and Thomas laughs loudly.

“Hey, are there vampires?” Mark asks as I shove them both inside and shut out the darkness.

“Um…Not really…” Thomas starts. “Let’s go to bed,” he says too brightly. Glee sparkles in Mark’s eyes.

Oh, no.

***

Website: www.brightlybooks.wordpress.com

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

Twitter: @KiBrightly

G-mail: kibrightly@gmail.com

 

Buy Links:

Threefold Love

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6278

The Shape of Honey

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6972

Friendships Old and New with Nic Starr – Giveaway + Post

October 7, 2015

Hi. Nic Starr here. I’m joining you today to talk a little about my upcoming release, More Than a Friend. I wanted to talk a little about the book, and the topic of friends.

I had an interesting discussion this week with an old friend of mine, someone I’ve known since high school. Actually, she’s my one and only good friend from those days. You see I’m one of those people who are happy to socialize but I don’t collect a huge group of friends. I have my best girlfriend from school, my best friend from my first long term job, and a best friend from mother’s group. I am extraordinarily close with my sister who lives only two street away, and I have my ‘new’ best friend. Our social circle includes my husband’s best mates and their families, but it is a relatively small group.

So back to the conversation. My friend and I were talking about quality of friendships versus quantity of friendships (of course quality won), and what we expected out of relationships. The discussion drifted to online friends, and the value of relationships via social media. She was quite surprised to find I communicate MORE OFTEN with people I’ve met online and haven’t even met in ‘real-life’. She was amazed to find that something as simple as a shared love of a reading genre, and passion to support same love, could bring a group of people together in such a personal way.

The conversation reminded me how lucky I am to have good people in all areas of my life. I know people who would drop everything if I asked for help, friends to take me in their arms for big hugs, and friends to have fun with and share special moments. But I also have a great group of online friends who are available all hours of the day and night, to provide laughter or comfort or just help me feel like I’m not alone.

This month, October, feels like a special month for friends.

Firstly, I’ll be spending a week with my ‘new’ bestie. We met online a couple of years ago, through our love of m/m romance, and a lasting friendship has formed. We message and talk on the phone every day, and we’ve spent a few weekends together (she lives on the other side of the country to me), but this trip is the two of us going on a BIG adventure so is extra special. You see, we are travelling from Australia to the USA! Yay!

The trip is for GRL, where I am looking forward to meeting and spending times with readers and authors alike. I’m looking forward to putting faces to names, and maybe sharing a hug or two with the people I only know online. It will be a special time.

Finally, the 7th October sees the release of More Than a Friend. This is a friends-to-lovers story. If you’ve read More Than a Superstar, you would have sensed the tension between Tim and Scott. In More Than a Friend, I was able to give these guys their happy ever after. Of course, they need to overcome a number of obstacles once they admit their attraction to one another, including the fact that Tim is best friends with Scott’s brother, so an interesting look at the family/friend dynamic.☺

I’m leaving in a week for San Diego. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to meet many of you while I’m there.

How about I leave you with a giveaway?

 

If you’d like to win an eBook copy of one of my backlist titles, leave a comment on this blog post. All you need to do is share a story about where you met your best friend. Good luck. ☺

Have a great day!

Nic xx

And for those of you interested, here are the details of my latest release.

More Than a Friend – The Blurb

Tim Walker is a free man. He’s broken up with his girlfriend and is ready to move on to a new relationship. But the relationship he wants to pursue is fraught with challenges. Firstly, Scott Richardson is a man, and only Tim’s closest friends know Tim’s bisexual. Secondly, everyone knows Scott relishes the single life. And then there’s the big one: Scott is the younger brother of Tim’s best friend, Paul.

Scott can’t deny an attraction to his brother’s friend Tim. Lean, dark-blond, and blue-eyed, Tim is hot and hard not to notice—especially since Scott and Tim work together. Too bad the man is straight, and too bad Scott worries how Paul will react if Scott hooks up with his best friend.

Tim and Scott want to see if there’s a chance for more than friendship between them, but neither of them wants to lose Paul. Together, they must find the courage to follow their hearts and find a way to have it all.

Buy Links

Dreamspinner Press

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon AU

All Romance eBooks

About Nic Starr

Nic Starr lives in Australia where she tries to squeeze as much into her busy life as possible. Balancing the demands of a corporate career with raising a family and writing can be challenging but she wouldn’t give it up for the world.

Always a reader, the lure of m/m romance was strong and she devoured hundreds of wonderful m/m romance books before eventually realising she had some stories of her own that needed to be told!

