Everyone deserves a second chance in life and love.
Chieftain Kalthekor Valzadari is an elf with many regrets. Once a man concerned only with what would bring glory to his tribe at the expense of people he should’ve protected, everything changes when his son is born. Trapped in a loveless matebond, Kalthekor wants to leave his old life behind, but he is bound for eternity. Still, he can’t help but wish for freedom and a relationship as rich in joy as those around him.
Although Aristos Centaurus is brother to the leader of the Centaurs, he is unable to forgive or forget that he once spent centuries committing inexcusable acts of war. With so much blood on his hands, he cannot ignore that he should have been sentenced to death. Aris might help the centaurs now, but he keeps his distance, knowing better than to befriend any of his brethren. He doesn’t deserve happiness or love, but he yearns for it nonetheless.
A misunderstanding sends Aris from the isolation of his brother’s house to Council Headquarters, where he finds himself staring into Kalthekor’s blue eyes. After an instant connection, both are ready to have a partner, and believe they can find what they need in each other. As the pair build a life and a home together, Kalthekor and Aristos realize that although they have created a wonderful foundation based on friendship and love, if they are to move forward as a family, they must find a way to face and reconcile their pasts. Only fate knows if it will tear them apart or if a blissful future awaits them.
About the Author
Jessamyn Kingley lives in Nevada where she begs the men in her head to tell her their amazing stories which she dutifully writes it all down in what has become a small mountain of notebooks. She falls in love with each couple and swears whatever book she wrote last is her absolute favorite.
Jessamyn is married and working toward remembering to start the dishwasher without being distracted by the scent of the magical detergent. For personal enjoyment, she aids in cat rescue while slashing and gashing her way through mobs in various MMORPGs. Caffeine is her very best friend and is only cast aside briefly for the sin better known as BBQ potato chips.
I’m stuck in a straight guy’s apartment. How am I supposed to deal with this?
I hadn’t planned on living with Ross very long. I just needed a place to stay to get on my feet after a bad break up, and happened to be friends with his sister. But when the shelter in place order comes down, not only do I lose any chance of finding my own space; my bartending job dries up, too. And Ross is taking this order very seriously. He grew up in a family of Montana doomsday preppers, and his rules are very clear: we’ve got three months of food, and neither of us is leaving—for any reason. I don’t have a ton of money, and there are bills to pay. But there are a few different ways to make some cash online—especially when the rest of the world is shut inside, too, and need something to entertain them. Who would have imagined I would end up on a cam site entertaining guys from all over the world just by being myself and having fun? So long as I wait until Ross goes to sleep before I log on, anyway—I definitely do not want him to know what I’m up to on his couch. But Ross is full of surprises, it turns out. And I guess I am too. Because what I end up sharing with him is something I’ve never shared with anyone before. I just worry that things are about to get very complicated. Because every gay boy knows the cardinal rule: Never, ever fall for the straight guy.
“Holy… shit,” I muttered. I looked at the camera. “Did you guys see that?”
@LuckyTom: That was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in my life.
@Look3r123: Shit, is he okay? Is he breathing? Did he die?
@YourDad57: Russ I think you killed him, brother. What’s in your cum?
I laughed, and swiped a bit from the end of my cock, and looked at it like I was seriously wondering. “Hell, I don’t know. Maybe I have a super power. What do you think, Cal?”
Cal opened his eyes, and I angled the iPad to make sure he was fully in frame. He shook his head, and waved a hand. “I don’t know. Gotta be something, though. Here, let me…” he reached for my arm.
I let him take my hand, and he pulled it close and closed his lips around my fingertip, nursing the drop of cum off it. He shook his head once it was clean. “Not sure. Not enough of a sample.”
I grunted, and grabbed the base of my dick to shake it at him. “Maybe you better clean this off, then.”
I couldn’t even help myself at that point. Cal glanced up at me, questioning and exciting. I gave him a nod, and he sat up as I lifted my cock so he could get to it more easily. His mouth closed over the head of my dick and my head rolled back as a shiver ran through me. Then I sank into his mouth, and maybe changed my mind about whether I could go a second time. He groaned quietly, and his slick fingers, covered in my cum, his, and some vaseline, found my nuts and gave them a gentle kind of squeeze as he took me down until I pushed into his throat and then past.
“Fuck,” I gasped, barely able to get a breath. “Yeah, fucking clean it all up, Cal.”
He grunted, leaned in, gripped my dick with his other hand, and began to work me. I shuddered, looked down and almost stopped him. I didn’t think I could really come again, not so soon, not after that. But the first one had been weak. Nothing special, nothing extraordinarily intense. Not like the time he sucked me. I tangled my fingers in his hair and moved my hips with his head, pulling away the same time he did and thrusting in slow.
