This time, the hunters become the hunted when the witch knows they’re coming to get him, and has deadly plans of his own. When their lives are on the line, will love be enough?
One hundred years ago, a sheriff’s posse killed dark warlock Rhyfel Gremory, but his witch-disciples escaped, and their magic made them nearly immortal. To keep their power, each year one of the witch-disciples kills a descendant of one of the men in the posse, a twelve-year cycle that has cost dozens of lives, including that of Seth Tanner’s brother, Jesse
Seth rescued Evan Malone from one of the witches, and they’ve fallen in love despite the danger and chaos, going on the road to complete the quest and bring an end to the ritual murders. Their relationship is new, their emotions are raw, and the danger is real. It’s a challenge to find their way as a couple while they’re on the road together in the close quarters of Seth’s RV, training in magic and combat skills to fight off a supernatural killer.
In pursuit of the next witch-disciple, Seth and Evan team up with older hunters Milo and Toby as their quest to stop a century-long killing spree takes them to a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. They’re ahead of the sacrifice cycle, with plans to stop the murders and kill the dark witch. Only this time, the hunters become the hunted when the witch knows they’re coming to get him, and has deadly plans of his own. When their lives are on the line, will love be enough?
Flame and Ash is the third novel in the Witchbane series. It is a MM romance intended for readers 18 years of age and older.
“I’m going to miss Pittsburgh,” Seth Tanner said as he and Evan Malone readied the RV to move out of the campground where they had been since November.
“We’ve stayed in one place longer than I expected,” Evan replied, lending a hand with getting the fifth-wheeler fastened onto the back of Seth’s black Silverado.
“Figured it made the best use of the winter if the next target is in the mountains of North Carolina.” Seth pulled the blocks from beneath the wheels. The truck and RV had belonged to his parents and were going to be their ticket to a retirement full of exploration and adventure. Instead, they’d died in a car accident while Seth was in the hospital recovering from the trauma of his brother Jesse’s gruesome murder.
The murder Seth and Evan were committed to avenge.
“It was nice having friends who know what we really do.” Evan double-checked the fasteners securing the black Hayabusa motorcycle onto the back of the trailer. “I didn’t have to worry about saying something I shouldn’t.”“Those guys really know their stuff,” Seth agreed. Travis Dominick and Brent Lawson were experienced demon hunters who had helped Seth and Evan take out their quarry not long before Christmas. Travis and Brent had welcomed Seth and Evan into their circle of found family, which made the holidays and the worst of the winter weather more comfortable and less lonely. Getting to train with the other hunters in combat skills and lore was a bonus.
“I’d like to come back when we’re done.” Evan sounded wistful. “It was nice having a group, you know? I haven’t really had that since…” His voice trailed off, but Seth knew what his boyfriend meant. Not since Evan’s family and his church kicked him out for being gay.
Seth slung an arm around Evan’s shoulders and pulled him in for a quick kiss. “I do know. And I’m fine with visiting. They’re good people.”
About the Author
Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions. Characters from her Gail books make frequent appearances in secondary roles in her Morgan books, and vice versa.
Other books include Witchbane, Burn, Dark Rivers, and Badlands, Lucky Town, and The Rising, plus Treasure Trail. Watch for more in these series, plus new series coming soon!
I’ll be a Featured Author at GRL in October and also at Coastal Magic in February!
Join my Worlds of Morgan Brice Facebook Group! Get the early scoop on upcoming books and new series, see new covers first, enjoy insider news and special contests and giveaways! Plus it’s where I get my beta readers and launch team!
The course of true love runs through every neighborhood….
Only one thing stands between Gregory MacPherson II and his dream revitalization project for the gritty neighborhood of Ball’s End: a rinky-dink, run-down used bookstore called Hailey’s Comic. But when master negotiator Mac shows up to make a deal with the owner, he comes face-to-face with quirky, colorful Hailey—unexpectedly good-humored about Mac’s attempted eviction and, also unexpectedly, a hot guy.
