Relentless and More with Cheyenne Meadows – Post + Giveaway

February 29, 2016

Relentless

Hi. I’m Cheyenne Meadows and wanted to stop by and share some goodies with you today. Namely, my latest release from Dreamspinner Press entitled Relentless.

This is a story near and dear to my heart. The idea came to me one day when I saw a documentary about the real world situation in Afghanistan with our military service men and woman and the daily fight they face. A section of the show addressed snipers, the role they play, and the training they receive. I saw the incredible shots they made and a story began to percolate, needing to be told, borrowing from reality to tell a heart wrenching, compelling tale about an incredible man. I considered the difficulties, the courage, the commitment a high level sniper must possess and knew I had to create a story that would portray that image in my main character along with a twist or three. That led to the usual ‘what if’ questions, my penchant for writing shifter romance, and voila, Jag was born.

He’s a jaguar shifter, working with a special military unit made up entirely of shifters. They are on loan to the regular military as special ops freelance guys who are highly trained for very unique and difficult missions. To boot, the human population doesn’t know that shifters exist, making the tenuous relationship a bit challenging at times. Just another complication in a whole nest of them when it comes to Jag and his assignments. He’s never had life easy, but has the balls to get the job done. No matter what.

Many readers ask what I listen to when writing, how I write, or come up with ideas. I’ll let you in on a little secret. The ideas come from everyday life. Sometimes, like with Relentless, a television show sparks an idea. Sometimes it’s a song or even the evening news. A character pops into my mind that demands to have his story told. Who am I to argue? I then start with the typical questions. Who is he? What does he do for a living? What is his background? If he’s a shifter, what variety? Each decision gets me closer to understanding the guy. Once that is all set, I start trying to create a scene around him. I’m a plotter, meaning that I like to iron out the important details of a story before really getting started. No, I don’t make an outline. I just jot down notes of what I know and then let it take me from there. Sometimes as I go, my story takes a bunny path, and that’s okay. It basically boils down to the fact that I know where I want to start and where I want to end. The middle gets a bit vague. But, that’s the fun of letting the story have a life of its own.

Oh, as far as listening to music? Nope. I like things to be perfectly quiet. I have an office where I write, a large wooden desk, with my desktop computer on top. The window next to me allows sunlight in and a glimpse of the outside world. I’m very formal about writing in the fact I have to treat it as a job. I try to keep a set schedule and writing at a desk helps to keep my mind on the “job” philosophy. If I only wrote when I felt like it, I’d never get anything done. Writing takes time, effort, and devotion. Thus, it’s butt in chair and fingers on keyboard. Oh, and the kitty sleeping in her hammock next to me doesn’t hurt, either.

What am I working on now? Well, I have a couple of other stories in progress. I can’t seem to stick to writing one at a time, so normally have a few in various stages of completion. Nice in a way because when I finish one, I can just go through my works in progress folder and pick another to work on again. Alleviates boredom that way, too!

Enough about me. Now back to Relentless. Jag meets his new spotter in Afghanistan. Sonar is an ocelot shifter with enough guts to stand up to Jag in his worst temper, yet still has enough compassion to see the man hurting deep inside and step up to help. He vows he’ll keep Jag on track, sane, and alive through this treacherous and emotional journey, no matter the cost to him.

The two kitties might start out flashing fangs but soon realize there’s much more than animosity driving them together.

Speaking of kitties, I have a big question for all of you. What is your favorite kind of shifter? Felines? Canines? Ursines? Be specific. Lions? Tigers? Wolves? Wild dogs? Another variety of shifter? What about hybrids? Tell me what you love to read in a shifter story, what mixes you crave, and what combinations you’d love to see. Comment on this question and you will be entered in the drawing to win a free ebook copy of one of my backlist stories from Dreamspinner. One winner will be chosen two days from now. So don’t be shy and don’t be tardy!

Don’t forget, you can check me out at:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/cheyenne.meadows.10

Blog: cheyennemeadows.blogspot.com

E-mail: Cheyenne1.meadows@yahoo.com

I love to hear from readers!

 

Check out Relentless today!

eBook

Paperback

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Blurb: 

Jaguar shifter and sniper extraordinaire, Jag, is tasked with his most difficult and dangerous mission to date—take out the man responsible for his spotter and husband’s violent death. Again.

Sonar, an ocelot shifter, is assigned as the new spotter to the surly and scowling feline alpha. He’s impressed with Jag’s skills but sees more beneath the surface: a grief-stricken and furious man on a trail of vengeance.

Together Sonar and Jag face perils and challenges that test their skills, resolve, and the budding feelings they have for each other. As the death toll rises, so does the heat between them. Their longings could give them the strength needed to persevere, but it also might force them to succumb and sacrifice everything. One thing’s for certain: someone won’t be making it back alive.

 

Author bio:

Growing up in the Midwest, I began reading romance novels in high school, immediately falling in love with the genre, to the point where I decided to write professionally for a career. However, that dream splattered against a brick wall and resulting quick death in my first writing class in college when my professor told me bluntly that I wasn’t any good at it.

I shifted gears quickly, and left my writing dreams behind, eventually settling on being a nurse. A few years back, I stumbled across a fan-fiction writing site on a favorite author’s webpage. I began to read stories others wrote, not only making some wonderful close friends from the experience, but also, really learning to write for the very first time. Here I was able to share short stories, practice my writing skills, and truly develop into a writer. More than that, the experience allowed me to revitalize my dream, as I rediscovered joy in writing.

When I’m not working or writing, I enjoy working in the garden, canning, and seeing my backyard as a living canvas for my whimsical landscaping, and, of course, reading romance novels.

 

Early Beginnings to the World of Fantasy with Rory Ni Coileain – Post + Giveaway

February 24, 2016

Early beginnings to the world of fantasy

Hi! – my name is Rory Ni Coileain, and today is release day for Wolf, Becoming, my very Russian shape-shifter story.

I’ve been invited to tell you all a little bit about myself and my writing. Which is surprisingly hard! I write what I call “mythic and legendary fantasy” – my logo (shout out to A.J. Corza!) is a blend of urban fantasy on the left, which his piercings and tattoos, and more “traditional” fantasy on the right. And if you’ve ever seen my banner at a convention, you’ve seen my tag line – “The end of the myth is where the story begins.”

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I grew up reading mostly fantasy and science fiction. But even before I found Doctor Doolittle (fourth grade) and Dune (eighth grade), my very first love was mythology. The first book I checked out of my school library in kindergarten (after I convinced the librarian that I’d already read everything in the kiddie section, by reading aloud from a book on meteorology and pronouncing “cumulonimbus” correctly) was Gods and Heroes of the Greeks. I loved Norse mythology, too, and by the time I was seven The Egyptian Book of the Dead was on my birthday list. (I was kind of precocious…) And I’ve been reading them ever since. Devouring them. Chinese, Travelling People, Irish, Native American, Russian. I really need an English translation of those 500 German fairy tales collected by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth…

Myths and legends are an incredibly powerful tool for the storyteller. They’re shortcuts into the subconscious, both collective and individual. If you’re telling a story and a character drops a glass slipper, your reader is instantly going to conjure a whole subtext, atmosphere, perspective. Your story is right there, in that simple phrase.

