A Dad Comes Out to His Kids: An Excerpt from Big Love

May 12, 2016

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Big Love has a wonderful father at its heart—Dane Bernard, a man who, relatively late in life and after the loss of his wife, comes to terms with being gay. This is how he tells his two teenage kids, Joey and Clarissa:

EXCERPT

How to say it? How does one break news like this?

Maybe an object lesson…. Not so long ago, Bruce—now Caitlyn—Jenner had been everywhere one looked. Perhaps he could use the former Olympic medalist’s journey to illustrate his own parallel need to finally come to terms with who he was, to live an honest life at last.

“You guys remember Caitlyn Jenner?” He grinned, feeling cold suddenly, as though all the color were draining out of him.

Joey snickered. “That old Kardashian dude? Became a woman? He looked pretty hot on the cover of that magazine, though. I mean for an old dude.”

Dane cut his gaze to his son. “Be respectful,” he admonished.

Joey continued shoveling mac and cheese into his mouth.

“Anyway, I thought what he—she—did took a lot of courage. It was a very brave move.”

Clarissa shoved her chair back from the table. “Dad. I really need to get back to Jesse. Is this all?”

It was Dane’s turn to roll his eyes. They were going to make it difficult for him to build up to his revelation. Maybe that was good. Sort of like being pushed out of an airplane when you first skydive….

“Jenner—Caitlyn was very brave,” Dane repeated and found he couldn’t look at his children. He stared down at the table, feeling his breath quicken. Beads of sweat popped out on his forehead. He could feel them up there, and he swiped at them. “She had carried around something that was important to her being for so many years. I know she got lots of publicity, good and bad, and lots of money, but I still think to make the move she did, to live an honest life, was courageous. Don’t you?”

“Brave? To wear women’s underwear?” Joey snickered.

“Joey, please!”

“What’s the point of all this?” Clarissa asked, finally glancing up from the screen on her phone.

Maybe you should do this another time. No. That would just be taking an easy out. These are kids. Another time is not going to be any different. You know that. You know them. But it’s time to take off the gloves. Maybe the object lesson would be good in a classroom, but a family kitchen? Forget it! Dane chuckled to himself. That seemed to get their attention. Both of them looked up.

“What?” Clarissa asked.

Dane blew out a big sigh. Out with it. “I was talking about Jenner to make a point. Jenner the man waited until he was sixty-five to come out—”

“Wait a minute! Dad’s gonna tell us he’s gonna become a woman!” Joey said, and both he and his sister collapsed in laughter.

This was not going the way Dane anticipated. At all.

“Yeah. He’ll need, like, size seventeen pumps!”

That tickled the two of them even more. Dane just stared.

When his children saw he was not joining them in the hilarity, their laughter dried up quickly. Clarissa’s mouth dropped open.

“You’re not. Are you? I mean, transitioning….”

Dane shook his head. “What do you think? I’d make a hideous woman. What I’m trying to say, Joey, Clarissa, is that I’ve had feelings for many years. Not feelings that I was in the wrong body, but feelings that I hid away, mostly from myself, but also from everyone I knew, including your mom, God rest her soul.”

He regarded his children at the table. Any vestige of joking or laughter had left their faces. He was certain they had no idea what was coming, but he wondered if there was something, instinctive maybe, within them that told them to brace themselves.

In the end there was no way to say it other than just to say it. He felt a curious sensation—a tightening inside. He felt he was steeling himself. He breathed out—whoosh—and said it. “I’m gay.”

Joey picked up a radish from his salad and flung it at him. “You are not! Dude, please!”

Clarissa shoved back her chair. “This has all been very fun, although I’m not certain I understand the point of it, but can I go to my room now? Please.”

Dane reached out, took Joey’s hand, took Clarissa’s. “Kids. I’m serious. This is something I’ve struggled against my whole life. Losing your mom has made me see how little time we have, and I just can’t live a lie anymore.”

Clarissa snatched her hand away. She looked up at him with wounded eyes. “Just to be sure. You’re not punking us here? This isn’t a joke?”

Dane shook his head.

There was something snide to her tone, but underneath that Dane could read hope. Hope that he’d confirm he was having them on, kidding around.

“It’s not a joke. This doesn’t change anything. I’m still your dad, still the same guy. I’m still here for you. I still love you—with every fiber of my being.”

Clarissa stood up from the table so fast her chair toppled over to the tile floor behind her. Dane could see she was shaking, and it made his heart ache.

“It doesn’t change anything?” Her voice went up high. “It doesn’t change anything? Are you out of your mind? It changes everything!”

She screeched this last bit, but Dane could see unshed tears standing in her eyes.

God. I should have kept this to myself. What’s said can never be unsaid. What have I done? What Pandora’s box have I opened? Dane said softly, “You’re right. It changes things. Changes who you thought I was, and that’s not small. But what I was trying to say—badly, I guess—was that it doesn’t change what’s essential—my love for you and your brother. The fact that I will be here for you both, always.”

Clarissa was shaking her head. “You’re unbelievable. Fucking unbelievable.”

Even Joey’s mouth dropped open as he stared, slack-jawed, at his sister. “Chill. Can’t you see this is hard for him?”