It was like the first time all over again—all that head, that suction, the magic of his tongue. It made me drunk, made my tongue loose. Except this time I knew what was in his head when he did it. How he was desperate to please me, to treat my cock just right. His groaning grew higher pitched, more urgent. He fucking loved sucking my dick. And I realized that it made me feel like a god that he did. “Good,” I rumbled. “That’s good, Cal. Fucking suck it all up. Think you can make me come again? Try. Get that cum, little guy. You wanna own this dick? That’s rich. Look at you, you don’t own shit. This dick owns you, doesn’t it? You fucking dream about it, think about it all day… you want another taste. Work for it. Suck it out of me, good boy.”
Simon Strange loves coffee, red wine, craft beer, and men. Especially men. Especially the men you should never, ever screw… What is it about the forbidden that gets our blood hot? Is it just the rebellious instinct to do what we’re told is wrong? Those men we grew up with, the ones that were either always looking over us or always by our side—or chasing us around—the ones that say they don’t want us, and would never ever… well, just this once, if you don’t tell… So that’s what you get from Simon Strange. Stories of the forbidden, of the filthy, and the naughty, and the never-ever-tell, and of course, the strange. With nearly 150 reviews for his collection of erotica and romance, and an average of four and a half stars across the board, you’ll almost certainly find something you like in the pages of his work. Just be sure to bring a change of undies. 😉
Fourteen-year-old RV does his best negotiating freshman year in a demanding high school, obeying the rules of his immigrant parents, and exploring his budding sexuality
RV is a good kid. So he’ll do his best to keep up in high school despite all the additional pressures he’s facing: His immigrant parents, who don’t want him to forget his roots. Some tough kids at school who bully teachers as well as students. His mean gym teacher. The Guy Upstairs who doesn’t answer his prayers. And the most confusing fact of all — that he might be gay. Luckily, RV develops a friendship with Mr. Aniso, his Latin teacher who is gay and is always there to talk to. RV thinks his problems are solved when he starts going out with Carole. But things only get more complicated when RV develops a crush on Bobby, the football player in his class. And to RV’s surprise, Bobby admits he may have gay feelings, too.
Why can’t life be like pizza?
I’ve been asking myself the question a lot lately. I love pizza. Pizza makes me feel good. Especially since I discovered Joe’s. Joe’s Pizza is quiet and out of the way and allows me to think. And Joe’s combinations are the best. Pepperoni and onions. Garlic and mushroom. Cheese and chicken. And if you really want that little kick in the old butt: the super jalapeno. Mmmm, good. Gets you going again. And lets you forget all your troubles.
What troubles can a fourteen-year-old guy have? Ha! First of all, I’m not a regular guy, as anyone can guess from my taste in pizza. My parents are immigrants who are trying to make a better life for themselves here in the United States. Besides the usual things American parents worry about, like making money and having their kids do well in school, my parents spend more time worrying about the big things: politics, communism, fascism, global warming, and the fact they and their parents survived violence and jail so I-better-be-grateful-I’m-not-miserable-like-kids-in-other-parts-of-the-world.
Grateful? Ha! As far as I’m concerned, life is pretty miserable already. Instead of thinking about the World Series or Disneyland, I worry about terrorists down the street or the dirty bombs the strange family around the corner might be building.
I don’t know why I worry about everything, but I do. It’s probably in my genes. Other guys have genes that gave them big muscles or hairy chests. I got nerves.
And then there’s my name. RV. Yeah, RV. No, I’m not a camper or anything. RV is short for Arvydas. That’s right. “Are-vee-duh-s.” Mom and Dad say it’s a common name in Lithuania, which is the country in Eastern Europe where my parents were born. A name like that might be fine for Lithuania, but what about the United States? Couldn’t Mom and Dad have named me Joe, or Mike, or even Darryl? My brother, Ray, has a normal name. Why couldn’t they have given me one?
I even look a little weird, I think. Tall and skinny with an uncoordinated walk because of my big feet that get in the way and make me feel like a clod. Oh, yeah. I’ve been getting some zits lately, and I wear glasses since I’m pretty nearsighted. Not a pretty sight, is it? At least the glasses are not too thick. Mom and Dad don’t have a lot of money to spend, but they did fork up the money to get me thin lenses, so I don’t look like a complete zomboid.
What can I do? I try my best, despite it all. I’m lucky because I’ve done well in school, so at least my genes gave me a half-decent brain. Hey, I’m not bragging. It’s just nice to feel good about something when most days I feel pretty much a loser at so many things. When I was in grammar school, there were enough days when I came home from school and cried because some big oaf threatened me, or I got hit in the stomach during my pathetic attempts to play ball during recess….
Okay, okay, I’m getting off track. I want to write about my first day of school. Mom and Dad gave me this new—well, refurbished, but new to me anyway—computer for getting into Latin school, and they keep after me to make good use of it. So, I’ve decided I’m going to write about my new life. My life away from cretins—Lith, American, or any other kind….
