Cleaning house and the things you find.

One of the things I have to do is clean out all my drawers and cupboards before we move to Portugal, and although I’ve moved many times around Australia, I’ve never had to cull so much of my stuff before. All previous moves I’ve done, I’ve just had to box everything up and move it, but moving countries means I can’t take everything. The shipping container is only so big.

So… ditching a lot of old stuff that doesn’t get used anymore is what I’ve been doing this last week. The charity bins near me are full!

When you go through drawers that haven’t been opened in a number of years, you’re bound to happen across things you thought were long gone. There are some good memories in my cupboards. And low and behold, I came across a ton of old photos. I suppose that was to be expected.

I found this one below, and realised I haven’t actually changed all that much.

On to the next cupboard.

RJ

The One That I Want and Hopelessly Devoted are back up for sale!

Just a quick note to let you know that The One That I Want and Hopelessly Devoted are now back up for sale at all good ebook retailers.

I recently had my rights returned from the publisher so I tidied the stories up and had them re-edited. The writing is tighter but no new scenes have been added, so if you’ve already read them, there’s no need to read them again – unless of course you want to 🙂 They’re now for sale at a much cheaper price than before – only .99c! so make sure you get your hands on them!

 

Jason escapes into the magic of a Broadway play every weekend. Musicals always have a happy ending and for a few hours he can believe there’s a happy ending waiting for him, too. When the tall drink of water who works on the top floor of Jason’s building, wants to take him on a date, Jason is surprised. After all, Jason is awkward and skinny, and sees himself as a boring accountant, while Paul is tall, dark, and incredibly hot.

Despite Jason’s reservations, Paul and Jason start dating and attending the shows Jason adores. But if Paul likes musicals as much as Jason, why does he always doze off? Is Paul leading a double life? Does he have a wife tucked away somewhere?

Jason knows Paul is hiding something and when the secrets come out, Jason finds his fantasy comes to life, right there on the stage.

 

One year on from Paul’s proposal, Jason is living a life he never dreamed of. As he fusses with his tie and readies to walk down the aisle, he reminisces about the previous twelve months. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the happy couple in the lead up to their wedding, with obstacles big and small thrown in their way.

Marrying one of New York’s most eligible bachelors has Jason’s stomach in knots. Expectations of their society wedding are high, but out of love for Paul, Jason goes along with the grand plans because he understands Paul’s family has a reputation to maintain. But Paul has a surprise up his sleeve that just may see Jason getting the wedding of his dreams.

Follow Jason on his journey as he prepares to marry one of the most eligible bachelors in New York and find out just how Dave got his name.

Buy links:

The One That I Want

Amazon   Smashwords  Barnes & Noble

Hopelessly Devoted

Amazon   Smashwords  Barnes & Noble

 

 

Writing, moving, and plans. WTH is going on?

Most of you would have heard along the grapevine that the Jones’s are packing up house and moving to Portugal.

It’s true. As of today, I have 68 days left in Australia. Which means I have less than that to do a shitload of sorting out and pack up my belongings. I need to sell two cars, some appliances, various pieces of furniture, and take whatever is left (that isn’t coming with us) to charity. I have a big house and also plenty of years collecting a lot of useless stuff.

Who keeps empty boxes?

Turns out, I do!

Of course, I didn’t know I kept empty boxes until I started going through some cupboards. *sigh* Sooo much work.

So what does that mean for my writing? Well, unfortunately, not much will get done. Moving my family to the other side of the world has to take precedence, and I’m sure no one will disagree with me on that.

We’ll be moving to Praia de Galé (don’t click the link if you don’t want to be jealous) in July but then I have the big task of settling into our new life and getting the kids ready to start school in September. Even after the boys start their Portuguese education, I’ll be busy house-hunting (for more permanent accommodation) and generally finding my way around my new home.

I’ll keep you updated how things progress over the next few weeks. I’ll try and keep the writing up so I can release something this year, but no promises.

Wish me luck as I toddle off to tackle more cupboards.

RJ

Exclusive Excerpt! RUNAWAY by NIC STARR

I think most of you know by now that Nic is my bestie, so of course I’m going to have her on my blog. Especially when she has a fantastic new release!

Runaway

by Nic Starr

Part of Dreamspinner Press’ World of Love series.

