A Shot of J&B: A Sonny and Jackie moment

March 21, 2015

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So, this is the day after the river-sex scene (as I’m calling it :) ), and Jackie has convinced Luki, Sonny, and Brian to go Geocaching with him. Brian and Luki are walking a bit farther back, and Sonny and Jackie get a moment to talk. ;) You know, sometimes I wish I had a Sonny! I figure he might look a lot like the guy in the photo above, maybe a bit older. He’s all of 35 or so by the time J&B comes along. Might as well clear up a timeline question while we’re here, too. A Shot of J&B takes place after all the V&J books except Because of Jade. The story in the novella “Yes’ has recently happened, and Jade is still about 5 years in the future.
***

“So, the you-and-Brian thing,” Sonny said. “Going well?”

Jackie smiled even bigger, shook his head in disbelief at his own good fortune. “Very well,” he said. “Sonny, I can’t believe how… right he seems for me.”

“I can believe it,” Sonny said. “I think he feels the same about you, if I’m any judge. And you’re both good men.” He stopped, touched Jackie’s arm, grabbing his full attention. He glanced back, and then, apparently satisfied with the distance between them and the other two men, he said, “But you still should keep your eyes open, Jackie. I’d lay money on a bet Brian would never hurt you on purpose, but… well, things happen. Don’t lose yourself in him, okay?”

“Yeah. I hear what you’re saying. I’ll do my best…. Sonny, you know I applied to a school in London.”

“Hm. Heard back yet?”

“No. And I haven’t said anything to Brian or even Luki or Josh. Kaholo knows.”

“Okay,” Sonny said, scratching at his almost nonexistent beard, clearly thinking. “I won’t say anything. But you know, if you go, Luki will worry.”

“I know. Will you?”

“Not unless between now and then I see a reason to be more concerned.” Sonny started walking forward again, and Jackie followed suit. “You’re grown,” Sonny continued. “Your head’s on as straight as anyone else’s, and you’re pursuing your studies because it’s a field you want to work in. You wouldn’t go to London to be near Brian if the school didn’t have what you wanted. Right?”

“Oh, it’s a great program. I applied before Christmas… before I met up with Brian at your house.”

“You’ll be fine. You don’t need protecting half as much as Josh and Luki think you do. I’ll miss you if you go, but I won’t worry… much.”
***
So it’s almost time to go! I’ve have very much enjoyed your company everyone, and I hope you had some fun. I’m going to figure out the winners and post it, then try to answer as many comments as possible. So I’ll be back in a bit with a farewell until next time post!
:)

A Shot of J&B Excerpt 1: A Cozy Drive in the Rain

March 21, 2015

When it came time to leave and Jackie left the room to gather his things, Brian at last turned his full attention to his hosts. He thanked them and quite sincerely said he’d been very happy to see them again. He added, “And the food was fabulous, Luki!”

Luki chuckled, and said. “Thank you, Brian. But as preoccupied as you were, I think if I asked you tomorrow what you ate for dinner tonight, you wouldn’t even remember!”

Brian couldn’t pretend surprise that Luki had noticed. Before he could think of a reasonable response, Luki squelched any possibility of a speech with the biggest hug Brian had ever seen his former boss give anyone besides his husband, and then a giggling Sonny circled his long arms around them both and joined the squeeze. Brian’s ribs hurt a little by the time it was over.

When Jackie came from the back of the house with two suitcases and a backpack, Brian took the luggage from him and went to put it in the rental car while Jackie made his farewells to his uncles.

He put the backpack in the backseat, thinking Jackie might want that available, and then laid the suitcases in the trunk. They seemed to fit perfectly in there with his own bags, but when Brian had that thought, he realized what a strange thought it was, and tried to talk himself back into his usual, more sensible perspective.

Don’t be ridiculous, Brian. Even if there was a God and that God made one person to perfectly match one other person in the entire world, luggage fitting in the trunk wouldn’t likely be a sign they’d found each other. He was able to laugh at himself a little, then, and it did help him take a mental and emotional step back. Not too far, though. Now that he and Jackie had crossed paths again, he had no desire to step back too far.

He admitted in a moment of clarity that the prospects for any future development were a bit disheartening. He lived in London, had a career and a flat and a club and a cat there. Jackie lived in Nebraska—at least Brian thought he still did—was in college, still and had years of study ahead of him pursuing the education he needed to pursue his field of interest. And who knew where in the world that would take him?

Just then, Jackie turned toward him, smile clear and lovely in the glow of the porch light, but somehow more reminiscent of the boy of six years ago than he had been at any earlier time that night. It reminded Brian who Jackie was, what he’d been through, and he thought, if ever there was a sub that required a cautious approach, Jackie is it. Brian had enough savvy to know Jackie had become interested in him, but he decided that, though he wouldn’t discourage Jackie’s interest, he also wouldn’t do anything to deliberately foster it. For the time being, he’d let Jackie take the reins, solo.

