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Blog tour: Abaddon’s Locusts by Don Travis—exclusive excerpt, links, giveaway

Romance Across the Rainbow welcomes Don Travis with his new release, Abaddon’s Locusts Read to the end for an exclusive excerpt!
Abaddon's Locusts - Don Travis

DSP Publications author Don Travis has a new gay mystery book out: Abaddon’s Locusts.

When B. J. Vinson, confidential investigator, learns his young friend, Jazz Penrod, has disappeared and has not been heard from in a month, he discovers some ominous emails. Jazz has been corresponding with a “Juan” through a dating site, and that single clue draws BJ and his significant other, Paul Barton, into the brutal but lucrative world of human trafficking.

Their trail leads to a mysterious Albuquerquean known only as Silver Wings, who protects the Bulgarian cartel that moves people—mostly the young and vulnerable—around the state to be sold into modern-day slavery, sexual and otherwise. Can BJ and Paul locate and expose Silver Wings without putting Jazz’s life in jeopardy? Hell, can they do so without putting themselves at risk? People start dying as BJ, Paul, and Henry Secatero, Jazz’s Navajo half-brother, get too close. To find the answer, bring down the ring, and save Jazz, they’ll need to locate the place where human trafficking ties into the Navajo Nation and the gay underground.

About the Series:

BJ Vinson, a gay former-Marine, ex-cop licensed private investigator tries to pick his cases carefully, but prior loyalties or his sense of justice or something always gets in his way. He finds himself traveling all over his beloved state of New Mexico with his companion Paul Barton to mend other people’s problems.

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Don and DSP Publications are giving away a $10 DSPP gift card with this tour. For a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:
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Two men gazed down at the sleeping youth sprawled across the mattress. The older, his pleasant features blemished by a glint of cruelty in his dark eyes, smoothed silver wings of luxuriant hair at his temples before handing over a number of $100 bills to a young Hispanic almost as handsome as the boy on the bed.

Now fully clothed, Silver Wings exuded the authority of a player, of someone who counted. “Fucking beautiful. How old did you say he is?”

“Eighteen. Barely. Know that’s older’nyou usually like. But he’s a rare one, no? As lindaas a woman and as macho as a man. He took care of you, huh?”

Silver Wings rubbed his eyes as if remembering the last hour. “Fantastic. Must have worn himself out. Does he usually go comatose?”

“Ah, that is the drug. He claims he gets a bigger bang by charging up. But you benefit as well, no?” He eyed his companion. “He is yours for $25,000.”

Interest flickered and died. “Tempting. But my household isn’t set up for that kind of arrangement. I prefer to call when I feel the need. Even if that means sharing him.”

“You don’t take him, then we move him south.”

“South? To Mexico, you mean? Juárez?” That wouldn’t be too bad. El Paso was a short hop, and Juárez lay just across the border.

“At first, but then we gonna trade him up.”

Silver Wings understood the human trafficking language of trading up, but it was unusual to move members of the “family” out of country these days. “In Juárez? Sounds more like trading him down.”

¡Órale! There’s some big money in Juárez. But a bigwig in the Middle East went apeshitover the kid’s pics. He wants him. And for a lot more than twenty-five. I only give you that price to let you know how much we ’preciateyour help.”

“Middle East, huh?” Silver Wings licked his lips. “Put off that transfer while I see if I can work something out.”

“Two days. Then I gotta move him. You know, easier to ship him overseas from Mexico than from the States.”

Silver Wings’ voice hardened. “You can do better than that. Give me a week to reorder my life. I’d like to visit him a couple of times. Usual fee, of course. That gives you reason enough to hold him here.”

“Okay, but not no more’n a week. I got people to answer to, you know.”

“I’d like him again tomorrow night, but it will have to be late. I have a dinner meeting.”

Hispano lowered his head. “As you wish. All you gotta do is call me.”

Silver Wings left the motel reluctantly. What would take place in that room now that they were alone? Just thinking about it raised a bead of sweat on his upper lip.

His mind returned to the offer he had received. The boy was expensive, and the economy was still struggling to recover from the Great Recession of 2008… but it was only money.

Chapter 1

Monday, August 9, 2010, Albuquerque, New Mexico

I parked the Impala in front of my detached single-car garage and sat for a moment trying to figure out the cacophony on the radio. I’d failed to reset the station after Paul and I went for a rare game of weekend golf at the North Valley Country Club. Paul Barton was the sun in my sky, but I still struggled to understand my companion’s taste in music. Now something called “Alejandro” by a gal proclaiming herself to be Lady Gaga committed assault on my classical-music-loving ears. As I switched off the noise and stepped from the car, a high, uncertain voice snagged my attention.

