Tag Archives: Excerpt

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

 

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.”

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Exclusive excerpt and guest post! Home Before Sundown by Tinnean

Today on the blog I welcome Tinnean. She has a new release coming April 1st. It’s a western set during the American Civil War. Historical cowboys? Yes, please!  Make sure you check out the exclusive excerpt and guest post and find out how this story came to be.

Enjoy!

Blurb

George Pettigrew and his papa must leave the California rancho they’d lived on since his birth. They end up in New York City, where Papa marries and George gets a new beloved mama. George also meets Frank and Bart who become fast friends, and in Bart’s case, even more.

The start of the Civil War leaves George the man of the family, but although he’s found a job, it’s difficult to pay the ever-increasing rent. Then Papa dies at Appomattox and Mama falls ill.

After Mama dies, her father takes George’s siblings. When George learns his younger sister is being abused, he rescues the three children. But will dressing his sisters as boys and himself as a woman be enough of a disguise to keep them safe until they can reach the valley he’s dreamed of? Will Bart leave behind his own family and go with the man he loves?

Exclusive Excerpt

George knew a number of boys at the academy he attended, boys he’d say hello to or smile at, but none that he was interested in pursuing a friendship with.

He’d talked to Papa about it.

“They’re acquaintances, Georgie, and that’s fine. Don’t let it worry you.”

“But—”

Papa ruffled George’s hair. “Your Uncle Guillermo was the first man I liked enough to call friend, and I was…” His gaze became unfocused as he considered it. “I was twenty-five when we first met. It nearly tore out my heart when he died.” He looked almost as sad as when he thought about Mama—George’s first mama.

“Are you sorry you became friends with him?”

“No. I wouldn’t have missed that for the world. He was the sort of man you wanted at your back when you knew trouble was brewing. The sort of man I want you to grow up to become.” Papa smiled. “So you’ve got plenty of time to find a friend or two.”

Because Papa had said so, George was content to wait.

And Papa was always right, because now George had two friends, Frank Thompson and Bart Hall.

George liked Frank. They worked together grooming the horses, and George helped Frank with his riding lessons. Frank helped him with his schoolwork, because while Papa was a smart man and knew many things, he wasn’t very good at teaching book learning to George.

“You’re not stupid, George,” Frank told him. “You can do this.” And he set to work teaching George how to do his sums.

They were close friends.

But George was fascinated by Bart, Mrs. Hall’s oldest son, who worked as a carpenter’s apprentice.

He first met Bart when he came around the side of the cottage while George was in the paddock exercising Nightfall.

Papa and Mr. Thompson had set up a schedule for Frank to come and help with the horses. Today wasn’t one of the days he’d come over… he’d had to go to the lawyer’s office, where he clerked.

They had three horses now, and in another five months, the number would rise to four. The beautiful palomino mare was in foal. Mama couldn’t ride, mostly because she was expecting a baby too, but that was okay. Papa worked with Bella Dama, calming her down, since not only had her last owner taken a whip to her, but so had the one before that, according to the old scars on her flanks.

That day, George had only put her through mild exercises; horses were big animals, but they could abort easily. She’d been out in the paddock earlier with Sunrise, but now she was resting in her box stall.

George had set up a few low jumps, and he rode Nightfall in a circle around the paddock before setting him at the first jump. The gelding took it easily and went on to the second jump and then the third. When they finished the course, George turned Nightfall, and that was when he saw the tall, broad-shouldered boy standing there.

For a second he couldn’t catch his breath. Hair so dark a brown it appeared black was tied back at the nape of his neck. His eyes were also a dark brown. A toolbox hung from his shoulder.

“Can…” George swallowed. “Can I help you?”

“I’m Bart Hall. I come by to walk my Ma home. I was going to the servants’ door, but then I saw you and I had to watch.” He said the last words almost defiantly.

“We don’t have a servants’ door, Bart Hall. Hello, I’m George Pettigrew.”

Bart’s brows met above his nose in a scowl. George figured he was about fourteen, three years older than him, but that expression made him seem older. Bart opened his mouth, and George smiled and wondered what he was going to say.

Bart’s scowl was replaced with a reluctant smile of his own, and George felt his heart give an unexpected thump. “Hello, George. Sorry, it’s been a long day, and I get snappy when I’m hungry.”