Blurb

Dr Nathan Powell is ready to settle down near his family, and hopefully find the man of his dreams. He returns to the small coastal town where he grew up, but while life is simpler than it was in the city, there are also complications—like patients’ reactions to an openly gay doctor. And like running into Nate’s first love, Damien, an out-and-proud local business owner who is unwilling to be any man’s dirty secret. The reunion reignites old desire even while it stirs up Nate’s guilt over the way things ended with Damien.

When Nate’s nephew runs away, Damien accompanies Nate on his mission to find the young man. The drive to Sydney, and the search of the city, gives Nate time to reconnect with Damien—and to wonder if he made the right decision years ago—when he determined a future for them was impossible. Is a fresh start realistic for two men in their forties? But before he can ponder the second chance they’ve been given, Nate must locate his nephew.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

A big thank you to RJ for hosting me today as I celebrate the release of Runaway, part of the Dreamspinner Press World of Love collection. The World of Love stories are “contemporary romances spotlighting the unique features, qualities and attributes of a specific country as well as the universality of love wherever it’s found.”

Nate and Damien had only just started to reconnect after many years of being apart when Nate’s nephew, Jackson, runs away to Sydney. The men travel to the city so they can be closer when Jackson finally gets in contact. Here’s an excerpt from a scene in their hotel room where Nate struggles to sleep.

Long Excerpt

The digital clock emitted a dull light that flashed every time Nate lifted his eyelids. And that’s just what Nate did. Every minute or so he found his eyes opening and taking in the dimness of the hotel room and the annoying light of the clock. It only added to his frustration as he watched the numbers slowly tick over.

He rolled to the other side and pulled the sheet over his shoulder, to ward off the chill of the air conditioning. His thoughts swirled as he contemplated Damien’s words from earlier in the evening. No matter how he looked at it, Nate couldn’t deny there was truth in what Damien had said. Nate did hide himself from everyone except Trish and Damien, and the few friends he had here in the city. Why hadn’t he told Jackson and Belinda? Was he concerned they wouldn’t understand? Was he worried they’d talk and the word would spread like wildfire? He guessed it was most likely he was used to not saying anything, and on top of that, it pissed him off that he, or any other person, should have to make an announcement about his sexuality.

With a rustle of the bedclothes, he turned to the other side, opening his eyes to see another few minutes had passed. He looked farther past the bedside table to the raised mound in the other bed, envious that Damien was obviously asleep.

Damien.

Just thinking about him brought a smile to Nate’s face. He probably looked stupid grinning in the dark, but he couldn’t help the warmth that filled him from being so close again. And it wasn’t just because Damien was gorgeous, although there was no doubt his dark good looks pushed all Nate’s buttons; it was the way he cared so much. Damien’s concern wasn’t just limited to Nate either. He was worried about Jackson and sympathetic to what Trish was going through, having spoken to her earlier in the day when Nate had been in the shower and unable to answer his phone.

“C’mon here, Nate.” The words were whispered in the quiet of the hotel room.

“Huh?”

“I can hear you thinking from over here. Get your arse over here.”

“I—”

“I promise to be on my best behaviour. I’ll just hold you, I promise. No mucking around.”

Nate didn’t need to be told twice. He scrambled from his bed and crawled under the sheet Damien held up for him. They lay there for a moment, both of them on their backs, staring at the dim ceiling. The only thing visible was the tiny green blinking light on the fire alarm.

Damien reached his hand out and grasped Nate’s. “I know I said this before, but it’ll be all right. You’ll see.”

Nate squeezed Damien’s hand. “Why am I so lucky to have you as a friend? After everything we went through—dating in secret, then hooking up a few times a year—I can’t believe you want to have anything to do with me. Then when I told you I didn’t want to see you anymore….”

Damien propped himself on one elbow, and Nate turned his head to look at him in the darkness. “You’re going to have to find a way to get past this, Nate. I can’t say I was always happy, but we were kids. Relationships start and fizzle all the time, especially long-distance ones. We were lucky we lasted those years before you headed to the city, let alone any of the time after that.”

“Lucky you didn’t kick my arse to the kerb, more like it.”

Damien chuckled. “Obviously I liked your arse enough to want to have it around, even if you only wanted to be friends with benefits or whatever.”

“You liked my arse, huh?”

“I still like your arse.” Damien leaned in and placed a gentle kiss on Nate’s lips.