And then you get to mess with that story. Which is more fun than kittens. (“Well, almost,” she added in response to a glare from Captain Jack Harkness, her one-eyed polydactyl kitten.) You get to say “Why can’t Cinderella be a boy?” or “Maybe the dragon is only using the princess as bait to attract himself a handsome knight!” or “How can it be fair if the only ‘happily ever after’ your society is prepared to allow this character isn’t ‘happy’ at all?”

When you rewrite a myth, or a legend, you’re playing with the archetypes that form the foundation of a society, and of a mind. Which is how real change happens: you get right down to the root and change the primal stories we tell each other and build our culture on. Subversive as hell, really.

(If this sort of thing interests you, I highly recommend the work, both fictional and scholarly, of Jane Yolen. She is, as far as I’m concerned, the Grand Master of my self-defined subgenre. Her Sister Light, Sister Dark is a story told from three perspectives: What Really Happened, a very long time ago; the legend that grew out of what really happened; and the myth that grew out of the legend. And the whole thing is bracketed by the dyspeptic rantings of a “modern-day” academic, complaining that one of his colleagues, who is so ignorant that he actually believes there was a truth underlying the myths, is getting all the popular and academic attention, and people are ignoring his own carefully crafted (and, of course, totally wrong) interpretations. Hysterically funny and well worth a read. I also highly recommend Briar Rose. Highly. And Tam Lin. And…well, just Google Jane Yolen.)

Wolf, Becoming is taken from several Russian folk tale archetypes. Russian tales often involve a third son of a king or a rich merchant, usually named Ivan (I used Ilya as an homage to Illya Kuryakin, from Man from U.N.C.L.E., my first crush); the third son is usually portrayed as “simple,” but is usually just less ruthless than his older brothers. In my story, that’s a good description of Ilya, but Ilya is also gay – which, in modern Russian society, is all too often a very dangerous thing to be. This is an archetype just begging to be messed with…

And in Russian folk tales, there’s a tradition of shapeshifters, but it’s quite different from the Western tradition. In Russian legends, shapeshifters are animals, first and foremost; they only become human for a limited time, under very restrictive conditions. It was interesting writing a romance under those restrictions – challenging, to make the characters real as wolves, yet human enough for their romance to be believable.

I’d like to give away a copy of Wolf, Becoming – if you’d like a chance to win, comment below with a favorite folk or fairy tale. And if you have some ideas about how you’d like to see it changed, feel free to include that in the comment, too!

Check out Wolf, Becoming today!

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Blurb:

Volyk learns very young that he has to hide what he is—oboroten’, shape-shifter—after his father is killed and skinned by a hunter, and the pack that takes in his pregnant mother is hostile to his kind. When Volyk is ordered to fight the pack’s beta to prove his fitness, but instead obeys his hormones and tries to mount him, he’s declared an abomination and forced to flee.

Ilya, too, hides a secret. Being young and gay in modern Russia is dangerous, and he knows it. But the truth eventually gets out, and his brothers lure him into the forest to kill him. They’re stopped by Volyk, who hides the mortally wounded Ilya in his den. The only way to heal the human is to turn him into an oboroten’.

Unfortunately, Ilya’s gentle nature is ill-suited to the life of a wolf. But when Volyk’s old pack returns, seeking to take away Volyk’s magickal den, Ilya will have to embrace—truly become—the wolf Volyk made him to save both his mate’s life and his own.

Rory Ni Coileain:

www. rorynicoileain.com

www.facebook.com/Soulshares/

Twitter: @RoryNi

 

No Smoke Without Fire with Kay Ellis

February 17, 2016

No Smoke Without Fire

In the words of the song – whoa oh, my sex is on fire. Literally, in this case!

Hi, I’m Kay Ellis and I’m here to talk about my latest release, The Fire King. This is the third book in the Evolin series and continues Sully and Tylan’s story. Mostly Sully’s as Tylan is conspicuously absent, assumed to be dead, for most of the book, and Sully’s head is turned by a handsome newcomer.

It first became clear that the fire had its own personality during The Fallen, when Tylan said he thought the fire was in love with Sully. Now, their roles are reversed. Tylan is trapped inside the mind of the fire and the fire is flesh and blood and out to claim Sully for its own.

The evolvement of the fire seemed a natural progression and I liked the idea of giving it human traits and a personality. I’m a great admirer of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, in particular, the character Death. One of my favourite Pratchett books is when Death takes a holiday because he wants to know what it means to be human. I love the part where he gets bored of being drunk so he stops and goes home. Death wants to understand why life is so precious; people will do anything to hold onto it.

In The Fire King, Okhela (aka the fire) wants Sully to teach him to be man. I guess it would be unsettling to any of us to know that our most human traits, mannerisms and odd little habits, are not yours at all, but belong to someone else. Personally, I think I have some habits nobody else would want to lay claim too. I’m rather OCD about a lot of things from not touching the car after I’ve locked it to only using even numbers!

Writing is such a great release for me. It’s good to lose myself in my little fantasy worlds. Right now, I’m working on a piece that is probably half contemporary and half fantasy. It’s a bit of a change for me because it involves an alien invasion!

If we ever were invaded, I would definitely want to hide behind Daryl Dixon and his crossbow. So let’s throw it out there. In the case of an alien invasion, who would you want protecting you and why? Where would you go to escape? My favourite answer will win a copy of either Fireheart or The Fallen, the first books in the Evolin series

Check out Kay Ellis on Facebook!

Get “The Fire King” today!

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Blurb: 

Sully is summoned back to Maestraad by the entity who took control of Tylan’s body when Tylan perished. This Fire King—now calling himself Okhela—offers Sully a bargain he cannot refuse: if, after six months, Sully fails to fall in love with him, Okhela will return Tylan. The trouble is, as much as Sully wants to hate Okhela, the Fire King rules with wisdom and generosity… and Sully cannot resist the attraction he feels toward the handsome king. Though his heart will always belong to Tylan, Sully gives in to his body’s demands.

But can Sully trust Okhela to keep his word? With assassins on the loose, can Sully keep the Fire King alive long enough to find out? With the future of the kingdom—as well as his heart—at stake, Sully must call upon old friends and new to protect the Fire King, who might hold the keys to both.

 

Embracing the Spark with Nicole Godfrey and A.J. Marcus – Post + Giveaway

February 12, 2016

embracing

Hello! My name is Nicole Godfrey and I’m one half of the author duo who wrote Hoofbeats.

From the beginning this was a story that spoke to my heart. I’ve read a few books with an American Indian as the lead character, and they always left me wanting to write my own. Hoofbeats was not my first, but the concept of a Horse Shifter/Horse Whisperer romance couldn’t be ignored once it took root. Not that I’ve ever been one to ignore a good story idea.

Passing the story back and forth between chapters proved a challenge, but through combined efforts we managed to find a way to tell a story that shows how wild horses are still being destroyed. That became the awareness we wanted to create, intertwined with American Indian mythology, and what could happen if horse shifters originated from one of the Native lines of North America.

