Tag Archives: Excerpt

Rainbow Snippet from Falling Snow on Snow—expected winter release from Dreamspinner

rainbow blend heart goo ftuos5709280823_c133084bce_z

Hi readers! I’m trying, this month, to catch up with a few of the things that I’ve fallen behind on, and one of them is “Rainbow Snippets”, a brainchild of author Charley Descoteaux. The idea is for lots of authors to post snippets and link them to the associated Rainbow Snippets Facebook group. Click that link, and from there link to dozens of authors posts. It’s a great way to shop for a book that hooks you, and believe me, many of them will do just that with only a few words. Go see for yourself—but not before you check out my contribution this month, please!

I’m happy to spread the news here that this holiday-themed contemporary romance is accepted by Dreamspinner Press for release this winter. Here’s the snippet, blurb to follow:

The scene is inside Pike Place Market in Seattle, pre-Christmas, and guitar-playing busker Beck Justice is playing something rare—a holiday song he likes—even though he knows it won’t bring the big tips. And as he plays, an unseen singer joins in.

Snow on Snow guitarist market

Beck wasn’t, in fact, a man of religion. And though he admitted the possibility that something more existed than what could be seen, the closest he knew to spirit lived right there, in the music. In the tones born in the body of a fine guitar, the passage of breath through the vein of a flute. In the flight of sound on the wings of a perfect voice. Like this one.

“Snow was falling, snow on snow.” The singer wove the words over and under the harmonies he offered up with fingers and strings, turned them into something different, something more.

The song ended, as all songs do. But this time, when the words stopped and the echoes died away, Beck felt a thrill of panic, for he still hadn’t located the singer. What if he never found them, never again heard that soaring voice, never looked into the eyes of the man who sang.

The blurb:

For Beck Justice, December is black-hearted and cruel. It’s been that way for a long time, since before he found himself on the streets eight years ago. His recent step up into a tiny apartment and a Busker’s permit for Seattle’s Pike Place Market has done nothing to change his mind. When singer Oleg Abramov comes into his life, Beck begins to think there might be light in the middle of the bleak winter, but his efforts to get to know Oleg are blocked at every turn—mostly by happenstance, but also by his own fears.

Oleg wants Beck in his life, but when he opens up to let Beck into his heart, Beck disappears. Finally, things begin to look brighter for a possible future with the two of them in it together, until Oleg overhears a phone conversation and jumps to the wrong conclusion. It spells the end for their romance unless they both risk their hearts to trust.

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Filed under Dreamspinner Press, Falling Snow on Snow, just a category, Lou Sylvre, M/M romance, Rainbow Snippets, Upcoming release

Never Doubt! Vasquez and James Romance Will Live On!

I got to thinking, when I’ve posted about Because of Jade (Vasquez and James novel coming from in May), I share so much about the Luki and Sonny’s relationship with the little girl, Jade, that you may think there’s no romance. On the contrary… Luki always delivers. For instance, here’s a very teensy excerpt that leads up to a long, hot night of spoiling Sonny and loving him senseless.

Red rose and few lighting candles on dark background

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Filed under Because of Jade, Lou Sylvre, Vasquez & James

Anne Barwell Interview: The many facets of her romance rainbow

Hello! Today I’m happy to share with you my recent interview with author Anne Barwell. One of the things I most enjoy about Anne’s writing is it’s diversity—she writes series, but they’re all quite different. I made her talk about that sneaky little habit! You can ask her disturbing questions too, if you like, in comments. 🙂
Note: Click any cover for a buy link to that book. For Anne’s bio (and other good stuff), visit her blog

Here’s the interview:

Q: You have, if I’m not mistaken, four different series in process. Please tell us a little bit about each one.
A: Five if you include The Harp and the Sea, which is our joint project… [LS—I’m so pleased to be working on this project with Anne!]

I’m still not sure how I ended up with so many series in progress. I blame demanding characters. Seriously though, one advantage I find with having more than one series in progress is that I have a hardcopy in front of me for the previous book while I’m writing the next one, which is so much easier when hunting for continuity details.

Hidden Places [series] is a contemporary fantasy which crosses through a portal into another world called Naearu. The main characters are Tomas, a writer, and Cathal, who is from Naearu. Part of the action takes place in the English village of Oakwood, part in Naearu. So far I’ve written two books in this series Cat’s Quill and Magic’s Muse. I have two more planned: One Word is Ethan and Donovan’s story and is a side story to Cat’s Quill. Dragon’s Price finishes the series and takes the characters back to Naearu.

Echoes is an historical series set in occupied Europe during WWII. Kristopher Lehrer is a scientist working on a top secret project in Germany. When his illusions are shattered and he discovers what the Nazis plan to do with his work, it isn’t long before he is on the run with both the Gestapo and the Allies after the plans he carries. Shadowboxing is the first book in the series and is set in Berlin in 1943. Winter Duet (which I’ve just submitted to Dreamspinner Press) is set in Germany in early 1944. The last book, Comes a Horseman, is set in France in mid 1944

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Dragons of Astria is a fantasy series set in Astria, a land where dragons are real and magic exists, although it has been outlawed for generations. Aric and Denys are from two very different backgrounds, but their destinies are intertwined in more ways than one. A quest for a magical sword will affect not only their life together, but the future of the kingdom. A Knight to Remember is the first in this series, and there will be two more books: A Mage to Forget and A Sword to Rule.

The Sleepless City is an urban fantasy series which is a joint project with Elizabeth Noble. The first four books are set in the re-imagined city of Flint, Ohio, and the characters are vampires, werewolves, ghosts—and human. I’ve written the first book, Shades of Sepia, and book 2, Electric Candle, by Elizabeth is coming out on April 4th.

Q: Of your series, do you have one that is easier for you to write? One that is your favorite? If so, please explain your choice?
AEchoes, being an historical series, requires a lot more research than the others, but I was surprised how fast Winter Duet wrote once I got going with it. It’s difficult to pick a favourite, it’s like choosing a favourite child. My favourite tends to be the one I’m working on at the moment and yes I know that’s not helpful. Each of them have aspects I really enjoy, and I love all my guys but it is easier writing fantasy especially as I can build worlds and ‘make stuff up’ rather than worry about whether I’ve got the details of a time and/or place just right. Ben from The Sleepless City, as a Kiwi character, is very easy to write, but the US setting means a bit of research as it’s the little things that I really don’t know. I’m definitely setting my next contemporary series in New Zealand. But not just for that reason as I think there needs to be more M/M set locally.

