Lance has loved Arthur for nearly a thousand years but has never had the courage to act on it—‘til now.
After being away at college for a year, Lance Lotte returns to Avalon, Kentucky for the summer. Due to self-imposed isolation, he hasn’t seen anyone in months, but all that changes when Arthur–his closest friend, and the love of his life–shows up to his new job with a big toothy grin. The last time Lance saw Arthur, the two had not parted on the best of terms–with Arthur’s father finding them asleep on his bed, and physically wrenching Lance away from Arthur. The incident put a strain on their relationship, and convinced Lance that they will never be allowed to be together. But then Arthur sends Lance a text one night, telling him that he’s in love with him–a text Lance rereads at least a hundred times, but isn’t brave enough to mention when they’re alone. Lance has fought his attraction to Arthur for the past five years because as a budding brujo, he believes in magick, destiny, and fate–that everything happens for a reason–that nothing good will come of an Arthur Pendragon-Lance A. Lotte pairing. With the help of his sister, Gwen Lotte, Arthur, and two twins visiting their uncle for the summer, Mordy and Morgan Lafayette, Lance learns the true meaning of friendship, and just how far he will go to save the people he loves.
Arthur laces up his other boot and says, “I asked if you were seeing anyone at the moment.” The question slithers its way up my neck and squeezes at my throat, cutting off my oxygen. Arthur has a way of doing this to me, and I know by the way he asked the question that it’s been on his mind for some time now. “I don’t really have time to do much other than study, you know?” I say, taking a seat on the black futon in the living room. “I’m kind of boring.” Arthur straightens his back and unbuttons his pants, then tucks in his shirt. “Well,” he replies, “I don’t plan on doing anything this summer other than working, and trying to spend as much time with you as I can. How does that sound?” My phone buzzes and I pull it out of my pocket. Gwen has finally responded, but instead of an apology, she’s texted a picture of two men dressed in black leather, kissing. I roll my eyes and shove the phone back into my pocket. Ass. When I raise my head, I see Arthur staring at me. “What?” I ask, hoping that he didn’t see Gwen’s text. “What is it?” He sits down beside me on the futon and fixes my shirt collar. “I’m just waitin’ for you to ask me if I’m seeing anyone,” he says, not meeting my eyes. Arthur hasn’t always been so forward, but in the year that I’ve been away, he’s become a proper man. Working a full-time job, living by himself, driving his own car and paying all of his bills—a truly admirable thing for a man who’s not quite nineteen years old. I don’t know how he does it. I swallow and look down at the relatively fresh tattoos on my knuckles. They’re not peeling anymore, but they have started itching, and I silently chide myself for not keeping lotion in my bag. The moon on my thumb is the worst offender. “Are you seeing anyone?” My question is barely audible. “Nope,” he says, buttoning and unbuttoning my collar. “I’m as single as it gets.” “That’s not what your Instagram suggests,” I say, catching his hands mid-buttoning. Our eyes finally meet. “Looks like you have a different girl every week.” Arthur bites his bottom lip and wags his head. “You know everything posted on the Internet ain’t real life. And besides, I wouldn’t lie to ya.”
Arthur has asked me out twice now, and both times I have turned him down because I’m not ready for a relationship. Or rather, I’m not ready to have my heart broken by this man. It’s one of the reasons why I didn’t come home this past year. Actually, he’s the main reason, if I’m being completely honest with myself. The moment I first laid eyes on Arthur, I knew he would be my undoing. I can’t resist a man with blond hair and brown eyes—they make for a deadly concoction when combined.
About the Author
Equal parts dandy and disaster, Jackson C. Garton is a writer and LGBTQ activist hailing from the hills of Appalachia. He currently resides in Central Kentucky with his husband, child, and four cats. When Jackson isn’t reading or writing, you can find him examining people’s natal charts, researching queer history, planning his next ghost hunt, or milling about the supernatural section of his local bookstore.
Beautiful Beast is a light tale of lust and love, about a beautiful dancer who keeps a wild beast locked inside him, and the man who sets it free.
Kevin used to hold himself back, trying to keep his less conventional desires to himself. With Joakim, he feels free. It’s almost as if Joakim can read Kevin’s subconscious, touching the right places at exactly the right time, and whispering the most shameless things…filthy, and oh so satisfying.
Falling for Kevin is easy. Joakim can feel it happening and he’s powerless to do anything about it. With every touch, his desire grows. Men have chased him for his money and status before, but Kevin doesn’t seem to care about any of that. Maybe this time, Joakim should let himself fall, and hope the landing will be soft.
Joakim recognized him immediately. Kevin’s heart-shaped, plump lips stretched in a careful smile; he was stunning. There weren’t good enough words to describe the man’s angelic face. Light blue eyes, big, round and sparkling, with long lashes. His nose was small and perfectly straight, cheekbones high and sharply cut, jawline soft and boyish, even though the thin lines on his forehead said he must be closer to thirty than twenty. Kevin had an exquisite face and an exquisite smile.
He moved like the dancer he was, drifting gracefully among the people in the crowded restaurant until he stood close to the tall table Joakim waited by. He blinked nervously, and those full lips parted. Joakim wanted to suck on them, see if they turned a darker shade of red… And he was just sitting there, gaping like a fool. Realizing his mistake, he jumped up from his seat to welcome his date properly. The chair scraped on the floor, making an awful sound over the sultry music in the restaurant. Joakim winced.
“Sorry,” he said. “Hi. Hello. Lovely to finally meet you properly.”
“Hi,” Kevin said and smiled a shy smile, which would have buckled Joakim’s knees if he hadn’t been leaning on the table with one hand.