The touch was fleeting, but enough to leave Nate craving more. Without a second thought, he chased Damien’s retreating mouth, capturing it with a kiss of his own. He licked across Damien’s bottom lip, and their tongues met as Damien opened his mouth to Nate. Nate deepened the kiss and put all his emotions into it. The kiss felt new and exciting but familiar at the same time, and a warmth settled in Nate’s gut. Damien pulled him in tight, drawing their bodies together. When Nate’s hard dick pushed into Damien’s thigh and pleasure simmered in his belly, he couldn’t hold back the groan. Yes, this is what I’ve been missing.

Becoming aware of what he was doing, Nate flopped back onto the pillow, his hand going to his mouth and tracing his bottom lip where Damien’s touch had been only moments before.

“D? What are we doing?”

“If I have to tell you, I’m doing something wrong.” The chuckle was soft in the darkness.

“You know what I mean. This. You and me.”

 

I hope you liked seeing a little piece of Runaway.

Nic xx

Dreamspinner Press   Amazon US   Amazon UK   Amazon AU   Barnes & Noble   Kobo   iBooks   Google Play   Universal Link

Goodreads Link

 

Nic Starr lives in Australia where she tries to squeeze as much into her busy life as possible. Balancing the demands of a corporate career with raising a family and writing can be challenging but she wouldn’t give it up for the world.

Always a reader, the lure of m/m romance was strong and she devoured hundreds of wonderful m/m romance books before realising she had some stories of her own that needed to be told.

Nic loves to spend time with her family—an understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a cherished Cairn terrier. Nic is a foodie and wine lover who lives in the city but is a country girl at heart. When not writing or reading, she is often found indulging in her love of cooking and planning her dream home in the country.

You can find Nic on Facebook, Twitter and her blog. She’d love it if you stopped by to say hi.

Website & Blog   Amazon Author Page   Facebook   Facebook Page   Twitter   Instagram   Pinterest   Goodreads

 

It’s Fangirl Friday with K.A. Merikan! INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY!!

It’s Fangirl Friday!

*dances* This month I couldn’t resist the opportunity to gush all over writing duo, Kat and Agnes Merikan. (I’m seriously kicking myself that it took me so long to find these two!) Most of you probably already know them and are rolling your eyes at me. Well, I’m here now and that’s all that matters.

Here’s the cover and blurb for book one – it’s guaranteed to get you hooked.

— Love is sour like a Sicilian lemon. —

The Family is always right.
The Family doesn’t forget.
The Family pays for blood in blood.

Domenico Acerbi grew up in the shade of Sicilian lemon trees ready to give his life for the Family. Ready to follow orders and exceed expectations. A proud man of honor.
When Seth, the younger son of the Don is kidnapped, it’s Domenico who is sent to get him back. The man he finds, though, is not the boy he knew all those years ago. Lazy, annoying, spoiled, and as hot as a Sicilian summer.

Seth Villani wants nothing to do with the mafia. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get a say when the Family pulls him right back into its fold after his mother’s death. Thrown into a den of serpents otherwise known as the Villani Family, Seth has to find a way to navigate the maze of lies. But when Domenico Acerbi, the most vicious snake of them all, sinks his fangs into Seth, the venom changes into an aphrodisiac that courses through Seth’s veins.

Domenico knows his life is about to change when he gets the order to train Seth up to the role of future Don. Seth isn’t made for it. He isn’t even made. But a man Domenico knows he would never have to fear might just be someone he’s always needed.

If Seth is doomed to follow in his father’s footsteps, he might as well enjoy himself—with the most intoxicating man he’s ever met. Maybe he can even fool himself into believing that Domenico isn’t a handsome sociopath who kills for a living.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS:
Themes: Enemies to lovers, mafia, homophobia, assassin, organized crime
Genre: Dark, twisted erotic romance / crime thriller
Erotic content: Explicit gay sex, coercion
Length: ~110,000 words

WARNING: Adult content. If you are easily offended, this book is not for you.
‘Guns n’ Boys’ is a gritty story of extreme violence, offensive language, abuse, and morally ambiguous protagonists. Behind the morbid facade, there is a splash of inappropriate dark humor, and a love story that will crawl under your skin.

