Today Romance Across the Rainboy is happy to welcome author David C. Dawson, here with a sweet and intriguing excerpt from his October, 2018 release:
For the Love of Luke
A handsome naked man.
Unconscious on a bathroom floor.
He’s lost his memory, and someone’s out to kill him.
Who is the mysterious Luke?
British TV anchor and journalist Rupert Pendley-Evans doesn’t do long-term relationships. Nor does he do waifs and strays. But Luke’s different. Luke’s a talented American artist.
With a dark secret in his life.
“Evening, Mother,” Rupert called as he entered the large scullery off the main kitchen. “I’ve come to give you a hand with supper.”
Lady Cynthia Pendley-Evans peered around the open kitchen door into the scullery. She had a pair of reading glasses perched on the end of her nose.
“No you haven’t,” she said. “You’re here because Luke told you we should have a little talk.”
She turned from the doorway and stood with her back to him at the large wooden table in the middle of the kitchen. “Although, now you’re here,” she said, without turning around, “you can scrub some potatoes for me. I’m making a potato salad to go with the gammon.”
Rupert could not remember the last time he had seen his mother cook. It was a pleasant surprise to see her in the kitchen. He unhooked a large pot from above the stove and carried it to the sink to fill with water.
“Don’t keep me in suspense,” he said. “What do you want to talk about?”
“Oh, darling, you are funny,” said his mother. “I want to make sure you’re going to carry on seeing Luke, of course.”
Rupert set the pan of water on the stove with a clatter and lit the gas. He turned and leaned against the worktop with his arms folded. “I have no idea. Does it bother you?”
Lady Pendley-Evans put down the large knife she was using to slice tomatoes and looked at him over her glasses.
“Stop being so defensive, darling,” she said. “I asked a perfectly simple question. He’s a charming young man. Your father and I would be very happy to see you two together—”
“Father would?” asked Rupert. “I can’t believe that for a second.”
“And why the devil not?” said a voice from the hallway. Rupert’s father appeared at the kitchen door, a bottle of gin in his hand.
“Ready for a snifter, old girl?” he asked Lady Pendley-Evans. He looked across to Rupert. “What are you drinking, my boy? Gin?”
“I’ll have a gin and tonic, thank you, Father,” replied Rupert. “Can I help with them?”
“No, no,” replied Lord Pendley-Evans. “You stay with your mother. And tell her why you think I’m such an old fart.”
“I didn’t say that,” protested Rupert.
“No, darling,” said his mother. “But we know that’s what you think of the pair of us.”
“Well,” said Rupert, “I have some reason to.” He pulled a bag of small earth-encrusted potatoes from the cupboard and tipped them into the sink. He began scrubbing fiercely with a brush to remove the soil. “You’ve made it very clear for years that neither of you approve of me being gay.”
“Don’t take it out on the potatoes,” said his mother. “They’ll have no skins left if you carry on like that.” She picked up her knife and resumed slicing the tomatoes. “And you’re being grossly unfair. Of course, we were rather shocked when you sprang it on us. But that’s fourteen years ago. Please bless us with a little intelligence to have thought about it since then.”
Rupert set down his scrubbing brush and turned to look at his mother. “Then why haven’t you said anything before?”
“The subject never arose,” replied Lady Pendley-Evans. “Whenever I’ve asked you about your life in London, you’ve told me very little. I learn more from the Daily Mail about your night life than I do from you.”
Rupert laughed. “No wonder you don’t approve of me, if you believe what you read in that rag.”
“Darling,” said his mother, “it’s not that I don’t approve of you—”
“Well, maybe a little,” interrupted his father. He entered the kitchen and set down a tray of drinks on the table.
“Don’t interrupt, Clarence dear,” said Lady Pendley-Evans. “It’s not helpful.” She turned back to Rupert. “I’m worried about you, Rupert darling. You go to all those dangerous places with your work. We see you on the television in Yemen or Iraq or somewhere equally terrifying. The next moment we read about you in the newspapers, flitting from one nightclub to another. Then once in a blue moon you come back here and spend the whole time being grumpy.”
She took the drink her husband offered her, and tasted it. “Heaven.”
Lady Pendley-Evans took off her glasses and looked at Rupert. “I just want to know when you’re going to settle down and be happy.”
“And we’d like to think,” added his father, “that this young chap might be the one to do it.”
Rupert could scarcely believe his ears. He accepted the tall glass his father handed him and drank from it. He was grateful Lord Pendley-Evans had been generous with the gin.
“When did you change your mind about me being gay?” asked Rupert. “Because I know damn well you hated ‘having a poofter for a son,’ as you so charmingly put it.”
“Yes, well,” said his father. He coughed loudly. “I suppose I’ve had a few years to think about everything—”
“It helped a lot when Roger told you he had a boyfriend,” added Lady Pendley-Evans.
“Roger?” said Rupert with incredulity. “Your school friend who was in the Guards? You never told me.”
“Well, you never asked.”
“Why on earth would I ask you if Roger was gay?”
“I thought maybe you chaps had a sixth sense about these things,” said his father. “Because I certainly didn’t. Mind you, he seems very settled with Jeremy. So it’s all for the best.”
“And their wedding this spring was absolutely heavenly,” said Lady Pendley-Evans. “All those beautiful young men in uniform. I simply swooned.”
Rupert turned to his mother. “All right. How do you explain me away at All Saints Church these days? Are you still telling them I’m waiting for the right girl to come along?”
“Oh, don’t be so silly.” Lady Pendley-Evans put her glasses back on and resumed preparing the salad. “Reverend Whittaker left years ago. The Reverend Kenneth might be a little progressive for your father’s tastes, but I find him charming. And it’s so convenient that his partner is the organist and choirmaster.”
Rupert nearly dropped his glass. “The vicar of All Saints is gay?”
“I’m sure I’ve told you,” said his mother. But Rupert was certain she had not. “He’s so charming. And he’s marvelous with the flower committee. Anyway. You haven’t answered my question. Is Luke the one?”
Rupert was speechless. Partly because of everything he had just learned from his parents. But mainly because he was unsure of the answer to his mother’s question
“I really don’t know, Mother,” he said at last. “We’ve known each other for such a short time—”
“That’s got nothing to do with it,” interrupted his father. “I knew with your mother the moment I laid eyes on her. As soon as I asked her to dance, she was the girl for me.”
“And I knew I wasn’t going to get any better than your father,” said Lady Pendley-Evans. “He was quite a catch that season. Luke seems to be a lovely young man. And he’s very smitten with you. Are you smitten with him?”
Rupert set down his glass and leaned back against the sink. He thought back over the last few days. He had never felt so happy in his life.
“I suppose I am,” he said. “But Luke’s got a lot of problems in his life.”
Lady Pendley-Evans crossed the kitchen to where Rupert stood. She put her arms around his waist and reached up to kiss him on his cheek. “My darling boy. We all have heaps of problems. Life’s like that. But they’re so much easier to face when you’re with someone who loves you. I think he could be very good for you.”
“Hey, hey,” said Rupert. But he could not help smiling. “Aren’t you rushing ahead just a bit? Let me take things at my pace. It’s been a very eventful week.”
“Of course, darling.” She patted his chest and looked up at him. Her face wore the same expression he remembered when she came into the nursery to say good night when he was a boy. “And when the time comes, Reverend Kenneth will be very happy to offer his blessing on you both.”
“Mother,” said Rupert. “Just….” He put his arms around her waist and hugged her. “Hold your horses, eh?” Rupert dropped his arms and wiped his eyes. “But thank you.”
He turned to his father. “Both of you. I wasn’t expecting to hear any of this tonight. And as for the vicar of All Saints—”
He was interrupted by a loud thumping on the front door.
“Who the devil’s that?” asked Lord Pendley-Evans. He put down his drink as the banging on the front door sounded again. “All right, all right, I’m coming as fast as I can.” He stomped off to the hallway, followed by Rupert.
Standing on the doorstep was Christian. He looked past Lord Pendley-Evans to Rupert. “Thank God I’ve found you. Where’s Luke?”
“What on earth are you doing here?” asked Rupert. “I brought Luke here to get him away from London. Just like you said. What’s happened?”
“It’s Pa,” replied Christian. “I think he’s tracked him down. He wants to kill him.”
Author bio: David C. Dawson writes contemporary thrillers with gay heroes in love at their core. His latest book For the Love of Luke is a romantic suspense about an American who falls in love with a British man in London. His debut novel The Necessary Deaths won a bronze medal for Best Mystery & Suspense in the FAPA awards. Rainbow Reviews said it was “an exciting read with complex characters”. The second in the series, The Deadly Lies, was published last December. David worked for the BBC as a journalist. He lives near Oxford in the UK, with his ageing Triumph motorbike and two cats.
Romance Across the Rainbow is happy to host Megan Slayer today, who’s touring her upcoming novella, You and Me Again, Must Love Dogs, book 2. Scroll down for the blurb and a sweet excerpt!
Can love really strike twice?
Colin Dent knows what he wants out of life—his career at the advertising agency and his dog. Love is great, but he needs to know the guys in his life understand his dog is his family. He thought he had the perfect combination when he and Matt were a couple. But Matt didn’t stick around.
Matt Miller didn’t leave Colin because he wanted to—Colin hadn’t wanted him any longer. When Matt’s sister leaves her dog, Willie, with him for good, Matt not only understands separation anxiety, but how much it hurts to be forgotten. Then he sees Colin at the dog park. The old feelings rush in and he wants to open his heart, but he hasn’t forgotten the past.
Colin wants a second chance with Matt, but will the time and distance apart be too much to overcome? Or will the love of their dogs be enough to push these two former lovers back together for good?
Matt locked up before he climbed behind the wheel of the car again. He loved living in a small town. Everything was close enough that he could either drive or walk to most places. Tonight, though, he was too tired to walk to the park. He gripped the steering wheel. Jesus. He’d reverted to talking to his dog like a best friend. He needed to get out more. Oh, well. At least the dog is loyal.