The idea came along after I’d done a beta read for A.J. Marcus, my co-author. He wrote a book with three shifters, two big cats and an owl. The owl was a law man of the shifter world, and I thought the concept would be fun to connect several stories in the same universe. The characters have the potential to overlap in the future, but the stories stand on their own. For that reason A.J. and I have plans to writer several more novels with bird shifter enforcers. We are currently working on the second of these novels, starring a pair of golden eagle shifters. Well, in addition to our own solo projects, that is.

I have found that going to a coffee shop, staking out a corner with a tasty beverage, and writing for hours really helps me crank out the word count. The ear buds go in and I listen to a mix of all the different kinds of music I like on Pandora. Being at home generally leads to distractions, even when I’m alone. Coffee shops offer a small amount of social interaction, the opportunity to have writer friends come join me and do work, as well as getting to support local businesses. A well made cup of Joe can be quite inviting, and a change of scenery is never a bad thing either.

Overall, I guess you could say the right set of circumstances can lead you to the spark of an idea, which in turn can lead you to writing stories from your heart. A.J. asked me if I’d like to write a book with him, asked me to come up with ideas for shifters, and that was all it took to push the gears into motion. Generating ideas is my favorite part of writing, which A.J. knew, and shifters have always been a source of fascination for me. I attribute that passion to watching werewolf movies as a kid, specifically American Werewolf in London.

What kinds of movies inspire you? Like A.J. and I, do you have a passion for spreading awareness when it comes to the treatment of wild animals? Or do you have a special source of mythology that tickles your ideas into bold brilliance? Leave your answer in the comments below and we’ll randomly select one to get an e-copy of your choice from A.J.’s back list.

We’d love to hear about it, and how these things influence your choices for reading fiction. Leave a comment and we’ll do our best to address each one. Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoy Hoofbeats!

HoofbeatsFS

 

Blurb:

After a run of bad luck, gifted horse trainer Cole Frasier thinks he’s lost his touch. When he’s offered three times his normal rate to gentle a stallion, he needs the money badly enough he jumps at the opportunity, even if his boss is of questionable morality.

Once he meets Midnight Blood, he knows there’s something special about the horse, but he doesn’t know how special until he begins sharing dreams with the magnificent steed.

Derek Dancing Hawk is a horse shifter trapped in his horse form due to guilt over losing the wild herd he was guarding. When he meets Cole, as Midnight Blood, he wants to find a way to be human again. During a fight between Cole and the ranch foreman, he manages to shift and save Cole, but his transformation from horse to human is captured on camera. This not only gives Cole’s boss blackmail material, but also creates the need to warn the horse shifter council of the threat to their anonymity. The existence of shifters is a closely guarded secret, one they will go to great lengths to keep.

Check out Hoofbeats today!

Author Bios:

A.J. has been writing to pass the time since high school. The stories he wrote helped him deal with life. A few years ago, he started sharing those stories with friends who enjoyed them and he has started sending his works out into the world to share with other people. He lives in the mountains with his extremely supportive husband. They have a lot of critters, including dogs, cats, birds, horses, and rabbits. When not writing, A.J. spends a lot of time hiking, trail riding or just driving in the mountains. Nature provides a lot of inspiration for his work and keeps him writing. He is also an avid photographer and falconer. Don’t get him started talking about his birds, because he won’t stop for a while.

Web Contact Info:

Website: www.ajmarcus.com
Email: andy@ajmarcus.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/aj_marcus
Facebook: http:// www.facebook.com/authorajmarcus

 

Nicole Godfrey is a writer who calls the beautiful city of Colorado Springs home, along with her fury children. She was born in Omaha, NE. and has lived in Florida and Tennessee. Her writing career started with poetry at a young age, leading to her first publication at the age of twelve. Poetry eventually evolved into the love of storytelling, and any good story, no matter the genre, is open to her creative mind. She has two short stories published through Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group; A Page Lost in An Uncommon Collection, and The Power of the Word in Remnants and Resolutions: Tales of Survival.
When she’s not writing, Nicole actively participates in Amtgard and loves to play table-top RPG’s. Art has also been a part of her life since a young age, so she spends as much time as possible playing with different mediums.

https://www.facebook.com/authornicolegodfrey1983/?ref=br_rs
authornicolegodfrey@gmail.com
@NicoleGodfrey

Timeless love against an ancient enemy–who will rise victorious? with M.D. Grimm – Post + Excerpt

January 14, 2016

Timeless love against an ancient enemy--who will rise victorious-

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Hi everyone! My name is M.D. Grimm and I am the proud author of “The Shifters” series, of which “Predator and Prey” is the latest book. I plan to run “The Shifters” into the 20s before coming to that epic battle that will conclude everything. Hopefully, at that point, all loose threads will be tied up neatly and we can all leave this strange world I created satisfied.

But until then….

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“Predator and Prey” is book #9 in the series and the last of the “historicals” for a while. Yes, I know the 1970s are hardly “historical” in the usual sense, but they aren’t current times, so I just lumped this story in with “Hunted Guardian” (#7) and “The Serpent and the Angel” (#8). I have two more historical stories in the series to write, but those are for later.

First the blurb:
Vietnam War vet turned deep-sea treasure hunter Digger Sullivan scratches out a living, and this new commission is just another job—albeit an exciting one off the Florida coast in 1977. But while exploring the area, Digger and his crew encounter a lot more sharks than they expected.

Reef and his shark shifter clan are charged with protecting a vital, magical secret—two of four scrolls that, when brought together, could annihilate shifters across the world. But Reef can’t keep his head in the game around this intriguing diver, and it’s not long before Digger takes one of the scrolls topside. Reef now has two missions: seduce Digger and recapture the scroll. Despite his attraction to Digger, Reef’s priority must be reclaiming the scroll.

But when Reef’s true identity is exposed, Digger is scared and appalled, and rejects him. Yet Digger might change his mind when his crew is captured by the very person who commissioned them, and Reef and his shark clan are the only things standing between them and death.

Are you all intrigued yet??

Now, for what you’ve all come for: the dirty deats on “Predator and Prey.” First of all, it came about because I really wanted to write a story about a shark shape-shifter. I have a particular fondness for sharks and hope to swim with them one day. What can I say? I’m a little odd. The biggest challenge this presented, however, was trying to reconcile the inherent “alieness” of a shark’s emotion with the more familiar one of a human. It was a similar challenge that “The Serpent and the Angel” offered, since Tobias was a snake. But sharks are even more alien and practically emotionless. But I needed Reef to be relatable, so that was a delicate balance I had to keep. I decided that the best way to approach the situation was to pick a few key features of the shark I wanted to emphasis and stick with them, giving them as much play as possible. Reef is practical, territorially protective, and isn’t ashamed by what he wants. He just goes and gets it. He’s refreshingly free of human idiosyncrasies… at least at the beginning of the story. He was a fun character to play with, and I liked him more and more as the story progressed.