Dane looked over at his son. He was still holding his hand, and Joey smiled at him and squeezed. The tiny gesture made Dane want to cry. If you had asked him, before he told them this essential truth, which kid would have a problem with it, Joey was the one he would have picked.

“Hard for him?” Clarissa’s lips nearly vanished into a thin horizontal line.

Dane always thought the descriptor of someone’s eyes blazing was hyperbole, purple prose, but now in his daughter’s brown eyes, he saw it really happen.

“Please, honey,” Dane said, reaching out with his other hand.

She backed away, looking down at his hand with horror, as if it was diseased. “No! No! So, what? You used Mom all these years to hide behind?”

She took a couple more steps back toward the kitchen’s exit. “And what? Now that she’s gone, you can be free to be your faggot self?”

“Stop it!” Joey cried. “That’s too harsh.”

Dane didn’t know what to say and cursed himself for it. Mutely, he looked from one child to the other.

Clarissa turned and walked out of the room, calling over her shoulder, “The only thing that’s harsh is finding out we have a liar for a dad.”

Dane slumped. Joey pulled his hand away, but only to pat his dad’s shoulder.

“She doesn’t mean it. She’s just, um, like, surprised, you know?” He squeezed Dane’s shoulder. “It is an awful lot to take in. Dude, are you sure?”

Dane made himself look at his son. He nodded. “I’m sure.”

 BLURB
Teacher Dane Bernard is a gentle giant, loved by all at Summitville High School. He has a beautiful wife, two kids, and an easy rapport with staff and students alike. But Dane has a secret, one he expects to keep hidden for the rest of his life—he’s gay.

But when he loses his wife, Dane finally confronts his attraction to men. And a new teacher, Seth Wolcott, immediately catches his eye. Seth himself is starting over, licking his wounds from a breakup. The last thing Seth wants is another relationship—but when he spies Dane on his first day at Summitville High, his attraction is immediate and electric.

As the two men enter into a dance of discovery and new love, they’re called upon to come to the aid of bullied gay student Truman Reid. Truman is out and proud, which not everyone at his small-town high school approves of. As the two men work to help Truman ignore the bullies and love himself without reservation, they all learn life-changing lessons about coming out, coming to terms, acceptance, heartbreak, and falling in love.

BUY–35% OFF RIGHT NOW!

Dreamspinner Press ebook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7583

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NOH8RickBIO

Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love.

He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.”

Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

STALK RICK

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed
Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/
Website: www.rickrreed.com

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rick-r-reed
Email ID: rickrreedbooks@gmail.com  

 

Paris in the Springtime with Ariel Tachna

March 14, 2016

Who doesn’t love Paris?  And Paris in the spring may be my favorite season. Rather than try to put into words things that defy explanation, I thought you might enjoy seeing some pictures of just why I love it so much.

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This isn’t any special street. It’s actually right up the street from our hotel, but turn your head and suddenly you’re staring at the Eiffel Tower.

 

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Or at other pieces of interesting architecture. Notice the tile design on the roof line of the curved turret.

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This one goes to show one of my favorite things about France. Old buildings aren’t torn down. They’re repurposed for a new and different use.

 

Okay, enough architecture. How about some spring pictures…?

 

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Not every day is beautiful in Paris, but even the dreary ones are dramatic.

 

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And if you get really lucky, you get sunsets like these.IMG_1484

 

And if you know the right people, you might even get…

 

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Lambs! (Okay, so that one doesn’t have anything to do with Paris, but it is in France in the spring and it was too cute not to share.)

Now that I’ve spammed you with pictures, you’re probably wondering what that has to do with At Your Service. Anthony has the chance to visit Paris in the spring as part of his job, and the last day he’s there is one much like I had when I took the first set of pictures (along with the hundred others I didn’t make you look at). He and Paul, a native Parisian, spend the day in the city doing their best to avoid tourist spots. They wander the residential streets and an out-of-the-way park and bask in the glory of Paris.

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Excerpt:

“What a perfect day!” Anthony said as they climbed the stairs to street level at their destination. “I’m not sure I’ve ever been in Paris on a day like this.”

“Have you ever been in Paris in the spring?” Paul asked. “Because this is not unusual for this time of year.”

“No, it’s either been in the summer when it was hot and not a breath of air to be found in the city or in the winter when it was cold and gray. Before I came in the summer the first time, I used to joke that the pictures on the postcards with blue skies behind the monuments were staged, with a huge blue cloth hung behind the buildings. I’d seen the buildings, but never the blue sky.”

“Then I’m glad we decided to spend the day outside,” Paul said. “You can visit the museums on cold, rainy winter days or the hot summer ones when you have to escape to somewhere with air-conditioning.”

“I’ve done plenty of escaping both kinds of weather, but not today. Come on. I want to see the park.”

“Let’s find food first. We can carry it with us until we’re ready to eat, but otherwise we’d have to come back out of the park when we get hungry,” Paul suggested, although the eagerness on Anthony’s face made him want to hurry so he could see Anthony’s reaction to the park. He didn’t come all the way across town often, but he had attended a cousin’s wedding several years ago and remembered well the manicured lawns and ornate stonework of the follies. They could easily spend hours wandering through the park, and this way they could do it undisturbed.

