Release Blitz: Bad Moon Arising by CL Mustafic (excerpt and giveaway)

Title:  Bad Moon Arising

Series: Outcasts, Book One

Author: CL Mustafic

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: July 9, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 51100

Genre: Paranormal, shifters, werewolves, mates, humor, enemies to lovers

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Synopsis

In a sleepy trailer park in the backwoods of Minnesota lake country, there lies a secret—threatened by a Grindr hookup gone bad.

Clay Anderson gets more than he bargained for when, in a moment of passion, he bites his Grindr hookup hard enough to draw blood. The man’s reaction isn’t as reassuring as Clay hoped, but of all the consequences Clay considered, lycanthropy wasn’t among them.

Damian Maccon leads a simple life as part of the Outcast pack. Not realizing at first that Clay swallowed his blood during their wild romp, he feels responsible when it’s evident that Clay has become infected. Worse, he now has a new werewolf on his hands until Clay learns the rules, and he has to oversee Clay’s decision to choose a mate within the pack.

Damian thinks his biggest problem is that Clay hates him, but when Clay chooses Damian’s abusive ex-boyfriend, Blaine, he goes on full alert. Can he save Clay from the same fate that befell him at Blaine’s hands?

Excerpt

Bad Moon Arising
CL Mustafic © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
CLAY

Sitting in the back booth of the Blue Moon Bar and Grill—the only openly gay-friendly spot in the small city I worked in—I ran my finger over the screen of my phone, trying to gather up enough courage to tap the picture I’d been staring at for the past ten minutes. Touching the pic brought up his profile, which I’d already memorized. The green light told me he was online and only a few miles away from my current location. I liked his pic. It wasn’t very often Grindr users in my rural area posted pictures of their faces. Previous experience had taught me most of the app’s users were closeted and/or straight guys who liked to suck the occasional cock and worried their dude bros would download the app as a joke and see them there. But this guy had no such issue, and boy, was I glad.

Of course, on the heels of that thought came another: it probably wasn’t a real pic of the guy. As I stared into the mismatched eyes—one a light green, the other a pale blue—I had a feeling he was catfishing, but there was only one way to find out for sure. Tapping the picture of the shaggy, sandy-blond-haired, scruffy-faced man brought up the chat, but I hesitated a moment. His user name was MoonGazer, which made me think of a nerdy guy with a telescope. Suddenly I had a vision of the guy sitting in his room spying on the hot guy next door, which gave me the boost of confidence I needed to send a message.

[hey]

I sent the one word and immediately wanted to take it back. I should have said something like Hey, sexy, want to hook up? but that wasn’t me, and I couldn’t change the person I was, even on Grindr. Half a beer later, he responded.

[hey urself]

My palms were sweaty as I stared at the words and tried to formulate a response, but he beat me to it.

[r u l%kin 2 h%k up]

All the moisture left my mouth, so I picked up my beer and chugged the rest before I sent another one-word message.

[yep]

[whr u at]

Shit, he moved fast, but this is what I wanted, and he must have liked my pic enough to give it a go. My profile pic was only my chest. Yeah, I know it’s a cliché, but I had a great body, whereas my face? Well, my face wasn’t my best feature.

[you know where the blue moon is]

[b thr in 10]

I almost dropped my phone, but instead, I juggled it and managed to avoid it hitting the table.

[I’m in the back booth, black hair, red shirt]

What the hell was I doing? Oh, fuck it. I needed to get laid, and even if the guy wasn’t remotely as hot as his picture, I could turn him around and do it without having to look at him.

[gotcha]

Well, he wasn’t going to be much for conversation; that was for sure. After ordering a shot of vodka and another beer for courage, I sat back in my booth, eyes glued to the front door as I sipped my beer to soothe the burn from the stronger alcohol. The minutes ticked by slowly, and then the door opened and all the air in the room was sucked out when he stepped into the bar.

He waved to the burly bartender before turning his head and surveying the room. It was like a god had appeared, and I wasn’t the only one who noticed. Every set of eyes followed the tall, muscular man as he sauntered across the room. I wanted to shrink down into the booth. His picture hadn’t done him justice, and I knew I was about to be rebuked in a horrible fashion when he saw what he’d come to meet.

The moment he spotted me will be forever etched into my mind. His mismatched eyes settled on my face, and a predatory grin spread across his lips. Droplets of sweat rolled down my back and pooled in the crack of my ass, making me shift at the uncomfortable sensation. His gaze never left me as he made his way to my booth before dropping down on the bench across from me.

“Hey there, black hair, red shirt,” he said, in a slow, sexy, Southern-tinged drawl. His voice was low and gravely, and it stirred all sorts of feelings in me—well, in my pants at least.

“Hey.” God, I sounded like the nerd I’d been hoping he’d turn out to be. He chuckled, and the hairs on my arms stood up.

“Want to get out of here?”

