Two Hearts Two Spirits by Michael Halfhill

November 10, 2010

Two Hearts Two Spirits by Michael Halfhill is now available in eBook.

Helki and Igashu, friends and constant companions since childhood, will soon perform the tribal ritual of the Bow and the Basket. Choosing the basket means living a domestic life, to be a Two-Spirit, a lover of men. To choose the bow means becoming a provider, the head of the family, and a warrior, if war should come. Both are worthy choices, but for Igashu, his father’s sole surviving son, the obligation to lead his family after his father’s death presses heavily on his heart. Yet if Helki and Igashu choose different paths, their love may not survive.

Genre: Western, Fantasy/Paranormal
Length: Novella

Excerpt from Mariah the Christmas Moose – Coming in December

November 8, 2010

KYLE placed his feet on the floor, immediately pulling them back as a shiver ran through his slender frame. Cold. Why did everything have to be so cold all the time? The only time he felt warm was when he was in bed. Curling back beneath the covers, he tried to think of what on earth could have woken him up at—he checked the clock—five thirty in the morning. Then he heard the buzzing again and reached his hand from under the covers, grabbing his phone before pulling his hand back beneath the blankets. “Hello, Mom,” Kyle sighed, blinking his eyes. “Do you know what time it is?” he asked groggily as his legs started to feel warm again.

“Of course, honey,” she responded brightly, obviously checking the clock as she dragged out her words to fill any possible empty space. “It’s ten thirty.”

“Mom.” Kyle felt his head throb once. “Alaska is five hours behind Florida; that means it’s five thirty here.” He told her this every time she called. For the first week, she’d asked him what time it was when she called. Now she’d just given up and gone back to assuming her time was his time. “Is there something you wanted?”

“No, I just called to talk. I got this new cell phone, and they said I had free long distance, so I thought I’d call, see how you were.” More like find out if he’d changed his mind and decided to come back home, Kyle thought in response, but he phrased it in a much less mom-friendly way. She’d asked him no less than five times in the three weeks since he’d taken the job as a teacher in the Anchorage school system. “So, is it cold there?” she continued, completely oblivious to anything he might have to say. “It was eighty degrees yesterday, and I went with your brother and the kids to the beach. We had a lovely day.” She went on for a while about his perfect brother, Gregory, and her perfect two grandchildren—how cute they were, what they did, the cutesy questions they asked her. Kyle’s attention snapped back when her tone changed. “And do you know what Dommy asked me after we went swimming?” She sounded scandalized. “He asked me if girls had inside penises.” She whispered the last word, and Kyle completely lost it.

“It’s not that funny,” his mother replied indignantly.

“Mom, you called me at five thirty on a Sunday morning just to tell me that one of my nephews asked you the difference between a whoo-hoos and who-haas”—using the euphemisms his mother had used when they were children—“and for some reason you don’t think that’s funny?” Kyle continued laughing until his gasps moved the covers, letting in a blast of cold air.

“If you’re not going to be serious, I’ll hang up, and you can call me later.” The line went dead, and Kyle closed his phone and placed it on his nightstand before looking around the room. It was still dark, and he chuckled a few more times before burying his head beneath the covers, trying in vain to go back to sleep.

His family all thought he was completely crazy to leave the family home of Bradenton, Florida for the wild and cold of Anchorage, Alaska, and there had been days when he’d begun to question his sanity, too, but the people he worked with seemed really nice and almost all of them were from someplace else as well, so they had made him feel welcome. Besides, he’d spent the last three years substitute teaching, trying to get a permanent elementary school teaching position, and every time one came up, it went to someone else for one reason or another. When he’d seen the ad in the NEA newsletter that Alaska needed teachers and that they’d pay to relocate qualified candidates, he’d applied, figuring nothing would come of it. Well, surprise, surprise, they’d called, and after a telephone interview as well as calls to his references, they’d hired him, provided he agreed to study and become certified in Alaska. Unfortunately, they’d forgotten to tell him that they wanted him to start right away, which meant early December, and that the temperatures were already in the single digits—for the highs. Kyle shivered at the very thought.