They found a charcuterie nearby and stocked up on ham and thinly sliced sausage, and the bakery next door netted them two baguettes to share. They walked back to the main entrance of the park through the wrought-iron gates tipped with gold leaf. “Even away from the center of town, everything is so ornate,” Anthony commented.

 

Blurb:

When Anthony Mercer walked into Au cœur du terroir, he was looking for good food and a pleasant evening spent with a friend. He never expected to meet—and sleep with—Paul Delescluse, a waiter at the restaurant. After spending a magical week together in Paris, Anthony must return to his life in North Carolina, while Paul remains in France.

Despite the distance and the lack of promises between them—Paul wants sex, not a relationship—Paul and Anthony forge a solid friendship. Then Anthony’s job takes him back to Paris, this time to stay. Paul is thrilled to have him back, but Anthony has a harder choice: be another of Paul’s conquests or fight for the relationship he knows they could have, if only Paul would believe it.

Still with me? Awesome! Share a picture of springtime in your favorite place to be entered to win a copy of At Your Service!

 

About Ariel:

ariel bio pic

When Ariel Tachna was twelve years old, she discovered two things: the French language and romance novels. Those two loves have defined her ever since. By the time she finished high school, she’d written four novels, none of which anyone would want to read now, featuring a young woman who was—you guessed it—bilingual. That girl was everything Ariel wanted to be at age twelve and wasn’t.

She now lives on the outskirts of Houston with her husband (who also speaks French), her kids (who understand French even when they’re too lazy to speak it back), and their two dogs (who steadfastly refuse to answer any French commands).

Visit Ariel:

Website: www.arieltachna.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ArielTachna

E-mail: arieltachna@gmail.com

 

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Yellow Streak Release Party, #4

November 13, 2015

Susan Laine here, hanging around for any questions or chats you wish to have. Now promoting my latest release, Yellow Streak, and it’s prequel, Yellowbelly Hero.

The previous book, Yellowbelly Hero, shows our two heroes, Yance Bell and Curt Donovan, meet. In a dark college bathroom where Curt plans to commit suicide. His father had thrown him out and called him vile things. It takes Yancy to show Curt his life wasn’t worthless or over.

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Here’s the blurb for Yellowbelly Hero:

“Yancy Bell was bullied in high school for being a yellowbelly, not because of any cowardice, but because of his nervous bladder condition. It’s Yancy’s first year in college, and he’s hoping to make a fresh start.

Three days before Christmas, the campus is empty. Having to pee on a midwinter night leads Yancy to meet Curt Donovan huddled in a dark shower stall. Curt’s a troubled jock whose coming out went badly, so he plans to end it all.

But Yancy adamantly refuses to let Curt go through with his irrevocable plan. With just one dark night to talk Curt around, Yancy has to win the trust of a stranger who only sees one way out.”

———————-

Here’s an excerpt from Yellowbelly Hero, which you can also get from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and ARe:

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(CrisArt)

His gaze connected with mine. I could see the exact moment he made his choice, a steely flash of determination. “I’m Curt Donovan.”
Oh. A name now attached to that masculine, beautiful face. I smiled. “Hi. I’m Yancy.”
He chuckled and rolled his eyes. “Yeah. You said so. My memory’s A-OK.”
“Well, good.” I cracked a smile too, and we shared a laugh. But my memory was fine too, and I couldn’t shake the thought Curt was stuck in a dark place. “So, um, can I ask… what are you doing here tonight?”
His smile faded. His frown was firmly back in place and he looked away. Stiffening, he didn’t seem able or willing to find the words. I didn’t know how to encourage him. These were uncharted waters for me.
The defensive look and tone were back in force. “Are you telling me to pack it in and be on my way, or you’ll call the cops on me for trespassing or some shit like that?”
“Of course not.” I couldn’t keep the hurt out of my voice.
Curt looked embarrassed as he saw my response. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay.” I decided being magnanimous was the best approach here. It seemed to draw him out of his shell, bit by bit. “I just….” I chewed on the inside of my cheek, nervous all of a sudden. “When I came in, I thought… I thought maybe you were hurt or something. I guess I just wanted to… you know, help out. If I could. That’s all.”
Curt threaded a hand through his spiky black hair. It was a gesture born of frustration, I could tell. “Look, I… I don’t wanna bore you. I’m sure you’ve got better things to do right now.”
I shook my head steadfastly. “Nope. Free as a bird.”
Curt seemed to find that baffling. “But… you’re up.”
A quick flash of guilt had me worrying he could see my semihard dick through my hands in my lap. But then I realized he meant I was awake in the middle of the night. I chuckled. “I had to take a leak.” Or I’d been leaking without wishing it, but I wasn’t going to tell him that.
“Oh.” Curt accepted my explanation at face value, for which I was immensely grateful and glad. “Well, anyway… bet you’re wishing you were in bed, though.”
My naughty dreams of this ruggedly handsome man took a turn for the wild side, and I had to shake my head to clear it from such distractions. “I don’t sleep well, usually. I wake up a lot.”
“Nightmares?”