Digger, however, I knew right off: ex-soldier looking for freedom on the ocean, living by no one’s rules but his own, and befriending those society didn’t want. Yeah, I liked him a lot. I have a soft place in my heart for those who serve, and I wanted to try my hand at bringing one to life. It was intriguing to put Reef and Digger together, and even I couldn’t have guessed how well they would click! They “get” each other on a level that most could only dream about.

I consider this story my most ambitious yet. I had zero knowledge of scuba diving, treasure hunting, boats/ships, the Florida coast and waters. For that matter, I had to research the 1970s and be grateful my story was set mostly in isolation on a boat. College work had nothing on the massive research project I dumped on myself. Jeez. But it was all worth it. I am very proud of the end product and though some of my research didn’t end up in the story, that wasn’t the point. I needed to know all those tedious details if I was going to make everything seem real. If it wasn’t real for me, how could I make it real for anyone else?

Most of my story ideas come from the question “what if?” I’m a big fan of asking “what if?” and letting it lead me down winding paths filled with plot bunnies. This has served me well for “The Shifters” series since I wanted to distance myself from the classic wolf shape-shifter stories and experiment with other animals. Don’t get me wrong, I love wolves, but there are so many interesting, beautiful creatures out there, and I didn’t want to limit myself. This strange world I created is full of life, various and magical, and yet connected and fragile. That’s one of the themes I work with through most of the stories—the idea of connectedness. We are all connected to each other, and if one of us fails, it’s a loss to everyone. In my series, the world essentially has three sorts of players: shape-shifters, magical people/fae descendants (the Knights and the Agency), and mundane humans who are oblivious to the war waging. It’s a massive, dysfunctional family, and there aren’t many who know how the war all began.

“Predator and Prey” answers some of those questions. The main villain in the story has an intimate connection with Arcas, the main villain of my series. Also, for those who’ve read “Hunted Guardian” and “The Serpent and the Angel,” I’m sure you’ve guessed the connection between the villains in those stories and Arcas.

Arcas is more than he appears. But more on that at a later date.

“Predator and Prey” also continues the storyline of the four ancient scrolls that act as keys to unlock a weapon that can annihilate shape-shifters. The scrolls will feature heavily for the next three books, then a new facet of the war will emerge. To keep things organized for myself, I split the books up into parts (of which there are five) and kept to specific themes and connected events.

Part 1 has all been published and includes: Psychic Moon, Love is a Whirlwind, Blind Devotion, Hunter and Hunted, Healing Minds, and Master’s Blood.

Part 2 is what I’m working on now: Hunted Guardian, The Serpent and the Angel, and Predator and Prey. There will be three other stories in Part 2. Happily, Shifting Moon has been accepted by Dreamspinner and due out in April/May 2016. Shifting Moon will be based in current times and chronologically follows Master’s Blood. It also includes Derek and Brian from Psychic Moon. I was very happy to meet up with them again! I missed them.

Because I’m super excited with the progress of the series, I’m going to reveal the titles of the next two books… drum roll please… Feather and Scroll (#11) and Kindred Truths (#12). While Feather and Scroll introduces new characters, Kindred Truths will revisit some fan favorites… *cough* Poe and Nordik *cough*

As you can see, I’m moving right along and hope to have Feather and Scroll done perhaps by the end of 2016. But no promises! You know how life can happen.

Since I’m sure you’re done with my rambling, here’s an excerpt!

That’s when they all heard something smack hard against the starboard side, causing the boat to rock slightly. Everyone jumped up from the table, and for some reason Digger decided to race to his bedroom and thrust the tube inside before following the rest on deck. He’d learned long ago not to question his impulses, and it had saved his life more than once.
“The lights!” Digger said.
Kevin and Felipe flicked on the large spotlights and scanned the waters. It wasn’t long before the light flickered on something pale in the water.
“Put it back.” Digger pointed. “Put it back over there.”
Felipe followed orders and swung the light back around. What it illuminated made everyone freeze in shock. A pale, naked man was floating facedown in the water.
“How—” Hook started but then he let off with a cry when Digger dove into the water. The sudden motion jerked everyone into action. More lights were turned on and directed at the motionless man and their captain, who swam straight and sure through the dark night waters. Jewel dashed below to grab blankets while Angie threw a rescue donut attached to a rope into the water. Kevin and Felipe kept the lights trained on their captain.
Digger quickly reached the man and flipped him over, slipping an arm under his chin. He turned back to the boat, thankful it was summer and he was at the surface. The temperature was mild but carting the dead weight of the man through the water taxed him. How long had the man been in the water? And why the hell was he naked? Digger gripped the donut and watched Angie and Felipe pull on the rope, reeling them both in. He hadn’t thought before he dove into the water. One minute he’d been on the deck and the next the sensation of swimming in inky black water with the unknown lurking beneath made him grimace in agitation. He gritted his teeth, trying not to dwell on the fact that the man in his arms wasn’t breathing.
Digger’s entire crew helped drag him and the naked man onto the boat. He shivered as a wind rose up and accepted the blanket Jewel draped over his shoulders. Angie wrapped the rest around the man before she bent to give him CPR. She managed to give him only one breath before his eyes popped open and he began coughing and gagging. Angie rolled him onto his side as he sucked in air, and Digger closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. Thank God.
Soaking wet and shivering slightly, Digger pulled the blanket tighter around his shoulders and could only ride the wave of relief that flooded inside him. It had been a while since he’d saved anyone’s life, and this hadn’t even been in a war. Just an odd, random occurrence.
“Sarge?” Hook gripped his shoulder.
Digger grunted before opening his eyes. He considered the man who was now sitting up, wrapped tightly in several blankets. Jewel and Angie each had a shoulder and were rubbing his back and arms. The man wasn’t very old, if Digger was any judge. He couldn’t have been past his midtwenties, and Digger remembered his body had been slender, his skin cold. And where the hell had he come from?
The spotlights glared off pale skin that had a strange, almost translucent quality, and Digger gave a start when he realized the man’s hair was silver. Not blond, not gray, but freaking silver. How was that even possible?
Then the man opened his eyes and a sharp black gaze met Digger’s. A zing of familiarity pinged inside Digger before quickly fading. There was no reason for it; he’d never seen this man in his life. He wasn’t a forgettable one. The man continued to stare at Digger though, breathing heavily, shivering now and then. Digger couldn’t read what was in those black eyes but he was intrigued despite himself.
“Can you tell us your name?” Jewel asked.
The man jerked slightly at her voice and glanced at her. Digger looked away, realizing his gaze had been held captive. Mentally cursing himself an old fool, Digger struggled to his feet. Hook grabbed his arm to steady him.
The man turned back to watch him, a puzzled expression on his face.
“My name is Reef.” His smooth voice was pleasant to hear.
Digger raised an eyebrow.
“Reef?” Angie scoffed. “What sort of pansy name is that?”
“Angie!” Jewel scolded.
“Calls them like I sees them.” She stood and walked below decks.
Reef watched her go and Digger thought he looked amused rather than insulted.
“I’m sorry, Reef,” Jewel said, continuing to rub his back. “She’s a foul person on her best days.”
Reef shrugged. “It’s my name and I like it. No one else has to.”
Digger smiled. “Good sentiment for most things in life.”
Reef returned his attention to Digger, and Digger realized he wanted it to stay there. Old fool. What would a young buck want with you? You’re twice his age!
“Where’s your boat, kid?” Hook demanded. “Your clothes? One would think you’d just bubbled up from the depths.”
For a moment a look of panic seemed to cross Reef’s face but then it was gone, and his expression was smooth and unaffected. Digger wondered if he’d imagined it.
“Give it a rest, Hook,” Jewel said as she started to help Reef to his feet. “Hasn’t he been through enough? Are you hungry, Reef? Thirsty?”
“I’m fine. I just—” He suddenly gripped his head and wobbled. Digger found himself by Reef’s side, supporting him as Jewel was doing. His own blanket fluttered to the deck as his focus centered entirely on Reef.
“Sarge, don’t you think we deserve some answers?”
“In the morning is early enough, Hook.”
Hook scowled and part of Digger was surprised by his sudden defense of a stranger. But when Reef began to lean against him and his unique scent filled Digger’s nose, an urge to protect overcame him. The feeling intensified when he realized Reef couldn’t be taller than five feet and that, added to his slender form, made him appear fragile. Then another feeling rose up, one he hadn’t felt in years. He almost welcomed it, relieved the war hadn’t taken away his sexual drive, as it had some men’s. But most of him was wary of it as it caused him to forget his control and lower his guard.
But then Reef looked up at him, gaze steady and direct, and smiled. It wasn’t a smile of puppy dogs and kittens, but one that a shark might give potential prey. A challenging, hungry smile, and it shot a bolt of lust straight to Digger’s gut. He reassessed his initial thought that Reef was fragile. There was steel in that gaze. Unconsciously, his grip on Reef’s arm tightened, and Reef’s smile became knowing even as he looked away. With help from Jewel, they managed to get Reef below decks.

