Family inheritance or his
own passion… Can he have both?
Hunter’s life is turned upside down when he’s forced to
leave his ‘job of a lifetime’. When chance tosses him into the path of a very talented, and
handsome young nurse, his life takes on a new direction he never could’ve
Cam’s focus had shifted from pursuing his musical
passion to nursing. But a one-night stand quickly changes into so much more, especially
when that one-night stand ends up helping to run his late grandmother’s
resort. Career changes, inheritances, and a greedy
corporation all make it seem impossible for these two men to make it. But, on the slopes of
Colorado, they might just find love in the melody of the snow.
I walked into the bar and immediately laid eyes on one of the
most handsome men I’d ever seen. He was tall, though several inches shorter than me, and
had that slim swimmer’s build that made me thirst to touch him. The fact that I caught him
checking me out made me smile. Maybe tonight was showing promise after all.
I was about to walk over to him when the drag queen onstage
began taunting him. After others joined in on it, he climbed onto the stage and started
At first, I thought he had to be lip-syncing, because no way did
someone randomly sing that well.
Of course, the more I watched from my vantage point, a head
taller than most people at the bar, I realized it was actually his voice.
I sat and listened, mesmerized, as he ran through a full set of
songs. He was about to leave the stage when the crowd demanded more, and during the
pause in performing, I had enough sense to pull my phone out and record his final song.
As he began to sing Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” I
felt my heart beat a little quicker. I wanted to be his somebody to love. No, fuck that,
no. I needed to find somebody for the night, somebody to get my rocks off with, that
was it. Once I started working for my aunt, my next opportunity to get away would be… well,
probably too long to even think about.
I made my way toward the stage the moment he began the
final bars of the song, recording him on my phone as I went. I wanted to be the first person
he ran into as he came offstage, because I wanted him with all I had in me, especially after
hearing his sultry singing voice.
The energy between us sparked, and it only took him a
moment to agree to a hookup. When he snapped my picture and texted it to his friend, it
made me like him that much more.
As a deputy, how often had I advised college kids to do that
very thing? “Let someone know who you’re leaving with,” I’d imparted dozens of times. Even
in our small town, several lives could’ve been spared if the kids had abided by that simple
By the time he returned, I was beginning to salivate at the
thought of having this sexy man’s body wrapped around mine.
I wasn’t one for physical affection outside the bedroom, but
when he took my hand as we drove my rental to the hotel, I didn’t pull away. This guy felt
different, like more than just a quick fuck, although that’s all it could possibly be.
Soon I would be headed for the mountains, miles away from
Denver, in the height of winter. At best, I’d only get back here in the spring. More likely,
though, my aunt would have me working so many hours I’d be lucky to see Denver next
This was a one-night stand, but damn, I was going to enjoy
About the Author
Blake Allwood was born in
west TN, then moved to Kansas City MO after attending college in Lamoni, Iowa. He met his
husband in 1995 and they officially married in 2015, once gay marriage was legalized. In
2017, he and his husband sold their home, purchased an RV and began traveling the country
with their two dogs. Their travels provide the inspiration and settings for many of his
novels. Typically, Blake can be found relaxing in the RV or
by the fire with his laptop and their Jack Russell Terrier, Buddy, curled up between his legs
demanding attention. Denver, their Siberian Husky mix is often asleep at his feet or playing
tug of war with Blake’s husband.
Morgan loves three things; Books, women, and being
single. But when Grad school costs more than her rent, she needs to come up with a way to
make some money and fast. After a one-night stand with a beautiful woman, she wakes the
next morning in a hurry to make it to her interview as a live-in nanny.
Despite acing the interview, she has to pass one final test;
meeting the mother—who just so happens to be her one-night stand. They both decide to
call it a one-night thing and move forward, with Morgan becoming her son’s nanny.
As a divorced, single mom Lucy can get all the help she
needs. But as the mistletoe is hung and the stockings are filled, are sparks flying too? As Lucy
begins to fall for her son’s nanny, she shows her love in a series of her favorite books.
Counting down the 24 days of Christmas with Morgan, by trying to tell her how she feels,
worried she doesn’t feel the same.
Morgan devours each book, desperate to know if Lucy is
sending her a sign. But as Christmas approaches, will each woman get what they want? Or
will they be stuck out in the cold as the days of Morgan’s nannying contract are up?
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.
A lonely rock star who
walked away from everything.
What chance do they
have at love?
