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

October 28, 2015

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

Love on the Midway

A Darkmore Saga Short

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love was exciting!

That is until someone pointed it out.

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

Still, Jack smiled at him over his shoulder.

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

Love was amazing.

Jack was amazing.

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

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

Jack tossed the first ring.

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

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

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

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

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

Jack nodded once and gently tossed the ring.

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

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

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

Sevon hopped with a squeal of victory!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Of course.” Sevon beamed.

“Sevon.” Jack scowled.

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

Jack chuckled. “You’re cute.”

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

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

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

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

Nothing happened.

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

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

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

A bloody fang.

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

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

Jack peered into the glass window of the machine.

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

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

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

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

Slowly, Jack raised a finger to indicate the machine.

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

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

Crudely carved into her forehead were the crooked words:

 

I SEE YOU

 

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

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Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Ghost Story by Diane Adams

October 26, 2015

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

 

ghoststory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You laughed.” Thomas retorted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thomas looked troubled and frowned. “No.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He doesn’t see us.” He whispered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There was another long silence. Thomas broke it.

“Ghosts, huh.”

“Seems like.”

“Boo!”

“Thomas, what?”

“Did I scare you?”

“No.”

Thomas frowned. “Next time I will.”

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

“Challenge accepted!” ‘

“I liked you better ignorant.”

Thomas snuggled close. “Liar.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

October 26, 2015

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

***

This was going to be so much fun!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“By people you mean….”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was met with blank stares.

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

More blank stares.

“I weep for your generation.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Thank you for keeping my princess safe.”

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

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

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

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

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

“For you just being you.”

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

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

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

Charlie Cochet

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Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Feeling You by Santino Hassell

October 22, 2015

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kennedy shook his head. Just play.

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

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

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

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

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

“He could have hurt you.”

“It was plastic.”

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

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

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

“Why do you say that?”

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

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

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

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

“No.”

“But then how—“

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Author Bio:

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

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Find Santino:

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STYGIAN:

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

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

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

October 22, 2015

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

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

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“Reggie, time to go buddy,” he said.

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

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

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

“On my back,” he said.

“What—?”

“Now.”

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

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

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

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

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

I smirked. “My hero.”

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

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

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

“What now?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

“You good?” he asked.

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

“Yeah.”

***

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

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

“Hey, ghost boy,” I said, smiling.

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

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

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

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

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

“Wanna grab a beer?” I asked.

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

I chuckled.

Website: www.mdgrimmwrites.com

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

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

 

Picture credits:

Pic 1: Jiang Shi by Anja Millen at DeviantArt

Pic 2: J for Jiang Shi by tohdaryl on DeviantArt

Pic 3: Zombie-art JD Rucker

 

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

October 21, 2015

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

Big Bad Wolf (A Portland Pack Chronicles Flash Fic)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Wait and see.”

“Is he meeting you at Wolfhound?”

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

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

“Yep. But I might be fashionably late.”

Jaden snorted. “When aren’t you?”

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

 

****

 

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

Here goes nothing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dylan snapped his jaw shut. “Fuck no.”

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

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

“Nope.” Dylan turned away.

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

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

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

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

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

Dylan glared. “Shut it.”

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

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

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

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

 

****

 

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

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

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

 

****

 

Piper Vaughn Bio

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

 

Visit Piper at:

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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.””

2014-02-27 21.55.33

More from Jaime Samms here!

 

Excerpt from Brita Addams’ Beloved Unmasked

October 16, 2015

In this hour, I’m giving you a sneak peek into the world of Beloved Unmasked where my character, Pic, lives. This excerpt also introduces you to Spence, a scampy male prostitute.

 

 Beloved Unmasked jpeg hires

With each stair, Pic’s curiosity built. Spence often boasted a surprise and gave him a piece of filched cake from the kitchen. But there was the time he had Pic hide behind a curtain while the most gorgeous man he’d ever seen wore Spence out. Pic lost count of how many times Spence howled, “Yeah, Daddy.” Not to mention the nights Pic had spent peeking through the crack in the mahogany armoire.

On those nights Pic’s cock stayed hard until Spence relieved him. Spence often promised that when the time was right, he, in all his magnanimity, would personally oversee the popping of Pic’s cherry, and the promise was all Pic had to show for his patience.

After each of those nights, in the darkened attic, Pic pulled out every drawing he’d ever done of men and beat off three times in an hour. Only then did the fear drain from him at the realization that a wife and kids were not in the cards for him.

Halfway up the stairs, Pic’s instinct to go home nearly turned him around. His gritty eyes demanded sleep. He’d gotten up early and would have to again because he had work to do around the house. Sapphire needed her room cleaned and insisted he do it.

Pic took a step back, but Spence opened the door, his prick in hand. “What in hell takes you so long to climb a flight of stairs? Aren’t you interested in your surprise?”

“Sure I am, but you gotta give a workin’ man a break.”

