RAOK Release Party: Reni Kieffer + Exclusive Prequel!

February 16, 2015


To celebrate the release of the Random Acts of Kindness anthology today, some of the authors will be sharing with you a little glimpse behind each of their stories.


Steve and Alec appeared to me one night without warning to tell me about kindness. They showed up nameless and insisted on staying that way for a long while. Because names are not the important piece of information in The Blue Arrow. Steve and Alec could be anyone, and who knows what might happen, if we reach out a hand and show some compassion to a stranger, without expecting anything in return. Be kind once in a while. Be selfless. There is beauty in altruism, and if, by chance, you find a friend, a lover, or even a spouse in the process, there is magic in it, too.


Here’s an exclusive prequel to The Blue Arrow:


“I used to see him everywhere. The boy with the ruffled hair, the lanky posture of youth and the hat askew on his head. He seemed to follow me. I saw him at the airport as I left home, at the side of the road, next to me on the train, when I still could afford to travel.

I haven’t been able to do that in a while. My current means of transport are my own two feet. I walk a lot. Sometimes, I just wander the streets all day, trying to find something, a solution, maybe, or maybe just inspiration, I don’t know. Some days I don’t even bother to get up. I just lie there in my tiny corner and stare past the bricks and the concrete at the sky, watch the clouds drift by like my own tattered thoughts. And I wonder. What to do. How to change again. Why. Sometimes, the cold is so exhausting that I imagine my bones freezing inside my body, and I don’t dare move for fear they might break.

The cold is the worst.

I can deal with hunger and thirst and the lack of hygiene. I can deal with the violence and the social shabbiness, the looks and the ignorance of the lucky ones who are better off than us. But the cold wears me down. No matter how many clothes you manage to pull on (and I don’t own a whole lot of clothes anymore), no matter who grants you shelter for the night, and no matter how many blankets and how much soup they offer, the cold is insistent. Once it has its teeth dug into your bones, there’s no way to get rid of it again.

It even drove the boy away. He, who has formed my fate before and has led me here of all places with his blue arrow, was driven away by the bitterness of this winter. And even though the loss of him feels like a missing limb, I understand him perfectly.

That morning, I saw him again. He was leaning against the wall outside the place I never walk into. I can’t afford the food, no matter how cheap their daily offer, and the tables are too polished, and the girl behind the counter looks like someone who would regard me with pity. I cannot stand someone this beautiful feeling sorry for me. But the boy insisted and with some trepidation I crossed the street and entered the place. And then his blue arrow hit me right in the back. Again.”


Reni Kieffer Author Page Here.

Check out Random Acts of Kindness here!

Random Acts of Kindness Release Party: Fil Preis

February 16, 2015


To celebrate the release of the Random Acts of Kindness anthology today, some of the authors will be sharing with you a little glimpse behind each of their stories.


Hi, this is Fil Preis, and for “Random Acts of Kindness” I’m excited to present my first fantasy romance, “The Cambion’s Servant.” I’ve long been a fan of fantastic fiction but my first few romances have all been set in the contemporary world. With “The Cambion’s Servant” I went back to my fantasy roots just far enough to turn some tropes upside down!

A lot of fantasy stories are about a youth finding his way in a magical world, often with the assistance of an older and wiser mentor. And in romance, you don’t have to look too far to find stories about virgins being initiated by sexually experienced partners, or innocents being seduced by darkly sexy rogues. The call for “Random Acts of Kindness” gave me a chance to play with some characters who have a somewhat different dynamic.

Tomas is an orphan only just come of age, thrown out of the hermitage where he was raised after refusing to become a priest under the dour, strict Father Denego. Gavin is a cambion—half man, half demon—and as such, an outcast who makes his living as a mercenary. Dangerous and fierce, anyone would expect Gavin to be the one with dark designs on an innocent like Tomas.

Instead, Gavin is the one who goes out of his way to defend Tomas when his employer tries to take advantage of him. And Tomas, very quickly, warms to his strange defender. What Tomas doesn’t know is that there’s an unspoken reason why Gavin intervened on his behalf. And if Tomas wants to experience love firsthand, it’s up to him to make the first move…and the second.


Here’s an excerpt:

Tomas leaned over to take a look at his new Master in the light of day.
Those eagle eyes were closed in sleep, but the man’s lip had curled back, revealing a hint of fang. The feathers in his hair were not decorations. They actually grew right out of his scalp.
Cambion. Half man, half demon.
He was handsome, yet terrifying. Or…he would be frightening, if he wasn’t asleep.
Slowly, Tomas’s panic subsided. Gavin had had all night to hurt Tomas if he’d wished to. Maybe Tomas had no reason to be afraid.
Still, Tomas thought it would be wise for him to be a good servant. He rose from the blankets and set about making a fire. He found a pan, a cup, a full water-skin and some dried sacks of tea in Gavin’s pack. By the time the cambion finally stirred, Tomas was waiting to press the cup, filled with hot tea, into his gloved hands.
Gavin accepted the drink and sipped from it. “You’re still here,” the cambion remarked, his voice low and gravelly.
“Why are you surprised? You saved me. Rulio would have taken my virtue and perhaps also my life. I swore to serve you, and I…I stand by my word.”
“Heed me well. I no longer believe in serving or keeping servants. It is too easy for one who owns another’s labour to believe he owns that person’s body and soul as well.” Gavin stretched out a gloved finger and pointed it at Tomas. “Remember this always—your will is your own.”
“And if my will is to go with you?”
The cambion’s lips curved in an expression that, though stern, was definitely a smile.
“Then make some of that tea for your own, and fortify yourself. This morning we hunt, and this afternoon we travel north.”


I hope you enjoy “The Cambion’s Servant” and discover the magic than can result from a random act of kindness.


Fil Preis Author Page Here.

Fil Preis on Facebook Here.


Check out Random Acts of Kindness here!

That’s a wrap!

February 12, 2015

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


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


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

“Morning, Travis.”

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

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

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

“The nerve of them.”

They both chuckled.

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

“Huh? Valentine’s Day?”

“Yeah, the day after tomorrow.”

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

“So, you don’t celebrate it?”

“In our own way we do.”

“What do you do?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xavier shrugged. “I suppose.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Thank you my lovelies and…

May dragons guard your dreams,

M.D. Grimm


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


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

Xavier and Josh – so in love!