About the Author
Andy V. Roamer grew up in the Boston area and moved to New York City after college. He worked in book publishing for many years, starting out in the children’s and YA books division and then wearing many other hats. This is his first novel about RV, the teenage son of immigrants from Lithuania in Eastern Europe, as RV tries to negotiate his demanding high school, his budding sexuality, and new relationships. He has written an adult novel, Confessions of a Gay Curmudgeon, under the pen name Andy V. Ambrose. To relax, Andy loves to ride his bike, read, watch foreign and independent movies, and travel.
When two crime investigation operatives join forces to take down the growing criminal activity involving vampires, blood threatens to spill and tear their lives and hearts apart.
Outcast operative in the Supernatural Investigation & Crime Bureau (SICB) Callen Blackheath finds himself doing what he does best: defying orders and giving his boss a headache in the thick of an operation he shouldn’t be in. And there’s no way he’s walking away, not when the investigation has become deadly personal.
Needing to protect the only family member he has left, this wolf shifter will do whatever it takes to stop the blood farms and destroy the dangerous drugs the vampires will kill for. But he doesn’t expect Liam “Thatch” Thatcher, the head of a special task force team, to receive a bite that pulls him into the centre of Callen’s world.
Bonded by memories and blood, together they navigate the operation that has wider reaches than they could ever imagine. And when it comes to matters of the heart, Callen knows in order to win, he needs to risk it all.
No one was supposed to be here. Ignoring the fact that Cartwright had blown my half-arsed recon out of the window and taken me by surprise, there seriously shouldn’t have been anyone else on site. An unfamiliar edge of panic flared to life in my chest. This was not good.
I charged towards the glass, stopping short of barrelling into it to try the handle. It wouldn’t have been the first time I’d broken down a door unnecessarily. I didn’t want to crash through a glass door unless I had to. While I healed quickly, shards of glass cutting through my skin still hurt something fierce.
Testing the handle with one hand, I hit the glass lower down, trying to get the attention of the person attempting to get out. Their bloody hand peeking out a white lab coat twitched at the loud thud. “Shit,” I grumbled. The door was locked. “Hey.” I beat against the glass panel harder. It was partially misted for privacy, and visibility was unclear. Unable to tell who was on the other side or whether the smoke had breached the room from another direction, for once, I considered my options.
“Hey.” I tried again, my hand smacking the glass harder, not yet intending to break through. “Can you hear me?” Steadying my breath took concentration, but I needed to listen carefully.
“Code.” The voice was gravelly. “P-Panel.”
I searched quickly and found a panel off to my right. “I need the code.” Each word came out calm and clear. Panicking now could possibly get us both killed.
“Five.” A cough wracked through him, loud and sounding painful. I squinted, wondering what the hell this guy had been through. “Two. Seven. Seven. Four. Nine.”
I hit the numbers as he said them.
“Hash,” he finished, and the door clicked, swinging open when the guy fell against it. He landed on the floor.
Unconscious at my feet, the man was sprawled on his front. I tugged him to the side. With no idea where we were, I couldn’t simply throw the guy over my shoulder and start charging around, hitting dead ends and burning doors wherever we went. Decision made, I cast a quick glance at the man. Wet blood covered his rich black skin, but his moving chest indicated he was breathing. Barely. Christ, I hoped he didn’t die on me. After a final glance, I rushed into the unlocked room. Just because it had been sealed from the inside didn’t mean I wouldn’t be able to get through another exit.
A door on the opposite side of the room was my target. I headed straight there, spotting vials and another room off to my right. Before I reached the exit, the scent hit me. Blood, and it wasn’t from the unconscious lab tech in the hallway. I took a tentative step in the direction the scent came from, bile already churning in my gut.
No. It couldn’t be.
Another step forward, and I held my breath, not wanting to believe it could be true.
Wide-eyed, I gasped for breath, then regretted the action immediately. Metallic, familiar, and dead. The combination of the three threatened to buckle my knees. Unable to look away, I stared hard, hating every second. But I had to do this. Flesh, torn muscle, mutilated claws; the image seared itself into my mind. Once there, a shockwave of pain ripped through me.
This time I let my knees go and landed on the floor, my knee finding the blood the same shade of my own. It was her. Hazel. My baby sister.
About the Author
Becca Seymour lives and breathes all things book related. Usually with at least three books being read and two WiPs being written at the same time, life is merrily hectic. She tends to do nothing by halves so happily seeks the craziness and busyness life offers.
Living on her small property in Queensland with her human family as well as her animal family of cows, chooks, and dogs, Becca appreciates the beauty of the world around her and is a believer that love truly is love.
Darius could tread on my body, but he’d never trample my heart.
Abel Kensington the Fifth, aka TheFifthAbel – Accountant, Germaphobe, Service Submissive turned Daddy Dom, and resigned to being alone.
Mired in his routines that keep the worst of his fears and obsessive behaviors at bay, Abel has given up finding someone who will look past his sanitized bubble. Little does he know that someone is watching him and has a plan to slip into his world and take care of him for a change.