Ripped apart by life, Lich Reaper Grymington Daray is
drowning in sorrow. Each day, he strives to find the people responsible for killing his best
friend, and he wishes his own existence had more meaning. The last thing on Grymington’s
mind is finding the other half of his soul. While a loving family surrounds him, the coldness
growing in his heart keeps him separated from joy.
Decades ago, Devlin Nero ran away from the world. Being a
rock star was everything Devlin wanted, but it turned into a nightmare. Now, the enchanter-
human hybrid is living alone and surrounded by nothing but fading memories. Desperate for
happiness, Devlin makes his way to the Council of Sorcery and Shifters and winds up at a
sanctuary designed for freaks like him.
On a fateful day, Grymington and Devlin discover they are
mates. Sparks fly, and the two men venture forth to honor Fate’s choice for them. However,
Grymington is too lost and much too fearful to allow Devlin near his tattered soul. Devlin
wants love, but the Lich Reaper may not be able to offer it. If their confusing relationship
isn’t enough, they have pasts to reconcile, and the future will not wait. It will be up to
Grymington and Devlin to discover if they have a matebond worth saving.
“You still play and sing?” Grymington asked.
“Every day. Music is me, and I love composing words,
writing melodies, and crafting beautiful songs. But trust me…I don’t deserve to be standing
on a stage to cheers while I belt out a tune. My decision to leave my career wasn’t fair, and I
hurt people, including someone I loved. It ruined everything she worked for, and I still lack
the courage to do anything about it. That’s probably not the best thing to tell the person
you’re hoping to build a matebond with, but I’ve learned the value of honesty, and I won’t lie
to you about the kind of person I was or am.”
“I wasn’t resurrected yet in 1998 when you left, but I’m
going to download your music after I get home.”
“You’ll have to let me know what you think.”
“I will. I guess you don’t miss it,” Grymington said. His dog
ventured over to lie across his sneakered feet.
“Who wouldn’t miss having fans? I enjoyed that part, but
I’m good without having any of the rest of it in my life.”
“If you’re not a rock star, what are you going to do now that
you don’t have to hide?” Grymington asked.
Devlin shrugged. “I haven’t figured that out yet. I haven’t
been a D’Vaire that long, and now I have a matebond to focus on. I’m in no rush to decide
anything. Taking things a day at a time is far less intimidating than trying to structure my
“I do that too,” Grymington confided softly. “It is definitely
easier if I focus on a single day at a time.”
“I hope it’s one of many things we find we have in
They fell silent again, and Devlin studied the sexy man
sitting several feet away. There was something about Grymington’s pert nose and his perfect
heart-shaped mouth that brought out a visceral reaction from Devlin. Cute men had always
been his downfall, and Grymington had no match. The desire to taste Grymington was so
intense, Devlin went with instinct, though he acknowledged he was probably being led by
“I’d love to kiss you,” Devlin murmured.
Grymington’s pale citrine-colored gaze widened for a
second, then a rush of euphoria rushed through Devlin as the reaper scooted closer to him.
“I haven’t been kissed before,” Grymington offered
The grin Devlin gave him was wolfish. “I know.”
Because he had to touch those messy curls, Devlin lifted a
hand and tangled his fingers in the soft blond twists. Grymington titled his head so their eyes
met fully, and Devlin swore the faint smell of lilies bewitched him.
Since he was worried that the spell could break at any
moment, Devlin leaned forward and pressed his lips to Grymington’s. The reaper lacked
experience, but Grymington had initiative. Grymington’s mouth parted, and Devlin wasn’t
foolish enough to ignore the invitation. Their tongues touched, and Devlin nearly
His scent was elusive, but Grymington’s taste was
intoxicating. The way Grymington copied each thing Devlin did was a lovely reminder of his
innocence. It brought out a tender side of Devlin he hadn’t known existed as he carefully
explored Grymington. Devlin rested his free hand on Grymington’s waist and stifled the urge
to crush the reaper in his arms.
Ever so gently, Devlin coaxed Grymington into tipping his
head slightly, and it took their kiss to an entirely new level. With nothing but the simplest of
touches, Devlin grew hard, yet he was in no rush to devour Grymington. It would be an insult
not to savor him, and Devlin refused to squander such an opportunity.
Instead, Devlin used his many years of practice to please
Grymington. Devlin teased, tormented, and nibbled Grymington’s lips. When he finally lifted
his head, Devlin was outrageously pleased by the desire swimming in Grymington’s
“You’re a beautiful kisser, Grym,” Devlin murmured.