February 12, 2015

Hello and welcome to my release day party! I’m here promoting my newest release: “Hearts and Minds.”

Xavier is so in love with Josh and the intensity is indescribable. He truly sees Josh as his savior and in some respects he is. But because of that he might get a wee bit overprotective, which can lead to some interesting moments… some of which are in “Hearts and Minds.” See what I did there?


I’m very proud of this book and where I leave my guys at the end. But another reason I really enjoyed this book is that it takes place in my favorite place of all time: Haven, Montana. A town founded by shifters for shifters. Who wouldn’t want to live in a town where someone could shift into a wolf or fox or cat anytime they wanted to right in front of your eyes? Because it’s in Haven, Sheriff Jack and his mate Travis (“Blind Devotion” book 3) make cameos. It was fun running into them again.


For those of you wondering, Haven will be a vital location in later books. I’m sure some of you smarties already guessed that.


Also, for those curious, I do plan on 20ish books in this series, and I hope you all join me for the ride! I will have 5 parts with 3-5 books in each. I have a climactic battle planned in the last one (of course) that I hope you all will enjoy! It’s very possible that Xavier and Josh will pop up again in later books. I love having cameos of previous characters.


And now another excerpt!



“I should take a shower,” Xavier murmured even as he tugged Josh against him, his hands cupping Josh’s butt.

“No, I want to smell you,” Josh said. He then literally jumped into Xavier’s arms and wrapped his arms and legs around him. Xavier staggered backward in surprise but recovered quickly. Josh smashed his mouth against Xavier’s, and Xavier thrust his tongue into his mouth. Groaning, Josh yanked the tie out of Xavier’s hair and drove his fingers through the black locks as Xavier squeezed Josh’s ass. Josh rubbed his encased erection against Xavier’s stomach.

“Hell yes,” Xavier growled as he carried Josh to the bed and laid him down. Josh yanked off Xavier’s tank, needing to feel hot flesh. His fingers dug into Xavier’s back, feeling the muscles, the strong bones. Xavier was so strong and ruthless, but also so loving. Josh kissed Xavier’s corded neck, moving lower, licking his sweat and sucking the skin lightly.

Xavier shivered and groaned. “Jesus Christ, Josh. I’ve missed you.”

Josh had never felt such need in his life, this sense of urgency. Perhaps it was the fact that they could be interrupted at any moment, or perhaps the knowledge that Xavier hadn’t been inside Josh for far so long. Josh suddenly needed him, right then. He needed to feel his strength, to feel that connection again. Xavier was Josh’s first and only, and Josh craved him like a dying man does water.

Xavier pulled off Josh’s shirt before unzipping Josh’s pants. Rearing up, Josh began kissing Xavier’s arms, and the muscles quivered under his touch, the skin heated under his palms. Josh had to taste all of him; he had to love all of him.

When Xavier gripped Josh’s exposed erection, Josh fell back on the bed with a gasp. Xavier stroked him with one hand as his other continued to push Josh’s pants down his legs. Josh stared and groaned at Xavier, whose eyes were bright gold, lust and need naked within them. He really, really loved Xavier’s eyes.

Xavier lowered his head—

“Xavier, Josh! Come quick!” The voice sounded distant, as if down the hall or stairs, but they both heard it clearly.

They both froze for half a second before Xavier pushed off the bed, his eyes now flashing a dark green, his skin rippling as if he was fighting the urge to shift.

Josh felt just as pissed as Xavier and actually growled. “What the fuck is going on?” he demanded.

“They better have a fucking good reason,” Xavier growled, sounding more like a wolf than Josh ever could.

“Xavier, Josh!” The voice became louder, and then someone pounded frantically on their door.

Xavier yanked it open even as Josh got out of the line of sight and tugged his pants back on.

“What is it, Misty?” Xavier demanded.

“I’m so sorry, but it’s Allen, he’s—”

“Allen?” Josh grabbed his shirt from where Xavier had tossed it on the floor and ran to the doorway. He saw the panic and fear in Misty’s eyes, and the last of his raging lust died. His own fear rose up to replace it.

“What happened?” Xavier asked.



What will happen next? You’ll have to purchase the book to find out… http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6031


Don’t forget to post comments and give me some of your own questions! I’m ready!


-M.D. Grimm

Valentine’s Day sequel – why?

February 12, 2015

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


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


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


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


But back to “Hearts and Minds.”

And another excerpt!



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

Where would they be without these generous Haven citizens?

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

“What’s with the hearts?” Josh asked.

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

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

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

“They’re looking good.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Thanks. Is Allen’s mother with him?”

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

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



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


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



First excerpt plus more!

February 12, 2015

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


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


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


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


And here’s an excerpt!



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

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

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

Josh scowled.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Josh grinned. “Definitely.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


I shall be back!


-M.D. Grimm

Party Is Near Done So How About an Excerpt?

February 11, 2015

I’ve had an absolute blast hanging out with all of you today.  It’s been so much fun talking about my story, and seeing all your great, thoughtful comments.  There’s a half an hour left to comment if you want to be entered to win one of two copies of Pumpkin Rolls and Porn Sounds.  You can comment on any or all of the posts.  At 4:45 PM, I’ll announce the winners right here.

I thought I’d leave you all with an excerpt.  It’s one of my favorite scenes in the book, when Joshua and Will are still getting to know each other, and they are having trouble connecting for their next date, because Joshua is having to work extra hours:

“Lucas?” I questioned. Then winced. That absolutely sounded jealous.

Joshua gave a soft laugh. “He’s the baker. It’s his pumpkin rolls you moaned so wantonly over.”

Embarrassment flooded my cheeks. “Oh.”

“He’s also my brother-in-law,” Joshua added. The amusement was clear in his tone. That didn’t help my embarrassment at all. In fact, my face grew even hotter.

“That’s nice,” I said, trying to control my blush. “Do you like working with him?”

Joshua’s laugh was rich. “Very much. He’s been a friend for a long time. Since college, actually. I introduced him to my sister. The two of us came up with the idea for Pounds and Grounds because I wanted to run my own business and he wanted to quit his job and bake. He owns forty percent. I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be as successful as we are if it weren’t for him. We get along very well. And you can certainly attest to his talent in the kitchen.”

He just had to bring up the noises again, didn’t he? And just when I’d gotten myself to stop blushing, too. I was glad he couldn’t see me. I shook my head, cleared my throat, and smiled. “That’s really great to hear.”