(Just to add to this warning; it’s absolutely correct! I didn’t get it at the time, but these two will worm their seductive and dirty way under your skin. Just saying 🙂 )

Aaaaanyway, I’ve just finished binge-reading the Guns n’ Boys series, (and am hanging out for the next one) and have become totally hooked with Dom and Seth. Closeted, alpha mafia guys, who are brutal yet loving. I didn’t like either of them in the first installment, but I quickly fell in love. It’s a great mix. I’ve lost a lot of sleep with this series—no joke—so I felt compelled to contact the Merikans and asked very nicely if they’d like to come over to my blog so I can fangirl to all of you and get some answers to my questions. So, here we go:

RJ: Ladies, thanks so much for being my guests. I totally fell in love with Dom and Seth, even if I didn’t like either of them in the very beginning. Dom was a horrible arsehole and Seth was a whimpering doormat. However, I had to keep reading. There was just something about them that made me keep turning the page. Where did you find the inspiration for these two? They’re such a mismatched couple, yet they’re perfect for each other.

KA: Their story is very long and complicated ;D Seth was originally a side character in our first-ever story written together. His boyfriend was Peter, Seth’s ex in Guns n’ Boys. We decided to use him for a new project after Agnes watched some assassin-themed movie. In first drafts of the character, Domenico was a silent, brooding type, so obviously he got out of control very quickly. Their relationship developed organically, but when drafting out the currently published version, we added some more polish to its progress.

RJ: As an author, I’m always curious to know how other authors write. When you first started this series, did you know what would happen to Dom and Seth? Was it supposed to only be one or two books or did you have the entire series planned?

KA: We first started writing it in Polish and published it on our blog. At the time, our plans for the series weren’t concise and we came up with plot as we went along. When we decided to introduce this story to our English-speaking readers, we saw it as a chance to make it better, think of an arc for each book and improve the plot. The new version diverged so much from the original that despite sharing certain elements, it reads like a completely new story. It was when we were drafting book one in its current form that the rough plan for the whole series came about, but we keep adding new elements to make the story more interesting.

RJ: Any chance of getting Mark’s story? If not, what can I bribe you with?

KA: Yes, we love Mark too much not to give him one :D. His love story will be a part of the main storyline, but there will be up to 2 books focused on him.

RJ: Seth has grown so much over the series. Does he have any more lessons that need to be learned, and if so, will he keep hold of that sweetness that Dom (and me) loves so much. Seth seems to be hanging on to his innocence by his bloody fingernails.

KA: I cannot reveal too much with so many books still left to be written, but every book is a chance for a lesson for those characters. Each time they find out new things about each other, and they fall in love all over again when each conflict is resolved. What I can say is that after Bloodbath, Domenico will do everything in his power to spare what is left of Seth’s innocence, but will he?–we can’t tell ;D

RJ: How many more books in the series? Or is that a secret?

KA: At the moment, we are planning up to fifteen books, including spinoffs.

RJ: Can we expect to see more about Miguel? Will he get his own series? He’s so quiet but tough, he’s totally captured my attention so I’m more than willing to bribe you for his story too.

KA: You know what they say about the quiet ones. He’s definitely got some demons haunting him at night, and those will obviously (haha) be dealt with in his own book 😉 This one might actually come out before 2017 is over.

RJ: Okay, time for some quick-fire questions. No thinking!

Coke or Pepsi?
Agnes: Pepsi
Kat: Coke

Favorite colour?
Agnes: black and teal
Kat: purple, lilac

Favourite place to read?
Agnes: my room
Kat: Love listening to audiobooks on a walk

Cook at home or dine out?
Agnes: dine out – no cleaning ;D
Kat: dine out, hands down

Favourite non-alcoholic drink?
Agnes: elderflower cordial
Kat: fresh lemonade with mint

Favourite holiday spot?
Agnes: Croatia, Italy, and Cornwall
Kat: I’ll be copycatting Agnes on this one

Winter or summer?
Agnes: Summer!!
Kat: Summer.

Harry Potter or Twilight?
Agnes: Potter, obviously
Kat: Potter

Favourite author. (Both MM and non-mm)
Agnes: Currently, it’s KJ Charles
Kat: Lately I’ve been loving Kasia Bacon 🙂

If there were 25hrs in a day, what would you do with the extra hour?
Agnes: I would like to say “reading” or something reasonable like that, but it would probably be swallowed up by work ;p
Kat: Sport if I was being motivated, writing otherwise 😉 Nothing like some more words in the day

RJ: That’s it from me. A huge big thanks to Kat and Agnes for taking the time to indulge in my fangirling. If you haven’t checked out the Guns n’ Boys series yet, you are missing out!

And if you think this series sounds fantastic, it gets better because all books are on KU!

You’ll find the series buy link here.

 

Keep scrolling for the buy links and a chance to win your copy of the first two books!

K. A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are taken for sisters with surprising regularity.

They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, there’s one thing you can be sure of – it will be full of surprises.