He drove to the dog park and tried to calm his mind. The men he knew weren’t loyal. Since he’d split from Colin, he hadn’t found a decent guy who wouldn’t cheat. First, Scott had come along with his wandering eyes, then Tom had followed suit. Tom had felt the need to spread himself around. Maybe Matt had been too choosy? Maybe he wasn’t pushy enough? Maybe he’d set himself up for failure? No one understood him the way Colin had. Would anyone else?
Matt parked in the lot. He had to face his ex. Even if Colin wasn’t there, eventually, he’d have to see him again. He might as well brace himself. He clicked Willie’s leash on his collar, then led him over to the fenced-in area. Once inside the park, he let Willie run. His head hurt. He hated being lonely, but he wasn’t ready to open his heart—not again.
Willie darted by with a white puff. Matt recognized the two pink bows in the dog’s fur. “Judy?” Damn it. He’d hoped that by running late, he’d miss Colin.
“Hi, you.” Colin strode up to Matt. “Seems those two have a radar set for each other.”
“Yeah.” He tensed. Seeing Colin brought up too many tough memories and too much hurt. He’d have to resign himself to being around his ex and his heart being broken each time.
“I brought you coffee.” Colin held up a paper cup. “I thought you might like a drink.”
He tossed the ball for Willie, then turned to Colin. “Thanks, I think.” He didn’t take the cup. “Won’t Mason be upset with you? Bringing me coffee…that’s awfully chummy.”
“No.” Colin offered the cup again. “Here. Take it.”
He complied but glanced about. “Where is Mason?”
“Probably at work.” Colin tipped his head. “I don’t care where he is. He’s not my problem.”
“What?” He knew Colin better than he’d thought and this wasn’t Colin. His ex wasn’t a cheater. “Do you and Mason have an open relationship?”
“Wow,” Colin said. “I didn’t expect you to ask that.”
“Why not? If I were your…person…and you brought coffee to your ex while I knew nothing, I’d be hurt. Won’t Mason be upset?” Matt asked.
“I don’t doubt he’ll be mad.” Colin stepped in close to Matt. “He hates your fucking guts.” His eyes flashed. “For real.”
Matt bit back a groan. He’d guessed Mason wasn’t his biggest fan, but to hate his guts? Lovely. Yet, here was Colin, close to him and grinning. No wonder Mason wasn’t thrilled. He didn’t have a rein on Colin. Matt hated himself. The closer Colin got, the more he wanted to kiss him. Now isn’t that fucked up?
About Megan Slayer
Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and white hot themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been nominated at the LRC for Best Author, Best Contemporary, Best Ménage, Best BDSM and Best Anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on Amazon.com.
When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice. She’s an active member of the Friends of the Keystone-LaGrange Public library.
Today, Romance Across the Rainbow joyfully welcomes J. Scott Coatsworth and his blog tour for his new release, Ithani. So good to have you here again, Scott!
The final MM sci fi book in J. Scott Coatsworth’s “Oberon Cycle” trilogy is out – “Ithani”!
Time is running out.
After saving the world twice, Xander, Jameson and friends plunge headlong into a new crisis. The ithani–the aliens who broke the world–have reawakened from their hundred millennia-long slumber. When Xander and Jameson disappear in a flash, an already fractured world is thrown into chaos.
The ithani plans, laid a hundred thousand years before, are finally coming to pass, and they threaten all life on Erro. Venin and Alix go on a desperate search for their missing and find more than they bargained for. And Quince, Robin and Jessa discover a secret as old as the skythane themselves.
Will alien technology, unexpected help from the distant past, destiny and some good old-fashioned firepower be enough to defeat an enemy with the power to split a world? The final battle of the epic science fiction adventure that began in Skythane will decide the fate of lander and skythane alike. And in the north, the ithani rise…
Venin stood under the dome of the chapel, the waters of the Orn rushing past the small island to crash over the edge of the crater rim, where they fell a thousand meters to the broken city of Errian below.
The Erriani chapel was different from what he was used to back home. The Gaelani chapel in Gaelan had sat at the top of a tall pillar of stone, open to the night sky, a wide space of grass and trees that intertwined in a natural dome through which moonlight filtered down to make dappled shadows on the ground.
This chapel, instead, was a wonder of streaming sunlight, the columns a polished eggshell marble with glimmering seams of gold. Red creeper vines climbed up the columns, festooned with clusters of yellow flowers that gave off a sweet scent.
Both were bright and airy, but the Erriani chapel lay under a dome supported by fluted marble columns, a painted arch of daytime sky and the rose-colored sun blazing overhead.
The last time he’d gone to chapel had been with Tazim, before his untimely death.
Long before the troubles that roiled the world now.
Something drew him back. A need to reconnect with his past. To bridge the gap between then and now, between who he was and who he had become. Taz would have liked this place.
The chapel here had survived the attack, while much of Errian had not. The city below was a jumble of broken corrinder, the multistory plants that were the main building stock for the city. They would grow again, but the sight of the city’s beautiful white towers laid low struck him to the core.
So had Gaelan looked, after the flood.
Venin turned back to the chapel and unlaced his boots, baring his muscular calves before he approached the fountain that splashed at its center. The cool flagstone beneath his feet sent a shiver up his spine, and green moss filled the gaps between the stones.
Some builder whose name was lost to time had tapped into the river itself to make the fountain run, and the water leapt into the air with a manic energy around the golden statue of Erro, before falling back down to the pool.
Venin knelt at the fountain’s edge on one of the well-worn pads, laid his hands in the shallow water, and let his wings rest over himself, making a private place to pray.
Erro and Gael, spare us from danger and lift us up into the sky with your powerful wings. He gave Erro deference, being that this was his chapel, but he hoped Gael would hear him too. The god of his own people had been known to intervene in mortal affairs before, and if what Quince had told them about these ithaniwas true, they would need all the help they could get.
Venin’s wings warmed.
He looked up in astonishment to see the statue of Erro giving off an intense golden glow. His mouth dropped open, and he stood and stared at its beautiful male curves and muscles. Maybe the gods were answering him.
Venin reached up and touched the statue’s outstretched hand. The shock knocked him backward onto his ass, and he hit the ground hard, slamming into one of the marble columns.
Venin groaned, stunned, and reached back to feel his wings and spine. He seemed to be in one piece.
Taz would have laughed his ass off at the whole thing.
After a moment he sat up cautiously. He wrapped his arms around his legs and stared up at the statue, his chin on his knees.
The glow was gone.
Did I imagine it? He stood and felt the back of his head. A lump was already forming there. That’s gonna leave a mark.
Something had changed. Venin didn’t know what yet, but he was sure of that much.
He pulled his boots back on and laced them up. With one last suspicious glare at the statue, he turned and stepped out of the chapel, taking a deep breath of the moisture-laden air.
Then he leapt into the sky to soar down to the broken city.
Guest Post: Full Circle
Sometimes things come full circle.
Six years ago, I was an unpublished wannabe writer who had lost his way, knocked down by an across-the-board rejection of his first novel two decades before. I had gone almost twenty years without really writing, following other paths, but always wondering what might have been.
I ran across Robert Frost’s famous poem today, one I haven’t read in years:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
For years I lived with the doubt—the thought that I had taken the easy path, the road more traveled. Could I have made it as a writer, if I had just persevered two decades ago? Or were all those editors right?
Was I a talentless hack? My words, not theirs.
We were on vacation in Seattle, and Mark found out that one of his favorite authors, Rick Reed, was doing a reading at the University Bookstore. We decided to go, and ended up getting four authors for the price of one.
Rick read this really off the wall tale about gay guys and cats… even he said it was “either the best thing I have written, or the worst.” But although it was strange, it was still great to hear him read from his own work in progress—a real live published author.
One of the other authors at the reading was Lou Sylvre. I remember her well. She had such a presence, such an authory something that was immensely appealing to me. She read from one of her “Vásquez and James” books. I remember going up to her and telling her how I wanted to get back into writing, and how much I had enjoyed the reading.
After that, I started writing again, thanks in large part to a kick in the pants my husband gave me. But that reading was an inspiration—meeting these four amazing authors lit a fire under me to become like them.
Fast forward to last fall, when I was boarding a shuttle bus on the way to the annual Dreamspinner Retreat in Orlando—and who should I run into?
We’d both traveled different roads over the previous five years, roads that were not without their twists and bumps, but suddenly here we were.
And she remembered me!
This time we were both on the published author side of the fence.
We hit it off, and we hung out together and had a great time together at the retreat. And I told her how much she had inspired me.
Sometimes things come full circle, and we find ourselves in the place we always dreamed we would be. I’ve published six novels now with a seventh on the way, and twenty novellas and short stories. I am the author I wanted to be, six years ago in a brightly lit bookstore in Seattle.
And Lou Sylvre, who was there when it started, was also there to welcome me into the pantheon of writers. It’s kinda poetic, pardon the pun.
I finally took the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference.
Scott lives with his husband of twenty five years in a Sacramento suburb, in a cute little yellow house with a brick fireplace and two pink flamingoes out front.
He inhabits in the space between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into science fiction and fantasy by his mom at the tender age of nine, he quickly finished her entire library. But he soon began to wonder where all the queer people were.
After coming out at twenty three, he started writing the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Crown Books. If there weren’t many queer characters in his favorite genres, he would will them into existence, subverting them to his own ends. And if he was lucky enough, someone else would want to read them.
His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently than most – he makes connections between ideas that others don’t, and somehow does more in a day than most people manage in a week. Although born an introvert, he forced himself to reach outside himself, and learned to connect with others like him.
Scott’s stories subvert expectations that transform traditional science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something different and unexpected. He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark.
His romance and genre fiction writing brings a queer energy to his stories, filling them with love, beauty and power. He imagines how the world could be – in the process, he hopes to change the world, just a little.
Scott was recognized as one of the top new gay authors in the 2017 Rainbow Awards, and his debut novel “Skythane” received two awards and an honorable mention.