Q: How do you balance your writing time between the different series? Do you find that your style differs from one to the next? If so, how do you get in the right mind set for the particular series you’re working on?
A: I didn’t intend to have four series on the go at once. My original plan was to have two and alternate them, and once I’ve caught up with finishing what I’ve started that’s what I’ll be doing with maybe a one shot—and yes I know they always turn into series—or two in between. Meantime I’m trying to write in a circle: Hidden Places book 3, </em.Dragons of Astria book 2, Echoes book 3 etc. That way I’m not leaving readers of those readers hanging around too long, or at least that’s the plan. There aren’t enough hours in the day with working full time [outside of writing] so a couple of novels a year is about as much as I can manage.

With the series being different genres, my style does differ between them. No too much so but more in what is needed for the characters and plot. The series tend to have a different feel to them, especially in the narrative/dialogue between historical/contemporary and high fantasy. Aric’s speech in Dragons of Astria is going to be more formal, and have no modern idioms compared to Tomas in Hidden Places, while Cathal from that series being between two worlds in a sense has a mix of both. It also depends on what story a particular book is telling. Magic’s Muse was slower paced but it was filling in a lot of gaps and building relationships which need to be in place for the final book in that series Dragon’s Price which will more of an action/drama.

I get in the mind set when I switch projects by firstly writing an outline, printing it out and scribbling over it, and writing a blurb. Usually I’m thinking through and researching/discussing ideas a couple of projects ahead of what I’m writing so I do tend to multitask a bit I guess especially if I’m working on more than one project at a time like I am now with Echoes and The Harp and the Sea.

Q: Your most recent release is Shades of Sepia, book one in a shared world series, The Sleepless City. How did you and your series partner, Elizabeth Noble, develop this concept? Any hints you can give us about what’s yet to come?
A: Elizabeth and I were chatting on IM one day and found we both had vampire characters we wanted to do something more with. One thing led to another and The Sleepless City was born. The mythos or ‘series bible’ is the product of hours of discussion, which is still ongoing.

The first four books in the series are an ‘arc’ and tell a complete story, and then we’re each writing books set within the universe. An arc seemed to be a good way to start the series and establish it and the characters. Shades of Sepia is Simon and Ben’s story, Electric Candle by Elizabeth which comes out in April is Forge’s. [LS—this book is now available for pre-order on Dreamspinner’s site.] I’m writing Family and Reflection later this year which is Lucas’s, and then Elizabeth will tie up the arc with the last book Checkmate. One thing I’m looking forward to in Family and Reflection, as there’s got to be some fun in amongst all the seriousness of the case they’re working, is that Ben’s friend Ange visits from New Zealand. She doesn’t know who or rather what they all are, so they’re going to try to keep it from her. Good luck with that one.

Q: What can you tell readers in advance about the two main characters in Shades of Sepia, Ben and Simon? (Make us curious, or make them irresistible!)
A: Ben’s a local guy – well local for me – as he comes from Wellington where I live. He’s very laid back but at the same time speaks his mind and doesn’t take any shit. He’s also a bit of a geek and collects comics/graphic novels. His passion is photography and that’s the really ironic thing about his and Simon’s relationship. The one person Ben really wants to photograph he can’t because vampires not show up on film. Well, not usually, there is a way around it but he’ll have to convince Simon first – and you’ll have to read the book to find out what I’m referring to 😉

Simon’s is very different to Ben, it’s one of the reasons they complement each other so well. Simon’s more serious, and carefully considers his actions before he takes them where Ben’s more likely to just decide and do it. Simon’s also got an old fashioned streak a mile high, which isn’t just because he was born in the late nineteenth century. He’s also got a dark side, not unexpected as he’s a vampire! But like Ben he’s fiercely protective of the people he cares about and won’t hesitate to put himself in the line of fire to do just that. As Lucas says, “You can argue over which one of you is going to play protective over the other one’s ass on a given day. Promise me I can watch?”

Q: What’s coming next from Anne Barwell? Anything slated for release in the upcoming months? (Please elaborate!) Also, what’s on the burner for the next year or so?
A: I’m putting the final touches to Winter Duet, which is the sequel to Shadowboxing and the next book in the Echoes series.

Here’s the blurb:

Germany, 1944. With Kristopher finally fit enough to travel, he and Michel begin their journey across Germany toward Switzerland and safety.
Separated in the middle of a warzone, after helping an injured RAF pilot, Kristopher is determined to find Michel again. But how far can he trust the man travelling with him? Whoever he is, he is definitely not the German soldier he appears to be.

Meanwhile Michel mounts a rescue mission. Time is running out. Loyalties are tested and betrayed as the Gestapo close in. Can he reach one of their own before information is revealed that could compromise not only his and Kristopher’s safety, but that of the remaining members of the Allied team?
Or is it already too late for all of them?

And an excerpt:

Kristopher dropped to his knees, and examined the boy. His eyes were glazed over and he flinched when Kristopher touched him. “He must have hit his head when he fell,” Kristopher said. He brought his hand away from the boy’s temple. It was covered in blood. “He needs help, but I can’t do much for him here, just try and stop the bleeding.” He quickly opened his satchel and pulled out a short length of bandage, bundled it into a wad and held it against the wound. It probably wouldn’t be enough to stop it, but it was better than doing nothing. Head wounds tended to bleed, didn’t they? It didn’t mean it was something serious, but it could be.

He let out a quick breath. Damn it. He wished he’d paid more attention when he’d watched Clara at work. Why had he agreed to disguise himself a medic? In this situation when that was exactly what was needed, he was next to useless.

“We can’t stay here,” Michel said. “Can you tie something around the bandage so it keeps the pressure on it when we move him?”

“Keep pressure on the wound while I look.” Kristopher searched around in his bag, ripped some more of the bandaging material, and tied it quickly. His hands were shaking, but at least there didn’t seem to be any blood seeping through the original cloth he’d put over the wound. “I think that should hold it for now.”

Michel handed Kristopher the flashlight and then lifted the boy into his arms. “What’s your name?” he asked softly when the boy opened his eyes and looked up at him.

“Fritz,” the boy replied, his voice wavering. He put his arms around Michel’s neck and clung to him. Thankfully he seemed more alert than he had a few moments before.

“Hello, Fritz. I’m Michel and this is Paul,” Michel said. “We’re going to keep you safe, I promise.”