 

If you or anyone you know plans to commit suicide, please call or urge them to call a suicide hotlineNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline

———————

Susan Laine is an award-winning, multi-published author of LGBTQ erotic romance. Susan lives in Finland, where summers are wet and winters long. Thankfully, she’s kept plenty warm by the spark for writing, which kindled when Susan discovered the sizzling hot gay erotic romance genre. Trained as an anthropologist, Susan’s long-term plan is to become a full-time writer. Susan enjoys hanging out with her sister, two nieces, and friends in movie theaters, bookstores, and parks. Her favorite pastimes include listening to music, watching action flicks, eating chocolate, and doing the dishes while pondering the meaning of life.

Susan Laine

Web: http://www.susan-laine-author.fi/
Blog: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5221828.Susan_Laine/blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susan.laine.author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Laine_Susan
E-mail: susan.laine@hotmail.com

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Yellow Streak Release Party, #2

November 13, 2015

I’m Susan Laine, here to chat with you good folks, especially about my latest novella, Yellow Streak. There will be a giveaway and an excerpt coming soon, so stay tuned :)

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So without further ado, I’m diving straight in. This series, Heroes At Heart, deals with some heavy issues. Among them, youth angst, depression, and suicidal thoughts. The cause for Curt Donovan, a college jock, is his bad coming out as gay when his parents threw him to the curb without a backward glance.

In the first book, Yellowbelly Hero, Curt plans to end his own life, unable to face the holiday season without a family the belong with or a home to go to. To his aid comes an unlikely hero, Yancy Bell, a geek English lit major who suffers from a bladder problem. In Curt’s darkest hour, Yancy refuses to let Curt go through with his plan. They talk and try to find a solution to Curt’s problem.

In the second book, Yellow Streak, Curt has survived his suicide attempt, thanks to Yancy. But upon his return to college, Curt acts like nothing’s happened. It’s up to Yancy to figure what’s wrong with Curt, and learn if those dark thoughts still remain. I offer no simple solutions, as there are no quick fixes. In fact, two more books in the series will come out next year, in May and July 2016, making this series a quadrilogy.

Thoughts of suicide, depression, and suffering are common among youths of all ages these days, not just to LGBTQ teens. It feels like the world is full of hatred and venom, and often that extends to the home when parents turn on their children, siblings against one another, and there seems to be no hope for the future. But, as Curt too discovers, no one is truly alone. So, if you or anyone you know plans to commit suicide, please urge them to call a suicide hotline.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

———————

Susan Laine is an award-winning, multi-published author of LGBTQ erotic romance. Susan lives in Finland, where summers are wet and winters long. Thankfully, she’s kept plenty warm by the spark for writing, which kindled when Susan discovered the sizzling hot gay erotic romance genre. Trained as an anthropologist, Susan’s long-term plan is to become a full-time writer. Susan enjoys hanging out with her sister, two nieces, and friends in movie theaters, bookstores, and parks. Her favorite pastimes include listening to music, watching action flicks, eating chocolate, and doing the dishes while pondering the meaning of life.

Susan Laine

Web: http://www.susan-laine-author.fi/
Blog: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5221828.Susan_Laine/blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susan.laine.author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Laine_Susan
E-mail: susan.laine@hotmail.com

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Out of My Own Books, Chaser Is One of My Favorites with Rick R. Reed

November 12, 2015

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When you begin to lose track of how many books you’ve had published, it’s really hard to say which one is your favorite. It’s like asking Mrs. O’Farrell, a staunch Irish Catholic who lived next door to us when I was growing up which of her nine children was her favorite.

“They’re all my favorites,” I imagine her replying, “Each for a different reason.”

And the same holds true for me and my books. But today I am thinking about Chaser. For its humor, its insight about body image (and the gay ideal or lack thereof), and its theme of attractiveness being a highly personal and relative thing, Chaser truly is, of my own stuff, one of my favorites.

Since its publication back in August of 2012, I’ve gotten many letters from readers thanking me for introducing a romantic hero who is not the ideal. See, the object of desire/affection in my story is Kevin and Kevin’s a little overweight. The “chaser” in the title refers to the gay lingo term for men who prefer their men on the meatier side: chubby chasers.

My other main character, Caden, is one of those men. Although Caden is a runner, with a lean and what some might call a perfect body, he prefers his men to have a little something to hold onto. Here’s Caden’s first glimpse of Kevin in a bar one night:

Caden did have his eye on one guy, down on the lower level at one of the high-topped tables, talking with a couple of friends. He stood out because he was not built like most of the guys here, who were, to a man, either too skinny or too pumped up to register on his attraction meter.

This guy seemed comfortable in his own skin and Caden liked the way he threw back his head and laughed when one of his buddies said something funny. Unlike most of the other guys in Sidetrack that night, he did not show any signs that he was conscious of his appearance. Caden liked that he wore comfortable clothes, a cotton sweater of faded blue-gray and a simple pair of carpenter pants, most likely Carhartt. He peered over the rail and saw the guy’s feet were encased in work boots. Ah. A blue-collar man. A working guy. Just my type. Caden also liked his tousled blond hair, which revealed fetching layers of color that went from almost brown, to wheat, to pale blond, to nearly platinum, yet revealed no indication, Caden thought, of the attentions of a hairdresser. And what put him on the “edge of glory” was the crowning touch: a thick beard, not manicured into tortured geometric lines.