Hailey won’t give up his lease, no matter how much money Mac offers. When it comes to consummating their mutual attraction, though, he’s a lot more flexible. Soon Mac has as hard a time prying himself out of Hailey’s bed as he does prying Hailey out of the building. But Hailey doubts Mac’s plans serve Ball’s End’s best interests, and he insists Mac give him a chance to prove his case. If they’re going to build a happy ever after, one of them will have to be remade….
GREGORY MacPherson II didn’t have the time or the patience to make a personal trip to a bookstore, but here he was. Alone.
No patrons roamed the narrow aisles formed byoverstuffed bookshelves. No clerk waited at the vintagecash register sitting on top of a linoleum-covered counter barely capable of holding its weight. No one rushed to greet him from behind the tawdry multicolored curtain hanging at the back of the store.
From where he stood only a few feet inside the doorway, leery of allowing anything in the dusty hodgepodge to brush against his suit, he could see straight down the center aisle all the way to the back of the store. It was a thirty- foot-by-sixty-foot shoebox, longer than it was wide, oneof four retail spaces on the ground floor of the six-story brick building and the only one still open. Which was whyGregory MacPherson II, commonly referred to as Mac, had personally dragged himself down here.
How the place could stay in business without any workers, never mind customers, was a mystery he didn’t intend to solve. He was there to shut the place down, not rescue it, though in the few short minutes he’d been exposed to Hailey’s Comic, he could already list a half-dozen ways to improve its profitability.
That sign out front, for instance. It was a purple whirlwind of planets, well done if you were going for an acid-trip vibe, but the name implied there’d be comics, and the sign implied there’d be comets. Or drugs. And from what he could see, there were neither. If an establishment wanted to bring in customers, it needed to make clear theservices it provided and establish confidence that it wouldprovide them well.
Then there was the matter of actually waiting on the customers you did bring in. A bell had tinkled as he’d entered, but apparently only for its own enjoyment.
“Hello?” He raised his voice to a level that couldn’t be ignored and had a brief moment to wonder if he really was completely alone before a head and a hand appeared around the edge of the curtain.
“Mercy, you scared me,” the head said. It belonged to a young man and had a mop of brown hair piled on top of it, a few shades lighter than Mac’s own reddish brown.“Sorry, I didn’t hear the bell. Give me a minute. I’m sort of in flagrante delicto.” The head disappeared.
“In flagrante delicto doesn’t mean naked, you know,” Mac told the air where the head had been. “It means you were caught doing something you shouldn’t have been.Something sexual.”
“Now, now. It’s never wrong to masturbate. There.” The head reappeared, this time attached to a body that gave Mac a startlingly clear vision of how it would look masturbating. The man was stringy, taller than Mac’s six- foot frame, but lean and underdeveloped—the body of aperson who spent a lot of time reading. Or jerking off.
“What can I help you with?” He was in his midtwenties,so perhaps ten years younger than Mac, dressed in jeans laddered with intentional rips, each the same two inches wide, running down his thighs like claw marks. His face was clean-shaven, fresh with his youth, and Mac wondered how his skin would react to having Mac’s tightly trimmed beard rubbed all over it.
“You’re free to browse around, even if I’m not out here.”
Mac added lax security to the mental list he was pointlessly compiling. “I need to speak to the owner.”
Hailey Green, owner of Hailey’s Comic, was the only thing standing in the way of his plans to revitalize this misbegotten section of Ballhaven, which plan started with this very brick building and would ultimately lead to Ball’s End—as everyone called it; he’d have to do something about the branding—becoming the newest hot spot for millennials to eat, drink, shop, and live. Urban revitalization was Mac’s business, and Hailey Green was Mac’s problem.
“Still me,” the man said, tilting his head to the side asif to take in Mac’s appearance more carefully.
Mac hadn’t changed clothes before driving down to Ball’s End, though he could’ve guessed the place would bedirty. He’d been reading a report on the effort to clear 502 Main Street of its tenants and had made an abrupt decisionto come down and take care of ridding the building of its final holdout himself.