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RAIN HAD begun to fall heavily just as they’d pulled out onto the main road, which would take them back to Port Clifton. Visibility on the road was poor at the best of times, but on a moonless night in heavy rain, Jackie thought the chances that Brian would be able to pass the slow-moving, overloaded-looking log truck ahead of them seemed slim at best. He sighed, but not unhappily, only settling in. The ride would be longer than expected, but they’d left early so they’d likely make their flights in plenty of time.

The sound of the rain and the way it dripped down the windows seemed to close them in, to make the car’s interior seem cozy, its dash lights comforting. And Brian… he seemed steady behind the wheel, relaxed, perhaps even a masterful driver, reminding Jackie of Sonny. With the heat on low, Brian’s scent permeated the air—something with a touch of incense like quality soap, and slightly sexed, and a faint tang of end-of-a-long-day man-smell. And….

“I smell leather,” Jackie said.

“Oh!” Brian flashed a smile at him. “My brother gave me a jacket for Christmas. It’s on the backseat. Still new enough to have a pretty noticeable smell. I admit I like the smell, but most of the time I hardly notice it, and I know there are people who don’t like it.”

“I like it!” Jackie laughed at his own enthusiastic answer. He knew he wasn’t being subtle, but then subtlety was not a quality he’d ever been known for. “Quite a lot, in fact. It’s one of the reasons I took up leatherwork.”

“Like tooling?”

“Tooling, burning, sewing. I like to work with soft, lighter weight leathers. I think the tooling and painting people do on heavy leather is fabulous—some of it’s museum quality. But I like the feel of the softer stuff, the way it responds if I treat it right, the way it looks when the right people wear it.”

“You?”

“No. Well, heh. Yes I have a few things I wear from time to time, in certain… situations.” Jackie hesitated, knew he was taking the conversation somewhere unexpected. “I had some leather that matched the color of the darkest streaks in my hair, and I made myself a harness—but that one I’ve never worn.”

“No? Why?”

“Well,” Jackie said, drawing the syllable out slightly, “the occasion just never seemed right for it, yet.”

Brian glanced at Jackie, turned his eyes back on the road, and said in a husky voice that had to be one of the sexiest sounds Jackie had ever heard. “I’d bet good money you’ll wear it well when you decide to do so.”

YES, Austin, and La Tazza Magica

March 16, 2015

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Austin, Texas has been my home for 27 years. All of my books are set here. It’s a liberal city in a conservative state. Imagine if someone took San Francisco and dropped it into the middle of Oklahoma. That’s Austin.

I wrote my first two books in a comfortable chair at home, but when it came time to write The Eskimo Slugger, I tried out a few coffee shops in my neighborhood. My favorite was La Tazza Fresca, which is Italian for “the fresh cup.” 

Most of YES is set in a fictional Austin coffee shop called La Tazza Magica, but it’s inspired by the real La Tazza a few blocks from my house. Here’s another excerpt with some pictures.

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IAN SCANNED THE room and thought about the day five years earlier when he bought the building that would become La Tazza Magica.

Located north of the UT campus on one of Austin’s main thoroughfares, the former thrift shop proved to be the perfect size for a European-inspired café. With its vaulted twenty-foot tin ceiling and expansive windows, Ian transformed the space into a haven for students, writers, and the occasional chess player. In one corner, he set up a small living room with two identical black sofas facing each other and a red Queen-Anne-style coffee table in between. In the opposite corner, he installed a dessert case and wooden bar, for an old-world pub feeling. A fifteen-foot wine rack stood like a tower behind the bar, and Ian suspended another rack from the ceiling for glasses and beer mugs.

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He filled the central seating area with a variety of tables, both large and small, some regular height and others of the taller bistro style but all made of dark wood. He painted the plaster walls a deep mahogany and trimmed the windowpanes in black. He updated the electrical system and tripled the number of outlets, in order to accommodate laptop and phone chargers. He found a vintage corner bookcase at an antique fair and stocked it with classic literature and board games like Monopoly, Life, Risk, and Trivial Pursuit. He hung paintings of Italian cafés on the slivers of wall between the windows and surrounded the building with a U-shaped stone patio for outdoor seating.

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For food, Ian designed a simple menu of sandwiches and salads, with an accent on seasonal, fresh, and local. He served wine, beer, and the best espresso in town. He named the place after his favorite café in Florence, La Tazza Fresca, but changed the adjective. Most nights he had a packed house, and at peak times, Ian would introduce strangers to each other and encourage them to share a table. He posted his prime directive on a sign above the east door:

Buy something

Stay as long as you want

Don’t be a dick

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The barista on duty always had the final say over music selection, but Ian encouraged an eclectic and low-key atmosphere. During job interviews he grilled potential candidates about their musical tastes, so as not to hire a Belieber or anyone with a Wagner obsession. What he ended up with surprised him—anything from Johnny Cash to Billie Holiday to Justin Timberlake to Mozart to the Carpenters to this new band called Dime Box.

