A rookie goalie with a secret and a handsome yet hot-headed defenseman clash in the locker room and on the ice—but their shared desire to make the playoffs might help them move from enemies to lovers.
When the goalie for the Seattle Cascades hockey team is injured while drunk driving and Alex Fanning is recruited to take his place, Alex thinks his dream has come true. But to hold on to his hopes, he must keep his vampire heritage secret as the sport moves to ban Paranormals. The sexy but infuriating defenseman Sasha Petrov won’t make that easy. The injured goalie was his best friend, and he resents Alex’s presence—maybe even enough to use his bloodline against him. Tensions mount, but the realization that there’s more to their feelings than animosity hits both men like a punch to the gut. Alex and Sasha’s newfound friendship promises passion, but a shocking betrayal could cost them all the ground they’ve gained.
The end result was that Sasha was running far behind in his usual game-day routines. He didn’t think of himself as especially superstitious—not like Engel, who had an almost religious devotion to his playlist on game days, or Carts, who had been eating the same lunch before games for almost a decade. But he did have the timing of things down precisely, and watching the clock tick later and later was stressing him out.
When Sasha did finally burst through the locker room door, he was already half an hour behind schedule. Still, he couldn’t help but pause as he walked inside, head turning automatically to stare at Ed’s stall.
Where there was a kid sitting on the ground and stretching.
And it was a kid. The guy looked like a goddamn teenager, eighteen or nineteen at best. This is our new backup? A literal child? He was bent over his own legs and hadn’t looked up when the locker room door opened, which gave Sasha a moment to study him unobserved.
Okay, the kid was honestly kind of cute. Floppy brown hair, pale skin, and lean muscle that flexed beneath his thin base layers. Under different circumstances he’d be exactly the kind of guy who would catch Sasha’s eye in a club—not that he’d do anything about it, but he’d enjoy watching and fantasizing. The new goalie had an expression of absolute focus on his face as he went through his stretches, showing off flexibility that made Sasha’s mouth go dry.
But circumstances were what they were, so it didn’t matter how nice the kid looked. He wasn’t Ed, which meant he didn’t deserve to be sitting in that stall, with his name on top like he belonged there. Just the sight of him made Sasha want to yell and kick something.
“Sasha, hey!” That was Shawn, calling him over to joke about how late he was running.
His defense partner was enough of a distraction to pull Sasha’s attention away from the child across the room.
“Long night last night. You heard?”
Shawn made a face. “Yeah. Is it as bad as social media is saying?”
Sasha resisted the urge to rub his temples where a headache was threatening to form. “Worse,” he said shortly.
“Shit. Three to six months, huh?”
Sasha hadn’t heard any confirmation, but with the injuries he’d seen, it wasn’t a surprise at all.
But Shawn was the kind of guy who didn’t linger on the negative. He balanced Sasha out that way—usually cheerful and energetic when Sasha was more dour and solemn. “But hey, man, at least there’s some good news. You remember I told you about my best friend from Juniors? Alex Fanning? He’s our new goalie!”
Before Sasha could respond, Shawn was already yelling across the room.
Sasha stiffened. That was Carts’s best friend? The child who had been brought in to replace Ed? Impossible.
Up close, the guy didn’t look quite as young as Sasha had initially thought. His face was young, cheeks still a little soft, but his eyes were intelligent and bright, and showed far more maturity than the rest of his appearance.
And, somehow, he was even more attractive up close. Handsome wasn’t the right word, or even cute. Fanning’s brown eyes were fierce and bright, and his skin was flawless, like he’d look more fitting on a runway than in a locker room. Прекрасен, Sasha thought, then immediately banished the word from his thoughts with a sour taste in his mouth.
Beautiful or not, he didn’t want anything to do with this temporary replacement, and he’d make sure this kid knew it.
About the Author
Elyse is an author and world-traveler, whose unique life experiences have helped to shape the stories that she wants to tell. She writes romances with LGBTQIA+ characters and relationships, and believes that every person deserves a Happily Ever After. When she’s not staring futilely at her computer screen, Elyse spends her time adding stamps to her passport, catching up on her terrifying TBR list, and learning to be a better adult.
Ben Corbin lost his parents then his uncle and clues to the man responsible take him to the small town of Spencer. While Ben is determined to get justice for the murder of his family, he finds himself drawn to Jacob Moser, an ex-prostitute with ties to the killer.
Jacob Moser owes his life to Marcel Serghi. A man forged into a killer under the most brutal conditions. A man who saved him when no one else would.
Ben and Jacob, two men from completely different worlds, who have no idea how much they need each other until a killer brings them together.
Sicarii Part 2
Ben Corbin has been swept up in a vicious game of revenge. A pawn to be sacrificed in a life or death game of chess.
In order to survive, Ben must make a deal with the devil, Marcel Serghi.
A mistake from Jacob’s past is brought into the game. And it could cost Jacob more than his pride.
It could cost him Ben.
Ben and Jacob, two men from completely different worlds, who have no idea how much they need each other until a killer brings them together.
Sicarii Part 3
Marcel Serghi lives by the rules of his House Sicarii where he was honed into the perfect killer; merciless, emotionless, incapable of remorse.
Jacob Moser has always had undying loyalty to Marcel for saving his life.
Now Jacob must make a choice, to love or live. Because breaking a vow with Marcel means returning what he gifted Jacob.
A chance to live.
Ben and Jacob, two men from completely different worlds, who have no idea how much they need each other until a killer brings them together.
The killer watched.
Light bled from Sam Water’s window, backlighting his silhouette. The pencil danced in his hand. Whatever drove him from his bed must have been important. He was up early, even for a school day.
Marcel leaned against the porch railing and coaxed a cigarette from the package in his hand. The momentary flame from the lighter outlined the web of scar tissue across his palm and three and a half fingers. The car bomb had also spared his thumb. A good thing. Learning how to write with his left hand would have been a bitch.
Not that an old dog couldn’t be taught a new trick. He was no old dog, but the teachings ingrained in him had been done so under conditions leaving no room for change.