Joshua wasn’t fooled by my attempt at a casual tone. He laughed heartily. But the sound cut off quickly. The smile fell off my face.


“Will, listen, until we….” His voice trailed off. There was silence for a long minute that made my heart pound. Then he sighed. “Until I get this sorted out, until I hire new people and get them settled, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to see you again. I want to. God, do I want to. But the long days aren’t very conducive to dating. I’d probably fall asleep on you.”

“That’s okay,” I said. Then scrunched up my nose at the way that might sound to him. I added quickly, “I mean, I understand. You have to take care of your business and yourself. I can wait.”

“Really?” He sounded surprised.

I shook my head, even though he couldn’t see. I didn’t understand why his confidence got shaky when it came to us, but this wasn’t the first time I had heard it. “Of course. I should have said it the other night instead of making a joke, but I really enjoy spending time with you and getting to know you. I want to see where this goes. And I’m willing to wait for you.”

There was silence from the other end. I would have thought we had lost the connection, but I could still hear him breathing. I tried to be patient, but it had never been my strong suit. When another minute passed and he still didn’t say anything, my gut clenched.

“Joshua?” I asked. A sudden attack of nerves made my voice tentative.

“Thank you,” he said fervently. “That means a lot to me. I want to see where this goes, too. I promise that I’ll get this sorted out as quickly as possible.”

“Doesn’t matter how long it takes, I’m not going anywhere.” My tone was full of conviction. I wanted him, and it was time I stopped questioning why. I would wait.

“Neither am I,” he said softly.

Don’t forget to comment on this or any post.  I want to give away some free books! :D

Martin and Josh by Hollis Shiloh

February 3, 2015

A soft knock at the door.

Martin stirred, stretching arms over his head. The book on his chest fell, plopping to the floor. He’d fallen asleep reading it last night.

“Come in.”  Did the bed-and-breakfast include room service? He was too fuzzy-headed to remember.

“Sorry, did I wake you?” A friendly, freckled face peered round the corner, smiling apologetically.

Martin’s mouth fell open.  The guy had striking red, flame-like hair that seemed to have a life of its own.  It was long, reaching nearly to his shoulders.  Freckles stood out on his pale face, his expression shy.

“Josh?” asked Martin.

“Hi, Mr. Winston.”  He ducked his head a little, blushing.  “Didn’t think you’d remember me.”

“Of course I remember you.”  He sat up, pulling the sheets modestly to his chest.  A few years ago, when he was a young tutor still working on his teaching degree, Josh had been his favorite student.

Josh was only a few years younger, and they’d both felt a friendly connection, but kept from getting too close.  Martin was trying too hard to be professional to allow it.  But there had been something about their interactions that made him wish he was younger or Josh was older.

“Do you work here now?”  Martin fumbled for his glasses.  Josh’s features appeared more clearly.  The last few years had transformed Josh from shy teen to handsome young man.  Their slight age difference didn’t seem to matter much now.

I’m an idiot for thinking about such things.  It must be his morning wood doing the talking.

“Er, yeah, I’m the cook.”  Josh reached up to push back a few strands of his gleaming red hair. “Just wanted to bring you your tea.”  He held up a blue mug.  “I hope I’ll see you again later.  Sorry if I woke you.”

“You—ah—thanks,” mumbled Martin, wishing he knew what to say.  It had been easier when they had rigorous homework assignments to get through.

Josh closed the door quietly, and Martin stared at its warm wooden texture, feeling bereft.  Josh’s cute face and striking red hair had filled his dreams more than once, although he always resolutely pushed away the images when he was awake enough to realize.  It wasn’t nice to fantasize about a seventeen-year-old.   But Josh wasn’t seventeen now…


* * * * *


Martin went for a walk after breakfast, hoping he’d see his favorite ex-pupil.

The bed and breakfast was at a peaceful, wooded area in beautiful Vermont.  Martin needed to rest up from a difficult year, catch up on his reading, and start writing the novel he’d been putting off for years now.

He rounded a corner of the quaint building and stopped suddenly.  Ahead was a small wooden bench, where a familiar redheaded figure sat looking up at the trees.

Martin stood still, just watching.  The breeze moved red hair slightly, and Martin felt his throat tighten with longing, and then his trousers, too.

He started to retreat, embarrassed, but his feet made a sound on a small branch; a little crunch.  Josh turned his head.  “Hi, Mr. Winston.”  His smile held an apologetic question.  “Sorry, you don’t have to go just because I’m here.  You won’t disturb me.  Sit down if you want.”  He patted the bench. “There’s plenty of room.”

Martin cleared his throat, cheeks heating.  He knew he was just being shy and awkward.  As usual.

“Thanks,” he mumbled.  He moved to sit beside Josh, wondering if he could fake the old attitude, that he related to Josh as someone older and more mature.

“Do you still tutor kids?” Josh cast him a shy look.  It was an intimate look, full of humility and interest.

“Ah, no, I’m a teacher now.  High school English.  Sometimes I miss tutoring, though.  Especially when I got to work with kids like you.  You actually wanted to learn.”

Josh blushed.  “But I was terrible at it.”

“You weren’t.  Learning disabilities don’t make you terrible.”  He hesitated, not sure if he was allowed to ask.  But he’d already said so much.  “Do you have trouble reading recipes when you cook?”

Josh shook his head.  “I make most things from formulas that I learned in culinary school.  I keep them up here.”  He tapped his head.  “And I make my own variations.”  He shrugged.  “It would be easy to mix up the numbers and letters in a cookbook, but I know what I’m doing now.  I know if I misread twelve as twenty-one, because it doesn’t feel right.  But mostly I don’t follow recipes at all.  Sorry, I’m going on and on.”  He pressed his knees together, hands between them as if to keep them from fluttering around, betraying his nervousness.

Martin longed to reach over and give his knee a gentle squeeze.  He cleared his throat.  “I’m glad you’ve done well.  I always thought you would.  That breakfast was wonderful, by the way.”

“Thank you.”

They sat next to one another in silence for a moment.  Yet somehow it didn’t feel awkward.

“It’s so nice to see you,” said Josh again.  “I think of you sometimes, wished I could show you I grew up…worth something.”  He blushed, ducking his head.  “That…came out wrong.”