“Thank you, so are you,” Grymington replied. “I’d like to kiss
Since only a fool would tell Grymington no, Devlin smiled at
him and dove in for another taste.
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
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.
Asa might be the head
coach, but he’s a man first.
Coach Asa Dawson has fallen wildly in love only twice in his
life. First with football.
Then with Scott Callaway. But Scott isn’t just the one who got
away. He’s the one person—the one man—Asa hoped
might finally show him how all-consuming passion could be. Instead, fate (and football) intervened and they
never got the chance to explore their attraction. Their friendship ended in ruins, Scott left,
and Asa’s been torn between hating him and loving him for the last seven
years. Asa doesn’t think he’ll ever see him again, but
when his bad habits catch up to him and he doesn’t have a choice but to accept help, he’s
horrified—and exhilarated—to learn Scott’s been hired to assist him. With the final stretch of the Piranhas season falling
during the holidays, maybe what Asa and Scott have needed this whole time was a little
Christmas magic to remind them the most important job isn’t to win the season—but to
finally win each other’s hearts.
Scott’s hands were still
It was like being plugged back into a socket, after so
long without electricity, being in Asa’s presence again.
Since he’d gotten the call from Beau, he hadn’t really
let himself consider what it would mean. What it would feel like.
He’d only allowed himself the worry.
Asa was sick; he was struggling and in the goddamn
hospital. Beau had reassured him, more than once, that he’d be fine, that the doctors
weren’t particularly worried, they only wanted him to change his lifestyle.
Sleep more. Eat better. Work less.
That, Beau had said, was where he came in. He didn’t
know anyone else who’d be able to convince Asa to relax the reins.
Scott had agreed, because after how things had gone
seven years ago, how could he not? How could he not be there for Asa when he needed him,
more than anyone else?
But he didn’t tell Beau that he wouldn’t be able to
convince him of jack shit now.
Asa was, understandably, still pissed.
Scott couldn’t even blame him.
He was still pissed at himself.
He’d known the moment he landed in Washington
that it was all wrong, that he’d made a mistake, that instead of trying to be so fucking noble,
he should have just taken Asa’s hand and kissed him and learned how to be
No matter what that meant.
But he’d committed to leading Washington’s program,
and he’d done that, for six years.
Then a year ago, they’d let him go, and he’d gone
home, not to Tennessee, because Asa was still there, and the whole damn state didn’t feel
big enough for the two of them, but back home to Alabama, to the small town he’d lived in
before he’d gone to college.
“You alright?” Beau asked as they lingered at the
front of the conference room, the rest of the coaching staff taking their seats, grumbling all
It was deep into the season, it was the Monday after
a game, and they were all tired.
Scott remembered exactly how it had felt, on those
Mondays, even though he’d only ever coached in college, never in the NFL.
“Yeah, fine,” Scott said automatically.
He was not fine.
Not even remotely.
He’d thought . . . well, he didn’t know what he’d
thought, exactly. But he hadn’t imagined that he and Asa would meet again like this. He’d
imagined running into him—sorta, kinda, on purpose—on the Tennessee campus. He’d
imagined making things right.
The part of the imagining he’d purposefully forgotten
was that Asa was going to be justifiably pissed at him.
About the Author
A lifelong Pacific Northwester, Beth Bolden has just recently moved to North Carolina with
her supportive husband. Beth still believes in Keeping Portland Weird, and intends to be just
as weird in Raleigh.
Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first
foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope
springs eternal. She’s published twenty-three novels and seven novellas.
Getting involved with a
mafia don was a horrible idea. Falling in love with one was worse.
Detective Micah Hart wasn’t sure when his fairly safe,
predictable life became something more closely resembling a dumpster fire.
But if he had to pinpoint an exact moment, he would say it
was the first time he went undercover as a prostitute in an attempt to bait the notorious
serial killer that was stalking New York City’s streets – the media-dubbed Hooker
It’s when Damon Romano plows into his life, with his fierce
protective energy, and those thick thighs, and the bluest pair of eyes Micah has ever seen.
If only he wasn’t also a temperamental mafioso in charge of
running one of the city’s largest criminal empires.
Damon fixates on Micah, obsessing over feeding him and
making sure he always has a coat. He spoils him rotten with gifts and insists on taking Micah
on as his personal escort – a “boyfriend” to get his nagging sisters off his back.