The cherry of his cigarette flared in the darkness.
Night in this suburban neighborhood was nothing like where he’d grown up. Tucked in the mountains, there were only the stars, the moon, and the occasional candle. There the darkness wasn’t just a state of being. It was a living thing. All-consuming and unforgiving, conspiring with the wilderness to kill those too weak to survive.
Here the darkness was just a veil; once lifted, life returned, shattering any chance of reaching such perfection.
The storm door to the house opened, and the wooden slats on the porch creaked.
Mild green tea and aloe mixed with the honeysuckle blooming along the split rail fence nestled between the houses. The heat left over from the shower clung to Jacob’s skin.
“I wish you wouldn’t smoke.” In the darkness, there was only the sound of his breathing, the rustle of his clothes, the weight of his body pressing against the space around Marcel. A space that shrank to nothing with another small step.
Jacob’s caress traced the line of Marcel’s jaw. Layers of scars disrupted the gentle movement.
“Did you find your money?” Marcel exhaled a stream of bitter smoke.
“You gave me too much again.”
“It is a tip. For…you know. Good service.”
Jacob teased his fingers down the back of Marcel’s neck. There was more in his touch than physical contact. There was longing, yearning, endless want. But Marcel would never be able to give the man what he yearned for.
“You don’t need to tip me. You already give me so much.”
“I make you live in a motel.”
“Only because it’s close.”
“I could buy you a house.” The tip of the cigarette flared. Jacob was right, he shouldn’t smoke. Damn things never tasted like anything but shit.
“I don’t want a house.”
“You should. You are young. Young people should want a house. A family. A car. You have nothing.”
Jacob rested his cheek on Marcel’s shoulder. “I have you.”
“Nothing.” Marcel snuffed out the cigarette between his finger and thumb, then slid the butt into his shirt pocket. “You should go. Get some sleep.”
Marcel cupped Jacob’s chin. He didn’t need the light to know how Jacob pleaded with his eyes.
Marcel saw it every time they were together. “No. I have told you many times.”
“Maybe I keep hoping.”
“It is a waste.”
“I don’t see it like that.”
“I could let you go. I could give you enough to go wherever you wanted. Back to school, maybe. What was it you wanted to do again?”
“I don’t want to go to school.”
“You need more than an old man’s cock in your ass. You could go back and get your degree.”
“It takes years to be a doctor, and that dream sailed a long time ago.”
He was young enough to catch up to it. Or simply change direction altogether. All Jacob needed was motivation. A reason to want more. Someway for him to see there was more.
Marcel leaned down, and Jacob tipped his face up, leaving his mouth an inch, maybe less, but definitely not more, away from Marcel’s.
“You need to save those for someone you love.” Marcel traced the bow of Jacob’s lips with his thumb.
“Maybe I have.”
“No, Jacob. I fuck you. That is all.”
“And I’m okay with that. I—”
Marcel stopped him with a press of his finger. The tremor running down Jacob’s body was nothing more than a flutter of his pulse.
Jacob swallowed. “Please don’t send me away.”
One day Marcel would. But not today. Or tomorrow. Jacob wasn’t ready. “Friday. Ten o’clock.”
Marcel went back to tracing Jacob’s lips. He deserved to be kissed, to be loved. But that part of Marcel had been stripped away those nights on a mountain ledge when he was a boy.
“Go home.” He patted Jacob’s cheek. “Rest. You will need it.”
The whisper of tennis shoes against wooden slats faded into steps of rubber soles on concrete. Then those too were gone, leaving Marcel to the darkness.
In the window of the house next door, the boy finished writing whatever had pulled him out of bed. He folded the piece of paper in careful movements. Then he disappeared from view, and the patch of light coming from his lamp winked out.
And the killer watched.
About the Author
I am a writer of contemporary and speculative fiction and artist of all things monster. I live to create new worlds and the people in them. Several of my books have been best sellers both nationally and internationally.
I do my best to write original stories with powerful characters and emotion as well as a fast-paced plot. My goal isn’t just to deliver a good story but to take the reader into the story and let them experience the characters as if they are right there with them.
While almost all my books have a romantic element, I will be the first to admit, they are not traditional romance. In fact, I’d like to think there is nothing traditional about them. And the stories I paint are done so way outside the lines of traditional genres.
One of my favorite things to do as a writer is push the boundaries of what makes a story and to deliver the unexpected and maybe even change the perspective of the reader.
My characters are more often than not, beautifully flawed, not always the good guy, and make mistakes. Their stories will take dark turns which, in the end, make the light at the end of the tunnel all the brighter.
If you’re looking for something different, exciting, and unique, my books are for you.
Check out my website for updates and how to contact me. I love hearing from fans.
Can Jared build a future when he’s forgotten his past?
Jared is determined to make the most of his second chance at life.
A passionate one-night-stand with a cocky pole dancer leaves him wanting more, but will the truth of his past work against him?
Can Kyrone help Jared to come to terms with his injuries, solve some of the mysteries of his past and deal with what it really means to forget ones past?
Forgotten is the second book in the Heaven and Hell Club series. It’s a hurt/comfort romance, with two men who need to learn to be true to themselves. It can be read as a standalone, but works better if read after Broken.
About the Author
Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairytale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.
Mike, Ross, Raith and Phil are a gay, polyamorous quad who live in County Durham, North-East England. Mike’s nephews visit, and launch the quad into a tale involving inclusivity and investment scams, false arrest, and a desperate attempt to keep a dangerous secret hidden.
Meanwhile, Nick Seabrooke is now living and working in the village. Can the quad navigate the complexities of a sexual-asexual relationship? They would risk their safety for each other. Are they willing to do so for Nick?
This is the fifth County Durham Quad story. As always, background information is included for new readers.
Here is the start of the story. It’s a typical exchange between the four men…
Late afternoon in ‘Cromarty’, a normally quiet home in Tunhead, County Durham. Phil and Mike were seated in the living room. Phil stopped typing the article he was preparing for a medical journal and looked in the direction of the kitchen. Mike stopped skyping his brother, looked up too and, not really expecting an answer, asked, “What the fuck’s he up to now?”