Martin made a sound in his throat.  “Oh, Josh, you were always worth something.”

“I…I know…I just…”  He looked at Martin now, his ears pink, his smile slightly naughty.  “I wanted you to see me as an adult.  I guess you know I had a crush on you.”

“Did you?”  Martin found himself grinning, wide and teasing and full of delight.  He stretched out a little, putting one arm along the back of the bench—almost but not quite around Josh’s shoulders.  “Tell me more.”

Josh laughed, ducking his head, looking giddy with relief.  “Maybe a big crush,” he admitted.

Their eyes met, both gazes filled with relief and something more.


Maybe this unexpected reunion could be the start of something wonderful.


Hollis Shiloh writes love stories about men, also called gay romance or m/m romance, with the preferred genres of contemporary, historical, and fantasy. Hollis’s stories tend towards the sweet rather than the spicy. When not writing, the author enjoys reading, retro music, and being around animals.

The Marzipan Opening by BG Thomas

January 31, 2015

Title: The Marzipan Opening

Author: B.G. Thomas

Pairing: Kit and Nick from Grumble Monkey and the Department Store Elf

Prompt: marzipan

The kid was making Nick St. George nervous.

It was not a good night for anything more to worry about. The opening of Kit’s first big New York art show already had him nervous enough. Having some homeless kid wandering around was not good. Not good at all.

But Nick didn’t dare say anything either. What if the kid wasn’t homeless? Yes, he was dirty. He was wearing torn jeans, and his T-shirt was old and dirty, his hair disheveled and greasy-looking. But this was the art world. These weren’t just patrons here tonight vying to see a potentially important new artist. There were artists here as well and that could mean those who were the very definition of Bohemian. What if he accidentally insulted a John McAllister, or an Armin Boehm, or a new Eric Fischl? That certainly wouldn’t do, would it? Or maybe the kid was an art critic that Nick didn’t know? A good (or bad) review in just the right (or wrong) place could make or break a new artist.

And Kit was a new artist.

One that Nick loved with all his heart.


Who would have ever thought it?

A year ago Nick had wanted to end his life. With Kit, his life was just beginning. And a wonderful life it was turning out to be.

If not frustrating.

First he’d had to figure out if he and Kit were something at all. It seemed like it. And Kit’s family loved Nick—something he cherished since his own family had disowned him some eleven years before.

And then when it was clear that Kit loved him just as much as he loved Kit, that this wasn’t infatuation or a reaction to the magic way they had met, they had to figure out what to do next. Live together? That sounded good to Nick.

But he knew he needed to wait for Kit to finish school. All he wanted to do was make love with Kit night and day, but Kit had to get his degree. Luckily the young man was in his last year at the Chicago Art Institute. He was already making a noise in the art world, and he hadn’t even had a real show until tonight. So he’d had to give Kit time to make sure his final pieces for school were perfect.

And they were, weren’t they? Like nothing Nick had ever seen.

When you walked into the room, the first impression you got was that a huge wind had picked up and thrown several laundry baskets’ worth of sheets throughout the room. They had struck people, objects, tables, and more—moving and flapping about them in the breeze. Except when you looked again, all you saw were the sheets. The objects that had caught them, or seemed to, were gone.

Or invisible.

Some were haunting, like spirits or ghosts. Some humorous—a table with a lovely cloth and a service set for tea awaiting guests… but there was no table! One, a centerpiece for the exhibit, was decidedly erotic. It was the only one where an object was still there with the sheets: a bed. It was the people in the bed that had vanished. And from the way the sheet clung to “them,” it was clear, very clear, that the two people were men. It clung to… everything.

Nick knew that there was no way it would sell. Where would anyone put such a piece of artwork in their home?

But it was causing a stir. Gasps, titters, and erotic stares.

New York would be talking about Keaton Jeffries tomorrow.

Nick didn’t want any of the talk to be about Nick St. George asking some young man what he was doing at Kit’s show—whether he was famous or homeless.

Tonight had to be perfect.




Kit was nervous. He looked around at the work he’d done over the last year and wondered if it had all been a horrid mistake. None of it was the pretty or silly stuff his family loved so much—like his renditions of the Grumble Monkey, the character his mother had created to teach her children lessons as they were growing up. Nor even the realistic pieces his sisters praised him for—like the fields of lavender. He’d taken a real chance breaking away from the kind of art he’d done for years—and the art that had so interested Nick in his work.

But he hadn’t been able to help himself.

When the idea hit, it had become a fever.

It all started with a marzipan cake.

One his mother had made.

One that had made him blush.

It was a bachelorette cake for his oldest sister, Ambrosia. And who could believe she was getting married? Of course, she was twenty-six. That was plenty old enough. But somehow as far as Kit was concerned she would be the older sister running off to her high school prom.

How wonderful that she was marrying the very same boy who took her to the prom.

But the cake!

“Mom!” Kit had said, shocked.

She had taken a superhero cake pan, one that went from the neck to just below the crotch and could be decorated to be Superman or Spider-Man or whoever the decorator desired. But in this case, she had made it into a man wearing nothing but underwear with a very clear and decided bulge. The cake was covered in marzipan—an icing that could be rolled into thin sheets. It made the man’s skin look very real and the underwear blushingly real as well.

“Oh, don’t be a prude!” his mother had exclaimed. “I thought you’d approve! You do like men, don’t you?”

“Mom!” Kit had cried a second time and turned so red he could feel his face warm from it.

“And you must admit, this man is well equipped!” She had laughed then, and once he’d gotten over his initial shock, he’d finally managed to join her.

It was the marzipan that had begun the idea for his new show.

The second catalyst for his idea happened when he’d been watching an episode of Face Off. The makeup artists had been using a vacuum machine to take thin, rigid sheets of heated plastic and stretch them over a mold.

The next day his idea had totally solidified in his mind while he was looking through a magazine and admiring a fashion photo set done on a windy day. The shoot had made the clothing and bodies beneath very exciting.

All three events had led up to his new creations.

Darn if he couldn’t tell what people were thinking.

But they were certainly talking, and wasn’t that what Nick had said was important?

He looked across the room, and yes, there was his man.

My man, he thought, and glowed.

The year since he’d met his grumble monkey at a rest stop in the middle of an ice storm would forever be in his memory. How wild that he would meet his love at such a strange place and circumstance!