To keep up to date with their new releases (and get a free book in the process!) sign up to their newsletter: http://kamerikan.com/newsletter

e-mail: kamerikan@gmail.com

More information about ongoing projects, works in progress and publishing at:
K.A. Merikan’s author page: http://kamerikan.com

FUN FACTS:
– We are Polish,
– We’re neither sisters nor a couple,
– Kat’s an artist, and Agnes is a psychologist but neither works in her field,
– Kat’s fingers are two times longer than Agnes’s.

One lucky person will win the first two books in this series. All you need to do is comment below and a random commenter will be drawn next Friday, April 21.

Good luck!

 

Sexy To Go – Anthology!

Sexy to Go Gay Romance Is here!

Release Date: April 1, 2017

Genres: M/M contemporary romance, M/M paranormal romance, M/M erotic romance, M/M historical romance
Authors: Avery Duran, Leigh Ellwood, Asta Idonea, Eva Lefoy, Dale Cameron Lowry, Jodi Payne, Shiloh Saddler, Sam Thorne, A.E. Wasp
Length: 286 pages/71,328 words
Publisher: Sexy to Go
Cover Artist: Ella Dominguez
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/34527901-sexy-to-go-gay-romance

Blurb

Sexy to Go Gay Romance features nine scorching hot MM romances to make your blood sing. Whether finding love at a Jewish singles dance or while crossing the River Styx, these men remind us that love is always worth fighting for, no matter what the cost. Meet a handyman who’s an ace with his tools, a king who kindles the passion of a Greek god, and an architect who erects more than buildings. From the everyday to the fantastical, these stories explore male-male love in all its simmering intensity.

Matzo Ball by Avery Duran

When Jacob’s outgoing best friend talks him into attending a party for Jewish singles, neither man realizes that it’s not a gay event. Things go from bad to worse when Jacob’s friend doesn’t show up. The night turns around when Jacob befriends Ian, a sexy bartender. After a spectacular kiss good night, they go their separate ways. But Jacob can’t forget the chemistry he shared with Ian, and hungers for more. In a city the size of New York, will these men be able to find their way back to each other?

Styx & Stone by Leigh Ellwood

What’s the afterlife really like? Charon the ferryman knows the River Styx like the back of his hand, and he enjoys giving newly departed Stone the full tour.

First Swallow of Spring by Asta Idonea

The first swallow of spring draws Seanán back to the fae circle each year, where he dances with the handsome fae lord, Iorweth. He knows the four rules he must follow if he wishes to be free to leave at the end of the night; however, Iorweth is growing ever more inventive in his attempts to trick Seanán into breaking them.

How Hercules Got His Bruise by Eva Lefoy

Hercules might have completed his 12 labors and become immortal, but he’s still not out to himself. Until he meets Sisyphus, a man who turns him on in ways not even a goddess can compete with. When Zeus threatens to destroy their new bond, Hercules must again rise to the challenge, this time to protect his right to love a man.

Loggerhead by Dale Lowry

Soon after they fall in love, Jake makes Eric a promise inspired by an old track uniform. But demanding work schedules at Jake’s four-star restaurant and Eric’s newspaper keep them from following through. Six years later, they take the honeymoon they never had, heading to the Florida coast in search of sea turtles – and rekindling their passion for each other in the process.

Handyman by Jodi Payne

Danny is haunted by memories of his ex, Peter, who moved out six months ago. He recognizes just how bad off he is when he wakes up to a flood in his condo, a problem Peter would have adeptly handled. Danny can’t find the insurance paperwork, he doesn’t know who he should call first, and he’s about ready to strangle his stoner neighbors. His day starts looking up, though, when the workmen arrive to deal with the water, replace his breaker box and demolish the soaked ceiling. Ken, a handyman, shows up to handle the drywall, but can Danny handle Ken?

Clipped Wings by Shiloh Saddler

When a male swan shifter is captured by a cruel master he develops feelings for another male slave. The master has plans for the shifter that go against every fiber of his being. Will the two men bow down to their station in life or take flight to keep their love alive?

Rebuilding the Future by Sam Thorne

Allen’s peace has been seriously disturbed. As the shy architect takes on the task of extending the home he inherited from his late aunt, his life becomes a battle. The building work is going fine, but he can barely contain his one-way lust for sexy foreman Declan, who’s a one-man generator of testosterone and mixed messages. As the build completion approaches, Allen’s ready to do just about anything to keep Declan around a little longer…

Man in the Mirror by A.E. Wasp

A companion story to the Paper Hearts novel, Man in the Mirror is the first short in a new erotic series set in the world of the Veterans Affairs books.