Darius MacLeod aka JuicyDare – Coffee House Owner, Scottish Transplant, New Daddy Dom, and finding love is the last thing on his mind.
While his roots are still firmly in his homeland, Darius has started a new life in his father’s hometown. When a seemingly shy and prim older man starts frequenting his café, Darius’ interest is piqued and his instincts kick in. Wanting to get past the barrier that Abel has erected, Darius dives feet first into a whole new world he knows little about.
Abel and Darius will both need to find sure footing on this new path before them as Abel gets back to his submissive roots and Darius explores a new but natural lifestyle.
Attention: This book contains depictions of dominance, submission, boot worship, trampling, and adults in footie pajamas
From Darius POV:
About a month after Abel started coming to the café, he said something to my day manager, Santos, which had intrigued me and really spurred my desire to know him better.
He had come in, as usual. I’d watched his lithe body as he set up his area and then move to the counter. He tugged on the sleeves of his shirt to straighten them—like always. That day he had worn a hunter-green button down. It was always a solid color with all the buttons done, even the top one, but no tie. He always kept his black hair short on the sides with a little bit of length on the top. I suspected that if he let it grow, it would curl a little. It looked thick and soft. I often wondered what it would feel like between my fingers.
I had watched from just inside the kitchen as his hazel eyes roamed the menu board on the wall behind the counter. He had scrunched his freckle-splattered nose in the most adorable way as he thought.
Santos placed a plate with his usual carrot and zucchini muffin in front of him on the counter and started inputting his order into the computer. Abel had registered the movement and focused on him.
“One muffin, a latte, and a Grasslands Juice. That’ll be fourteen thirty-six, as usual, Mr. K.”
Abel had looked down his nose at Santos and arched a thick but sculpted eyebrow. “It’s admirable that you remember what I have ordered the last five times I have visited this establishment, but it is rude to assume.”
Santos had opened his mouth and closed it, which was good because Abel wasn’t done.
“I appreciate your wanting to be efficient, but what if today I want a banana nut muffin instead?”
“Do you want a banana nut muffin instead, Mr. K?”
“Abel, please. And, no, I do not, but that’s beside the point. It is not good service to anticipate what I may want. It is, on the other hand, good service to know how I like it or want it done when I tell you what I want or need. For instance, Darius always remembers how I like my sandwich made. He’s very thoughtful.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. K—I mean, Abel, sir. I’ll remember that. What may I get you this morning?”
Abel had tugged on his sleeves again. I had a feeling that was more of a compulsion than anything else. A nervous habit maybe?
“I’ll have a carrot and zucchini muffin, a latte, and a Grasslands Juice.”
I had to stifle my laughter as I went about making his juice.
About the Author
A. G. Carothers is actually a dragon very cleverly disguised as a human. They are a non-binary author of LGBTQIA Romance and Urban Fantasy, who enjoys writing original and entertaining stories. They are very excited to share the worlds they’ve created with you. A.G. currently lives in Tennessee with their platonic life partner, who is not a dragon. They yearn to live back in Europe and will some day. In their spare time they are addicted to losing themselves in the lovely worlds created by other authors A.G. is committed to writing the stories they see in their head without restrictions. Love is blind and doesn’t see gender, race, or sexuality.
I’m not hunting him; I’m protecting him. At least, that’s what I tell myself. In New York City, a beautiful creature like Tristan Clement should not be walking the streets alone, and I’m the perfect vampire to watch his back. But what if keeping him safe isn’t enough anymore? What if I want to touch? And taste? I need him. But I’ve never needed anyone.
In a world where paranormal creatures live amongst us and must follow certain laws, living life as a dangerous loner works for vampire Ethan. Inhabiting his gleaming apartment, wearing his designer suits, jetting around the world as a fanged killer-for-hire, Ethan does it all alone.
That is, until he literally runs into Tristan. Tristan, who is clearly trouble wrapped in skinny jeans and an oversized sweater. Tristan, with his shock of angelic blond curls. Tristan, who plays piano more beautifully than the old masters– and Ethan would know; he saw Beethoven.
Tristan is gorgeous, a little sassy, and irresistible. Also, Ethan is horrified to note, Tristan has no idea how incredibly tempting he is to things that go bump in the night.
Overcome by the urge to keep Tristan safe, Ethan begins to… well, stalk is such a strong word. What starts as an obsession quickly becomes something more, something that Ethan needs. And to his surprise, Tristan seems to need him, too…
*This darkly romantic tale delivers steamy passion and a happily ever after. Be advised that Handsome Death includes explicit m/m content, stalking, mentions of past abuse, and graphic violence.*
I feel an itch on the back of my neck so glance behind me, and indeed, there he is, the blond kid from yesterday. I must have caught him staring, because as soon as I turn to look, he ducks his head and goes back to reading.