“Yoo-hoo, Mr. Vinson. BJ!”

Mrs. Gertrude Wardlow, the late-afternoon sun catching in wayward strands of her white hair, waved at me from the foot of her driveway. She had lived in the white brick across the street for as long as I could remember. Mrs. W. and her husband, Herb, had been with the Drug Enforcement Administration from the time it was formed in 1973 until their retirement. Some ten years ago, Herb passed on to his reward—an urn on his widow’s mantelpiece. I walked out to meet her in the middle of Post Oak Drive.

“I’m so glad I caught you.” She fiddled with frilly lace at the neck of her lavender blouse. “A man on a Harley has been driving up and down the street. He stopped at your place twice. Rang the bell and then rode off.”

No doubt she was recalling the time when two thugs on another motorcycle attempted to gun me down. When she’d yelled to distract their murderous attention, they shot up the front of her house, scattering her husband all over the carpet.

I touched her shoulder. “Don’t worry, I’m not involved in any gang disputes at the moment. Not that I know of, anyway.”

Her smile turned impish. “That was an interesting day, wasn’t it? I just thought you should be aware someone was trying to contact you.”

“Thank you, Mrs. W. I’ll be on the lookout.”

After exchanging pleasantries, we parted. I mounted the steps to my front porch and paused to enjoy the welcoming aroma of tea roses my late mother planted. No evidence of a note on the door or in the mailbox. That meant the mysterious biker would probably return. I went inside and forgot the matter as I removed one of Paul’s casseroles from the fridge and got out a pan of rolls. I enjoyed their yeasty aroma almost as much as I liked their yeasty taste. Our household mantra was Paul Barton, freelance journalist, whips up gourmet meals; B. J. Vinson, formerMarineand ex-cop turned confidential investigator, burns toast.

We planned to stay home tonight and watch an episode of a new gumshoe program on the tube called The Glades. Matt Passmore, the guy who played the detective, was a way-cool customer who Paul claimed should be my role model. I’d no sooner set the dishes to heating than a rumble on the street caught my attention. A moment later the doorbell rang.

Exclusive excerpt
Setting the scene Don Travis’s new release Abaddon’s Locusts is the fifth book in his BJ Vinson Mystery Series and follows the ordeal of Jazz Penrod, a mixed blood Navajo kid snared by sex traffickers. In the following excerpt, BJ and his significant other, Paul Barton, are attempting to help Henry Secatero, Jazz’s half-brother, make contact with an apparent contact with the ring.

That evening, Paul and Henry moped around our den at home while I tried to convince them any sex trafficker worth the name would be cautious about responding to an unsolicited Email asking about a guy he’d just kidnapped. But I had faith my partner’s sexy picture would be something Juan couldn’t resist. Henry struck out in his search for Jazz’s Jeep, but I hadn’t expected positive results. That was just to keep him busy.

Later that night while we were all staring at an episode of Breaking Bad without hearing or seeing much of it, Paul’s laptop beeped, signaling an Email. As he led an active social media life, that wasn’t meaningful—he’d received a dozen messages that day, none of them from Juan. This time, it was. Henry and I hovered over Paul’s shoulder as he opened the message.

Hey, man. How come you looking for Jazz? Ain’t seen him. But you a hunky-looking dude. Don’t need nobody else. You and me can get it smoking all by ourselves. Tell me more. Hell, show me more.


After settling down from the excitement of a contact, I analyzed the message. Despite the street grammar, I had the feeling this Juan was reasonably well educated. All by ourselves, was a giveaway for me. And while the Email inferred he knew Jazz, this Juanito denied seeing the missing man. Did it mean anything that he failed to send a photo of himself in return? Probably not. Paul’s original message acknowledged seeing a picture of him on Jazz’s machine.

“Come on, man. What we waiting on? Send a message back and tell him let’s get it on.” Henry was impatient for action.

I shook my head. “No. That’s pushing it. But we need something to speed up the process without spooking the guy. Paul, how far are you willing to go on this thing?” Bad question. Paul was always willing to help a lame dog.

“Whatever it takes. Jazz is one of the good ones. And he needs help.”

“Let me call Gene and see if he can cover what I have in mind. I’ll be back in a minute.

I left the two of them in the den and reached Gene at home. After a long conversation, I returned to Paul and Gene.