The ‘he’ was Raith, Phil’s husband. Raith was a successful artist and ceramicist, but he sounded like someone intent on demolition not on creation.
“I thought all our kitchen units were the easy-glide, silently-closing variety,” Phil commented as another cupboard drawer slammed shut.
“They are, but the manufacturers hadn’t met Raith, had they? Nuthin’s Raith-proof, is it?”
The banging stopped and voices took their place. Ross, Mike’s civil partner, had come into the kitchen from the garden. He walked through to the living room and met Mike’s and Phil’s enquiring eyes.
“He’s made a chart. He was looking for something to stick it up with,” Ross explained.
“Stick it up? It sounded like he was hammerin’ it up,” said Mike.
“Yes. He’s fixing it on the wall now. It’ll either amuse you or horrify you. I’m not sure which. Possibly both. He wants us to discuss it before Nick comes round for his tea.”
“I thought we were involving Nick in all our discussions,” Phil remarked.
“Yes, but not this one. You’ll see why in a minute. Come on.”
Mike, Ross, Raith, Phil—and Nick. By their own definitions the first four men were four sorts of poly. Polydomestic: they shared the household duties. Polypecuniary: they shared their incomes too. Polydemocratic: they had equal say in decisions and tossed a coin if the vote was evenly split. And fourthly, they were polyamorous: they loved each other deeply, although Ross only had sex with Mike. Nick was Tunhead’s most recent inhabitant. He shared most of his meals and much of his spare time with the quad, but although he now lived in the village, he didn’t live in Cromarty. There were reasons for the need for a little separation. Hence Raith’s chart. Nick might be romantically and emotionally attracted to men or, rather, to one man—Mike—but he wasn’t attracted to anybody sexually. In fact, he was revolted by the thought of an intimately physical relationship.
Ross stood aside and ceremoniously waved Mike and Phil through to the kitchen. In place of the whiteboard that, ten minutes earlier, had indicated the week’s household duties list, there was a large sheet of cartridge paper divided into two vertical columns. The left hand column comprised extremely realistic drawings. The other, narrower one was partially filled in. It contained some ticks and some crosses.
“Are you plannin’ expandin’ into illustratin’ porn?” asked Mike as he studied the drawings. “That’s you, Phil! Bloody hell. That’s me!” he added, and pointed to a portrayal of two men indulging in frottage.
“Yes, I’ve already put a cross by that one,” Raith said. “I knew Nick wouldn’t like it.”
“Looks like you two liked it though,” Ross commented as, curious, he took a close look.
“So this is… what, exactly? And I’m not talkin’ about the drawin’s themselves. I can see what they are.”
“Well,” said Raith, “I thought it would save us a lot of future problems if we sorted out what we were allowed and not allowed to do when Nick’s in our home instead of in his place.”
“And you figured that a bloody big explicit poster starin’ at him over his tea was the best way to do it?”
About the Author
I’m married, I’ve grown-up children, I’m asexual (although a different sort of ace from Nick) and I do enjoy writing stories that aren’t constrained by hetero-norms.
The plots are always stimulated by something on the news – in this instance, the homophobic reaction of some people and groups to the UK government’s decision to introduce lessons on inclusivity into the school curriculum.
I enjoy writing light dialogue as well as dealing with serious issues, though, and I hope that some of the quad’s interchanges will make readers smile.
I talked about myself and my books on Brad Shreve’s Gay Mystery Podcast (an episode entitled Four Times As Much Mystery) in April, 2020. (Link below)
Wiping the sweat from his top lip, he tried to breathe in something other than stranger’s body heat. It was thick. Solid. Like the air had been stuck in the carriage for years. And he knew as the doors beeped shut behind him, the five-fifty-two to London was going to be one bastard of a journey.
‘Close one, Georgie boy.’
‘I know.’ Wheezing, George slipped into the seat next to Alfie and sucked in mouthfuls of the staleness. ‘Got held up at work.’
Truth was, it had nothing to do with his job. Being late wasn’t something George Taylor was good at. He was the fucking champion. Tell him where and when to meet and he’d be there. Twenty minutes after everybody else.
Dripping with sweat, he dragged the back of his wrist over his brow then yanked the neck of his T-shirt in an attempt to cool his clammy skin.
Sitting on the chav wagon for an hour was hell for him. The thought of being sat amongst thirty-odd strangers, most of whom had no idea of personal space, gave him full on anxiety. Actually doing it, made him want to vomit. But it was worth it. Nothing could bring him down. Not even a soap dodger with an allergy to antiperspirant. He was on his way to see Ellie. And that was all that mattered.
‘Babes, please tell me you’re not wearing that tonight.’ Aimee momentarily glanced away from her phone and winced at his muddy top. ‘Ells will actually kill you if you turn up in that.’
‘Course not. I’ve got my going out gear in here.’ George unzipped his torn rucksack to prove he’d packed a fresh set of clothes that morning. He hadn’t needed the reminder that Ellie would disapprove of his work gear. ‘I didn’t have time to change.’
‘Or wash by the smell of you.’ Aimee turned her nose away. ‘You look like you’re covered in-’
‘Shit!’ Alfie jabbed his elbow into George’s side. He was gawping at a blonde who had just boarded the train in a tight figure-hugging blue dress. ‘Look at the bounce on those things.’
Never one to encourage Alfie’s ogling of anyone with breasts, George made a point of rolling his eyes. He couldn’t help but notice the impressive chest on the blonde himself though.
‘She is hot.’ Alfie whistled, manspreading into George’s space.
Aimee peered up from her phone to give the woman the once-over. Possibly the twice-over by her look of disdain. She was one of the nicest, sweetest girls on the planet but other attractive females brought out the monster in her. ‘What? No way. She’s so basic.’
‘I don’t care if she’s basic, I’d motorboat the fuck out of those things,’ Alfie beamed, following it up with a wink George’s way.