About the Author
Tanya Chris writes feminist-friendly romance in a variety of sub-genres and pairings–most especially M/M. Born on the West Coast and raised on the East Coast, she’s fact-based but thirsty for justice, and her books often include an examination of a current social issue, even when they’re set in the past. As a lifelong genre-hopping reader herself, she admires character-driven work with a message, regardless of the form it takes.
Tanya is an avid rock climber, a long-distance runner, and a participant in her local community theater where she has tackled most roles, including playwright, actor, director, producer, and stage manager. Her travels, both for climbing trips and for cultural exploration, have brought her to places as fascinating as Egypt and as beautiful as the Dolomites, though there’s no place like home.
Tanya is best known to readers for having written Aftercare and to writers for the quote “Writer culture is researching what degree is needed to be a paleontologist so your shapeshifting vampire dinosaur erotica will be authentic.” Her website features dozens of free stories, including the aforementioned (and highly authentic) shapeshifting vampire dinosaur erotica.
Wonderland is the hottest club in River City, but it’s time to close. It’s a different world now, and club owner Chester doesn’t see Wonderland having a place in it. What will that mean for resident bartender and hotty bottom Brandon Sweet? Or for headliner, the Queen of Hearts? Or customers like Jesse and Colton, whose open relationship and threeways are the stuff of legend? This group of friends navigate the changes in their lives until one night when everything changes for good.
Brandon Sweet’s first thought on waking up was this isn’t my room.
His second thought was oh god, who is this?
He rolled over, facing away from the stranger next to him, in this strange bed in a strange room. He hadn’t even had that much to drink really. At least, not compared to a weekend night.
It’s the tequila, he thought. I need to stop with the tequila.
“Morning,” the twink next to him said with a moan.
Brandon rolled back over and took him in: brown curls and blue eyes and a smooth slender torso with a whisp of hair on abs that disappeared into the white sheets tangled around his waist. Whoever he was, he was certainly Brandon’s type.
“Morning,” Brandon said, sitting up in bed, letting the sheet drop to his lap. He looked down at his own body, comparing it to the twink beside him. Not bad, for thirty-one, but oh, to be twenty-one again! When he was twenty-one, he could’ve handled twice the tequila he’d had last night, and woken with half the headache. He knew he could have, because he had done just that. Week in, week out, for a decade.
Too early for that train of thought, he told himself.
“I had a really good time last night,” Twink said.
“Me too, me too. Hey, where’s my phone?” He looked on the floor for his clothes.
“Other room. You stripped off as soon as we got here,” Twink said with a smile. “So hot.”
“Hey, what can I say? I know what I want.” Don’t know your name, mind you, but I do remember how badly I wanted to get laid.
He did love a good Thursday night fuck.
“I can’t believe I finally got to fuck THE Brandon Sweet.”
Brandon smiled at him as he stood up. “Hope it was everything you expected.”
Twink reached across the bed to run his hand over Brandon’s abs. “And more!”
Brandon smiled again. “I’m going to get dressed then. Work night.”
“I’ll walk you out.” The twink stood up and yes, Brandon remembered that impressive appendage. Young, hung, and hard – check, check, check.
Had they gone to Brandon’s last night, if he’d woken up with home turf comfort, he’d be pushing Twink back into the bed and climbing aboard to go again. Here though, in a room he didn’t know, with a guy he didn’t know, he suddenly felt vulnerable.
Once he’d slid back into underwear and jeans, it was a bit better. But his phone had 3% power, 32 notifications and it was halfway through the afternoon. He had to get home.
“Hey, my phone’s dead. Can you call an Uber for me?” He hated to ask but…
“Really?” Twink asked. “You said last night you only live a couple blocks away.”
That rang no bells, but Brandon was professional. “Oh yeah, I remember now,” he said, pulling his shirt over his head. “Will you be out later?”
“It’s Friday,” Twink said. “Of course.”