“Hi,” he repeated dumbly. Then he had to laugh. “Sorry, I’m just…” He gestured helplessly at Kevin and shook his head. He’d spent the past few days telling himself it was nothing. Just a lark. But now the beautiful creature that had been following him in his dreams was here in the flesh, and Joakim floundered like he never had before. Could he at least stay coherent, for fuck’s sakes?
“What?” Kevin said, perplexed. He looked down, perusing his own body, probably looking for stains or an open fly.
“No! God, no. You look great. I’m just a bit stunned, that’s all. I’ll put myself back together in a minute, I promise.”
Kevin only looked more bewildered.
“Sit down,” Joakim said decisively. “Sit, and we’ll have a drink. I definitely need it.”
Kevin chuckled, still puzzled, and sat opposite Joakim at the tall round table. The chairs were as high as bar stools but more comfortable with plush armrests. Joakim couldn’t help but follow the lines of Kevin’s body with his gaze as the man settled into his chair, all long, slim limbs and graceful movements. He was dressed casually, in light beige chinos, tight over his sculpted thighs and calves, a blue button-up with a fine pink flowery print, and a silver-gray jacket. His clothes and movements had that subtle feminine flair Joakim always admired. It spoke of courage and honesty, of being comfortable with your true self. Combined with the shine of his blond, windswept hair and his milky skin, Kevin shone in the dim restaurant like a fucking supernova.
Joakim was still staring. Say something normal. Anything! Joakim only thought of telling Kevin he was the most gorgeous being he’d ever seen in his whole damned life, but he stopped himself. Other than that, nothing came. First date, dammit. You’ve done this hundreds of times. Get a grip.
Kevin was nervous now, fiddling with his sleeve, and he looked at Joakim from the corner of his eye. Joakim realized that in order to restart his brain, he needed to look away. Tearing his gaze away from Kevin was painful, but Joakim managed to steer his attention to the bar. Look, there are glasses and shakers. Bottles. Personnel. A bartender. Say something normal.
“They have cocktails, but there’s also sake. They’re known for their great sake selection. Or Japanese beer? Lager?” And now he was rambling. Jesus! After an epic dry spell, I finally meet a man I actually want to impress, and that’s when my intellect decides to take a day off? Really?
“Sake sounds great. I haven’t had sake in ages.”
“You’re in for a treat. They’re quite busy, so we might have to wait a tiny bit longer, but the food is worth it.”
“I trust you,” Kevin said with a soft smile, and Joakim’s brain scrambled again.
“Wow, I can’t even look at you,” he blurted.
Kevin’s eyes widened. He blinked, obviously at a loss as to what to say and jumping to the wrong conclusions already.
“No! Shit, sorry. Not like that. I… your face is very distracting.”
Still confused, Kevin parted his amazing mouth to speak, but Joakim intercepted him. “You are beautiful, Kevin. Gorgeous. And it’s messing with my head a little. I’ll be fine in a minute. I better stop babbling before you run away.”
“I… erm. Thank you?”
Joakim had to laugh at the sincere bewilderment of the man.
“Let’s order some sake,” Joakim said, trying to climb out of the hole he’d managed to dig himself during the first two minutes of the date.
“Yeah. I think I need a drink too,” Kevin said in a perfectly natural voice, and Joakim thanked all the gods and all the elements and Kevin for saving him from lethal embarrassment. Joakim could talk about food and sake without saying something stupid. He was almost sure he could.
About the Author
Queer fiction author Roe Horvat was born in the post-communist wasteland of former Czechoslovakia. Equipped with a dark sense of sarcasm, Roe traveled Europe and finally settled in Sweden. He came out as transgender in 2017 and has been fabulous since. He loves Jane Austen, Douglas Adams, bad action movies, stand-up comedy, pale ale, and daiquiri. When not hiding in the studio doing graphics, he can be found trolling cafés in Gothenburg, writing, and people-watching.
Not all vampires are idly rich. Some of them have day jobs. Er, night jobs.
In a world struggling to come to grips with the existence of vampires, where reactions range from excitement to fear to determined disbelief, these vampires are just trying to make ends meet. Some of them do mundane work—like waiting tables or driving a cab. Others have more prestigious careers in medicine and crime prevention. But what all their jobs have in common is people. Unpredictable, interesting, frustrating, hostile, helpless, tasty people.
Whether they’re pouring drinks, answering phones, hacking into a computer system, or serving up the perfect food/wine pairing, these working stiffs are too busy to fall in love. Or are they?
This International Workers Day, celebrate by sinking your teeth into thirteen awesome stories about vampires at work. Because even the undead have to earn a living.
Proceeds benefit the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
Bad Blood by Lyra Evans
Dr. Alek Matsouka and Dr. James Crawford have been at each other’s throats since the first night of their ER residency. And not in the way that gets Alek fed. He doesn’t know why Crawford is so hostile—whether he’s an anti-Vampire bigot or just hates that Alek is the better doctor—but Alek does like to provoke the arrogant prick. When their competitive antics get the better of them one night and a case takes a dangerous turn, both doctors will have to face the truth of their bad blood—or risk their careers.
Bad Decision by H.L Day
A stranger searching for a night of ecstasy with a vampire. A cabbie with the irrational urge to stop him from making the worst decision of his life. The next few hours could be lifechanging for both men.
Call My Number by Megs Pritchard
He always calls when I’m working. He has my direct number too. We both know why he does, but he knows I won’t accept his obvious invitation… until I do. How will he react, my sweet human, when his vampire comes calling?
Dial a Vamp by Roberta Blablanski
Wyatt’s life is in a total slump and working as a phone sex operator doesn’t help his frustrations. After a century, being a vampire is getting old and losing its appeal. He feels stuck and aimless, until one phone call changes his immortal life.
Fangs for the Memories by Sadie Jay
Rollie Brown was 20 years old when he staked his vampire boyfriend. Now, fifteen years later, he’s discovered Alex is alive, bartending, and more forgiving than Rollie deserves. They might have a second chance at love—but first they have to rescue Rollie’s wayward ex.