“You promise?” Fritz’s earlier confidence was gone. “I didn’t think it was so dark. I know this place. I shouldn’t have tripped.” He glared at the ground. “Stupid thing. Stupid stupid. Everything looks different.” He sniffled loudly, and wiped one dirty hand over his face.

“Do you remember the way to the bunker, Fritz?” Kristopher asked. Michel was watching Fritz carefully, holding the boy close to him. His grip had tightened at the first sign of Fritz’s distress.

“I don’t need to put you down,” Michel reassured Fritz. “You can still guide us while I’m holding you.”

“I don’t want to walk.” Fritz bit his lip. He looked around and then pointed to a street to their left. “If we go down there it’s only about ten minutes away.” They’d never reach the bunker in time before it closed.

“There isn’t one closer?” Michel asked.
“It’s the one I know about,” Fritz said somewhat defensively. “Mutter told me if something happened I should go to it.”

“Where’s your mother now?” Kristopher asked. The light from the flashlight was dying quickly. They had to hurry.

“I don’t know. She went to get my baby sister but she never came downstairs.” Fritz stuck his chin out. “I waited like she said, even when I heard the loud noises and people crying.”

“You live around here?” Kristopher hoped Fritz’s family had survived this. They’d have to try and reunite them or at least find someone who could look after him before they left Stuttgart.

Fritz nodded. Whatever his wound, it seemed as though it was definitely superficial or he wouldn’t be talking as much as he was. “I went looking for her, and I couldn’t find her.”

“You sound much better, Fritz. Do you think you could walk?” Michel asked.

“I don’t want to lose you and Paul too,” Fritz said. He let Michel put him down and then put one small hand into Michel’s.

“You won’t lose us,” Michel promised. “Keep holding my hand and Paul will look after the flashlight. We can work together.”

“Michel’s very good at working together,” Kristopher told Fritz. He shone the flashlight around. The further out into the street they got, the more rubble there was. It wasn’t safe to move too quickly and at this speed they’d never reach the shelter before daylight. He glanced up at the sky. Most of the flashes of light seemed to now be focused toward the city centre. “I’m wondering if it’s safer to stay here, but get as far away from the buildings as we can, and wait for daylight.”

“We don’t know how long this raid is going to last,” Michel said, “but we need to make a decision.” Something creaked and groaned to the side of them. “Move!” Michel yelled. He picked up Fritz and ran back the way they’d come. Kristopher didn’t stop to see what was going on behind him. He followed.

Moments later, more rubble hit the street where they’d just been standing. If they’d stayed there they would have been buried in it.

Kristopher shone the flashlight on it and shivered. “I think finding the shelter is the least of our problems,” he said. “We need to get out into the open. It’s not just more bombings that could kill us, but the buildings that are already damaged.”

“I know a place,” Fritz said after Michel put him down. “I’ll show you.” He took hold of Michel’s hand again. “You and Paul are soldiers.” He pointed to the Red Cross on Kristopher’s arm. “You’ll stay and help look after all the hurt people, won’t you? Vater is a soldier too. He’s fighting at the front. Mutter says he’s very brave.”

“Yes, we’ll stay and help,” Michel said before Kristopher could say anything. He squeezed Fitz’s hand. “We’ll also help you find your mother, or at least someone who can look after you.” He looked over at Kristopher and gave him a questioning look.

“Of course we will,” Kristopher said, wondering why Michel felt he’d even had to ask.

My next project is On Wings of Song which is a WW1 novella which begins in France in 1914. I’ve had the idea for a while, and as this year is the centenary of the beginning of the war, it felt like the right time to write it. And of course The Harp and The Sea.

After that, and book 3 of The Sleepless City, I’m focusing on working on/finishing the series I already have in progress.

Q: To wrap up, please describe for me the single most satisfying thing about being an author. When and how does it happen?
A Seeing my ideas and characters take shape as I write, and having others enjoy my stories. It’s a scary thing putting a bit of myself out there, but even if each book just touches one person it’s worth it. I write the stories I want to read, or otherwise what’s the point?

LS—Your writing has certainly touched me, and I know I’m not alone, so thanks for taking the chance! And thank you, Anne, for being my guest today! Come back soon.

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Filed under featured authors, Interviews, New M/M releases, Writers on writing

Gay Romance University: Vasquez and James 101 (intro with excerpts and NquiteSFW pics)

gay couple in bed
Want to get your degree in Gay Romance Lit? Well, why not start by learning from the sweet and hot experts, Luki Vasquez and Sonny James. No, you’re right, the couple to the left is not Luki and Sonny, but they are sweet, and they are romantic, and I think they should have a book written about them. (I’m working on it.) Luki and Sonny are older (especially Luki) and more… well, I’ll get to that later.

As you may know, there are, to date, four installments to the Vasquez and James Suspense/Romance story. (If you wish to purchase the texts for home study, click on the image below. 🙂 )

VJ 4 covers by Monique

There is one more book about the couple, the novella Yes,, and another book in the series entitled Because of Jade,coming in spring 2014. For this introductory bit of GRU’s Vasquez and James course, however, we’ll focus on the first book in the series, Loving Luki Vasquez.

One thing you will note about Luki and Sonny is that although they were certainly always hot (and sort of sweet), they were definitely not always experts in romance. In fact if you’ll turn to page 3 of your text (or just keep reading here), you’ll find an account of the events when they first met, accidentally, on the streets of (fictional) Port Clifton, Washington. To set the scene, Sonny—who lived in the area—was walking down the street in a not very good mood…

Pt T main drag

Then he saw a man.

Which in itself wasn‟t unusual, but this man, an islander, maybe Hawaiian, by the look of him, lounged cool and beautiful in loose summer whites, half-sitting on the fender of an ice-blue Mercedes, a strip of sand beach and the blue straits for a backdrop. Dark chestnut curls shining; straight, white teeth softly teasing a lush, plum-red bottom lip. His eyes, startling pale blue against brown skin, roved all over Sonny; the islander made no effort to pretend otherwise, and besides, Sonny could feel them. Their touch trickled over him like ice water, exciting every nerve he had, even those he‟d never heard from before.

Which scared Sonny, a recluse by choice—and, he knew, because he‟d always managed to be socially… well, clumsy. So, he turned to the weapon that had been his first line of defense since adolescence, when all the reservation had noticed that their star young grass dancer didn‟t mind being gay: a smart mouth.