Straight to the point, like his messages; at least he wasn’t at all about false advertising. Nodding, I grabbed my wallet and pulled out a twenty to leave on the table to cover my tab and tip. We stood at the same time, and he waited for me to put my jacket on before he headed for the door. We didn’t say anything more as we left the bar. I followed him out into the parking lot, but then stopped when I realized I had no clue where we were going since my car was parked in the opposite direction from the one he was heading.

“Do you have someplace we can go?” I asked. I could take him back to my place, but that meant a twenty-minute drive, and I wasn’t sure I wanted him to know where I lived. He could be a serial killer for all I knew.

“I got a camper on the back of my truck. That work for you?” His grin widened into a smile when he looked back over his shoulder at me and pointed to the brand-new four-door extended-box pickup that did indeed have one of those tacky campers attached to it. His wasn’t too bad, since it was a newer model, but it was still something of an atrocity. I wondered briefly if he lived in there, but then decided I didn’t care. It wasn’t as if I was looking to marry the guy.

“I guess that will do.” I shrugged and went to the small door at the back, but he’d gone to the driver’s side door of the truck.

“I think we should at least drive out of the city a bit. Wouldn’t want to scare the good folks when you start screaming my name,” he said, with a wink, before opening his door and climbing in without even waiting to see if I’d follow.

I hesitated. Did I really want to get in the truck with this guy? My brain said it wasn’t the best idea, but my cock didn’t agree. I guess the small head won out because next thing I knew, I was sitting in the big leather seat next to him, and he was driving out of the city. There was no conversation. I didn’t expect there to be an in-depth discussion on environmental politics or anything, but a bit of chitchat would have been nice while we drove for over ten minutes looking for a place to pull off that provided us some tree cover to hide the truck from the traffic on the highway.

He put the truck into park and shut off the engine before he turned to me. “You ready to do this?”

“Yeah, let’s go.” I opened my door and jumped down. The sound of his door opening made the situation feel real to me in a way it hadn’t before. Something about the guy seemed off, and I wondered, if I were to start running, would he give chase or simply laugh at me? I made my feet move and met him at the back of the truck.

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Meet the Author

CL Mustafic is a born and bred American mid-westerner who mysteriously ended up living in one of those countries nobody can ever find on the map of Europe. Left with too much time on her hands—let’s be honest here: it was the lack of television channels in her native language–and too many voices in her head trying to fill the silence, she decided to give her life-long dream of writing a novel a shot. So now, between shuttling kids back and forth from various activities and risking her life on the insanely narrow, busy streets of her new hometown, she loses herself in her own made-up world where love always wins.

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Release Blitz: Skating Through by Jennifer Cosgrove (Excerpt and Giveaway)

Title:  Skating Through

Author: Jennifer Cosgrove

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: July 2, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 70500

Genre: Contemporary YA, BFF, coming of age, coming out, high school, hockey, homophobia, sports, YA

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Synopsis

There are two things Ben Lewis has convinced himself he can never have at the same time: playing hockey and being openly gay. Hockey is looking to be his only choice. Until now. Being captain of the team and starting his senior year of high school is a lot to handle. Throw in a budding friendship with his crush, Marcus, and Ben is faced with deciding if he’s brave enough to take the next step.

Fortunately, courage can come from unexpected places. His BFF Ryan, new friends, and a voice from the past are great assists to his determination to be true to himself and keep playing the game he loves, but will they be enough?

Excerpt

Skating Through
Jennifer Cosgrove © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
“There you are.”

A murmured meow was Ben’s answer as Biscuit settled next to him, curling close to his side. He was wide awake. It was still dark outside, the only light in the room coming through the window from the streetlight on the corner. The alarm hadn’t gone off yet, but he’d trained himself to be up at the crack of dawn. He stretched, careful not to disturb the cat, and ran a hand through his hair in an attempt to flatten out the mess. He was in dire need of a haircut. Every year, he decided to grow it out, and every year, he changed his mind as soon as hockey season was on the horizon. It was just too much to deal with under a hockey helmet. Besides, he looked a little ridiculous with long hair.

He stared at the ceiling and let the rare quiet of the house wash over him. Most guys his age would sleep until noon, especially on summer break, but that wasn’t going to happen. The alarm started going off and Ben grabbed for the phone, accidentally knocking it off the nightstand along with his Band of Brothers DVDs and sending Biscuit scurrying away and out the door. He fumbled over the side of the bed, finally snagged the phone, and swiped across the screen to turn off the cheerful beeping.

Maybe he should just give in and go to the rink, get in some early ice time. He sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. His dad would probably get up and give him a ride. Ben rose and took a step toward the door. Or he’d tell him to go back to bed—it’s an off day, for god’s sake, Ben. Probably not, then. He shut the door with a click and got back in bed, scrolling through the texts from last night out of habit.

Ryan: he was in the shop again

Ben: …

Ryan: I didn’t say anything

Ryan: I wouldn’t do that

Ben: I know.

