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New! Vasquez Inc #6—A Shot of Courage

A Shot of Courage


Kink and wedding vows can’t stop danger
but love gives a Dom and his sub
courage to fight.

Get it at Changeling Press—15% off, download now!

Or your preferred retailer—preorder now, download 8/7!



After too much time apart from his lover and sub, Brian Harrison is thinking kink, a cowboy hat, and one more marriage proposal. When Jackie Vasquez finally says “yes” to a wedding, he also says, “why wait?” But their vows and the toasts to the happy couple have hardly faded when a phone call reminds them that trouble still awaits.

Despite his best intentions, Brian broke the law in his efforts to stop a powerful criminal from harming those he loves. He could go to prison, or he could risk his life going undercover to help bring one of Europe’s most nefarious citizens to justice. Friends and smart thinking can help him do the right thing. But only love can supply the courage he and Jackie need to prevail against schemes and guns and, if they’re lucky, stay alive to enjoy a honeymoon.



An Exclusive Excerpt:

For Brian, Jackie’s unfaltering love and a quiet session showing him how beautiful he was in ropes had resulted in a settled mind and a good night’s sleep. By the time he sat at the table with his early morning coffee, though, he was worried again. His anxiety had taken a new tone. One good thing: Jackie loved him. Bad things: he was in trouble with the law and on mandatory leave from his job. The worst thing — or so it seemed at the moment: Luki probably didn’t trust him anymore, and he still hadn’t told him everything.

Jackie had gone out already, wanting to check in at school and with Dr. Holland, and maybe see Esi. Brian hadn’t wanted him to go, but Jackie understood the risks, and he was all grown up, and neither love nor Dominance, nor even marriage gave him the right to keep him from making up his own mind. He listened to Brian’s pleas to “be careful, don’t go places alone, and if you see something or someone that seems wrong, call me or the cops, depending.” And then he kissed Brian, said, “I’ll be careful,” and left.

As a result, when Luki arrived in LA and came up to the apartment, Brian was home alone.

He sat down on the couch looking exhausted. Brian felt bad, knowing he was about to lay some more trouble on him, but he was determined. He made coffee, poured two cups, and said. “Luki, there’s more. I meant to tell you all of it, but… well, I’m not sure why, but it just didn’t happen.”

Luki looked at him either forbiddingly or inquiringly — Brian wasn’t sure which.

“I’ve agreed to… work for Vintner.” Tempted to go on and pour out the whole story, Brian swallowed down the flood of words and guilt, and waited for Luki’s initial response.
Luki barely reacted. An eyebrow went up, and clearly gears were turning, but he didn’t ice down, and he didn’t snap. He didn’t even make one of his snarky comments. After a moment, he said, “I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t take that statement at face value.”

“Uh, well, there is more to it, yes.”

“Speak. No wait. I need more coffee. You?” Without waiting for a reply, he stepped into Brian and Jackie’s tiny kitchen retrieved the pot and the sugar bowl and brought them to the table. “Sit down here,” he said, while shoveling sugar. Once he’d taken his seat and fetched a toothpick from his pocket, he said, “Go.”

Brian picked up his cup and sipped, intending to stall and collect the right words but only succeeding in burning his lip, so that all he really said was, “Shit!”

Luki got him ice water.

“I am afraid of Vintner, which I already told you. Last thing I wanted was to end up like Espen, but he managed to blackmail me, I guess. He hired me… I mean, he came in pretending to be a customer — pretending either of us believed that — and wanted me to look into the hot cars he sold that were then stolen from his customers. I said no, but he let me know he could hurt people I loved. And well, I believe him Luki. Ruth and Jade, what happened to Lonny, that’s not coincidence.”

“No. It’s not. And you’re right to be scared of him. So you… agreed. You didn’t think of telling me.”

“It was the first thing I thought of, but that was part of his warning And I half-convinced myself I could just do it, and he’d let us alone. I know that was stupid.”

“Maybe.”

“That’s all there is. Except I went to jail…”

“I know.”

“Not that time. Before.” Brian told him about Jackie’s search for Esi, about the trip into the tunnels with Dr. Holland, and the weird fight with Roscoe Lieb, or Gerald Roscoe. “Whatever his name is. We both got arrested. I got released. Apparently there’s no record of it, because it didn’t turn up in the fingerprint match the other day.”