And he was blessedly overweight. Not fat. But a bit of gut protruded, and his thighs, in denim, looked like tree trunks. When he turned around, he revealed an ass of ample proportions, the kind Caden could just imagine as two perfect, creamy white spheres perfect for grasping and pulling apart.

“Is it hot in here?” Caden shouted in Bobby’s ear. He took a gulp of beer and fanned his hand in front of his face.

Most of the time, in gay or straight romance, you don’t find men like the one above. But in Chaser, I tried to show that objects of desire and/or love can and do come in all different shapes and sizes.

The vagaries of sexual attraction are definitely not a one-size-fits-all affair.

But if that was all there was to Chaser, there wouldn’t be much of a story, now would there? As an author, I like there to be some drama, some tension, so I asked… “What would happen if….”

…and filled in the blank with “Kevin lost the weight that drew Caden to him in the first place?”

So, when Caden has to leave town suddenly for an extended period, he returns home to a man who is not at all what he was originally drawn to. How does one deal with such a situation? As the tag line on the cover of Chaser wonders: “Is it really what’s on the inside that counts?”

Well, is it?

I think open-hearted people everywhere know the answer to that question, even if might be modified somewhat by “within limits”. But to find out if Kevin and Caden are still a love match when body images change, you have to read Chaser to discover what happens.

I leave you with a sentence near the end of the book that may give you a clue to how things turn out:

Caden turned back to Kevin. The fight had gone out of him. He appraised him with new eyes.

And what do you think he saw?

Chaser is available from Dreamspinner Press and at all the usual suspects—Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance eBooks, and so on. And if you want more, check out Raining Men. It explores another side of gay life that may not be at the forefront of gay romance—sexual addiction and its power to thwart the very love for which one might search within its clutches.

Sukie Rick Palm Springs Rococo

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

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

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Also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, AllRomance ebooks, and more.

A Kiss from Jaime Samms’ New Novella

November 12, 2015

His scream split the afternoon, and he jumped, probably five feet straight back, dropped the cup, and minced on feet that barely touched the ground until his tight butt fetched up against the fence.

“Easy.” Dusty rushed forward, crouched, and flicked the errant spider free of Conrad’s leg. She landed in the grass and promptly disappeared.

“Ohmygodohmygodohmygod,” Conrad was chanting under his breath, fingers clenching around the wooden slats behind him, eyes closed tight. “Okay.” Dusty had put a hand on the side of Conrad’s thigh, about to get up, to offer some sort of reassurance, when Conrad’s eyes flew open, luminous and wide, and fixed on him. “Is it gone?”

Dusty smiled. “She’s gone.”

“Good,” Conrad whispered, gazing down at him, freezing him in place. A heartbeat later, Conrad’s hand came free of the fence and his fingertips brushed over the back of Dusty’s hand, still on his leg.

“S-sorry.” Dusty stood so fast vertigo tilted the earth under his feet.

Conrad’s hands, unyielding but steady and gentle, gripped his upper arms, and Dusty blinked. He’d barely drawn a breath when Conrad took a step toward him, lips parted.

Like gravity, the sight of Conrad’s soft expression drew Dusty to him until Dusty touched his lips to Conrad’s. Or had Conrad done the touching? It was impossible to tell, and it made Dusty sigh out a little breath of expectancy. Then there was no air to breathe, no space, and nothing but the pressure of the kiss.

Dusty closed his eyes, ran fingers over the sides of Conrad’s face, and pressed the advantage of the gasp that ran through Conrad at the touch. He pushed his tongue into Conrad’s mouth and moved them until Conrad was pinned against the fence. Dusty had to stand on his toes to reach properly, but that didn’t stop him until they both needed to breathe.

When he stepped back, lips tingling, breath short, Conrad’s eyes were wide, and his chest heaved. His lips, red and parted, curved in a bemused smile. “Was that meant to make me forget I just screamed like a little girl?”

“I—” Dusty took a hasty step back. He’d just kissed a complete stranger. He’d had this job for exactly three hours, and he’d tripped over a spider and kissed the man who signed his miniscule paycheck. “Oh shit.”

Conrad’s smile grew. The hand that had come to rest at the side of Dusty’s face exerted a tiny amount of pressure, thumb pad ghosting over his cheekbone and back, like he had brushed away a bit of hair….

“I’m so sorry,” Dusty blurted. “I—I didn’t mean—Sir—I—”

Conrad grinned then. “You kiss me like that and then call me sir?”

“Oh God.” Dusty broke away and moved back, out of reach. “I am so sorry.” He turned and fled back inside, through the studio, and out the front door of the building. He had hiked back to his own apartment and was letting himself inside when he remembered he never had emptied the bucket of dirty floor water.

LikeNoOneisWatchingFS

Jaime has been writing for various publishers since the fall of 2008, although she’s been writing for herself far longer. Often asked why men; what’s so fascinating about writing stories about men falling in love, she’s never come up with a clear answer.  Just that these are the stories that she loves to read, so it seemed to make sense if she was going to write, they should also be the stories she wrote.

Erotic Sci-Fi Excerpt from Chris T. Kat

October 15, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He missed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No!”

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

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

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

“Oh. Well, that sounds reasonable.”

Tom squeezed again, and this time I reciprocated.

“Ready?” he asked.