“What are you looking at?”

Groan with me now, class. Good Lord, Sonny James! Could you be any less romantic?

But… maybe it was fate, because minutes later, the heretofore icy-hearted badass Luki Vasquez took a most uncharacteristic chance. You’ll find this bit on page 4 of the text, and Sonny has just witnessed hardcore Luki sweetly pick up a fallen teddy bear and return it to a child.

coffee-love

Sonny, angry with himself for blowing his chance to meet this chill but beautiful stranger—who might be trying to hide a kind heart—pretended he hadn‟t seen. He turned his faux-stoic shoulder and walked away. A little shaky, perhaps; already sorry. Three strides and he heard a voice, unexpectedly scratchy, even hoarse.

“Hey.”

Sonny turned.

The man took a deep, lovely breath, flashed his cold-fire eyes at Sonny, and said, “I have coffee most mornings at Margie’s. In case you’re interested.”

Following that initial flubbed meeting and interesting invitation, Sonny and Luki met a couple of times on purpose and accidentally, with disastrous and somewhat humorous results, and on would think that would have been the end of it. Truth was, however, neither could forget the other. One day, they met by chance—and a kiss happened. Not love at first kiss, no, but a hint at what a romance between them might be. Beginning on page 16 of your book, Luki is disgusted with himself and decides a little tai chi practice on a mostly deserted beach would do him good…
Kiss: Sean Chappin + Juan Valdez / 20100117.7D.02119.P1.L1.SQ.BW

By the time he‟d finished, the sun had risen almost midway. With heat and exertion, he‟d broken into a profuse sweat. He turned his face into the breeze, let it riffle his curls, took his shirt off, and tossed it to hang on one of his targets.

A dot in the distance moving up the beach toward him. A person. Sonny, no flags in sight.

Crap.

Oh well, no problem. If there was anything he knew how to do, it was shut out emotional disturbance. He‟d just continue with his practice, maybe work another form first, as if Sonny weren‟t there. But with Sonny‟s long legs, he covered a lot of distance in a short time, and now he‟d come almost close enough for eye contact. My God, the man is beautiful.

“Hey,” Luki said.

“Hi.”

“Nice out, huh?” Oh, yeah. Great. Talk about the weather.

Sonny ignored the comment.

Thank you, universe.

“It‟s like dancing.”

The conversation seemed like some kind of mirror image of the last time they spoke, when Sonny was checking out colors, which certainly weren‟t all the same, or so Sonny informed him, leaving him to feel foolish. Nice thing was, now they were in his territory. But he had no taste for retaliation.
“It‟s been called that. Tai chi.”

“Oh. Yeah. I‟ve heard of it. Sort of dancing that can kill. Seems exactly right.”

Luki didn‟t know what he meant by that last remark, so he stayed silent.

“It‟s graceful, the way you do it.”

Luki remained at a loss for a response. Was that a compliment?

“I‟ve even thought about trying to learn it. But I could never get away from my studio—or maybe I should say get my studio out of my head—long enough for anything like that.”

Luki still said nothing, but now he subtly eyed Sonny from head to toe—a pleasant undertaking but one with purpose. “You‟re in good enough shape to do it well.”

“I suppose.”

Luki didn‟t know how he could speak and hold his breath at the same time, but it felt that way. “I could teach you a little,” he said, “right now.”

To his surprise and nervous delight, Sonny agreed after only a second’s hesitation. Soon Luki had him barefoot and mastering a perfect opening stance. From there, he taught him some traditional warm-ups—not part of the forms but a good way to get the feel of the art. Though his long, loose limbs gave him some trouble and made Luki want to secretly and fondly laugh, and though Sonny giggled—yes, giggled—at a few of the early warm-ups, he attended well and learned fast.

They‟d reached the last of the warm-up exercises: Pushing Chi. A little more complicated than the ones that came before, it took focused coordination. When Sonny could Push Chi with acceptable grace, Luki decided to introduce him to at least part of the Chen form: First, he revisited the simple but all-important Opening Movement. Then, Pound the Pestle, Lazy Tying Coat, and Six Sealing, Four Closing.

Single Whip led into White Crane Spreads Its Wings, the name of which made Sonny adorably… all right fine, adorably happy. The sequence involved motions that at first felt counterintuitive. Like probably every student in the centuries tai chi had been around, Sonny needed help with it. As he would with any other student, Luki stood behind him, using his own hands to guide Sonny through the move. He wondered if he could get away with teaching him all the rest of the moves in just that way. Perhaps for hours. Every day. For a long time.

As he was teaching and wondering and probably even almost smiling, a wind rose up, splashing spray and sand and whipping Sonny‟s long hair at Luki‟s face and right into his mouth. On the word “open,” appropriately enough.

Sonny spun around, gathering up his luxurious baked-earth red hair. Before Luki had a chance to close his mouth, Sonny kissed him. A passionate, seeking sort of kiss. A kiss that Luki instinctively returned, though kissing wasn‟t a large part of his intimate life, and especially not kissing on the beach.

Well! That is a nice development. After that, some very suspenseful things begin to happen, throwing Luki and Sonny together whether they (profess to) want it or not. One thing of course leads to another, and things heat up, leading to this, on page 48:

bigstock-Cropped-Image-Of-A-Nude-Africa-32140823

After a moment, that not-quite smile of Luki’s that Sonny had come to recognize appeared in his eyes. He laced his strong fingers into Sonny’s hair and rose up to meet Sonny’s lips in a long, soft kiss, keeping possession of his gaze all the while. “Sweet, so sweet,” he whispered. And then, his lips still moving against Sonny’s: “You can have my ass.”

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Filed under Gay Romance University, Lou Sylvre, Loving Luki Vasquez, M/M romance, Vasquez & James

A Chinchilla Shifter? Alex Kidwell on Gumption and Gumshoes

Welcome author Alex Kidwell, here with a few words on challenging oneself as an author, and about her new book. She’s also given us a great excerpt! Read on, and note as always, click on the image for the buy link at the Dreamspinner Press store.

Thank you so much for allowing me to be here today! I’m really excited to be talking about my latest novel, Gumption & Gumshoes. It comes as a whole different tone for me and one that I had a lot of fun doing. G&G started as a prompt from a friend for a chinchilla shifter. What it became was a lighthearted book that nods towards film noir and deals with August Mendez, an overweight, under-motivated guy stuck in a dead end job. August’s most notable quality, in his eyes, is that he actually dared to move an hour away from his close knit herd.