Ryan: you’re going to have to talk to him eventually

At that, Ben had put his phone down and gone to bed. Ryan meant well, but he wasn’t ready to deal with that. It just didn’t work that way. Not for him. Not now.

Ben looked at the time and groaned. When the phone beeped again, he turned it completely off and tossed it back onto the nightstand. He thought about getting up anyway but dragged a pillow over his head instead. Sleep deserved another try.

The next time Ben woke up it was to a pounding on his bedroom door that could only be one person. “Cut it out, Bethy!”

“Quit playing with yourself and get up, Benny!” The giggling that followed was cut short when he heard his mom’s voice coming up the stairs, followed by her light footsteps.

“Beth! Leave your brother alone.” A pause. “And don’t be crude.”

Ben rolled his eyes and struggled to sit up. There was a gentle tapping on his door. “Ben, honey?”

“Yeah, Mom.”

The door opened and she peeked in cautiously.

“Remember we’re going to help Gran today.” How could he forget? She’d reminded him every day for the past week. It wasn’t like he was going to suddenly develop amnesia or something. “And we need to leave soon, so if you want breakfast, you’d better get a move on.”

He definitely wanted breakfast. “I’ll be right down.”

“Hurry. The vultures are circling,” she said with a wink and closed the door behind her.

Ben got up, stretched, and rolled his shoulders. He thought about going through the flexibility routine Coach Jordan recommended, but he just didn’t feel like it. It was his day off, and he was going to stick to that. He let his routine slip a bit during the summer, and he’d get enough of a workout moving heavy boxes and furniture, anyway. His grandma was leaving the cold winters of upstate New York to escape to Florida’s warmer climate. She’d laughed when he told her she was a walking, talking cliché.

“That might be true, my love, but I’ll still be the youngest one down there.” It was true. She’d taken early retirement when his grandfather had gotten ill, and now that he’d passed, she had the means to make a move closer to her sister. He was going to miss her.

“Ben?” His mom’s voice floated up the stairs.

He sighed and picked up the DVDs that had fallen down beside the bed and started pulling clothes out so he could tell her, honestly, that he was getting ready.

“Five seconds!”

“Plate’s on the table.”

Ugh. He’d better hurry. He could smell bacon, and either Beth or his dad would have no qualms about stealing it right off his plate. Always the bacon. And today it would be real bacon instead of turkey bacon, so that made it even more tempting. Not that turkey bacon ever stopped them. He felt a twinge of guilt for making his mom fix two different breakfasts most days, but it was something they’d lived with from the time he’d started high school. Ever since he got serious about hockey.

It was all he’d ever wanted to do. He’d known from the first time he stepped out on the ice. He was good at it, and he was lucky to have supportive parents. It hadn’t been easy. The equipment and fees were expensive, and the demanding training and game schedules were always a challenge. But he was never late to practice, and they’d never missed a home game. It would be worth it, he thought. The college scholarship would make a huge difference. He didn’t want his parents to bear all the burden of putting him and his sister through school, not if he could help it.

He pulled on a faded Flyers T-shirt and opened his door, almost tripping over the ball of fluff waiting right outside. “Dammit, Biscuit!” He received a put-upon meow in return as he scooped the cat up in his arms. Biscuit’s rumbling purr was comforting against his chest as he carried him down the stairs. The cat started to squirm as soon as they got to the kitchen, ready to get at the food waiting in his dish.

Ben absently brushed cat hair off his shirt before sitting at the table in front of a plate piled high with eggs, bacon, and fruit. He was just in time because his dad and sister had almost finished their own breakfasts and were already eyeballing his. It was a cheat day, for god’s sake, but they were all vicious when it came to bacon. “Morning.”

Not quite sociable yet, his dad answered with a grunt. He’d be better after his second cup of coffee.

His mom swooped by and ruffled his hair. “You have ten minutes.” Ben ran a hand through his already messy hair and groaned. She narrowed her eyes. “Get a move on.”

He took her at her word and dug in. After he finished, he slurped down coffee and juice and took the extra precaution of downing a glass of water. It was already warm outside, even for August, and it’d be a long sweaty day.

“When do you think we’ll be getting home?” He’d promised Ryan he would go to a party with him tonight. It was a promise that only a best friend could drag out of him. Ben didn’t like parties for the most part, especially ones where there was drinking and other stuff. He knew it made him look like a goody-goody or a stick-in-the-mud or whatever other term Ryan could dream up to tease him with, but he didn’t like to take any chances. He couldn’t put his future in danger, as dramatic as that sounded in his own head.

His mom was digging through her purse for her keys. He let her look for a few seconds before reaching over and plucking them off the hook. She took them with a lopsided smile. “Sorry, what did you say?”

Ben rolled his eyes with a grin. She knew his practice schedule better than he did, but could never keep up with her keys. “What time do you think we’ll be back?”

“Why? Got a hot date or something?”

Ben grimaced behind her back. There was a lot she didn’t know about him, especially in that respect. He opened the front door and gestured for her to go ahead.