As Twink walked him to the door, Brandon took in the apartment, trying to find something to jog his memory. It was simple, sparse, and wholly unfamiliar. Luckily, as he bent down to tie his Converse, he happened to glance at the fridge, where a photo radar ticket was held by a magnet. With his name in black and white.
“Ok, well, I’ll see you later then, Billy,” he said.
Twink laughed. “You don’t know my name, do you?” he asked. “Billy’s my roommate.”
Fuck. Brandon swallowed and smiled. “Sorry. Tequila. What was it again?”
“Derek.” Twink grabbed Brandon by the belt and pulled him closer, taking his hand and guiding it down. “You’ll remember this at least,” he said.
Brandon smiled again, kissed Derek’s cheek, and bolted out the door.
About the Author
Rob Browatzke has been writing for as long as he can remember, and is pretty darn excited for someone else to be reading his stuff finally! When it comes to gay bars and booze and drugs and drama, he knows what he’s talking about. He came out in the mid-90s, and liquor and drama went hand in hand. He has 20+ years of experience working in gay clubs in Edmonton, Alberta, and his current Wonderlounge is every bit as amazing as Alex’s Wonderland. Rob is now 8+ years clean and sober, although there’s still a bit of drama once in a while, for old times’ sake.
Noah Sinclair Noah Sinclair is best described as an egotistical, pompous, anal retentive, asshat. And those are his better qualities. Lately, Noah has lost touch with his playboy character “Jace” on the show Americana and can’t quite put his finger on why. The studio decides it is time to shake up his character by making him an offer he can’t refuse, literally. They will introduce a new love interest for his character “Jace.” Only this time, there’s a twist. Josh Hill Josh Hill is up a creek and sinking fast. He’s got no job, no money, no credit and is about to be kicked out of his apartment. Opportunity comes in the form of a job offer from the show Americana. Everything should be perfect; only there is one hitch. He will be the new love interest for Noah Sinclair’s character on the beloved show. So, opposites are supposed to attract, right? Not so fast. No one said life was that easy. Both actors find themselves in untested waters. Will they be able to play a same-sex couple with no prior experience authentically? Well, they say practice makes perfect. Carefree, fun-loving Josh and uptight, overbearing Noah, realize they need to make the best of their bad situation and are forced to find common ground. Over time, their roles in each other’s lives become blurred. Is their attraction fake, or is it real? To top it off, Noah has a dark skeleton in his closet that can prevent them from ever moving forward. Can they get on the same page and save both of their careers and their relationship? Or will they end up yesterday’s tabloid fodder?
It’s been almost 10 minutes. Five to go. Fuck.
I have no clue what this meeting is about, and I am not in the mood to be dealing with Steph and Genie’s crap today. Some random stagehand just came back here to let me know my attendance was required. I try to think back and wonder if I personally offended anybody yet today. Hmm… Nope. Not today, anyway.
Steph and Genie are the producers for the show I star on called Americana. It’s a newer concept in programming. The show streams daily on Netflix as an evening drama. Small town life under a microscope is the idea. It’s a modern-day spin on a soap opera really, but there is no way on earth I am admitting to working on a soap opera. The show itself is heavily ingrained in social media where the characters have taken on a life all their own. It’s been almost two years now since they cast me, and the show has been live.
I graduated from college several years ago. After that, I spent a couple of years bar tending and serving. With good parts so scarce, I was lucky to get this opportunity. The show has been a ratings winner, and the entire cast is becoming well known.
What drew me to the part was its unique take on the dissection of America and how different communities have changed over time. Our show takes place in America’s heartland. It focuses on the lives and loves of the residents of Greenfield, Indiana.
My character, Jace, is the town barkeeper. He was a great role to play early on because he had a lot of interaction with the main cast. Lately, though, something has changed, and I’m not feeling in touch with the character as much as I once did. It’s showing in my performance, so I’m sure that’s what this meeting is about.
I’ll bet it has to do with me flubbing lines lately. I haven’t been able to focus, and it looks like they have noticed. My part is getting reduced to nothing. Maybe this is the kick in the pants I need to move on. Ash, one of my castmates on the show, mentioned that they are having open auditions for a new show on FOX. Who knows, it may work out for a season or two. The only thing is that FOX has a bad reputation for short-term junky shows.