Oh, yeah. And he can change into a furry little chinchilla.

When he gets the chance to pursue his dream and become a detective, things do not go as smoothly as he expected. There’s a case to work, evidence to gather, and oh yeah, his landlord. Sam Ewing, a bitter, older divorcee who gives August all kinds of nervous butterflies. When the two of them start working together, things get really interesting.

One of the most fun things for me, as a writer, to do is to challenge myself to take on new ideas or genres. I’d never really thought about doing a shifter novel before, but from the moment I got the idea of August, I couldn’t put the idea away.

I’d like to share with you an excerpt from Gumption & Gumshoes. It shows the first time we see August shifting, during the course of one of his investigations.

It was dark outside, starting to spit rain. The cars sloshed through the streets, lights reflecting in puddles like melted crayons. Sighing, I tugged on my fedora and power-walked the two blocks to my car. The spot I’d managed to find that morning wasn’t the greatest. And now I was blocked in by an oversized truck and a stupid sporty car that looked like a penis replacement. Fan-friggin-tastic.

Two inches forward. Stop. Reverse three inches. Stop. Crank the wheel left. Forward two inches. Over and over again, while I muttered curses and tried to remember how much my insurance deductible was. Finally I eked out of the spot, pulling out onto the main road and making my way back toward the dry cleaners.

By then I was later than I’d wanted to be, and I barely got parked in a good spot out front when the outside lights were turned off. I could see Jake and a woman who must be Tina moving around inside the shop, doing their closing duties, I imagined. The car engine pinged softly as it cooled, the rain spattered the windshield, and I slouched down in my seat, watching.

Just like a real detective.

Sometimes my life got cool all at once.

And sometimes it was forty-five minutes of sitting in my car, staring at two people mopping a floor. No one was twirling a mustache or tying anyone to train tracks. No obvious signs of chicanery. Just two employees trying to close up shop after a long day.

Damn.

</
Just when I was about to call it a night, there was a flare of light from the alley beside the dry cleaners. I caught sight of Tina taking out two large trash bags to toss them into the bins. When she walked back inside, though, I could still see the faint outline of the door; she hadn’t closed it properly behind her. On purpose? Or maybe the stolen money was leaving with the garbage.

Either way, I knew I had to get in that alley. I could see Tina and Jake turning off lights, moving toward the exit. I took my chance to duck out of my car, cursing quietly when it dinged at me for leaving the keys in the ignition. I darted into the alley, my eyes taking far too long to adjust to the dark. Tripping over my feet, I almost slammed my head into a wall, barely getting my hand up in time to save my nose. There was a flare of pain on my palm, and I hissed in a breath, looking down to barely make out the shimmer of blood. I’d scraped the skin off. Fantastic.

Shaking the sleeve of my hoodie down to cover it, I kept going. I wanted to take a look in those trash bags. The dumpster was sitting open, and I grabbed the closest garbage sack. There was the distinct sour scent of rotting things all mixed together with the pervasive piss smell all alleys seemed to have. Choking a little, eyes watering, I hauled the bag out and ripped it open. It was a lot of paper, huge clumps of lint like basketball-sized tumbleweeds, and I dragged it a little closer to the seam of light creeping out from the ajar door.

I dug through the garbage. There seemed to be a lot of receipts, huge handfuls of them, like they’d been ripped from a book and stuffed in here. I frowned, uncrumpling one, tipping it toward the light so I could read it better. It was just tallying up an order, although I had a momentary thought that it seemed like Petros was charging an awful lot for laundry.

“Hey!” The sharp voice broke my concentration, and I dropped the receipts I was holding, scrambling back. Jake was in the doorway, scowling at me. “What the fuck are you doing?”

Shit, shit, shit. I shoved myself away, stumbling as I struggled to my feet. I saw Jake’s big, meaty hand reaching out for my hoodie. Christ, if that guy caught me, I was mush.

So I took off running. I didn’t run a lot. Or ever. But now the not-so-jolly giant was chasing me, so it seemed like a really good time to start. Heaving in panicked breaths, my sneakers skidding on the wet pavement, I darted out across the street. Horns blared but I didn’t dare stop. I could hear him on my heels, cursing, the sound of his footsteps pounding behind me.

I was going to die. Holy fuck, that giant-ass man was going to kill me.

And that was when I realized I didn’t have my keys. I couldn’t get into the building.

Fuck.

Changing direction at the last second, I dodged into the alley that ran alongside my building. If I could double around, maybe get lost in the foot traffic the next street over, I could shake him. My heartbeat was throbbing in my ears, a stabbing pain in my side with every heaving breath I took. The fear slamming through me with every step, though, kept me desperately throwing myself forward.

The alley wasn’t very long. There were dumpsters and closed doors that I staggered my way past, no help in sight. It was pitch-black; I didn’t see the fence until I slammed into it full force. “No, no, no,” I muttered, frantically grabbing at the chain link, pulling it like I was suddenly going to Hulk out and be able to yank it out of my way.

I was trapped.

There were seconds until Jake came around the corner. There was no way I could face him like I was. So I did the only thing I could think of.

I changed.

It started as an itch in my nose, a prickle along my skin. The world got very big very quickly as I shrank down, the ground rushing up to meet me. The night world flared to life, scents and sounds filling my senses. And then I wasn’t human anymore. My nose twitched, ears pricking at the sound of footsteps. Two sets. I could smell one sweaty human; he stank like cigarettes and jerky. Jake appeared at the end of the alley, searching for me. But there was another man there, the tang of soap and beer, but more importantly behind him was an open doorway.

I zoomed off, nails skidding on the cement, hurtling myself toward the escape. There was the thunder of boots in my way, and I squeaked aloud in terror as I tried to correct course. Before I was stepped on, though, a hand reached down, wrapping around me. There wasn’t time for me to react before I was pushed gently into a huge pocket and left there to tremble. I had no fucking clue what had just happened.

Well, I did. I was a chinchilla in someone’s pocket.

Fuck.

Thank you again for letting me stop by and talk a little bit about G&G! It was a blast to write and I really hope people enjoy it as much as I did.
If anyone has questions or comments for me, I’m more than happy to chat.

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Breaking news: Deadline to enter for $25 prize extended through 8/10

I got the mother of all summer colds and didn’t follow through on anything, so there’s still time to enter to win. See the full post for details, and please do play!