‘The way you objectify women is gross.’ Aimee huffed, pulling at her neckline to show off her own bronzed and perky assets. ‘Besides, you can tell she’s a total bitch, just look at her eyebrows.’
George and Alfie shrugged in unison as Aimee continued to glare at the woman. Like she was sizing her up for a coffin. George had no idea what the woman’s eyebrows had to do with her being a bitch, but by the grimace plastered on her face, Aimee seemed adamant about it. She always insisted that she had a way of knowing those sorts of things, but George had yet to see any proof.
About the Author
“My English teacher in Year 11 once said that I’d either be a rent boy or a writer. I wasn’t successful at the first so thought I’d try the latter.” Kent Lowe grew up in East London, spending most of his youth in Dagenham, before moving to Essex. Being a daydreamer and somewhat of a loner, he found art and literature to be the perfect medium for his endless imagination. After finishing college, Kent went on to study a Fine Art degree where he moved from canvas to installation which reared his love for both visual and literary storytelling. Kent has always had an affinity with animals, and growing up with a menagerie of creatures, he now has fish, an orange cat and four adorable dogs that make his chaotic world just that little more harmonic. As an artist and writer, all of Kent’s works delve into humour, love and friendship.
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.
With nimble fingers, Aristos logged into CouncilParlay and searched the list of assigned bills for the number that matched what he deemed as a stupid one. He was perplexed when he couldn’t find it, so he looked at the drop-down box and found that it was only showing the uncompleted ones. Perhaps I set it to “In progress,” Aristos thought, though he had no memory of doing so. He decided to make it show everything, so he could find it in the correct numerical order.
“There it is,” he muttered aloud. But his glory was short-lived as next to it were the words “Notes available.” Aristos’s brows drew together as he wondered how that was fucking possible when he hadn’t uploaded them, so he clicked on it. At the top of it, where it should have listed his name and his shifter community, he found that he’d been usurped by an elf. Since he had the entire advisory panel’s contact information, Aristos quickly opened the file and found the number he was searching for.
“Chieftain Valzadari’s office, this is Walker speaking, how can I help you?”
“What do you mean, ‘Walker’? That’s not an elven name,” Aristos said without thought. Perhaps so much time without communicating beyond the men in a house who merely tolerate me isn’t doing wonders for my manners.
“You are correct, sir. I am not an elf. May I ask who this is, and how I can assist you today?”
“I’m sorry. I don’t get out much. I need to speak with Chieftain Valzadari. My name is Aristos Centaurus; I work for the archon. This is regarding the advisory panel. If he can’t take my call, I can leave a message.”
“Mr. Centaurus, if you don’t mind holding, I’ll see if the chieftain is available.”
Aristos assured him that he could certainly stand by, and he drummed his fingers on his desk as he pondered his wasted afternoon. He barely had time to ruminate when a cultured voice answered, and the easily detectable lilt of a man who’d likely spoken Elvish for centuries or more before learning English came through.
“This is Chieftain Valzadari, thank you for calling, Mr. Centaurus. How can I help you today?”
“Yeah, hi, Chieftain, I’m hoping you can help me by explaining why I’m on CouncilParlay and trying to upload this bill only to find that you’ve done my job for me.”
“I don’t understand, I only took care of the bills assigned to me by Their Majesties last Friday.”
“Well, obviously you didn’t, Chieftain, or I wouldn’t be on the phone with you right now. I don’t appreciate busting my ass all afternoon to read something and take the kind of intelligent, insightful notes our Council leaders require, only to find that I’ve been usurped. You need to stick with what numbers you get, and if you want to switch or something, you need to use this fancy software and communicate that. My time is valuable, and I don’t appreciate wasting it.”
“I understand the value of time, Mr. Centaurus. My own is limited, and I certainly did not take it upon myself to add to my workload by doing something assigned to the archon. I can offer you no explanation as to why you believe you were delegated something that clearly I was given on Friday, but I would suggest that you double-check with the archon or perhaps consult your own notes for a numerical or clerical error,” Chieftain Valzadari responded, and though his tone wasn’t angry like Aristos’s, it was clear to him that the elf was not pleased.
“I certainly didn’t make a mistake, Chieftain. We could go back and forth over this, but we both have shit to do. Just make sure you don’t do my work next time,” Aristos retorted.
“Mr. Centaurus, I have already explained that I did not. Since you refuse to consider that the error might not be my own, I see no point in continuing this conversation.”
“Me either, Chieftain. I know how to do my damn job,” Aristos snapped and didn’t bother saying any kind of good-bye before he ended the conversation. “Damn elves are always fucking things up for me.”
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.
Would law school do what a drug lord’s bullet could not?
Colin Campbell had been a champion all his life. Nothing had ever beaten him, not even a drug lord’s bullet. And he approached law school the same way he approached everything in life, with cocky confidence fizzing through his veins like ginger ale. He had it all. He had the looks, the brains, the experience, the know-how and he also had the love of his life at his side. He couldn’t be defeated.
But he hadn’t counted on the gravitas of law school, the reading, the preparation, the cases, the competition, the Socratic Method, the concepts, the grading curve, the expectations, the finals, memos, study groups, outlines… all of it piled and heaped upon those preparing for a career as an attorney until it wasn’t surprising that some of them simply imploded under the weight of it all.
Suddenly Colin was scrambling to keep up and rarely ever seeing Joshua. His grades slumped as he tried desperately to balance the opposing forces in his life, but his only solution was stretching himself thinner and thinner, until he feared he’d be torn in two. Joshua pleaded with him to slow down, but Colin refused to lighten his load and the path before them grew darker and darker.
They’d been through so much and survived. Would law school be the storm they could not weather? Would it do what a drug lord’s bullet could not and hand Colin Campbell the bitter defeat he never believed he’d have to face?
Or would the man he loved find a way to draw him back from the abyss.
Joshua nodded again, then turned to face his husband, his jaw clenched tight. “I know all about this kind of study, Colin,” he hissed out. “I’ve done them myself. Two credit hours equals out to at least six or eight hours a week of research, analysis, and in your case, detailed legal writing.”