“Nah. Ryan talked me into going to a thing at someone’s house. Holtsy’s girlfriend’s?” He didn’t think she’d have a problem with him going to a party, but he didn’t want to have to answer a lot of questions. Plus, she loved Ryan.

She gave him an odd look before unlocking the car. She knew he didn’t like parties. “We should be back in plenty of time. You want to drive there or back?”

He’d had his driver’s license for only two weeks and was still nervous behind the wheel. It hadn’t helped that he’d put off learning how to drive until this summer, right before his senior year. The only reason he finally relented was because he’d be off to college soon, and his dad pointed out they wouldn’t be there to drive him to practice or class. So Ben had sucked it up and decided to learn. Driving still scared the hell out of him, though.

“Back.” The traffic would be lighter at least.

“All right.” They had a brief squabble over the radio that his mom won, before heading out. It was just the two of them, as Beth would be coming later with their dad after running some errands. “But no trying to get out of it this time.”

Ben shook his head and smiled out the window. “I won’t.”

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Meet the Author

Jennifer has always been a voracious reader and a well-established geek from an early age. She loves comics, movies, and anything that tells a compelling story.

When not writing, she likes knitting, dissecting/arguing about movies with her husband, and enjoying the general chaos that comes with having kids.

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Release Blitz: Once Upon a Rainbow, Volume Three (Giveaway)

Title:  Once Upon a Rainbow, Volume Three

Author: A. E. Ross, Elna Holst, Mark Lesney, N.J. Romaine, Sam Burns, Valentine Wheeler, W.M. Fawkes

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: July 2, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: No Romance, Male/Female, Male/Male, Female/Female

Length: 121800

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, bisexual, coming out, dragons, fae, family drama, Fantasy, gay, kidnapping, knights, lesbian, royalty, sexual, trans, warriors, witches

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Synopsis

Your favorite stories from childhood have a new twist. Seven fairy tales of old with characters across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.

Green Things Grow from Cinders by A.E. Ross – Glass slippers aren’t for everyone.

Gretel on Her Own by Elna Holst – This time around, Gretel Kindermann is on her own. Or is she?

Bremen Town Musicians by Mark Lesney – Loss and love on the road to Bremen Town.

The Scent of Magic by N.J. Romaine – Who can win a hunt against the Big Bad Wolf?

The Rescue by Sam Burns – Saving princesses is hard work. Getting out of marrying them is harder.

Loose in the Heel, Tight in the Toe by Valentine Wheeler – The shoe fits, the prince is won: now what?

Baile de la Marioneta by W.M. Fawkes – No one else can pull his strings.

Blurbs

Green Things Grow from Cinders by A.E. Ross

What if you could walk into a party with the perfect outfit—one that matches the way you feel inside?

For Ash Zermeno, the night of his best friend’s brother’s wedding reception is a hard pass: he’s certainly not going to wear the dress he ordered months ago, and he’s got no other wardrobe options. Forget about the fact that his long-time childhood crush Roman is going to be there. It just ain’t happening, no matter how hard he wishes on it. And he didn’t even wish on it…or did he?

Gretel on Her Own by Elna Holst

Gretel Kindermann has always lived in the little village at the lip of the Schwarzwald forest. But now, her father has moved away, her mother is indefinitely admitted to a private clinic, and her brother Hänsel, oh—

And all because of Margrete Heckscher. That Lebkuchen-making, sugar rush-inducing busybody, whose enthralling niece, lately arrived from Vienna, seems set on tempting poor Gretel out of her last vestiges of sanity… Because, surely, outside of the realm of fairy tales, there can be no such thing as an actual, magic-wielding witch?

Bremen Town Musicians by Mark Lesney

Simon the Donkey, an orphaned peasant boy on a Medieval farm, flees cruel servitude to seek his fortune in his childhood dreams of becoming a performer in the fabled city of Bremen Town. On the road he finds true friendship and finally love in the arms of young Edwin the Hound. They join with two other accidental travelers, Cat the Thief, and Rooster the Maid, conspiring together to survive in a brutal world of robbery and murder, with only the magical saving power of their talents for make believe.

The Scent of Magic by N.J. Romaine

Once upon a time, in a land far far away, a lone huntswoman comes across a traveller in red, walking through an autumn forest in the shadow of a spell-trapped kingdom.

Aletta moved out to the solitary woods to avoid the troubles of her past, but when she meets a young woman travelling alone with nothing but a red-hooded cloak, her sense of duty compels her to offer aid. But nothing is what it seems in the wild backwoods, and both women have secrets with far-reaching ramifications.

Aletta must confront her past and learn to trust herself, lest the hunter become the hunted.

The Rescue by Sam Burns

Brice has come to the dragon’s lair to save poor Princess Primrose, even if he doesn’t want her hand in marriage. The beautiful young man being held captive alongside her is a surprise, and Brice may not want a prize for his chivalry, but he wouldn’t mind taking Aidan home with him.