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by | August 6, 2013 · 5:13 pm

A Knight to Remember–Anne Barwell’s latest fantasy (Read an excerpt here!)

Knight to Remember-Barwell_headerbanner

“You said you had something to tell me.” Aric cleared his throat, not wishing to reminiscence about such things, at least not now. He was losing his mind, he must be. This was a dream, it had to be. Yet why did it feel so real? “And my name is not Brandric. It’s Aric. Brandric is what my father calls me.”

“Aric, then.” The dragon inclined its head again, lowering its voice. “Your sister is to marry the prince of a neighboring kingdom. This must not be allowed to happen. It will not unite your kingdoms, but is merely a ploy to gain your father’s trust.”

“I already know that.” Aric had heard two of King Malachite’s men talking. Once the marriage had taken place, King Malachite planned to invade Astria and claim it in the name of Logan, his own kingdom. “He… they talked about using magic.” Aric had told his father about what he’d overheard, but he hadn’t been believed. King Malachite, King Brandr assured his son, would not attempt to betray Astria by using the evil that was magic. Nor would he use their children’s marriage to gain control over Astria. He was an honorable man who had stood by Astria and its people many times, their armies united against a common foe. Together they had triumphed over those who might use magic against them, and worked to rid both their lands of the threat of dragons.

Aric had never trusted King Malachite. There was something about the man that made his skin crawl, but if asked to explain, he couldn’t. Only two people had ever believed him: Georgia and Aunt Hannah.

“The only way to fight magic is with magic.” The dragon looked around, then cocked its head to the side as though listening to something Aric could not hear. “You must seek the Sword of Sherwin, Aric. The quest will not only save your kingdom, but also your sister.”

“I….” Aric stared at the dragon. He’d heard of the sword, of course he had. It was an old tale told to him by both his aunt and his mother. The sword was a thing of power. “It doesn’t exist. It’s just a story. Or if it did, it was lost generations ago.” He shook his head. Surely the dragon couldn’t be serious?

“Then it is time it was found again, isn’t it?”

“You make it sound simple. It’s not.” Aric looked up at the dragon. Its eyes were the same color as its scales. They seemed to bore into his own, searching his heart, and his soul. There was something ageless about it, powerful yet lonely. He shivered, and averted his gaze.

“You see what others don’t, young Aric.” The dragon opened its wings. Aric gasped. They were the length of several men, black cobwebs of fine leather and scale. “Follow your heart, and trust your instincts.”

“But I don’t know where to look.” Aric wanted to believe the dragon, he truly did. Georgia couldn’t be allowed to marry Prince Thorold, and Aric could not stand by and let his kingdom fall. Killing dragons had only been part of the oath he’d taken. He might not intend to keep that part of it, but he certainly would keep the other.

The dragon had already begun to flap its wings. It was preparing to leave, and Aric knew once it took flight he’d never be able to stop it. “Follow your heart, Aric. Do what is right.”

Aric stumbled back, his sword falling to the ground. He couldn’t kill the dragon, but more than that, he didn’t want to. “I don’t know where to look,” he yelled after it. The dragon did not reply but instead took to the air, gliding, hovering above him, its movement graceful, majestic. Something about it called to him, touched him.

He wiped at his eyes. They were wet.

When he looked up again, the dragon was gone.

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12/21/12: My turn to for the Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest!

Long and Short Reviews blogfest 2012 graphic Tomorrow, 12/21, at 2:00PM Eastern, my guest blog goes live at Long and Short Reviews, part of the Stuff Your Stocking blogfest. Instead of an interview or whatnot, this time I’ve indulged in a little holiday philosophizing. I’d of course love to know what you think about it. There’s also an Christmas scene excerpt, and an ebook to be won. I hope you’ll stop by. The following link isn’t good until tomorrow at 2 PM EST, but I’ll post it now because I’ll be slaving at the day job at that time. Here it is:

Outside Looking In.

Or copy and paste into your browser’s address bar, http://wcguest.blogspot.com/2012/12/stuff-stocking-blogfest-lou-sylvre.html .

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Vasquez and James *Yes* nominated for best tear jerker!

GR-cat-17-N 2012 best tear jerking scene badgeApparently Luki and Sonny have made a few people cry. Sorry. but not too sorry, because it got Yes: A Vasquez and Jams Novella nominated for the 2012 M/M Romance awards on Goodreads. Not surprisingly, in the best tear-jerking scene category. Thank you readers, for loving Luki Vasquez and Sonny James enough to make the nomination.

Here is the link to vote on all the categories, or click on the badge, above. Please vote, even if Luki and Sonny don’t get your vote, show your pride. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Now, I don’t know what scene from yes is the tear jerker the nominators had in mind, but I can just about guarantee this is not it! I’m offering it just for the fun of it, and a little warmth on a winter’s day. Hope you enjoy!

On New Year’s Eve, Sonny fell in love. With Luki, not for the first time. He used to fall in love with him regularly, but over the last months, it had happened rarely. Very. Not that he ever stopped loving him, but moments of heart-stopping I-love-him-so-much-I’m-gonna-die had fallen to the status of a vague hope for “someday.” But now, there Luki stood, breathing easily without oxygen, effects of chemo and prednisone dwindling—for the time being—radiation sickness beating a fast retreat. On New Year’s Eve, Sonny’s “someday” had come.

Across the living room—the only room in the rambling house still walled all the way around with the original, varnished logs—Luki held up his copy of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Sonny—who rarely watched movies, or television for that matter—privately wondered how any movie, especially one starring a bunch of stuffy Brits trying to be funny, could be so fantastic. Luki’s anticipation seemed almost boyish—though even after months of sickness, even stripped of hair, his body most certainly was not.

“C’mon, baby, let’s watch it,” Luki said. I can’t believe you’ve never seen it.”

Sonny followed him to the living room, sat in the chair and waited while he put the DVD in the player.

“No,” Luki said, tucking himself into a corner of the couch with his bare feet drawn up. “Sit over here with me. Please?”

The “please” was unnecessary, as far as Sonny was concerned.

Still, he wanted to be sure. Not long ago, Luki’s skin had been so sensitive it burned to be touched, and a body close to his made him sweat with heat. Quietly and probably too seriously, he asked, “It won’t bother you?”

“Please?”

So Sonny took up his station, laying curled up half behind Luki with his head miraculously ending up in the crook of Luki’s arm, just as if they were made to be braided together in that fashion.

