Will she be able to
confront her past, learn to move on, and learn to love herself?
Riley is stuck —in a job she hates, a toxic relationship, and
in life. She knows the relationship is bad for her, but she also can’t seem to let her go. After
catching her girlfriend cheating, again, she finds comfort at her favorite
bar, with her best friend by her side.
After punching someone in the face and meeting a
mysteriously gorgeous bartender, Riley thinks things may be changing. Sawyer is
adventurous, sexy, and confident— all the things Riley yearns to be. And a sunrise
motorcycle ride starts to give her hope that things can change.
When she suddenly gets a phone call from her brother, she
discovers her estranged mother is dying. After almost a decade of silence, she’s forced to
return to her small homophobic hometown, say goodbye, and confront her demons.
Will she be able to confront her past, learn to move on, and
learn to love herself?
“Wanna dance?” We both turn and see a greasy guy at least twice our age. I bask in the
audacity of men.
“NO THANKS!” I shout back over the loud music.
He ignores me and starts grinding on Luna’s ass and her eyes almost pop out of her head.
She politely tries to move away but he follows her, keeping his body pinned to hers. Luna
mouths ‘help’ so I try to pull her away.
“WE DON’T WANNA DANCE!.” I yell at the guy. What the hell is wrong with men?
He either doesn’t hear me or he doesn’t seem to care because he grabs Luna’s other arm.
She tries to get out of his grasp and he just laughs, enjoying her squirming. I turn to face this
guy now. He’s barely an inch taller than me, with sweat stains under his armpits and oily
“We said NO! Now let go of my friend.” I am nose to nose with this guy and he still doesn’t
“What are you going to do about it?” He laughs, and I can smell the onions he had for dinner
on his breath.
Without hesitating, I take a step back as if I’m going to walk away before turning around at
the last second and punching him square in the jaw. He stumbles backward, surprised by my
strength and action. He falls to the ground, the crowd backing up to avoid catching him. He
looks stunned for a moment before he looks angry.
I grab Luna’s hand and try to maneuver out of the crowd. We need to get out of here as fast
as we can. Let me just say trying to run through a crowd of people, wearing heels, while half-
drunk, and pulling your fully drunk best friend on your arm is not an easy feat.
I turn back to see if he’s still following us, giving me a second to catch my breath. He’s still
halfway across the club but he seems to be looking for us, so I hold on tighter to Luna and
pull her toward the exit. Only when I feel the cool breeze on my bare legs do I feel safe. We
walk to get out of the way of people to where we can take a second to breathe.
“Dude, are you okay?” Luna’s eyes are wide and that’s when I finally realize the impact of my
punch. My fist is starting to swell and my knuckles are quickly turning purple; only now do I
feel how bad that hurt.
“Jeez, I wouldn’t wanna be on the other end of that hand.” The voice comes from next to us
and I look up curiously.
A woman about our age is leaning against the brick wall smoking a cigarette, looking like
something out of a magazine. She’s wearing tight dark jeans and a low cut opened floral
button-down. Her blonde hair is slicked back like Danny Zuko from Grease. She’s
gorgeous. Where did she come from?
“They had it coming,” I mumbled instantly, losing my confidence.
“They did,” Luna confirms. I try to flex my fist and wince in pain. Shit, did I break
“Want some ice?” The mystery woman puts out her cigarette and motions for us to follow
I look at Luna and we both shrug, following the woman into the side entrance of Puzzles.
About the Author
Shannon O’Connor is a twenty-something, bisexual, self-published poet of several books and
counting. She released her first novel, Electric Love in 2021 and is currently working on
several sapphic romance novels. She believes there is a lack of positive Female/Female
romances in the world, and wants to make them more accessible. She is often found in
coffee shops, probably writing about someone she shouldn’t be.
Stray is a steamy MM
romance featuring a cranky panther shifter, a freshly-made vampire, & lamb-on-a-stick.
A grumpy/sunshine, age gap, opposites attract, reluctant-fated-mates pairing that must
overcome the odds to win their HEA!
Leonas is a cranky panther shifter set in his ways. He
handles security for an exclusive brothel and takes the safety of the staff at The Twig and
Berries seriously, to the extent of sacrificing his love life for work.
When a young vampire called Jeno shows up with heart
eyes and disturbing news, Leonas is taken aback. Who is this curious youth and why is he
hitting on Leonas of all people? More importantly, when is he leaving? Because Leonas has
no time for romance.