Pic3

And that’s it for now!

Who is your favorite couple in my series? Or, if you haven’t read any books yet, what’s your favorite shifting animal? Or shifter series? I’m always on the lookout for new books and series to dive into!

May dragons guard your dreams,
M.D. Grimm

You can find me at:
Website: www.mdgrimmwrites.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001710645622
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=md+grimm
Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/md-grimm

The Forgotten Ones with E E Montgomery – Post + Giveaway

December 4, 2015

The Forgotten Ones

Hello and welcome. I’m E E Montgomery and I’m here to share the release of The Planet Whisperer with you.

It’s an exciting time for me right now because my first Science Fiction novel is about to be released through Dreamspinner Press. The Planet Whisperer touches on a lot of things: ethics of scientific experimentation, changing the evolutionary path of planets, criminal justice, care of children, trust and honor, to name just a few. But at its heart, The Planet Whisperer is a love story. It’s a story of hope and joy and future.

Where did it all come from? The human brain is a wondrous thing that I’ll never understand, but I’ll be forever grateful I can pull random facts from mine and link them together, no matter how obscurely.

This is where it all began…

No one could ever confuse me with one of the popular kids, not even as an adult. I’m not a geek either. Sure, I love Dr Who and Star Trek and random facts (like the Earth’s magnetic field is strong enough to land a spacecraft, or buttons were once made of bone, sometimes human bone) but I don’t have the memory I need to be a ‘real’ geek. I fall somewhere in the middle—the forgettable middle.

That’s where I fall in my family as well. While my mother did go through a stage of forgetting my birthday (I received my parents wedding presents hurriedly wrapped in newspaper for a few years), I didn’t actually feel like I was a forgotten child. There were numerous times my family noticed what I was doing and decided I needed to be spoken to. :/

I’ve often wondered what it would be like—to be forgotten.

Tolifax is home to thousands of forgotten people. Some of them began life as a remembered person, only to do something against the laws of the day and end up abandoned on the planet commonly known as the garbage dump of the universe. They were dropped there and, as individuals, were forgotten.

Under the rule of a conservative and narrow-minded government, the people of Tolifax eked out an existence. Some of them thrived, some got by, but most of them floundered, forced into harsher and harsher lives by those climbing over them so they could survive.

Jonah is one of those forgotten people. He was a child, helpless and vulnerable, at the bottom of Tolifax’s food chain. No one knew, no one cared. At seven, he was caring for his mother after a john broke her jaw. He procured customers for her, kept her clean and kept her fed. He discovered he had an affinity with plants and grew vegetables for them to eat and to sell. Apart from his mother’s injury, life was the best it had ever been. Then the john came back. Jonah, in protecting his mother, committed a crime that would have horrified even the most hardened criminals on Tolifax. His mother, who’d seen more of the underbelly of humanity than any person should, was more terrified of her eight year old son than she was of anything else.

So she sold him.

And forgot him.

For years, Jonah remained forgotten. He might have been used and abused, but his existence wasn’t important to anyone. No one would have noticed if he had disappeared completely.

Then Wes saw him, and bought him. Jonah thought that, finally, someone noticed him, and he pinned all his hopes and dreams on being important to Wes.

Wes wasn’t the prince charming Jonah had hoped he’d be, but at least Jonah was no longer forgotten.

Sometimes though—sometimes he wished he was.

Jonah’s life from eight to sixteen wasn’t the stuff of romances. Nor were the following sixteen years with Wes. They happened, nothing can change that. Through all of it, Jonah never lost hope that somehow he’d have a better life; that now he’d ceased to be one of the forgotten, he’d be remembered for the right reasons.

And there you have it: the single thought that caused Jonah to become real, for his whole life to exist, if only in my imagination—and now yours.

Has there been a time in your life you’ve felt like you were forgotten, or wanted to be? I’d love you to tell me about it. I’ll get an independent person (ie family member) to choose a response at random. That lucky person will receive an ecopy of one of my backlist books (your choice).

PlanetWhisperer[The]_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb:

Jonah Starovski, a Planet Whisperer, harnesses the energy surrounding dead planets and redirects it into new growth. Abandoned by the man who bought him from a brothel sixteen years ago, Jonah flounders in a world he’s ill-equipped to deal with. He must accept the help of a stranger in order to rebuild his life.

First Lieutenant Marcus Davis volunteers as Jonah’s assistant without realizing the terraforming process requires Jonah’s sexual release. Balanced on the knife-edge of fear and ambition, Marcus is faced with his mother’s machinations and threats to his career. Marcus’s parents bring their illegal scientific experiments to the planets Jonah is terraforming just as Marcus learns to accept himself and his feelings for Jonah. At the same time, Jonah’s past catches up to him, putting them both in danger.

Jonah and Marcus must trust in each other to put a stop to the illegal activities, rescue an endangered animal, and create the future they both want—a future they can share.