It’s weirdly sweet, and Micah doesn’t know how he’s
become a soft spot in the ruthless man’s otherwise hardened exterior, but it would be a lie
to say he didn’t want even more: a
real relationship with Damon.
There was just one teensy, tiny problem with that.
Despite what Damon thinks, Micah isn’t actually a prostitute.
He’s a cop for the NYPD.
Pretty Policeman is an M/M billionaire mafia romance, sprinkled liberally with rom-
com elements, served with a side helping of sugar daddy kink and mistaken identity trope.
“Oh, you are, honey, and I don’t blame you. Those
shoulders go on for dayzzz.”
“I feel like you said that with a ‘z’. Possibly multiple of
“Oh, I did, sweet pea. And that ass. I have one word for it:
“You literally sound like you’re drooling. Are you sure you’re
not the one who’s been staring, Tessa?”
“Of course, I have been!” She didn’t sound the least bit
ashamed about it either. “Look at that gorgeous specimen of a man. If he’s not the offspring
of some Greek god’s bastard, I will chop off my right tit.”
He wrinkled his nose. “Gross.”
Even as he pretended to gag over his partner’s declaration,
however, Micah found his gaze – and attention – drifting back to the man they were
discussing: the supposed descendent of a Greek god.
He was tall, at least a couple of inches past six feet, and the
suit jacket he was wearing clung to the expanse of his impressively broad shoulders. Said
shoulders tapered off to form a trim waist, under which matching pinstripe pants gripped
onto thick thighs – which Micah hadn’t known he had a thing for until now.
Seriously, even from a distance, Micah knew those things
had to be ripped. The man’s entire body looked rock-solid. Micah couldn’t quite make out
any facial features, but if there was any justice in the world, the man must have had the
epitome of a butter-face.
Still, Micah could probably look past it, considering, as
Tessa had so eloquently put it: “that ass”.
“Micah,” Tessa hissed into his earpiece. (Speak of the devil.)
“I said to quit. You’re not even trying to hide your ogling now.”
“You also said to look,” he couldn’t help but point out, but
he obediently dropped his gaze to the ground, anyway. He was wearing a pair of shabby red
Converse. There were holes on the top of the right one where his toes threatened to peek
out, and the left had a loose outsole that liked to flap when he walked.
Not exactly his usual style, but it wasn’t like Micah had
picked them out himself. In fact, he hadn’t picked out any part of his current ensemble.
“I meant metaphorically. You’re in the middle of an
undercover operation. You can’t let yourself be distracted by every hottie that walks by; you
need to keep your wits about you.”
Okay, first of all, that wasn’t just any hottie. Secondly-
“You’re my handler,” he pointed out. “You need to keep
your wits about you.”
“Oh, you don’t worry about my wits, honey. I’m not the one
that’s thirsting after some babelicious stranger, completely ignoring the potential john
coming in at three o’clock.”
Micah tensed, subtly peeking in the direction she’d
Tessa was right.
A man dressed in a cheap suit was quickly approaching, the
graying hair near his temples and the deep-set wrinkles of his brow indicating he was
probably in his late forties or early fifties. His uneven gait and the stumble in his step meant
he was probably drunk.
Micah tried not to grimace as the man got closer and he
spotted the wedding band on his finger. The guy didn’t really fit the profile they’d come up
with for their perp – he was too old and looked to be married to boot.
Most likely, he was just another asshole going through a
midlife crisis – not the serial killer going around killing male prostitutes they were searching
Micah voiced his thoughts aloud, muttering lowly into the
mic hidden in his shirt – if the obscene, canary yellow crop top he was wearing could even
be considered a shirt. “I doubt he’s our guy, Tess. Too sloppy.”
“Probably not,” the woman agreed, “but you never know.
You of all people should know that looks can be deceiving. Let him pick you up. If nothing
else, you’ll be able to arrest him for solicitation.”
Resigning himself to do as she suggested, Micah let himself
sink into the brick wall he was lounging against near the mouth of an alley. He winced as the
brick scratched against his exposed lower back where his shirt didn’t quite cover the skin,
but he forced himself to school his expression as the man moved closer.
Honestly, he hadn’t expected to be picked up within the
first fifteen minutes of his shift.
Apparently, Mr. Midlife Crisis wasn’t one for small talk.
Which was unfortunate because Micah needed him to actually say the words. “How much
for what?” he asked.