You can find him at Dreamspinner here, Goodreads here, on Amazon here, on QueeRomance Ink here, and on Facebook here.
Note from Lou: Congratulations on the release, Scott, and thanks for that wonderful guest post, which touches my heart. I’m very glad you took that less traveled road and we met upon it. Thanks OWI, and thank you readers for stopping by. As always, comments are welcome.
Romance Across the Rainbow is happy to shine a spotlight on J.R. Loveless’s new holiday romance, Blue Christmas, which sounds like an intriguing read a bit different from the average story of the holiday season. And isn’t that cover a showstopper?
Christmas used to be a time of joy for me, but since my mother’s death three years ago the holiday has lost all meaning, becoming nothing but a harsh reminder of what I’ve lost. I’ve become bitter and skeptical of everyone around me, and the cold aloofness has kept me from being hurt that deeply again. But this year the thought of yet another blue Christmas alone sends me on a path that will change my life forever.
Somehow, I managed to fall into a restless sleep and before I knew it the nurse came in to wake me up and bring me breakfast. I scowled at her as she raised my bed and set the tray on the table before me. I grimaced at the dried out eggs and hard toast. There was no way I’d eat this so I just pushed the table away. “Where are my clothes?” I demanded of her.
“They’re in the closet over by the bathroom, dear. Everything you came in with is in there.” She made a notation on my chart at the foot of my bed and then left the room.
I wanted to be gone before Carter got there. I slid from the bed, gripping the back of the gown closed. Cold air slipped under the hem and I winced at how chilly the tile felt on my feet. Everything was where she’d said. I bundled my clothes together and headed into the bathroom to get dressed. Maybe I underestimated Carter because when I came back out, he sat in the same chair from last night, a magazine propped open on one knee.
He looked up and smiled. “Ah, good, you’re already dressed. I took the liberty of going into your apartment and grabbing a coat for you since you were brought in without one last night. Also the little girl who lives next door to you wanted me to tell you Simba is okay and she’ll take care of him until you get home.”
I tightened my lips into a flat line. “I’m not going anywhere with you. I’ll take a cab home.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m already here and besides we have to stop at the lot and pick out a tree. Oh, I went by my parents’ house and snagged some of their decorations. My mom has so much of them she insisted I take some of hers.” Carter stood and held out the jacket. It was my favorite one, the one my mom had given me the year before she started to get sick. Though a little worn in some places, it still provided enough warmth against the chilly winds and snow.
“Thank you,” I said stiffly. “But I really don’t need a tree or decorations.”
Once again, he didn’t listen to me and waved away my refusal. “You can make me dinner on Christmas Eve and we’ll call it even.”
I shook my head and started to tell him no once again when the door opened and one of the orderlies came in with a wheelchair. “I can walk,” I protested.
“Hospital policy. Please have a seat, Mr. Lords. You’ll be out of here in no time.” The orderly gestured to the wheelchair.
With a sigh, I gave in and settled into it, embarrassed once again. Carter just silently followed along, a smile on his face. Once the papers were signed and I was outside of the front doors, I got out of the chair. I stepped in the direction of the nearest taxi, but Carter grabbed my arm and led me toward the parking garage. “I can walk on my own,” I said, disturbed at his touch and nearness.
“Of course you can. I just wanted to make sure you were heading the right direction,” he soothed. He stopped at a red pickup truck, unlocked the passenger door and opened it, waiting for me to get in. I glared at him, but slipped into the front seat. I breathed a sigh of relief to be out of the cold air, huddling deeper into my jacket.
Carter loped around the front of the truck and slid into the driver’s seat. Christmas music played from the speakers when the engine started. I crossed my arms and turned my head to stare out of the window as he drove.
About the author:
J.R. Loveless is a native Floridian who spends her days in an office physically, but mentally is frolicking between the pages of her imagination. Writing has been a lifelong passion for J.R. and she has pursued it from an early age, even winning awards in school and finally beginning her life as a published author in 2010.
She is a self-confessed Potterhead spending her days with her three furbabies and enjoying the major chapters on her long journey through life. One day she hopes to visit far off places and have grand adventures like those of the characters in her stories.
Romance Across the Rainbow is happy to host author Lisa Oliver on her Bound by Blood blog tour—Welcome, Lisa!
Lisa Oliver has a new MM paranormal vampire book out: Bound by Blood.
Maximillian “Max” Lipovsky has been Regent of the Atlanta coven for the past six months. His days are full of meetings and paperwork as he does his best to straighten out the mess left during the disastrous reign of Vadim’s brother Ermine. With Vadim now happily living in Cloverleah with his mate Josh, it’s up to Max to keep his friend’s coven happy and safe. Easier said than done. When it is pointed out to him it’d been more than six months since he’d fed from a willing donor, Max decides a night out is exactly what’s needed.
Lyle Roberts is tired of being scared, tiny, and alone. But mostly he’s tired. When a tall, strong man with flashing red eyes stops him getting beaten up in an alley, he thought he might have found a momentary reprieve from his rotten life. Finding out the man was a vampire, something he’d only seen in movies, Lyle decides to take a chance and asks the man to remove his curse. Only, it turns out Lyle isn’t cursed after all – unless you consider having a workaholic mate as a curse.
Lyle’s arrival at the coven seems to have brought out the worst in people. As soon as one threat’s dealt with, another one rears its ugly head. With the Alpha of the Atlanta pack pushing for a meeting, and vampires turning rogue within the coven itself, Max has his hands full. The only problem is, with his hands full, he doesn’t have anything to hold his beloved with. Will Max and Lyle ever find their HEA or will the mating curse strike its cruelest blow of all?
Bound by Blood is a complete standalone spin off story from the Cloverleah pack. Regular Lisa Oliver readers will remember Max from Watching Out for Fangs (The Cloverleah series #7) but it’s not necessary to have read that book, to understand this one. Intimate situations and some violence means this book is suitable for adults only.
Warnings: some violence including a scene of a man looking as though he was trying to hang himself, but as he’s a vampire, he would never die of it.
Lyle shivered in his fur, huddled behind an overflowing dumpster, praying no one would see him. Not that anyone would care if they did. He was a complete anomaly, not that it showed on his outward form. All passers-by would see if they looked in his direction was a pure white house cat. Well, usually white. Since arriving in the city two weeks before, Lyle had fended off dogs, rats and other cats, not to mention the odd boot from a human. Now his fur was matted with mud, blood and filth from the city streets. He let out a miserable meow. My life sucks.
It wouldn’t have been so bad if he’d had clothes on when he’d been kicked out of home. But no, his step-father insisted he’d paid for them, so they belonged to him too. For over a month now, Lyle had stayed in his shifted form, unable to work up the courage to steal clothes from any washing line he passed. I’m not a thief. I might be a pervert and an abomination, but I will not steal. Which was why he was huddled by a dumpster behind a restaurant hoping a few scraps might come his way.
He was tired, so tired. From the moment he’d shifted, Lyle hadn’t had a decent sleep. Every time he closed his eyes for longer than five minutes, his body shifted back to human, leaving him naked and vulnerable. At least it used to, now Lyle wasn’t so sure. His human perceptions were starting to fade, his life before being thrown out of home becoming distant memories. While a part of him was so tempted to jump off the mental abyss and embrace his cat life completely, a small part of him – the human part – hung on.
An evil hiss sounded behind him and Lyle turned, the fur on the back of his neck rising. A big black tom cat was showing his teeth. Great. I’ve wandered into another cat’s territory. I can’t get a fucking break. Laying his ears back Lyle hissed in return. There was a wonderful smell coming from the restaurant and Lyle wasn’t leaving his post until he’d tasted whatever it was. If that meant fighting, then he’d fight.
p style=”text-align: center;”>***
“It’s true, I tell you,” Max laughed as he and Dominic left the restaurant. Feeling more relaxed than he had for ages, Max was looking forward to busting out some moves on the nearest dancefloor. “Tobias told me the next day, just after Vadim got married. His friend had bitten him, claimed him, and then ran off to make a phone call to some other guy. What else was Tobias meant to think?”
“And he ended up with both of them. Lucky bastard.” Dominic stilled. “Did you hear that?”
Max tilted his head. “Sounds like a couple of cats fighting in the alley.” He sniffed the air discretely and his eyes widened. “It’s nasty. There’s blood in the air.” Turning, he walked into the dark alley, his eyes flashing red as he scanned for life forms.
“Max, what are you doing? It’s just a couple of cats, for crying out loud.”
“Not just any cats, Dom. Go and get the car.” Max followed the faint hint of blood in the air, drawn to it, mesmerized. He lost it for one minute, as the smell coming from the dumpster flooded his senses, but he kept going. There, in the darkness, were two cats. One black, one who looked as though he used to have white fur, but now that white was matted with blood and what looked like dust and grease. The skinny white cat was holding his own, but the black tom was bigger, meaner, and wasn’t backing down.
Max kicked a stone across the concrete and both cats froze, looking at him. Trusting his instincts, Max crouched down and held out his hand. “Here, kitty, kitty. Nice white kitty. Come on, come here where you’ll be safe with me.”
“What are you doing?” Dominic’s voice sounded behind him and in the distraction the black cat lashed out a paw, swiping the white one across the face. The pained meow tugged at Max’s heart as fresh blood welled up from the scratch. As soon as the tantalizing scent hit the air, Max knew. His long search was over.
“Fate works in mysterious ways, my friend,” Max said keeping his voice low. “Unless my nose is having a major malfunction, that little white beauty is my beloved.”
“Holy fucking shit.”
p style=”text-align: center;”>***
Lyle’s whole body was trembling, and it wasn’t all from fear. The mysterious voice, the stunning man, appearing in the shadows as though sent by the angels themselves. That wonderful smell, the one that lured Lyle to the alley in the first place was coming from the man. But he wasn’t an ordinary man. Lyle hadn’t missed his red eyes glowing in the darkness.