Fire and Ice Cold Skin by Mel Gough
When a firefighter takes pity on a gorgeous young man who has been made homeless by a blaze, he has no idea who he’s invited into his home—and soon into his heart.
How To Keep an Author (Alive) by AJ Sherwood
The funny thing about living forever is that you still have bills to pay, which is why Justus is now working for JD Cooper. The man is a writing raconteur—known to craft a mean mystery—but he’s one step away from hoarder level. When Justus takes a job as his housekeeper, he expects eccentricity. But he gets so much more.
Graveyard Cops by Crystel Greene
Police officer Jesse Hendricks, twenty-one since 1900 and hating being a vampire, is secretly in love with his patrol partner Angelico “Lico” DiMarco. Chronically upbeat Lico doesn’t believe in anything supernatural, thankfully, but he keeps teasing Jesse for his vampire-like reserve, pallor, and beauty in the most annoying of ways. Then, one fateful night, Jesse is injured with a silver blade and needs to feed to survive. Lico steps up and saves him—body and soul.
Life Hacks by Eliott Griffen
Josh is a corporate big shot, living the life he thought he wanted. Vin is a vampire on the hunt, with zero self-confidence and a truckload of regrets. Living on opposite sides of the equation, they have nothing in common, until one day their lives collide in the worlds of ones and zeros.
Long Haul by Tanya Chris
When Vlad intervenes to stop a shakedown in progress, he doesn’t plan on keeping the young sex worker he saves, but Silver has an irresistible tenacity. He also has a little something extra in his blood—something that drives Vlad wild in both good and bad ways.
Off the Menu by R.J. Sorrento
Johnny Russo, a newbie-vampire and chef, refuses to feed from humans. His new job at a Chicago restaurant is going well until he’s forced to work with Nate Beaumont, a handsome but snobby sommelier with an intoxicating scent. The tension between them builds for weeks, and Johnny fights the urge to feed. Despite first impressions, they could be good together if Johnny can be himself. But feeding from Nate might make him feel less than human, and Johnny would be crushed if Nate sees him as a novelty instead of boyfriend material.
Overexposed by K. Evan Coles
Crime scene photographer Noah Green may be the only vampire employed by the NYPD’s Crime Scene Unit, but he keeps his head down and stays focused on the work. While shooting a murder scene one night, Noah is dismayed to discover he knows the only witness, bakery manager Dan Kaes, a human who has intrigued Noah from their very first meeting. Combining forces with the police to keep their witness safe, Noah welcomes Dan into his home, only to find that keeping him at arm’s length is harder than he ever imagined.
Quality Assured by Edie Montreux
Quality Analyst Kellan Ford doesn’t know what to expect when Medicorp overnight representative Derek Houston’s calls aren’t recording properly. Kellan’s side-by-side evaluation turns into an early-morning field trip and changes everything Kellan knows about vampires. Is he doomed to die at the hands of vampires like his sister did, or can Derek offer him a new lease on life?
Short excerpt from Fangs for the Memories by Sadie Jay
I tried to not stare but I couldn’t help myself. He was exactly the same except his long white hair was streaked with a rainbow of colors and pulled up into a messy bun. An inch taller than my five foot nine, he was straight and lanky. There was no curve to him at all, not an ounce of fat. Under the sleeves of his dress shirt, I pictured his ropey forearms with raised veins, easy to trace with a fingertip, while his hip and rib bones would be well defined under his skin. I admittedly have a thing for skinny men.
I still saw his translucent albino skin in my dreams, and his silvery blue eyes that darkened with anger. Or with desire. His feathery white eyelashes, his straight nose, his thin lips framing his over-wide mouth. When I’d met him, back when I was 19 and taking night classes, I thought he was the most exotic, beautiful person I’d ever met.
He still was.
Excerpt from How to Keep an Author (Alive) by AJ Sherwood
“I need to know how to tie a person down like this on the table and make it realistic. I mean, can I tie down both legs? Or would that make it too awkward for the attacker?”
Rubbing at my forehead, I tried for patience. “Coop. I’ve never tied someone down for sex. I have no idea.”
He came up on an elbow, looking at me curiously. “Really? Oh, right, the vampire-sexual-feeding thing. How does that work, anyway?”
“There’s a mild aphrodisiac in our saliva that—you know what, I’m not having this conversation with you.”
Cooper didn’t pout, but it was a near thing. He loved asking me questions about vampirism and how it all worked. Often inappropriate questions, at that.
“Okay, tell me later. For now, come help me figure this out. I’m stuck on this scene until I do.”
After two months of dealing with these sorts of weird requests, I’d more or less become immune to them. At least he hadn’t tried to smother me in my sleep again. It made sense that he’d gone through a housekeeper every month before my arrival. A lot of the help he asked for bordered on sexual harassment. Like now. He honestly didn’t mean it that way, though, which was why I was willing to play along.
Shrugging, I abandoned my wall perch to come forward. “You said the potential victim is a man?”
“Yes.” Cooper smiled, delighted I was cooperating.
“Hmmm. Yeah, I don’t think you can tie both legs down.” Knowing he would prefer a hands-on approach, I grabbed the leg tied down and hoisted it up as much as I could. “And even this is too tight. I can’t roll your hips up and into position like this. And think, too, pants have to come off, at least partway.”
“All very good points and what made me wonder. The few times I’ve had anal sex—”
I about swallowed my tongue. Just what had he casually confessed?!