Though Jeno is running from a dark past, he can’t help but
to stop in his tracks for Leonas. The grumpy cat shifter might be prickly on the outside, but
inside? Well, Leonas is prickly there too. He needs someone like Jeno to escape the lonely
trap of his own making.
Can Jeno evade the snare of Hungary’s notorious opium
slingers? Will Leonas break the chains of his past? Together, they stand a chance, but
suffering alone is all they’ve ever known.
Stray is a steamy MM Paranormal Romance featuring
lusty incubi, greedy goblins, and mouthwatering lamb-on-a-stick. A grumpy/sunshine, age
gap, opposites attract, reluctant fated mates pairing that must overcome the odds to win
their forever HEA!
He takes the stairs two at a time in a bounding, clumsy sort
of fashion unlike most vampires I’ve encountered. A wide grin stretches across his youthful
face, but you never know with a vampire. He could be older than me, though for some
reason I doubt it. He doesn’t just look young, he acts it too, flopping into the small room,
into my space without so much as a by your
leave, and dropping his pack on the little table
next to me. The urge to bat it right off again strikes, but I resist.
“Wow. You must be Leonas. You’re even scarier looking
than Ivaz warned. But he also said not to worry. That you would act mean but that you
weren’t really mean. ‘Just a kitten,’ he said. That true? I’ve never met a panther
Irritation crawls beneath my skin and settles at the back of
my neck and the tip of my tongue. I’ll have a few words for Ivaz when next I see him. “And
“Jeno!” He says his name like it’s a prize rather than a basic
introduction and thrusts his hand toward my center, dopey grin still intact.
I stare at it through lowered lids. No. Will not be touching
him. He’s already acting too familiar for my comfort. I don’t plan to encourage it. “What’s
your business here?”
His brows crumple as he withdraws his hand. “Letters.” He
regains a modicum of his former exuberance. “I’m the new messenger.”
Since when do the vampires allow messengers to be this
young? I study him. His tanned skin still retains human pores. His mouth, a rosy shade of
pink with slight protrusions where fangs lay hidden beneath, trembles as if he’s finally
realizing he stands before a true threat and not the harmless kitten Ivaz so erroneously
made me out to be.
My own lips part as I take in his wide eyes, hazel jewels
sparkling with questions, staring at mine as if it’s I who hold the answers. They spell me with
their beauty. A rush of warmth fills my chest.
I shake myself out of it with an irritated huff. “And so? Hand
over the letters, then.”
He squints. It’s cute. I hate him.
About the Author
Lee Colgin has loved vampires
since she read Dracula on a hot, sunny beach at 13 years old. She lives in North Carolina with
lots of dogs and her husband. No, he’s not a vampire, but she loves him anyway. Lee likes to
workout so she can eat the maximum amount of cookies with her pizza. Ask her how much
she can bench press.
You’re tellin’ me that if this
shiter buys St Stephen’s, there’s a chance we won’t have access to the graveyard! Over my
The Refuge Bid is a gay mystery and relationships tale set in
fictional Tunhead, northeast England.
Is there a link between a woman who has been missing for
ten years and the people bidding to buy and redevelop Tunhead’s decommissioned church
and graveyard? Can the County Durham Quad and their special friend, Nick, find out and
stop the sale—one grave is special—and can they raise the cash to counter the bids with an
offer of their own? Success involves their drawing on Tunhead’s quarrying industry past and
on employing their very different skills but, also, they must acknowledge what it is that they
really want from their unusual liaison.
Trigger Warning: references to a teenager’s suicide
and to conversion therapy.
Check out the other books in the County Durham Quad series:
Mike Angells is an openly gay CID inspector based in North East England. There are three
men in his life: Raith Balan, Phil Roberts and Ross Whitburn. Mike is particularly close to
Anxiety, but mounting relief. Those were his feelings as he
stamped down the final clod of earth and smoothed the surface. Some stones and bricks
would lie around but who would pay attention to a scattering of those in a place like this?
You wouldn’t give them a second glance. So, he’d done it! Literally buried a problem and no
one would be any the wiser.
And nobody was until, years later, a group of men from
County Durham started digging up the past.
The Beck on the Wear Arts Centre, known for ease and for
effect as BOTWAC, and the brainchild of Ross Whitburn-Howe. Ross lay in bed and mentally
ticked off items linked to BOTWAC’s Easter re-opening. People could visit all year round if
they wished to, but the Centre’s location at the end of the lane that wound steeply up to
Tunhead in the Durham hills was an icy deterrent during winter. Come spring, though,
Tunhead shook off winter’s cold discomforts and looked and sounded full of life—even
where it harboured death, for Tunhead had a church with a graveyard.