“Okay, I want you to send a message along the lines of what I’ve written on this page. But put it in your own words.”

Paul studied the paper I’d handed him for a minute, and then typed out his message on the laptop, pausing before hitting the send button so Henry and I could review it.
Juanito, Lucky you caught me at home. I usually go to the C&W for a little line dancing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but got lazy tonight. Probably make it tomorrow. Have a phony card that lets me slide in. Maybe I’ll see you there sometime, but in the meantime, here’s a selfie that shows a little more skin. Expect the same in return, okay? Keep in touch. And if you hear from Jazz, tell him I’m trying to get in touch with him. Going to Farmington at the end of the week, and would like to see him. He’s pretty cool in addition to being prime beef.

The selfie he referred to was a shirtless shot he took of himself a few minutes earlier. The reference to the C&W, a big nightclub out on East Central that attracts cowboys and wannabees, would allow Juan or one of his associates to see the prospect in the flesh. The bit about a phony card to get in the bar hinted at an underage minnow. Gene was confident he could provide protection in such a public venue. Even so, I hesitated before telling him to send the message. This was the man I loved above all others offering himself as bait to human traffickers… sex traffickers.

Author Bio

Don Travis is an Okie turned New Mexican. Each of his B. J. Vinson mystery novels features some region of his beautiful adopted state as prominently as it does his protagonist, a gay former Marine, ex-cop turned confidential investigator. Don never made it to the Marines (three years in the Army instead) and certainly didn’t join the Albuquerque Police Department.

He thought he was a paint artist for a while but ditched that for writing a few years back. A loner, he fulfills his social needs by attending SouthWest Writers meetings and teaching a free weekly writing class called Wordwrights at the North Domingo Multigenerational Center, an Albuquerque community center.

Author Website: http://www.dontravis.com
Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/dontravis3

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Thanks Don Travis and OWI for bring RATR’s first 2019 blog tour. Congratulations on the book!

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Under the Skin, from Dreamspinner Press 9/5/11 (Ariel Tachna and Nicki Bennett)

Featured Author Ariel Tachna lives outside of Houston with her husband, her daughter and son, and their cat. Before moving there, she traveled all over the world, having fallen in love with France, where she met her husband, and India, where she hopes to retire some day. She’s bilingual with snippets of four other languages to her credit and is as in love with languages as she is with writing.

Police detective Patrick Flaherty has no illusions about Russian mobster Alexei Boczar, but that doesn’t stop his fascination with the bodyguard to one of the most ruthless families in Chicago’s growing Eastern European crime community. From the moment Patrick meets Alexei’s eyes over the body of another Russian mobster, Alexei is a thorn in Patrick’s side, refusing to cooperate with the police and turning all of Patrick’s questions back on him. Alexei’s hard-as-nails persona whets Patrick’s professional determination to get the information he’s sure the gangster is hiding, while personally Patrick just wants to get his hands on Alexei’s hard body.

The tattoos marking Alexei’s skin tell the story of his criminal past, but the more Patrick learns about Alexei, the more he wants to know, until he finds himself over his head in a relationship that might cost him his job and could well cost Alexei his life. Alexei is equally fascinated by Patrick’s willingness to overlook his past and even his present associations, but he has secrets of his own that could drive a wedge between them forever.

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Filed under Dreamspinner Press, featured authors, just a category, M/M romance

Excerpt: Under the Skin (Some sexual content)

Chicago Police Detective Patrick Flaherty frowned as he passed through the dark door of the gym. This was where Alexei Boczar, the Russian he could sometimes convince to act as a Mafiya informant, had said to meet, and the door was indeed unlocked as promised, but the establishment was otherwise clearly closed. His nerves tightened as he automatically scanned the rooms for anyone who might be hiding, but he saw no one in the late evening gloom. Including the man he was here to meet. His frown deepened. Where the fuck was he? Patrick had taken a serious risk coming here. The Russian had better make it worth his while.

Making his way deeper into the building, he found the weight room, row upon row of skeletal machines, all silent and still with no one there to bring them to clanking life. The shadows they cast danced like formless phantoms across the walls in the red emergency light that tinged the white metal as if with blood. Patrick shivered at the thought, all too sure that they had seen blood shed. He had no illusions about Boczar or his associates. He just didn’t have any proof.
Spying another door, he pushed into the locker room, eyes blinking furiously as they tried to adjust to the suddenly bright light. Squinting a little until his vision settled, he searched the room, looking for his errant contact. Despite the light, though, this space was as devoid of humanity as the previous rooms had been. Still, it assured him that Boczar was here somewhere.