It had also been a crazy year. He’d been so afraid that Nick would lose interest in him. But that hadn’t been the case. Nick would come to see Kit at least every other weekend up at the Art Institute. It had been exhilarating. And so strange. The dance between them. Close, then step back, close, then step back.

It had driven Kit nearly crazy, until Nick finally explained what he was up to.

“This is a critical time in your life! You’ve got to graduate. Then we can think of us.”

“Us?” Kit had asked hopefully.

“Yes,” Nick had said with a whisper. “If you want there to be an us.”

More than anything, was all Kit could say and think.

So he lived with that not-enough time with Nick, and he worked on his art. Worked long into the nights and often into the mornings. Some of the pieces were simple and some rather elaborate, especially the piecemeal crazy quilt at the foot of the bed. A bed that in Kit’s heart was all about him and Nick.

After school there had been the whirlwind of putting together the show and deciding so many things for their lives. They’d finally decided they would live in New York, and nothing excited Kit more than the Big Apple (except for a life with Nick), and they searched for a new apartment. They’d settled on a loft so that the large express elevator could be used to get Kit’s bigger pieces out of the building. It also would allow Kit to work at home.

Soon it would finally be time. Nick assured him that when the show was over, he would take him to Europe. For the art. And for lots and lots of making love!

It was then that he saw Nick stand up quite straight, his expression surprised and excited. He’d been talking to some older man, one Kit hadn’t seen before. Not that that was surprising. There were lots of people he didn’t know. But this one was causing quite a reaction with Nick.

Why then was his love still occasionally looking at the dirty young man who was now staring at the piece Kit called Tea for Two.

Gosh. Nick wasn’t interested in him, was he? Attracted to him?

No. Kit shook off the idea.

And made up his mind then and there to talk to the kid.


“You’re serious?” Nick said to Mr. Detwiller.

“Most sure,” the gentleman replied. “We will talk in a few days, but we don’t want anyone else getting it.”

It was more than Nick could take in.

No. No one would want Love—Kit’s bed sculpture—for their homes. But the Art Institute of Chicago?  The second-largest art museum in the United States?

It seemed impossible. But then, was anything impossible for Kit Jeffries? Whatever the young man believed in strongly enough seemed to come true for him. It was a fantasy come true.

And Kit—his little department store elf—was Nick’s dream come true.



“Hi,” said Kit.

The kid in the torn jeans and the messy hair jumped, eyes wide and frightened. “Ah…. I’m not doing nothing!”

Kit smiled. “It’s okay. Do you like it?”

The kid sighed. “I do. I wish I could do stuff like this.”

“Do you like art?”

“Like it? I love it. It’s all I did in high school—all I wanted to be was an artist—even though my mom and dad said only fags and girls were artists.”

Kit winced at that word—fags.

“I’m sorry to hear that. It’s not true, you know.”

“What?” Suddenly the kid looked like he was about to cry.

“Not all artists are… gay, or girls.”

The kid trembled for a minute. “But I am.” he whispered.

Kit winked. “I assume you mean gay, because you certainly aren’t a girl.”

The kid blushed. “Are you the artist?” He indicated the room with an expansive wave.

“I sure am.” He held out his hand. “I’m—”

“Kit! I need to talk to you!” It was Nick. He eyed the boy-man. Then looked away. “This is big, Kit. Really big.”

“Oh?” Kit said, caught up by Nick’s excitement, but not too pleased with the way he was looking at the boy. No, it wasn’t desire—it was worse.

Oh, my grumble monkey. You’ve come a long way, but

“The Art Institute of Chicago wants Love.”

Kit staggered back.


The Art Institute of Chicago? Wanted one of his pieces? But… but was that possible?

“It might only be a temporary exhibit at first, but do you have any idea what this means?”

Kit staggered again, afraid he might fall. But then Nick was there, arm around him, and then pulling him into a tight hug.

“Yes,” he whispered. “I do know what that means!”

A fantasy come true.

“Excuse me” came a voice.

They turned to see the dirty kid standing there, looking up at Nick with big fear-filled eyes.

Nick stood straighter, and for a second Kit was afraid he might be rude.

“Yes?” Nick said, voice a bit stiff, but not ugly.

Thank you, Kit thought.

“How may I help you?”

“Are… are you Nicolas St. George?”

“Yes,” Nick said. “And who are you?”

“I’m Kenny,” the kid said. “Your nephew.”



They were sitting in the office in the back of the gallery.


“My mom threw me out.”

His sister? She threw her own son out?

Just like Mom and Dad did to me?

Nick looked at the young man, and yes, he was just the right age. It had been eleven years since he’d seen the boy. Damn. He—Kenny—even looked like Nick’s sister.

“I can’t believe it,” Nick said. “I figured I’d never see you again. Because…. Well, because….”

“You’re gay,” Kenny finished.

Nick nodded dumbly.

“Mom has been saying it for years. That you’re gay. Except she called you a fairy. And I’ve so wanted to talk to you. To meet you! But I knew, I just knew that if I spoke to you before I was eighteen, that not only would she have a cow that I was gay, but that I would get you in trouble. I know Mom. I know what she would have done. Accused you of turning me gay. Molesting me.” He shuddered. “Then a few weeks ago, on my eighteenth, I told her.”

“And… she….”

“Threw me out. Gave me a half hour to pack. I could only take a few things. I couldn’t make it too much to carry.”

Nick could only stare. Be amazed by how calm the young man was.

“How have you made it all this time? Where have you been staying?”

Kenny shrugged. “Here and there,” he replied. And then quite suddenly he burst into tears.

To Nick’s surprise, he found himself standing and going to Kenny. Kneeling. And taking him into his arms.

He looked up at Kit.

What would they do?

They couldn’t let him walk the streets….

“What am I going to do, Uncle Nick?” Kenny wailed.

Then, before he realized he was saying it: “You’ll stay with us. Your mother can’t say anything. You’re legal.”

Kenny pulled back just enough to look at Nick with red, tear-filled eyes.

Nick looked at Kit again, wondering what he would say. They had finally reached the time when they could be alone together. They’d waited so long. But now?

Kit smiled and came to them, wrapped his arms around them.

“I’m so proud of you, my grumble monkey. So proud.”

“You don’t mind?”

“Not at all. I insist. We have our whole lives ahead of us.”