“—I was on hands and knees, so I wasn’t sure.” Cooper did an awkward half-crunch. “So, say my character is in this position. Loosen that rope, let me see how much play has to be there. Yeah, okay, like that. Can you—”
This man, seriously. He was bad for my heart. He kept tapping into emotions I didn’t know I had, and he did it effortlessly and in strange ways that ambushed my guard. I liked him. I knew I did, but it was a precarious situation. I had no idea how he felt about me because his behavior was so oddball, I found him impossible to read.
Take this situation right now. Someone with a crush would use this situation to perhaps slyly flirt or signal their interest. But he was just trying to experiment and prove a point. Right…? I think. It left me in a strange emotional limbo because I didn’t know how to react to him. I knew what he wanted me to do, but I hesitated, because I had a feeling something would change if I did. If I even mimicked having sex with him, it would unlock a door in my head I’d kept chained shut. And yet.
I moved like I’d been hypnotized, because touching him like that was too much of a temptation. Even with clothes in the way. I moved in and set my groin against his ass, lifting his legs up to make the position possible. It looked awkward and uncomfortable on his part.
Cooper’s expression didn’t betray any awkwardness, though. His lips parted as he stared up at me with a sort of bludgeoned surprise. A blush spread across his pale skin, and his breath quickened a touch.
An impulse stole over me—to lean in, to close the gap between our bodies, to get him off this damn table. He was all warm skin, the heat of him pouring into me even through our jeans. I could feel his leg twitch, the urge to wrap around my waist clear, and I wanted that quite badly. Oh god. Oh god, he was attracted to me after all. That reaction was unmistakable. But did that mean I should act on it? He was still my employer. What if this went very, very wrong?
“Should I leave?”
The female voice startled me so badly I dropped Cooper’s legs.
Everyone deserves a second chance in life and love.
Chieftain Kalthekor Valzadari is an elf with many regrets. Once a man concerned only with what would bring glory to his tribe at the expense of people he should’ve protected, everything changes when his son is born. Trapped in a loveless matebond, Kalthekor wants to leave his old life behind, but he is bound for eternity. Still, he can’t help but wish for freedom and a relationship as rich in joy as those around him.
Although Aristos Centaurus is brother to the leader of the Centaurs, he is unable to forgive or forget that he once spent centuries committing inexcusable acts of war. With so much blood on his hands, he cannot ignore that he should have been sentenced to death. Aris might help the centaurs now, but he keeps his distance, knowing better than to befriend any of his brethren. He doesn’t deserve happiness or love, but he yearns for it nonetheless.
A misunderstanding sends Aris from the isolation of his brother’s house to Council Headquarters, where he finds himself staring into Kalthekor’s blue eyes. After an instant connection, both are ready to have a partner, and believe they can find what they need in each other. As the pair build a life and a home together, Kalthekor and Aristos realize that although they have created a wonderful foundation based on friendship and love, if they are to move forward as a family, they must find a way to face and reconcile their pasts. Only fate knows if it will tear them apart or if a blissful future awaits them.
About the Author
Jessamyn Kingley lives in Nevada where she begs the men in her head to tell her their amazing stories which she dutifully writes it all down in what has become a small mountain of notebooks. She falls in love with each couple and swears whatever book she wrote last is her absolute favorite.
Jessamyn is married and working toward remembering to start the dishwasher without being distracted by the scent of the magical detergent. For personal enjoyment, she aids in cat rescue while slashing and gashing her way through mobs in various MMORPGs. Caffeine is her very best friend and is only cast aside briefly for the sin better known as BBQ potato chips.
I’m stuck in a straight guy’s apartment. How am I supposed to deal with this?
I hadn’t planned on living with Ross very long. I just needed a place to stay to get on my feet after a bad break up, and happened to be friends with his sister. But when the shelter in place order comes down, not only do I lose any chance of finding my own space; my bartending job dries up, too. And Ross is taking this order very seriously. He grew up in a family of Montana doomsday preppers, and his rules are very clear: we’ve got three months of food, and neither of us is leaving—for any reason. I don’t have a ton of money, and there are bills to pay. But there are a few different ways to make some cash online—especially when the rest of the world is shut inside, too, and need something to entertain them. Who would have imagined I would end up on a cam site entertaining guys from all over the world just by being myself and having fun? So long as I wait until Ross goes to sleep before I log on, anyway—I definitely do not want him to know what I’m up to on his couch. But Ross is full of surprises, it turns out. And I guess I am too. Because what I end up sharing with him is something I’ve never shared with anyone before. I just worry that things are about to get very complicated. Because every gay boy knows the cardinal rule: Never, ever fall for the straight guy.
“Holy… shit,” I muttered. I looked at the camera. “Did you guys see that?”
@LuckyTom: That was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in my life.
@Look3r123: Shit, is he okay? Is he breathing? Did he die?
@YourDad57: Russ I think you killed him, brother. What’s in your cum?
I laughed, and swiped a bit from the end of my cock, and looked at it like I was seriously wondering. “Hell, I don’t know. Maybe I have a super power. What do you think, Cal?”
Cal opened his eyes, and I angled the iPad to make sure he was fully in frame. He shook his head, and waved a hand. “I don’t know. Gotta be something, though. Here, let me…” he reached for my arm.
I let him take my hand, and he pulled it close and closed his lips around my fingertip, nursing the drop of cum off it. He shook his head once it was clean. “Not sure. Not enough of a sample.”
I grunted, and grabbed the base of my dick to shake it at him. “Maybe you better clean this off, then.”
I couldn’t even help myself at that point. Cal glanced up at me, questioning and exciting. I gave him a nod, and he sat up as I lifted my cock so he could get to it more easily. His mouth closed over the head of my dick and my head rolled back as a shiver ran through me. Then I sank into his mouth, and maybe changed my mind about whether I could go a second time. He groaned quietly, and his slick fingers, covered in my cum, his, and some vaseline, found my nuts and gave them a gentle kind of squeeze as he took me down until I pushed into his throat and then past.