It might be asked why a tiny village that had never been
home to more than a hundred people at any one time should boast a church, let alone a
graveyard. The church was a gift from the family who, two centuries past, had owned the
limestone quarry that led to Tunhead’s existence. The workers should have Sundays off,
provided they prayed and listened to sermons instead, and as the nearest church was a ten
mile walk from the row of terraced houses, it seemed sensible to offer an alternative on-site
as it were. So, called St Stephen’s after the patron saint of stone masons, the church was
used by the quarrymen, their families, the tenant farmers and farmhands who worked the
fields adjoining the lane and by the old landowners themselves. St Steve’s was still
consecrated although, now, disused. That didn’t mean that the graveyard had become a
dismal ruin. Like the rest of the village, it looked neat and tidy, spring flower-full and ready to
“Yes!” thought Ross. “Everything sorted. Publicity placed
with the tourist board, leaflets ready for distribution, programme of events arranged, social
media angles covered, and bookings already coming in for the workshops and for August’s
week-long pottery festival.”
The man who lay beside him stirred, opened and rubbed
two sleepy eyes and said, “Mornin’, Gorgeous.”
“Morning, Mike.” Ross smiled and returned the squeeze
that followed the greeting. He snuggled down to enjoy a few more minutes’ warmth in bed.
A hair dryer whirred into action from the bedroom across the landing.
“That Raith doin’ his hair? Better get a move on before he’s
down and nickin’ me breakfast sausages.” Mike got up, pulled on a pair of boxers and went
The ‘Raith’ was Raith Rodrigo Roberts-Balaño—known as
Raith Balan: sculptor of erotic art and wearer of exotic clothing. The ‘Roberts’ section of his
name was the surname of his husband, Phil, who in comparison with Raith was extremely
conventional, and a surgeon. Phil was breakfasting on yoghurt, fruit and wholemeal bread
when Mike entered the sunny kitchen.
“Mornin’ Phil.” A kiss on the cheek and a hug around the
shoulders. Returned with a grin and a “Morning.”
And so, Ross, Mike, Raith and Phil looked forward to March
with the optimism produced by mutual affection and the promise of spring.
About the Author
Jude Tresswell lives in south-
east England but was born and raised in the north, and that’s where her heart is. She is ace,
and has been married to the same man for many years. She feels that she understands
compromise. She supports Liverpool FC, listens to a lot of blues music and loves to write
Tropes: Lovers to enemies to lovers, second chance romance, race to
uncover dangerous secrets
Themes: Fast-paced suspense, ex-cop with little left to lose, protective
lawyer who loves too hard, hurt/comfort, broken trust, forgiveness (or not), family found,
new start, Two men falling in love while dodging bullets and chasing bad guys
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 81 000
Crossing the Line is Book 2 in the
Jake’s Bar series. It is a standalone romance with a satisfying end for the mystery. It does not
end on a cliffhanger.
Holden Wright had it all—and lost it. Five months ago, he
was on top: a decorated detective with a bright future. Then his father’s gambling destroyed
everything. Left with nothing, Holden works nights at Jake’s Bar with no idea how to get his
broken life back on track. Brent Northwood has it all—except the man he
loves. Brent made a deal with the devil to become a well-respected lawyer, but success
doesn’t turn out to be all he ever wanted. His love for Holden started with a wild, crazy
hookup in the rain, but it all came to an abrupt end when Brent lied—with best
intention—but a lie is a lie and Holden can’t forgive. Holden needs the successful lawyer back in his life
about as badly as he needs the bullet hole his father put in his shoulder. But with secrets
from Holden’s past threatening his future, Brent is the only one who can protect him. The
two men forge a volatile truce to stay one step ahead of danger, but is it enough to mend
the broken trust between them? Can they risk a second chance for love knowing what’s at
stake? But none of that matters if they can’t find out who
is trying to take Holden down…
Series: Crossing the Line, Book 2 in the award-winning
Jake’s Bar series, is a steamy, M/M romantic suspense featuring a rainbow-colored bar full of
quirky characters, and all the romance you can handle. So, download today, and get ready to
fall in love with Jake’s Bar.
Holden topped off the beer and slammed it on the counter
in front of Grey. The grungy mechanic tore his eyes away from a green-haired twink across
the room. “What crawled up your ass tonight?”