Later, Kenny pointed at the huge cake that Kit had made and placed in the middle of the dessert and drinks table. No one had touched it.

“Is that marzipan?” Kenny asked.

Kit nodded sadly. “I guess no one likes it….”

Kenny laughed. “Silly. It’s not that. They don’t know it’s a cake.”


Kit looked again. He’d spent hours making the thin-rolled confection look like one of his flapping sheet pieces. Then it hit him. He began to laugh.

“They think it’s a sculpture,” Kenny said.

Kit shook his head. “You any good at cutting cake?”

Kenny smiled. “I sure am!”

“Because you know what my mother always said?”

“What did your mother always say?” came a familiar woman’s voice.

Kit turned and let out a squeal. “Mom! I thought you said you guys couldn’t make it. Nick said he tried to talk you into it and you said no.”

“We wanted to surprise you. Nick was in on it.”

Then he felt arms surround him from behind him. “Surprise, my little elf.”

He spun in his lover’s arms. “Taller than you!”

“Gosh,” said Kenny. “Even I’m taller than Uncle Nick.”

And they all laughed.

“But what was it your mom always said?” Nick asked.

“Sometimes you just have to cut the cake. People are afraid to be the first.”

“Especially when it’s as gorgeous as that one,” Kit’s mother exclaimed.

Then Kenny cut the cake and even served it.

Everyone was amazed that is was cake, and they loved it.

Later that night they showed Kenny his new room.

“You’re sure you don’t mind?” Kenny asked.

“Not at all,” Kit and Nick chorused.

“But there will be rules,” Kit said.

“Hey!” Kenny cried. “I’m eighteen!’

“And under our roof. No dating boys unless you introduce them to us, no boys in your room after nine unless the bedroom door is open—”


“That’s Uncle Kit to you, young man!”

And later in their room, Nick asked again. “Are you sure?”

“Surer than anything in the world. I was watching him serve that cake, watching my mom help, and it broke my heart. To have a family that loves me so much and to see what your family has done to the two of you. I just don’t understand.”

“You’re the only family I need now,” Nick said. “I love you, my elf.”

“I love you, monkey.”

“Not grumble monkey?”

Kit shrugged. “I think you’re getting rid of the grumble part. Just like in my mom’s story.”

Nick smiled. “Well, what do you know?”

“What do you know, indeed,” said Kit.

Did you enjoy B.G. Thomas’s story? If so, check out the rest of his books and take 25% off at checkout with the code BGThomasFlash. Coupon code is good for one order per customer through February 28, 2015.

There’s Something About Chinese Food by Felicitas Ivey

January 31, 2015

Title: There’s Something About Chinese Food

Author: Felicitas Ivey

Pairing: Ryan and Wil from There’s Something About Spot

Prompt: chopsticks

Ryan wandered out of his workshop and into the yard after a morning of woodworking. He casually stripped out of the clothes he was wearing, shaking all the wood chips and dust out of them. He didn’t want to bring it all into the house, it would be too much of a pain to deal with.

Wil looked over at him, from the garden he was weeding and smiled. “Is that a hint?” he called out.

“I’m not getting all this in the house,” Ryan said. He smiled. “But I wouldn’t say no—”

He didn’t get a chance to finish his sentence. Wil pounced on him.


Ryan was drowsing in bed afterwards. He was surprised they had made it to the bed, but once Wil started kissing him, things had blurred a bit. “I should make us something to eat.”

He didn’t know what time it was, but he felt a little bit hungry and knew he needed to eat something soon.

“Let’s go out,” Wil replied. “There’s a new place in town.”

Ryan looked at him. Town was at least as forty-five minute drive and they would have to take a shower. He was comfortable and not that ambitious. And Wil rarely wanted to go out, content to be at home where he didn’t have people pulling at him all the time to solve their problems. “And you want to check it out?” he asked.

Wil sighed. “Miss Serenity asked me to talk to the owners.”

Ryan echoed his sigh. Wil’s position in the community was as the priest for the local, odd to some pagan practices. They worshiped Tsthug’wa, an ancient and corrupted deity, whom they all hoped would stay sleeping and unaware of them, so it wouldn’t eat them and worse. To placate the god to keep him sleeping, Wil performed a ceremony every Midsummer, erotic and exhausting, with Ryan as a willing participant as he had been since the beginning when he stumbled into the village years ago.

“So not so much a date, as checking the place out,” Ryan teased him. “And what is she expecting?”

Wil shrugged. “I don’t know.” He hesitated. “It can be something as simple as she doesn’t like them to something a little more… serious. And it isn’t anything she felt she could deal with on her own, either.”

Which meant Wil would have to fix whatever the issue was. And it might kill him to do so, if Miss Serenity didn’t know how to deal with it. Ryan ignored the tightening in his gut and mustered a smile. “I bet it’s nothing more than bad Mushu Pork,” he said. “We get showered, head to town and take Spot with us. If the food’s crap, you know he’ll eat it.”

And Spot would kill anyone or thing which would threaten either of them.

Wil nodded, a grateful look in his eyes for Ryan putting a brave face on it.

“I love this plan!” Ryan said, the false cheer thick in his voice.

He made a mental note to eat a snack now, because he wasn’t sure he was going to get any food later.


They got to town a couple of hours later, Spot hanging his head out the window from his place at Wil’s feet. His tentacles were blowing in the breeze, as his body wiggled with excitement over being in the car. He was about seventy pounds now, long and thin, moving like an inchworm to get around. Spot was fast, a deadly inchworm with razor teeth underneath his flailing tentacles and the killer instinct of a Dark Spawn, for all his adorable awkwardness.

Ryan pulled into a parking spot down the street from the restaurant. The town of Hidden Valley was small, a couple of short streets and a collection of odd shops. The valley was mostly farms and cut off from the rest of the world. No cell reception, no Internet; it was a quiet place you found by accident, because even government spy satellites didn’t seem to know it existed. Once you found it, all you saw was a quaint New England town, trapped in some sort of time warp.

The new restaurant seemed to have popped up overnight, in a space at the edge of town. That alone put Ryan on edge. It didn’t fit in with the rest of the town’s buildings – a collection of wood and brick buildings, staid and respectable. This place was a garish yellow and red, in the style Ryan mentally dubbed ‘Tacky Chinese”, with odd colored bloated dragons and a pagoda styled roof. The sign in front was flashing neon, proclaiming the place to be  ‘Black Lotus’.

