After Detective Jack Beckam’s partner is killed during the line of duty, Jack retreats to a small Indian casino in the Colorado mountains to deal with his guilt. There, he encounters the mysteriously hostile casino manager, Taylor Brant.
Jack is on a downward spiral. Unfortunately for him, the strange forest surrounding the casino only increases his desire to do something reckless. Something desperate. Taylor Brant is not only dangerous, he’s damaged. He’s someone Jack should steer clear of. Yet Jack, hurting and needing to pay penance, tumbles into a series of dark, highly charged encounters with Brant which threaten to shatter them both.
Amusement briefly lit Brant’s gray gaze. “You’re an interesting man, Jack. Under other circumstances I’d enjoy feeling you out.”
“I thought you hate cops. Sounds to me like you’re flirting with one.”
He was immediately embarrassed for having said it. Taylor Brant was one of the most attractive men he’d ever seen, much less had dinner with—but Jack recognized the nugget of fear rolling around in his own gut. He was in foreign territory, literally and figuratively. All his experience as a detective, all his street smarts, meant next to nothing when it came to his occasional and unwanted attraction to specific men. It was like a flare-up of a rash—unpredictable, unwelcome, and woefully incurable.
“I’d be reckless, wouldn’t I,” Brant said, “to flirt with a detective?” Brant’s gaze grew intent. “I’m not reckless.”
“Sounds to me like you’re a masochist.”
“Would it take one to know one?”
The restaurant was emptying out. Jack wished it were busier. Louder. He wished that the waiter was intrusive. He could feel himself sweating and felt ridiculous; he was only sitting there eating dinner.
Brant didn’t appear to be all that relaxed, either. The casino manager was tense. Nervous. Jack was too experienced in studying people to miss the signs. Was Brant regretting his boldness? Maybe they were both stumbling around in the dark in their own ways. It was strange to look at Taylor Brant and consider him anything other than one hundred percent sure of himself.
Or was it? He was well groomed and sophisticated, yet the broken nose hinted at his past experience with abuse. The book, too, suggested deep waters and a hint of vulnerability.
But Jack wasn’t completely sold on Brant being a man you could easily take advantage of. Maybe back then, back when Brant had dated those cops, he had been a man like that. But not any longer. The man sitting across from Jack had been honed by pain, anger, and disappointment. Brant had gone through hell and come out the other side as a more powerful man. It was there in those steely eyes, a hint of the danger he presented: he needed to control every situation he entered because he would never allow himself to be at anyone’s mercy again. He was using his fear to become something—someone—unbreakable.
Jack’s cock pulsed at the prospect of being under Brant’s control, even for an hour. It wasn’t something he’d ever experienced, and the fantasy of it was probably better than the reality. Hell, he didn’t know how he’d react to someone attempting to take the upper hand with him. There was a good chance he’d throw a punch.
About the Author
Tricia Owens has been writing m/m fiction since 2000, after stumbling onto the term ‘slash’ and thinking it referred to horror stories. She is the author of the Sin City, A Pirate’s Life for Me, and Juxtapose City series, among several others. She lives in Las Vegas.
Darkness Dawns is a love story. It also tells the tale of one man’s war with himself, brought onto the battlefield of his blindness. Leo Ferrar suffers from diabetic retinopathy and lost his sight two years ago. Unable to bear the scrutiny of strangers or the impact of his blindness on those he loves, Leo has determined on shutting the world out ever since. This is the man Ben meets on his first day at work as Mr Ferrar’s care assistant.
A former heroin addict, Ben was sentenced to six months community service as punishment for his crimes by a judge entitled to condemn him to a seven-year stretch. Far too charming for his own welfare, Ben proves unaccountably brilliant at ‘bulldozing the blind’.
When fate sees fit to dispatch Ben to the home of the man he has dubbed Mr Ferrarcious; it is with the words of the last five unfortunates who’d dared darken Leo’s doorway ringing in his ears. A door that is opened by a man who might be Lord Byron himself. Drop dead gorgeous and as hot as hell, Leo Ferrar has the most beautiful eyes Ben has ever seen.
Never has an irony seemed so cruel. Nor fate so fortuitous.