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YES – Excerpt – Ian and Bartley

March 16, 2015

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The first scene between Ian and Bartley, before Ian makes his wish and wakes up two decades younger.

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THE NORTH DOOR opened, and Bartley James, another of La Tazza’s regulars, walked in. Bartley was Ian’s customer crush, but with his all-American good looks and clean-cut appeal, he was also out of Ian’s league—or at least that’s what Ian believed. His nerves kicked into high gear as Bartley approached the counter.

“Hi, Ian. Can I get a double skim, please?”

“For here or to go?”

Bartley brushed a lock of golden-blond hair out of his eyes. “I need it to go tonight. I’m heading back to the office to finish the blueprints for the new house. We’re breaking ground tomorrow.”

“This the house you designed for the couple in Westlake?”

“One and the same. I’ve finally graduated from being an assistant to a full-fledged architect.”

“Sounds like you’ll need some food, then. Let me throw a sandwich together for you.”

“I only brought in enough cash for the latte.”

Ian turned to the espresso machine to make Bartley’s double skim. “The sandwich is on the house. You’re in here almost every day. It’s the least I can do to help celebrate your big project.”

“Well, thanks. I suppose food would be a good idea. I’m used to running on caffeine at times like this.”

“You ever have our Pilgrim sandwich? I got the idea from a deli in P-town. You ever been there?”

“Provincetown? Mason and I went last summer, before everything fell…. Never mind. I need to stop…. What’s on the sandwich?”

“Turkey, dressing, and homemade cranberry sauce. It’s like Thanksgiving dinner.”

“Sounds good,” Bartley said. “But how do you get all that onto one sandwich?”

“Well, it can be a little messy, I admit, but it’s bloody delicious.”

“Bloody?”

Ian cringed. This was usually the part where he started blabbering about something of no importance. All his attempts to be cool around Bartley ultimately ended in failure. He knew he should shut up, but instead he launched into the inevitable explanation. “I’ve been watching this British soap called Hollyoaks. Twenty-three minutes a day, five days a week. Totally addictive, crazy show, and I’m not exaggerating. Half the characters belong in a mental institution. One of them named his kids Lucas and Leah. You know, after the Star Wars characters? There are these five insanely hot Roscoe brothers. The two things I’ve picked up are ‘bloody’ and ‘sort it.’”

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The Roscoe Brothers

“What do you mean by ‘sort it’?”

“Well, in Texas, when we have a problem, we fix it or handle it or deal with it. But in England, they sort it. I swear to God, they’re constantly sorting things. And if you go to court, you don’t testify, you give evidence.”

“Hmm. What made you start watching a British soap opera?”

Ian finished the latte, handed it to Bartley, and then turned his attention to the sandwich. “It has a lot of gay characters. I’m a little obsessed with gay stories on television shows.”

“Did you find it on BBC America or something?”

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Max and Iago

“No, YouTube. That’s where all the good stuff is. People edit together the gay storylines from European soaps and add English subtitles. They’re called ‘trims.’ Max and Iago from El Cor de la Ciutat. Lenny and Carsten from Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten. Christian and Oliver from Verbotene Liebe.”

Bartley laughed. “Forbidden Love?”

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Lenny and Carsten

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Christian and Oliver

“Very good. Americans only know Brian and Justin from Queer As Folk, or Will and Sonny, of course, but there are all these other gay supercouples out there they’ve never even heard of, let alone seen. I recently lost an entire Saturday afternoon to Elias and Lari.”

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Brian and Justin

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Will and Sonny

“Where are they from?”

“Finland. I can’t pronounce the original title, but it translates as Secret Lives. Did you know people in Finland have saunas in their apartment buildings?”

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Elias and Lari

“I didn’t know that.” Bartley took a sip of his latte. “You got any big plans for the weekend?”

“My friend Mark is taking me to Denver for my birthday.”

“Today’s your birthday?”

“No, tomorrow.”

“Happy early birthday. How old?”

Ian hesitated as he spooned some dressing onto the sandwich. “Forty.”

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To see more pictures of the supercouples referenced in the excerpt, visit and like my Facebook page.

Or follow me on Twitter for extra content, like this inspiration for Bartley.

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YES – Excerpt and Giveaway

March 16, 2015

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On a flight home to Austin after his 40th birthday, Ian Parker wakes up from a nap to discover, in the airplane bathroom, that he is two decades younger. He returns to his seat and his best friend Mark.