I shouldn’t approach him. Granted, he’s stunning. Most vampires would love to get their hands on his bare skin, but I’m not one for picking up humans outside of blood clubs. I’m cautious. Vampires can get in a lot of trouble for biting a human without consent. Like sentenced-to-death trouble. The humans at blood clubs know what they’re getting into. This guy? He looks like a puppy in need of a cuddle. He has no idea what a vampire could do to him.
Maybe some reconnaissance is in order. Just to, you know, make sure he’s all right after yesterday’s altercation.
I’m lying to myself. This isn’t a protective detail in Serbia, this is me away from combat too long and bored in New York.
He sits at one of the heavy wooden tables with the lid off his cup. His hair hangs halfway over his forehead, tilted down over a paperback, but I can still see his mouth, the way he chews his bottom lip, making it pinker, fuller.
I walk right up to his table. I don’t wait for him to look up. I don’t wait for an invitation. I just sit.
He startles at my arrival. His eyes widen and stare at me.
“Who are you?” I ask. I’ve always been really good at openings.
“Uhh.” His forehead wrinkles.
I drum my fingertips on the table. “I’ve never seen you in here before.”
“You saw me yesterday.” He folds the top corner of a page in his paperback: Dracula by Bram Stoker. “You saved my ass yesterday.”
“Before yesterday,” I reply.
He sighs. “A Starbuck’s bought out my favorite coffee shop, so I guess this is now my favorite coffee shop. Buy local.” He scoops his messenger bag off the floor and shoves the book inside.
The kid has one of those runway model faces—gaunt if not so beautiful, sharp and yet soft. Freckles? Zero. Wait, no, he’s got just a smattering that you would only notice close-up … or with well-trained vampiric eyes. He has no shadow of recently shaved facial hair, and that’s no surprise based on the white-blond of his hair. He must moisturize those lips because nobody’s mouth just naturally looks like the perfect mixture of velvet and silk.
He sighs again, louder. “You’re staring at me.”
No, I’m studying him—checking out his vulnerable areas, which are pretty much everywhere considering he’s so thin and fragile-looking.
As for everyone else in the coffee shop, they’re looking at the kid like they want to take him to bed. I catch a girl at the next table over gawking. A big dude with a beard stands in line to our right, his mouth hanging half open as he admires.
“Everyone is staring at you,” I respond.
His pale cheeks burn bright red as he swoops his bag onto his shoulder and stands. “No, that’s …” He shakes his head. “Ha, no.” He doesn’t say goodbye. He even leaves his coffee, half-consumed on the table. He up and abandons me without a word, but I do watch him go—as does half of Inky Grounds.
Once he disappears out into the early October morning, I turn back around and stare at his deserted coffee. Granted, I’m not smooth—I get it—but he didn’t have to run out like that. I just wanted to see that he was safe. Shit, I don’t even know his name.
About the Author
Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, model, mental health speaker, and LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. Her current obsession with Timothee Chalamet runs deep, and don’t even get her started on Call Me By Your Name.
Prince Hamish has no interest in fulfilling his duty of marrying. Not to a woman, at least. That doesn’t stop his mother, Queen Fiona, from presenting him with every eligible noblewoman that enters their castle. He’s certain it’ll be no different with the representative of the Udynea Empire.
So when they do arrive, Hamish is relieved the imperial prince, Darshan, is not the woman everyone expected. Until the man kisses him and Hamish is confronted by the very emotions he has been forced to conceal or be punished for. Emotions he is eager to explore.
But the kiss proves to be a little too public and leads his mother to take drastic measures to ensure Hamish adheres to her family vision. The contest of arms will force Hamish to make a choice: give up his happiness for convention’s sake or send the kingdom spiralling into civil war for the right to love his own way.
The whole pub seemed to grow still the longer Darshan stared at the man, his expression blank.
“Bill,” Hamish hissed at the dockmaster. “That’s enough.” The man must have realised it would be the grandsire of all bad ideas to piss off someone capable of setting things on fire with a thought.
Ignoring Hamish, Billy continued to give the spellster a smarmy smile.
Darshan returned the grin, his tongue snaking out to run along the underside of his teeth. He calmly unhooked his glasses from behind his ears. “Hold these, will you?” he asked, waving the frames in Hamish’s general direction.
Hamish took a cautious step backwards. He couldn’t be certain if Darshan was merely posturing or actually planned to attack the man, but it would be better if he stayed out of it. After all, he couldn’t haul Darshan back to the castle if they were both unconscious.
He delicately reached for the glasses.
Darshan barely waited for Hamish to properly grasp them before he swung at Billy, clearly aiming for the man’s head.
Billy jerked back, too late in mounting a defence against the attack.
The spellster’s fist—heavily bedecked in jewelled rings—connected with Billy’s face like a hammer. The definite snap of breaking bone was almost an exhalation.