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

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

_______________

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

Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Choosing to Live by Caitlin Ricci

October 14, 2015

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

The wind was blistering cold on the high snow blown ledge. It whipped around him, lashing his long brown hair against his cheeks. Through the murky white sky he could just barely see the sun begin to caress the horizon. This was going to be a long night.

Adrian groaned and tried to rise up to escape the blanket of snow that covered him where he lay sprawled out on a stony ledge. He rose unsteadily to his feet, dizziness and nausea washing over his in churning waves. Standing on his left foot though was instantly rewarded with white hot pain that shot up his leg until it stopped in his thigh. He collapsed gracelessly to his knees in the snow. Hot tears stung his eyes as the pain continued to surge through him. He gasped for air in the frigid climate, each breath causing him to cry out as it stung his lungs. He rolled over onto his side, adopting the fetal position as his best bet for the time being. He pulled his thin windbreaker tighter around his body, snuggling as far down into the thin material as he could manage until only the tips of his ears were visible around the wave of his hair. At least it was a little warmer.

How he ended up in this mess he couldn’t begin to understand. He remembered being in the small charter plane. That much he was certain of. But how he managed to get from his comfortable spot on the plane to this bit of snow covered earth was beyond him. He looked around wearily, trying desperately to find any hint of a landmark to tell him of where he was. But there was nothing. The snow was too thick to see through and what little he could see only resembled more mountains. This made no sense. They weren’t even supposed to fly through mountains today. Had the pilot gotten confused in the storm? Was he somewhere out here too?

Adrian spent close to the next hour yelling for the pilot or anyone else to no avail. Wherever he was, he knew that he was alone.

Running through a quick list in his head he soon concluded that everything he had ever been taught about wilderness survival was useless besides the obvious of try to stay warm and don’t fall asleep which were both quite unhelpful in the situation he had found himself in. He would make sure to do those amongst finding firewood to build a signal fire while also splinting his broken ankle. And of course he would hate to forget to do those while making tools out of stone and wood for catching something to eat. He really would hate to starve before he froze to death.

Adrian grumbled to himself and shrunk into a tighter ball. Like his father always said; sarcasm and a bad attitude will help no one. He had to stay awake. He knew this just as much as he knew that he had to keep breathing and that shivering was a good thing. But cold weather had always made him sleepy and it certainly was cold now. Adrian recited the laws of physics a few times to stay awake before his eyes finally closed and he succumbed to exhaustion.

Waking up when one hasn’t had nearly enough sleep is never a pleasant experience. Neither is waking up like that compounded with surely broken bones and an aching body screaming against even the smallest movement as Adrian soon realized. He shivered involuntarily before realizing that he was no longer cold.

Adrian opened his eyes fully and blinked against the brightness of the sun reflecting at him from the snow. The one dark spot near him was a fluffy bit of fur lying along his left side. He froze and tried not to even breathe as he waited for whatever kind of animal it was to leave him alone. But the beast only turned its big head and looked over at him with impossibly bright amber eyes. Then, because of course Adrian had to add hallucinations on top of all the pain he was in, the animal rose up on its four paws, then slowly shed his fur until a man crouched next to him. He was naked, save for the snow blowing against his tanned skin.

“I have a concussion,” Adrian said aloud. Pain plus hallucinations meant concussion. He was sure of it.

The man, the wolf, laughed. “Probably. You are pretty banged up. I’m Frost, by the way. Named for the winter night I was born on. I was scouting when I found you. When you’re ready to go get warm I’ll take you back to my pack. They’re expecting us but I was told to wait until you woke up to bring you to them, in case you refused our help.”

“Your… pack?” Adrian’s head was swimming wildly. If he hadn’t thrown up already he was surely going to soon.

Frost nodded enthusiastically. “My family. My brothers, my parents, my cousins. Everyone. Are you going to come with me?”

Did he really have a choice? “And if I don’t? Then what?”

Frost shrugged. “Ever hear of those people that get lost in the mountains and their bodies are never recovered? Well, that’s generally because they chose to join a pack. Or there are those people who their bodies are found months later. They likely refused our help. Or tried to go back to their families after we did help them. We’re all over the world and you’re not really in a position to refuse and still live so…”

In short, come with him and he got to live. Refuse and he would likely die a horrible, snow covered death where he froze and someone still would probably never find his body. Those were both such wonderful options. This was so freaking fantastic. Adrian sighed and made the decision to live. “Fine. Fine. Only one problem though, my ankle’s broken.”

“You’d give up your family to be able to come live with me and mine?” Frost seemed so surprised.

Adrian tried not to shiver as the thought of the quickest, and simplest, way to explain things to him. “Family isn’t something I exactly have a lot of. The only people that might miss me are my co-workers in the travel magazine I write for. Plus, my options aren’t exactly promising out here. How are you getting me to your pack with my broken leg?”

“You’re going to ride me.”

He grinned at Adrian, who instantly got the wrong idea with a good looking naked man crouched in front of him. “Sure. Let’s go with that plan.” But even as he said it Frost began to shift back into the form of the wolf, only this time he was twice the size he’d been before and now was much closer to the height of a small pony.