 

Author Links:

Web, blog and free short stories: www.eemontgomery.com

Email: eemontgomery11@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ewynelaine.montgomery

Twitter: @eemontgomery1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5347023.E_E_Montgomery

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/E-E-Montgomery/e/B008LO3SBA/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1427806072&sr=1-2-ent

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/eemontgomery11/

Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/e-e-montgomery

Here, kitty, kitty, kitty… with M.A. Church – Post + Giveaway

October 30, 2015

Here kitty kitty kitty

Hey! My name is M.A. Church, and I’m stopping by to talk about my newest release called Behind the Eight Ball. One of the most asked questions about this series is what inspired me to write it? Well, several things lol. That’s clear, isn’t it?

*Grin*

Actually, this series started as a flash last New Year’s Eve. That’s where Trouble Comes in Threes sprang from. What I wanted for this story was a crotchety man with a sharp tongue and bad attitude sitting at home for the holiday. What I got was Kirk, a clowder full of cats that aren’t overly fond of humans, and the beginning of a series.

The first book dealt with Kirk and all the trouble life had thrown at him. In that book, you meet the betas: Aidric, Heller, Brier, and Remi. I had originally planned for the second book to be about Remi and his mate, but I figured out right quick that wasn’t going to work. Heller was the one demanding my attention. And believe me, Heller can be quite demanding. I call him a diva for a reason, lol.

It turned out going with Heller as the second in the series was the right choice. While writing Behind the Eight Ball, a very interesting set of secondary characters made their presence known. Now I knew why I couldn’t do Remi’s book yet. Heller’s book had to come first because Remi’s mate makes his appearance in Behind the Eight Ball.

Now, I write a lot of paranormal and scifi, and read just as much. While I have absolutely nothing against wolves and other big, cool shifters I’d noticed there wasn’t much out there about smaller, regular shifters. Don’t they deserve love too? This is where I mention I love cats. *Grin* I know, shocking right? If you know me, or follow me on social media, you’ve seen pictures of my writing buddy, Kitty-Kitty.

I’ve loved cats since I was a very little girl, but I was unable to have pets due to my allergies. Needless to say, as soon as I left home the first thing I did was get a cat! The second thing I did was get married, have children, and had a child who was asthmatic. We had to say bye-bye to the cat.

So twenty years later what was the first thing I did when my son moved out? You got it. I got a cat. Okay, that’s not exactly right. The cat got us, lol. On Halloween night about four years ago, this cute little gray kitten showed up in the garage. He was very used to humans, and so playful.

But taking on a pet is a big responsibility, a responsibility I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted. The Eldest Kiddo had moved out, and the Youngest Kiddo was heading off to college. The hubby and I would finally have the house all to ourselves. I refused to call the kitten anything more than Kitty-Kitty because I didn’t want to get attached.

For all the good it did.

Next thing I knew, the hubby was sneaking the kitten in. And that was the end of that. We bought all the things a cat needs and then came the trips to the vet for shots and stuff. (Wanna guess who had to deal with the crying cat? Right, lol. Me.) And that’s how we ended up with Kitty-Kitty, who the hubby calls Skeeter. *Cringe* Don’t ask me why, I couldn’t tell you. The strange thing is, the cat answers to both names.

Each title relates to the characters in its book. The first book revolves around how bad things come in threes. It’s a superstitious old saying. In the book Kirk has had a string of bad luck, and he’s waiting for the next crappy thing to happen.

In book two Heller finds himself in the position of chasing after the very mate he first rejected. He’s behind the eight ball. It means he’s in a bad situation, in a losing position. The phrase comes from pool (or billiards). When the cue (white) ball is behind the eight (black) ball, a player usually has no shot.

In book three Remi and his man mate pretty quickly, but then end up dancing around one another as they struggle with the power dynamics in their relationship. I have a title in mind for that one too, along with rough outlines and titles for Aidric and Brier’s books. *Sigh* I just need to get them written.

And that’s what inspired the Fur, Fangs, and Felines series! I’m doing a giveaway for the release of Behind the Eight Ball so comment for a chance to win an e-book from my backlist. Do you have a pet? If so, what kind? If you can’t or don’t have a pet, what kind would you have if you could?

 

Author Bio:

M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!

When not writing, she’s exploring the latest M/M novel to hit the market, watching her beloved Steelers, or sitting glued to HGTV. That’s if she’s not on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two children.

She was a finalist in the Rainbow awards for 2013 and is a member of Romance Writers of America, Rainbow Romance Writers, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

 

Author Links:

Blog * Twitter * Facebook * The Harvest FB fan page * Goodreads * Amazon

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Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Ghost in the Garden by A. Morell

October 29, 2015

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

GhostGarden1

 

The passage of time meant nothing to the dead. Even when they remained on earth.

How many years Elias had passed, never awake and never asleep, invisibly bound to the gardener’s shed in which he had too soon met his fate, he had no way of knowing. To him it appeared as it always had—neatly kept, if a bit ill-lit, and smelling of fresh, rich soil.

Sometimes people would join him for a while. At first, people he knew, like the servants about their business, and his mother in her mourning clothes. But then there were new faces, ones he did not recognize. Sometimes they would bring glimpses of rust and dilapidation with them. He didn’t care for those people.

Then Asher had come.

A loud crashing sound had alerted Elias to their presence. Two men, stumbling and panting and displaying the same wanton prurience that had brought about his demise. It was the closest to feeling alive again that he could recall, and it made him remember—the touch of callused palms, the scent of sun and sweat, the burgeoning passion that had been worth risking everything. He couldn’t help but watch.

But like the night his life had ended, something went wrong. The taller man kissed his amour’s neck, and then bit down.

Pain mixed with the pleasure on the other man’s face, then fear. And as his eyes had glazed over, they suddenly locked with Elias’s. For a brief moment, they sat on the same plane of existence, in that tiny antechamber to eternity.

Elias didn’t understand what occurred afterward. The man had died, and then just as quickly had somehow been reborn—sharper, faster, angrier. There had been a great fight and a lot of noise, and he had retreated to safety.

Some time later the bitten man returned. He called to Elias. Not by name, of course, but nonetheless Elias answered. But the man, like every other that entered these four walls, no longer saw him.

Yet he remained, perhaps having had nowhere else to go. He was handsome in a roguish, carefree sort of way, and he cut a pleasing figure. Elias wondered what had drawn him back.

“I hope you’re still here,” the man said to the room, “because I’d prefer not to add insanity to the list of shite I’m forced to deal with now.”

Elias stared and then laughed softly. The rusty wind chimes hanging inside the door clanged together quietly.

Asher, he called himself. He came and went. Sometimes he talked, sometimes he didn’t. Sometimes Elias would respond, and the shed would breathe life for fleeting half-seconds. It wasn’t unpleasant.

One night, Asher returned early, grumbling of crowded streets and being unable to hunt. He flung himself down on his makeshift bed and sulked.

Elias drifted to the tiny window above the workbench and peered out at the dark, though his eyes saw little of present day. He could hear the distant commotion of excited children.

“What on earth are they doing out at such an hour?” he murmured.

There was a loud thud, and Elias turned toward the bed. Asher was on the floor, staring right at him, mouth agape. Elias could see his fangs.

“It’s—it’s you!”