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IAN DRIED HIS hands and took a deep breath. He opened the door and practically knocked over the young woman waiting in line. He apologized and hurried past her down the aisle. He took his seat next to Mark, shook him, and lifted his sleep mask.

“Wake up,” Ian said. “I’m having a really bad trip.”

Mark opened his eyes and recoiled. “What the—? Who in the hell are you?”

“What are you talking about?”

Mark shook off his nap and looked around. “You must have overshot your row or something. Someone else is sitting there. What’s your seat number? Do you have your boarding pass?”

“It’s me. Ian.”

“Ian?” Mark glanced up and down the aisle. “Okay. If you say so. There’s no point in getting into an argument about it.” With a look of subdued terror on his face, Mark reached up and pushed the flight attendant button.

“What are you doing?” Ian said. “Don’t you recognize me? I thought I was hallucinating. Tell me I’m hallucinating.”

Mark removed the pillow from around his neck and swiped off his mask. “Let’s let the flight attendant handle this, okay? I don’t want any trouble. Please, whatever you’re doing, you don’t have to go through with it. Think about prison at your age. Have you ever seen Turned Out? Or Oz? Sure, I know it looks hot when it’s Chris Meloni, but this isn’t fiction, young man. You’re on a real plane, and I’m a real person. These things have consequences, and there’s no point in ruining your life before it’s even begun. I’m sure your cause—whatever it is, religious or otherwise—I’m sure it’s a worthy one. Have you been wronged by the American political system? Well, take a number and get in line.”

“Mark, it’s me. Can’t…? Look, I’m wearing Ian’s clothes.”

“And that’s supposed to convince me? You’re wearing jeans and a plain white T-shirt. If they belong to Ian, then what have you done with him? What’s your angle here, kid? Why do you insist on pretending you’re Ian Parker?”

“I’m not pretending.”

“Then prove it,” Mark said.

“I can… I can tell you things I know about you, like your favorite TV show is RuPaul’s Drag Race. You’re obsessed with Robbie Rogers, which I totally don’t get. And you have a dog named Kitty.”

“Practically anyone who follows me on Instagram could know those things. Have you been stalking me? Does this involve sexual blackmail? Because let me tell you right now, I—”

“We met at Jester Hall twenty-two years ago. You live on West Thirty-Ninth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C. You used to have a boyfriend named Troy, but I called him Sparky for no other reason than I thought it suited him better than Troy.”

Marked paused, and it looked like maybe Ian had convinced him. But then Mark shook his head and said, “Still not conclusive. Are you Al-Qaeda? Or maybe NSA? It’s so hard to tell the difference these days. What have you done with my friend? Did you lock him in the bathroom? Is that what you did? Because if you’ve hurt him in any way, I swear I’ll—”

“I am your friend. Why can’t you look at me and see that?” Ian glanced down the aisle and saw a female flight attendant heading their way. He had to think of something fast. He turned to Mark and whispered, “Okay. I didn’t want to go there, but could practically anyone else know you have a thing for twincest porn? Maybe Elijah and Milo Peters? Or the two brothers from Brazil?”

Mark’s jaw dropped.

“I thought that would do the trick.”

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Leave a comment for a chance to win a free eBook of YES. I will pick a winner at 5:00 pm EDT.

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Introducing Jeff aka LJ

March 11, 2015

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And here’s an introduction to Jeff/LJ/Lord January, from Chapter One of Guarding January:

“Do I have to go?” Jeff stood at the door of the room he’d been living in for eight months. Eight months he’d been safe and happy in there. Eight months he’d been able to be just Jeff, instead of Lord January. “Jim, can’t I just stay?”

“Oh, honey, you know you can’t. You have all the tools to do this. You do.”

His sponsor and the man who had become a friend stared at him, smiled.

“You look like Santa Claus when you do that.”

“Shut up.”

They looked at each other, then they cracked up, leaning together, and if he cried a bit, Jim didn’t say a word.

“Come on. Donna sent a car for you, to take you home.”

“She sent a babysitter.”

He couldn’t even complain; he probably needed one, but couldn’t it be Jim? Couldn’t he stay there where he was safe?

“You have my number, Jeff. Use it if you need it, okay? I mean that.”

He nodded, wrapped his hoodie around him, iPod in the pocket, put his sunglasses on, and hunched inside the fabric.
Jim gave him a short, hard hug, then walked him out the front door. Out into the world.

He winced away from the sunlight, tugging his hood down farther. “My things?”

“Already in the car, Sir.” A mountain of a man threw him into shadow, and a huge paw was held out. “I’m Rye.”

“I don’t shake hands. Sorry.” Jesus, Donna had hired a giant. “I’ll call, Jim, okay? Soon?”

“Anytime, Jeff. I promise.”

The giant waited until he started down the walk, then paced him. “We’re the dark gray SUV to the right of the gate.”