Benny hasn’t let Mikey see him naked in a week, will barely let Mikey touch him. Mikey’s going to get to the bottom of the issue if it takes all night.

Excerpt

From Loggerhead by Dale Cameron Lowry

I got up and pulled on the sweats Jake had gotten out for me the night before. The sweatshirt was dusky blue, faded from years of washings. He’d told me it was from his days running high school track in Florida. On the front was a line-drawing of a massive turtle and the words “Langford Loggerheads” printed in green beneath it.

Jake stirred, grumbling something under his breath as he turned onto his back and opened his eyes. When he saw me, he smiled. “You’re here,” he said with a degree of awe usually reserved for fireworks and the Grand Canyon.

“Of course I am.”

“I like seeing you in my clothes,” he said.

“I like being in them.” I couldn’t hold eye contact with him anymore. I wasn’t used to being looked at like one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. I pointed to the turtle on the front of his shirt. “Ever seen one in the wild?”

“I was a turtle guide for a few years before moving up here. You?”

I shook my head. “I’ve never been far south enough. I’ve always been curious, though. Ever since I read about them in Ranger Rick.”

“You read Ranger Rick when you were a kid, too? I knew you were perfect.”

I blushed. “Shut up.”

“I’m serious.” He sat up in bed and reached for my hips, pulling me back into the sheets with him. “We should go on a turtle walk sometime. I’ll take you back home for nesting season.”

“Take me home with you?” I teased. “Aren’t you moving a little fast?”

“No,” he said with the solid confidence only a 35-year-old in love can have. “Not at all.”

Universal buy link (includes Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, B&N, and Google in every country):

Individual buy links:

Author Links

The Runaway by Nephy Hart

 

“When all you ever wished for is the last thing you ever wanted…”

Title: The Runaway

Author: Nephylim

Publisher: Flying With Red Haircrow

Publication Date: September 12, 2012

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Gay Interest

Length: 290 pages

ISBN: 9781301198573

Available: Smashwords Amazon UK Amazon US

Book Trailer

Blurb: 

Ciarrai is running away from a past that’s still breathing down his neck. Jack has no past, his memory wiped in the accident that killed his parents. They meet and their lives move forward like stones skimming the surface of the water, dipping into memories that want to surface and those that want to lie buried forever.

Together, they struggle to come to terms with what happened in the past and where they want to go in the future, but can Jack cope with a man who likes to dress in leather mini-skirts and silk kimonos? Can Ciarrai trust Jack with the secrets of his past; secrets he can’t escape, secrets that are snapping at his heels?

When those secrets catch up, forcing Ciarrai back to the life he’d left, a life that was slowly draining his life away, he and Jack’s love is both threatened and tested by forces from without and within.

Prologue:

“You can’t be disrespecting the fairies, Damien.” Ciarrai shook his head at his smaller brother, who stuck out his tongue.

“There’s no such thing as fairies, Ciarrai,” Damien declared, investigating one nostril with a grubby finger. “Everyone knows that.”

“Sure, they don’t,” Ciarrai insisted. “Don’t you ever listen to what Dadda tells us, about when he was young and living in Ireland?”

“Yeah.”

“No, you don’t. You just want to play.”

“Well, who wants to sit and listen to stories about some old woman we’ve never seen? They’re only stories Ciarrai, they’re not real.”

Ciarrai shook his head. At almost ten, he was half a foot taller than his brother, and felt far more than two years older. Where Damien was robust and inquisitive, much preferring action to quiet contemplation, Ciarrai was slender and fey, liking to spend time reading and thinking.

“They are real,” Ciarrai insisted. “Dadda said so.”

Damien paused and frowned. “Are you sure? Are you sure he said they were actually real? That he actually said it?”

Ciarrai smiled. “Yes, he actually did. Do you want to hear one?”

Damien looked thoughtful for a moment then nodded. “Okay.”

“Get into bed then, or Mam will be up here chasing me into my own room.”

Damien scuttled across the hall from the bathroom, and leaped onto the bed, bouncing for a moment before pulling the quilt around his ears, gazing up at his brother expectantly.

“Did we ever go to Ireland, Ciarrai?” Damien asked, peering at him over the duvet.