Luki stayed calm and cool, but there was a strained edge to it, and he said nothing until he’d finished his coffee and started in on the toothpick. “Anything else, Brian? Anything at all?”

“Um… I demanded data from him, info on his customers. Told him I couldn’t do the job without it. I thought maybe we… I… we could use it to… I don’t know. I got it. He sent files.”
Luki’s eyes widened and he nodded, but the silence was deep enough for Brian to count the muffled ticks of the clock on the kitchen stove.

“Just so you know,” Luki finally said, his tone casual, “He’s not blackmailing you.”

“Well –”

“It’s called coercion, not blackmail. Two different beasts. And you realize that by working with Vintner — even superficially — you’ve become at the very least an accomplice in his crimes, if perhaps a case couldn’t be made for conspiracy.”

Brian closed his eyes, part of his struggle to maintain his balance. Bullshit. I am not a criminal! He knew that, and he was convinced that Luki knew it too.

“You could try, as a defense, to point out that you were coerced — feared for your life, even. Unfortunately, while coercion can get you out of a contract, it can’t really get you out of a guilty verdict. So we’ll have to try something else.”

“We?”

“Of course, Brian. Think about it. You are my nephew’s husband. If you get hurt, he’s hurt. And you’re my employee. If you get convicted my business is seriously fucked. And you’re my friend. Someone I care about. Love like family — you are family. I might not be happy with things you’ve done, but I’m not gonna hang you out to dry.”

“Uh, well. Thank you.” In reality, Luki’s kind words did more to undo Brian’s composure than any threat or angry snarl could ever have done. He couldn’t meet Luki’s eyes, so he drank coffee, then wiped an imaginary spill with the heel of his hand. “So then, you have a plan?”

“Yes. I’m going to disappear, at least as far as most eyes are concerned. I’m going to take some important people with me to keep them safe — including Jackie.”

Brian wanted to break down and cry. Everything he was facing was already overwhelming. The last thing he wanted to hear was that he’d be facing it alone, with no help, and no Jackie to claim his attention once he got home — and yes, to find comfort in, even shelter.

“Objection?”

“No,” Brian said, and even though it came out like a poisoned breath, he meant it sincerely. He wanted Jackie safe above all else. And if Jackie was at the apartment behind VSI — or anywhere Vintner could find him easily — safe is what he would not be. After swallowing to try and fix his voice, Brian repeated, “No, Luki. Jackie being safe is the most important thing in the world. Hiding with you seems like a safe place.”

“Good. To be clear, he and Sonny and whoever else close enough to either of us to be in danger — if I can get them to join me — will be ‘hiding’ on vacation. And I’ll have some people around, keeping eyes out. People who know how to deal with bad guys.”

He stopped speaking, and when he caught Brian’s eye, smiled softly, his eyes kind and reassuring in an expression Brian thought wouldn’t have even been in Luki’s repertoire before Sonny, before the cancer.

Brian breathed a little easier, and smiled back, although truthfully it only made the desire to weep a little stronger. He still pushed it back, though. He didn’t want Luki to think he was caught up in self-pity.

“You won’t be alone in whatever’s coming your way. I’ll make sure you have a way to get in touch with Jackie, and possibly more important in the circumstances, me. I’ll help you in any way I can that doesn’t endanger our people more than necessary. I’m going to seem to disappear, but I’ll be around. Does any of that help?”

Brian nodded emphatically, almost knocked the chair down, getting up, and started viciously rinsing out his cup. “Though I’d feel even better if I was one of them.”

“One of who?”

“People who know how to deal with bad guys.”

“You are, Brian. Why do you think Vintner feels a need to make sure you’re handled?”

Luki brought his cup to Brian for a wash, leaned in, and said, “Anyway, I’m glad the measures I’m taking make you feel a bit better. Because, I now need to pull the rug out from under you.”

“What?”

“I’m going to report it all to Jesse Douglas.”

At the word ‘report,’ Brian dropped the cup. Fortunately, nothing broke. “Jesse Douglas — State Department, they’ve already had me charged with a crime.”

“Yeah, well. I think we can stop that before it becomes a trend.”

Thanks for reading! Comments welcome below, and if you are typically do reviews, review copies are still available.