Luki had discovered the joys of reading after he moved into Sonny’s house, and he especially liked to read aloud to Sonny. At those times this was how they would lay. Now, as always before, Luki stroked Sonny’s bare skin absently while they watched. It felt so sweet, so much like coming home that at first Sonny couldn’t follow the movie. Instead, he listened to Luki laughing, to his heart beating, to his breathing, soft and even.

But Luki had told the truth. Knights riding stick horses
discussing how much weight an African Swallow could carry and throwing cows at each other made him laugh—so hard he had to sit up and wipe his eyes. At a quiet point, he felt Luki’s eyes on him, thought maybe he needed something. But when he turned his head, Luki was gazing at him, his face alight with one of his slight but soul-deep smiles. Sonny tilted his head, questioning.

“Sonny. It has been so long since I’ve seen you laugh. Really laugh, with your whole heart in it.” He ran his thumb across Sonny’s lower lip. “It’s medicine. It might save my life.”

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Filed under awards, awards nominations honors, just a category, Lou Sylvre, M/M romance, Vasquez & James, Yes

Ellen Holiday on characters always getting their way and lots more, and a so-fine excerpt from *Inside the Beltway*

Click on the cover image for the buy link at Dreamspinner Press!

Senator Davis Hudson has a silver tongue that has so far kept the stress off those lesser political organs, the heart and the brain. But he’s just made a political speech that will transform him from a Senate back-bencher to a public figure and presidential contender—whether he’s ready or not—and suddenly he wants his words and actions to mean something. It’s a crucial time in his political career, and Davis needs all the publicity he can get. He just doesn’t expect the highlight of his first CNN interview to be the conversation he has with makeup artist Kurt Lamb.

Kurt is smart, politically savvy, and uninterested in being part of a congressional sex scandal, which is why he tolerates being Davis’s dirty little secret. Despite the poor timing, Davis falls for him hard.

But Kurt isn’t the only skeleton in Davis’s closet. Davis’s ex-wife isn’t happy that he’s pursuing the presidency now, after all her years of hard work, and he has at least one more enemy on the Hill. Between them, they have all the tools they need to ruin a presidential candidate—and maybe his shot at happiness too.

Ellen Holiday started writing at the age of five and never stopped. Her passion has always been for romance, for the magic moment when words are no longer needed, breath stops, and the whole world consists of two souls connecting. Writing that moment, and all the madness surrounding it in every situation, remains her passion every day of her life.

She works in Washington, D.C., where the mix of history, beauty, and politics keeps her constantly intrigued, and lives just west of the city with her husband, with whom she shares a love of science fiction, gaming, and all things geeky. They also share plenty of romantic moments of their own.

Ellen Holiday can be contacted at ellenholidayz(at>gmail(dot)com.

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: Most of my character names come to me, I don’t go searching for them. I can go from a face to a name, or just listen to another character all my new character by name, and I know who they are. Occasionally I have to go in and tweak them, but I don’t do a lot o research into finding the appropriate character name. They are who they are; I just write their stories.

Titles are very, very tricky beasts! I have a terrible time with them, and sometimes I have an easier time writing a story to go with a title than vice versa. The short stories I’ve published for Dreamspinner — “Touched by the West Wind” (for the Cross Bones anthology) and “Rainy Days and Star Charts” (for Higher Learning) are my favorite titles; my least favorite right now is the working title for the novel I’m currently writing, as it doesn’t quite convey what I’m going for, but it’s close enough for now.

Q: In what locale is your most recent book set? How compelling was it to set a story there? Do you choose location the same way every time? How?
A: “Inside the Beltway” is set in Washington, D.C., which is where I work; I was so happy to be able to write a political novel and to have it read realistically for the world I encounter every day. D.C. is like a different planet sometimes, but it’s such a fantastically layered and interesting place, and there’s so much going on here that I want to be able to convey. Both my current projects are also set in D.C., but I’d also really like to set a story or two in the Boston area, where I grew up and went to college. My other hope is to set a story in Japan, where I lived for a year. I’m fluent in the language and very interested in the society there, so I am hoping I can come up with a story that rings true to that country, as well. It’s incredibly important for me to be able to see the locales I’m writing about, and it’s also really fun for me to revisit places I’ve been with my stories. When I was a kid I did a lot of imagining love stories set in various places I visited and vacationed. So in a way I’ve been doing this my whole life.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: They can do whatever they want, but I’ll go back and mess with them later if they’re not moving the story along. The most frustrating thing for me is how very much my characters want to be happy, and I just can’t let them be totally happy if I’m going to write a good story, no matter how much I may personally want to see them do well.

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: I absolutely adore writing the self-discovery aspect of relationships. Questions of identity — who am I, how much of myself is immutable, what of myself do I show the world, etc. — hold enormous fascination for me, and for a person to fall in love requires a leap of faith, to show to another person his secret heart and hope that the feelings are returned. As each of my characters falls in love, he discovers something about himself that he didn’t know. Sometimes that’s “I can fall in love with a man,” sometimes it’s “I see myself as belonging to this or that group,” or “the boundary between my public and private selves lies in a different place than I thought.” These questions are ones all of us, not just gay people, struggles with, but I think writing gay relationships gives me a framework as a writer to deal with them directly and overtly. So that’s what I find satisfying. That, and all the inherent hotness of gorgeous men together — which contains elements of power dynamics and gender roles, which are also questions of identity, but they become more accessible because they’re, ahem, packaged in such an appealing way.

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction–do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: I absolutely love hearing from readers! I’m relatively new on the scene, so I have yet to build up a lot of fans, but absolutely everything I hear from readers is taken to heart. I’m not one of those people who shuns reviews (though perhaps I should) — reviews have taught me a lot about what readers are looking for, what aspects of my writing they find appealing and what they don’t. And I learn from them, above and beyond the boost or injury to my ego.

As for more direct suggestions, one of the ways I’ve been able to draw some people to my blog is by asking for direct writing challenges. I encourage anyone and everyone reading this to visit ellenholiday.wordpress.com and look for my writing challenge posts!