“Fuck,” I gasped, barely able to get a breath. “Yeah, fucking clean it all up, Cal.”
He grunted, leaned in, gripped my dick with his other hand, and began to work me. I shuddered, looked down and almost stopped him. I didn’t think I could really come again, not so soon, not after that. But the first one had been weak. Nothing special, nothing extraordinarily intense. Not like the time he sucked me. I tangled my fingers in his hair and moved my hips with his head, pulling away the same time he did and thrusting in slow.
It was like the first time all over again—all that head, that suction, the magic of his tongue. It made me drunk, made my tongue loose. Except this time I knew what was in his head when he did it. How he was desperate to please me, to treat my cock just right. His groaning grew higher pitched, more urgent. He fucking loved sucking my dick. And I realized that it made me feel like a god that he did. “Good,” I rumbled. “That’s good, Cal. Fucking suck it all up. Think you can make me come again? Try. Get that cum, little guy. You wanna own this dick? That’s rich. Look at you, you don’t own shit. This dick owns you, doesn’t it? You fucking dream about it, think about it all day… you want another taste. Work for it. Suck it out of me, good boy.”
Simon Strange loves coffee, red wine, craft beer, and men. Especially men. Especially the men you should never, ever screw… What is it about the forbidden that gets our blood hot? Is it just the rebellious instinct to do what we’re told is wrong? Those men we grew up with, the ones that were either always looking over us or always by our side—or chasing us around—the ones that say they don’t want us, and would never ever… well, just this once, if you don’t tell… So that’s what you get from Simon Strange. Stories of the forbidden, of the filthy, and the naughty, and the never-ever-tell, and of course, the strange. With nearly 150 reviews for his collection of erotica and romance, and an average of four and a half stars across the board, you’ll almost certainly find something you like in the pages of his work. Just be sure to bring a change of undies. 😉
Fourteen-year-old RV does his best negotiating freshman year in a demanding high school, obeying the rules of his immigrant parents, and exploring his budding sexuality
RV is a good kid. So he’ll do his best to keep up in high school despite all the additional pressures he’s facing: His immigrant parents, who don’t want him to forget his roots. Some tough kids at school who bully teachers as well as students. His mean gym teacher. The Guy Upstairs who doesn’t answer his prayers. And the most confusing fact of all — that he might be gay. Luckily, RV develops a friendship with Mr. Aniso, his Latin teacher who is gay and is always there to talk to. RV thinks his problems are solved when he starts going out with Carole. But things only get more complicated when RV develops a crush on Bobby, the football player in his class. And to RV’s surprise, Bobby admits he may have gay feelings, too.
Why can’t life be like pizza?
I’ve been asking myself the question a lot lately. I love pizza. Pizza makes me feel good. Especially since I discovered Joe’s. Joe’s Pizza is quiet and out of the way and allows me to think. And Joe’s combinations are the best. Pepperoni and onions. Garlic and mushroom. Cheese and chicken. And if you really want that little kick in the old butt: the super jalapeno. Mmmm, good. Gets you going again. And lets you forget all your troubles.
What troubles can a fourteen-year-old guy have? Ha! First of all, I’m not a regular guy, as anyone can guess from my taste in pizza. My parents are immigrants who are trying to make a better life for themselves here in the United States. Besides the usual things American parents worry about, like making money and having their kids do well in school, my parents spend more time worrying about the big things: politics, communism, fascism, global warming, and the fact they and their parents survived violence and jail so I-better-be-grateful-I’m-not-miserable-like-kids-in-other-parts-of-the-world.
Grateful? Ha! As far as I’m concerned, life is pretty miserable already. Instead of thinking about the World Series or Disneyland, I worry about terrorists down the street or the dirty bombs the strange family around the corner might be building.
I don’t know why I worry about everything, but I do. It’s probably in my genes. Other guys have genes that gave them big muscles or hairy chests. I got nerves.
And then there’s my name. RV. Yeah, RV. No, I’m not a camper or anything. RV is short for Arvydas. That’s right. “Are-vee-duh-s.” Mom and Dad say it’s a common name in Lithuania, which is the country in Eastern Europe where my parents were born. A name like that might be fine for Lithuania, but what about the United States? Couldn’t Mom and Dad have named me Joe, or Mike, or even Darryl? My brother, Ray, has a normal name. Why couldn’t they have given me one?
I even look a little weird, I think. Tall and skinny with an uncoordinated walk because of my big feet that get in the way and make me feel like a clod. Oh, yeah. I’ve been getting some zits lately, and I wear glasses since I’m pretty nearsighted. Not a pretty sight, is it? At least the glasses are not too thick. Mom and Dad don’t have a lot of money to spend, but they did fork up the money to get me thin lenses, so I don’t look like a complete zomboid.
What can I do? I try my best, despite it all. I’m lucky because I’ve done well in school, so at least my genes gave me a half-decent brain. Hey, I’m not bragging. It’s just nice to feel good about something when most days I feel pretty much a loser at so many things. When I was in grammar school, there were enough days when I came home from school and cried because some big oaf threatened me, or I got hit in the stomach during my pathetic attempts to play ball during recess….
Okay, okay, I’m getting off track. I want to write about my first day of school. Mom and Dad gave me this new—well, refurbished, but new to me anyway—computer for getting into Latin school, and they keep after me to make good use of it. So, I’ve decided I’m going to write about my new life. My life away from cretins—Lith, American, or any other kind….
About the Author
Andy V. Roamer grew up in the Boston area and moved to New York City after college. He worked in book publishing for many years, starting out in the children’s and YA books division and then wearing many other hats. This is his first novel about RV, the teenage son of immigrants from Lithuania in Eastern Europe, as RV tries to negotiate his demanding high school, his budding sexuality, and new relationships. He has written an adult novel, Confessions of a Gay Curmudgeon, under the pen name Andy V. Ambrose. To relax, Andy loves to ride his bike, read, watch foreign and independent movies, and travel.