JD’s was a gay bar and prime hookup spot, so there were a
few dozen suitable answers, but Holden wasn’t feeling any of them. His mind was fucking
with him—flashing lust-filled images from a past he’d buried deep in a box labeled
“mistake.” For the past hour, while he was serving drinks and cashing out people as it got
late, he had tried hard to ignore the man in a dark suit sitting at one of the high tables away
from the crowds. It had been a good night until Brent Northwood showed up.
Grey took a sip and licked the foam off his lips with an
exaggerated swirl of his tongue. On the other side of the bar green-hair rolled his eyes and
turned away to follow his friends back to a booth. Grey had tried to get the guy’s attention a
few times now and had consistently been shot down.
“You’re not Kyle’s type,” Holden said helpfully as he wiped
down the beer taps.
Grey pulled a face. “It’s a shit night. The place was hopping
for a while, but lately it’s been slow. I think Jake is in trouble. He hit gold when that blogger
made a big deal out of JD’s, but there was just no way that was gonna last. JD’s doesn’t offer
enough. In the end, it’s just a dingy corner bar.”
Then what the fuck are you doing here every night? Holden swallowed his acrid reply. Grey was a
bit of an ass, however Holden was pretty sure that nothing but an empty apartment waited
for the guy at the end of the day. Five months ago, he would have been quick to judge and
discard JD’s regular, but these days, they had too much in common.
Before he could stop himself, Holden threw a glance across
the room to the lanky man sitting motionless in the dim light. As always, Brent looked like
he’d just stepped out of a courtroom. Impeccably dressed in an Armani suit. A face with
square angles and full lips with a cupid’s bow. The dark five o’clock shadow was the only
imperfection, but it enhanced his classic charms. Holden had always known he was bi. He’d
experimented with both men and women, but Brent Northwood, almost ten years older,
serious to the point of severe, wasn’t even his usual type. Still, nobody had ever been as
Elbows resting on the table, the lawyer nursed a whiskey in
his hands. He seemed lost in his thoughts. Luckily, Grey picked up their conversation again
before Holden was caught staring. “Somebody must have bought the rundown movie
theater next door. They’re renovating. The dumpster takes up half the parking spots on this
“Yeah, Jake’s been talking about them hammering all day
long. He’s pissed about the noise,” he replied.
“If that’s turned into a bar, Jake can bag it,” Grey said with
gloomy delight. “I’m telling you, this is only the beginning.” He waved around the mostly
“Bullshit. It’s Tuesday. Tuesdays are slow.”
“And you’re stuck with Tuesdays.” Grey wasn’t done stirring
shit up. “Maybe you should talk to Jake. You must be hurting for money after losing your
cushy detective job—”
A hand came down on Holden’s back. “Grey, shut your
mouth,” Jake growled at the mechanic. “Nobody needs your poison. Told you that before. If
you can’t be civil, get the fuck out of my bar.”
It wasn’t an empty threat. Jake had zero tolerance for hate
or stupidity, and he was fiercely protective of his staff. Jake grabbed a few empty bottles and
tossed them into a crate under the bar. “Where is Jazz?”
“It was slow, so I sent them home a few minutes ago.
They’ve got an exam tomorrow. Talked about it all night. I’ve got it covered and thought they
could use a few extra hours of sleep,” Holden replied.
“Makes sense to take advantage of a nice, peaceful night,”
Jake said with a happy sigh. He was the only bar owner Holden knew who got into a pissy
mood when his place was packed with people. Jake loved peace and quiet, and most nights,
JD’s Bar was anything but.
Jake stopped abruptly and squinted into the dimly lit
taproom. “What’s the damn fixer doing here?”
“Northwood?” It was petty, but Holden took some perverse
pleasure in the fact that Jake didn’t like Brent.
“Yeah, Brent fucking Northwood.”
About the Author
Eighteen years ago, AG
Meiers came to the US for adventure and stayed for love. Currently, she lives in New England
with her husband and two awesome kids—balancing work, friends and family, and
When she has some free
time, her favorite thing to do is travel and visit new places. Her past trips have already
brought her to a variety of countries on four continents. She never passes up an opportunity
to experience different cultures, diverse people and amazing locations.
Even though she has been
dreaming up stories all her life, she has only recently started to write them down and share
them with the world. As a writer she loves to put her characters through a lot of challenges,
conflict and heartbreak, before she allows them to find their happy-ever-after.
Welcome to the Model Love
world, home of McKay’s Models–an inclusive, international modelling agency where
everyone is free to be themselves. From exclusive headshots to couture catwalks, these
beautiful models will turn heads wherever they go, and now it’s time for them to find their
This shared world features
seven brand new contemporary MM romances, by eight amazing authors, and launches on
the 23rd September 2022.