Ciarrai considered thoughtfully. “I think so. I think I remember there being lots of green. And there was a horse, and I got to ride it. I’m not sure I liked it, but it was fun. We drove in a funny cart thing that a horse pulled and Dadda said he used to race them.”

“Why don’t I remember?” Damien demanded, clearly affronted that he had no such memories.

“Because you were very little, Damien, only a baby.”

“So why don’t we go anymore? Why don’t we get to hear the stories from Gra’ma and Gran’da?”

“Coz they don’t like Dadda anymore. We mustn’t ask, Mam said. It makes Dadda sad.”

“Oh. Okay. Tell me a story.”

Ciarrai smiled and ruffled his brother’s straw-coloured hair, which was a few shades darker than his own. Settling himself on the bed, he closed his eyes and took a breath.

“A long, long time ago, there was a foolish man.”

“Why was he foolish?”

“I don’t know. He just was. If you want me to tell you the story, shut up and listen.”

“Okay, sorry.”

With a sigh, Ciarrai settled down and began again.

“A long, long time ago, there was a foolish man. He liked to get drunk and wander in the mountains under the moon. He wouldn’t listen when the people in the village told him it was a bad idea.”

“Why did they tell him that?”

“Damien, if you’re going to keep interrupting, I’m going to stop telling the story. If you listen you’ll find out.”

“Okay.”

For the third time, Ciarrai started to speak.

“The foolish man forgot that the mountains in the moonlight belonged to the fey folk, the Tuatha de Danann. He wouldn’t listen when he was told and he laughed—just like you do, Damien—at the thought of fairies. He didn’t believe they existed.

“One day, when he was walking under a full moon near the old forest, he heard music coming from the trees. He knew he should stay away, but he was curious and he was foolish. The mead had made him brave. So, he went into the trees and crept through the darkness, until he saw light ahead.

“He had almost come to the light when it disappeared, and he was left wandering around in the darkness. It took him a lot of time to find his way out of the trees and, when he did, he heard the laughter and music again. He didn’t go back into the trees, because he wasn’t that stupid. So he was going to walk home. But then he saw something, a glowing figure walking out of the trees just in front of him.”

“Why was it glowing?”

“I don’t know— it just was. Shut. Up. Damien. Just listen. Anyway, he followed the flowing figure but as fast as he went, she went faster.”

“Was it a woman?”

Ciarrai gave an exaggerated sigh, but ignored him and pressed on, his eyes still closed. “He followed the woman, but she kept getting farther and farther away. The faster he went, the farther ahead she got, even though she didn’t seem to be moving very fast. And I don’t know why, okay,” he forestalled his brother’s question. “In the end, the man thought he would never be able to catch up and he shouted at her to wait.”

“Did she wait?”

“She stopped and let him catch up. ‘Why didn’t you wait?’ he asked. ‘Why didn’t you ask?’ she said. The man thought she was the most beautiful person he’d ever seen, and he soon got lost in her beauty.”

“What does that mean?”

“Well, I’m not entirely sure,” Ciarrai had to admit. “I think it means that she was so beautiful he didn’t see what she really was or what was really happening. I don’t think she was a very nice person at all, actually, not when the man loved her that much, but that’s the way fairies are, I think.”

“Was she a fairy?” Damien was interested now, sitting up, his eyes wide.

“Yes, she was.”

“Did she change him into a rabbit?”

“No, she didn’t change him into a rabbit. What made you think that?”

“If I was a fairy and someone did something I didn’t like, I’d turn them into a rabbit.”

“Well, I think the man was pretty lucky that the fairy wasn’t you.”

“What did she do?”

“Taking him by the hand, she led him into the trees. It was never dark because the glow that surrounded her lit the way. After a while, they came to a clearing where there was a party going on. In the middle was a fairy ring and lots of fairies of all shapes and sizes were dancing.”

“The woman led him around the side of the ring to a table full of food and drink. She picked up a crystal goblet filled with mead, and a honey cake so thin you could see the moon through it, and held them out to him.

“The man knew it was dangerous to accept food and drink from the fey folk. He remembered being told by his grandmother many years before, but he couldn’t remember why, and the fairy was looking at him with a smile on her beautiful face, so he reached out and took the goblet and the cake.”

“When he had eaten and drunk, the fairy took his hand and led him into the fairy circle. Again, he knew it was a bad idea, but he did it anyway, because the beautiful woman had bewitched him.”

“What does ‘bewitched’ mean?”

“It means ‘put a spell on’.”