Maybe they aren’t going to renew my contract. Oh god. I’m being sacked. I can see it now. Gah, I’m already planning my pity party table for one.
I reluctantly get up from my chair, padding out of the room, trying hard not to make eye contact with anyone. I arrive at the end of the hall and hold my hand on the doorknob. “Okay here it goes,” I say to no one in particular.
I enter the room and see Genie and Steph seated across from each other around a large square glass table. Steph is probably in his early 40s, (never can tell for sure in Hollywood), smallish frame with short sandy brown hair, mischievous eyes and a car salesman smile. He is kicking back with his half-eaten Subway sandwich hanging out of his mouth.
Genie looks up to see me. She has her requisite Starbucks Spiced Vanilla Chai Latte and is eating some salad that looks unhealthier than Steph’s meatball sub. “Noah, right on time, per usual.”
“Hey, guys.” I’m hoping to keep good vibes flowing.
Steph says, “Come on in and take a seat. Shut the door behind you.”
Oh boy, that doesn’t sound good. I move toward the desk, taking a chair next to the window, moving it in close next to Genie. The smell of the eggs on her salad is strong. Steph takes a napkin to his lips to wipe the marinara sauce off and starts talking.
“Noah, you’ve been here for over a year, right?”
“Uh, yeah, almost two years next month.”
“So, you’re up for contract negotiations then, right?”
“Yeah, I haven’t talked with my agent about it yet.”
“Well, that is what Genie and I would like to discuss.”
I swear the smell of the eggs is getting stronger. It is permeating the entire atmosphere.
“You know we get the daily stats on the show’s overall performance and having talked; we decided we are going to have to make some changes.”
It’s coming. I feel it. With the show being purely streaming, it is easy for the showrunners to pull up all types of analytics on the show, like what age group is watching, and income bracket. Annoyingly, they can also track what parts of the show are being watched and skipped over. A favorite character will have higher click averages than a third tier one. With my part being scaled back so much, I’m fairly sure my numbers are in the gutter. For sure I’m getting the boot. I start sweating.
Genie jumps in and says, “Your numbers have been pretty consistent, but not growing at the pace we would like to see.” All I can smell now is the nauseating stench of eggs. I am going to puke. Right here. Right now. Right on their fancy $3000 glass table.
Genie looks at me with concern in her eyes. “Are you okay? You don’t look so hot. Would you like a glass of water?” She jumps up from the table to grab me a glass. Her dark hair is nearly falling out of the messy bun at the back of her head.
“Yeah, that would be great.” She comes back and sets the glass down in front of me. I pick it up and drink slowly. My throat is constricted, and I nearly choke. She is still concerned and looks over to Steph. She pushes her black-framed glasses up on her nose and turns back to me.
Sensing my stress, she quickly says, “We are thinking of taking your character into a new direction.”
“A new direction? Okay, what were you guys thinking about?”
Steph says, “We’ve done some marketing research and have found some niches that we think will work well for our show.” He crams in another mouthful of sub.
Ever the tag team, Genie says, “It’s a direction that may be more challenging, but we think given your range that you would best be able to play the role.”
“What’s the direction you were thinking?”
She looks over to Steph, then back at me. “Your character, Jace Alexander will enter into a relationship with a new character, named Max.”
“Max? Well, what is Maxine’s backstory?” I let out a huge breath. They had me there for a minute.
“It’s just Max, not Maxine. Specifically, Max Shephard,” Steph says.
Slowly my head starts to wrap around what they are saying. “So, wait, Max is a guy?”
“Yep,” they say in unison.
“You made him gay?”
“Look, Noah, I know this is a real shock, but think of it this way. You will have a unique storyline, and it will get people back into your character again,” says Steph. “It’s been what, a year now since Jace broke up with Gracie? The character has just been drifting, and we need to get that viewership back.”