Cho “Brick” Brixton enjoys cooking, working in his yard, and
binge-watching television while living as an out and proud gay man in the heart of
downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. His parents had the perfect romance, having fallen in
love at first sight when they met in Korea, and Brick longs to find a love like that for his own.
Whipping up meals for one isn’t much fun, and the constant boredom is a drag.
Not to mention it’s miserably lonely.
All of that changes when a giant mysterious hunk named
Jules Price moves in next door. Jules has arrived on business of the not-so-legal sort, namely
to retrieve something that was stolen from his criminal family. When he’s not busy being a
vicious gangster, Jules is set on getting close to Brick and exploring his first ever attraction to
another man. Although Brick has been yearning for the excitement of meeting that special
someone, he soon realizes he may have bitten off more than he can swallow.
As their romance heats up, so too does the danger, and
Brick finds himself in the middle of a bloodbath in the making if Jules can’t get back what he
came here for. Luckily for Brick, Jules is the kind of man who will stop at nothing to keep him
safe, and he doesn’t care who gets in his way—or how high the body count gets.
CASH is part of the Ruthless
Daddies multi-author collab and a complete standalone. Expect to find a criminal Daddy,
a tough boy, high steam, and some dark mafia themes. Want more deliciously morally gray
Daddies and boys? Grab the whole series!
“Never met a guy that got me hard before.” Jules glanced
over Brick appraisingly. “Well, except you.”
Brick couldn’t have heard that correctly. “Excuse
“I’ve met some of the most fuckin’ fearless motherfuckers
on the planet. Nothing makes these guys flinch, not a fuckin’ thing.” Jules paused to sip his
drink, his dark eyes fixed on Brick’s. “And you…”
Brick’s face was instantly on fire from the intensity of Jules’s
gaze, and he was hyperaware of how very close they were right now. He couldn’t stop
glancing down at Jules’s mouth, fixated on a wet spot of liquor that he desperately wanted
“You’re just some fuckin’ translator. You’re just a regular
guy, but you didn’t hesitate a fuckin’ second to point that gun at those assholes. I saw you
fightin’ them before I got in there. You were gonna mess those fuckers up if they hadn’t
pulled on you.” Jules grinned. “It was fuckin’ hot.”
“Yeah?” Brick leaned in, gravitating as closely as he dared to
Jules. “And how many other guys have you tried to sell this shit to, huh? Oh, I’ve never ever
been with any dudes before, but you are so way hot, please suck my dick.”
“Hey. I didn’t say nothin’ about suckin’ me.” Jules’s tongue
flicked over his lips. “But if you wanna, I ain’t gonna stop you.”
“You sure about that?” Brick couldn’t believe this was
Flirting with Jules was somehow even more insane than
having a gun pulled on him earlier tonight, especially since Jules was so eagerly flirting right
back. The energy in the room was charged, hot, and Brick knew he was in deep trouble
because the only thing on his mind was kissing this sexy gangster.
“Very sure.” Jules’s hand slid up Brick’s thigh to rest on his
hip. “I know a pair of fuck-me eyes when I see ’em. You wanna suck Daddy’s dick,
“I think you’re just really into this Daddy thing,” Brick
argued, seeking out Jules’s chest and rubbing over his thick pec. “You want some sweet little
thing to roll over and call you Daddy while he blows you, huh?”
“Can that sweet little thing be you? ’Cause I’m startin’ to
get into it.”
“I don’t know, Daddy,” Brick teased. “I still think this
isn’t the first time you’ve pulled this.”
“It is.” Jules touched Brick’s cheek. “Ain’t ever had any guy
get to my dick like this. You’re… pretty fuckin’ special.”
“And you’re not having any kind of weird identity crisis
wanting a guy to blow you?”
“I’m very well adjusted.”
“It don’t matter. Like I told you before, when I want
something, I go for it.” Jules’s lips hovered over Brick’s, and his breath was hot and smelled
of spicy liquor as he whispered, “And right fuckin’ now, I want you.”
Brick’s brain imploded. He could not think clearly when
Jules said shit like that, and touching Jules’s thick muscled chest was every bit as delicious as
Brick had imagined. Moving fast wasn’t new to Brick—hell, once upon a time he’d been
known to have some fun in the men’s room at the club when he couldn’t wait to get home.
But this was crazy, right?
Wanting to sleep with his attractive neighbor who was a
dangerous gangster, had saved Brick’s life, and also apparently just decided that he wanted
to sleep with Brick despite never having been with a man before?