Did he think what he’d said was snappy? George wanted to grin at him, but he wasn’t sure how Bart would take it, so he didn’t. But he couldn’t resist a saucy smile

“Go on into the kitchen. Your mama’s putting the finishing touches on dinner. You can have some.”

“No, I can’t. I’m just a carpenter.”

“You’re a carpenter—that’s an honest profession, and there’s no just about it. I have to put Nightfall up. Go in, and I’ll join you in a minute. The side door opens into the kitchen.” George started to lean down to open the gate, but Bart bounded forward and unlatched it for him. “Thanks.” George nodded at Bart and nudged Nightfall through. “Close it, please?” He felt Bart’s gaze on him as he rode into the stable, and a quick glance over his shoulder proved him right. He sent a small salute Bart’s way, and Bart grinned at him and saluted back.

George kicked free of the stirrups, swung his leg over Nightfall’s neck, and slid to the stable floor. “What did you think of him?” he asked the gelding as he removed the saddle. “I’ve never seen anyone like him before.”

He couldn’t understand what was happening. Papa had told him about wet dreams, and he hadn’t panicked the next time his prick had grown hard and he’d climaxed, shooting white liquid over his groin and chest. Not that it happened frequently, since Papa had also told him about masturbating, an act George had taken to with relish.

But this was the first time his prick had hardened just from looking at another person.

He worried his lower lip. He’d heard the boys at the academy making fun of one of the smaller students. They’d called him nellie and even tried to beat him up. George wouldn’t have stood for that—Papa had raised him better. Papa had also taught him some tricks for when you were fighting more than one opponent, but the boy’s papa must have taught him the same tricks, because while the boy had a torn shirt and a knot on his cheekbone, the bigger boys had black eyes and bloody noses, and they’d run away crying.

“Nice work,” George had said, and the kid grinned at him and flinched when the knot pulled.

“I’m small, but I’m tough.” He fingered the tear in his shirt. “Pa’s not going to be happy about this.”

George wanted to ask the kid why they’d called him Nellie, obviously a girl’s name, but he was afraid he’d come across as ignorant if he did, so he didn’t. He decided to wait until he had a chance to talk to Papa.

And that had been an eye-opening conversation.

“I’m glad you were willing to stick up for that boy,” Papa had said.

“Why did they call him nellie?”

“They were bullies, and they did that to make themselves feel big. Men do that also. When you’re faced with a situation like that, you do whatever it takes to let them know you won’t put up with it.”

“Yes, but I still don’t understand…”

Papa sighed. “You know how a man and a woman sleep in the same bed to make a baby? Well, there are some men who like to sleep in the same bed with other men.”

“Oh. I understand.” But he really didn’t. A man couldn’t make a baby with another man.

Papa looked relieved, so George let the subject drop.

Only now, George thought he did understand.

Buy Link

(and it’s on sale right now at JMS Books!)

Guest Post

Thank you, RJ, for this opportunity!

Isn’t it interesting how things work out? Originally, this story was supposed to be about a young man circa 1870 who had to dress as a woman in order to protect his family. My plan was for him to meet another young man, who fell in love with him, not realizing they shared the same plumbing. I even had the idea that George Pettigrew would take a tumble off his mare and wind up with his skirts up around his waist. Sharps Browne would ride up, realize the woman he’d been falling in love with was actually a man, and decide he didn’t really care.

Well, that’s not going to happen.

I first had the idea for Home Before Sundown back in 2012. It’s what I call my Civil War western, so readers wouldn’t be confused and think it was a contemporary. At that time, the title was Home Before Daylight. All my books go through at least one title change in the course of getting them written.

I knew the story was going to start with George and his Papa. Or was it? Maybe it was going to start with the young man called Sharps instead. The problem was, no matter how I worked it, the story just wouldn’t come together.

So I set it aside, and 2012 passed. So did 2013, 2014, and 2015. Every once in a while I’d open the file, but still no luck. Finally, in October of 2016, I realized the story didn’t start with George or Sharps talking, but with Tom Pettigrew, George’s Papa, and voilà, the story finally began to move!