Alexei drew on his cigarette, the burn of the rich Belomor tobacco a sharp contrast to the sultry warmth of the sauna. He listened to Flaherty moving around the locker room and revised his impression of the police detective upward—he hadn’t been convinced the other man would really show up. Exhaling sharply, he leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “Flaherty!” he called out, loudly enough to be heard through the heavy door of the steam room. “In here.”
The sound of his name in the Russian’s heavily accented voice startled Patrick slightly. He searched quickly for the source, seeing movement through the tinted glass of the sauna. Resigning himself to enduring the heat, he crossed the room and pulled open the door, catching his first glimpse of the other man through the steam. It obscured his vision, taunting him with glimpses of Boczar’s face, his tattoo-covered body clad only in a towel draped strategically across his groin.

Stepping inside and letting the door swing shut behind him, Patrick studied the strong, lean muscles of Boczar’s chest, such a contrast to the way he had first seen the other man. The top coat and gloves the Russian had worn at the hospital as he came to check on a wounded associate had hidden all but the most basic shape of his body. The towel hid almost nothing, leaving Patrick free to study and admire to his heart’s content. He looked automatically for the Russian’s gun, but wherever Boczar had concealed it, he had done so well.

Inclining his head in greeting, Alexei bit back a smile at the younger man’s blatant stare. The tattoos always fascinated those who hadn’t seen them before, those not familiar with the hellish environment in which they were earned and ignorant of the meaning they held. He watched a bead of sweat form on the policeman’s temple and weave a sinuous path down a smooth cheek and long, slender throat before vanishing under the younger man’s shirt collar. “You must be warm,” he observed, taking a final drag of the cigarette and dropping it on the damp tiled floor. “Make yourself comfortable.”

Patrick stared at Boczar in disbelief. Could the gangster actually expect him to strip down? He supposed it wouldn’t hurt to remove his coat. Pulling it off and setting it aside, he met the other man’s gaze evenly. “I have a proposition for you.”

The Russian’s eyes narrowed, as much amusement as he would allow himself at his companion’s obvious discomfort. Chiortov Irlandets, stubborn to the last, he thought, though it didn’t stop him from running an appraising glance over Flaherty’s lean young body. He’d strip down quite nicely, Alexei mused; too bad it didn’t look like he’d have the opportunity to see it.

Still, the unusual location for the meeting had left his adversary—for that’s what Flaherty was; it would be well not to forget it—off guard, as was his intent. “A proposition?” he repeated, his slow, accented drawl heavy with innuendo as this time he made no effort to hide his assessing gaze.

Patrick knew his target’s reaction over the next few minutes was critical. If Boczar wouldn’t even talk to him, he’d not only wasted his time, but quite possibly ruined the chances of his sting succeeding. “I still want the guy who shot your associate,” he began, hoping to appeal to Boczar’s family loyalty if nothing else. He resisted the urge to loosen his collar, which had already grown uncomfortable in the heat of the sauna. Before long, his shirt would be soaked through, the way he was sweating. “I thought maybe you could help me find him and the ones behind him… and bring them down for good.”

“He has already been found,” Alexei replied softly. He could almost see the wheels turning in Flaherty’s head, casting about for any news of recent killings. Just for a moment, he considered informing the other man that if not for the necessity of sending a message, the body would never be found. Flaherty was smart—likely he already recognized that. “The others will pay… soon.”

“And you will start a turf war that turns Chicago into a bloodbath with your family in the center of it,” Patrick retorted. “What if there were another way?”

“Another way?” The enforcer’s skepticism was clear in his harsh reply. Coming here had been a waste of his time, unless…. Dark circles were beginning to spread beneath Flaherty’s folded arms, sparking a dangerous idea that Alexei couldn’t bring himself to resist. “Let us make bargain,” he proposed. “I will hear your ‘proposition’—if you take off shirt.”

Patrick frowned. That was not the way this negotiation was supposed to go, but at least Boczar hadn’t dismissed him out of hand. Feeling supremely self-conscious beneath the blue-gray gaze that pinned him, Patrick loosened his tie and worked open the buttons down the front of his shirt, shrugging it off his shoulders along with the shoulder harness that held his Glock 9mm. He had to admit he was cooler in only his scooped-neck sleeveless T-shirt. “I want them,” he said bluntly, “not just the one who shot your friend, but the whole organization. And if you help me, I’ll make sure your family’s left alone.”