Like, all the planets in the solar system had aligned in full
batshit formation just for tonight to ensure optimal levels of crazy.
“What if I say no?” Brick challenged.
“Mmm.” Jules hummed thoughtfully. “Then I get to be real
disappointed for a lil’ bit while I think up some way to change your mind.”
“You think it’s gonna be that easy?”
“Trust me. Daddy Jules is very, very convincing.”
“Right.” Brick scoffed, his pulse rising to an eardrum-
shattering level. He could deny it all he wanted to, but they both already knew what was
about to happen. “Sure you are.”
Jules smiled, slid his fingers into Brick’s hair, and pulled him
in for a deep kiss.
About the Author
K.L. “Kat” Hiers is an
embalmer, restorative artist, and queer writer. Licensed in both funeral directing and funeral
service, they worked in the death industry for nearly a decade. Their first love was always
telling stories, and they have been writing for over twenty years, penning their very first
book at just eight years old. Publishers generally do not accept manuscripts in Hello Kitty
notebooks, however, but they never gave up.
Following the success of their
first novel, Cold Hard Cash, they now enjoy writing professionally, focusing on spinning tales
of sultry passion, exotic worlds, and emotional journeys. They love attending horror movie
conventions and indulging in cosplay of their favorite characters. They live in Zebulon, NC,
with their husband and their children, some of whom have paws and a few that only
pretend to because they think it’s cute.
Tutoring the athletic, indifferent son of the local
megachurch’s influential pastor promises to be a tough job for turbo-nerd Thomas Knott, but
when he meets handsome, aloof Colton Frost, nothing is as it seems.
Colton’s hiding a huge secret…one he can’t quite hide from
the perceptive and amiable Thomas.
After graduating from a gay conversion camp, Colton Frost
isn’t sure who he is anymore. How does he reconcile his faith with everything he feels
inside? Dormmate (and long-time crush) Noah watches his every move for Colton’s famous
father, reporting if he steps out of line. There’s no room to grow or find himself…until he
meets chubby, awkward, inexplicably confident demisexual Thomas Knott.
Can bold, brainy, secular Thomas help struggling believer
Colton discover his lost identity? And just as importantly to Colton, can Thomas help him
heal his relationships with his parents–and with Jesus?
70k words of nerd & jock, opposites attract,
demisexual, Christian romance, new adult
Content Warning: complex moral and
religious situations, suicidal ideation, internalized homophobia, conversion therapy
references, Christianity, mentions of underage drinking, marijuana use, references to CSA,
Thomas’s dark stare bored into Colton, as if he could see
right through him. “I need your … cooperation with something, and in return, I can make
sure you pass your classes.”
There was some irony that Colton was skipping class to try
to put off his potential tutor who wanted to negotiate him passing the classes he skipped.
“What, like take my tests for me?”
Thomas snorted delicately and raised a pointy brow with
the air of a Victorian nobleman. “No, Colton, but I don’t have much of a social life. I can
devote enormous resources to teaching you the material. Are you an auditory learner?
Visual? Kinesthetic? I can help you break down your learning style and tailor study strategies
for your needs. It’ll be the easiest learning you’ve done. I’m a boss. But I need your help
How did he manage to sound so confident when he was
basically confessing to being a loser? It was as if he’d embraced his own geekery and
weaponized it for use against his betters.
“If I wanted to learn the material, I would.” Colton shrugged
as he adjusted his backpack. “And I’d learn it faster without having to block you out.”
Everyone could use Colton’s help in one way or another.
Were he the sort to lend a hand, he’d probably get nothing else done. At the very least, he
had to know what it was Thomas wanted so he could tell him no and then maybe they’d be
done with this. “You’re beyond help, but what do you think I could possibly do for
“You gave Rose Ryan my phone number.” The way Thomas
said her name, he might as well have been saying Aphrodite or Venus. “We’ve been texting.
Things are… developing. But she thinks I’m you, and if I tell her who I am, she’s going to bail
on me. I need this, Colton. It’s your doing anyway. Take responsibility.”
“How would I know your phone—” As the memory
returned of the random girl that very irritating morning returned to him, so did the phone
number. There it went again, rattling around in his brain. A little faded, maybe. He was less
certain of the numbers now than he had been, but there it was.