We traveled from California to the Badlands of South Dakota, to New York City, from the time of the Mexican-American War to the Civil War.

As it moved, it occurred to me that George would need a romantic interest before he encountered Sharps, so I created Bart Hall. (see the exclusive excerpt.). Only as it turned out, George and Bart were so sweet together, I couldn’t bear to separate them. I’d just have to find someone else for Sharps.

By the time Sharps finally put in an appearance, the story had reached about 90k. The next thing I knew, it was topping 103k, and I had to trim it back. What to do, what to do? *the light goes on* I cut out all of Sharps’s chapters, set them aside, and reworked what had happened from George’s POV. Although the word count dropped to approximately 88k, by the time I was done, it had risen to an additional 11k.

Never fear, though. Sharps’s story, Two for Home, will contain the missing chapters, and we’ll see what happens from his POV.

And just as an aside, Deuce Pettigrew, who we met in In His Line of Work, is the descendant of George’s brother.

Author Bio

Tinnean has been writing since the 3rd grade, where she was inspired to try her hand at epic poetry. Fortunately, that epic poem didn’t survive the passage of time; however, her love of writing not only survived but thrived, and in high school she became a member of the magazine staff, where she contributed a number of stories.

It was with the advent of the family’s second computer – the first intimidated everyone – that her writing took off, enhanced in part by fanfiction, but mostly by the wonder that is copy and paste.

While involved in fandom, she was nominated for both Rerun and Light My Fire Awards. Now she concentrates on her original characters and has been published by Nazca Plains, Dreamspinner, JMS Books, and Wilde City, as well as being self-published. Recent novels have received honorable mention in the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 Rainbow Awards, and two of the 2014 submissions were finalists.

A New Yorker at heart, she resides in SW Florida with her husband, two computers, and a Surface 3 named Baby Jane.

Ernest Hemingway’s words reflect Tinnean’s devotion to her craft: Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure, only death can stop it.

She can be contacted at:

Email: tinneantoo@gmail.com

Live Journal: http://tinnean.livejournal.com/

Twitter: @tinneantoo

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Tinnean

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Tinnean/e/B004QS65KQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1391469662&sr=1-2-ent

She’d love it if you dropped by to say hello.

Books can be found at:

Dreamspinner   JMS Books  Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Kobo

If you’d like to sample her earlier works, they can be found here.

 

 

 

Blueprint is coming! (Read the first chapter in full here!)

I know I’m a bit late in doing a blog post on this but kids at home on school holidays kinda sucks my time. Anyway…

blueprint-400

JET’S STORY IS COMING!!!

I know quite a few of you have been waiting for Jet’s story for some time and it has been my most frequently asked question. If you read Black & Bluhe you would’ve fallen in love with Jet well before you fell in love with Gray or Kris. It’s a fact that Jet is wonderful. He just is. He is adorable in all his vulnerability. He is one of my favourite characters to write and I’m so proud I could give him his happy ever after in Blueprint. But of course, this is me, so Jet’s happy doesn’t come without some hard work on his part.

Pre-order now (Release Oct 14)

Amazon All Romance Smashwords

 

CHAPTER ONE

Jet

“Jesus, Gray. I can’t talk to you when you’re like this.” I attempted to slam the front door on my brother, but he was right behind me as we entered the condo after our students’ final play performance.

“Like what, Jet? Just because I don’t want you to move out?”

I dropped my messenger bag on the living room floor with a heavy thud and turned to glare at him. “The only reason you don’t want me to move out is because then you won’t be able to look out for me, control me. Protect me.” My tone may have been a little singsongy on those last two words, but I didn’t care. Gray was smothering me, and I was more than a little tired of it.

Gray’s expression tightened as he flexed his fingers. “The last thing I want to do is control you. You’re free to do anything you want, you know that. You’re my brother, and I like having you here. I love you—that’s why I don’t want you to move out!”

I almost laughed when he yelled he loved me. It wasn’t the tone you’d normally use when telling someone that. Not that I’d know. He was the only person I’d said those words to.

But I knew Gray wasn’t angry. He was scared. He’d been protecting me out of a misguided sense of guilt since we were teens. Meeting Kris and moving in with him helped Gray accept that life moved on. But if I no longer lived with him and Kris, Gray would stress and drive all three of us crazy with his worry.