“You’ll get a big, long break when you’re dead. Get up here.”

Pic trudged up the steps, summoned by the call of cock.

The lingering smell of sex and stale cologne drew him into the massive room Spence called home. Lots of space, and he paid one of the younger girls to polish his furniture every day, which left the room with an underlying aroma of lemon oil.

“Tonight you are in for a treat. I’ve arranged your first time, just like I promised.” Spence bounced with excitement.

Pic gave the room the once-over. “Really?” He shook his head. “I don’t know. Here?”

Spence put a hand on his hip, though the other never left his cock. “Perhaps you’d prefer the parlor downstairs, with witnesses. Yes, here, with only me and the man I personally selected for you.”

“I don’t know, Spence. Maybe it’s too soon.”

“You can’t decide if you wanna get laid or not? What kind of red-blooded American man are you?”

Pic shrugged. “Don’t you remember your first time?”

“Sure I do, and I was a damn sight more eager than you are. Listen, take a drink, and you can ease your mind into the idea that I’m not letting you out of here until you become a full-fledged pansy like me.” Spence ran his long slender fingers down Pic’s face. “I want to set you on the right path. Your partner is a perfect candidate, and he’s eager to help the cause.”

“I’ll take the drink.”

Spence clapped and giggled. “Excellent.”

With an exaggerated sway of the hips, he sashayed to a bootleg liquor–laden table he’d set up near the window.

“I always love coming to your room. So much more comfortable than my cot in the attic.”

“I rather like it myself. I do have a flair for décor, don’t I?”

Spence turned his back, so Pic ambled about. The walls held an overabundance of framed pictures, not just pages from magazines taped to the wallpaper. One was of an older Queen Victoria, adorned in black, her face a mask of sadness. Spence had a thing for England and dreamed of one day visiting Kensington Palace, birthplace and once home of his favorite queen.

The heavy green draperies that hid the bed cost someone a pretty penny, as did the fine lace canopy over Spence’s four-poster.

“There you are, a good vintage, from yesterday. It’ll water your eyes when it hits the bloodstream, but guaranteed, it’ll loosen you up.”

Pic took a sip of the clear drink and wrinkled his nose. “Whoo! That shit is potent.”

“Told ya.” Spence cupped Pic’s crotch. “Speaking of potent. Have I got a treat for you.”

After another sip, Pic put his glass on a nearby table. “What kind of treat? Something better than that shit I hope.”

Spence ran his fingers beneath Pic’s lapel. “You, dear boy, will have your cherry popped by an esteemed attorney.”

Pic raised his hand to ward yet another of Spence’s wild notions. “No.” He leaned in closer. “I’m not baring my ass for some grizzled old fart on his last leg.”

“Au contraire, ma petite pomme de terre.” Spence chuckled and pulled back the heavy drapery. “Does this look like a grizzled old fart to you?”

Mens-Black-Leather-2

Giveaway: Stop by my blog between October 16 and 23 for a series of posts on Storyville. Leave a substantive comment (not “I’m in” or the like,) about the posts and on November 1, I’ll select the winner of a New Orleans-themed gift pack. Beloved Unmasked isn’t included in the giveaway.

 

I’m very excited about the pre-release buzz about Beloved Unmasked

 

Beloved Unmasked is a beautifully written historical romance. You can feel the streets of New Orleans, see the sights, and hear the sounds. (Cathy Brockman – MM Good Book Reviews)

 

When you want a historical you can really sink into and feel like you are there, this is the book to pick up. Really amazingly well done. A Recommended Read (Tina Brunelle – Redz World)

 

Beloved Unmasked has a whole lot packed into the pages. Brita Addams has certainly done her research about New Orleans. (Kazza – On the Top Down Under Reviews)

 

Mens-Black-Leather-2

 

Dreamspinner has Beloved Unmasked on sale until October 18, at 25% off. Buy now to get the great discount.

 

About the author:

Born in a small town in upstate New York, Brita Addams has made her home in the sultry south for many years. In the Frog Capital of the World, Brita shares her home with her real-life hero—her husband, and a fat cat named Stormee. All their children are grown.

Given her love of history, Brita writes both het and gay historical romance. Many of her historicals have appeared on category bestseller lists at various online retailers.

Tarnished Gold, the first in her gay romance Tarnished series for Dreamspinner Press, was a winner in the 2013 Rainbow Awards, Historical Romance category. The book also received nominations for Best Historical and Best Book of 2013 from the readers of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group.

A bit of trivia—Brita pronounces her name, Bree-ta, and not Brit-a, like the famous water filter.

Find Brita at any of the following places:

Website

Blog 

Facebook 

Twitter 

In the final hour of the Release Party for Beloved Unmasked, I’ll have a “behind the laptop” view of the book and some tidbits of Beloved Unmasked Trivia.

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.