Loose in the Heel, Tight in the Toe by Valentine Wheeler

Catherine’s life was different before her stepmother took charge of the family. When her father was alive, she’d been the treasured daughter and the heir to his textile empire. Now she’s just her stepmother’s servant.

Prince Heinrich doesn’t want to marry, but as the only heir to the throne, he knows he must. When a mysterious woman at the ball in his honor is completely unimpressed by him, he’s intrigued. Could she be the partner he’s been looking for? And when catastrophe strikes both their lives, how can their arrangement hold together?

Baile de la Marioneta by W.M. Fawkes

José Velásquez has no ideas for his senior project, but when his classmate trades him a giant block of white pine for scrap metal, it’s almost too easy to carve out a fantastic sculpture. From the wood, José pulls the legendary Maya warrior Tecún Umán. It’s José’s best work, but how much credit can he take for the creation of a wooden man who steps off the block on his own? To get through his last exhibition, José must find an artistic voice uniquely his own or risk losing Tecún forever.

While José worries about his senior project, Tecún longs for a chance to experience being human with the man who drew him out of his wooden shell. He’ll do whatever it takes to get a real shot at life, even if that means cutting his strings to dance on his own.

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Release Blitz: Chance by Archie Hellshire (Excerpt and Giveaway)

Title:  Chance

Series: Graphene, Book One

Author: Archie Hellshire

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: July 2, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 26600

Genre: Contemporary, comedy, thriller, gay

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Synopsis

Daniel has spent his life traveling down the same well-worn path, safe inside a prison of his own making, with tomorrow promising no difference from yesterday. Then, one unremarkable morning, he meets someone who throws his life completely off the rails. All he knows about Nathan when he first sees him is that he’s beautiful, but it’s enough to get him to board the wrong train instead of going to the office.

This one careless step off the beaten path has unexpected consequences, as the mysterious passenger is being pursued by a cadre of mercenaries after the parcel he’s tasked with delivering safely to the other side of the city. Daniel has never considered himself brave, or strong, or fast, and he doesn’t come prepared for this fight, but at the right place, at the right time, someone can do the right thing and be a hero for a victim in distress.

Together, staying just out of reach of their pursuers and narrowly escaping tight spaces, they make their way to the delivery point. And as the journey wears on, they learn more about what’s in the parcel they’re carrying, and what it means for the world if they can’t deliver it.

Excerpt

Chance
Archie Hellshire © 2018
All Rights Reserved

The progress of the human race has not been pioneered by individuals overly preoccupied with safety. All the advancements of our people can be attributed to a ragtag assortment of gamblers with more courage than sense, diving headfirst into danger, compelled by the faintest chance of a payout, armed only with a devil-may-care attitude and maniacal laughter.

Somewhere in the world today, in a lab dimly lit by a pile of burning grant money, a madcap physicist is working into the wee hours of the morning, trying to turn a lump of coal into unlimited energy. Though we may scoff at his wishful thinking, it was not so long ago that our disdain was aimed at a pair of bike-shop owners who branched out into making the first aeroplane.

Before that, it was a hobbyist who decided to use new-fangled electricity to send messages across whole countries in the mere twinkling of an eye.

But it was before that, it was a sailor who tried to sail to the world’s edge and found North America instead.

But it was before even that, it was an apothecary who wondered if mucking about with a corpse might yield medical insight.

But it was far before even that, it was one of the nomads of old who decided to try planting crops instead of chasing mastodon across the continent to ward off starvation.

But it was before all of them, it was an ancient ancestor who made the controversial decision to play with fire.

Inspiring as their achievements are, for every success story, there are hundreds of gambles that met with total flaming failure. Understanding this, the bulk of humanity has, throughout history, chosen to build on the progress of others, well insulated from any risk to themselves. These people are comforted by the predictability of their lives. They benefit from the way things are and fear what they might lose if the rules of the game were to change. They have created for themselves a system of numerical precision, wherein all carefully selected actions lead inevitably to a foregone conclusion, and reaching your goal is only a matter of time and planning. These people are gamblers of a different kind; they have a system, but no matter how carefully they play the game, something can still come along to flip the board.

This story is about how the board was flipped, the gambler who played with fire, the orthodoxy who built their empire on the status quo, and the innocent people who got swept up in the tide and had to decide which side they were on.

Daniel Wyn opened his eyes at 6:30 a.m., mere seconds before his alarm went off. He had been getting up at the same time every morning for years and his biology had fallen into the steady rhythm.

He reached his hand out from under the covers and tapped the screen of his phone to silence his alarm as it started. While the thoughts of his waking mind were, as yet, unformed, he took in his bedroom around him. Sunlight filtered in through the sheer curtains illuminating four walls, bare of any pictures and with one flat-screen mounted opposite his bed. An orderly desk sat in one corner. On it lay his briefcase, packed and ready for work. A two-piece suit hung on the door of his closet, set out from the night before.

Comforted by the familiar surroundings of his bedroom, his mind gradually ramped into higher gear and queued up his morning tasks. He swung his legs out of bed to deal with the most pressing matter on the list.