Colton chuckled and shook his head. Even if he tried to lie,
by now his cheeks were so hot it was probably obvious that he remembered doing it. “What
do you mean things are developing? You’re not being weird and telling her it’s me, are
“I didn’t tell her that. You told her that. You gave her your number, but it was mine. You lied to her, and now I’m
making you look good by being a decent human being to her. I mean, aside from the
nudes…” Thomas smirked and gave Colton the kind of look that suggested he’d made an
Colton gasped and stared at Thomas in horror. “You sent
He eyed Thomas up and down then shook his head. “No
way she’d believe your nudes were me. No way she’d keep talking to you if she saw,” Colton
gestured at Thomas. “Unless she’s an idiot.”
But God, what if the rumor got out that there were nudes
of him? Even if they were obviously not him, his dad would probably hear about it.
“Who said I sent the nudes? Although, not that it’s
your business, my business is very respectable. With some creative cropping, she’d be very
impressed with ‘you’.” Thomas laughed from his belly, eyes crinkling at the corners. He
looked like an evil cherub. Like a cherub just hellbent on fucking Colton’s life right
“Oh God, I don’t need to know that.” Colton held his hands
up in defense as the images popped into his head. “You can’t accept nudes from her as me. I
would never take advantage like that. I …”
For once, Colton was utterly speechless as he stared at
Thomas in horror.
Thomas laughed again, throaty and delighted, and shook
his head. “Oh man, I really got you going. I didn’t accept nudes! As if Rose Ryan would send
anyone nudes. She’s the definition of perfection. She’s not going to put something like that
into the world and risk her reputation. Do you know how shitty people are to women of
color who express their sexuality? To any women? You probably didn’t ace Gender
Studies, but you can trust me on that.”
Then Thomas sobered and narrowed his gaze on Colton
appraisingly. “Look, man, you put yourself in this situation. The only way out is through. I
want you to go to her volleyball game on Friday with me. Introduce me and then, I don’t
know. I just…”
Suddenly Thomas’s cherubic face turned haunted, lips
turning down at the corners and making his dimples stand out in dismay. “Listen, Colton, I
know it doesn’t mean anything to you, but it would mean a lot
to me. I just want to get my foot in the door. I need her to just look at me for once
instead of right through me. I’m not who people assume I am. I’m…” Thomas sighed and his
tongue flashed over his lips. “There’s more to me. I feel like Rose could see it, if I could just
get an in.”
Colton realized he had clutched his chest, much like his
mom did when she was hearing news that shocked her. He was flooded with relief that there
were no nudes. He definitely didn’t want to be in the middle of some incel revenge porn
scandal. He didn’t know that it was worse or better for women of color, but he did know
how a lot of men regarded women who sent nudes.
He hadn’t thought any of it through when he gave Rose
Thomas’s number. He’d just thought Thomas would correct her and everyone would go on
with their lives.
This had gotten complicated.
He didn’t know Rose, but he had kind of put her in this
situation. Maybe there weren’t nudes yet, but if Colton walked away from this situation and
allowed it to continue, who knew what would happen?
Plus, Thomas looked so darn pathetic. There was probably
no chance that one introduction was going to set them up and fix everything, but that
wasn’t his problem.
Colton needed to find a way to extricate himself from this
situation without finding himself in the middle of some nerd-on-nerd violence. He exhaled.
“All right. Friday night I go to her game and we pretend to be… friends? I just decided I enjoy
my tutor so much that I’m dragging him along to sporting events?”
“Well, yeah. She can assume I’m your wingman. You have to
admit, standing next to me, you look extra good.” Thomas’s self-deprecating little smile
didn’t do much to erase his pitifulness. “Just make it plain I’m a cool guy, and I’ll take it from
there. You’re not interested, or you wouldn’t have given her my number, so just let her know
you’re only interested in friendship, and I’ll fend for myself.”
“My wingman. I don’t need a wingman.” Colton rolled his
eyes but accepted the premise. “All right, fine. For one night only, I need a wingman to get a
girl who approached me.”
It didn’t matter. He just needed to wash his hands of this
situation. “Just, try not to be weird, okay? I’ll let her down easy after the game and you can
just … whatever.”
About the Authors
Together, Texans and platonic
life partners Thursday Euclid and Clancy Nacht write queer novels that span genres, with
intense romances and a seamless shared narrative voice.
They published their first co-
written novel, the m/m rock star romance Black Gold, in 2010, and now have over a decade
of award-winning collaborations under their exquisite belts. Recent titles include the twisted
romance His Fake Prison Daddy and the Phisher King series, in which an uptight federal
agent and a bratty hacker go from enemies to lovers while solving a hate crime.
Though Elder Millennial trans
man Thursday and Gen X gender outlaw Clancy live three hours apart, they are inseparable.