Elias turned again in search of another occupant, but Asher scrambled toward him and stopped only a few feet away. His hand hovered in the air, fingers twitching faintly as though they wanted to reach out. Elias could see himself in Asher’s eyes.

“You… can see me…”

“You’re really real!” Asher broke into a smile, and his hand finally found purpose in running through his hair as he began to pace. “My god, what a relief. I really did think I might’ve hallucinated you.”

He stopped suddenly and looked pensive. “I guess there is something to that ghosts-walking-on-Halloween stuff.”

“Halloween… All Hallows Eve?” Dim recognition slowly pulled from the fog of Elias’s memories. He moved back to the windowpane. “The children… they must be out souling.”

“Souling, sure,” Asher grinned. “They call it trick-or-treating now.”

Elias was stunned. Once more they shared that same plane, only now for much longer than a final breath. He didn’t understand why on this night he was allowed true company, but it was only after talking the night away, when the first shades of dawn began to color the tiny garden shed window, that he understood what a true gift it was. It ended all too soon.

“You’re fading,” Asher observed quietly. He looked exhausted.

“And you shall be sleeping soon,” Elias replied. He hesitated, but he had to know if he was to lose this tenuous connection to the living come morning. “Will… will you be staying much longer?”

A slow, muted smile that would have set Elias’s heart to racing when he was alive warmed Asher’s face. “I’ll be here a while.”

So ended the first of countless Halloween nights with Asher. True to his word, he still called the shed home. He still came and went, sometimes for days at a time, always returning with his stories of the world outside. But Halloweens were special—the one day of the year they could truly meet.

Over time Elias found that the more he learned of the world that had gone on without him, the more connected to it he became, and the stronger his presence grew. Eventually he could venture out into the gardens surrounding his shed, and feel the waxing and waning of the veil between the worlds.

One year, Asher began to leave for longer and longer periods of time. As Halloween approached, Elias wasn’t worried, but his restlessness rustled through the overgrown branches of the trees, hurrying the footsteps of passersby.

Hours after the veil lifted, with the moon risen and the children safely in their beds, Asher came through the rusting door.

“You’re late.”

“I know. I’m sorry.” Asher moved to the window, where Elias remained watching the outside. “Elias…”

“You must leave?”

Asher’s silence was answer enough, and it stretched mournfully. Elias felt him move closer—another new development in his strength, one he was loath to forfeit.

“I don’t want to. But I have to. I’ve been here too long, Eli. People see things… times change, but I don’t. I can’t hide it anymore. If I’m found out, they’ll kill me.”

Elias had no argument when Asher had already stayed far longer than he should have. He hated it all the same.

“Maybe… can’t you move on, now?” Asher spoke softly. “To the other side?”

“If I did, you would feel better about leaving.”

“That’s not—”

“I know,” Elias interrupted, already regretting his words.

Regret. That was the danger. What would send him back to the unknowing darkness, and trap him here forever in his desolate, narrow world.

He wanted the other side. But only with Asher.

He turned at last to look at the man he should never have been able to meet, that he had to cross lifetimes to love.

There would be no regret.

“I think… I would rather wait for you here.” However long it took. Time meant nothing to the dead.

Asher’s eyes widened with surprise before they softened in understanding.“I think that’d be nice.” He stared at Elias for a long moment before his boots carried him to the door. He paused, and waited until he held Elias’s gaze one last time. “I’ll come back to you… Halloween or otherwise.”

Elias’s smile was faint, but genuine. “I’ll be waiting.”

And then, he would be ready.

~*~*~

 

Find more of A. Morell’s vampires in Puncture Wounds, available from Dreamspinner Press.

Puncture Wounds_finalsmall

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Find A. Morell herself on:

Dreamspinner Press

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Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Coulrophobia by Jana Denardo

October 29, 2015

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

 

As the clerk checked them in, Aaron stared at the bajillion clowns surrounding the hotel desk. He tugged on Rhys’s shirt with his prosthetic hand. “Explain this to me again.”

“We’re road tripping between Vegas and Reno for Halloween. It’s simple.” Rhys grinned. “Is someone afraid of clowns?”

Aaron narrowed his eyes. “We’ll talk in the room.”

Rhys chuckled as he helped Aaron with the luggage to their second floor room. Aaron stopped at the door, unable to process the large clown on the door, on every door.

“Rhys….”

“Come on, everyone loves a clown.”

Aaron knew there was a joke he wasn’t privy to happening here and by the end of the night he might be kicking ass. “Not everyone.”

Rhys opened the door and Aaron screwed his eyes shut. He took a deep breath and followed Rhys inside, shutting the door behind them. There were freaking clowns on the night stand and pictures of them on the walls.

“Why the hell are we here?” Aaron struggled with the zipper on his luggage. “And don’t tell me Halloween road trip. I know that. But why didn’t you just magically hop us from Vegas to Reno like you did between Pittsburgh and Vegas?”

Rhys slipped his arms around Aaron, kissing him. “Because sometimes the slow road is much more fun. This was on the way. Who knew you were afraid of clowns? I guess I should have suspected.”

“I’m not afraid of clowns.” Aaron squirmed free of Rhys’s embrace. “And why should you have suspected?”

“Corrine made me promise to stop at the haunted clown hotel. She wants tons of pictures.” Rhys beamed. Opening his luggage he started to hang up clothes for tomorrow.

“I’ll give her pictures of my ass,” Aaron grumbled, crossing the room to open the curtain.

“She’ll put it online and you know it.”

Aaron snorted then choked. “Son of a….Rhys! That creepy-assed cemetery we saw across the street? It’s our damned view. Who puts a hotel across from an old cemetery?”

“Corrine insisted on that view.”

“I might have to rethink your twins’ offer to go out on a date. I might be better off with them.” Aaron sniffed.

“Corrine is your friend. You wanted me to bond.”

“Changed my mind.” Aaron sauntered back to the bed and tapped Rhys’s cheek. “And if you think you’re getting any love with clowns watching us, you’re sadly mistaken.”

Rhys grabbed Aaron and pushed him down onto the bed. He rolled on top of Aaron, straddling his hips. Rhys leaned in and stole a kiss. “You might rethink that.”

“And you might think on the phrase ‘pushing a rope’.”  Aaron slapped Rhys’s thigh.

Rhys took both Aaron’s hands, locking fingers with him. Aaron closed his responsive prosthetic fingers around Rhys’s hand. “We have one more thing to do before we worry about your clown-induced impotence.”

“Let me guess. Corrine wants us to get a ton of graveyard pictures.” Aaron sighed.

“You know her well.” Rhys kissed the inside of Aaron’s wrist. “We can skip that.”

“Hmmm, hot man on my lap kissing me, Bozo watching me from the walls. Nope, not working for me.”

Rhys gave him another kiss before swinging off Aaron to crash on the mattress next to him. “I can remember when people loved clowns. I blame Stephen King and Poltergeist.”

“You’re old enough to remember a time before clowns.” Aaron rolled his eyes.

“I’m not that old. Okay, I’m older than the modern idea of a clown.” Rhys wrinkled his nose. “I might be about the same age as the idea of clowning.”