The furnace kicked in, and Kyle listened to it run, imagining the room getting warmer. Giving up on getting back to sleep, he felt around on the floor until he found his slippers, and then, in one quick move, practiced each morning he’d been here, he slipped his feet into them and pulled on his big, fluffy robe in less than two seconds flat.

He padded down the hall to the kitchen, where he started the coffeepot and huddled next to it for additional warmth until the nectar of the gods was ready. Pouring himself a huge cup, he settled in one of the huge, plush living room chairs. He loved these chairs, even though they dwarfed his five-foot, four-inch frame. But they were comfortable and surprisingly warm. The teacher he’d replaced had been called back “down below,” as he’d heard the locals refer to the rest of the country, because of a death in the family, and Kyle had been able to take over her lease on the house. He’d just been looking for an apartment, but this was an opportunity too good to pass up. The place wasn’t large, but it had two bedrooms, a nice living room, and a huge eat-in kitchen with huge windows overlooking the backyard. There was also a wood stove, and he’d found a massive stack of firewood under a snowdrift in the backyard.

After drinking his coffee, he must have dozed off, because he jerked awake with a cramp in his leg and a crick in his neck. Stretching and gliding his head in a circle, he blinked awake and saw the faint glow of daybreak just lightening the sky. Standing up, he picked up the empty mug from where it had fallen on the floor and walked into the kitchen, placing it in the sink.

Thinking he saw movement in the backyard, Kyle walked to the windows and peered outside, jumping back and falling flat onto his butt as a huge pair of eyes stared back at him. As he watched, a massive head backed away from the window and a huge body lumbered further into the yard to where some vines grew on the fence. It started eating the vines, but Kyle swore it never took its eyes off him.

Panic rising through him, Kyle reached for the phone, dialing 911.

“Hello. Can you please state the nature of your emergency?” a calm female voice asked on the other end of the line.

“Th… th… there’s a huge animal, monster—hell, I don’t know what it is, but this thing is in my backyard, and it’s eating stuff.”

Excerpt 2 – A Taste of Love

November 8, 2010

Here’s the second excerpt of A Taste of love. Enjoy!!!

Just before opening, Darryl made one final inspection of the dining room. Every table looked perfect. Utensils and glasses set, menus ready, and the vases filled with fresh flowers. It looked great—up to the standards he set. “You ready?” he asked Sebastian, before propping the door open and putting out the specials board. Walking back through the restaurant, he turned and saw the first customers already walking in and sitting down.

The lunch service was unexpectedly busy, to say the least. The kitchen filled with the sounds of work: orders being called, questions answered over the sounds of cooking, and banging dishes. To the uninitiated it might look and sound like complete chaos, but to Darryl and his staff, it was nearly as graceful as a ballet. “That’s the last order,” Sebastian called as he stuck his head inside, and Darryl could hear his server’s breathlessness. The few times he’d had a second to peek, he’d seen the customers running Sebastian ragged. Leaving Kelly to finish the last order, he walked out front and saw Carter, one of the bussers, clearing the tables as Sebastian helped him. The dishwashing area would be busy for another hour, but everything had gone well.

“Darryl, we really need to think about hiring another server at least part time,” Sebastian said as he approached him. “Lunch is getting busier, and I can’t handle it alone.”

Darryl smiled. “I think so, yes.” Sebastian looked shocked, and Darryl let his smile increase. Maybe he could turn this into a lesson. “See, you get what you want when you ask, not shout.”

“So you’ll do it?”

Darryl nodded. “But you’ll need to train them and take them under your wing.”

“Then I have the job?” Sebastian’s eyes widened hopefully.

Darryl let his smile fall. “I didn’t say that. But training and managing wait staff, bussers, and even the dish room are all part of the job.” Darryl softened his face. “You did good today, but waiting tables is what you know. Let’s see how you learn new things.” The front door opened, and more patrons entered. Darryl cut the conversation short and returned to the kitchen.

“I’m heading out,” Maureen called as she gathered her things. “The desserts for tonight are all set, and you just need to sauce and plate them.” Maureen opened the cooler door, the smell of mint wafting out as she showed him the trays of dessert and the squeeze bottles of sauce.