He leaned toward Colin and when he spoke, his voice was a hoarse grate in his throat. “And just where the fuck are those hours supposed to come from, Colin? I never see you as it is! And now what little time we did have together will be sucked down the drain because of this… this…” he hissed out a disgusted breath and slapped at the papers in Colin’s lap, spilling them onto the floor.
He shot to his feet and stalked toward the kitchen, then spun back to face Colin, who gathered the wrinkled pages into his hands. “I can’t imagine why you thought I’d hate this,” he said. “Why would this bother me? It’s not like I give a flying fuck about ever spending any time with the man I married! I enjoy living alone.” His voice cracked with barely controlled emotion, and his hands suddenly balled into fists. “Goddamn it, Colin!” he cried out in anguish. “How could you do this?!”
“Josh, listen to me!” Colin cried, rising to his feet. “I can say no. I don’t have to…”
“Oh God, Colin, just shut up!” Joshua spat out, spinning away from him to stride toward the kitchen. “If you were going to say no, you would have done so, and I never would have heard about this goddamn project. Every fiber of your being is leaping with joy about it. You think I can’t see it? You think I don’t know you well enough to…” He shook his head, his teeth clenched in frustration. “Fuck it,” he said. “I’m done. I’m not saying another word.” He careened into the kitchen and fell against the counter, leaning on his elbows. His hands lifted to cover his face. “Fuck it,” he said again, his voice husky. “Just fuck it all!”
Colin came up behind him and stretched out a tentative hand to touch his back. “Josh, please. Just talk to me for a second.”
“Why?” Joshua asked. “Why bother? Your mind is made up, and you damn well know it.” He turned to face his husband. “Don’t play me, Colin,” he demanded. “Just don’t fucking do it.” Joshua’s face was damp with tears, and Colin bowed his head against a storm of pain and guilt.
“Josh, okay. I understand why you’re upset. I do. But we can talk this through. It isn’t going to be the way you… the way you described it just now. I promise you.”
Joshua’s laugh was a sob in his throat. “Right.”
“Josh, I promise!”
“Stop saying that!” Joshua cried out. “Stop making promises you know damned well you can’t keep!”
“I-I can make it work,” Colin said. “I can!”
Joshua stared at him, his huge brown eyes misty with tears. “You can’t make the schedule you’re on now work, Colin,” he whispered, his voice strangled. “We pretend it’s working, or rather I do by not complaining about—” He stopped, and his voice trailed off. He shook his head, staring silently down at the floor beneath their feet.
“Josh, please talk to me,” Colin begged. He grabbed Joshua’s wrists and tried to draw him into his arms, but Joshua jerked away.
“Not now, Colin,” he replied, moving away. “I can’t right now.” He stumbled toward the stairs, his hand gesturing back at Colin as if dismissing their conversation. “I’m done. I’m going upstairs.”
“Josh, please,” Colin implored, stretching out his hand.
“Do what you want,” Joshua muttered, his voice leaden. “You will anyway.”
My name is Janice Jarrell. I am a retired grandmother who lives in Seattle, WA. I have two children and three grandsons. I’ve been writing gay romance since I was twelve years old, only back then it wasn’t called ‘gay romance’. In fact, it had no name at all. It was the fifty’s, and it was worth your life to admit to being gay, let alone confess to being a girl who constantly fantasized about relationships between gay men. Hell, I didn’t even know what a homosexual was. I lived on a farm out in the sticks in a tiny Michigan village and I’d never, to my knowledge, even heard the word. I just knew I loved the thought of boy on boy romance. I just knew that there was something hot going on between Tom Corbett and his Space Cadets and all those guys on ‘Combat’.
I wrote slash fanfiction for 30 years, writing over 337 stories, some as short as 100 words (a drabble) some as long as a series which was over 119,012 words. I enjoy writing my stories. I enjoyed the feedback I received from my readers. It was a creative release I’d been searching for my entire life and I blessed the Internet for leading me to this artistic oasis for my spirit.
Love’s Magic was my very first step into writing my own characters. I will always be grateful the slash fanfiction community for nurturing the budding author until she was ready to blossom into a fully realized novelist. It’s been an amazing thing to watch the gay community’s growth over these past twenty years. My own journey has echoed theirs in many ways, and I’m grateful to all those gay activists who fought to give the gay community the rights and privileges they always deserved. Love’s Trials and Love’s Glory were the second and third books in the series and both Love’s Magic and Love’s Trials are available in audio format on Audible.
I’m also grateful to the gay romance community, readers, authors, publishers and promoters, who are making these, my retirement years, the most creative ones of my life. When I’m not writing, I’m traveling, walking, hiking, knitting, crocheting, and weaving.
I’m very excited about the upcoming release of my fourth contemporary gay romance novel, Love’s Lawyer. Those of you who fell in love with Joshua and Colin in the three previous books in this series are in for a treat because they are in rare form in Love’s Lawyer. Colin takes on way too much, and his obsessive drive to succeed proves almost as deadly to their relationship as a drug lord’s bullet. But despite their struggles there are still many passionate, loving moments and the friends they treasure will be there to help them find their way.
Lance has loved Arthur for nearly a thousand years but has never had the courage to act on it—‘til now.
After being away at college for a year, Lance Lotte returns to Avalon, Kentucky for the summer. Due to self-imposed isolation, he hasn’t seen anyone in months, but all that changes when Arthur–his closest friend, and the love of his life–shows up to his new job with a big toothy grin. The last time Lance saw Arthur, the two had not parted on the best of terms–with Arthur’s father finding them asleep on his bed, and physically wrenching Lance away from Arthur. The incident put a strain on their relationship, and convinced Lance that they will never be allowed to be together. But then Arthur sends Lance a text one night, telling him that he’s in love with him–a text Lance rereads at least a hundred times, but isn’t brave enough to mention when they’re alone. Lance has fought his attraction to Arthur for the past five years because as a budding brujo, he believes in magick, destiny, and fate–that everything happens for a reason–that nothing good will come of an Arthur Pendragon-Lance A. Lotte pairing. With the help of his sister, Gwen Lotte, Arthur, and two twins visiting their uncle for the summer, Mordy and Morgan Lafayette, Lance learns the true meaning of friendship, and just how far he will go to save the people he loves.