“Don’t be coy, you little tart.” Micah fought the urge to
wrinkle his nose when the man took another step forward and the stench of alcohol hit him
straight in the face.
He wasn’t intimidated – or, at least, that was what he told
himself when arms braced themselves on either side of his head, effectively trapping Micah
against the brick wall. Sure, he didn’t have his Glock, but Tessa was watching out for him.
Not to mention the fact that he was well-versed in hand-to-hand if worse came to worst.
“$100,” Micah said, knowing he was highballing the man
even before his bloodshot eyes widened in disbelief.
“$100?” he repeated, scoffing. “For a loose hole like yours?
I’ll give you $50 if you can even make me bust my nut.”
Micah had planned on just wrangling the man’s hands
behind his back and arresting him as soon as he’d said enough to incriminate himself, but
now he was pissed.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were asking after my mouth,”
he retorted. “If you want a piece of the filet mignon, the going rate’s 300 bucks.”
He heard Tessa sigh into his earpiece, and judging by the
dull thud that followed, could perfectly picture her banging her head against the steering
wheel of the undercover van she was parked in across the street.
“300 bucks?” Mr. Midlife Crisis sneered. “Who do you think
you are? Sluts like you are hardly worth the time it takes for you to get me off.”
“You’re the one who approached me, buddy,” Micah
reminded him. “Must be worth something.”
Admittedly, he wasn’t expecting for the guy to take him by
the hair, backpedal him into the alley, and smash his head against the wall. The hit wasn’t
hard enough to make his ears ring, but Micah’s eyes watered involuntarily when the man’s
grip on his hair tightened, and he leaned his face into his personal space. “How about this,
you little bitch? Since your ass is apparently off limits, why don’t you get on your knees so I
can show you how you ought to be treating your customers with that smart mouth?
Consider it a free lesson. If you manage to bring me to finish, I’ll even think about leaving a
Alright, play time was over.
This guy was more than just your typical drunkard looking
to pick up a hooker – he clearly didn’t give a rat’s ass whether Micah was willing to blow him
or not, he was going to make him. The fact that there were real people out there working
the streets and being treated this way – probably pretty regularly – made anger burn hot in
Micah’s gut. He was about to elbow the asshole in the throat and force him to his knees so
he could slap the zip ties he had hidden on his person for just this reason around his wrists
when Mr. Midlife Crisis was abruptly pulled off of him-
“Get your fucking hands off him!”
-and punched in the face by the man he and Tessa had
been ogling but five minutes earlier.
Micah watched, taken aback, as the Greek god lookalike
pulled back his fist and pummeled the man again. And again. His assaulter fell back onto his
ass after the third hit. He scrambled backward awkwardly, attempting to shield his bloody
face from more attacks while simultaneously doing the crab walk.
Micah may have laughed if he weren’t so stunned.
About the Author
Fifer Rose is a happily married
mother of four human children and two very spoiled cats.
When she is not wiping
snotty noses or being bullied into feeding her cats (again?!), she can be found obsessing
over M/M romance. She loves all the tropes, some of her favorite being enemies to lovers,
hurt/comfort, sugar daddy, and mistaken identity. She also has a penchant for A/B/O
While Fifer is a sucker for
angst, a happily-ever-after is a MUST in all she reads and writes.
Unrelated hobbies include
baking, attempting to golf (for her husband’s sake), and daydreaming about traveling.
(No actual traveling because did you see the part about four kids?)
Can Avery open his
heart to two soldiers this Christmas?
Can Avery open his heart to two soldiers this
Christmas? Felix Hawkins and Zach Walsh fell in love with each
other when they were fourteen—and with their best friend’s little brother when they were
twenty-three. But at that point, Avery was barely an adult, still wearing hearts in his eyes
when he looked at them. Felix was determined that they should wait so that Avery could
come to them on even footing, as an adult fully grown and with a clear head. Zach wasn’t
sure he could be that patient, but for Felix, and for Avery, he would do anything. So they’ve
held out for what feels like forever—and they know what they want for Christmas this
year! Avery McKenna might have crushed on his
brother’s best friends once upon a time, but that’s over with now… right? He’s focused on
his career, and while his job might not be keeping him warm at night, it’s summer in Sydney;
he doesn’t need any extra warmth. Felix and Zach and their charming… everything, can waltz
right back out the door because he doesn’t want anything to do with whatever game they’re
playing with him. It has to be a game, right? Earth-shattering kisses aside, why would they
ever want him for keeps? Is the beautiful picture they might paint together
worth the risk of it all going wrong? Avery has never been a gambler, but he might finally be
ready to take a chance on the best Christmas present he’s ever received. Two Soldiers for Christmas is a roughly 28,000-
word MMM older brother’s best friends Christmas novella featuring an established couple
adding a third, Christmas shenanigans, and a satisfying HFN ending.