“Nifty trick.” Adrian got to his feet, with a lot of difficulty and hanging onto Frost’s shoulder for support. Frost bent down and Adrian managed to slide himself onto the wolf’s narrow back. He didn’t even spare a thought for the life he was saying goodbye to as Frost began trotting into the snow. This was a choice of survival, and when it came down to it he would rather live with a bunch of naked wolf shifters than die on some mountain he didn’t even know the name of. Being surrounded by men who looked as good as Frost did wasn’t even going to be a hardship.

Caitlin Ricci

Website: http://www.CaitlinRicci.com

Bowerbirds (Nested Hearts: Book Two) by Ada Maria Soto – Excerpt 3

August 26, 2015

I can’t help it, there’s nothing like a guy in a tux. I just had to get James and Gabe into formal clothes at least once. Then of course I had to get those clothes off.

########

The doors slid open. A Town Car was waiting at the curb. They didn’t talk as they made the short trip to Gabe’s building. They just held hands and watched the lights go past outside.

They didn’t even talk as the elevator took them swiftly and smoothly up to Gabe’s place. The lights automatically came on as they stepped out of the elevator, neither too fast nor too bright; a soft fade-up to a warm glow.

Gabe stepped close and pulled on James’s bow tie until it came loose and slipped from around his neck. He let it drop through his fingers; it fell to the floor without even a whisper. He put the tips of his fingers to James’s cheek next. James leaned into them, noticing the way two were rough and two were smooth. Gabe must have been chewing on them again.

He reached up and pulled on Gabe’s tie. It slid from its knot more easily than his had. The silk was cool on the ends and warm where it had gone around Gabe’s neck. He let it drop from his fingers as well.

Gabe took a few steps back, and James followed as if being led in a dance. And he followed where Gabe led. It was so easy and felt so right. He usually avoided the easy path. Easy was usually wrong.

Gabe changed directions, moving quickly behind James and slipping his coat from his body. James shivered at the sudden change in temperature, from being wrapped in the sultry jacket to having only the fine linen shirt between his body and the air.

The chill left as quickly as it had arrived. Gabe stepped in close, pressing himself to James’s back, putting out a powerful heat. He leaned back, still feeling like he was in a dance that had no music with a rhythm that was in constant flux. But still Gabe was leading perfectly.

Gabe stripped off his own jacket without ever taking his chest from James’s body. He let the jacket drop to the floor, not even bothering to toss it toward the hooks as he had with James’s.

He pressed his lips to James’s neck, right above his collar. James felt his toes curl and his body tingle. Gabe’s fingers were back, skimming along his cheek, and his thumb brushed across James’s lips. He flicked out his tongue to tickle it.

Gabe exhaled long and slow, his warm breath slipping under James’s collar. His fingers left James’s face and went instead to his throat, popping open the high collar buttons. James let out a long breath, unaware of just how constricted he had felt until that moment.

Gabe slid around him until they were once again face-to-face. He thought they might kiss, but instead Gabe just looked at him, eyes dark in the dim light. He felt his breath hitch and that tightening in his chest return. It was so much like the way Gabe had looked at him their first night. All those months ago now, standing so close that James had been able to smell the hint of peppers on his skin.

Now Gabe smelled faintly of fancy cologne that had nearly worn away.

He took Gabe’s hand and laced their fingers together as if they would dance. Gabe took his other hand, lifted it, and kissed his palm. James closed his eyes and nearly fell forward. Gabe kissed the heel of his palm next and then placed a kiss on the inside of his wrist. James whimpered softly. Somehow those three small kisses had his head spinning with greater pleasure than kisses in far more intimate areas.

Gabe stepped backward, leading them with just the knowledge of the dimensions of his own home.

He didn’t lead them to the bedroom, but rather to the large couch of cool leather draped with blankets of the same spun and woven silk as the one on Gabe’s bed. He sat on them and drew James onto his lap, giving James the height advantage for once.

James took it, tilting Gabe’s head back and into a slow, lazy kiss, their tongues just flitting around each other’s, chasing the flavor of champagne. Gabe’s arms went around his body, pulling him close. James’s fingers went into Gabe’s hair, tangling themselves in the dark curls, destroying the last of the control imposed by handfuls of hair gel that smelled slightly of mint and clashed with the cologne.

Gabe sighed into the kiss and held James tight.

He and Gabe kissed. He didn’t think about time; he didn’t think about anything beyond the feel of Gabe’s arms around him and the taste of Gabe on his lips, the sound of their tiny moans and sighs in his ears.

At some point Gabe pulled away from the kiss and took a deep breath. He leaned in, laying his head against James’s chest. James became aware of his own heart pounding strong and steady. Gabe looked up at him, a small soft smile on his lips. James kissed those lips, then stood. Gabe followed.

This time James took Gabe’s hand and led the dance toward the bedroom. There was no rush. He was content to keep kissing if that was all the night had in store, but he wanted to be lying down in Gabe’s arms while it happened.

######

Bowerbirds (Nested Hearts: Book Two) available through Dreamspinner Press. BowerbirdsSmall

Bowerbirds (Nested Hearts: Book Two) by Ada Maria Soto – James and My Dad + Excerpt 2

August 26, 2015

 

Empty Nests and Bowerbirds in an odd way is for my dad. He wasn’t a single parent and rumor aside not gay (I don’t think, there are days), but he did end up primary care giver the first couple years of my life. It was supposed to be my mother but my father got injured and lost his job just a few days before I was born. My mother was out of work and it became a matter of who could get a job first. This meant my mom going back to work when I was six weeks old and my dad left holding the baby.