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Gay Romance University 103: Charley Descoteaux’s *A Curious Sustenance*—Best Methods for Moving On if Your Ex is an Ass

Welcome back to Gay Romance University. The lessons in this course are drawn from the experiences of Ross and a man who, for now, we’ll just call Shaggy. Their tale is well-told in our text, Curious Sustenance, by talented author Charley Descoteaux. Thanks go out to Charley, Ross, and Shaggy for putting themselves at the mercy of Gay Romance U.

A little background: Ross’ former boyfriend Brad behaved like an ass, presenting the newly svelte Ross with chocolate. Okay, I see the shocked looks on your faces. How can a beautiful, rich, triple-layer chocolate cake adorned with a liberal covering of chocolate shavings be bad? Chocolate Cake Close UpTake my word for it, Brad’s so-called gift, was underhanded sabotage. For details, read the early pages of the text. For the course, our interest in the cake is that it leads to the first lesson, which is actually the one Ross had to learn after he discovered what a (fill in the blank) Brad was, and had always been. It’s really Ross’s best friend, Janet who provides us with this insight. On page 15, we are privy to a snippet of Janet’s wisdom, in a nutshell:

“Let him clean that up.”

“But—”

“I swear, if you start cleaning that up, I’m leaving.”

“He’ll be gone two weeks.”

“Tough shit for him, then. He should’ve thought of that before he acted like an idiot prick.”

Class, repeat after me: Say it, sister! Seriously, Janet is testifying, here, people. This first point in the lesson is one we should all take with us into a relationship: if the guy is an idiot prick, let him wallow in whatever is left behind when you hit the road.

Now, of course, if the lesson ended there, we could assume that life in general is kind of a sad affair. But there’s always another step, and if you’re like Ross, you take that step in the right direction. Of course before you can take a step in the right direction, you have to understand where you are. In the following passage, on page 17, Ross realizes that he is now in a ‘place’ he’s never before been, and while it’s not a particularly pleasant spot, it isn’t all bad.

Being dumped was exhausting. This came as quite a shock to the guy who’d watched romantic relationships from a distance most of his life. He didn’t want to admit it felt obscenely satisfying. Not only was he part of it in a whole new way, but the people he’d been jealous of all his life might not have had it as easy as he thought after all.

So where does a man go from there? If you’re Ross, you get yourself looking real good, like this, from page 19:

…he emerged in black silk from top to bottom. The buttons on his long-sleeved shirt gleamed silver, matching the small buckles on his black leather demi-boots. He felt almost as though he wore someone else’s clothes, but that was only because they were new. He’d worn the slacks the last time Brad had taken him out to the Heathman Hotel for drinks, but they’d been too tight. Now they hugged his ass perfectly…

Once you’ve donned clothes that make you look luscious, you go somewhere brand new. In this passage, beginning farther along on page 19, we join Ross as he steps out into a new chapter in his life. Oh, and we can also learn from this that it’s okay to be nervous. You look delicious anyway.

His stomach fluttered as he walked with Janet, about a half a block in the other direction, and then she opened a door Ross never would’ve noticed because it had no sign to attract attention. […]

“Where are we going?” Ross tried to hide his nerves, but after the last surprise, he wasn’t sure he wanted any more.

“It’s a private club. Don’t worry, I’m a member, and you’re my guest.” They stopped on the landing, in a little alcove. A red door stood at the end of a short hallway to his left. The street sounded very far away. “Tonight, you’ll be Hunter.”

“Pardon me?”

“You can stay anonymous. And since you have those luscious green eyes, you’ll be hiding behind the name Hunter.” Janet smiled and gently pulled his top button open before taking Ross by the hand and heading for the door.

On the other side of the red door was a foyer lined with red velvet curtains. Janet passed her coat and purse to a pretty young man on the other side of a counter. It was as if they’d stepped onto the set of an old porn flick. Brad had been on an oldies kick not long ago, and the fake potted palm in the corner, muted lighting, and shirtless boy behind the counter wearing a red bow tie the exact color of the curtains reminded him of one of those flicks. He backed toward the door.