“Okay.” He kept his head down, making sure the light and the long-range lenses couldn’t get to him.

He had to admit, having the Hulk walking next to him gave him some cover to hide behind, making him feel less exposed. Didn’t mean he suddenly wanted the babysitter, mind you.

The walk down the path seemed to take for-fucking-ever, but at last they were at the car, his minder opening the door for him and bundling him in. The door shut with a very final sounding click, and in seconds they were driving away from the one place he knew was safe.

Jeff put his earphones in and turned the music up loud, the noise pounding in his head.

He stayed in his cocoon until the door opened, his new bodyguard’s hand touching his arm. Aside from really tall and really built, the guy had short brown hair, like military cut almost, and a square jaw like you’d expect some tough bodyguard to have. His new bodyguard’s eyes were surprisingly blue, like bright and alive. Jeff slid his gaze from the guy to the house.

Home sweet home. Goodie. He stood, the garage quiet and still. There were two doors down there—one to his rooms, one to the rest of the house where everyone else was. He grabbed his guitar, then headed to the door on the left, heading upstairs without a word.

Sean

smut fixes everything

Introducing Rye from Guarding January

March 11, 2015

 

 

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I thought I’d share an excerpt wherein we first meet Rye. This is the beginning of the Prologue:

Rye sat on the little chair in the waiting room, feeling like some sort of oversized gorilla.

There’d been three other bodyguards waiting when he’d arrived, but two had gone in and come back out in short order. The last guy ahead of him had lasted a minute or two longer. A tired-looking blonde had poked her head out as well, telling him she needed a couple minutes.

He glanced at his watch. He was between jobs and didn’t have anywhere to be, so it wasn’t like he minded waiting. This chair, though, was a little on the uncomfortable side. He shifted, the whole thing creaking ominously. It was small, and he was worried it wasn’t going to hold his weight.
You could say a lot of things about him—he was a solid guy, trustworthy, surefooted, and reliable. One thing you couldn’t say? He was small.

He debated getting up and standing over by the window or something, but he didn’t want Donna Heard to think he was antsy or getting cold feet. Reg Storm, who’d given him the heads-up on the job after he’d finished a stint keeping the rock star safe from a stalker, had told him Donna was a real stickler.

A ballbuster, even.

And obsessed with keeping her pseudovampire, crazy-assed-fans-sending-blood-in-the-mail singer alive.

It was a good thing he liked a challenge and didn’t judge.

He shifted, and the chair creaked alarmingly again. Okay, he was standing. Looking like he was restless had to be better than breaking the damn chair.

The door opened about the same time his ass left the chair. “Sorry for the delay. I had a phone call. Please, come in.”

“No worries, I’m sure you’re very busy.” He held out his hand. “I’m Rye Sommers.”

“Donna Heard. Pleased.” The office was classy, furnished with heavy, overstuffed furniture, way more solid than the stuff in the waiting area. “Have a seat.”

“Thank you.” He sat, nothing creaking or shifting in warning. Oh, thank God. That was just… ridiculous.

“Sorry about the tiny chairs out there. You’re… a big guy.”

That had him chuckling. “You did nearly have firewood there. Big is what you need, though, right?” Little guys weren’t bodyguards.

“Absolutely. And LJ is… challenging.” She leaned back, steepled her fingers, and was completely in control.

“Challenging? I’m good with challenges. Can you be more specific?” He knew LJ stood for Lord January. Lord. January. He’d seen pictures of the guy too. Skinny, tattoos, piercings, and makeup. Lots of makeup.

“First, tell me about you. About your specialties.”

“I’ve been bodyguarding for six years. I’ve never lost a client. I specialize in twenty-four/seven care.”

“And you’re comfortable with travel? This is a long-term position.”

Long term was good. It would be nice to have something a little more permanent; he was tired of bouncing from job to job.

“I don’t even have a goldfish for someone to feed while I’m away.”

 

Did I mention that it’s available in both ebook and print?

Sean

smut fixes everything

That’s a wrap!

February 12, 2015

Well everyone, this will be my last post. Thank you for joining me! It was great fun, and I appreciate your enthusiasm for my latest release. I shall be back on the DSP blog in March for “The Serpent and the Angel” release party.

 

As a farewell / Valentine’s Day gift, here’s another excerpt!

 

When he finally managed to reach the cashier after loading two fucking carts full of food, he noticed a tall, broad man whom he recognized. He smiled. The man’s girth might be intimidating, but he was a self-proclaimed teddy bear, despite the fact he was a cougar shifter.

“Morning, Travis.”

Travis, who was also Sheriff Jack’s mate, turned and smiled back. His dark blond hair was neatly trimmed just below his ears, and his eyes were a pretty light blue framed by wire-rimmed glasses that actually didn’t look too bad on him.