As it stood now, I had to watch them get all lovey over each other, reminding me of what was missing in my life and what I’d probably never have. Everyone around us was coupled-up. Cam and Jake’s wedding came and went. Brandon proposed to Mason, and even Gray, in all his brash broodiness, managed to find his soul mate in Kris. Tears burned the back of my eyes, but I was determined to hold onto my anger. If I didn’t, I’d turn into the pathetic creature I knew I was.

I threw my hands in the air, my chest getting tighter as I glared at a slightly disheveled version of myself. “I’m not listening to you anymore. You need to get over this protective bullshit you’ve got going on and let me lead my life, and you need to get on with yours.”

Gray slumped a little, the tightness in his shoulders bleeding from him and his expression turning miserable. I couldn’t hide anything from him. Just as I knew he wasn’t angry, he knew I didn’t really want to move out.

“I’m just sick of being the third wheel.”

As soon as I finished that sentence—leaving no time for Gray to respond—the front door opened and Kris slowly ambled in, looking more than fine in his black suit, but bedraggled and sad. Dr. Nichols’s funeral must’ve taken a toll on him.

Gray was on him in an instant, our argument forgotten. That was okay. It wasn’t like we wouldn’t argue about it again next week.

“How was it?” Gray asked as he wrapped his arms around his boyfriend. “I’m sorry we couldn’t be there. We really wanted to go, but it was the final performance for the play…”

“It was fine,” Kris said against his shoulder. “Ethan was torn up, as you’d expect. He lost his mom only a few years before he left for Australia, and now his dad’s gone too.”

Dr. Nichols had died last week in a fishing accident. He was an old college buddy of Kris’s dad and the doctor who’d attended to Gray’s concussion and twisted ankle when Gray slipped on a loose rock one fishing trip. I didn’t know Dr. Nichols very well—having met him only a handful of times—but Gray had had a few fishing trips with him.

“I’m sorry, Kris. I’ll talk to you when I get back, okay? I have a session with Danielle,” I lied as I patted Kris on the shoulder. He was still engulfed in Gray’s arms. “I’ll take the car.”

Gray ran his hands up and down Kris’s back while he looked at me over his boyfriend’s shoulder. He looked so dejected and sorrowful, and I wasn’t sure how much of that was for Kris.

***

I hated lying to Gray, even if it was only a little white one. Although I didn’t really lie. Well, technically, I did. Sort of.

I’d told Gray I had a session scheduled with Danielle, my Pilates instructor, but in actual fact, I had a session with Jeremy, Gray’s MMA mentor. They both worked at the same gym, so…

Jeremy must’ve seen the look on my face as I exited the locker room because the first thing he said was, “You’ve been arguing again, haven’t you?”

“My brother’s an ass,” I grumbled while I slipped under the ropes into the ring and started to warm up.

“Gray was the biggest asshole I knew, but since he’s been with Kris, he’s mellowed. He’s happy now, but not as much fun in the ring as he used to be. You looking to take over his spot?”

“No.”

“Then wipe the scowl from your face and get moving faster.”

No wonder Gray always referred to Jeremy as a tough fucker in the ring. He was pretty hardcore and didn’t let anyone slack off. Gray was all about MMA, taking out his opponent in the shortest amount of time—and he could certainly kick ass—but I was here for self-defense lessons. I knew some moves, watched Gray a lot, and took notes, but it was time to get some real training under my belt. Especially if I was going to be living on my own. If Gray knew I could handle myself, then maybe he wouldn’t worry so much.

Jeremy was a good guy, albeit a little rough around the edges, and we’d been coming to his gym since we arrived in the Bay Area. He was one of the few people we could call a friend.

I ran in place to get my heart rate up while Jeremy paced, his gaze assessing me the entire time.

“Get your knees up.”

I ran harder, lifting my knees almost to my chest. Sweat dripped down my back, and I was glad I’d splurged and purchased the moisture-wicking shirt rather than a regular T-shirt. Unfortunately, I couldn’t say the same for my tights, but they made my ass look great.

Jeremy continued his relaxed walk while I was about ready to drop dead from exhaustion. Pilates was one thing; full-on cardio with an MMA fighter was something else.