“You old elf.”

“Twylyth Teg! I keep telling you elves are something different.”

Aaron snuggled up close, still bemused by the idea his lover was a centuries old fae. “A thousand pardons.”

Rhys chuckled. “Dig out the camera and let’s get those pictures. Wouldn’t want the ghost to get you once night falls in the cemetery.”

“Not afraid of ghosts.”

“Just clowns.”

Aaron sighed again. It was going to be a long strange night.

 

XXX

 

Aaron woke, feeling eyes on him. Rhys’s arm draped over him and no small amount of his long blond hair cascaded over Aaron’s shoulder as Rhys spooned him. Raising his arm to rub the sleep from his eyes, Aaron failed. How many times would he forget most of that arm was gone?

More awake now, Aaron scanned the room, his breath caught. A shadowy figure hovered at the foot of the bed. Aaron’s bladder almost went into business for itself. The shadow glided closer. Aaron elbowed Rhys a couple times. Rhys groaned, letting go of Aaron as he flopped onto his back.

“What the hell?”

“Tell me that’s not a demonic clown at the end of the bed!”

Rhys propped himself up on his elbows and the clown’s head swiveled to look at him. “I’m going to say not demon. Ghost clown?”

“How the hell are you so calm?” Aaron’s pulse thundered so hard he was sure Corrine could hear it back in Pittsburgh.

“I’m used to weird things but this is freaking creepy.” Rhys poked Aaron in the ribs. “See what it wants.”

“You do it, Mr. Magic.” Aaron inched toward the headboard. “Rhys, seriously, what do we do?”

“Ghosts really can’t hurt you.” Rhys reached for his cellphone on the night stand.

“You’ve never seen a possession movie, have you?” Aaron huffed. “Fine. What do you want? We were trying to sleep and I don’t think there’s anything we could do to help you.”

The dark shape rippled, becoming more old man and less clown. Aaron felt more than heard the words, “I’m ready to go.”

In that instant he was less threatening and sadder.

“I think you’re already on your way. You just need to keep going.” Aaron pointed toward the window.

The ghost faded away.

“You’re good at this.”

Aaron twisted on the bed. “Is that all you have to say after bringing me to a haunted hotel?”

Rhys smiled, brushing his hair out of his eyes. “But you did great and it’s gone. It’s not like we were in any danger.”

Aaron pinched his lips. “I cannot believe you just said that. Any other horror clichés you want to utter before the ghost comes back to kill us?”

Rhys took his hand. “Just try to go back to sleep.”

“After you just jinxed it? Am I pretending I didn’t just see a ghost?”

Rhys rolled over and grabbed his phone. “Look. Think Corrine will be impressed?”

Aaron looked at the blurry ghost picture. “Glad your go to for ghost fighting is to take its picture. You’ll be great when he comes back to eat our souls. I should go sleep in the car.”

“You’ll be closer to the haunted cemetery.” Rhys put his phone away.

Aaron huffed. “Rhys, if I find out that ghost was one of your illusions I’ll hang you by your braid and use you like a piñata.”

Rhys widened his eyes. “Now I’m the one afraid to go to sleep.”

Aaron grunted, squirming down on the mattress. “You better be ready to treat me like the prince you are when we get to Reno.”

Rhys kissed him. “I will.” He skimmed his hand down Aaron’s belly.

Aaron caught it. “Are you out of your mind? You know the number one rule of surviving in a horror movie? Don’t have sex. At this rate you might never have it again.”

Rhys’s second kiss was deeper. “Empty threat.”

“Probably,” Aaron muttered as Rhys twined his arms around him.

“Should I mention that I plan to take us to the Stanley Hotel after Reno?”

Aaron sighed. “I so need a new boyfriend.”

 

***

 

Read more of Jana Denardo’s books here! 

Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Home by Andrea Speed

October 28, 2015

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

 

He only crawled out from under the bed when the screaming stopped.

It felt like it had lasted hours, but Tommy was pretty sure it had only been minutes. When it started, all he heard was thumps, but then some glass broke, and the screaming began. He didn’t know what was going on, but something bad. The terror was nearly paralyzing.

The silence after so much chaos seemed deafening and alien somehow. Every noise, from the scuff of his clothes against the carpet to the creak of the floorboards as he neared his door seemed shockingly loud. He thought it would bring the horror to him.

But despite the breathless minute he waited to be confronted by whatever evil was in the house, nothing came. Dare he hope he was safe? Could the guy have left?

It seemed like way too much to hope for, but Tommy decided to believe in it, if only to make the watery feeling in his stomach and legs go away. Still, he eased the door open, wincing when the hinge let out the slightest creak, but again, nothing manifested from the shadows. Tommy tiptoed out into the hall.

The house was quiet. Not even wind sighed in the eaves. It should have been comforting, but it was far from that. Right now he wanted noise, his mother or dad asking if everyone was okay, anything, but when you wanted something it never happened.

He found his sister first. She was face down on the floor of her room, in a pool of blood that the moonlight through the window turned black. But as he watched, something happened to her. Her body seemed to change shape, become smaller, become someone else. A child.

Tommy’s heart was trip hammering in his chest as he stumbled away from her room, not sure what he’d just seen. He came to his parent’s room, and his father was dead on the bed, his chest split wide open, blood turning the white sheets red. Mom was on the floor, a hole the size of a baseball blasted in her chest, her blood splattered over the mirrored closet doors. Tommy clapped a hand over his mouth to stop from sobbing, as his mother changed, becoming a woman with long, dark hair he’d never seen before. His dad was now gone from the bed, the sheets as crisp as freshly fallen snow.

He decided he was losing his mind when he recognized the woman on the floor. His wife.

What?

Tommy looked at his hands. He was what, seven? He wasn’t married …

Except he was. He had very clear memories of getting married to Becky, of being an adult. The child in his sister’s room, that was a boy, wasn’t it? His son, Jamie. What was going on?

Tommy looked in the mirror, and saw two different things. Himself as a child, in his cowboy pajamas, and him as an adult, blood splattered on his shirt and face, a gun in his hand. The adult him seemed to stare at him through the mirror. “You killed them all. And now you live here.”

He didn’t understand. How did this make sense? He didn’t do any of this.

Except he did, didn’t he? He now had a very clear memory of Becky threatening to leave him, and he got so mad. He wasn’t thinking straight. He just saw red. And his gun was right there …

No! He wouldn’t do that. He couldn’t …

He saw his adult self in the mirror, pressing the hot muzzle of his gun to his temple. He could feel the skin burning on his face. “You will always live here.” For a single moment, he thought he could see through himself, to another room. A different room, one free of corpses and blood, but one where he was barely an afterthought. And yet, he was still there.

Tommy understood then that he was always here. He was always stuck in this moment, in this place, in this act. No matter how he tried to escape, how he tried to will himself into another time, another memory, he was always trapped here. He did the worst thing anyone could ever do, and now he would live with it forever.

Tommy pulled the trigger, and his consciousness was obliterated in a loud blast of darkness.

When the screams woke Tommy once more, he screamed right along with them.

 
 
 

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