Travis eyed Xavier’s carts and looked amused. “Expecting a nuclear attack?”

Xavier snorted. “You’d think so, right? No. Apparently, the workers and patients expect us to feed them.”

“The nerve of them.”

They both chuckled.

“So, are you ready for Valentine’s Day?” Travis asked as he finished his purchase and moved out of line. Xavier pushed his carts up and started handing things to the cashier, a young teen girl who looked bored as she chewed gum.

“Huh? Valentine’s Day?”

“Yeah, the day after tomorrow.”

Xavier gave him a blank look. Travis shrugged. “Just thought you and Josh would want to celebrate since it’s your first. But that’s fine if you don’t; not everyone does. Jack personally hates it. He says it’s ‘commercial love.’”

“So, you don’t celebrate it?”

“In our own way we do.”

“What do you do?”

“We go out to Sanctuary, get furry, and run around like children.” Travis’s grin widened. “Then we fuck like animals. Works for us.”

Xavier smiled at the anticipation in Travis’s eyes. It was nice to see how someone who’d been a victim of the Knights himself could move past it and find joy in life. Travis had been captured as a teen along with his entire family. He’d been the only one to survive but had been blinded by the experiments the Knights had subjected him to. With the help of an operative from the Agency, he’d managed to regain partial sight, which was helped along with a pair of glasses.

He also knew a little of what Travis had gone through to become mates with Jack. Jack was part of the largest pack in Haven, but not its leader. That would be Jack’s father, Jeffrey. There had been considerable resistance to Jack mating with a cougar shifter, and it reminded Xavier of his own pack. They considered wolf shifters far superior to any other shifter, and it had been one of the reasons he’d left. He was glad to know not all wolf packs were willing to lose one of their own simply because of who he was in love with.

“You think I should celebrate it? I never have before.” Xavier winced at the price that showed on the monitor, despite the fact the Agency was paying for everything. He handed the cashier the Agency’s credit card.

“Like I said, up to you. It just seems to me that Josh’s one who might want to celebrate.”

Xavier frowned, considering. Travis was right. Dammit. Xavier loaded the bags into the carts, and Travis walked with him out of the store.

“I really don’t know if we could carve out the time,” Xavier said. “We’re busy from sun up to sun down and barely do more than sleep when night hits.”

“Well, that’s all the more reason to find the time, don’t you think?”

Xavier shrugged. “I suppose.”

Travis helped Xavier load the truck before giving him a firm pat on the back. Travis smiled again, nothing but friendly and open.

“Even if it wasn’t Valentine’s Day, I think a night off is just what you guys need. Like you said, you’ve been working hard ever since you arrived. You didn’t even get any sort of honeymoon, did you?”

Xavier smirked. “Not really. We just sort of dove into this whole counseling clinic thing.”

“What better reason do you need to plan something?” Travis nodded as if the matter was settled. “Trust me, Xavier, time has a way of getting away from you. Jack and I have been together nearly two years now, and I don’t know where the time went.”

“Thought you two were friends before you were mates.”

“We were. That time went pretty fast as well.” Travis’s eyes glazed slightly, and Xavier knew Travis was seeing something he couldn’t.

Travis shook himself, looking a little embarrassed. “Besides, Haven likes to take advantage of any sort of holiday. Not many stores will be open, and the ones that will, they’ll be closed probably half the day. Any excuse not to work, right? You should take advantage of that; I do.”

“What are you talking about? You’re a writer. That’s not actual work.”

Travis snorted. “Hey, watch it. Writing’s hard. It’s a job just like any other.”

Xavier raised an eyebrow. “I’m not convinced. You can do it at home in nothing but your underwear. Hell, you can do it naked.”

Travis laughed. It was a full-bellied laugh that caused Xavier’s mouth to twitch.

“You know, I think Jack might enjoy that. But then he’d probably jump me, and I’d get no work done. See how hard it is?”

“Oh yeah, so hard.” Xavier rolled his eyes.

Travis took slow breaths, calming. “Anyway, if you need any help, or suggestions, just let me know.”

“Thanks.”

 

Thank you my lovelies and…

May dragons guard your dreams,

M.D. Grimm

 

Remember – to learn more about my series and where it’s going, check out my blog at: http://www.mdgrimmwrites.com/#!Shifters-explained/c1o5e/3AB7F857-F8F4-4032-829D-A151576ED328

 

And please check out my website in general, it’s gorgeous, I swear!

Valentine’s Day sequel – why?

February 12, 2015

(A few SPOILER ALERTS for those who haven’t read “Healing Minds” – proceed at your own risk)

 

I chose Valentine’s Day for these two because it’s one of the romance-mushiest holidays out there, and I liked the pairing of the holiday with Xavier’s badass image. He had a rough past, what with being a (SPOILER ALERT) criminal, and being trained by a para-military wolf pack in Australia. Josh does feel like a romantic to me, despite his inexperience with it, and I wanted him to flip back and forth whether to attempt to celebrate the holiday or not.