Leo knew heshould have opted to use the cane, instead of the arm Ben offered him for their unexpected walk. Should. Every time that word left someone’s lips, Leo wanted to scream; fists clenched in a screech of hopeless, helpless rage. The fact that everything he should do was For-His-Own-Benefit, made it so much worse, which was as ludicrous as it was true. Independence was the only thing he had left to aspire to. So, why the fuck did should rub Leo so raw it obliterated any inclination he may have had to do whatever it prefaced? He ought to want to do the things he should. But what if he tried…and failed? What if Leo couldn’t master any of them? Then he would lose even the hope that he might, one day, be able to. Even more galling, that loss would be down to him, because he was so bloody useless. He did want to show Ben that he was quite capable of managing…didn’t he? Very much, although why that mattered, Leo had no idea.
Why care what this latest in a long line of functioning eyeballs thought of him? It was probably more politic to say, ‘visually unimpaired’. Visually Impaired. Leo had to stifle the urge to punch people who described him thus. Impaired? Adj: weakened or damaged. Weak. Weakened. F’fucksakes. He was still chewing that particular wasp when Ben asked for his wrist.
Does he intend to lead me by it, as if I’m a toddler?
Leo found himself holding it out anyway. Christ knows why he was going along with all this. It was just that…being in Ben’s company was rather like sitting in the passenger seat of a snow plough driven by a drunk. Far preferable to standing in its path…and yet, somehow more appealing than staying behind, wherever the hell it was off to.
Nevertheless, he was still relieved when Ben clasped the proffered wrist—not to cart Leo off as he’d feared—but to plant his hand on top of Ben’s head. The fact that Leo could have changed the lightbulb without stretching a whole lot further, did seem to suggest he’d been addressing Ben’s nipples for the last half hour.
Quite how Ben then contrived to claim fault for something that was Leo’s mistake was less clear, but this was pulled off with such disarming charm, it would’ve been churlish to argue otherwise. Why the hell did the notion of calling Ben’s bluff feel as brutal a prospect as drowning his cat? If he had one, of course. Cat? More to the point…nipples?
“Thank you,” Leo managed to mumble, which was something of a result itself. Half an hour with Ben and he’d started to feel several sandwiches short of the proverbial picnic. He’d also begun to suspect that Violet had been a sweet little old lady—and quite sane—when she’d met Ben.
So off they went. The blindingly daft leading the blind off on a stroll around Camden.
In a bid to distract himself from well, pretty much everything he’d thought for the last five minutes, Leo decided to ask Ben to describe himself. For some reason he was intrigued, not only to know what Ben looked like, but to hear the picture he drew. Leo had an inkling this would prove more unmissable than an aural tour around the National Portrait Gallery. Unmissable? It was a bloody masterpiece. There most definitely were not any renderings of Steptoe’s six-four daughter there. The last two years might have felt a damn sight less soul-destroying if Ben had voiced Leo’s DVD visual descriptions.
Walking outside had lost all its appeal when the world became a giant landmine lying in wait to blow up in Leo’s face; every step into the unknown, a potential public humiliation. Despite this, and Ben’s partiality to lamp posts, they somehow arrived in Gloucester Crescent, alive and well. Even more shocking, was that Leo hadn’t fretted about…anything really, along the way. He’d just drifted along, listening to Ben weave words too beguiling to question where embellishment waved farewell to the truth. But who the fuck would want to, when that would feel as blasphemous as punching a fist through a Picasso?
About the Author
When Zakarrie was little and dreamed big, she wanted to be a writer. Just like Enid Blyton. Or p’raps not…having been most remiss on the lashings of ginger beer front. After moving to London at eighteen and flitting about for far too long, she finally settled, as blissy as can be, by the sea. When her castaway dreams resurfaced, they were believed into being by the warm words of friends who breathed life into her own. Her one wish now is that someone, somewhere, might enjoy the misadventures of her miscreants as much as she adores writing them.
This story can technically be read alone, though there are unsolved things that are further explored in the next book
Go to work. Come home. Repeat. Phil’s life is boring and he loves every second of it. No excitement, no boyfriends breaking up with him over cereal in his underwear. When everything’s predictable, nothing bad happens. But nothing good does, either.
One night, when his best friend forces him to step outside of his comfort zone, he meets Shige who’s too enigmatic to really be interested in him. He’s trouble, but Phil can’t help ignoring his own advice.
Decades have gone by while Shige’s kept himself locked away. He’s tired of the world, of humans and vampires. He was happy collecting dust until one day he wasn’t. On a whim, he ventures out and meets Phil, setting them on a path that’ll change them both.