When not writing or reading, she loves to spend time with her family—an understanding husband and two beautiful daughters—and is often found indulging in her love of cooking and planning her dream home in the country.

You can find Nic on Facebook, Twitter and her blog. She’d love it if you stopped by to say hi.

Website & Blog: http://www.nicstarr.com

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Nic-Starr/e/B00MAWRRQG/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicki.nicstar

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/NicStarrAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicstar000

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/nicstar000/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8139967.Nic_Starr

Beneath the Streets with Amber Kell + Post and Giveaway

October 1, 2015

Beneath the Streets

Hello, I’m Amber Kell. Dreamspinner Press was kind enough to let me post about my new release Keys. I’m super excited about this book. Keys is my first story that is over sixty thousand words long. I know some authors can type that out half asleep while balancing a baby on their right knee and petting the dog with their left foot, but for me it took a lot of effort.

 

Dreamspinner said I should write about what inspired me. I don’t usually have an answer for that. I get ideas walking down by the water, driving my kids to school or doing laundry, however this time I actually have an answer to that question. My ideas about the City of Keys started when I took the Underground Tour in Seattle. I live in Seattle for those of you who’ve never heard of me and I get a lot of inspiration from the city. Anyway, the Underground Tour is where they take you below the city streets and show you what it was like when it was built over when fire swept through downtown in the 19th century. They show you old shop fronts and explain about the history of the city. It’s really quite a good tour if you happen to be in town.

 

My tour beneath the ground had me thinking about what else could be buried. When I went to London I walked the narrow cobblestone streets and took in the history and began to think steampunkish thoughts. I have to admit I don’t read a lot of steampunk so let’s go that mine is steampunk inspired and leave it at that. It was my trip to Paris that solidified my ideas. After visiting the Paris Catacombs I went to a church crypt. Walking down the halls of the crypt and seeing all the locked iron doors had my idea for Keys springing to life.

 

I asked myself what if a city locked all its magic underneath the city streets?

 

That is the thought that triggered my City of Keys trilogy. A city where magic is considered too dangerous to be out in the world so they chained it below and away from its citizens. How would if affect their way of life and what would happen if it suddenly became free? Most books start with a what if and that was mine. Check out Keys to find out what I did with that concept. Buy link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6897

 

I’ll be giving away a $25.00 Amazon GC to one lucky person. To enter the contest, tell me what magical ability you’d find the most useful.

 

Website: www.amberkellbooks.com

Blog: www.amberkell.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amber.kell.7

Twitter: @amberkell

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

Pictures of the elk rut

September 30, 2015

Okay folks, I think this is the last post. We’re running a bit late and by the time I get home, it’ll be too late to wrap this up. I hope everyone has enjoyed getting to know a bit more about the three hot guys of “The Kachina Job” as well as a little insight into their alternate shapes. To close this out, I’m going to share some brand new pictures that I took this afternoon while we were out stalking elk in Rocky Mountain National Park. Even when I’m out hunting with a camera, it triggers that primal hunter inside me and gets the blood going.

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The crowds are less during the week than on the weekend…just image what a mess this would be in a couple of days.

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This little blue bird has got a major attitude about him. I can just imagine him getting up in someone’s face, snapping his feathers and throwing shade.

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These two were determined to chase each other around for a while. Lots of bugling and showing off.

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Just a bit of bugling.

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Couldn’t resist the trees in the background. Gotta love the changing aspens.

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A young guy still wet from digging in the creek.

So folks, thanks for stopping by and finding out about “The Kachina Job” and getting a look at fall in Colorado. I’ll check the comments on the previous post later and pick a winner for the free e-book. I also need to ask people’s patience with my pictures. These are fresh out of the camera and haven’t had any editing, and we all know that writers are only as good as their editors.

In Parting, here’s the buy link for “The Kachina “ now go out and prowl around a bit.

Thanks,

A.J. Marcus

Back Country exploration post and giveaway with A.J. Marcus

September 30, 2015

So we’re over halfway through with this round of the blog take over for the release of “The Kachina Job”. Normally I do these blog post days sitting at my computer at the house, posting interesting things and being really engaging folks. Today we’re doing things a little different. I’m out exploring Estes Park Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park. We drove a couple of hours for the elk rut. It’s our second trip up this year, the first one was rather lack luster and this one is still a bit of a disappointment compared to previous years.

Rocky Mountain National Park, RMNP, is one of the best spots around for wildlife viewing. Today we saw a few elk, some blue birds and mule deer. The action with the elk herds was low. Just a few big bulls starting to gather harems. Several times we thought we were about to have some action between the bulls, and they broke it off before things got interesting.