“Are you kidding me? How the hell am I supposed to play gay? This is so far out of my league. I—”
“I’m going to be honest with you,” Steph says, finally having put this sub down. “Genie and I had to go to bat for you to keep you on the show. They were ready to cut you. We pulled this idea out that we had a little while ago and they went for it. So basically, you stay on the show on the condition that you accept this storyline. Otherwise, they are releasing you at the end of your contract.”
I sit back in my chair, dumbstruck. I look between the two of them and see there is no way out. I have no words.
Genie says, “I know you feel blindsided and I don’t blame you for being upset but think about this rationally. This is the opportunity you have been waiting for. A chance to stretch your acting skills.”
Then she pulls forward in her chair, she grabs my hand and looks me in the eye. “You don’t have to answer right now. Think about it over the weekend, and we can all talk about it again on Monday.”
I don’t say a word, still unmoving and dazed.
“We have an audition video for the actor we have in mind. Why don’t you take this copy and see if you think you can make this work?”
Wordlessly, I take the flash drive and get up to leave. I go back to my dressing room and finally lose the contents of my stomach.
About the Author
T.L. always hated math, so it was a good thing she had a way with words. Since she was a shy and quirky kid; words were her best friends. She would imagine entire worlds in her head and talk to herself endlessly. Her mother wondered if she was speaking with ghosts for a while.
Her older sister was a voracious reader of trashy romance novels and would pass them down to her after she had finished them. T.L. was the only 10-year-old kid sitting in class reading “The Stud” by Jackie Collins during reading time. Oddly enough, she never got called out on it.
As she grew older, her tastes evolved, but one thing held fast; her undying attachment to love stories. One day out of the blue, she decided to write the love stories she always wanted to read instead of searching for her story. Since then, writing has been a dream fulfilled for her and she could not be happier.
She enjoys writing about love, regardless of gender and is a proud supporter of the LGBTQ community.
T.L. calls the Pacific Northwest her home and enjoys the quiet rural life of her little oceanside home with her playful/crazy husband and their giant dog Noah.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer covering LGBTQ+ affairs. As a member of the queer community, our issues don’t get enough press and I see it as my job to shine a light on the many amazing things we’ve achieved. To help me out, my dad sets me up with an internship at his best friend’s company, which is a place that puts out a weekly newsmagazine. It’s perfect because I can use this opportunity to write about gay-centric issues to my heart’s content. But the problem is that the boss doesn’t necessarily see it that way. Dane, my dad’s friend, is handsome, forbidding, and dare I say it? A little scary. He’s used to giving orders, taking risks, and making money hand over fist. Despite being gay himself, he doesn’t want me to use his paper as a platform for our community because he says quote-unquote: “It won’t sell.” Since when has everything become about money? Have we, as a society, lost our moral compass? Even more important, how can I change his mind? On the one hand, sparks fly whenever Dane and I clash. But on the other, can I really be with a man who won’t stand up for the cause closest to my heart?
I took on Chris as an intern as a favor to my oldest friend. After Nick begged, cajoled, and pleaded, I agreed on a three-month summer internship for his son. With an emphasis on temporary. Chris and I weren’t even supposed to cross paths because as the boss, I don’t really interact with newbie reporters. Yet the moment he walked into my office, I knew that Chris was going to be trouble. The young man is lively, forceful, and hell-bent on writing stories that highlight the achievements of the gay community. Of course I support him, at least on some level. After all, I’m a member of the LGBTQ+ community myself, and proud of the discrimination we’ve overcome, not to mention the acceptance we’ve achieved. As a result, I have nothing against his ideas per se, except that they won’t sell very many papers. Does that make sense? As a player in capitalist society, we have to market our wares in order to survive. But why can’t Chris understand my point of view? Sure, everyone knows that the publishing industry is in jeopardy and facing a sea change in terms of how we do business. But how can I make the young man see this? How can I help him understand that the world is more complicated than it appears, and that sometimes, we work for many masters and wear many hats simultaneously? Most importantly, how can I convince Chris that I’m worthy of his love when his commitment to LGBTQ causes may outweigh his affection for me?