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: I don’t know that I can speak to an ideal, but I can certainly say that I’m so delighted when readers take the time to leave a review or a rating or drop me a line or a tweet (@ellen_holiday!). I’m always so glad to hear from folks and have had some wonderful conversations with readers. There was a gentleman from England who emailed me, saying he wished he could vote for a politician like Davis Hudson (the protagonist of “Inside the Beltway”) – that was a great compliment! So readers, if you like what an author has to say, don’t hesitate to drop them a line. They may not all respond — they might be too busy writing the next book you’ll love — but it will give them great validation and motivation to keep writing.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: Oh, everything! As I mentioned above, I am happy to read both good and bad reviews of my work. Among other things, it gives me a snapshot of what people are looking for in their stories. And sometimes that’s different things. I have had reviews that have said Davis was a truly good politician and good man, and those that said he was smarmy and unlikeable. So sometimes it’s a wash, but when there is a trend among reviews, it’s definitely something to keep in mind for next time. Do I want to craft a story absolutely everyone will love? Of course. Am I likely to do that in this life or the next? Probably not. So I take reviews as a general idea of what at least part of the reading public is thinking. And it’s good stuff to know when I’m crafting plots.

Q: I’m well known for demanding to know an author’s opinion about which of their characters is the sexiest, and I’m making no exception for this group. Who, how, and why?

A: Oh, it’s so hard for me to decide! I have a thing about writing “real” men, not underwear model types, so for each of my characters I can tell you at least one of their physical “flaws.” If I have to choose a character that’s already been published, I will say Kurt Lamb, Davis’s love interest in “Inside the Beltway.” He’s tremendously smart and self-assured, but he has this dry wit and this way of smiling that is just brain-meltingly hot. I describe it as “wolflike” in the book. He’s like this lean, sexy wolfman who keeps making Davis’ heart skip a beat, and he does the same for me.

For the stories I’m currently working on, the hero of my next novel, Ryan Ryder, is a bit of a challenge for me. He holds opposite political views to my own, which makes him annoy me no end, but he’s incredibly funny and sarcastic and a joy to write. So I have a bit of a crush on him too, despite the fact that if he were real, I think I would want to smack him silly. Well. I’d want to do something to him.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).
A: Oh, dear lord! I’m sure I haven’t the slightest. Every time I write a love scene it’s the hottest thing I’ve ever written. The sex you’re having now is always the hottest sex ever. (LBS shakes her head sadly and responds to Ellen’s last sentence, “‘taint necessarily so.”)

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: I’ve just completed the manuscript to a novella called “Small Miracles” that I’ve sent to my beta and am hoping to submit soon. It’s about a runaway who is living on the streets. He has a chance encounter with a man at a bar that turns into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but after what he’s been through, he has trouble believing something good could ever happen to him. It’s a bit of a fairy tale, but a very romantic one.

My next novel is about a talk radio host whose political and personal views are thrown upside down when one of his callers challenges him to meet face-to-face. It’s a really intimate love story with a bit of a political edge, which is one of my favorite things to write (as you might have guessed!) It’s about two-thirds done and I’ll probably finish it early next year.

An Excerpt from Inside the Beltway

Kurt laid his bag on the kitchen table and strode into the kitchen area. Leaning backward against the rim of the sink, he raised his eyes to meet Davis’s. “Look,” he said, “I didn’t want to say anything in front of your driver, but I thought that I ought to apologize.”

Thrown for a loop, Davis frowned. “Apologize? You don’t have anything to be sorry for.”

“Yeah, I do.” Kurt sighed. “I shouldn’t have sent that text. I shouldn’t have told you I thought about you. It was a stupid thing to do. I got the feeling I made you uncomfortable, and that wasn’t my intention.”

Davis kept watching the flex of his elbows, the way his wrists wrapped neatly around the edge of the counter and extended into those long, nimble hands.

Kurt was still talking. “I honestly like you, Davis. You’re just an amazing man, and I do have to admit that if things were different I might not hesitate to be a little more forward.”

The way those hands had felt, familiar and warm, against Davis’s face….

“But I’m aware that things are the way they are, and I don’t want you to think that I’d do anything to jeopardize our friendship or to make you feel like I was making a move that wasn’t welcome—”

Davis strode across the kitchen. Kurt’s breath, mid inhalation, became a quick gasp. Davis tipped his chin up quickly and brought Kurt’s still open mouth to his.

His lips on Kurt’s were a revelation, and Davis was hungry all of a sudden, drowning all of a sudden. He couldn’t breathe, didn’t ever want to break the surface. Kurt’s eyes closed sometime before Davis’s did, because Davis remembered seeing his eyelashes bob and droop. But then the world was dark, and all he knew was that there was a chest against his, strong hands on his arms, the counter a cold bite against his own hands. And Kurt was opening up to him, lips sliding apart beneath his, a small sound slipping out from his throat in the sudden devastating quiet of the small kitchen.

Kurt had been the one to gasp, but now Davis couldn’t breathe. He was taking in little sniffs of air through his nose, but they weren’t enough to fill up his lungs. Nothing was. Kurt’s lips were drawing out every inch of breath and life from him.

I’m going to die, he thought wildly. This man is going to kill me.

His fingers scrabbled hard for a place to hang on and found it in the collar of Kurt’s shirt, green and still damp and smelling of makeup. Kurt’s lips were warm and giving, utterly selfless. They didn’t demand a single thing of Davis, just gave and gave, and Davis was sure no one had ever been so generous to him in his life.

He broke off, staring at Kurt, lips swollen, eyes wide. “Oh my God,” he heard himself say briefly before his lips found Kurt’s again.

Kurt lifted his hands to Davis’s hair, brushed fingernails over his scalp. “It’s okay,” he whispered, words breaking against the assault of Davis’s mouth. “It’s okay. I’m right here.”

“Why—” Davis fought for breath. “Why are you saying that? Why—” He couldn’t stop kissing him, couldn’t stop taking in those lips, the lips that always gave.

“Shh.” Kurt’s hands tightened, held him still. He brushed his mouth against Davis’s once more. “You’re kissing me like I’m going to disappear. I’m not. I’m staying right here. Relax.”

“You don’t understand.” Deprived of the oxygen of Kurt’s touch, Davis wheezed. “You don’t. Once this stops, it can never happen again.”

“Sure it can.” Kurt was grinning, redness painting his cheekbones. He ran his hands across Davis’s neck to his jaw, dancing them across the subtle fuzz of his five o’clock shadow.

It felt good, too good. Davis shuddered head to toe. A sick feeling lurched in his stomach, and reality broke over him like a wave. He pushed away. “No, it can’t,” he said loudly, very nearly shouting. “This is a one-time mistake, and that’s all it can ever be.”

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