The dockmaster fell back, howling. Blood poured from beneath the man’s fingers, staining his blonde beard. At first, Hamish thought the ambassador had only broken Billy’s nose, until he caught sight of the dockmaster’s jaw. One side bulged alarmingly, whilst the right, the side Darshan had hit, was caved in.
The two men flanking Billy lunged at the spellster.
Sneering, Darshan flicked both his hands as if brushing the dust from his outfit. The men went flying, smashing into the walls. Neither one got up.
More men jumped up from their seats, agog. One ran out the door screaming. Not a one of them seemed to know what to do about the spellster who had made short work of three men; a foreigner who still stood over Billy without a care as to the bleeding state of his hand. Hamish wasn’t entirely certain it was even Darshan’s blood. Surely, with the force he’d hit the dockmaster, he must’ve broken something.
Darshan turned. He squinted at Hamish, then held out his bloodied hand. The fingers and knuckles seemed normal enough. No twists or swelling that suggested any harm had come to them. “My glasses, if you please?”
Hamish returned the item in question back to their owner. “I think this might be the best time to leave.” There’d be trouble once word of this got out—and a lot of questions Hamish wasn’t looking forward to answering. But if they returned to the castle now, then Gordon might be able to help him wrangle a more palatable version of events for his mother.
With the glasses once more firmly in place on his face, Darshan glared at Billy. “One moment.” He strode over to the howling man and grabbed his head. “Do not move or I will leave you injured. And I would advise against trying to talk.”
Billy stilled. Panic and fear flashed in his tear-redden eyes.
It had been some years since Hamish had last been in the presence of healing magic. But he’d been in no position to objectively watch either. Seeing the man’s face slowly reform to its previous state was something he’d never thought he would witness.
Billy’s cheeks shifted alarmingly, like a bubbling pot of porridge. The skin constantly changed colour, from the pinkish-red of freshly-struck to the bruised rainbow hues of blue, purple and green, then fading to trout-brown before regaining its natural wrinkled and heavily-tanned state.
Throughout it all, Billy’s eyes grew wider. He whimpered and fisted at his trousers. If Darshan hadn’t already stipulated stillness, he likely would’ve bolted from the spellster’s grip.
When Darshan was done, he released Billy’s head and let the man tumble onto the floor. “Call me that again and I shall do the same,” he snarled as he bent over the dockmaster. “Only next time, you can keep the broken jaw. Understood?”
Billy nodded. “Aye, your lordship.” He back-crawled across the flagstones, pausing only to rub his jaw and standing once Darshan was well beyond physical reach.
Dusting his hands, the ambassador returned to Hamish’s side. “As entertaining as that was, I think you are right, we should return to the castle.”
About the Author
Aldrea Alien is an award-winning, bisexual author of fantasy romance with varying heat levels. Born and raised in New Zealand, she lives on a small farm with her family, including a menagerie of animals, who are all convinced they’re just as human as the next person. Especially the cats. Since discovering a love of writing at the age of twelve, she hasn’t found an ounce of peace from the characters plaguing her mind with all of them clamouring for her to tell their story first.
The mystery of Hadrian ni Agthon unsettles Caled to his core. He fears he will never learn the truth about the young sorcerer’s reasons for betraying him. Though there are an increasing number of hints that Hadrian was a victim of his father, Hadrian himself suggests that every step he took was taken deliberately. When their group is contacted by a sorcerer who not only knows Hadrian but claims to be his friend, Caled is hopeful for a chance to finally separate fact from fiction. Instead, he’s served a greater mystery: Hadrian appears to hate this supposed friend. Caled needs to learn more, but he worries that his quest for knowledge will come at the expense of their safety, for the road ahead looks to be riddled with traps not only physical, but emotional.
Hadrian was certain he would go mad with the depth of his lust. He parted his lips and helplessly mouthed Caled’s shoulder as his own hips pushed forward against the mercenary’s backside. He wanted Caled’s bare flesh in his naked palm. He wanted to hold that velvety heat and stroke it. He wanted to taste it. Oh, gods, he wanted it inside him.
“Please,” he groaned.
“Easy,” Caled murmured, though his voice sounded deeper. “This is enough, Hades. This is more than I should.”
Hadrian didn’t want him thinking about that. Caled was finally giving in. Caled was finally giving him what they both wanted and Hadrian wasn’t about to let the other man change his mind when Hadrian had waited so very long for this.
They were at the back of their line, the others riding ahead, so Hadrian squeezed his thighs together and lifted himself high enough to put his lips on the sun-warmed skin of Caled’s nape. Caled flinched, but Hadrian persisted, moving his lips over that warm, golden skin and finally touching his tongue to it. The moment his tongue made contact, Caled’s entire body shivered and his hand crushed Hadrian’s against him.
“Hades,” he groaned.
Hadrian shut his eyes and savored the lust riding in waves through his body. Courage which he hadn’t known he possessed fueled his hands and his words. He leaned up and whispered, “What you did to me in that boat was not unwanted.”