“They look marvelous and smell even better.” She smiled at the compliment and bumped his hip.

“Flattery will get you everywhere.” She closed the cooler door and smacked his shoulder. “Get out of here for a while and enjoy the sun,” she called as she hurried out the back door.

“Yeah, boss,” Kelly piped up with a smile. “I can handle things for a while. I just have to finish the orders for that last table.” Darryl knew she’d been itching to show him that she could do more. After taking a peek to make sure there weren’t many people out front, he turned back to her.

“Okay. The show’s yours.” He noted her smile. “But call me if you have any problems. I won’t be too long.” She agreed, and he left the kitchen, walking through the dining room, out the front door, and into the spring sunshine. He needed this desperately; so many of his days were spent inside, arriving before the sun was up and leaving long after dark. The restaurant required long hours, but he loved it. Turning around, he looked up at his baby. The brick looked clean, and the windows sparkled. Sitting down on the bench in front, he turned so he could watch people walking along the sidewalk. He waved at the man from the men’s clothing store who was also taking a break, enjoying the sunshine. Darryl thought he was going to come and say hello, but a young man entered his store, and Darryl watched as he followed.

A few minutes later, the young man walked out again and walked into the next store, coming out again a few minutes later and repeating the process. Again and again, the man walked from business to business, and as he got closer, Darryl saw his face fall a little more each time. He must be looking for a job, and Darryl knew that in this market, they were hard to come by. As the man got closer, Darryl could see that he was younger than he’d thought, and he knew that eventually it would be his turn to be asked.

Sure enough, a few minutes later, he saw the young man walk past him and go into the restaurant. He really was young, but Darryl had to admire his determination. He came out a minute later and walked over to him. “Sir, the man inside said I needed to talk to you.” The voice was soft and rhythmic, and damn young. “I’m looking for a job, and the man inside said you might be hiring.” The hopeful look in his deep eyes tugged at Darryl’s heart.

“We might.” Darryl looked the young man in the eye and felt as though he’d been punched in the gut at the jolt that went through him. “What experience have you had?”

“Not much, I’m afraid.” Darryl saw him shuffle from foot to foot. “We moved here a few months ago, and I need a job real bad. I’ll work hard, real hard.” The earnestness in his voice caught Darryl’s attention, even as the eyes bored into him with a pleading look. “I’ll do anything you need, wash dishes, sweep floors, clean tables.”

“The only position I have open right now is for a part-time server,” Darryl replied, and saw the hope in the man’s eyes lift, but it was the fear tinged with desperation that made Darryl curious.

“I can do that. I’m a fast learner!” His eyes brightened, and he bounced slightly on the balls of his feet. “All I need is a chance.” God, the energy and excitement were catching, and the kid’s enthusiasm was encouraging.

“Okay. I’ll give you a chance.” Hell, enthusiasm and energy had to count for something. “Come inside and you can fill out an application.” Darryl stood up and the kid followed him like a happy puppy, his feet barely touching the ground. Darryl felt eyes on him and turned around. “By the way, how old are you?”

“Twenty-one,” the young man answered quickly, and Darryl breathed a sigh of relief. At least serving alcohol wouldn’t be an issue.

He went right to his small office off the kitchen, fishing through the files for the proper forms. “Fill these out, and I’ll need to see your identification and social security card.” Darryl handed him the forms and the kid’s hand shook, he had so much excited energy.

Darryl sat back and watched as, looking at the top of the form, William filled out the application. “Do you go by Will?” he asked, trying to make him a little more comfortable.

“Everybody calls me Billy.” He looked up and a smile split his face, radiating through the room. Damn, the kid was adorable, and as Darryl watched, he leaned forward in the chair and shrugged off his jacket. Long black hair flowed from beneath it, shimmering in waves to his shoulders. If he were a girl, he could have been a supermodel. The man was stunning with that long hair, big eyes, and lips…. Darryl dragged his eyes away and concentrated on the forms that Billy handed him.