Erotic Sci-Fi Excerpt from Chris T. Kat

October 15, 2015

Someone else cried out, and I whirled around. Parsol, I think was her name—it had become a challenge to remember all the names because on every mission we lost people, so many people—held up her right arm. A ram stood next to her, gnawing on the part it had just ripped off her.

I choked as I lifted my gun again. The ram trilled before it stared at me from cold, reptilian eyes. Parsol was still staring at her limb, gushing with blood, when her knees buckled and she sprawled on the ground. The ram’s head whipped around, the red ridge on its head flaring. Seconds later we listened to crushing bones and tearing flesh.

Tom grasped my hips in his hands and lifted me up, so I could reach a low hanging branch. On autopilot, I grabbed for it and hauled myself up. I reached for the next one and had to assure myself with a glance at my fingers that I was indeed holding on tight because my fingers felt numb.

Tom patted my ass, probably to encourage me, but to me it felt like a slap, and not of the good kind. Startled, I moved up higher. Not a second too soon.

A ram showed up below us, tilted its head sideways, and inspected the tree trunk. After a snapped whistle, another ram appeared next to the first.

On our way up, Tom had made sure to destroy the low hanging branches, probably to stop the rams from following us. How we were supposed to get down from the tree was his secret. For now, it was more important for the rams to stay on the ground.

We stopped our climb halfway up the tree. Not because we couldn’t go up farther, rather due to the gusting wind that threatened to blow us off. When I peered down through the pouring raindrops, my heart stopped for a beat. Seriously, it did.

With a trembling finger, I pointed at the scene below. “Tom? Are they doing what I think they’re doing?”

Tom’s eyes narrowed and his nostrils flared. He wrapped his tail around the trunk and me, anchoring me. I had no time to process whether I should give him a piece of my mind or not because the first ram had finished climbing on the shoulders of the second one and now vaulted up on the first branch within reach. After its landing, it threw its head back and screeched.

Even through the thundering rain, the scream sliced through my body. Tom lifted his gun and fired right at the ram’s head.

He missed.

The ram had ducked aside and was now steadily climbing the tree, winding around it like a slithering snake. No matter how hard we tried, our shots always missed the target.

I glanced down again, only to see another ram ready himself for the climb. I fumbled with the pocket on my right thigh, grabbed a bluster and lobbed it at the two rams on the ground. As they tumbled down, the bluster went off, destroying both of them. Two less to worry about.

In the distance, I heard more gun shots and another bluster going off. Maybe we would survive this attack after all.

Right at that moment, claws appeared an inch below my boot. I reversed my gun and slammed the butt of it onto the claw. The ram screeched in pain but didn’t let go. Instead, it hauled itself up on a branch opposite Tom and me. Why the fuck didn’t the bough snap under the ram’s weight?

I swiveled the gun around to aim, but the ram’s claw closed around the muzzle. Even though I pulled the trigger, the ram pulled and flung my gun to the ground.

Tom withdrew his tail from the trunk—not a second too soon, because the ram tried to snatch it with its claws—but kept it around my waist. We moved farther away from the trunk, carefully balancing on the narrowing branch. Another blast of wind almost chucked us off.

The ram’s head peeked out from behind the trunk for a moment, then withdrew. Was it pondering its options?

“I’ll throw you to that tree in the back. Do you think you’ll be able to get a hold on a branch?” Tom whispered.

I froze. “Excuse me? What do you mean by ‘you’ll throw me’? We’re like… like high above the ground, and I don’t have wings or anything.”

Tom jerked his thumb over his shoulder, pointing at a tree close to us. “You can’t jump this kind of distance, but I can throw you. Will you be able to hold on?”

“I have no idea!” I burst out. “I’ve never tried before!”

“Berit,” Tom said, his voice so soft it hurt. “I know you haven’t done that before, but if I can’t trust you to find a handhold, I can’t risk the move.”

“I can’t promise,” I said in sheer desperation. What would be worse—getting killed by a ram, or falling to one’s own death? “Can’t you just shoot the damn thing?”

“It always ducks behind the trunk, so, no, I can’t. Ready?”

“No!”

“Berit!” he snapped. With his free hand, he grabbed for one of my hands and gave it a squeeze. “I’ll follow right away.”

“If you can follow, maybe that beast can too,” I protested.

“It has to come out of its hiding place, and that’s when I’ll kill it,” Tom replied.

“Oh. Well, that sounds reasonable.”

Tom squeezed again, and this time I reciprocated.

“Ready?” he asked.

“Now is probably not a good time to confess that I’m not the adventurous type, huh?”

Tom chuckled. “I’d beg to differ anyway. On three.”

_______________

Chris T. Kat loves to write and to read. She writes whatever floats her boat, which means her stories vary from contemporary to paranormal, fantasy, bittersweet dreams or sci-fi. All of her books have a strong romantic element and she’s happiest if she can write about shapeshifters. In real life, Chris is a teacher and couldn’t have hoped for a better job. She’s blessed with a wonderful and supportive family.