Caled’s entire body stiffened. Their horse bobbed its head, sensing the new tension.
“Damn you, Hades.”
“My body still aches from how you took me. It’s an ache I take into my dreams.”
“We’re not doing this,” Caled panted, sounding almost angry as he continued to thrust into Hadrian’s hands. “Not here. Not now.”
“You have become my master in torture,” Hadrian ground out. “Grant me relief.”
“I would master you in many ways.” Caled shook his head. “But it’s not that easy. Not—for me.”
About the Author
Tricia Owens has been writing m/m fiction since 2000, after stumbling onto the term ‘slash’ and thinking it referred to horror stories. She is the author of the Sin City, A Pirate’s Life for Me, and Juxtapose City series, among several others. She lives in Las Vegas.
Is the world ready for an openly gay king and his prince consort?
Joel is happy, confident and working class.
Eric is shy, insecure and a member of one of the oldest aristocratic families in Europe.
When they meet in university sparks fly.
They say opposites attract, but when Joel discovers that Eric is the crown prince and future king of Doggerland, he starts having doubts.
They want to get married. They think their greatest battle will be convincing the King and the Prime Minister to give their consent. But estranged relatives coming out of the woodwork, intrusive tabloid press, and the traditional, stifling lifestyle of the aristocracy conspire against them.
Are Joel and Eric secure enough in themselves and each other to overcome a world which is not as tolerant as they thought?
I got up early that morning. I entered the breakfast room five minutes after it opened. I wanted to beat Eric to it. I wanted to be the one to tell him to fuck off when he pulled up a chair at my table. I sat at my table at five past, sipping coffee and nibbling on a croissant. I was engrossed by that croissant. How did they make them so delicious? I was busy dissecting the different pastry layers when a voice suddenly spoke to me.
“Mother never taught you not to play with your food?”
It was Eric, towering over me. His rosy face looked freshly scrubbed, his hair tightly combed, his white silk shirt freshly ironed, his beige chinos pressed. Before I could do anything to prevent it, he pulled up a chair and sat down before me.
“Where is Petra?” I asked.
“She’s gone to her friend’s hen do. Probably won’t see her again till Christmas.”
He lifted his arm and clicked his fingers at the waiter. “Coffee, please. Black. And… um… eggs. Scrambled.” Then he shooed the waiter away with his hand.
How rude, I thought. This was a side of Eric I hadn’t seen before.
“How was your little drive yesterday?” I made no attempt at hiding the bitterness in my voice.
“It was good. We drove along the coast and had a long good chat.”
“About you, as it happens.”
He sat up and cleared his throat. “I… um… I want to ask you a question. I wanted to ask you last night in your room. But you were sleeping.”
“What do you want to ask?”
He hesitated for a few beats. Then he blurted it out. “Would you like to marry me?”
Well! I don’t need to tell you that I was shocked. I gaped at him silently. Perplexed..
“This isn’t a proposal, you understand,” he added hurriedly. “I’m not asking you to marry me. Not yet. I can’t without the permission of my father and my government. But I’m asking you whether marrying me is something you would consider.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes. I had a long chat about it with Petra. She said she talked to you last night. She likes you. She said you’d make a good partner for me.”
“But we only talked for about ten minutes.”
“Well, she’s a good judge of character. She saw the same good qualities in you as I did.”
“What good qualities?”
“Your confidence. Your self-assuredness.”
“But I have no confidence.”
“Of course you do. I mean, look at you. You’re poor, you’re Welsh, you’re not particularly good looking, and yet you’re sitting here in the smartest hotel in Brighton as if you had every right to do so.”
“Wow! You really know how to sweep a boy off his feet!”
“No, you don’t understand. These are things that I like about you.”
“That I’m not particularly good looking?”
“What I meant was…” He shook his head. “This conversation isn’t going at all the way I planned it. What I mean was that you’re grounded. You’re down to earth. You don’t care what people think of you. Otherwise you wouldn’t be wearing that.”
“That hoodie. This is the Pavillion Hotel, not a hip-hop bar in Brooklyn.”
“Do you want me take it off?”
“No. You don’t understand. I like that about you. I like that you snubbed the nice clothes I bought for you and chose to wear your council estate gear instead. I like that you come down for breakfast without even bothering to comb your hair. I like your ordinariness. Your earthiness. You’re a working class kid with the balls and intelligence to break out of your environment and compete with us rich kids. And you outshine us. Not with your clothes, or your wit, or your family name, but by being yourself. That’s what I like about you. And that’s what I want standing beside me when I’m king. Petra thinks so too, and she’s an excellent judge of character.”
I was flabbergasted. Never had I felt so insulted and complimented at the same time! I’d read Petra wrong.
“Well?” Eric asked.
“What?” I’d long forgotten what the original question was. I was still reeling from his speech. You outshine us. That was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me.