Then that damn tom scratched across his face and with the blood dripping across his eye, Lyle could barely see. He was torn, wanting to get closer to the kind man with the deep voice, but not wanting the tom to get to the man first. Must protect. Must protect. Nothing but pure instinct existed. Turning in a flash of fury, Lyle bared his teeth and unsheathed his claws. Within seconds, he and the tom were rolling around on the concrete in a clash of fur.
p style=”text-align: center;”>***
“I can’t believe it,” Dominic’s voice was awed. “Did you see that? He thinks he’s protecting you from a tom cat. Why doesn’t he just shift?”
“I’m not sure.” Nothing about the white cat’s behavior seemed normal to Max. But then, he didn’t know a lot about shifters, period. “Maybe because he’d be naked if he did?”
Lisa Oliver had been writing non-fiction books for years when visions of half dressed, buff men started invading her dreams. Unable to resist the lure of her stories, Lisa decided to switch to fiction books, and now stories about her men clamor to get out from under her fingertips.
When Lisa is not writing, she is usually reading with a cup of tea always at hand. Her grown children and grandchildren sometimes try and pry her away from the computer and have found that the best way to do it, is to promise her chocolate. Lisa will do anything for chocolate.
Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today. I’m here to share a short excerpt of my book Bound by Blood and answer a few questions about myself.
Bound by Blood is a standalone spin off from the popular Cloverleah Pack Series. Just like my other fifty books, it is MM, paranormal, and features true mates, or in this case a beloved and a mate. Yes, the enigmatic Max is a vampire and they have beloveds. Lyle is a gorgeously sweet, but proves to have a backbone, cat shifter, so he considers Max his mate. Well, he starts to understand about mates when he realizes his ability to turn into a cat isn’t a curse. Intrigued? Here’s the excerpt I promised you. Excerpt
If this is the Twilight Zone, I never want to leave. Lyle didn’t think anything had ever tasted as good as Mrs. Cooper’s chicken soup. He was tempted to gorge himself until he was sick, having subsisted on scraps from dumpsters for so long. But he remembered how he’d overdone it with ice cream one time when he was six. Throwing up wasn’t fun and when the worst of his hunger had been satisfied, he put down his spoon with a sigh.
“You weren’t exaggerating. That is the best chicken soup I’ve ever tasted.”
“Mrs. Cooper will be pleased.” Max smiled but Lyle noticed it didn’t quite meet his eyes. “Do you think you are ready to talk about this curse idea, now?”
“I think that’s obvious to you what it is, already.” Lyle looked down at his hands. So much bigger than paws. “You saw me. I was a cat, a house cat. That can’t be normal.”
“There are some people who think being a vampire isn’t normal either, but I was born this way.” Max’s grin was wider this time, showing his fangs. “Do you think I’m cursed?”
The urge to arch his head and bare his neck was so strong and so sudden, it took all of Lyle’s willpower not to give into it. The elusive Max could be considered a lot of things, but cursed wasn’t one of them. Handsome. Powerful. Even, Lyle dared to think it, sexy. He shook his head. “You’re just different, I guess. I’ve never met anyone like you before.”
“Hopefully, that’s a good thing. I take it, you’ve never met anyone who can turn into an animal before, either? Because, as I told you before, I have met them – lots of them.
I’ve met men and women who share their spirit with bears, wolves, and big cats like lions, cougars and panthers. I even met a hawk shifter once. They were all born that way and none of them believed they were cursed. They loved the added bonuses they get in their lives from being able to shift at will.”
“My step-daddy said I was marked by the devil himself. He said I wasn’t fit to live among decent god-fearing folks. My momma cried, but she didn’t stop him from ripping the clothes off my back and casting me out on the streets naked in front of God and his congregation. How can that not be a curse?”
______________ Author Interview
Gulp, now comes the hard part – a bit about me. Honestly, I’d much rather talk about my characters, not because there is anything wrong with me as such, but because they lead much more interesting lives than I do. Here is goes.
When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
I should make one point perfectly clear – I have never considered myself good at writing – but I enjoy it immensely. I love telling stories. But for how long? Let’s see. I’ve been writing for roughly twenty years. When my children were small we lived in rural locations, and there weren’t many opportunities for work. So, I learned to use the internet. I already had a diploma in Journalism and used that to write for blogs, magazines and ghost writing. It wasn’t until 2013 that I decided to take up the NaNoWriMo challenge. My father had recently passed away, my children had left home, my marriage was on the rocks and I needed something. I started dreaming about the love I wish I had in my life, and The Reluctant Wolf was born. I was already halfway through the second book in what is now known as the Cloverleah Pack series by the time the challenge was over. Fifty one books later, and I have never looked back.
What pets are currently on your keyboard, and what are their names? Pictures?
If my puppies sat on my keyboard, they’d break it. Meet Hades and Zeus, two Rotty puppies I added to my family about two months ago. Currently my boys are at the chewing stage and nothing in the house is safe – furniture, cords, shoes. But this picture was taken on their first day with me – they have got a lot bigger now.
What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.
I am an older person, so I have had a multitude of different jobs. My family always hoped I would become a lawyer, although I didn’t share the same passion for it. I started working in an office when I was seventeen as an Accounts Receivable Clerk for the Education Department. That didn’t last long. By eighteen I’d moved to a big city and although I worked in offices during the day, at night I was bartending and running night clubs. I spent a year driving a taxi on the night shift when I was having my children and that was probably my favorite job before I became a writer. Unfortunately, an unhealthy domestic partnership left me with complex PTSD and I now I live alone, I find writing suits my need for privacy and the ability to work from home. Not to mention, I love it.
Thank you, Lisa, and Other Worlds Ink Tours for letting RATR be part of celebrating your new book
In a relationship that violates rules and expectations, Mayr and Tash have found their perfect match in each other. Despite their fears and difficult pasts, they hope for a shared future with security and a family. When Mayr’s secret first love, Arieve, proposes they create that family with her, it seems dreams could become reality.
But life is complicated, and so is the delicate balance between duty and love. While Mayr protects the Dahe family at all costs, Tash is determined to succeed as a priest. Both positions require sacrifice, forcing their relationship into painful choices. To make matters worse, criminals lurk in the shadows, seeking revenge on them and those they guard.
The life they want risks losing everything—including Arieve and each other. Even if they can have it all, keeping it may take more than they can give.
Warnings: “Soulbound” contains some explicit content, references to self-harm, suicide, and mentions of suicide-related behavior and intent. This story also contains instances of graphic violence, references to rape and domestic abuse, and depictions and mentions of depression.
About the Series:
With the right people and the right price, the Republic of Kattal can be brought to its knees. But for every line crossed, someone waits on the other side, ready to push back.
Armed and ready to defend their lives, these heroes are not afraid of the fight. They stare adversity in the eye and dance with the darkness within. But in their justice, there is wisdom. In wisdom, there is protection. In it all, there is love. Sometimes it’s a matter of saving a village; sometimes it’s a matter of saving the one they can’t live without. Sometimes it’s just about doing the right thing and learning to love oneself.
Magic may lurk in the shadows. Crime may never sleep. But love doesn’t back down.
Silence fell, deep with meaning conveyed by long gazes and soft smiles. Why had he expected Aeley to say anything different?
Three loud knocks rapped the door, scaring them both. Cursing under his breath, Mayr opened the door.
Every foul word tumbled back down Mayr’s throat. “Hey.” He leaned against the door, one arm sliding up the side.
In an instant, he tripped on his own feet and stumbled into the door, swinging it open further.
“You can’t possibly be drunk already.” The corners of Arieve’s eyes crinkled with her smile, her glossed lips painted pink like her cheeks. Dark curls and plaits cascaded over her shoulders, the firelight lending a golden hue to the white-blonde streaks in the fringe of hair across her forehead. She held a silver tray, presenting two glass goblets filled with a bluish-purple drink and fragments of gold leaf sprinkled on top. “Otherwise, this might be a bad idea.”
“What’s a bad idea?” Mayr grimaced, his mouth suddenly dry as if filled with pillow stuffing. Quick to recover, he smoothed his shirt, resettled his belts, and slicked back his hair, pretending he meant to be clumsy.
“Your after-dinner drinks. Lira was going to bring them, but I thought I’d save her the trip. She’s having fun trading stories with your mother.” Arieve cleared her throat. “I didn’t want to interrupt your conversation.”
The tray rattled in her hand. The drinks threatened to slosh over the rims.
Mayr steadied the tray. “Thanks for that. This. These.” He offered her an awkward smile and took the goblets. “I’ll let you get back.” So you won’t see me kick my own ass for being completely inappropriate.
“Thanks, Arieve,” Aeley called from her desk.
“You’re welcome.” Arieve hesitated as she lowered the tray. She swayed gently, the rich green layers of her tiered, ruffled skirts moving with her. “I’ll let you finish.”
Before Mayr could say anything else, Arieve hurried down the hall and around the corner.
“I wonder what the mix is this time.” Aeley snatched one goblet to sniff it. “Hint of gaffa nectar, soured pamolea extract, and a bite of fulore. Plus maybe, probably—” another sniff “—syrup from the Sailor’s Sweetheart bush.” She took a sip and nodded. Flakes of gold leaf clung to her top lip. “Not as fun as last night’s concoction, but I could get used to it.”
“That’s what you always say.” Mayr brushed the flakes from Aeley’s lips with his thumb.
Aeley wiped her mouth on her sleeve. “Not always, just a lot. Cook knows her stuff. To be fair, she’s known me since I was three, getting into her puddings and tarts anytime she turned around. I trust that when she serves up a hodgeypodgey drink, it’s got personality.” She tapped her goblet against his. “I’m heading back to our guests. You should, too, considering it’s yourparty. We can resume this conversation later.”
After a kiss to his cheek, Aeley flounced out the door and through the corridor, humming to herself.