After flushing the loo, he divested himself of his pajamas and stepped into his shower stall. The warm water cascading down his slim, toned body brought further clarity. As he worked the shampoo through his wavy brown hair, the different parts of his consciousness whirred into action after a night’s rest and began the work of assembling his schedule for today. Every duty, every task, every errand was carefully examined, tagged with a magnitude of importance, and weighed against all the other demands with each risk and reward noticed and noted. The steady dance of numbers that constituted Daniel’s worldview, a complex and harmonious rhythm, like the delicate inner workings of a clock, had fully powered up.

Wiping the layer of steam off his bathroom mirror, he shaved himself clean and appraised his appearance. Brown eyes stared back at him from his pale face. He reached up and gave a small swipe at a mole on his cheekbone with his fingertips, wondering, as he did every morning, if it looked like skin cancer.

Once back in his bedroom, he took his suit off the hook and dressed himself. This suit was one of three identical suits he had, indistinguishable right down to his underwear. He buttoned his top collar button, neglecting to put on his tie, since he didn’t own one; he felt that was inviting strangulation. He grabbed his briefcase, but before leaving his bedroom, straightened up his bed. He repositioned his pillow and pulled up the comforter on the side he slept. He cast a fleeting glance at the other side of his mattress, unmolested and empty, as it was every morning.

Once in the kitchen, he made himself breakfast, the exact contents of which he had decided at the beginning of the month as part of the regimen that insured he had all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients suggested by his dietician, who really wished that Daniel would stop calling him every month.

He turned on the morning news as he prepared his oatmeal and was greeted with validation of his constant paranoia.

“Late last evening,” the anchorwoman began to a backdrop of a smoking building, “an unknown number of assailants broke in to the Physics Building at the University of Northumberland. According to initial reports by the FBI, they planted and detonated a number of incendiary devices.

“No one has, as yet, taken credit for this attack, which the FBI is hesitant to label as terrorism, and they have not yet released numbers for any injuries or fatalities. We could not reach Physics Chair, Professor Geim, for comment. Now for the weather…”

At 6:45 a.m., food successfully ingested and dishes cleaned, he left his apartment, locked the door behind him, and headed to the neighborhood subway station. On the subway car, he diligently avoided making eye contact with any of his fellow commuters and touching any surface more than was absolutely necessary.

By 7:30 a.m., he was at his desk at work, half an hour early, just as he had done every workday going back several years to when he had slid seamlessly out of college into his job doing risk analysis at an insurance company.

There, Daniel was completely in his element. The cogs of his mind wound through the numerical data related to all the ways things could go horribly wrong and indexed them appropriately. It was work that was, for Daniel, both rewarding and life affirming.

“Hey, Dan,” said his neighbor, as he poked his head over the cubicle wall.

Daniel looked up from the report he was reading on space debris.

“You won the office pool.” He reached over the wall to hand Daniel a small wad of bills. “The new intern lasted exactly four months. I don’t know how you do it.”

“I noticed he had specialized in game theory rather than economics…” started Daniel in a quiet baritone. But his coworker had already walked on. Daniel turned back to the report he was reading, relieved he wouldn’t have to carry on a conversation.

Daniel was making up a spreadsheet to display the relative risk of being hit by space debris as they fell out of orbit when he was interrupted by the department manager.

“Mr. Wyn,” said a lady carrying a thin file folder, “We’ve been given a high-priority case from upstairs.” She handed him the folder.

He opened it to find a single sheet with a heading and several bullets.

“We need you to document the risks of electric cars.” She summarized for him.

He looked up from the folder, brow furrowed in confusion.

“The risk wouldn’t be any different from standard gas-powered cars,” he said. “You could actually remove all the risk factors associated with combustible fuels.” It was something an intern could do…if they still had one.

She stared at him for a beat, then looked around to see if there was anyone within range. She leaned in and lowered her voice to a conspiratorial murmur.

“One of the directors on the board also sits on the board of Texas Petroleum,” she explained. “He wants the company to charge higher premiums for electric cars, so we have to make them seem dangerous to justify it.”

Daniel gave a nod of understanding, and she left. Shrugging off the feeling that he was prostituting himself, he looked up information on electric cars and electrocutions.

Two hours later, the scariest thing he could find about electric cars was that they were going to cost him his job. He was pouring over a report on the toxicity of lithium batteries when one of the cogs of his consciousness gave an unsettling vibration. He looked up from his monitor and focused on the sensation; the intuitive feeling that something disruptive had just entered his orderly existence. He peeked over the edge of his cubicle to find the source of his discomfort. A shock of white hair, just barely clearing the other cubicles, made its way over to him.

He sat back down and leaned close to his monitor, not reading the words on the screen but staring very deliberately.

“Tryin’ to look busy isn’t gonna fool me.” The voice was feminine but with rough edges from being used for a lifetime. “Even if I thought you were busy, it wouldn’t stop me.”