Their friendship is a perfect example of the Grumpy/Sunshine trope, which makes Thursday
very happy. Clancy thinks it’s all right.
After years of cruelty, how do
you learn to trust? To love?
After years of cruelty, how do you learn to trust? To
It may be 2022, but the modern world has done nothing to
I live in the world of the British nobility, a secret society of
magic, mages and vessels.
There are strict rules and customs and no freedom at
My name is Charlie, but to society, I’m just a vessel. A
person who grows and absorbs magic within them, but cannot wield it.
As tradition dictates, on my eighteenth birthday, I was given
to a mage. From that day onwards, every seven days for four long years, Earl Rathbone took
my body to take my magic.
Earl Rathbone was a cruel and harsh master. But it was ‘the
done thing’ and society turned a blind eye to my mistreatment.
Until the earl’s son finally intervened and whisked me away.
Sending me to Archie. The Earl of Hathbury.
Archie is kind and sweet. The man loves books nearly as
much as I do. He is nothing like Earl Rathbone.
Yet, giving Archie my body and my magic is daunting. But it
is my duty and a necessity. As a vessel, I need a mage to regularly empty me or I could
To my great relief, Archie is understanding and gentle, and
it’s not long before I start to fall for him. Finding my duty more of a pleasure.
Archie seems to enjoy our time together more than is
proper, and I am hopeful.
But can Archie be trusted? Is he really safe? Will I ever be
Sighing wistfully, I continued my meander around the
grounds. I turned a corner around a tall hedge and found a swimming pool. I blinked in
surprise. The old families usually considered them vulgar. Something only new money
garishly indulged in.
It was quite tucked away and hidden by tall hedges.
Whoever had installed it had known it was something to be embarrassed about.
It looked clean, if a bit tatty. It had obviously been here for
a while. The pool was a decent size, surrounded by well-maintained grass. There were no
sun loungers nor any other accouterments. I wondered if anyone still used it.
A few stray leaves floated on the surface, but the water
looked clear. Calm and inviting. Sod it. I had nothing better to do. The day was warm enough
that I’d soon dry off, even without a towel. I stripped down to my underwear, a pair of
simple white briefs. Leaving my clothes carelessly strewn across the grass, I sat on the edge
of the pool and dipped my toe in.
It was delightfully warm. A heated pool. Now, that was a
pleasant surprise. Grinning, I slipped in. The water was divine. Feeling far too lazy to do laps,
I merely bobbed around for a while. Then I floated on my back and closed my eyes. The
feeling of weightlessness in the warm water, combined with the sun shining down and the
birdsong, was wonderful. Maybe swimming could become my new hobby. I could come here
every day. I’d soon get fit, I supposed. If I actually swam instead of floating around.
But this relaxation was lovely. Doing this everyday sounded
far more alluring. I could call it meditation or something. Maybe do a bit of yoga at the
poolside, so it didn’t feel quite so decadent.
Someone coughed, and it startled me so much I nearly
drowned trying to get to my feet. Spluttering water out of my mouth and wiping it from my
eyes, so I could see, I looked up.
It was Archie. Standing by the pool. Holding a folded white
towel and wearing a white robe. His shapely legs were bare, and he had flip-flops on his feet.
He had come to swim in his secret pool and found me in it.
I scrambled to the edge and heaved myself up. The poor
man took a step backwards as I lunged out of the pool to stand before him, water streaming
off of me onto the grass.
“I’m sorry!” I gasped, pushing my sodden hair out of my
eyes with both my hands.
Archie just stared at me. A strange look on his face. His
cheeks were heated, unsurprisingly. He was probably furious at me.
“It’s quite alright,” he said after a while, but his voice
“I’ll… I’ll leave you to your peace,” I stuttered and hastily
scooped up my clothes that seemed to be scattered everywhere. Making it take forever to
gather them. When I eventually had them all, I ran.
When I was far enough away, out of sight and hearing, I
stopped, chest heaving. I dropped my clothes onto the ground so I could start dressing. As I
glanced down, I saw my wet underwear was entirely see through.
Groaning, I covered my blush with my hands. Not that there
was anyone to see now.
“Nice one, Charlie,” I said to myself. Just what his lordship
wanted to see.I thought sarcastically. Great way to
get to know your new master, invade his private pool and then flash him.
About the Author
I love characters that are
battered and broken by life, who through the course of finding love, discover they are
I like to pour my dark past
into my characters and hope I will be forgiven.
Despite everything, because
of everything, I will always believe that love conquers all.