“Would you consider marrying me?” he said. “Or rather, what I’m asking is whether you’d be willing to be my right hand man. We’d be the first gay royal couple in history. We’d do all those things that you talked about in the car. Be ambassadors to gay rights and so forth. But it won’t be easy. We’ll be hated by many. There’ll be insults, ridicule, maybe even death threats. And that’s only if our marriage is approved by King and parliament, which will be a whole battle in itself. But one I’m willing to fight if you are by my side. So what do you think? Will you consider it? Will you be the next Prince Consort of Doggerland? Will you be my husband?”
About the Author
Born to Dutch parents and raised in Colombia and England, I am a rootless wanderer with itchy feet. I’ve spent the last few years living and working in The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Sudan and Bulgaria, but I have every confidence that I will now finally be able to settle down among the olive groves of Andalucia.
I am an avid reader and film fan (in fact, my study is overflowing with my various dvd collections!)
I did an MA in creative writing for film and television at the University of Sheffield. After a failed attempt at making a career as a screenwriter, I turned to the theater and wrote and produced a play called ´Death Takes a Lover´ (which has since been turned into the first D.S.Billings Victorian Mystery). The play was performed on the London Fringe to great critical acclaim.
I am currently living in Spain where I make ends meet by teaching English.
Can one man’s battle to be himself win another’s war with himself?
Two years ago Jake McCain encountered a compelling stranger at the Glastonbury festival. Two days later his life, as he knew it, was over. Enter Jack. They have…cohabited ever since. Much to Jack’s despair, Jake has remained dogged in his bid to be the most bloody-minded human a jackal ever had the misfortune to manage.
Phin Finley has embarked on a magical mystery campervan tour of Cornwall. Free to potter about, doing as he pleases for the first time, he wants to prove he can do just fine without having a fatal mishap. Or causing one. Or losing his trusty bicycle clips. Even if he is a tad too…Phinish for most folk’s comfort, his mum’s peace of mind and dad’s constitution.
Theirs is a tale about finding your (happy) place in the world, making (foxy) friends, and the much fabled Beast of Bodmin Moor.
Phin sat atop a craggy crumble of rock, content as can be in his happy place. His very own sliver of heaven. A sacred spot where the twenty-first century had quite forgotten to do charging in like the cavalry, hell-bent on rescuing it from perfection.
Here, Phin could breathe; alone in his tumbledown haven, but never lonely. Loneliness was feeling alone in a room full of people. Phin had never been comfy in company, it was tricky to do concentrating on seeming ‘normal’ to more than one person at a time amidst the siege of too much. Too loud, too bright, too many colours clashing in a cacophony of sound; as if all his senses had been bunged in the washer and switched to spin-cycle.
All this was so befuddling, Phin found it impossible to do believing big fat fibs on top. They made him too scratchy. He liked facts. Letting his mind waft off to ponder fascinating things stopped Phin from fretting about people. Instead, he was supposed to do paying attention to pretend feelings—to make folk seem kind—when they weren’t. This was not Phin’s best thing. It was an important skill called being sociable.
Phin hated feeling like a fraud. Everyone seemed to do concentrating on things he couldn’t care less about; the impression they made on others, how they were ‘seen’. A concern that had nothing to do with donning orange jumpers, which would’ve been an understandable worry. Phin wouldn’t be seen dead in such a detestable colour. That was an idiom, not a fact, as it didn’t make sense in the scheme of things. He would be dead, and ergo, unable to see. Let alone be in any fit state to insist that his corpse wasn’t desecrated by a despicable sweater.
Nope, Phin was uncomfy in human company, but he did adore animals. He could do trusting them—even predators—they were honest. They never did acting kind before biting your head off. He loved that the animals dotted across the moor were allowed to do roaming fairly free. The cows often pottered across the road and parked up when they fancied a rest or a gaze-about. They didn’t give a stuff, just stood there, staring over their shoulders with mild disinterest if a queue of cars did honking at them. For all the world as if that might persuade them to do shifting their furry butts.
An animal’s love was unconditional. They never, ever, made you feel not good enough. Or aware that you’d let them down when you couldn’t help but be yourself. Phin had known this forever, but the older he got and the more of his dad’s dreams he dashed, the clearer it became. Polarising his family with Phin stuck in the middle like an equatorial embarrassment. His poor mum and elder sister loved him despite himself and defended Phin with lioness finesse. Then did suffering the consequences of dooming his dad to a son who would never do him proud. This while subjecting him to social humiliation horrors that made his younger sister’s hair curl. Her intrepid efforts with an evil contraption that made her smell like a singed cat couldn’t compete with Phin. Apparently.
About the Author
When asked what she’d most like to tell her younger writing self, Zakarrie plumped for two snippets of wisdom:
Those dreams that feel too daft to ever believe into being? Hug them to your heart and keep them safe. Some day, somewhere over the rainbow, you might wake up to one so impossible, you’ll suspect you made it up yourself.
You are never going to be the next Enid Blyton. Oddly ’nuff.