“Why should I help you?” Alexei answered, his gaze raking over the younger man’s sculpted muscles. Flaherty’s chest, what he could see of it, was smooth and toned, a chain holding a small gold cross rising and falling against the thin white cloth of his undergarment with each breath. “That too,” he nodded, leaning back on his elbows on the wooden bench.

Patrick snorted in frustration, but the negotiator in him knew Boczar’s kind well enough to realize that if he refused, he would probably lose the other man right there. Ripping the material over his head in one smooth gesture, he said, “If I go after them alone, there’s always the chance that I’ll find out something incriminating about you and yours. If you’re helping me, I’d have reason to ignore it. If not… well, I don’t have to spell it all out for you.”

“And if I am found to be helping you, my own life would be forfeit,” Alexei countered. Flaherty’s skin was smooth and unmarked by the scars and tattoos that defined the Russian’s arms and chest. A faint line of dark hair ran from the shallow indentation of his navel to disappear beneath the waistband of his dark-blue slacks. Wondering how far the detective would be willing to go to achieve his goal, he gestured toward the thin black belt. “The rest of it too.”

Patrick’s eyes narrowed. He’d gone along with baring his chest, seeing no harm in it given the other man’s lack of attire, but he was doing all the giving with no reassurances in return. “We’re perfectly capable of protecting you should the need arise,” he pointed out. “You want me out of my trousers… give me a reason to do it.”

“Afraid?” Alexei taunted, spreading his arms wide. “You can see I carry no hidden weapons”—he glanced down at the towel covering his groin—“but perhaps you wish to—what is term? ‘Frisk’ me?”

The thought of getting his hands on that hard, scarred body was incredibly tempting. Patrick tried to remind himself that he was a professional, but no amount of internal lecture could stop the desire that swelled through him at the idea of skin against skin. He was on his feet and crossing the sauna before he could stop himself. “If you insist,” he ground out, his hands bracketing the tiles on either side of Boczar’s head, their faces mere inches apart. “Stand up and put your hands against the wall.”

Faster than the young policeman could blink, Alexei rose and caught the man’s throat with one hand, his right arm with the other. The towel fell to the floor as he pressed Flaherty’s face to the wet tile, twisting his arm behind his back, the other hand caressing his throat warningly. Pinning the younger man against the wall, his chest pressed to a warm expanse of naked back, Alexei let the hard swell of his desire nudge Flaherty as he rasped against his ear. “Is this reason enough?”

Patrick struggled in the tight grip as much as he was able, not willing to simply cede his body to the Russian despite the hot lick of desire from feeling the hard cock bumping against his ass, the hard chest pushing firmly against his back. If he weren’t here on police business, if he didn’t know what he knew about the man behind him, he’d probably be fighting to drop trou instead of trying to get away. But he was here on business and he did know what kind of man he was dealing with, both of which changed the complexion of the situation completely. Kicking back hard against Boczar’s shin, he spat, “I don’t remember offering my body as part of this negotiation!”

Chuckling softly, Alexei released Flaherty and took a step back, palms raised in a gesture of conciliation. “You ask me to risk trust of my family,” he challenged, heedless of his nudity, his erect cock jutting from the concave planes of his belly. “Should they construe my meeting you as betrayal, you could be visiting me in hospital next—or in morgue.” His steely gaze slid down the younger man’s body to the thickness clearly visible through his trousers and back up to smoldering brown eyes. “What do you offer me in return?”

Shit, Boczar’s a sexy bastard, Patrick thought irrelevantly as he turned to face the other man, breathing hard. He had no modesty to speak of, standing there gloriously naked with the same brash confidence as when he had been fully hidden behind the trappings of his position at the hospital. Despite his lack of clothing, he was not unaffected by the heat, a fine sheen of sweat coating the magnificent body, the tattoos that covered his chest and arms serving as a stark reminder of what kind of man this was while at the same time drawing Patrick’s attention to every swell of muscle.

“The department can provide you with protection,” he began until he saw the scorn come into the other man’s eyes. “But you don’t think for a minute that you need our protection, do you?” He took a deep breath and considered what he was about to do. The Russian was worried about possible consequences for betrayal, but if anyone found out what Patrick was about to offer, he’d be facing consequences, too, although perhaps not the life and death ones that the other man risked. “Are you saying that if I turn back around and let you fuck me through the wall, you’ll help me?”

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