“Tacky,” Ryan said after staring at the place.

“Dangerous,” Wil told him. “They aren’t being subtle.”

“The sign can be seen in the North Pole,” Ryan commented dryly. “These people have never heard of the word.”

Ryan opened the storage box between the two seats, pulling out a blue vest, sized for Spot. In white lettering on each side, ‘Service Animal’ was printed.

“Spot is going in with us because I need him to watch out for me,” Ryan explained as he strapped it on to Spot.

“I see,” Wil said, obviously not understanding.

“It’s a cheat and I am being an ass taking advantage of such things when Spot isn’t a service animal, but you can’t kick one out of a restaurant.” Ryan finished putting the vest on Spot. “I bought it on a whim and kept it in the car. I just remembered it now.”

“Spot likes it,” Wil said, leaning over to kiss him.


They walked into the restaurant with a surprisingly well-behaved Spot at Ryan’s side. Ryan shivered when he walked through the airlock to the second door, feeling a little odd for a second. Wil slipped his hand out of Ryan’s, a frown on his face as Ryan looked around the lobby.

The restaurant was empty, even if it was dinnertime. Ryan didn’t remember seeing any other cars parked at the place, but he thought they might have been on the other side of the building. He tightened his grip on Spot’s leash; unnerved the place was empty, and wondering what was wrong. But the place wasn’t as tackily decorated on the inside as the outside led him to be believe it would be.

The room was dimly lit, trying for a romantic atmosphere, for some reason. There was a huge fire pit in the middle and Ryan hoped it wasn’t used for cooking, even though there seemed to be something smoking on it. The air was scented a mixture of subtle spices and something sweet, which stuck to the back of this throat. And Ryan noticed there weren’t any windows in the place, which sent a chill down his back, because he would have sworn there had been a couple of them in the front and on the sides.

The host or a waiter hurried up to them, bowing and nodding. Ryan was struck at how short he was. Miss Serenity, as bowed as she was by age, would be taller than the man. He looked around, catching a glimpse of another couple of men, and he thought they were even shorter than the man in front of him.

The man caught a glimpse of Spot and shook his head, even as he looked at Wil. “And how may we help you?”

The man’s accent was heavy and Ryan thought it could be Chinese, but it didn’t sound like any Chinese accent he had heard in the movies or on the streets of Chinatown in New York; but China was big place and these guys might be from the back end of nowhere Hicksville to sound like that. But he could understand him, which was the important thing to him.

Ryan thought that was an odd thing to say, but Wil answered coolly, “A table for two.”

“Of course.” The waiter paused and added, “I assure you, sir, the menu will be to your liking.”

“I will address the chef if it isn’t,” Wil told him.

The man bowed again and led them to a table in the back corner of the room. Ryan wasn’t surprised to see it showed them the entire room. The host dropped off two menus, stating, “Fei Long will be your waiter.”

“And you are?” Wil asked.

The man hesitated for a split second, “Sheng She, honored one.”

He walked away and Ryan picked up his menu, “So I guess he knows who you are.”

The table was set for two, plates with red and blue pagodas, dragons and weird looking flowers painted on them. There were both silverware and metal chopsticks provided, with some sort of black flower floating in a crystal bowl as the centerpiece of the table. It was elegant, with white linen tablecloths and nothing that he had been expecting from the outside of the place.

“What I am,” Wil said inexplicably with a smile, before picking up his own menu. “I’ve never had Chinese before.”

Ryan looked at the menu. “I don’t even think this is in Chinese. And it isn’t in English, because I can’t read it. So I don’t know what this place is.”

The lettering could be Chinese, but it looked off. Too many or too few lines in the characters and they were wavy instead of straight. Ryan’s head jerked up when he heard Sheng She talking loudly with another man. It could be an argument or they could be talking about sports for all he knew, but the tone of voice for both men sounded off.

“That isn’t Chinese,” he informed Wil.

“I didn’t expect it to be,” Wil told him. “I’m sorry, I should explain these things to you better.”

“Eh?” Ryan shrugged. Wil was being Wil and dealing with the crap he had to deal with being a priest wasn’t something he wanted to do. “And just let me say, I don’t know if I want to eat here.”

‘That may be wise,” Wil said, putting his menu down. “I don’t think I’d want Spot eating here.”

“Honored one, this is a vegetation… vegetarian  restaurant. I am Fei Long and I will serve you tonight.”

Fei Ling was tiny, about the size of a six year old, but very round. Ryan thought he looked like a dumpling of a man. Ryan swore he hadn’t seen the man walk up; he just seemed to appear out of thin air.

“Vegetarian?” Wil smiled coolly at him.

“There is no Long Pork on the menu,” Fei Long told him with a laugh. It wasn’t a jolly laugh, but the sly, mocking one of a bully.

Ryan had no idea what he was talking about, but whatever Long Pork was, the mention of it infuriated Wil.

“Shall Spot explore your kitchen to tell me the truth of your words?” Wil asked glacially.

Fei Long looked confused, until Spot poked his head out from underneath the table. He sniffed at Fei Long for a couple of seconds, before settling back underneath the table with a small growl in the back of his throat.

Fei Long froze, petrified, before he hissed, “You wouldn’t—! This isn’t—!”

“Spot’s a service animal,” Ryan said over his sputtering protests. “You can’t kick him out of the place.”

“He is human!” Fei Long shrieked, before switching back to his own language.

“As am I!” Wil snarled.

Spot poked his head out again, curious and nervous about all the shouting.

“You’re upsetting Spot,” Ryan said calmly, petting the Dark Spawn. “Seriously, why does everyone freak out when they see him?”

Fei Long stared at Ryan for a second, before turning to Wil. “The Human—”

“My consort.” Wil said flatly.

“—can control a Spawn?” he finished.

“Just Spot,” Ryan told him, as the being in question wiggled under his attention. The rest of the pack was a little standoffish with him. “And pork is fine, I’m not Jewish or Arabic, but you did mention this was a vegetarian restaurant, so I don’t know what the fuss is.”

“Long Pork isn’t a type of swine,” Wil said gently. “It is a phrase used to describe human flesh when it is eaten.”

Ryan swallowed hard. “That’s kind of gross.” He paused. “I think I read someplace it wasn’t a good idea because stuff getting stuck in your brain from eating people, aside from it being not a socially acceptable idea to eat the neighbors.”