 

Since this is a direct sequel to “Healing Minds,” I don’t have much furthering of the overall plot of my series, i.e. the conflict between the Knights and the Agency, introducing new characters (though a new character does make a brief appearance at the end—watch for him, he returns later in the series!), new couples, etc. I also decided early on that it would be fun to make all the sequels center around holidays. I started the trend with “Celtic Warrior and Wolf Spirit,” the sequel to “Psychic Moon.”

 

However, there will be a few books that return to earlier couples, but I don’t consider them sequels because they further the overall plot. To name a couple: Derek and Brian from “Psychic Moon,” and (everyone’s favorite) Poe and Nordik from “Master’s Blood.”

 

But back to “Hearts and Minds.”

And another excerpt!

 

 

Josh jerked back to the present. He realized he was standing in the reception area of the counseling wing, and Misty—their efficient secretary, a petite woman with long red-orange hair, bright green eyes, and a narrow, pointy face—was holding out a file folder. They weren’t able to pay their clinic employees yet, but that never stopped people from applying for positions and volunteering their time. They had a chef, two other counselors with degrees in psychology, and an elderly elk shifter who acted as custodian.

Where would they be without these generous Haven citizens?

There was a bunch of red and pink construction paper on Misty’s desk, and she seemed to be cutting them up into hearts of different sizes.

“What’s with the hearts?” Josh asked.

Misty tilted her head slightly and gave him a look that clearly said he was a dummy. “Valentine’s Day is coming up, duh.”

Josh blinked, flipped through the calendar in his head, and said, “Oh, right.”

Misty shook her head and rolled her eyes. “I’m making these for the class my brother’s in. They’re having a little party.”

“They’re looking good.”

“Yes, they are,” Misty said proudly. “But just wait till you see the necklace I had specially made for my girlfriend. She’s going to flip.”

Josh chuckled even as something occurred to him. “Is V-Day the reason you’ve been using pink and red highlighters and pens, lately?”

Misty sighed loudly and rolled her eyes again. “Wow, Josh. You’re Mr. Observant.”

“Hey, I have been a little busy, you know.”

“What? And I haven’t? You think this enterprise of yours runs itself?”

Temper sparked in her eyes, and Josh barely resisted a wince. Then he said, in all seriousness, “No, Misty. We all know how invaluable you are.”

“Damn right, I am.” Misty smiled cannily, her eyes now twinkling with humor as she continued to hold out Allen’s folder. He took it.

“Thanks. Is Allen’s mother with him?”

“Yes.” Her smile warmed, softened. “She’s so sweet and devoted. I really think he has a fair chance at full recovery with such support on his side.”

“I think so, too.” Josh promptly forgot about Valentine’s Day and its implications as he walked into the small counseling room. Allen sat on the couch, hunched over, his hands clasped in front of him. His mother sat right next to him, her hand on his. Allen’s cane was set against the couch, and his left leg was tucked under his right. It was understandable that he was still self-conscious about his severed left foot, but that was one of the things they were working on. He needed to accept what had happened to him and move past it. But, as Allen had only been with them for about a week, Josh knew it was a slow process and might take years. Allen and his mother were bear shifters, and he’d proven nonviolent, but Josh had seen flashes of rage in his eyes when they attempted to discuss his abuse. Josh had Xavier on speed dial if Allen proved too much to handle.

 

 

What is your favorite holiday to celebrate with your significant other?

 

Got anything you wish to ask me about my series? Ask away! I shall answer!

 

-M.D.

First excerpt plus more!

February 12, 2015

And I’m back! M.D. Grimm here promoting “Hearts and Minds,” my Valentine’s Day themed sequel to “Healing Minds” in my The Shifters series. http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6031

 

Josh and Xavier have been working so hard they haven’t really had time for a “honeymoon.” I really like these guys—they are so motivated and duty-oriented. In my humble opinion, they are probably one of the best couples I’ve penned. While I love every single one of my characters and enjoy all the couples, Josh and Xavier probably had the most evolution. The first draft of “Healing Minds” was utter crap, to be honest. I didn’t know where I was heading or what I was trying to say. My beta at the time agreed with me. But then I rewrote it from page one and all the puzzle pieces were finally assembled. I heard their voices, I sensed their struggles, and when I finally got them together, I was over the moon.

 

And now we have “Hearts and Minds” which is centered around Valentine’s Day, but the book is truly about compromise and working together as a team. Because of their busyness, Xavier and Josh haven’t really had much time alone together, to indulge in one another (sad, right?). That has led to a few unsaid conflicts that arise in this story. They both have strong personalities, have been trained in combat (though Xavier’s was far more intense), and both believe they are right all the time (and that never ends well).