“See,” Damien said, smugly. “I told you she would.”

“She didn’t turn him into a rabbit, though.”

“What did she do?”

Ciarrai frowned. “She enchanted him, so that he didn’t remember his life before. He didn’t remember anything but her. He didn’t want to do anything but dance with her, and eat and drink with her.”

“Did he…you know?” Damien asked, with a smirk.

Ciarrai glared at him. “Eew, Damien, trust you to think about that.” Damien grinned smugly and snuggled down in the bed, stifling a yawn, and Ciarrai started again. “He forgot about everything but her until, one day, he shook off the enchantment and realised where he was and who he was. For a few days he went on, eating and drink and dancing, but everything seemed shallow and false. He realised he was trapped and, although no one bound him, or told him he couldn’t leave, he knew that, having set foot inside the fairy circle on the night of the dance, he had doomed himself to remain in the land of the fey forever.”

“Is that a bad thing?” Damien yawned more widely. “I mean it’s a nice place, isn’t it—fairyland? Why didn’t he want to stay there? It’s better than this one.”

“This what?”

“This land. It’s always sunny in fairyland, and there are cool things, like trolls and ogres and—”

“That fairyland isn’t real, Damien, this one was different.”

“Was it bad, then?”

“Well, no,” Ciarrai admitted reluctantly. “He was never hungry or thirsty and everyone was always happy and laughing and never sick or sad. He was treated well and everything was bright and shiny and glittery.”

“Then why did he want to leave?”

“Because he wasn’t a fairy and he didn’t belong.”

“But if it was a better place?”

“It might have been better in some ways, but it wasn’t his home. And he didn’t want things to be bright and shiny all the time. He wanted things to be dark sometimes, so he’d have something to fight for. Most of all, he wanted to have a choice, to be able to go home if he wanted. And, no matter how pretty and sweet and lovely everything was, he was still a prisoner.”

“So what did he do?”

“One day, he went to the king of the fairies and asked him to set him free. The king agreed, but he warned him that things would be different when he went back. He told him if he ever changed his mind, he could return to fairyland, but he’d never be able to leave it again.

“When the man got back to the human world, he found that hundreds of years had passed while he’d been dancing. Everything had changed. His family and friends were long dead and he didn’t fit into the world as it was then.”

“Did he go back to fairyland?”

“No. Even though he didn’t really fit in to the human world anymore, at least he was free there. He had challenges and struggles and he eventually fell in love and had a family. He said that no matter how bad things might have been in the outside world, he would always have chosen it because it was better to be free in a bad place than be a slave in the best place ever.”

“He was stupid, then.”

“He was?” Ciarrai looked at his brother in surprise. “I don’t think so.”

“Well, I do. He could have spent his whole life playing with fairies, and doing nothing but eating and dancing with beautiful people. Why would he want to leave that behind and live somewhere he had to work hard and he didn’t like?”

Ciarrai smiled and pressed him back on the pillows. Sliding off the bed, he tucked the duvet around his now sleepy brother, and turned off the light. “You’ll understand when you’re older,” he said solemnly, then hurried off to his own warm bed.

Author Bio:

Nephy Hart was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.

Nephy has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.

Later in life, Nephy became the storyteller for a re enactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.

It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.

In present times, Nephy lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son, dog, bearded dragon (called Smaug of course) and three cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. She’s never been happier since she was made redundant and is able to devote herself entirely to her twin loves of writing and art

Author Links:

http://nephylim-author.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Nephylim.author

http://cherylheadford.com/

https://twitter.com/SevenPointStar

Interviews with the author:

By Brandon Shire

At Rising Up From the Ashes by Phoenix

By Michael Offut

Dawn’s Reading Nook

About the Press:

Opening its doors on October 31, 2010, Flying With Red Haircrow is an independent publisher and writer cooperative with a large range of interests and possibilities who entreats everyone to, “Dance above the surface of the world. Let your thoughts lift you into creativity that is not hampered by opinion.”

We publish: Literary Fiction, Poetry, GLBTIIQ Fiction, Fantasy (Dark, Epic, Speculative), Multicultural, International, Memoir, Psychology, Sociology and more. For those interested in being a part of our team, have proposals or offers, please visit our website for more details.

 

If you are interested in a review copy for your website, wish to schedule an interview with the author or need more information about this release or press, please write Nephy Hart at chakira@hotmail.co.uk or Red Haircrow theredhairedcrow@gmail.com.