If Zach hadn’t already fallen in love with this man, this
would have been the moment. The point in a rom-com movie where everything slows down
as that realisation kicks in. Except there were no oh fuck feelings to accompany it. It
wasn’t a surprising feeling for him. Zach welcomed it.
“What are you—?” Avery said, his eyes widening in horror.
They widened further when he looked down at himself. “Oh my god.”
He slammed the door in their faces.
Felix chuckled. “Think he forgot we were coming?”
Something crashed loudly inside and Zach instantly shoved
his bags at Felix and rushed through the—thankfully unlocked—door. If it hadn’t been, he
would have put his boot through it.
Avery was standing next to a small scaffolding set up, the
floor surrounding it covered in white sheets, and dozens of tins of paint in different sizes.
There were about six jars of murky water and paintbrushes and a few rollers, along with an
iPod speaker dock that had splashes of paint all over it. An iPod that Zach was pretty sure
was older than Avery was sitting in it, low Christmas music playing.
The only part of the situation that didn’t fit was the paint
tin that Avery was holding in his hand, red paint puddled all over the sheets and some of it
leaking onto to the tiling.
Avery stared at him, red paint dripping from his hair.
“Are you all right?” Felix asked. He took the paint tin from
Avery’s hand and checked it over while Zach took Avery’s face in his hands. Zach turned his
head left and right, making sure he hadn’t hurt himself. It looked like all the red was just
paint, but it was best to be sure.
Avery was still staring, wide-eyed, at him. “Yeah—yes? I’m
fine. I just…” He sighed and gestured at the scaffolding with the hand that Felix had just let
go of. “Knocked down the paint tin. It’s going to take me hours to clean this mess up.”
“I think you’re supposed to have a harness on when you’re
up that high,” Felix said, looking over the scaffolding with a slight frown on his face.
“It’s not high,” Avery said.
“Still above regulation height,” Felix said.
“Aren’t you just a walking inspector?” Avery shot back
sarcastically. “It’s fine.”
“What would happen if you did fall?” Felix’s eyes narrowed.
“If you were here alone and hit your head?”
Avery threw his hands up in aggravation. “I guess I would
Zach bit back his snarled reaction to those words. He knew
that Avery wasn’t being serious, but it still made him feel like he’d been slammed in the
head by a helicopter rotor. He might not have been a medic, but he knew how quickly a
head injury could turn bad.
He reached out and grabbed one of the scaffolding legs,
and then pushed. It rolled easily under his grip. “You don’t even have the safety on,” he said
“So what?” Zach repeated, his voice rising unintentionally.
“So have a little more care for your personal safety.”
“What, you guys are going to suddenly act like you give a
shit about me?” Avery’s hazel eyes were blazing.
“When have we not cared about you?” Felix asked. He
sounded like always did—even and level-headed. But Zach knew him too well. He could hear
the tremor of hurt that Felix was so good at concealing. Hearing it made anger rise in Zach’s
stomach. They didn’t deserve that. They’d never been dismissive of Avery, not once, in all
the years they’d known him.
“I’ve been doing this for years and I’m still here, so go pull
your big brother act on someone else,” Avery said, turning his back dismissively.
Zach whirled him around and trapped him against the
scaffolding, bracing himself with one hand gripping tightly to it. “Big brother act?” he bit out.
“You think that’s what this is?”
Avery’s pulse visibly jumped in his throat. The things that
Zach wanted to do to him, the thoughts he had, weren’t brotherly in any way. He took hold
of Avery’s chin and stroked his thumb across it, just under the alluring curve of his bottom
lip. Avery’s pupils dilated, his lips parting in shock.
Fear not those who are innocent, for I shall cause you no
harm. I seek out only those who have yet to pay for their sins. Fear me if you have no
remorse, for I am the Reaper, and I will ensure that you reap what you have
The serial killer known as The Reaper is loose on the streets
of Norfolk. Its victims have two things in common: They have each hurt a child but served
little to no time in jail for it and none of them regret their actions.