“I’m Darryl Hansen.” He held out his hand, figuring introductions were in order. “I’m the owner and chef.” He glanced at the form. “And you’re Billy Weaver.” Darryl checked over the form, and everything looked in order. Checking over his identification, Darryl smiled. “We’ll try you out tomorrow during lunch. Be here at ten and I’ll introduce you to Sebastian. He’ll show you around, and you’ll work with him for a few days until you get a feel for how we do things.”

Billy grasped Darryl’s hand, breaking into another smile as he pumped it vigorously. “Thank you. I won’t let you down. I promise.” Billy grabbed his worn jacket and turned around, treating Darryl to a peek at the kid’s stunning backside. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Mr. Hansen.”

Darryl swore Billy’s feet never hit the ground as he rushed toward the door to the dining room, turning around to wave before disappearing. Darryl found himself watching the door, completely lost in thought.

“Darryl!” Hearing his name, he turned to Kelly, who was standing in his doorway. “Geez, where were you?” She didn’t wait for an answer, putting a plate in front of him before plopping into the only other chair. “I think we’re done for a while, so I made you something to eat.” Darryl barely heard her, his mind still on the kid—er, Billy. “Earth to Darryl, are you there?”

“Sorry.” He pulled his mind back to the present. “What’s this?”

“I made it for you. Tell me what you think.” Kelly looked pleased as Darryl examined the plate. The presentation was good, and he sniffed at the food. The aroma was enticing without being overpowering. Picking up the utensils, he cut a bite and tasted it. “Very nice. A variation on veal Milanese.” The breading was crisp but not too heavy, thin with a nice mouth-feel.

“Yes, except I breaded it, and instead of frying it, I sautéed it in a very little oil to keep it lighter.” Kelly watched as he cut off another bite. Popping it into his mouth, he let the flavor run free. “Do you like it?”

“Yes. We’ll need to refine the process, but this could definitely work on the menu as a special. Let’s talk about it tomorrow; you can think about what you’d like to serve with it.”

Kelly practically squealed with delight as she hopped out of the chair, and Darryl smiled as he continued eating, his mind returning unbidden to a vision of Billy. Jesus, he needed to stop that. Yes, the kid fascinated him. He had energy and was absolutely adorable, but he was way too young. And besides, Darryl had a hard and fast rule: he never dated anyone he worked with. He was the boss, and that could open a kettle of worms he wasn’t interested in exploring. But damn, the kid seemed to push all his buttons. “Maybe it’s just been too long,” he muttered to himself. Darryl tried to remember the last time he’d spent time with anyone and he realized he couldn’t. “Fuck, it’s been forever since I had any kind of sex that didn’t involve my right hand.”

He heard a soft knock and looked up to find himself looking again into Billy’s big, expressive eyes. “I forgot to ask how I should dress.” Billy looked nervous, and from the look of the clothes he was wearing, Darryl surmised that he probably didn’t have much.

“Wear black pants, and I’ll give you a few Café Belgie shirts that you can wear when you’re working.” Billy looked relieved and flashed Darryl another smile that raced through him.

“Okay, thank you.”

Again, Darryl watched him go and had to remind himself of his rule. The kid looked so young and innocent. Darryl usually liked his men more experienced, but there was something about Billy that got his attention, and it scared the fuck out of him. Shaking his head, he forced himself to finish his lunch. Nothing was going to happen, no way, no how. Besides, Sebastian was going to train him, and Darryl intended to keep as far away from the kid as possible. His first job had been in a kitchen with a very talented chef who had dated all the women who worked for him. What a mess that had been for everyone. No, he wouldn’t put himself in that position, even for a man as attractive as Billy. Jesus, I’m doing it again. Finishing his lunch, he took the plate to the dish room and got to work. That would take his mind off that bright smile, radiant hair, and tiny, tight butt. “Jesus Christ!” He swore at himself.

“Is something wrong?” Kelly asked, concerned.

“No,” Darryl lied, forcing his mind onto his work.

Excerpt 1 – A Taste of Love

November 8, 2010

Here is the first excerpt of the evening from A Taste of Love.