***This is a full-length MM novel with no cliffhangers and a happily ever after.***
After we check into our hotel and drop our bags off, Dane and I stroll hand-in-hand down the main streets. We take in the sights, window shop, people watch, and soak in the perfect summer weather. It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon but not too humid today. Everything looks straight out of a postcard. We see kids in khaki shorts and Sperry deck shoes riding beach cruisers, eating ice cream, and laughing so loud they leave our ears ringing. We pass a coffee shop and I practically drag Dane inside, even though I had two espressos before we left this morning.
As we’re sipping our drinks, I take the opportunity to mention some LGBTQ issues that could potentially be included in Globix publications. There’s one about how fundraising for LGBTQ issues is particularly challenging given the current political climate, and another one pertaining to an upcoming Supreme Court case.
“What do you think?” I ask casually, my heart beating with anticipation. Hopefully Dane likes the ideas and assigns me to report these stories.
He’s noncommittal, merely squeezing my hand and looking off into the distance.
“It’s a beautiful view,” he says in a low voice. “I love this part of the Northeast.”
I shoot him an even look.
“No seriously, Dane. You know these issues are important to our community. What do you think of the fundraising article? Or the Supreme Court case? Front page stuff, right?”
This time, he turns to look at me and sighs deeply.
“Chris, what did I tell you about the Supreme Court?”
“Nothing,” I answer stoutly. “Why?”
Dane muses a bit for a moment.
“You’re right. I never did mention how I feel about those stories, and how they play out for our business. Well, I’m not going to hold back because I think you need to hear it, sweetheart: stories like that, as compelling as they are, don’t speak to our readers. Our readership likes mainstream stuff, even if it pains me to say it.”
I wrinkle my nose.
“What are you talking about? This is mainstream. We are mainstream. That’s what we’re trying to do!”
Dane sighs again.
“No, Chris, we’re not mainstream yet. A small, yet significant proportion of the population identifies as queer in some way, but we’re not there quite yet. And because we’re not there, it means that most of the people buying our papers are straight. They want to hear about issues that pertain to them, or they want to hear about fun human interest tidbits. They don’t want to hear about cut and dried Supreme Court decisions, and they definitely don’t want to hear about fundraising. It’s not going to sell papers.”
I stop and stare at him.
“But we have to feature these articles because we want to become mainstream. Only by including these stories will we make a dent in the overall American consciousness. Don’t you want to do that? Isn’t that a worthy goal?”
Dane sighs again and his shoulders slump a bit.
“Of course I do, but there’s this thing called revenue, and also Globix’s board. I answer to them, and if we don’t deliver good figures, you know what happens? I’m out of there, and so are you, frankly.”
I’m stunned. How can this be? I can’t believe that Dane would nix an idea because LGBTQ issues aren’t what our readers want to read about. Sadly, it makes a sick sort of sense and I turn to him with a horrified expression.
“When’s the last time we featured an LGBTQ-centric article?” I ask in a quavery voice.
The publisher merely looks down.
“It’s probably been two months,” he says in a low voice. “And that’s if you don’t count how Charlize Theron is raising her oldest child as a transgender girl.”
My heart pounds painfully in my chest. Oh my god, I had no idea. Or I did, but I had no idea it was this bad. I seize his hand.
“Well, we can feature more,” I say in a rush. “There’s plenty of space in a couple of the newsmagazines, and I’m sure I can get two or three articles ready in no time –”
Dane cuts me off.
“No Chris,” he says in a low voice. “That’s not going to help. The long and the short of it is that sometimes, we have to wait for the world to be ready for us, and right now? It’s ready, but not that ready. We can’t force a slew of LGBTQ pieces down readers’ throats because they’ll never buy our stuff then. A small trickle of gay-friendly stories is okay, but we can’t make them drink from a fire hose.”
I stand frozen in place. This is so difficult to swallow, but I make myself nod.