Detective Mel Tanner is close to retirement when she is
assigned to investigate a murder that leads her in a hunt for the serial killer known as The
Reaper. As a seasoned homicide detective of fifteen years, she now finds herself jaded and
unfeeling to the atrocities that she has had to witness every day.
When rookie Detective Nat Petrov lands her dream
assignment, to work with the best Detective in Norfolk, she is thrown headfirst into The
Reaper’s perverse sense of justice. The Detectives race against the clock as body after body
turns up with the signature Grim Reaper tarot card, each life ended in a way specifically
designed for the individual victim. Will the detectives be able to catch a twisted serial killer
before time runs out or will The Reaper exact revenge in a way more personal than anyone
could have ever fathomed?
Michael watched with a sense of foreboding as the masked
figure in the black cloak stood looking down at the various items on the table, fear of the
unknown beginning to take hold of him. A thousand thoughts and images ran through his
mind as he tried to work out the reason for why he was there on that table, but as hard as
he tried, he couldn’t come up with a single explanation for his circumstances. He tried to
figure out who his captor might be, but the only name he could come up with was the Grim
Reaper, because that’s what his captor looked like. The Reaper came back and held a card in
front of his face with its left hand. It was a three-by-five-inch tarot card, and on it was a
picture of the Grim Reaper. Michael felt the color drain from his face. The Reaper pulled the
card away and with its right hand, held up a laminated newspaper clipping for him to read. Michael Fitzpatrick received a six-month
sentence for the beating death of his then-girlfriend’s six-year-old son. Questions on the
mishandling of evidence dropping the charges from murder to child abuse.
His stomach dropped. “I did my time for that,” he said, his
voice shaking with dread. Out of nowhere, his captor’s fist came swinging down hitting him
square on his nose. The sound of his nose breaking resonated loudly in his ears. Instantly his
eyes began to water, and blood began flowing down his throat. He tried to turn his head so
he could spit the coppery-tasting substance from his mouth, but the Reaper held him still,
forcing Michael to swallow the thick fluid. The Reaper slowly shook its head from side to
side. Fear of repercussions should he move kept him still and motionless even when his
captor went back to the table again.
When the Reaper returned, he was shown another news
article. This one detailing all fifty-three injuries the boy had sustained by him during a
drunken rage. While he read the article, tears spilled from Michael’s eyes in earnest as he
finally realized that he wasn’t going to get out of this room alive. Again, his captor went to
the table, returned the news article, and came back to look down at him with its unblinking
gaze. It held the Grim Reaper’s card up to him again, only this time it showed him the
message that had been written on the back of the card. Swallowing several times to clear
the blood from throat, Michael read it out loud, “Fear not those who are innocent, for I shall
cause you no harm. I seek out only those who have yet to pay for their sins. Fear me if you
have no remorse, for I am the Reaper, and I will ensure that you reap what you have sewn.”
Michael looked from the card to the Reaper, tears flowing down his cheeks as he begged for
his life. “Please, no. I did my time for that. I would never have hurt him if I hadn’t been
drunk. It wasn’t my fault. She knows how I am when I get drunk. She should have kept him
quiet and away from me.”
The Reaper placed the card on Michael’s chest and shook
its head. With its other hand, the Reaper slowly lifted up a ball-peen hammer, holding it in
front of Michael’s face so he could see it, the intention clear.
“Please, no. I’m sorry,” Michael sobbed, frantically pulling
against his bindings as panic began to take over.
The Reaper slowly turned and walked around the table until
it was standing next to Michael’s right knee. As the hammer was steadily raised over its
head, the Reaper looked down into Michael’s eyes.
He didn’t feel the wetness pooling around him as his
bladder released nor the pain of the restraints as they cut into his already raw and bleeding
skin. The only thing he felt was pure unadulterated terror. “No, please! You don’t
The Reaper tilted its head, the hammer still hovering high in
the air over Michael’s knee and placed one black-gloved finger to its mouth. Shhh. It said as the hammer came down hard, shattering his kneecap.
Born in New England, Rae
Scott spent her childhood hiking, fishing, and enjoying the outdoor life inherent to the area.
This love of adventure led her to travel the world in a quest to discover new and exciting
things, feeding her thirst for knowledge and creativity that she now draws on for her books.
In between her travels, she can be found on her porch in Virginia with her family coming up
with new ideas as to where their next adventure will take them.
We sounded like a bad
pop song from our youth. Or an even worse one from the present.