Mayr stared into his goblet, watching the gold swirl in an abstract pattern. My stomach. My head. I can’t even…
He set the goblet on Aeley’s desk. He needed Tash’s forgiveness more than he deserved a fancy drink.
As he exited the room, questions assaulted him hard enough to drown the sound of the door latch as it caught. One question practically shouted above all the others: how much had Arieve heard of his conversation with Aeley?
His heartbeat faltered. He was mortified. The door was not impervious to sound. What would Arieve think of him had she heard…
Hey, stupid! It doesn’t matter.Mayr grumbled and hooked his thumbs around the back of his belts. It still comes out to you’re taken and happy, so shut up.Dragging his heels, he wandered through the corridor and turned into the next, towards the ballroom.
Around the corner, Arieve leaned against the wall, head bowed, with her face hidden by her hair. She twined the trailing black laces of her bright green tunic around her fingers and pulled taut, then released them only to repeat the process. The empty tray rested beside her, abandoned against the wall.
“Hey.” Mayr stopped, careful to leave two foot lengths between them. “I thought you went back?” He toyed with his marriage ring, twisting the band nervously. Memories of Tash surged forward, the airy weight of his kisses almost real enough to feel.
“I wanted to wait for you.” Arieve raised her head and offered a tender smile. “I probably won’t get a word in the rest of the night given the company, so I thought…”
She was in his arms before he could reply. Her hug stole his surprise, shredding it until all that remained was stunned.
“Congratulations,” she murmured, her forehead tucked beneath his chin. “He’s got a good heart, solid. You’ve found your match. If the Four could grant me one wish tonight, it’d be for you two to have everything you desire.”
Mayr hesitated, his hands hovering over Arieve’s back. Touching was a bad idea, especially while he kept Tash from the truth. “Thank you.” Quick as he could, he embraced Arieve and pushed her away, feeling worse than the coward he was. “Let’s go back. I need to stop my mother from revealing every baby story she has or everyone’s going to hear about my naked backside and trailing diaper crowns.”
Arieve picked up the tray and started up the hall. “I’m sure Tash is soaking them up as we speak.” She laughed, the joyous sound digging up a dozen memories.
Memories he needed to lock up and burn down.
He followed Arieve and cast his gaze to the ceiling. Please, Reverent Goddesses, get me through tonight. Then let’s talk about strength of will, because one of these days I’m going to have to confess everything and it’ll hurt more than scorching my pride.
Archer Kay Leah was raised in Canada, growing up in a port town at a time when it was starting to become more diverse, both visibly and vocally. Combined with the variety of interests found in Archer’s family and the never-ending need to be creative, this diversity inspired a love for toying with characters and their relationships, exploring new experiences and difficult situations.
Archer most enjoys writing speculative fiction and is engaged in a very particular love affair with fantasy, especially when it is dark and emotionally charged. When not reading and writing for work or play, Archer is a geek with too many hobbies and keeps busy with other creative endeavors, a music addiction, and whatever else comes along. Archer lives in London, Ontario with a bigender partner and rather chatty cat.
Romance Across the Rainbow is happy to welcome Eric Allan Westfall today, touring with his new release, Of Princes False and True. Read on for buy links, an excerpt, and exclusive interview, and a giveaway.
A tennis match? Starting a war between the Duchy of Avann and the Kingdom of the Westlands?
Only in a fairy tale.
When Prince Henry hurts a young ball boy who told him Danilo’s ball was inside the line, Danilo’s response is automatic. Punch the prince’s face, pick him up left-handed, and break the royal jaw. Unfortunately, there’s another “automatic” at work: a death sentence for whoever strikes royalty.
King Hiram can’t—won’t—change the rule of law to rule of royal whim. But he grants the Heir of Avann fifteen days to find words that will allow Danilo to live.
In those fifteen days: Magick. The gods, goddesses and gender-fluid deities on Deity Lane. Kilvar, the assassin. A purse which opens in a bank vault. A mysterious old man. The Lady of All. The Magickal Hand writing, rewriting. A fairy tale within a fairy tale. A huge horse called Brute. And at the end…perhaps the right words and a most unexpected love. Plus a deity-supplied dinner with just the right amount of garlic.
All royalties will go to a local LGBT organization.
The Small Throne Room The King of Westland’s Castle Late Morning, the Day The Story Starts
“Sit,” King Hiram commanded. The young man, still head-bowed, didn’t move. The guards squeezed the prisoner’s biceps, half-marching, half-dragging to the chair at the opposite end of the table from the king. With four guard hands occupied by flesh or chains, the difficulty in moving the chair was obvious. The wizard’s spell removed the chains; they reappeared with a clunk!on the floor beside the table.
The guard on the young man’s left pressed a dagger-point against his throat. The other guard released him, stepped behind the chair and pulled it enough away for the young man to be maneuvered in front of it. Rough hands on shoulders forced him down. It was, of course, only happenstance the knifepoint nicked the neck, a drop of blood appearing when the blade was removed.
The recent command not to hurt the prisoner apparently didn’t apply to chairs in which the prisoner was sitting. The force used to propel it toward the table would have crushed the young man’s fingers if he’d rested them on the arms when he sat. Fortunately, his hands were in his lap. The young man’s head remained down as he was in effect caged by the chair and table.
He raised his head, looking straight ahead, but Hiram and his advisors could see he wasn’t seeing anything then present in the room.
Beneath the dirt, bruises, scrapes and crusted blood he was handsome. Sharp cheekbones, aquiline nose, thin lips, a faint cleft in his chin. Brilliant green eyes, flecked with gold. Unusual long hair tumbling near his shoulders, red-brown strands mixed with varying shades of gold. There was something almost familiar… The king chased a wisp of memory, but lost it.
The young man tilted his chin up enough to look at the king, apparently believing if cats could, so could he. There was no cringing in those eyes, no shame, no embarrassment. No anger or resentment. Perhaps, though, a tiny glimmer of…interest. As if this was some grand adventure and he needed to absorb everything happening to and around him for later remembrances.
Unfortunately, he wouldn’t be remembering anything again, in the not too distant future. A man doesn’t when his head has been severed from his neck, or he’s been hanged until a neck-snap or slow strangulation ends him. Hiram realized he didn’t remember what death the law required. He would, he knew, have to check.
In silence, the young man lifted his hands, and pushed the long, thick hair behind his ears, each movement telling a story of strain and pain. As did his face. One eye was swollen almost shut; a cut on his forehead still oozed blood; there was dirt on the bruising on cheeks and jaw; one lip was split.
“Did he resist arrest?”
“No, Your Majesty.”
“Did the prince do this?” The king refused to let himself display the tiniest glimmer of hope the answer was “yes.” The hope Henry fought back.
“Did he attempt to flee and have to be captured?”
“He is as the Guards found him on their arrival. I am—”
The young man interrupted with a laugh—a bright, beautiful baritone, filling the room with a joy entirely out of place in the circumstances.
The king’s low and angry voice in turn smashed the laughter. “You think all this is a joke?”
The young man blinked. “No, Your Majesty. I just thought it was funny someone thought I might run away. Only a coward runs, when he knows he’s done no wrong. I did what was right.”
“You struck my son.”
The young man shrugged. “I’ll strike any bully beating a child.”
Someone in the room gasped. The king merely thanked the Thirty-Nine it wasn’t him and pretended he hadn’t heard.
But as Hiram spoke he realized he was defending his son because of a father’s obligation, not from a belief in his innocence. “Prince Henry is my heir. He would never—”
“He did.” Kings do not flabbergast easily. Hiram was rendered so. Rogermight interrupt him in the privacy of the royal chambers, but elsewhere? No one dared. Until the young man.
Who had no idea what he was facing; had no idea of the inevitable outcome of his admission of guilt. Hiram did not need to hear more. The law was clear. The punishment was clear.
Yet if he was compelled to do as the law demanded, he would at least learn the truth first.
“Do you have any witnesses?”
The young man’s response was a scoffing, “Of course. Anyone there will tell you…” His voice faded away. “But they won’t, will they? He’s a prince, I’m a foreigner, and they’ll only tell you what a kingly father wants to hear: his son is as pure and innocent as the drifting…slush would be, in a kingdom where snow is possible.”
The chin-tilt this time was defiant. “So. What’s the penalty in this kingdom for saving a child from a beating which might have left him crippled?”
The young man paled, but didn’t flinch, and when he moved his hands to the table, there was no trembling.
Nor was there any in his voice. It was calm, almost matter-of-fact, and he didn’t avert his eyes from the king’s. “Interesting. I thought to rescue a child and instead I start a war.”
Old Moldy heard a threat and started to bluster. Hiram heard a statement of fact, or what the young man believed was truth. He told Old Moldy “No!” and the Chancellor slumped back in his chair.
“A man admits to a crime in my kingdom, for which the law demands the severest penalty. Why should anyone go to war over just punishment?” Everyone heard the silent question, “Who are you your death would cause a war?”
The young man’s bow—so far as he could in his seating situation—was formal. An objective observer might have called it regal.
“Your Majesty, permit me to introduce myself. I am Danilo ys Daeaen ys Cirill. I am the only grandson of the Duke of Avann.” The young man shrugged. “They call me the Heir of Avann.”
OF PRINCES FALSE AND TRUE
BLOG TOUR INTERVIEW
Is there a character in your work you feel especially connected to? Why?
Oh, yes. Yes, yes, yes.
Me. And my partner of 30 years.
It was March of 1965. Although I’d known I was gay since I was roughly five, it took me until I was 21 to come out to my parents, and truly admit it to “the world.” I was in my senior year in college, in a town with not much by way of gay bars, so I headed to the “metropolis” with a date. Or meeting a date at the particular very popular bar. (Can’t quite remember because that fuzziness isn’t all that important.)
We met in…let’s say…a most unusual way.
I ditched my date—wasn’t that a queer thing to do?—to go to an after-hours party with him. I traveled back and forth a lot until graduation, and moved to that city in June of 1965 to be with him. The pejorative “instalove” is tossed around a lot these days, which is sad for you all. Love at first sight exists. Always has, always will, if you let it. It happened to me.