Blurb:

The lunch rush at Darryl Hansen’s restaurant, Café Belgie, is getting to be too much for one man to handle, and Billy Weaver is a young man in search of a job—any job—to support his family. Billy gains Darryl’s respect with his earnest nature and willingness to work hard, but Billy’s admiring looks resurrect pain and shame from Darryl’s past.
Until Darryl stumbles across Billy’s secret, Billy is suffering in silence: his father died a few months earlier, leaving him struggling to raise his twin five-year-old brothers. Darryl takes Billy and the boys to the restaurant, where they’ll stand together to face the smorgasbord of troubles in their future… while Davey, Donnie, and Billy all worm their way into Darryl’s heart.

Excerpt:

The kitchen door opened, and Darryl looked up from behind the line and saw Billy peeking over the shelf. “Someone wants their steak frites with regular butter instead of the herb butter, is that okay?”

“Of course.” Darryl felt his mouth go dry as Billy smiled at him and handed him the note to go with the ticket. “You can just enter it on the computer. You don’t have to come back to tell me whenever you have a special request.” The smile faded just a little bit, and Darryl found himself wanting to put that smile back. It just brightened everything. “You’re doing fine. Don’t worry. You’ll get the hang of it.”

Billy nodded a little and turned around, leaving the kitchen, and Darryl found himself watching the door until a steak flared on the grill and he returned his attention to where it should be. He heard Kelly snicker a little, and she turned away from him, but he glared at her nonetheless. She must have seen him anyway. “Come on, boss, it’s funny.”

“What is?” He turned the steak, thankful it wasn’t burned. “I need two frites and a Niçoise salad,” he said, looking ahead to the next ticket.

“Okay, chef,” Kelly replied with a knowing smile, dropping the frites into the fryer and starting on the salad with practiced ease.

“You have something to say?” Darryl glanced up from his work, adding another steak to the grill and setting up two orders of mussels to steam.

“Nothing. It’s just that every time Billy comes in here, you forget what you’re doing. It’s funny.” Kelly placed the salad on the pickup station and pulled out the frites, letting them drain before transferring them to the paper cones. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were sweet on him.”

Darryl saw her bat her eyes at him teasingly, and he swatted her with his towel. “I am not. I just want to make sure he’s doing well. It’s his first week, after all.” He hoped Kelly bought the explanation, because while what he said was true—he did want him to do well—fuck, the kid could scramble his concentration with just a simple smile. It had been a long time since anyone had that kind of effect on him. He liked it, sort of, but there was no way he was going to act on it. He just had to deal with it.

Finishing the orders, he wiped the edges of the plates and pressed the button to tell the server that their order was ready. Billy bustled into the kitchen, picking up the plates and hurrying out again, taking a second to flash him another smile. Darryl closed his eyes and pushed away the images that flooded his brain. Billy was grateful for the job and happy to be working, that was all. Kelly’s chuckles cut through his thoughts, and he gave her a final glare before returning his attention to where it should be, on his food. “Keep it up and I won’t put your dish on special tonight.” He tried to sound menacing, but Kelly just smiled, seeing right through him.

“Come on, Darryl,” he heard Maureen interject from the pastry station. “Billy’s been working here three days and he’s already got you wrapped around his little finger,” Maureen said with a hint of laughter in her voice. “If you ask me, it’s about time someone caught your attention. I was beginning to think the pipes were clogged or something.” Both Maureen and Kelly laughed, and Darryl scowled at them.

“My pipes are just fine.” Damn it, he’d said that way too loud, and he looked up, thankful the door to the dining room was closed. Both women returned to their stations, heads down, shoulders bouncing, and he knew they were laughing. He was never so thankful for anything in his life as when the printer started spitting out orders. “Need two more frites and a Caesar.” Darryl ripped off the ticket, and another came right behind. “Seems your mousse is a hit, I need three of them,” he said to Maureen as he began preparing the main dishes.

“Billy sells more dessert than anyone I’ve ever seen,” Maureen commented as she went to the refrigerator, pulling out three decorative glasses filled with a creamy chocolate and garnishing them with whipped cream and strawberries.

“It’s those eyes,” Kelly replied, the words passing around Darryl as he tried to concentrate on his work. “Can you imagine saying no to him?” Kelly stopped what she was doing, looking at Maureen. “Would you like some chocolate mousse?” Darryl glanced up from his pointed effort to ignore the two of them, sighed in frustration while shaking his head, and forced his attention back on his work, to no avail. “Every woman out there says yes, thinking about what she’d like to do with that mousse.”