“One thing you need in self-defense is better stamina than your attacker. You need to know the moves and be quick in your execution. If you’re out of shape, you will lose.”

I stopped running and bent over, resting my hands on my knees as I sucked in great lungfuls of air. The sweat combined with my hair wax, making it so I couldn’t get the sticky strands out of my eyes easily. I had to remember to wash the product out beforehand next time.

No sooner had I stopped moving than Jeremy bellowed at me. “No standing still. Walk it off, breathe, then we’ll see what you’ve got.”

If I thought Jeremy was going to take it easy on me because we were friends, then I was stupidly mistaken. Jeremy put me through my paces, showing me how to flip an attacker if I was caught from behind—unsuccessfully, I might add—and other basic moves that I really should’ve known before now.

Then the comments and questions started.

“He’s scared, you know.” Jeremy feigned an attack to the left. I dodged him, only for him to come at me again. I wasn’t so lucky the second time.

“I do,” I stated, puffing harder. “But he needs to get over himself.” I huffed a frustrated breath as I tried to take Jeremy’s legs out and failed.

“You don’t really want to move out.”

My lungs burned and I wondered why we were talking. “I need to.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m sick of being the third wheel. They cuddle on the couch and watch stupid TV all wrapped up together. I sit all by myself, pretending I’m interested in watching whatever program is on. When I go to my room with my laptop to have some time to myself, they don’t even notice I’ve left the room. I may as well not be there at all.”

“You don’t want to move out.”

Insightful fucker.

“You’ve lived with your brother your whole life and now you’re watching him move on—as hard as that might be for him to do—with someone who loves him. They’re making a life together, and you know eventually that won’t include you. You want what they have.”

I straightened my stance as I glared at him. Jeremy’s all-knowing gaze didn’t waver.

“Tell me,” he went on. “If you could have a boyfriend, someone who loves you like Kris does Gray, would you still want to live with them?”

“I…” Would I? If I could be with someone who loved me and still share a place with Kris and Gray, is that something I’d want? Would my future boyfriend want that? Probably not. I didn’t want to leave Gray, or Kris for that matter, the big guy was like another brother to me. “I wouldn’t move far,” I finished lamely.

As I said those final, pathetic words, Jeremy flipped and pinned me to the mat, his forearm pressing lightly against my throat. “This is why you need to be here. You’re easily distracted, the same as your brother. I’ve been pussyfooting around tonight to see what you can do. I can tell you’ve been watching Gray, and with some hard work, I’ll be able to teach you some moves Gray won’t see coming.”

Jeremy stood and held out his hand, pulling me to my feet. Training was over. Thank God. “I’ll tell Danielle to up your Pilates workout. Your balance wasn’t the best tonight, and you’ll need it to train with me.”

He was right, my balance was a little off after the stress of arguing with Gray. Fatigue didn’t help, either. My cheek twitched in agreement. Great, I’d overdone it.

“Oh, and make sure you add in a weight routine.”

I climbed out of the ring and stuck my middle finger up at him as I headed for the showers.

Jeremy’s deep chuckle followed me. “Just like your brother.”

***

I managed to get a parking spot outside our building, and after I pulled the emergency brake, I looked up to see Kris sitting on a bench alone. I briefly wondered why he was there and where my brother was. Then I realized he was waiting for me.

“What took you so long?” Kris asked as I approached, not moving from his position on the wooden seat. He’d showered and changed, the somber suit replaced with a tight black T-shirt and sweats. “Thought Pilates only went for an hour.”

I sat beside him. “It does. I was training with Jeremy.”

Kris’s eyebrows shot into his hairline. “Say what?”

“Jeremy’s showing me some self-defense moves. I know why Gray goes on about him now. He’s a sadistic bastard.” I was going to be sore tomorrow.

Kris chuckled, probably remembering some of the moves Jeremy had put him through. Kris was a firefighter with some mean boxing skills. He wasn’t out of shape by any stretch of the imagination. “He is, but he’s the best person to train you. He knows everything. Knows how much you’ll be able to handle and what you need.”

I eyed Kris. “You won’t tell Gray?”

“Not if you don’t want me to, but you won’t be able to keep it from him forever. Why don’t you want him to know?”