Arthur laces up his other boot and says, “I asked if you were seeing anyone at the moment.” The question slithers its way up my neck and squeezes at my throat, cutting off my oxygen. Arthur has a way of doing this to me, and I know by the way he asked the question that it’s been on his mind for some time now. “I don’t really have time to do much other than study, you know?” I say, taking a seat on the black futon in the living room. “I’m kind of boring.” Arthur straightens his back and unbuttons his pants, then tucks in his shirt. “Well,” he replies, “I don’t plan on doing anything this summer other than working, and trying to spend as much time with you as I can. How does that sound?” My phone buzzes and I pull it out of my pocket. Gwen has finally responded, but instead of an apology, she’s texted a picture of two men dressed in black leather, kissing. I roll my eyes and shove the phone back into my pocket. Ass. When I raise my head, I see Arthur staring at me. “What?” I ask, hoping that he didn’t see Gwen’s text. “What is it?” He sits down beside me on the futon and fixes my shirt collar. “I’m just waitin’ for you to ask me if I’m seeing anyone,” he says, not meeting my eyes. Arthur hasn’t always been so forward, but in the year that I’ve been away, he’s become a proper man. Working a full-time job, living by himself, driving his own car and paying all of his bills—a truly admirable thing for a man who’s not quite nineteen years old. I don’t know how he does it. I swallow and look down at the relatively fresh tattoos on my knuckles. They’re not peeling anymore, but they have started itching, and I silently chide myself for not keeping lotion in my bag. The moon on my thumb is the worst offender. “Are you seeing anyone?” My question is barely audible. “Nope,” he says, buttoning and unbuttoning my collar. “I’m as single as it gets.” “That’s not what your Instagram suggests,” I say, catching his hands mid-buttoning. Our eyes finally meet. “Looks like you have a different girl every week.” Arthur bites his bottom lip and wags his head. “You know everything posted on the Internet ain’t real life. And besides, I wouldn’t lie to ya.”
Arthur has asked me out twice now, and both times I have turned him down because I’m not ready for a relationship. Or rather, I’m not ready to have my heart broken by this man. It’s one of the reasons why I didn’t come home this past year. Actually, he’s the main reason, if I’m being completely honest with myself. The moment I first laid eyes on Arthur, I knew he would be my undoing. I can’t resist a man with blond hair and brown eyes—they make for a deadly concoction when combined.
About the Author
Equal parts dandy and disaster, Jackson C. Garton is a writer and LGBTQ activist hailing from the hills of Appalachia. He currently resides in Central Kentucky with his husband, child, and four cats. When Jackson isn’t reading or writing, you can find him examining people’s natal charts, researching queer history, planning his next ghost hunt, or milling about the supernatural section of his local bookstore.
Beautiful Beast is a light tale of lust and love, about a beautiful dancer who keeps a wild beast locked inside him, and the man who sets it free.
Kevin used to hold himself back, trying to keep his less conventional desires to himself. With Joakim, he feels free. It’s almost as if Joakim can read Kevin’s subconscious, touching the right places at exactly the right time, and whispering the most shameless things…filthy, and oh so satisfying.
Falling for Kevin is easy. Joakim can feel it happening and he’s powerless to do anything about it. With every touch, his desire grows. Men have chased him for his money and status before, but Kevin doesn’t seem to care about any of that. Maybe this time, Joakim should let himself fall, and hope the landing will be soft.
Joakim recognized him immediately. Kevin’s heart-shaped, plump lips stretched in a careful smile; he was stunning. There weren’t good enough words to describe the man’s angelic face. Light blue eyes, big, round and sparkling, with long lashes. His nose was small and perfectly straight, cheekbones high and sharply cut, jawline soft and boyish, even though the thin lines on his forehead said he must be closer to thirty than twenty. Kevin had an exquisite face and an exquisite smile.
He moved like the dancer he was, drifting gracefully among the people in the crowded restaurant until he stood close to the tall table Joakim waited by. He blinked nervously, and those full lips parted. Joakim wanted to suck on them, see if they turned a darker shade of red… And he was just sitting there, gaping like a fool. Realizing his mistake, he jumped up from his seat to welcome his date properly. The chair scraped on the floor, making an awful sound over the sultry music in the restaurant. Joakim winced.
“Sorry,” he said. “Hi. Hello. Lovely to finally meet you properly.”
“Hi,” Kevin said and smiled a shy smile, which would have buckled Joakim’s knees if he hadn’t been leaning on the table with one hand.
“Hi,” he repeated dumbly. Then he had to laugh. “Sorry, I’m just…” He gestured helplessly at Kevin and shook his head. He’d spent the past few days telling himself it was nothing. Just a lark. But now the beautiful creature that had been following him in his dreams was here in the flesh, and Joakim floundered like he never had before. Could he at least stay coherent, for fuck’s sakes?
“What?” Kevin said, perplexed. He looked down, perusing his own body, probably looking for stains or an open fly.
“No! God, no. You look great. I’m just a bit stunned, that’s all. I’ll put myself back together in a minute, I promise.”
Kevin only looked more bewildered.
“Sit down,” Joakim said decisively. “Sit, and we’ll have a drink. I definitely need it.”
Kevin chuckled, still puzzled, and sat opposite Joakim at the tall round table. The chairs were as high as bar stools but more comfortable with plush armrests. Joakim couldn’t help but follow the lines of Kevin’s body with his gaze as the man settled into his chair, all long, slim limbs and graceful movements. He was dressed casually, in light beige chinos, tight over his sculpted thighs and calves, a blue button-up with a fine pink flowery print, and a silver-gray jacket. His clothes and movements had that subtle feminine flair Joakim always admired. It spoke of courage and honesty, of being comfortable with your true self. Combined with the shine of his blond, windswept hair and his milky skin, Kevin shone in the dim restaurant like a fucking supernova.