When two crime investigation operatives join forces to take down the growing criminal activity involving vampires, blood threatens to spill and tear their lives and hearts apart.
Outcast operative in the Supernatural Investigation & Crime Bureau (SICB) Callen Blackheath finds himself doing what he does best: defying orders and giving his boss a headache in the thick of an operation he shouldn’t be in. And there’s no way he’s walking away, not when the investigation has become deadly personal.
Needing to protect the only family member he has left, this wolf shifter will do whatever it takes to stop the blood farms and destroy the dangerous drugs the vampires will kill for. But he doesn’t expect Liam “Thatch” Thatcher, the head of a special task force team, to receive a bite that pulls him into the centre of Callen’s world.
Bonded by memories and blood, together they navigate the operation that has wider reaches than they could ever imagine. And when it comes to matters of the heart, Callen knows in order to win, he needs to risk it all.
No one was supposed to be here. Ignoring the fact that Cartwright had blown my half-arsed recon out of the window and taken me by surprise, there seriously shouldn’t have been anyone else on site. An unfamiliar edge of panic flared to life in my chest. This was not good.
I charged towards the glass, stopping short of barrelling into it to try the handle. It wouldn’t have been the first time I’d broken down a door unnecessarily. I didn’t want to crash through a glass door unless I had to. While I healed quickly, shards of glass cutting through my skin still hurt something fierce.
Testing the handle with one hand, I hit the glass lower down, trying to get the attention of the person attempting to get out. Their bloody hand peeking out a white lab coat twitched at the loud thud. “Shit,” I grumbled. The door was locked. “Hey.” I beat against the glass panel harder. It was partially misted for privacy, and visibility was unclear. Unable to tell who was on the other side or whether the smoke had breached the room from another direction, for once, I considered my options.
“Hey.” I tried again, my hand smacking the glass harder, not yet intending to break through. “Can you hear me?” Steadying my breath took concentration, but I needed to listen carefully.
“Code.” The voice was gravelly. “P-Panel.”
I searched quickly and found a panel off to my right. “I need the code.” Each word came out calm and clear. Panicking now could possibly get us both killed.
“Five.” A cough wracked through him, loud and sounding painful. I squinted, wondering what the hell this guy had been through. “Two. Seven. Seven. Four. Nine.”
I hit the numbers as he said them.
“Hash,” he finished, and the door clicked, swinging open when the guy fell against it. He landed on the floor.
Unconscious at my feet, the man was sprawled on his front. I tugged him to the side. With no idea where we were, I couldn’t simply throw the guy over my shoulder and start charging around, hitting dead ends and burning doors wherever we went. Decision made, I cast a quick glance at the man. Wet blood covered his rich black skin, but his moving chest indicated he was breathing. Barely. Christ, I hoped he didn’t die on me. After a final glance, I rushed into the unlocked room. Just because it had been sealed from the inside didn’t mean I wouldn’t be able to get through another exit.
A door on the opposite side of the room was my target. I headed straight there, spotting vials and another room off to my right. Before I reached the exit, the scent hit me. Blood, and it wasn’t from the unconscious lab tech in the hallway. I took a tentative step in the direction the scent came from, bile already churning in my gut.
No. It couldn’t be.
Another step forward, and I held my breath, not wanting to believe it could be true.
Wide-eyed, I gasped for breath, then regretted the action immediately. Metallic, familiar, and dead. The combination of the three threatened to buckle my knees. Unable to look away, I stared hard, hating every second. But I had to do this. Flesh, torn muscle, mutilated claws; the image seared itself into my mind. Once there, a shockwave of pain ripped through me.
This time I let my knees go and landed on the floor, my knee finding the blood the same shade of my own. It was her. Hazel. My baby sister.
About the Author
Becca Seymour lives and breathes all things book related. Usually with at least three books being read and two WiPs being written at the same time, life is merrily hectic. She tends to do nothing by halves so happily seeks the craziness and busyness life offers.
Living on her small property in Queensland with her human family as well as her animal family of cows, chooks, and dogs, Becca appreciates the beauty of the world around her and is a believer that love truly is love.
Darius could tread on my body, but he’d never trample my heart.
Abel Kensington the Fifth, aka TheFifthAbel – Accountant, Germaphobe, Service Submissive turned Daddy Dom, and resigned to being alone.
Mired in his routines that keep the worst of his fears and obsessive behaviors at bay, Abel has given up finding someone who will look past his sanitized bubble. Little does he know that someone is watching him and has a plan to slip into his world and take care of him for a change.
Darius MacLeod aka JuicyDare – Coffee House Owner, Scottish Transplant, New Daddy Dom, and finding love is the last thing on his mind.
While his roots are still firmly in his homeland, Darius has started a new life in his father’s hometown. When a seemingly shy and prim older man starts frequenting his café, Darius’ interest is piqued and his instincts kick in. Wanting to get past the barrier that Abel has erected, Darius dives feet first into a whole new world he knows little about.
Abel and Darius will both need to find sure footing on this new path before them as Abel gets back to his submissive roots and Darius explores a new but natural lifestyle.
Attention: This book contains depictions of dominance, submission, boot worship, trampling, and adults in footie pajamas
From Darius POV:
About a month after Abel started coming to the café, he said something to my day manager, Santos, which had intrigued me and really spurred my desire to know him better.
He had come in, as usual. I’d watched his lithe body as he set up his area and then move to the counter. He tugged on the sleeves of his shirt to straighten them—like always. That day he had worn a hunter-green button down. It was always a solid color with all the buttons done, even the top one, but no tie. He always kept his black hair short on the sides with a little bit of length on the top. I suspected that if he let it grow, it would curl a little. It looked thick and soft. I often wondered what it would feel like between my fingers.