“He wouldn’t like the idea of me training with Jeremy; he’d be scared I’d get hurt. Gray knows me better than I know myself, but sometimes I wish he didn’t know everything. I’d like something to be just for me.”

“Is that why you want to move out?” Kris’s bummed-out tone as he looked at the ground between his feet made me feel like an ass.

“He told you we’ve been arguing, huh?” I laughed a little, hoping to ease some of the strain that had been blanketing us since I sat next to him. “I don’t know. I love living with you, but sometimes it gets to be a little too much. I don’t think I could live by myself, but I’m not sure how much longer I can continue to live here either.”

“You know what he’ll be like if you move out. He’ll visit all the time, call you every day and night to make sure you’re okay. He may smother you a little now, but if you live somewhere else, he’ll turn into a stalker.” Kris glanced at me, his lips quirking. “And he’ll drive me bat-shit crazy. I knew you guys were a package deal when I asked him to move in with me. I know how you both think.” Kris focused on the ground once more. “You wanna know the picture that popped into my mind before you guys moved in?”

I shook my head but Kris told me anyway.

“I had an image of living in the suburbs, picket fence, you know? Gray and me and a yard with a dog. Maybe a kid.” Kris turned his entire body toward me, his expression solemn. “And you living next door.”

It was a nice fantasy, albeit a sad one. Sad because, even though Gray had been going to counseling, I’d never move too far away from him. Not because he wouldn’t let me, but because I wouldn’t want to. Gray and I were a package deal; I was as dependent on him as he was on me, and I was beyond pleased that Kris understood and accepted that. Many partners wouldn’t.

I smiled at Kris, probably a little wistfully. My eyes burned with gratitude.

“Maybe you could rent one of the condos in our building,” he went on. “That might be a good place to start. You can visit whenever you want, and Gray won’t be such a bear to live with if he knows you’re still close by. Jasmine across the hall is selling, finally moving in with her boyfriend. You could have your space but still be close, and if you get sick of us, all you’d have to do is walk next door. You could bring a boyfriend home without Gray being all up in his face.”

“Jasmine’s place is great. All modern and sleek.” I perked up a little. The thought of plush leather and sleek stainless steel was enticing. Then I sobered. “I don’t have the money to buy anything. It’s a nice thought, though.”

“What happened to your share of the money from your home in Seattle?”

I thought we’d told Kris everything, but I guess we hadn’t. “When our father pled guilty and was hauled off to prison, Gray sold the house and car to pay for my rehab for my injuries. Somehow he managed to get me into one of the top facilities in the country, but it didn’t come cheap. The rest went to college.”

“I’d assumed that but wasn’t sure if you might have some of it tucked away. I didn’t want to ask. If he hadn’t done that, though, you might never have regained the ability to walk. Or do anything again, for that matter. He fought hard for you.” Kris’s voice broke on the last few words, and I had to look away from the emotion in his eyes.

“I know.” He wasn’t telling me anything I wasn’t aware of. Even though some of the details were a little sketchy, the actions of our father had cost not only me, but my brother as well, and it wasn’t just monetary.

When I first woke up after the beating our drunken father had given me, I thought I was dead. During those months in the hospital, then the rehabilitation facility, there were times I prayed for it. I hadn’t been able to move much, and what little movement I did have, I had no control over. Gray helped feed me, using a small spoon to scoop the bland food into my mouth. He washed and shaved me, brushed my hair. He rubbed moisturizer into my pale and withered flesh, as the air-conditioning dried my skin so much. He helped me use the bathroom. Humiliating didn’t begin to cover it. At the time he was doing it because he loved me. We were identical twins, after all, so our bond was that much stronger than ordinary siblings, but he was also looking after me because he felt guilty. He didn’t walk home with me that fateful day after school like he usually did. He’d been blaming himself ever since.

Now Gray was overprotective and smothering. Although, to give him credit, since meeting Kris, he was a lot better than he used to be, and the counseling helped. But I still lived with him. I needed to move out, not only so I could move on and have my own life, but so Gray could too.

“He’s cooking pasta, you know.” Kris’s words brought me out of my reverie.

I beamed. “He’s sucking up.”