He stared resolutely at his screen, unblinking, holding his breath.

“Ignorin’ me won’t work either,” the voice continued. At the same time, a massive handbag was plopped down on his keyboard.

All his strategies thwarted, he finally looked up to see the woman with coiffed white hair. Wrinkles on her face spoke of a lifetime of grinning mischievously. Two dark eyes that had seen a lot of hardship and sorrow, mostly of her own making, looked him over.

“Hello, Mildred,” said Daniel in his low voice, which now had a hint of a smile.

“Hey, Danny Boy,” she said. “What are you doin’?”

“Researching the dangers of—”

“I was just at the mailroom.” She cut him off. “The guy says they don’t mail things any more. What’s the deal with that?”

“They farmed mailing service out to a third party,” said Daniel, reaching into one of his drawers and pulling out a business card. He gave it a cursory look and handed it to her. “We started a business account with a specialty courier service to save money.”

“Trans-Commute,” she said, reading the card. “So, I have to walk all the way to their office downtown. Why is it every time they save money I do more work? And get paid less?”

Daniel shrugged, hoping not to get too involved in the subject. It wasn’t that he didn’t like Mildred, but meeting her was always a bit jarring, even for an adventurous person.

Mildred was a resident investigator for the company. She had a long successful career tracking down information, stolen property, and people in hiding. Her continued employment was guaranteed by her high success rate and the mysterious disappearance of the HR manager who insisted that eighty-seven was well passed mandatory retirement age.

“Well, thanks for this,” she said, holding up the card before she slipped it in her handbag. “Now, take me to lunch.”

“It’s only eleven thirty,” he said, following her anyway as she made her way to the elevators. “Lunch is scheduled for twelve.”

“That’s a whole thirty minutes away,” she said. “At my age, you can’t be sure if you have that much time.”

“If you don’t have that much time, does it matter if you’re full?” asked Daniel.

“Yes,” she quipped, “it does.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Archie Hellshire is an author with aspirations of being able to write. He was born in the Caribbean where he developed a love of nature, the metric system, and high temperatures. In school, lacking any athletic or social ability, he became a very bookish person, indulging in the works of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, JK Rowling, and Charles Dodgson. Despite being well read, he struggled with dyslexia and would forever remain horrible at spelling. The advent of Spell Checker reignited his dreams of becoming an author.

Archie grew up in a family and culture that was not tolerant of homosexuals, and he spent his entire young life in the closet, retreating into his books and a rich fantasy life. In the theater of his mind, the romances he read could be edited to be male couples. He dreamed of one day writing his own stories and living his own happy ending. Find the author on Twitter.

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Release: Take: A Dark Taboo Tale: The Need Trilogy #2 by R. Phoenix

Take: A Dark Taboo Tale: The Need Trilogy #2

 

Changes in the Mirza family have left both Tavi and Rex struggling to learn their new roles — and there’s no room for error. Pretending to be his twin brother is more difficult than Tavi could have imagined, and family secrets threaten to tear him apart. Rex, protected and cared for in every way, has a far from peaceful life.

Both have gained knowledge they didn’t necessarily want to have, and now that it’s been learned, they can’t simply forget it again. As their lives continue to change, will they change for the better… or will the price for the twins’ actions be too high?

###

*This is NOT a standalone and should be read after Want (The Need Trilogy #1). This is dark taboo tale contains several kinks that may offend or trigger some readers, including (but not limited to) age play, ABDL, spanking, and humiliation. Not every dynamic or element is 100% consensual.

Though The Need Trilogy is set in The Fate of the Fallen world, the trilogy can be read separately from the series. The main characters do not appear in the FotF/SQ books, and there are minimal spoilers for the series or other books set in the universe.

 

 

BOOK LINKS

Amazon | Goodreads

AUTHOR

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Release Blitz: Galaxies and Oceans by N.R. Walker (Excerpt and Giveaway)

Galaxies and Oceans
N.R. Walker
Publication date: June 25th 2018
Genres: Adult, LGBTQ+, Romance

Seizing his one chance to escape, Ethan Hosking leaves his violent ex-boyfriend, leaves his entire life, and walks into the path of a raging bushfire. Desperate to start over, a new man named Aubrey Hobbs walks out of the fire-ravaged forest, alive and alone. With no ID and no money, nothing but his grandfather’s telescope, he goes where the Southern Cross leads him.

Patrick Carney is the resident lighthouse keeper in Hadley Cove, a small town on the remote Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia. After the tragic death of his lover four years ago, he lives a solitary life; just him, a tabby cat, the Indian and Southern Oceans, and a whole lot of loneliness. He’s content with his life until a stranger shows up in town and turns Patrick’s head.

Patrick never expected to be interested in anyone else.

Aubrey never expected to be happy.

Between Aubrey’s love of the stars and Patrick’s love of the ocean, these two fragile hearts must navigate new waters. If they can weather the storm of their pasts, they could very well have a love that eclipses everything.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Patrick

I stopped, looked toward the lonely figure still watching the ocean below, and with a deep breath and nothing to lose, I crossed the street and walked toward him.