Joakim was still staring. Say something normal. Anything! Joakim only thought of telling Kevin he was the most gorgeous being he’d ever seen in his whole damned life, but he stopped himself. Other than that, nothing came. First date, dammit. You’ve done this hundreds of times. Get a grip.
Kevin was nervous now, fiddling with his sleeve, and he looked at Joakim from the corner of his eye. Joakim realized that in order to restart his brain, he needed to look away. Tearing his gaze away from Kevin was painful, but Joakim managed to steer his attention to the bar. Look, there are glasses and shakers. Bottles. Personnel. A bartender. Say something normal.
“They have cocktails, but there’s also sake. They’re known for their great sake selection. Or Japanese beer? Lager?” And now he was rambling. Jesus! After an epic dry spell, I finally meet a man I actually want to impress, and that’s when my intellect decides to take a day off? Really?
“Sake sounds great. I haven’t had sake in ages.”
“You’re in for a treat. They’re quite busy, so we might have to wait a tiny bit longer, but the food is worth it.”
“I trust you,” Kevin said with a soft smile, and Joakim’s brain scrambled again.
“Wow, I can’t even look at you,” he blurted.
Kevin’s eyes widened. He blinked, obviously at a loss as to what to say and jumping to the wrong conclusions already.
“No! Shit, sorry. Not like that. I… your face is very distracting.”
Still confused, Kevin parted his amazing mouth to speak, but Joakim intercepted him. “You are beautiful, Kevin. Gorgeous. And it’s messing with my head a little. I’ll be fine in a minute. I better stop babbling before you run away.”
“I… erm. Thank you?”
Joakim had to laugh at the sincere bewilderment of the man.
“Let’s order some sake,” Joakim said, trying to climb out of the hole he’d managed to dig himself during the first two minutes of the date.
“Yeah. I think I need a drink too,” Kevin said in a perfectly natural voice, and Joakim thanked all the gods and all the elements and Kevin for saving him from lethal embarrassment. Joakim could talk about food and sake without saying something stupid. He was almost sure he could.
About the Author
Queer fiction author Roe Horvat was born in the post-communist wasteland of former Czechoslovakia. Equipped with a dark sense of sarcasm, Roe traveled Europe and finally settled in Sweden. He came out as transgender in 2017 and has been fabulous since. He loves Jane Austen, Douglas Adams, bad action movies, stand-up comedy, pale ale, and daiquiri. When not hiding in the studio doing graphics, he can be found trolling cafés in Gothenburg, writing, and people-watching.
Not all vampires are idly rich. Some of them have day jobs. Er, night jobs.
In a world struggling to come to grips with the existence of vampires, where reactions range from excitement to fear to determined disbelief, these vampires are just trying to make ends meet. Some of them do mundane work—like waiting tables or driving a cab. Others have more prestigious careers in medicine and crime prevention. But what all their jobs have in common is people. Unpredictable, interesting, frustrating, hostile, helpless, tasty people.
Whether they’re pouring drinks, answering phones, hacking into a computer system, or serving up the perfect food/wine pairing, these working stiffs are too busy to fall in love. Or are they?
This International Workers Day, celebrate by sinking your teeth into thirteen awesome stories about vampires at work. Because even the undead have to earn a living.
Proceeds benefit the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
Bad Blood by Lyra Evans
Dr. Alek Matsouka and Dr. James Crawford have been at each other’s throats since the first night of their ER residency. And not in the way that gets Alek fed. He doesn’t know why Crawford is so hostile—whether he’s an anti-Vampire bigot or just hates that Alek is the better doctor—but Alek does like to provoke the arrogant prick. When their competitive antics get the better of them one night and a case takes a dangerous turn, both doctors will have to face the truth of their bad blood—or risk their careers.
Bad Decision by H.L Day
A stranger searching for a night of ecstasy with a vampire. A cabbie with the irrational urge to stop him from making the worst decision of his life. The next few hours could be lifechanging for both men.
Call My Number by Megs Pritchard
He always calls when I’m working. He has my direct number too. We both know why he does, but he knows I won’t accept his obvious invitation… until I do. How will he react, my sweet human, when his vampire comes calling?
Dial a Vamp by Roberta Blablanski
Wyatt’s life is in a total slump and working as a phone sex operator doesn’t help his frustrations. After a century, being a vampire is getting old and losing its appeal. He feels stuck and aimless, until one phone call changes his immortal life.
Fangs for the Memories by Sadie Jay
Rollie Brown was 20 years old when he staked his vampire boyfriend. Now, fifteen years later, he’s discovered Alex is alive, bartending, and more forgiving than Rollie deserves. They might have a second chance at love—but first they have to rescue Rollie’s wayward ex.
Fire and Ice Cold Skin by Mel Gough
When a firefighter takes pity on a gorgeous young man who has been made homeless by a blaze, he has no idea who he’s invited into his home—and soon into his heart.
How To Keep an Author (Alive) by AJ Sherwood
The funny thing about living forever is that you still have bills to pay, which is why Justus is now working for JD Cooper. The man is a writing raconteur—known to craft a mean mystery—but he’s one step away from hoarder level. When Justus takes a job as his housekeeper, he expects eccentricity. But he gets so much more.
Graveyard Cops by Crystel Greene
Police officer Jesse Hendricks, twenty-one since 1900 and hating being a vampire, is secretly in love with his patrol partner Angelico “Lico” DiMarco. Chronically upbeat Lico doesn’t believe in anything supernatural, thankfully, but he keeps teasing Jesse for his vampire-like reserve, pallor, and beauty in the most annoying of ways. Then, one fateful night, Jesse is injured with a silver blade and needs to feed to survive. Lico steps up and saves him—body and soul.