I had watched from just inside the kitchen as his hazel eyes roamed the menu board on the wall behind the counter. He had scrunched his freckle-splattered nose in the most adorable way as he thought.
Santos placed a plate with his usual carrot and zucchini muffin in front of him on the counter and started inputting his order into the computer. Abel had registered the movement and focused on him.
“One muffin, a latte, and a Grasslands Juice. That’ll be fourteen thirty-six, as usual, Mr. K.”
Abel had looked down his nose at Santos and arched a thick but sculpted eyebrow. “It’s admirable that you remember what I have ordered the last five times I have visited this establishment, but it is rude to assume.”
Santos had opened his mouth and closed it, which was good because Abel wasn’t done.
“I appreciate your wanting to be efficient, but what if today I want a banana nut muffin instead?”
“Do you want a banana nut muffin instead, Mr. K?”
“Abel, please. And, no, I do not, but that’s beside the point. It is not good service to anticipate what I may want. It is, on the other hand, good service to know how I like it or want it done when I tell you what I want or need. For instance, Darius always remembers how I like my sandwich made. He’s very thoughtful.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. K—I mean, Abel, sir. I’ll remember that. What may I get you this morning?”
Abel had tugged on his sleeves again. I had a feeling that was more of a compulsion than anything else. A nervous habit maybe?
“I’ll have a carrot and zucchini muffin, a latte, and a Grasslands Juice.”
I had to stifle my laughter as I went about making his juice.
About the Author
A. G. Carothers is actually a dragon very cleverly disguised as a human. They are a non-binary author of LGBTQIA Romance and Urban Fantasy, who enjoys writing original and entertaining stories. They are very excited to share the worlds they’ve created with you. A.G. currently lives in Tennessee with their platonic life partner, who is not a dragon. They yearn to live back in Europe and will some day. In their spare time they are addicted to losing themselves in the lovely worlds created by other authors A.G. is committed to writing the stories they see in their head without restrictions. Love is blind and doesn’t see gender, race, or sexuality.
I’m not hunting him; I’m protecting him. At least, that’s what I tell myself. In New York City, a beautiful creature like Tristan Clement should not be walking the streets alone, and I’m the perfect vampire to watch his back. But what if keeping him safe isn’t enough anymore? What if I want to touch? And taste? I need him. But I’ve never needed anyone.
In a world where paranormal creatures live amongst us and must follow certain laws, living life as a dangerous loner works for vampire Ethan. Inhabiting his gleaming apartment, wearing his designer suits, jetting around the world as a fanged killer-for-hire, Ethan does it all alone.
That is, until he literally runs into Tristan. Tristan, who is clearly trouble wrapped in skinny jeans and an oversized sweater. Tristan, with his shock of angelic blond curls. Tristan, who plays piano more beautifully than the old masters– and Ethan would know; he saw Beethoven.
Tristan is gorgeous, a little sassy, and irresistible. Also, Ethan is horrified to note, Tristan has no idea how incredibly tempting he is to things that go bump in the night.
Overcome by the urge to keep Tristan safe, Ethan begins to… well, stalk is such a strong word. What starts as an obsession quickly becomes something more, something that Ethan needs. And to his surprise, Tristan seems to need him, too…
*This darkly romantic tale delivers steamy passion and a happily ever after. Be advised that Handsome Death includes explicit m/m content, stalking, mentions of past abuse, and graphic violence.*
I feel an itch on the back of my neck so glance behind me, and indeed, there he is, the blond kid from yesterday. I must have caught him staring, because as soon as I turn to look, he ducks his head and goes back to reading.
I shouldn’t approach him. Granted, he’s stunning. Most vampires would love to get their hands on his bare skin, but I’m not one for picking up humans outside of blood clubs. I’m cautious. Vampires can get in a lot of trouble for biting a human without consent. Like sentenced-to-death trouble. The humans at blood clubs know what they’re getting into. This guy? He looks like a puppy in need of a cuddle. He has no idea what a vampire could do to him.
Maybe some reconnaissance is in order. Just to, you know, make sure he’s all right after yesterday’s altercation.
I’m lying to myself. This isn’t a protective detail in Serbia, this is me away from combat too long and bored in New York.
He sits at one of the heavy wooden tables with the lid off his cup. His hair hangs halfway over his forehead, tilted down over a paperback, but I can still see his mouth, the way he chews his bottom lip, making it pinker, fuller.
I walk right up to his table. I don’t wait for him to look up. I don’t wait for an invitation. I just sit.
He startles at my arrival. His eyes widen and stare at me.
“Who are you?” I ask. I’ve always been really good at openings.
“Uhh.” His forehead wrinkles.
I drum my fingertips on the table. “I’ve never seen you in here before.”
“You saw me yesterday.” He folds the top corner of a page in his paperback: Dracula by Bram Stoker. “You saved my ass yesterday.”
“Before yesterday,” I reply.
He sighs. “A Starbuck’s bought out my favorite coffee shop, so I guess this is now my favorite coffee shop. Buy local.” He scoops his messenger bag off the floor and shoves the book inside.
The kid has one of those runway model faces—gaunt if not so beautiful, sharp and yet soft. Freckles? Zero. Wait, no, he’s got just a smattering that you would only notice close-up … or with well-trained vampiric eyes. He has no shadow of recently shaved facial hair, and that’s no surprise based on the white-blond of his hair. He must moisturize those lips because nobody’s mouth just naturally looks like the perfect mixture of velvet and silk.
He sighs again, louder. “You’re staring at me.”
No, I’m studying him—checking out his vulnerable areas, which are pretty much everywhere considering he’s so thin and fragile-looking.