Kris grinned; he was fully aware of how good Gray’s pasta was. “He is.”

“Maybe we should argue more often.” I stood, clasping Kris’s shoulder. “C’mon. I’m fucking starving now.”

 

I hope you enjoyed that little insight into Jet’s story.

RJ

Release Day! As the Ice Melts (Book 2)

Book 2 in the Love for the Seasons series is now out! But seriously, if you haven’t read the first book, you really should. Yes, this can be read as a stand alone, but Marcus appears as a side character in #1, so why wouldn’t you read it?

 

Ice 400

Here’s the blurb:

As hearts begin to thaw, a betrayal of trust threatens to put out the flames.

When Marcus McDonald receives a formal warning from his employer, he knows it’s time to tuck tail and head home to Manchester. His medical condition forces him to keep people at arm’s length, and it wouldn’t be the first time his temperament has landed him in trouble.

All Adam Radney wants is some time to paint, but his father’s death, leaving Adam and his mum up to their ears in debt, means taking on two jobs. Working at the family’s run-down Manchester fish and chip shop, Adam is confronted by a new, surly face in town and instantly dislikes the icy newcomer. So what if he pushes all of Adam’s hot buttons?

When the ice melts and things heat up between Marcus and Adam, Adam thinks all his dreams have come true. With Marcus’s help, new customers arrive and the chip shop starts to flourish, easing Adam’s mind. But when Adam puts all his trust in Marcus on the busiest night the shop has seen in years, thing go awry and it leaves Adam with more questions than answers.

And an excerpt:

THERE WAS a lull in the evening’s trade, and we had only two customers waiting, and five phone orders to wrap up. I wasn’t worried. There was always a small break between the times people ate their dinner. Some liked it later than others.

I’d been watching a guy through the glass front door who’d been standing outside the shop. He’d glanced at the faded sign in the window then walked away. Now he was back, looking up and down the street, before eyeing the sign again. I wondered if he was going to enter or not.

“Mum. Do you know who that is?” I asked, nodding my head towards the door.

Mum frowned. “No. Doesn’t look like a regular. What do you think he’s doing?”

“I have no idea.” I was hoping he wasn’t trying to get up the nerve to rob us.

The guy walked away again, only to return five minutes later, and this time he actually entered the shop.

He shook his hoodie off and stomped his feet on the mat, dislodging the dirt and ice from his pricey-looking black boots. If he’d been a criminal, he wouldn’t have taken the time to dust off. I couldn’t see where he’d be hiding a weapon, either; his dark blue jeans were practically painted on.

Maybe he was lost. If he was I would’ve loved to help him find his way. This guy tweaked all my buttons, and I couldn’t help but take in his lean form, slim hips, and dishevelled dark blond hair. Designer stubble on a pretty face and I was pretty much a goner.

His icy, blue eyes met mine, and his plump lips pulled into a tight line as he approached the counter.

“Are you Rodney?” he practically snapped at me.

I bristled. Who did he think he was? “Who’s asking?”

“Gran told me to go to the chippie around the block and order her usual, only double. At first I thought she was having me on, but I’ve walked around two blocks and you’re the only chip shop around. She said Rodney would know what her normal order was, ’cause I have no fucking idea. So again, are you Rodney?”

“Did you read the sign?”

“I can’t bloody see the sign, the paint’s all faded. You should do something about that, you know. People will think you’re a run-down drug house or something, which is why I’ve been wandering the streets for the past half hour. Do you know how cold it is?”

Mr Shithead glanced around the shop with a look of disgust. The shop needed a lick of paint, and not just the sign in the window. The wallpaper was peeling, and no matter how many times Mum and I scrubbed the floor, it was always going to be a stained mess.

I reined in my temper. “Gran, you say. From Forbes Road?”

“You know Gran?”

“Obviously.”

He looked down his nose at me, which was quite a feat considering our height difference. “Well, I know you’re not her grandson. How do you know her?”

I bristled again. What an arsehole. “How do you think? She comes in every week and orders the same each time. We all love Gran here. And just how do you know her?” I was hoping he hadn’t just robbed the poor lady blind on her way here. She always walked the same route at the same time of night, so she’d be easy prey for a thug who knew what he was doing.