At one point we had a young bull…probably 3 years old or so based on his size and weak bugling. He started walking toward a spot where an older bull had gathered a dozen or so cows. The big bull walked a few steps toward him, bugled, marked territory for a second and the young guy turned and walked away. The only plus to him walking away was that he came closer and gave us the opportunity to get some better shots.

As usual during rut, the elk were close enough to the roads that if you were lucky and parked close enough you didn’t have to walk far…the problem that’s often encountered is there are more people than elk. At one point we had to park about half a mile a way and hike in to the hot spot where other photographers were set up snapping pictures like crazy.

I’ve done some hiking in the area where I envision Read Peak, New Mexico. It’s a much different environment from what I went through today. Coyotes, mule deer, mountain lion and jack rabbits abound…(jack rabbits..abounding…) okay, I’ll go on. In a lot of little towns, be they mountain, desert or whatever, the residents are more accustomed to encounters with nature than folks in the big city have had.  Me personally, I think this makes life fun and exciting. I love sitting at my computer, looking out the window and seeing deer, coyotes, goshawks and more wander through the yard.

With the predatory shifters, they embrace nature and thrill in the hunt. I can connect with the idea of that. Shifters touch on our more primitive selves and I think that’s where the allure of them comes from. The call to that part of our brains that need to break free of the urban jungle that so many of us are trapped in.

Now here’s our contest. Leave me a comment and tell me about any wild animal encounters you’ve had, and or the thing that really attracts you to shifters. In a couple hours I’ll figure out a random comment to get an e-copy of “The Kachina Job” So leave me comments.

In the next post, if I can convince my camera to give up some good pictures, I’ll post them to show how my afternoon has gone.

Dangerous, but wise? with A.J. Marcus

September 30, 2015

Dangerous, but wise?

This time we’re going to take a look at our owl shifter, Shannon O’Flaherty. Personally, I like Shannon better than the other two…don’t tell them that, we’re not supposed to play favorites. Shannon is the sheriff of Red Peak, New Mexico. He moved away from Albuquerque after a disastrous breakup. When the opportunity came along for a raise and a move, he jumped on the chance. Shannon is also an enforcer in the paranormal world. He struggles to keep the regular humans from discovering that there really are things that go bump in the night. When he answers an alarm call at one of the local residences and spies a mountain lion running off through the desert night with a backpack on, he realizes the situation calls for his enforcer position and not just his sheriff’s badge. As the situation turns out to not be a cut and dried one, he adapts quickly but is very surprised when he bonds to first Daniel, then finds Phillip fitting into their lives as well.

Shannon is a fairly stable and straightforward guy. Having the two cat shifters around upsets his life in ways he could never dream of, but he quickly finds that he welcomes the change and chaos the two men bring to his mostly quiet existence. The biggest question is if his deputy will handle things in a civilized manner, or will she shoot first and ask questions later.

Just below the surface of Shannon’s human form hovers the deadly talons of an eagle owl. Owls are found in every environment in the world, save for Antarctica. The eagle owls are the largest of the owls. Here in North America, we only have one species of eagle owl, the great horned owl. Great horned owls are the classic hoot owl. Not many people actually see them, or even know where they despite the fact there are a ton of them living in the cities around us. Great horned owls occupy the same ecological niche as red tailed hawks. It’s a fairly safe bet that if you see red tailed hawks during the day, there are great horned owls at night. They and the other owls go to great lengths to make sure the rodent populations don’t grow out of control.

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Now, let’s see how Shannon feels about things:

 

He laughed again. It felt good to laugh. Until that moment, he didn’t realize he hadn’t been doing much of that recently. “Elisa, you do have a way with words. Okay, as long as it stays fun, I’ll keep them around, if they want to be kept around.”

“So you haven’t run background checks on them yet, then? It might be a good idea. Help you find out if either one of them is keeping anything from you that could come back to bite you.”

She didn’t know about his very powerful hearing and how hard it was for people to lie to him. “No, I haven’t run background checks on them. I’m trusting them to be honest right now. I’m not you. I don’t have to know everything about everyone in my life.”

“Yeah, but those background checks can come in handy. They kept me from falling in with that sexy polygamist last year, or that biker who was wanted for armed robbery a few months ago.”

“I’d almost forgotten about those guys,” Shannon lied. He remembered all of her boyfriends. “You catch more criminals in your bed than we do in the streets. Maybe we should hang a sign on your porch to let them all know they should stop by for the night. You can become the new criminal-trap motel. Criminals check in, but they always leave in cuffs.”

So have any of you encountered owls in your journey through our world?

We’ll be back here in a little while with a few questions and a give away.