“Yes of course you’re right,” I say, still trying to catch my breath. “Revenue matters. Keeping readers engaged matters.”
And the thing is, I actually believe these things, but the revelation is still devastating. What’s more important? Money or the cause close to my heart? I swallow and take Dane’s hand again, and we begin to walk once more.
It’s moments like these when I feel like I’m in over my head. Dane knows so much about the practical realities of business, whereas I know so little. But am I willing to let go of what I love in order to succumb to the gods of money? Or will the realities of capitalism pull me apart from this man whom I adore?
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He was supposed to hurt him. Ruin him. Instead, he fell in love.
In the big, bad city, Eric West holds the reins. A mafia king, he is feared, ruthless, and obsessed with a man half his age.
Will, his favorite whore, is young, beautiful, and the only person to ever bring him to his knees.
Will is a man to kill for.
A man to change for.
But what if Will isn’t what he seems?
*** Broken News is a standalone M/M romancefeaturing age gap, detailed adult content, violence, hurt/comfort, and mentions of rape/dubious consent.***
Miss Catherine paused. “He’s been waiting,” she whispered and walked away. The only evidence of her presence was the sound of velvet dragging on carpet as she disappeared barefoot, back to her other guests.
The rest was up to Eric. Of course he’d flown first class from London but hoped he didn’t smell too much like airplane upholstery and cheap wine. He straightened his tie and adjusted his suit. He ran the palms of his hands over his slick, blond hair and took one long, deep breath before opening the door.
The room was as he imagined, cast in shadows of firelight, and a man stood facing the front window. He had the edge of a heavy curtain raised as he stared into the city’s night. At the sound of the door closing, the man turned—if he could be considered a man. He more resembled a wide-eyed teen, but beautiful, so very beautiful.
Eric sighed, smiled, and shook his head. “My God,” he said.
Dark eyes appraised him. “I could say the same.”
They both took steps forward, which brought Eric’s new whore further into the orange light. Pressed to guess an age—and knowing Le Chateau only hired whores at least twenty-one or older—Eric guessed twenty-two at most. He wore the body and face of a youth but bearing of a confident man. His hair was black—short on the sides, long on top—and shined with the midnight luster of a thoroughbred’s flank. His eyes were shining, dark pools in the firelight but probably brown in the sun. He had high cheekbones, an angular jaw, and skin the color of untouched morning snow. Despite the poised demeanor, he was small in stature and frame, dressed in a black suit Eric imagined had been sewn for him, stitch by invisible stitch. Despite all the young man’s beautiful accouterments, it was his mouth that deserved worship, possibly idols built: a mouth so full, lush, and decadent, Eric was already half hard.
He stepped into the stranger’s space, towering almost a foot above the young whore, and opened the man’s suit coat. Eric ran his palms over slim sides and thumbed at the tops of jutting hipbones. Then, Eric bent forward with his mouth half open and sucked one wet, gentle kiss against the side of his neck. He smelled like spicy cologne and scotch.
“What’s your name?” He ran the tip of his nose over the stranger’s earlobe.
“Will,” he said.
“My name is Eric.”
Eric pulled back enough to see a small smile on Will’s face. His teeth were white and perfectly, perfectly straight.
“You must have cost a lot of money,” Eric said.
Will stepped forward and rubbed his nose across Eric’s carved chin. He practically breathed his response into Eric’s mouth: “And worth every penny.”
With that mouth so close, Eric was done talking. He slid one of his hands behind Will’s head and took hold to the back of his neck. His thumb was lost in soft black hair as he pulled Will even closer until their lips met. Eric moved slowly and savored the pliant softness. Will opened his mouth and allowed Eric’s tongue inside. Not only did he smell like scotch but tasted like it, too—something expensive with a lingering edge of vanilla. Eric’s other hand went to Will’s lower back and pressed their bodies together, which earned him a deep, delightful moan from his new toy.
About the Author
Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, model, mental health speaker, and LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, she lives in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is author of the Bite Somebody series and Escape Trilogy, among other sexy things.