This was in the early 80′s, long before the internet and easy access to stay at home dad groups. My dad was the youngest in his family so had no experience with kids. His family was an hour away and my mom was not on good terms with her family. Add in that my dad came out of a very machismo oriented background and he was left reasonably alienated.

I like to think (and it’s my opinion that matters in this) that he handled it pretty well. I think his sense of humor helped a lot. When my mom would tell him to go check the baby he’d get a pen and draw a little check somewhere on me. It’s funnier if you know my dad. I’m surprised with myself that I managed to get two years into doing the parent thing without giving into the temptation. By this point my kid would probably take it as permission to draw allover herself and anyone else. He delivered bottles as if he was a French waiter, rushed back to the park to retrieve forgotten stuffed animals, made up bedtime stories, and read Elephant Goes to School about fifty million times without going completely nuts.SimpsonsDad

He also took a lot of grief from other guys and didn’t get a lot of respect when he explained that two year gap in his resume. But he kept his chin up, pushed through, and I don’t think overly messed me up which in this day and age counts for a lot.

So James is for my dad and all of the dads who have stepped into what much of society still thinks of as a female role.

######

James bent backward and listened to his spine crack. Despite the noises, his back was in better condition, or at least a few decades younger, than Mrs. Gonzales’s, which was why he was helping her lug bolts of fabric up the stairs. It was her second granddaughter’s quinceañera in a couple of months, and she was sewing all the dresses, which meant stitching up about a million miles of pink satin and tulle.

At least Mrs. Gonzales’s granddaughter was shorter than he was. With Mrs. Maldonado’s granddaughter’s prom dress the previous year, he’d been roped into acting as a living dress stand while it was hemmed, instead of just helping with the hemming. Dylan still had the photos hidden somewhere. He didn’t actually mind helping out with things like hauling groceries, rolling tamales, or handstitching a million seed pearls onto white taffeta. The women of the building had acted as Dylan’s aunties and grandmothers over the years, providing babysitting, hand-me-downs, advice, and more than a few meals when he and Dylan got truly desperate.

Mrs. Gonzales let them into her apartment where the Virgen de Guadalupe stared at him from at least three walls.

“¿Dónde los quieres?”

“Con los demás.”

James put the bolts of fabric on the table with a half dozen others while Mrs. Gonzales went into her kitchen to make them both some coffee.

He followed her into the kitchen, which was identical to his, where she poured them both thick black coffee, then stirred in condensed milk until it was nearly white. “James, I’ve been seeing you with a man lately? The women are saying you have a boyfriend?”

He accepted a cup of coffee. “I might.” He supposed it had to happen sooner or later. Every other person had been the center of gossip in the building at one point or another. James had managed to avoid it, mainly by being the most boring person on earth.

“You might? I think you do. He looks handsome.”

James pretended to think about it. “I guess. If you like that type.”

“And he looks rich?”

James blew on his coffee. Mrs. Gonzales always made it nuclear hot. “He might be, a little.”

“Rich is good.”

“It’s not important.”

“Rich is good. Rich can take care of you and Dylan.”

James rolled his eyes. “I don’t need anyone taking care of me. I’m not looking for anyone to take care of me. And I take care of Dylan just fine.”

Mrs. Gonzales patted the air in front of James. “Of course you do, but it’s good to have help. If someone wants to take care of you, you should let them. If they’re also kind, and handsome…?”

James sipped his coffee, having no desire to respond to that comment.

“What’s his name?”

“Gabe. Gabriel. Juarez.” He figured the best thing to do with gossip was to feed it as much detail as possible. It seemed to burn out quicker once there was less to speculate on.

“And where’s he from?”

“He grew up in the Bay.”

“Have you met his family yet?”

That was something that hadn’t been brought up except for a quick mention of his sisters. He’d heard more about Gabe’s godchildren. “No, no I haven’t.”

Mrs. Gonzales gave a slightly disapproving squint. “Make sure he does that soon. A man who is ashamed of his family is not a man you should be associating with.”

“I will keep that in mind.”

“Good. Now, what does he do? He better have a good job. Rich without work is begging the devil for trouble.”

James took a deep breath. He was surprised Dylan hadn’t blabbed it around the building. He was as bad a gossip as the rest of them. “He’s the chief financial officer of TechPrim Industries.” He got a slightly questioning look. James pulled his phone from his pocket and showed her the logo on the back. “TechPrim.”

Her eyebrows went up. “He better be taking care of you, then.”

“I don’t need to be taken care of.” James tried not to raise his voice. “I am not a child. I have a job. I manage.”

“Doesn’t mean you should turn him away if he offers. It can be nice to have someone who wants to be helpful.”

“Fine.” He didn’t want to start a fight.

“And if he causes you trouble, you send him to me.”

James stuffed down a laugh. Facing Mrs. Gonzales was a proper threat. Every male under the age of eighty feared her disapproving gaze, which could leave even the most hardened soul squirming like a child.

“I’ll be sure to warn him.”

######

Bowerbirds (Nested Hearts: Book Two) available through Dreamspinner PressBowerbirdsSmall