Life Hacks by Eliott Griffen
Josh is a corporate big shot, living the life he thought he wanted. Vin is a vampire on the hunt, with zero self-confidence and a truckload of regrets. Living on opposite sides of the equation, they have nothing in common, until one day their lives collide in the worlds of ones and zeros.
Long Haul by Tanya Chris
When Vlad intervenes to stop a shakedown in progress, he doesn’t plan on keeping the young sex worker he saves, but Silver has an irresistible tenacity. He also has a little something extra in his blood—something that drives Vlad wild in both good and bad ways.
Off the Menu by R.J. Sorrento
Johnny Russo, a newbie-vampire and chef, refuses to feed from humans. His new job at a Chicago restaurant is going well until he’s forced to work with Nate Beaumont, a handsome but snobby sommelier with an intoxicating scent. The tension between them builds for weeks, and Johnny fights the urge to feed. Despite first impressions, they could be good together if Johnny can be himself. But feeding from Nate might make him feel less than human, and Johnny would be crushed if Nate sees him as a novelty instead of boyfriend material.
Overexposed by K. Evan Coles
Crime scene photographer Noah Green may be the only vampire employed by the NYPD’s Crime Scene Unit, but he keeps his head down and stays focused on the work. While shooting a murder scene one night, Noah is dismayed to discover he knows the only witness, bakery manager Dan Kaes, a human who has intrigued Noah from their very first meeting. Combining forces with the police to keep their witness safe, Noah welcomes Dan into his home, only to find that keeping him at arm’s length is harder than he ever imagined.
Quality Assured by Edie Montreux
Quality Analyst Kellan Ford doesn’t know what to expect when Medicorp overnight representative Derek Houston’s calls aren’t recording properly. Kellan’s side-by-side evaluation turns into an early-morning field trip and changes everything Kellan knows about vampires. Is he doomed to die at the hands of vampires like his sister did, or can Derek offer him a new lease on life?
Short excerpt from Fangs for the Memories by Sadie Jay
I tried to not stare but I couldn’t help myself. He was exactly the same except his long white hair was streaked with a rainbow of colors and pulled up into a messy bun. An inch taller than my five foot nine, he was straight and lanky. There was no curve to him at all, not an ounce of fat. Under the sleeves of his dress shirt, I pictured his ropey forearms with raised veins, easy to trace with a fingertip, while his hip and rib bones would be well defined under his skin. I admittedly have a thing for skinny men.
I still saw his translucent albino skin in my dreams, and his silvery blue eyes that darkened with anger. Or with desire. His feathery white eyelashes, his straight nose, his thin lips framing his over-wide mouth. When I’d met him, back when I was 19 and taking night classes, I thought he was the most exotic, beautiful person I’d ever met.
He still was.
Excerpt from How to Keep an Author (Alive) by AJ Sherwood
“I need to know how to tie a person down like this on the table and make it realistic. I mean, can I tie down both legs? Or would that make it too awkward for the attacker?”
Rubbing at my forehead, I tried for patience. “Coop. I’ve never tied someone down for sex. I have no idea.”
He came up on an elbow, looking at me curiously. “Really? Oh, right, the vampire-sexual-feeding thing. How does that work, anyway?”
“There’s a mild aphrodisiac in our saliva that—you know what, I’m not having this conversation with you.”
Cooper didn’t pout, but it was a near thing. He loved asking me questions about vampirism and how it all worked. Often inappropriate questions, at that.
“Okay, tell me later. For now, come help me figure this out. I’m stuck on this scene until I do.”
After two months of dealing with these sorts of weird requests, I’d more or less become immune to them. At least he hadn’t tried to smother me in my sleep again. It made sense that he’d gone through a housekeeper every month before my arrival. A lot of the help he asked for bordered on sexual harassment. Like now. He honestly didn’t mean it that way, though, which was why I was willing to play along.
Shrugging, I abandoned my wall perch to come forward. “You said the potential victim is a man?”
“Yes.” Cooper smiled, delighted I was cooperating.
“Hmmm. Yeah, I don’t think you can tie both legs down.” Knowing he would prefer a hands-on approach, I grabbed the leg tied down and hoisted it up as much as I could. “And even this is too tight. I can’t roll your hips up and into position like this. And think, too, pants have to come off, at least partway.”
“All very good points and what made me wonder. The few times I’ve had anal sex—”
I about swallowed my tongue. Just what had he casually confessed?!
“—I was on hands and knees, so I wasn’t sure.” Cooper did an awkward half-crunch. “So, say my character is in this position. Loosen that rope, let me see how much play has to be there. Yeah, okay, like that. Can you—”
This man, seriously. He was bad for my heart. He kept tapping into emotions I didn’t know I had, and he did it effortlessly and in strange ways that ambushed my guard. I liked him. I knew I did, but it was a precarious situation. I had no idea how he felt about me because his behavior was so oddball, I found him impossible to read.
Take this situation right now. Someone with a crush would use this situation to perhaps slyly flirt or signal their interest. But he was just trying to experiment and prove a point. Right…? I think. It left me in a strange emotional limbo because I didn’t know how to react to him. I knew what he wanted me to do, but I hesitated, because I had a feeling something would change if I did. If I even mimicked having sex with him, it would unlock a door in my head I’d kept chained shut. And yet.
I moved like I’d been hypnotized, because touching him like that was too much of a temptation. Even with clothes in the way. I moved in and set my groin against his ass, lifting his legs up to make the position possible. It looked awkward and uncomfortable on his part.
Cooper’s expression didn’t betray any awkwardness, though. His lips parted as he stared up at me with a sort of bludgeoned surprise. A blush spread across his pale skin, and his breath quickened a touch.
An impulse stole over me—to lean in, to close the gap between our bodies, to get him off this damn table. He was all warm skin, the heat of him pouring into me even through our jeans. I could feel his leg twitch, the urge to wrap around my waist clear, and I wanted that quite badly. Oh god. Oh god, he was attracted to me after all. That reaction was unmistakable. But did that mean I should act on it? He was still my employer. What if this went very, very wrong?
“Should I leave?”
The female voice startled me so badly I dropped Cooper’s legs.