We were together until his unexpected passing in August of 1995.
The main characters in The Warlord and the Bard meet the same way we did, though in a much more royal and imperial way in that fantasy world. So, yeah. Special connection, indeed.
What is the hardest part of writing?
I don’t have the drive that other writers do, the kind which keeps them writing every day besides having full-time responsibilities with family and day jobs. For the most part, over the years, I’ve had difficulty in starting up and keeping in a productive writing mode with any semblance of regularity.
Here’s a list of what’s in progress, from a page or two to sixty percent or more, from short story to novella to novel: Adam’s Other Rib, The Assassin’s Song, The Bartered Bridegroo, bloodLight, Christmas at the Baths, The Dragon Winked, Dragonne’s Lair, hrny 4 u, 3 Boars & a Wolf Walk Into a Bar, The Truth About Them Damned Goats, Little Red’s Riding a Hood, Hath Not a Demon, The Prince and The Redneck, Sranjir in an Odd Land, The Serpent Mark, Strathairn’s Warrior, Taren’s Tale, The Biter Bitten, and Without the Cask.
These are good ideas. Some of them are great ideas. (You may have noticed my opinions are not very humble.) And they ought to be finished.
Since I committed myself to finishing Of Princes, and no way out (a Regency set in Another England) by signing up for back-to-back blog tours, I’m hoping that will provide the impetus to keep going. So I can get at least 3 Boars and Damned Goats out in 2019…and maybe whittle down the rest of that list.
I can but hope.
Where do you look for inspiration for new stories?
Please, no! You saw the list above.
New ideas? I’m the guy who strings large cloves of garlic around the doors and windows of his house, and adds crosses, to keep the vampires out. New ideas are, I believe, just like vampires.
So to the greatest extent possible, I keep my authorial eyes closed, and have a finger in each authorial ear, all the while going “La, la, la, la, la! I can’t hear you” as loud as I can, whenever I’m in the vicinity of a new idea.
But the sneaky things…sneak in anyway.
I saw a gorgeous male dancer in tights and “tanktop,” stand on his right foot, and raise his left leg until it was vertical, nose pressed to knee, hands above to calf and ankle in an incredible display of flexibility. Which somehow became a serpent shifter in that position, and then other positions calling for serpentine flexibility. “The Biter Bitten” was born.
A while back I watched Adam’s Rib (Tracy/Hepburn) on TCM, and the next day, there was Mike the Manly Muse tapping on my shoulder, then yanking me into the office and forcing me into the chair when I balked. “Shouldn’t there be a gay version of this?” he asked, turning on the computer and monitor without my agreeing, putting my hands on the keyboard. That’s how “Adam’s Other Rib” got started.
Bottom line: New ideas? Nope. Not for me. No way, nohow. La, la, la, la, la.
Uh…what was that you said, Mike?
What are you currently wearing?
Really? What an inappropriate, intrusive intrusion into my privacy. (That’s properly pronounced PRIV-ah-cee.) It’s a good thing this was the last question. Had it been the first I might have walked out of this interview with a display of some degree of dudgeon. I give very good dudgeon.
Eric is a Midwesterner, and as Lady Glenhaven might say, “His first sea voyage was with Noah.” He started reading at five with one of the Andrew Lang books (he thinks it was The Blue Fairy Book) and has been a science fiction/fantasy addict ever since. Most of his writing is in those (MM) genres.
The exceptions are his Another England (alternate history) series: The Rake, The Rogue and the Roué(Regency novel), Mr. Felcher’s Grand Emporium, or, The Adventures of a Pair of Spares in the Fine Art of Gentlemanly Portraiture(Victorian), with no way out(Regency) coming out a month after Of Princes.
Two more fairy tales are in progress: 3 Boars & A Wolf Walk Into A Bar(Eric is sure you can figure this one out), and The Truth About Them Damn Goats(of the gruff variety).
Now all he has to do is find the time to write the incomplete stuff! (The real world can be a real pain!)
Today, Romance Across the Rainbow is happy to host the Blackwood Series Tour.Mary Rundle has a new MM paranormal mpreg book out in her Blackwood Pack series:
About the Series:
Join the journey of the Blackwood Pack, seven brothers who are gay wolf shifters in search of their fated mates – stories about love at first sight with twists and turns, angst and humor, romance and adventure. Each book has two main characters who meet, fall in love, mate and achieve an HEA but the stories also chronicle the continuing saga of the Blackwood Pack. The series is best appreciated by reading the books in order.
Mary is giving away a $15 Amazon gift certificate with this tour – for a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:
Steel, one of the last Dire Wolves on earth, has searched more than 100 years for the special mate promised by the Fates. Discouraged after meeting his latest prospect, he sees a naked hitchhiker on his way home who’s everything he’d envisioned the man of his dreams would be. His wolf and body tell him he’s found his fated mate but why can’t he pick up his scent?
Robbed of his car, clothes and money, Jackson, Alpha of the Blackwood Pack has no choice but to thumb a lift, frantic to get home to his six brothers. He’s been protecting them from a rival pack who massacred most of his family and wants to finish off the rest. When Steel rolls down his window, Jackson knows he also has found his fated mate but it would be too dangerous to claim him with his pack under attack.
After the intervention of an Oracle and a Witch, Jackson discovers why the Fates made him unique-just for Steel. Navigating the mine field this revelation brings, Jackson and Steel must figure out how to make their relationship work while dealing with forces determined to kill the Blackwood pack – and them.
Steel’s wolf was snarling and snapping as he drove away from Jimmy’s after leaving Jackson behind. He just couldn’t understand his wolf. What am I missing here? Jackson is not my mate.His mate had to be a wolf—he knew it because he’d been told not only by his mother who was an Oracle but by no less than three other Oracles. His mate would help save his species of wolves.
The importance of this was impressed upon him throughout his life. He stepped on the gas, eager to get home to do some research. He needed answers because he had a feeling of foreboding about what was going to happen to Jackson and that was driving his wolf crazy.
Finally arriving home, he stopped at the fifteen foot high gates, keyed in his passcode and then drove up the long driveway to his sprawling house, nestled among the trees on the knob of a small mountain. Although there were taller mountains to roam on his 200,000 acres of land, this spot spoke to his wolf spirit. He inhaled deeply as he got out of the truck, feeling his body reacting to the sights and smells around him.
Looking around, he wondered if Jackson would like this spot as much as he did. And that did it—his cock hardened in a second and his blood started to heat up. What the fuck? He drove the image of Jackson’s firm body from his mind and thumped his cock several times to get it to go down.
Hmmm, what to do first?Decision made, he stripped out of his clothes and stood still for a second before he called on his wolf and shifted. Birds scattered as the noise of bones cracking and stretching filled the air. When the sound faded away, Steel stood in his wolf form, shaking out his fur and scenting the air. Deer to the east, a small black bear and her cub ambling along the trail to the south and, yes there it was, a path that was free of any animal—Steel knew it wouldn’t be a good day to engage in a sparring match. His wolf was too unsettled for that.
He struck out at a full run for the trail leading north to one of the tallest mountains on his land. His large paws made no sound on the thickly carpeted forest floor. Steel had gotten so many mixed signals from his wolf today he needed this time to figure out what was happening. He knew his wolf needed it also. While he was running, Steel examined his wolf’s feelings regarding Jackson because it was much easier to understand his wolf when they were one, especially now, since he hadn’t understood his wolf’s reaction to a man who had no scent. Taking in the smells and sounds of his forest, his mind searched and filtered through his wolf’s feelings.
Dr. Ian Wallace, a rare Scottish Wolf, has dedicated his life to saving and healing wolf shifters by joining Frontline Doctors. Determined never to take a mate, he avoids relationships and is content to live a nomadic life, taking assignments to wild and remote places. That is, until an old friend asks him for a favor which Ian’s wolf will not let him refuse. Now on his way to the Blackwood Pack compound, his wolf becomes frantic and Ian learns not only that he has a Fated Mate, but that his Fated Mate is in danger.
Colton was forced to give up his dreams of becoming a nurse and joining Frontline Doctors when tragedy befell his family. Instead, he healed sick animals around his home while hiding from a pack who wanted him dead. Given the chance to use his skills, Colton seizes it and embarks on a journey that will reveal just how special he is.
A kidnapping, slave auction, revelations of long-kept family secrets and a rare, powerful gift from the gods are some of the surprises in store for both of them until they finally find their way into each other’s hearts after discovering neither is who the other thought he was.
His wolf surged forth, claws grew, teeth dropped, fur sprouted and he vibrated in Colton’s arms trying to fight the shift. But did he want to? Ian wasn’t sure. He and his wolf needed to avenge the wrong done to their mate. If Colton wasn’t going to kill Pablo, Ian’s wolf would. Then, mind made up, he pushed out of the arms holding him and landed with all fours on the floor. Snarling and growling, Ian’s wolf wanted his prey—to kill him and remove any threat to his mate. He lifted his head, opened his mouth and issued his challenge. Howling loud and long his wolf wasn’t going to quit until his mate was safe.
Stunned, Colton looked at the small yet fierce wolf in front of him—a rare golden-tipped, white wolf with deep golden eyes—the stuff of legends. Holy Shit! Before he could do anything, the room was filled with six, very large bodies, ready to handle the threat of Ian’s howls. In a blink of an eye, Ian’s wolf turned, facing the perceived threat against Colton. Hackles raised, saliva dripping, he looked as if he’d take on everyone now crowding the space.
Colton knew this had the makings of a disaster; he needed to calm his mate so he could shift back. Slowly he slid off the loveseat and knelt next to his mate. “Ian, please babe, stop. I’m safe. These are my brothers and Steel. You know them, please babe.” Colton put his arms around the neck and buried his hands in the soft fur. Rubbing his face against his mate, Colton inhaled deeply, marveling again at the scent. He felt Ian’s wolf slowly relax as he reassessed the situation. That was, until Colton heard Jackson.