“We’re going to have a brilliant Christmas, Andreas. Just like
it was ten years ago, all of us together,” Vati said, placing steaming cups of coffee in front of
us. “We’re just pointing out that you and Fredrik always had something special, and you
haven’t seen each other for years. It will be lovely for you to reconnect.”
“Reconnecting is fine. We can discuss college life versus
German nursing schools, drink Jägerbombs and watch weird Norwegian shit on TV.
Christmas will be thrilling.”
“Andreas…” Vati warned as Lottie burst into giggles.
“You adore Fredrik. Still. I can see it in your eyes. You go all
panic-stricken and weird when we even mention Freee—”
“Fredrik has a girlfriend in America. Maria hates my guts.
Frank and Thomas will whip my butt for not visiting over summer, and anyway, I have to buy
them a big present to bribe them to even talk to me.”
Vati smiled. “Frank and Thomas love you like a son, and
they will just hug the shit out of you as usual.”
“Alongside Maria’s boyfriend, and Fredrik’s girlfriend. It will
be a delightful group hug.” I snarled.
“Fredrik’s girlfriend isn’t coming. I told you that,” Vati said
sternly. He was pissed off with me already, and we hadn’t even had breakfast.
“Whatever.” I huffed.
was the word I was looking for. This whole thing was going to be super awkward. Because
they always were. And Fredrik? My world used to spin around the strange, blonde boy who
was my best friend for a few years. He lit up my life. Then he fucked off. Well, he fucked off
because I told him to. I was stupid and scared. I think he was too.
That wasn’t even the start of what this Christmas was going to be like.
Life is Right Here was intended to be a one-chapter Christmas epilogue to Life is Good and Other Lies.
This book is still that, an epilogue, and should be read
after Life is Good and Other Lies to make sense. We hope that it will bring everything full circle
and that you will enjoy, once again, following this family to their final HEA.
Terminal and life-threatening illness. Bipolar disorder. Talk of
suicide and the fear of this. Far too many sugar-
laden Christmas foods.
This book has an HEA.
I’d tried. I really had tried. My dads had been
together since they were in their twenties, a lifetime. We all knew the story about how
they’d met and found love and lost and found and lost and found and then never lost again.
It was like a fairy tale, like one of Frank’s favourite movies, even if Thomas kept teasing him
that their meet-cute wasn’t actually an epic love story of any sort. He always said it had been
fate. Thing was, I’d always wanted that for myself, and I’d thought Andreas had been the
one, back when we were teenagers. But then he wasn’t, and I didn’t know what I’d done
wrong or why anything had happened in the first place.
My flights home to Oslo this time were chaotic and stressful
with too many people going somewhere for Christmas. I’d managed to wrap myself into my
own bubble of blankets and cheap pillows and dozed over Canada, then watched the ice
over Greenland in wide-eyed, jet-lagged wonder. I’d barely registered landing in Paris before
rushing through CDG, a mishmash of then-futuristic architecture from the last century and
modern, energy-saving solutions that made me dizzy. I barely caught my flight and dozed off
again the second I hit my seat. I felt calmer now; home was getting closer. If it was still home, I
thought before my brain shut off.
“Fredrik!” My dad’s arms were long and warm around me
outside customs. I dropped my bag and backpack on the floor. My eyes were wet; my god,
how much I had missed him. I leant into his chest and sniffed in the familiar smell of his
shampoo and aftershave, the detergent we used at home, his stubble scratching my cheek,
his hair tickling my lips. I breathed him for who knew how long. Seconds, minutes, I didn’t
I was finally home again.
About the Authors
Magdalena Di Sotru
is an information security and data protection enthusiast from Norway. She is a mother of
two and wife of one as well as a long-established fanfic writer. Her favourite food is (actually)
salads (without mayo), her favourite guilty pleasure is fresh bakery goods (and that explains
why everyone would think the salad was a lie). She knows her way around knitting, lock
picking and skydiving (all at about equal skill levels – go figure). Life is Good and Other lies
was her first novel.
should be old enough to know better but has barely grown up. She has been known to
fangirl over TV shows, has fallen in and out of love with more popstars than she dares to
remember, and has a ridiculously high-flying (un-)glamourous real-life job.
Her long-suffering husband
just laughs at her antics. Their children are feral. The dogs are too.
She lives in a creaky old
house in rural London, although her heart is still in her native Scandinavia.
Discovering that the stories in
her head make sense when written down has been part of the most hilarious midlife crisis
ever, and she hopes it may long continue.