As for everyone else in the coffee shop, they’re looking at the kid like they want to take him to bed. I catch a girl at the next table over gawking. A big dude with a beard stands in line to our right, his mouth hanging half open as he admires.
“Everyone is staring at you,” I respond.
His pale cheeks burn bright red as he swoops his bag onto his shoulder and stands. “No, that’s …” He shakes his head. “Ha, no.” He doesn’t say goodbye. He even leaves his coffee, half-consumed on the table. He up and abandons me without a word, but I do watch him go—as does half of Inky Grounds.
Once he disappears out into the early October morning, I turn back around and stare at his deserted coffee. Granted, I’m not smooth—I get it—but he didn’t have to run out like that. I just wanted to see that he was safe. Shit, I don’t even know his name.
About the Author
Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, model, mental health speaker, and LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. Her current obsession with Timothee Chalamet runs deep, and don’t even get her started on Call Me By Your Name.
Prince Hamish has no interest in fulfilling his duty of marrying. Not to a woman, at least. That doesn’t stop his mother, Queen Fiona, from presenting him with every eligible noblewoman that enters their castle. He’s certain it’ll be no different with the representative of the Udynea Empire.
So when they do arrive, Hamish is relieved the imperial prince, Darshan, is not the woman everyone expected. Until the man kisses him and Hamish is confronted by the very emotions he has been forced to conceal or be punished for. Emotions he is eager to explore.
But the kiss proves to be a little too public and leads his mother to take drastic measures to ensure Hamish adheres to her family vision. The contest of arms will force Hamish to make a choice: give up his happiness for convention’s sake or send the kingdom spiralling into civil war for the right to love his own way.
The whole pub seemed to grow still the longer Darshan stared at the man, his expression blank.
“Bill,” Hamish hissed at the dockmaster. “That’s enough.” The man must have realised it would be the grandsire of all bad ideas to piss off someone capable of setting things on fire with a thought.
Ignoring Hamish, Billy continued to give the spellster a smarmy smile.
Darshan returned the grin, his tongue snaking out to run along the underside of his teeth. He calmly unhooked his glasses from behind his ears. “Hold these, will you?” he asked, waving the frames in Hamish’s general direction.
Hamish took a cautious step backwards. He couldn’t be certain if Darshan was merely posturing or actually planned to attack the man, but it would be better if he stayed out of it. After all, he couldn’t haul Darshan back to the castle if they were both unconscious.
He delicately reached for the glasses.
Darshan barely waited for Hamish to properly grasp them before he swung at Billy, clearly aiming for the man’s head.
Billy jerked back, too late in mounting a defence against the attack.
The spellster’s fist—heavily bedecked in jewelled rings—connected with Billy’s face like a hammer. The definite snap of breaking bone was almost an exhalation.
The dockmaster fell back, howling. Blood poured from beneath the man’s fingers, staining his blonde beard. At first, Hamish thought the ambassador had only broken Billy’s nose, until he caught sight of the dockmaster’s jaw. One side bulged alarmingly, whilst the right, the side Darshan had hit, was caved in.
The two men flanking Billy lunged at the spellster.
Sneering, Darshan flicked both his hands as if brushing the dust from his outfit. The men went flying, smashing into the walls. Neither one got up.
More men jumped up from their seats, agog. One ran out the door screaming. Not a one of them seemed to know what to do about the spellster who had made short work of three men; a foreigner who still stood over Billy without a care as to the bleeding state of his hand. Hamish wasn’t entirely certain it was even Darshan’s blood. Surely, with the force he’d hit the dockmaster, he must’ve broken something.
Darshan turned. He squinted at Hamish, then held out his bloodied hand. The fingers and knuckles seemed normal enough. No twists or swelling that suggested any harm had come to them. “My glasses, if you please?”
Hamish returned the item in question back to their owner. “I think this might be the best time to leave.” There’d be trouble once word of this got out—and a lot of questions Hamish wasn’t looking forward to answering. But if they returned to the castle now, then Gordon might be able to help him wrangle a more palatable version of events for his mother.
With the glasses once more firmly in place on his face, Darshan glared at Billy. “One moment.” He strode over to the howling man and grabbed his head. “Do not move or I will leave you injured. And I would advise against trying to talk.”
Billy stilled. Panic and fear flashed in his tear-redden eyes.
It had been some years since Hamish had last been in the presence of healing magic. But he’d been in no position to objectively watch either. Seeing the man’s face slowly reform to its previous state was something he’d never thought he would witness.
Billy’s cheeks shifted alarmingly, like a bubbling pot of porridge. The skin constantly changed colour, from the pinkish-red of freshly-struck to the bruised rainbow hues of blue, purple and green, then fading to trout-brown before regaining its natural wrinkled and heavily-tanned state.
Throughout it all, Billy’s eyes grew wider. He whimpered and fisted at his trousers. If Darshan hadn’t already stipulated stillness, he likely would’ve bolted from the spellster’s grip.
When Darshan was done, he released Billy’s head and let the man tumble onto the floor. “Call me that again and I shall do the same,” he snarled as he bent over the dockmaster. “Only next time, you can keep the broken jaw. Understood?”
Billy nodded. “Aye, your lordship.” He back-crawled across the flagstones, pausing only to rub his jaw and standing once Darshan was well beyond physical reach.
Dusting his hands, the ambassador returned to Hamish’s side. “As entertaining as that was, I think you are right, we should return to the castle.”
About the Author
Aldrea Alien is an award-winning, bisexual author of fantasy romance with varying heat levels. Born and raised in New Zealand, she lives on a small farm with her family, including a menagerie of animals, who are all convinced they’re just as human as the next person. Especially the cats. Since discovering a love of writing at the age of twelve, she hasn’t found an ounce of peace from the characters plaguing her mind with all of them clamouring for her to tell their story first.