Jackson waddled into the room, bellowing, “What the fuck is going on?”
And just like that, Ian’s wolf turned to face the new threat, growling, tensing, ready to spring. Colton saw Steel move in front of Jackson, the rest of his brothers moved and stood in front of Steel, forming a wall of muscled bodies, intent on protecting Jackson and his unborn pup.
Colton panicked. He jumped up and moved in front of Ian’s wolf. Nobody was going to touch his mate. Now Colton was the one fighting a shift as he listened to his mate issue howls and growls, warning everyone he was ready to fight. Colton knew everything was going to hell in a handbasket but he didn’t know what to do. He needed help to defuse this right now—but who?
Suddenly, he heard an Alpha voice so powerful and overwhelming that Colton immediately tilted his neck in submission as did all in the room. Maximus, in Dire Wolf Alpha mode, strode into the room, immediately sussed out the situation, and commanded, “Stand Down! Now!!” he roared those words, enveloping the room in his Alpha power.
Enforcer Dylon Royd worked for the notorious Silver Point Pack until they accused him of disloyalty. Imprisoned and beaten to within an inch of his life, he’s dumped at the side of a road and left for dead. Waking up in the Blackwood Pack’s hospital, he’s shocked to discover his Fated Mate is one of the pack’s members he’d been ordered to kill.
Cody is a seer and has grappled with visions all his life, but after most of his family is massacred they have intensified so fiercely he begins to make plans to escape his pain and suffering. Thinking no one wants a freak for a Fated Mate, he tries to reject Dylon until he realizes his salvation depends on accepting him.
A life or death situation for Cody, a rare gift to both from the Fates, a dangerous mission, and an unexpected surprise are some of the challenges they face. Together they begin a journey to save Cody’s life while forging a partnership that requires absolute trust for both to survive.
Low hanging, heavy, cloud cover. A pitch-black night in the Tajikistan mountains. It were as if the gods were blessing his commitment to stop the bloodshed so many of his people had experienced over these long years. Ulfric tried to recall a time in his life that was free of the beatings and killings that Arald had inflicted on his pack. But he could not remember such a time. Now his wife was expecting their first pup, and as much as he was excited about it, he dreaded it just as much. So, when this chance arose, he had to try, for the sake of his family.
After telling his wife he was leaving, Ulfric slipped out the back door and paused. Lifting his nose, he sniffed but found no other wolf nearby. Sticking to the shadows, he quietly made his way out of town, hoping his luck held. Right now, Arald was meeting with the representative of Dire Enterprises in a pre-conference meeting. He hadn’t wanted to wait this long but it was impossible to even contact the other pack Alpha until today.
As he saw it, this was his final chance to stop the tyranny he and his pack lived under. But he couldn’t stand alone. He needed the other pack to join with him during the conference if there was ever a chance his pack would be free of Arald and his goons. Pausing often to check for anyone following him, he crept down to the mountain waterfall where they could talk where not even wolf hearing could distinguish spoken words.
Apologizing to Arald and Slate Valentin for his need to get home to help his wife, Ordovic left the building, nodding to the guards who stood outside the meeting room. He wasn’t sure why his presence was required since nothing would change for his pack. No, Arald controlled this land—something even a young shifter knew. And even though he tried to tell himself there wasn’t anything he could do about it, Ordovic hoped that this time might be different.
That was the reason he gave himself for heading to the agreed meeting place instead of home where his wife and children slept. But he wanted a better life for his children. A place they could grow up and not fear being attacked every time they left home. And as the leader of his pack, he owed it to his pack members to at least try to free them from the oppression they now lived under.
Fading back into the shadows at the top of the mountain path, he waited to see if anyone had followed him. His ability at camouflage was superb, though it was a well-guarded secret. After a few minutes he continued down the path. At least he didn’t have to worry about being attacked—killed, yes—but the guy from Dire Enterprises made the three leaders sign a contract agreeing to not attack another pack while the peace conference was in session.
Kieran was sold into slavery where he was forced to care for other prisoners held by a shifter trafficking ring. But that changed when a Blackwood brother freed him and the others. Now for the first time in his life, the world beckons and he can plan his future. That is, until he discovers why the Fates brought him to the Blackwood Pack.
Logan, one of the brothers, has become a virtual recluse, spending hours at his design table, unable to shake the horrible memories of his family’s massacre and an unhappy childhood under the fist of his father, a dictatorial and abusive Alpha.
When Kieran appears, Logan is smitten with this pink-loving twink who tries to use his sassy and irrepressible wit to win his heart. After Logan claims Kieran, he finds keeping him is not easy. When both realize Logan can’t give himself completely to his Fated Mate, Kieran takes off but tells no one where.
A frantic search, rejection, dark secrets revealed, ghosts exorcised- these are just some of the obstacles Kieran and Logan must overcome as they embark on a mission of discovery that will make their love for each other stronger. Only then, will these two unique wolves fulfill their destinies decreed by the Fates and gods and prove worthy of the powerful gifts bestowed on them.
Kieran saw Lizzie coming in from the kitchen and said to her, “Miss L, what fantastic taste you have. I’m so glad they have you supervising their clothing choices otherwise, who knows what they would learn from their daddies?” Then, turning back to Dylon and Cody, “No offense big guys, but you really should let Miss L do some shopping for you, too. I mean, I know you are mated—I mean Fated Mated—so there isn’t going to be anyone else for you but still, you should look good for each other. Hey Miss L, do you think Dylon could use a facial mask? Maybe something to soften his skin so Cody will want to kiss him more? You know, that’s the first thing to go when you have kids. No time to take care of yourself. But I bet with a little help from Miss L and me, we could have you looking like you did before you had kids. Do you take bubble baths? You know, they’re great for softening all parts of your body, well maybe not all parts, if you catch my drift. That’s another side benefit for new parents who aren’t getting all they want in the sex department. Maybe Miss L and I …”
“Stop!” yelled Dylon, startling Jessica who let out a wail while most everyone else was doubled over with laughter. “Now, look what you did!”
“Don’t you blame Kieran, Dylon. You yelled, causing your daughter to cry,” Lizzie scolded, taking Jessica from her son’s arms, “Shush there, sweetie, grandma has you.”
“But did you hear what he was saying to us? He said we had sex problems!” complained Dylon, handing Jessica’s bottle to Lizzie.
“Kieran was only trying to help, weren’t you honey?” Lizzie asked Kieran. “All new parents can do with a little help.”
“That’s right, Miss L. I have some ideas to spice up their sex life I can run past you, and if you agree, then I can find out where to buy the items online—you know since they are new parents and all.”
Growling, Dylon spat, “You are not going to discuss my sex life with my mother—do you understand? No way! No how! Never! Kieran, am I making myself clear?” Then turning to his mother, he said, “Mother, don’t, just don’t. This is embarrassing me and my mate.”
Holding up his hands, Kieran said, “Whoa, big guy! If you don’t want my help, then no problemo. I’m sure Jackson or Colton will appreciate my help in getting their sex life back on track. If you want to suffer, then who am I to interfere? But you really ought to think about Cody before you go issuing your orders. Right Miss L? It takes two to tango.”
Handing Jake to Dylon, Cody said, “Kieran, that’s enough. While I appreciate your offer to help us, there’s no need as we’re very happy with our ‘sex life’. You and I are going to have a talk later about boundaries, or the lack of them, in this case.”
Author’s Note: Oh my gosh! I am so excited to be here and thank you for hosting my blog tour. The Blackwood Pack series tells the story of seven brothers meeting their Fated Mates and so much more. Each book has HEA for the mated pair but it also brings the reader along as they find out what happens to the whole pack. The exclusive excerpt I have for you today is from Raphael’s Power, Book 2 and tells the love story of Colton and Ian. I hope you enjoy it!
Colton heard a soft knock and then smelled food. Oh my gods! Just what the doctor ordered. He snickered and carefully slipped out of bed. Pulling on jeans, he walked barefoot to the door so as not to wake Ian. Quietly opening it, he saw Dakota behind a serving cart covered an array of mouth-watering dishes. His stomach grumbled loudly as he smiled at his brother. Holding a finger to his lips, Colton whispered, “Shh, Ian’s still sleeping. Let’s take this into the sitting room.”
He wondered where Dakota had gotten the serving cart with the quiet rubber wheels as they stealthily rolled it into the next room. Colton turned to Dakota. “Thanks, bro. You have no idea how hungry I am.”
Dakota slapped his brother’s hand away from the bacon. “Hands off. This isn’t just for you, dumbass. It’s my mating gift to you and Ian. You wait until he wakes up.”
“Oh, my gods, did you make this for us Dakota?” Ian asked, standing in the doorway with a sheet wrapped around him.
Dakota smirked at Colton before turning to Ian. “Yes, it’s my mating gift to you and Colton. I hope you enjoy it and if there’s anything else you want, just let me know.”
“That is so sweet, isn’t it Colton? What a great present. Thank you. I know I’ll enjoy it,” Ian said as he wandered over to the cart. “Wow, everything smells so good.” He then reached over and gave Dakota a hug.
Colton’s wolf growled. He didn’t care if Dakota was his brother. All of Ian’s hugs belonged to him. Grabbing Dakota’s arm, Colton yanked his brother away from his mate and shoved him towards the door. “Thanks for your gift,” he growled, “But I’ll take it from here.”
“Stop it Colton,” cried Ian. “That’s no way to treat your brother who spent his time making us something special to eat.” He marched over to Dakota and said, “Regardless of the brutish behavior of my mate, I really appreciate your thoughtfulness. I’m starved and I know Colton hasn’t eaten either.” Then he looked at his mate and said “Well?”
Colton sighed. “I’m sorry brother. Please chalk my behavior up to my lack of food.”
Dakota chuckled and said, “Sure bro, lack of food…uh huh.” His chuckle morphed into loud endless laughter as he left their suite.