“Because I’m her grandson. Unlike you.”

“Ahh, you must be Mark.” It was hard to picture. Gran was lovely and sweet, the way most doting grandmothers were. She told it like it was, but she was never rude. This guy couldn’t possibly have been related to her.

His eyes flashed in obvious annoyance. “Marcus. How do you know?”

“You haven’t been listening, have you?” You dumbarse. “Gran comes in each week. Over the years, we’ve gotten to know her a bit. She speaks about you a lot.” I gave him a not-so-subtle once-over. “Some big shot in London, apparently.”

“Well, Rod.” Marcus sniffed. “Gran would like her usual, only doubled. How long will it take?”

“Who’s paying?”

“What?”

“Who’s paying? You or Gran?”

“Me. Why?”

“That’ll be ten quid.”

Marcus’s eyebrows drew together. He pulled his wallet from his back pocket and searched through the large stash of bills, seemingly looking for a tenner. He handed me a five.

“And the rest of it. That’s only a fiver.”

Marcus’s features went from frustrated arsehole to red and embarrassed in a nanosecond. He pulled a twenty out, handed it to me without a word, and then sat down to wait for his order.

I left it till he sat on the farthest chair from me before I asked, “Did you not want your change?”

Marcus came over and I handed him his notes. He wouldn’t look at me, and it appeared all his bravado had fled. He seemed vulnerable and exposed, and I had the distinct feeling he would’ve slunk out if he didn’t have to wait for his food. Without looking at the money, he stuffed it back into his wallet. I could’ve given him anything and he wouldn’t have known

If you liked that, here’s where you can read more:

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All Cocks, No Bull Blog Hop – WIN A FREE ECOPY OF ANY OF MY BOOKS PLUS…

Want to check out some great m/m books and hear from some wonderful gay romance authors? Then this is the blog hop for you! Make sure you visit each author to find out about their latest release and enter the multiple giveaways available. Good luck!

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A best friends to lovers road trip. What more could  you want?

NEW Indigo Road 400The Blurb:

Two best friends take a year off to find themselves… and end up finding each other.

Joshua Simpson has just finished four years at Purdue University, but that’s not why he’s buzzing with excitement. Once they’ve said goodbye to their families, Josh and his best friend Alex are taking off to discover America in an old but reliable VW van, planning on not seeing snow for an entire year.

Josh has always considered himself straight—except for that one time in college—so when he and Alex are living in such close proximity on the road, he’s unsure what these new feelings mean. Is it because they’re spending 24/7 together, or is it something deeper? And does it really matter since Josh has only ever seen Alex with women?

While in Oregon, Josh meets Johnno, a sexy but confusing Aussie surfer. While having an impromptu surfing lesson, Johnno helps Josh realize who he is and what he wants—but Alex’s reaction leaves Josh confused.

From a Montana ranch to the bright lights and dangerous streets of Los Angeles, to a dark and lonely deserted highway in Alabama, join Josh and Alex as they drive around the US, discovering not only who they are, but who they can be together.

An Excerpt:

WE STUMBLED up the stairs to our room at the B&B, and no sooner had we closed the door than Alex had me pinned against it, mouth assaulting my throat.
“Tell me this isn’t weird,” Alex said on a breath.
“It’s not weird. It’s right.”
“Tell me… tell me you want this as much as I do.”
Alex’s lips made their way to my ear and the soft spot behind it, making any coherent thought impossible.
“Want… you,” I managed to squeeze out.
In an instant, his body was gone from mine and I was left cold without him. Alex grabbed my hand and led me quickly to the bed, pushing me down and climbing on top.
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” he said, resuming the assault on my throat as he pushed my shirt up. He found a nipple and tweaked it hard.
“Ungh, more of that.”
My hips had a mind of their own as they bucked, trying to find some friction. I’d never been so turned on. Alex palmed my cock through my jeans, his movements gentle and hesitant.
“Is this okay?” Alex asked.
“Better if my jeans weren’t in the way.”
“Um, I…”
I stopped his movement, placing my hand over his but not removing it from my groin.
“It’s okay. We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. I have no idea what I’m doing either, but I know I want something.”
Alex smiled, his eyes shining. “I’m so glad you’re just as clueless.”

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