“Hi,” I said, still a few metres away so as not to scare him.

He spun regardless, his eyes wide. He had dark eyes, pale skin, and I could see short brown hair poking out from under his hood. He looked three days unshaven, and the bump on the bridge of his nose gave his handsome face a rugged edge. “Oh, hi.”

“Didn’t mean to scare ya.” I nodded toward the tumultuous, tumbling ocean. “She’s upset today.”

He looked back out to the rough seas and gave me a quick smile. “It’s actually kinda pretty.”

I scratched at my beard. “I’ve heard it been called cruel, cold, rugged, hellish. The only people who call it pretty are the ones who end up staying.”

He looked back out to sea and smiled. The wind caught his hood and tousled his hair. His cheeks were pink from the cold as was the tip of his nose. He was handsome, no two ways about it. And possibly fifteen years younger than me.

I made myself look away. “What brings you here?”

“Looking,” he answered without turning to me.

“For?” I stared out across the stormy waves with him. “Work? A new beginning?”

He shot me a look. “Something like that.”

I sipped my coffee. “There’s not much work here. Well, that’s not true. There’s a tonne of work; this whole town is weather-beaten and old. Just not much work that pays.”

His lips twitched.

“But you can try the caravan park.” I didn’t let on that I knew that was where he was staying. “Old Frank Hill who runs the place would never say no to help. Maintenance, that kind of thing.”

He turned back to the water, to the wind. “I’ve asked him already.”

“Frank’s just a grumpy old man who thinks anyone under thirty’s a hooligan. I’ll have a word with him if you like.”

“Why would you do that?”

I smiled and gave pause. Why was I offering to help this guy? I didn’t know him from Adam. Sure, he was good-looking, but there was something in his eyes. Something deep, hidden, and burning. Something horrendously painful. Something I recognised.

I faced the angry sea alongside him. “Because you called this ocean pretty.”

Neither of us spoke for a while. I drank my coffee and he turned his empty cup in his hands.

“Anyway,” I said, realising I couldn’t stand around all day. “My name’s Patrick. I live at the lighthouse.”

That made him look at me. “In the lighthouse?”

“No. Not in it. In the residence.”

“Oh. Cool.”

“Well, it’s almost two hundred years old, made from sandstone, and it’s tiny. But yes, it’s cool.” I smiled as the wind whipped around us. “I should go. I have work to do, but I’ll call around and see Frank after lunch.” I pulled the newspaper out from under my arm, and his eyes darted to the front page.

He stared so long I turned it around so he could read it, but he shot me a look that I couldn’t place, and it was gone so fast I’d wondered if I’d seen it. He stepped back. “Yeah, um, thanks. That’d be great.”

It wasn’t until I got home that I realised what the look on his face was. It was fear. And I realised I didn’t know his name.


Author Bio:

N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance. She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn’t have it any other way.

She is many things; a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who live in her head, who don’t let her sleep at night unless she gives them life with words.

She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things…but likes it even more when they fall in love.

She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.

She’s been writing ever since…

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Review: Slide (Roads #1) by Garrett Leigh

 

Slide (Roads, #1)

 

Don’t look back. Don’t you ever look back…

 

Shy tattoo artist Ash has a troubled past. Years of neglect, drug abuse, and life on the streets have taken their toll, and sometimes it seems the deep, unspoken bond with his lover is the only balm for wounds he doesn’t quite understand.

 

Chicago paramedic Pete is warmth, love, and strength—things Ash never knew he could have, and never even knew he wanted until Pete showed him. But fate is a cruel, cruel mistress, and when nightmares collide with the present, their tentatively built world comes crashing down.

 

Traumatic events in Pete’s work life distance him from home, and he doesn’t realize until it’s too late that Ash has slipped away. Betrayal, secrets, and lies unfold, and when a devastating coincidence takes hold, Pete must fight with all he has to save the love of his life.

 

 

REVIEW

 

I really liked it a lot, I had very few issues with it but overall it was a very good book.

 

One of the things I liked the most about it was that both main characters were so far from perfect. That is something I love to read, characters who make mistakes, who struggle with self-confidence, who find it hard to trust in others. That’s one of the things I look in a book and both were really good, but it was Ash who got my heart.  I loved how silence was so important and said a lot without even saying it, how every gesture, every sight and every little movement they did had an important meaning and how well they knew it.

 

It was very slow paced, but I didn’t really found it bothersome, it seem appropriate to the overall feeling of the book, a little bit depressive but it provide an emotion to the reader and that is always something that I appreciate.

 

I loved Ash and Pete’s relationship, the struggles they had, the mistakes and, most of all, how much love there was between them. Overall it was a great book. I’m really glad I’d read it.
 

BOOK LINKS

Amazon | Goodreads

AUTHOR

Amazon | Website | Goodreads