 

So for those of you who love Xavier and Josh as much as I do, consider this story a Valentine’s Day present from me to you. J

 

And here’s an excerpt!

 

 

Xavier had to walk around to the back of the house to find Josh, who was standing with a blueprint, shouting at the workers on the roof. There seemed to be a disagreement happening, and Xavier found it incredibly cute how Josh’s face was becoming as red as his hair and his blue eyes were bright with frustration. He was bundled against the low 40s temperature, and Xavier found it hard to think of anything but keeping Josh nice and warm under their blankets.

Xavier walked over to catch Josh say, “…where you guys are sitting is where the new addition is going to go. I keep telling you that. That’s what the blueprint says.”

“If you put it here, the plumbing’s going to be a disaster,” countered an older man, who Xavier knew to be a fellow wolf shifter. He looked as exasperated as Josh. “That blueprint is wrong, or ya ain’t looking at it right, boy.”

Josh scowled.

“Let me see.” Xavier snatched the blueprint from Josh.

“Xavier—”

Clearing his throat, Xavier saw the problem and turned the blueprint right-side up. He handed it back to Josh and tried not to laugh, but it was a hard struggle. Josh looked down at the paper, his face reddening further. He grumbled something before sucking in a large breath and looking back up at the roof workers.

“Carry on, boys, we found out the problem.”

The workers glanced at each other. The older wolf shifter shook his head and mumbled something Xavier thought sounded like “Pups.”

Xavier turned his attention to Josh. “Morning, love.”

Josh rolled up the blueprint and gave him a smile. “Morning. Guess I still need a few lessons in ‘Building Remodeling 101.’”

Xavier chuckled. Then he cupped Josh’s face and kissed him soundly. Josh attempted to pull back for a split second before he melted against Xavier. Making a growly purr deep in his throat, Xavier wrapped his arms around Josh. He deepened the kiss, his tongue taking possession of Josh’s mouth, one hand curling around the back of Josh’s head. In response, Josh gripped his shoulders, a sweet moan coming from him.

Xavier reluctantly pulled back a moment later and was happy to see that Josh’s eyes were slightly blurry. He didn’t care that they were getting looks and snickers. He craved this man like a drug. Everything between them still felt fresh and new.

“Now it is a very good morning,” Xavier said.

Josh grinned. “Definitely.”

Xavier shifted his mouth close to Josh’s ear. “But it would have been a great morning if you’d stayed in bed.”

“I… well, there’s so much to do. I had to get an early start—”

Xavier kept his arms tightly around Josh’s waist, knowing a ramble about to start when he heard it. His redhead had a tendency to talk and talk… and talk. “You’ve been getting an early start for a couple of weeks now. There will always be so much to do. I need my mate.”

Josh sighed and pulled back slightly. Their eyes met. Xavier enjoyed the look of him, and he had a special adoration for the freckles that spread across his nose and cheeks. Xavier happened to know they covered Josh’s entire body.

“Sorry, X. You need your sleep. I don’t want to disturb you in the morning.”

Xavier raised an eyebrow. It was sweet how naïve Josh was sometimes.

“Josh, I always want you. Wake me up whenever. I’ll just sleep after.”

Josh let out a short laugh, his bright blue eyes sparkling. “Okay, got that.”

He pulled away, and Xavier let him. If he kept holding Josh, he might be tempted to drag him into the house and take him on the floor. His wolf didn’t think that was a bad idea.

Josh lifted the blueprint again. He tilted it one way and then the other, then covered one eye, then just sighed and shook his head. “I give up. I’m no good at this.” He shoved the print into Xavier’s hands. “Could you monitor them for me? I have a patient in ten minutes.”

“You need to stop booking them so early in the morning.”

Josh shrugged, smiling. “I have to book them whenever I can or else I’d never see them. We have to make ourselves available, remember?”

“Yeah, but we also need some time for just us, right?”

“Of course!” Josh jumped up and kissed Xavier quickly. Then he was gone, striding away. “I’ll see you later!”

It was incredibly annoying that Josh seemed so fucking immune to the lust bubbling inside Xavier. Kissing and blowjobs had been the extent of their lovemaking for too long, and Xavier was itching for more. He really wanted to be inside Josh again. More than anything, he wanted intimacy; he wanted time alone with his mate, no interruptions, no pressures, no duties.

Grumbling, he looked at the print and attempted to keep his mind busy by bossing around the workers.

 

 

Who is your favorite couple in “The Shifters” series? I refuse to have a favorite couple because that feels like I’m playing favorites with my children. I love all of them and am mighty proud with how each one turned out.

 

I shall be back!

 

-M.D. Grimm