Ian stared for a few minutes at the door before turning to his mate. “I think it’s time you and I have a chat. That display of possessiveness doesn’t work for me. I’m a doctor and I touch many wolves each day while I’m treating them. I receive thanks and sometimes hugs from the patients and their family. If you plan on going all-Alpha on me every time it happens, you better rethink it. Practicing medicine is important to me not only because I help people but because it makes me happy. And from what I’ve heard, it’s the same for you.”
Colton’s jaw dropped at Ian’s tirade. Holy Crap! What the fuck has happened to me! Taking Ian’s hand, he tugged at it a little before his mate gave in and followed him to the love seat. After sitting down, he looked up at Ian and said, “Will you join me so we can talk? I’m really very sorry about my reaction. This is all so new to me and I think you’re right, we need to clear the air.”
Ian looked at his mate, searching his face to see the truth of the words and, finding them, he sat facing Colton. He regretted his outburst not because of what he said—as it was the truth—but for the way he said it. Medicine was his life and when he discovered his fated mate was also in medicine, he was overjoyed. Being a doctor or a nurse was a hard life—it meant long hours, roller coaster emotions at successes or failures and devotion to your patient even if it meant personal sacrifice. That’s why he never wanted a mate.
“Ian, I’m truly sorry. I know you’re right. The only explanation I can offer is that my wolf is so dammed possessive right now. I’m hoping he’ll settle down after awhile. I’m going to talk to Jackson or maybe Steel, about how they handled it and get some suggestions. I absolutely will never stand in your way of practicing medicine. Being a doctor is part of you and I love all of you.”
Colton’s declaration of love brought tears to Ian’s eyes. He was loved—something he never realized was missing from his life. Looking back, he clearly saw how lonely his world had been. His parents loved him, but his wolf was right all along, he was alone in the world. Finding Colton changed him—and his world—in ways he was still discovering.
Ian launched himself into Colton’s lap. “I love you so much. I never knew what I was missing until I found you. You complete me and make me so happy. You’re my world!” he said, nestling into his mate’s arms, kissing his chest, while grinding his ass into his mate’s groin. “I’m sorry I was angry before. This is all new to me, too, and I growled in Mexico when you were hugged as you said good-bye. I never thought I’d have a mate and now I do and I’m all mixed up trying to sort out my feelings.”
I never went to school to learn writing nor attended a writing workshop, but it didn’t stop me from entering a writing contest and from that came my first book, Dire Warning. Readers loved it and I was on my way to chronicling the Blackwood Pack, seven brothers who are gay wolf shifters in search of their fated mates– stories about love at first sight with twists and turns, angst and humor, romance and adventure and, of course, happy endings.
My stories come to me as if they were being channeled by my characters, all of whom I love (except for a few villains). They are eager to recount their lives, loves and adventures and are not inhibited when it comes to revealing steamy details. I love the M/M paranormal genre because it gives my imagination a lot of territory in which to roam. My mind can really run wild and come up with some amazing stuff when it doesn’t have to stay inside the box. Although my writing is sometimes raw—that’s the way I like to tell my stories—readers love it and are clamoring for more. I currently live in the Northeast and love the beautiful change of seasons, my husband, and our quirky calico cat, though not necessarily in that order.
Lexi Ander is revealing the cover for her new MM historical fantasy/paranormal book, Caledonia Destiny – due out on July 9th:
A twist of fate changed both their destinies.
The wyrbears, once a long-lived species, were being lost to the forest in their prime. A people borne of a curse, their abilities not a gift but something wrongly taken, they nonetheless live in harmony with their animal spirits. But over time the curse they lived under changed, mutated, and now what once was a refuge from the world when they became too weary is culling mathan in their prime.
Ewen mhic Friscalach, the leader of his peoples, lost his father too early and is now a widower with four children. The vow he made as a youth to break the curse afflicting wyrbears has been buried by grief and responsibility.
Roi mhic Alric, a priest of Cerridwen and seer, watched his fellow priests slaughtered and his temple desecrated. The only thing that kept him going the last three horror-filled years was the vision Cerridwen had granted him of his emancipation. If freedom came at the cost of his life, well, he was more than ready for the Otherworld.
A fated meeting upon a bloody field of battle. A wrong done long ago. Their choices could save a people… or send them into extinction. Either way, their love will be legend.
Caledonia Destiny started out as 31k short story that had a happy for now ending. Now, years later, I have rewritten and expanded the original to 111k.
Buy Links Coming Soon
The next morn Ewen rose early and stoked the fire. Roi wandered into the forest to release his water. When he returned, Ewen bade him sit atop the furs. With an unsure countenance, Roi sat and watched Ewen approach with a wary eye. Ewen took Roi’s hand and used the warm, wet linen to wash it. He rinsed the cloth in the crock of water and repeated the motions with the other hand, gently touching the abraded flesh and each of the scabs where Roi had injured himself climbing the tree.
The camp was utterly quiet as he administered to Roi afore the gazes of his kin. He did not glance into Roi’s eyes until he took the cloth to Roi’s face, cleansing the dust of the road from Roi’s forehead and cheeks. Roi’s eyes were large and round with his confusion, but he did not stay Ewen’s hand which gave Ewen hope. He unlaced Roi’s boots and pulled them from his feet and began to wash them as well. He had not imagined he would be so nervous declaring his intentions in front of his kinsmen, but this moment was important, mayhap the most important declaration Ewen would make in his lifetime.
“Roi mhic Alric, I, Ewen mhic Friscalach, would have it known that I hereby put forth afore my kinsmen my petition to court you. I humbly ask that you consider my request and if you accept, allow no other to court you until the time you decide either to accept my hand or decline it.”
Roi turned pale as milk. Apprehension pooled in Ewen’s gut as he awaited for Roi to shun him. He deserved no less for what he had done, avoiding Roi only to succumb to his desires, waking Roi from sleep to beg Roi to touch him. Whilst Roi spoke truth, Ewen had bestowed upon him harsh words instead of Ewen’s own truth in return. He should have confided in Roi, given him the story of his people’s lineage. Roi’s lack of faith in Ewen might yet be Ewen’s own doing.
Roi placed his hand over Ewen’s where he washed the dirt from Roi’s feet. “Ye be of noble blood, ye do not have to do this.”
He captured Roi’s hand betwixt his palms. “Then tell me how to win back your trust.” Roi’s visage hardened, but not afore Ewen beheld the brief flame of longing in Roi’s eyes. “I shall find a way back into your confidence, Roi, and when I do, you shall never have reason to throw me out again.”
After placing Roi’s hand in his lap, Ewen returned to cleansing his feet, then slipped his boots over his calves and carefully laced them up. Ewen had brought over a square of knotted linen, which he gave to Roi afore he rose to his feet with the crock of dirty water. Roi untied the cloth and stared down at the food Ewen had gathered for him. The offering was not much: the last piece of flat bread, some pine nuts, and the best slices of their dried meat.
Donn grinned and nodded as Ewen passed by on his way to the stream to rinse out the crock. Kneeling at the edge of the water, Ewen then splashed the cold water onto his face, growling at the way his hands trembled.
Bear chuffed with mirth. “Good.”
With that one single word, Bear soothed Ewen’s frayed nerves. For the first time that he could recall, Bear rubbed gently against his skin as if to console him. Crouched at the water’s edge, Ewen held still in shock, able to sense Bear’s emotions without Bear saying the words. When Roi was with them, Bear came alive, naught showing of the violent creature Granda had warned Ewen of. Bear now spoke to, and even interacted with Ewen, all thanks to Roi. Ewen wiped the dripping water from his face with a new clarity.
“Ewen.” He glanced over his shoulder to behold Roi standing at the edge of the trees. Anger still pinched the corners of Roi’s lips but his hands twisted with uncertainty. “I shall not allow another to court—” his brows dipped into a hard V as if he could hardly believe his own words “—me until I either decline or accept yer… yer…” He huffed. “I know not what ye be thinking courting a man, Ewen. Everything ye do confounds me no end, and my mind counsels me to leave ye be but—” Roi rubbed at his left breast, his palm pressing into his chest as if he attempted to soothe an ache “—I find I cannot deny yer request, regardless of how unseemly it be. I never thought ye to be a daft man afore.” The last was said under Roi’s breath.
“I thought you would deny me,” Ewen confessed.
“Yer declaration caught me off guard, and when ye walked away without waiting for my answer I found meself at the mercy of others who vied for my attention. Ye have much to explain, Ewen. No others be as accepting as yer people.” Roi shook his head in a disbelieving manner afore turning to leave, moving around the four men who had followed him to the stream.
Donn, Arailt, and two other cousins watched Roi go. Bear and Ewen growled. “You heard him. He has agreed to my courtship.” Ewen’s kinsmen dispersed, Donn chuckling into his fist but hurrying away afore Ewen caught him.
Lexi is giving away three $10 Amazon gift cards with this tour – for a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:
Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.
Hi everybody. I posted not too long ago about being on edge? Well, I signed today for a four-book deal with Vagabondage Press, a veteran multi-genre US publisher, for the series now entitled One Shot at Love. The first book of the series, A Shot of J&B was released a few years ago but has been out of print for some time now. It will be re-edited and released in February, 2019. Book 2, A Shot at Perfect will follow in April, then A Shot of Courage in June, and A Shot at Forever in September.
Celebrate with me: Jackie Vasquez and Brian Harrison are back!
Each of the three nights that had passed since Brian left for LA, lying in bed alone looking out at the Nebraska winter, Jackie missed Brian so much it hurt. Missed the smell of him, missed his weight creating a dent in the mattress next to him that Jackie couldn’t help but roll into, so that regardless of how far apart they started when they said good night, in the darkest hour he always found himself right up against Brian, usually ensconced in his arms. Safe.
This blog is not pornography, however it will from time to time include material suitable for adults. If you are not of legal age in the country where you live, please leave the site. Thank you. Others, proceed at your own discretion, and please enjoy!