Ryan flushed when the other two looked at him like he was crazy. “I’ll shut up now,” he mumbled.

“Your consort is a prize,” Fei Long said. His tone seemed to think Ryan was the booby prize.

“I don’t think the “Black Lotus” would be a good fit in our little town,” Wil said, as he stood up. “Leave it.”

The command was spoken in an eerie voice, one Ryan usually only heard during rituals. Ryan rose to follow him out of the restaurant. He really didn’t want to eat here, the smell of the place making him queasy now.

That tone brought Sheng She out from wherever he had been hiding. “You cannot tell us what to do! We are Tcho-Tcho, Priest, and not under your sway!” he thundered.

“My land is under the protection of Tsthug’wa,” Wil told him coldly. “And as his priest, I banish you from it.”

Ryan didn’t know what was going on, but he grabbed the chopsticks as a weapon. The knife wasn’t a better choice because there was no edge on it. Both it and the fork looked fragile and off to him now. He could poke these two with them if he had to, even as he kept a tight hold on Spot’s leash. The Spawn was pressed against his legs, poised to jump at either Tcho-Tcho, whatever they were.

“My god,” Sheng She started, pulling himself up to his full height.

Wil said something in an odd language, the words slippery and hurtful. It was like nothing Ryan had ever heard before and he swallowed hard, dizzy all of a sudden.

The Tcho-Tcho all winced and stepped back, a snarl appearing on Sheng She’s face, before he started spitting out odd sounds. Ryan couldn’t call them words. They were sharp sounds of hate, which caused Wil to bare his teeth in a grimace, even as his continued to speak. Wil stood his ground, adding strange finger waggling gestures to the words he was saying and Ryan just stood frozen, Spot wrapping himself around him for protection.

“You are not where you think you are, priest,” Sheng She snarled at Wil.

Wil smiled at him, “I know exactly where I am. Do you?”

Ryan shivered when he said that, wondering if they were still in Hidden Valley. But the question stopped Sheng She for a moment and Ryan saw the shocked look on his face. “You dared!”

Wil laughed. It wasn’t a happy laugh. “My god is one of this earth, this plane of existence, while Ch’augn’ar F!aung is of the outer veil. We are not in his place of power, as you think you are, since I placed this dwelling on the blasted planes. You forget there are those who are much greater then even our gods.”

“And what does that mean?” Sheng She asked. “You speak in riddles. Are you trying to buy time before we feast upon you and your pet?”

Wil smiled wolfishly at them. Ryan thought it was both incredibly disturbing and incredibly hot at the same time. He was frightened at how turned on he was. He was being threatened by being eaten by these freaks and all he could think of was Wil eating him in another manner, his hot mouth around his cock, sucking him dry.

“He is my consort,” Wil hissed, emphasizing the title. “Prized beyond belief by me and mine.”

“He will be a tasty morsel we will eat in front of you,” Fei Long threatened.

The building shook and Wil grinned. “Ask the Dancer of Madness about the feast he is interested in.”

The Tcho-Tchos looked at him in horror, while Spot unwrapped himself from around Ryan’s legs and started to lead him to the door. Ryan went with him, too shocked to fight him.

Wil waited until he was past him to smile and bow to the others, “Enjoy your discussion with Az’thoth.”

Ryan didn’t know the name, but from the way the blood drained from the others’ faces and the frantic, desperate chant Sheng She started, this god wasn’t either reasonable or nice. He just hoped he didn’t meet it… him… whatever.

Spot had him out the door, with Wil close behind him. As they passed through the airlock, Ryan caught a glimpse of a twisted and blasted landscape, the sky the color of acid. He shivered, but when they walked out of the door, they were back in the town of Hidden Valley.

“We’re not going to have to worry about them again,” Wil said with a smile. “But I’m sorry we didn’t get anything to eat.”

“At least we got a pair of chopsticks out of it,” Ryan said trying to make light of what just happened, realizing he still held them. He started shivering, his mind trying desperately to forget the split second of whatever he had just seen.

“But not dinner,” Wil replied, “And I know you miss Chinese food sometimes.”

“If we had eaten there, we’d been hungry an hour later,” Ryan said. “So why don’t I drive home and cook supper?”

“But first something else,” Wil said leaning over and kissing him.

Ryan moaned, kissing him back fiercely, pressing his whole body against Wil, feeling their cocks rub together. Wil was as hard and as turned on as he was. He dropped the chopsticks he was holding to wrap his arms the other man.

Ryan’s moans degenerated into whimpers when Wil undid his pants, pushing them down to his knees, kneading his ass for a minute as he kissed him. Ryan didn’t care they were in town and Spot had wandered off someplace to get into mischief, since he dropped his leash. He shuddered when Wil slipped a finger into his ass, wiggling it around a little until he found that special spot inside him.

Ryan was still loose from earlier in the day, so there was a little discomfort which he forgot about when Wil started finger fucking him, rubbing against his prostrate, causing little bolts of lighting to fire off in his brain, reducing it to jelly.

“I love you like this,” Wil crooned. “You’re so beautiful, so responsive to my touch.”

Ryan just rubbed against Wil, his cock wanting the friction of the other man’s jeans as he got closer and closer to his orgasm. This was what he wanted, what he needed as he chased after the pleasure Wil was giving him. He didn’t know how long it was before he hid his face in Wil’s neck, muffling the scream of joy that tore out of him when he came, spraying the two of them. Wil held him as the aftershocks shuddered through him, whispering in his ear in a language he didn’t understand.

“We’re going to get arrested,” Ryan said sleepily.

He was worn out from all the adrenaline that had coursed through his system by almost getting killed and by what Wil just did with him.

“No one’s going to see us,” Wil promised him.

Wil then opened the door to the Jeep and maneuvered Ryan into the passenger’s seat. Ryan sat down, not caring that his jeans were down around his ankles and his shirt really didn’t cover the fact he wasn’t wearing any underwear.

“But I’ll wait until we’re further out of town to have my pleasure with you,” Wil promised him.

Ryan stretched and wiggled in his seat, looking forward to that. It was insane to want Wil again, but he just had walked away from something horrifying and he wanted to celebrate that too. What just had happened hadn’t even whetted his appetite. Making love in the moonlight for several hours would be a fine celebration for the both of them.

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