Yes, it’s okay to be nervous, but don’t leave! Good things are bound to happen. After encountering a few surprising sights, Ross arrives at the right conclusion:

Artistic abstract pattern of rope twists on dark red background“This is a sex club.” Ross hissed into Janet’s ear. “You brought me to a sex club?”
She pulled him the last few steps to the bar and found them two empty stools. The stools were freestanding and a few didn’t match. It was like being in someone’s living room while they were having a theme party. Before Janet had time to answer, his eyes grew wide and he leaned in even closer.

“You’re in a sex club?”

Now, like many of us, Ross is not always terribly brave and ready to face the unknown. (Forgive me for saying that, Ross, but you know it’s true.) So, once he realized he was in a sex club, and furthermore, a mostly heterosexual-seeming sex club, he wants to leave—ASAP (Brad’s term). Fortunately, before he got a chance to make a getaway, he’s taken to Amethyst’s rooms, where he expects to watch a scene. But, oh, my. Lucky Ross, he sees something, or I should say someone, entirely different. Beginning on page 22:

The room looked like anyone’s living room. Anyone like Elvira or maybe Bela Lugosi. The couches and chairs were all covered in dark velvet that may’ve been purple, and the muted lighting made the candlesticks grouped in the corners gleam like old silver. Janet’s friend turned a dimmer switch and some of the candles brightened. She was speaking, but Ross couldn’t hear. His mind stopped processing everything except the man striding in his direction. He had to be six three, and when he got closer, Ross thought he probably had a Japanese grandfather. He was gorgeous, with his long black hair, simple black suit, and smoky gaze.jackie rope bondage shibari goo ftuos

“May I have a word?”

The man’s voice was even smokier than his gaze, and Ross already felt as though he were a heartbeat away from bursting into flame. He nodded, and a firm hand on his lower back guided him off to the side of the room. The man stopped in the center of an ornate oriental rug and looked Ross over appreciatively.

“I practice Shibari. You have heard of it?”

Ross nodded. He’d seen pictures of pretty young men bound with intricate knots on the Internet but hadn’t been tempted to approach Brad to try it.

“I am called Shaggy, and I would like to work with you.” The man palmed his shoulder, and his whole body warmed to the touch. “You are Scarlett’s friend?”

Ross nodded again, trying but failing to speak with his mind so full of the hand resting on his shoulder.

“Do you like pain?”

Ross gasped softly and shook his head.

“I will do nothing meant to cause pain. What is your safe word?”

The question woke Ross up enough to speak. He felt as though he’d stepped into a movie—the atmosphere, this gorgeous man’s extremely careful speech pattern, and his own shocking desire.

“My….” was all he could get out, but it was something.

Shaggy held his eyes for a long moment. The man was an excellent showman; he had the mysterious magician-vibe down. Ross felt himself falling into those dark eyes.

“We will use the traffic-signal colors.” Slowly but without hesitation, the man’s fingers began to unbutton Ross’s shirt. “If you feel any discomfort, use them. Yellow and I will slow down. Red and I stop immediately and cut the ropes. Do you understand?”

Ross nodded, and his shirt was unbuttoned. It wasn’t cold in the room, but he shivered as Shaggy’s fingers touched the bare skin of his chest. Shaggy walked around behind Ross and spoke in his ear as he drew the soft shirt away from his shoulders and down his arms.

“I want to hear you say the words.”

“Yellow is slow down. Red is stop.”

The man, who Ross found impossible to call Shaggy even in his head, smiled, and Ross worried he wouldn’t be able to remain standing much longer. Nobody had ever looked at him like that, as though he were beautiful and special and quite possibly delicious. The man draped his shirt over a small velvet chair and turned back to him.

“Yes,” he said softly, so only Ross could hear. He ran his palm slowly across Ross’s chest, from his left shoulder to just below his right nipple. “This will be beautiful.”

Mm-hmm. “Special and quite possibly delicious.” Sound promising? The rest of this passage is so much worth reading. I recommend it for additional study. Of course things go on from there, as they do in life and romance, but this is where we end today’s lesson.

I hope this GRU course has been enjoyable and informative, and I hope you can put Ross’s life lessons to use, or encourage a friend to do so, perhaps.

If you haven’t picked up the text yet and want to do so, click the cover image for the buy link. If you’d like to know more about Charley Descoteaux, try her website, CharleyDescoteauxwrites, or find her on twitter @CharlieDescote, or on her facebook author page.

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