An image of Billy flashed in his mind, smooth skin, big eyes, chocolate mousse streaking his…. A clang as his spoon hit the floor pulled him back to the present, and both women howled. “You’re way too easy.” Maureen thumped him on the back before doubling over with laughter. Darryl growled and picked up the spoon, tossing it into the sink. Yanking open the stainless steel drawer, he grabbed another and went back to work, growling as the other two turned back to their stations, still snickering.

Come Chat with Andrew Grey

November 8, 2010

Good evening everyone. I’m Andrew Grey and I’ll be here to present excerpts of my new story A Taste of Love, chat, and answer any questions you light have. As a special bonus, I’ll also be sharing an excerpt of my upcoming Christmas story, Mariah the Christmas Moose that is being released in December and will be part of Dreamspinner Press’s Naughty or Nice Advent Calendar. I may even be persuaded to share some sneak peek excerpts, all you need to do is ask.

Also – The first 20 orders of A Taste of Love from the Dreamspinner Press site, will receive signed copies of the book.

Let’s have a good time, so bring on the questions…
Andrew

A Taste of Love by Andrew Grey

November 8, 2010

A Taste of Love by Andrew Grey is now available in paperback and eBook.

The lunch rush at Darryl Hansen’s restaurant, Café Belgie, is getting to be too much for one man to handle, and Billy Weaver is a young man in search of a job—any job—to support his family. Billy gains Darryl’s respect with his earnest nature and willingness to work hard, but Billy’s admiring looks resurrect pain and shame from Darryl’s past.
Until Darryl stumbles across Billy’s secret, Billy is suffering in silence: his father died a few months earlier, leaving him struggling to raise his twin five-year-old brothers. Darryl takes Billy and the boys to the restaurant, where they’ll stand together to face the smorgasbord of troubles in their future… while Davey, Donnie, and Billy all worm their way into Darryl’s heart.

Genre: Contemporary
Length: Novel

Get What You Need up for Book of the Week!

November 6, 2010

Hello,  Dreamspinner Readers! Janey Chapel here, with the proverbial hat in hand.

Get What You Need is up for Book of the Week at Blackraven’s Reviews. Lady Scarlet selected it as a Recommended Read and gave it , so it’s now in the running for Book of the Week!

If you read the book and enjoyed it, would you please vote? The link is below:

Blackraven Review’s Book of the Week Poll

Thank you so much!

username: 7mark8

November 5, 2010

username: 7mark8 by Nick Hanson is now available in paperback and eBook.

Recently separated from his wife, a closeted man (username: 7mark8) discovers blogging to be a therapeutic outlet for his awkward and often comical homosexual shenanigans. His eroticism and unassuming candor attract quite an online following, and as more personal questions and information about his life and his children surface, he’ll discover friends, critics, and a heap of both good and bad advice.

But the last thing 7mark8 expects to find are cult-like followers who appear to be pushing him into a relationship with a charismatic but spiritual man. As he struggles to accept responsibility for his children along with his passion for men, his blog suddenly becomes a minefield of debate—but it will also become a source of strength as he learns to stand up for himself and his lifestyle.

Genre: Contemporary
Length: Novel

Interview with Charlie David

November 4, 2010

Marc at Deep Dish did an interview with new to us author Charlie David. Check it (and him) out for lots of pictures and details!

Also, if you haven’t already, pick up a copy of Charlie’s new release, Shadowlands!

Not Alone by Sonja Spencer

November 3, 2010

Not Alone by Sonja Spencer is now available in eBook.

Andy Parker moves to a small town on a lake to start over after a bad breakup. The big drawback? He’s alone with no prospects for romance. He meets Eddie Ferguson at the local grocery and strikes up an easy friendship, but the divorced man isn’t really Andy’s type. Still, a friend is a friend—and when Mr. Oblivious Eddie says “So use me,” Andy’s imagination goes wild. But will trying for more risk any chance of a friendship?

Genre: Contemporary
Length: Novella