Whatever this is between them, it won’t come easy. Plagued by distrust and danger from within and without, but if they survive, it just might be worth it
Phil Torres sat in Mercer General’s basement level breakroom for the first time that shift. With a sports drink in one hand and a protein bar in the other, he worked to cram both things into his mouth. He couldn’t remember what he’d eaten last or when. Even so, he had no appetite. Other nurses came and went through the breakroom offering looks of sympathy and pity. He was on the ass end of a 16-hour shift no sane person would envy.
It had been a trial of will. He’d seen some terrible things in the three years he’d been a fully licensed nurse but during this one shift, he’d beheld some of the worst things he’d ever seen, things that would haunt his dreams and hang on during his waking hours. A savage gunshot wound, a leg so badly broken the bone slashed through the skin, a pair of asthma attacks that left the patients blue in the face, gasping, and a stomach bug so virulent, puke covered the floors of two of their closet sized exam rooms. The cleaning staff was going to love this evening’s cleaning detail, but it was just another night at Mercer General.
“What’re you still doing here?” Yolanda came into the breakroom, looking every bit as tired as Phil felt. Her sneakers, damp from the storm she’d weathered out on the floor squelched with every step as she made her way to the lockers. “Didn’t your vacation start an hour ago?”
Phil took a swallow of sports drink to help keep his meager meal down. “Jackie was running late, so I filled in for her, then Shelly needed help tapping a vein… I got trapped.”
Yolanda rolled her eyes as she shut the door to her locker. “More like you let yourself get trapped.”
She was right, of course.
During his time here, the older nurse had taken him under her wing, brought him into the fold. They’d become as close as cousins. It helped Phil feel at home out here on the West Coast where he had no family and few friends, but as a side effect, lying to her was now next to impossible.
Yolanda perched on the plastic chair next him. She bumped him with her shoulder. “I’ll never understand why you always drag your feet when it comes time to get out of here. You’ve got an OK place—by yourself—in a decent neighborhood. You know how many people would kill for that set up? What’s the issue?”
Yolanda couldn’t understand it. She had a home waiting for her. A husband and kids who kept her busy. She might not admit it but they filled her life with joy. All Phil had waiting in at home was a dog bent on systematically destroying anything he could get his mouth on.
“I like keeping busy,” he said. “It’s not a crime.”
“Neither is taking time off once in a while.” Yolanda quickly wiped her sneakers down with a paper towel and threw it into the trash. “Since you got here, you’ve never taken more than three days off at a time. You need this break. You’re gonna burn out if you don’t take it easy.”
There was truth to Yolanda’s words, but to hear her tell it, Phil was a workaholic, little more than a care dispensing robot. He knew how to relax. He just didn’t enjoy it.
Work kept him too busy to worry about the lacking areas of his life. He liked helping people and Mercer’s shortage of staff guaranteed any offers to come in on his days off were never turned down. Without work, as rough as it could be on a good day, he’d be left alone. He didn’t know what to do with alone.
“Why can’t it be a week? Or two! I’d gladly do that much!”
Yolanda clucked her tongue in disgust. “I wish they’d let your ungrateful ass give me the two months since you so obviously don’t want it. I don’t see how you let it rack up.”
“Same,” Phil said. “Same.”
Yolanda stood, ready to go back out onto the floor, but she stopped in the doorway. She rested a small hand on Phil’s shoulder. “Your body remembers how to relax, even if you don’t. But you’ve got to get out of here first.”
It’s not his job or the fact that his maybe boyfriend, Shige, is a vampire. He’s a sensitive– an ability he’s had since he was small that lets him peek into people’s minds— and it’s gotten out of control. He can’t turn it on and off like he used to. He needs help, and he has to fly to the other side of the world to get it. The catch? Shige’s the only one who can take him there, but things with him haven’t been great. Their relationship is in tatters, and he doesn’t know how to fix it or if it’s even up to him. This is so not what he needs right now.
But Phil’s not the only one with issues. Shige’s got a territory to maintain and a mystery to solve all while worrying about Phil. He takes all this in stride, but when things take a turn for the worst, can he get them both home in one piece?
Phil blinked at the sudden snap inches from his nose. He shook himself as the world rushed up to meet him. He’d been adrift in a sea of consciousness surrounding them. There were 30 other people in this restaurant, and at any given time, Phil heard the thoughts of the closest 15 or so, everything from the mundane to the raunchy. None of it was his business, but his instinct was to latch onto every granule of information as he noticed it. Giving in was very easy and very satisfying.
Sorry. I’m here.” But he hadn’t been. Thoughts continued to float in and out of his mind, not all of them his own. Today was particularly bad. It kept getting harder to focus on the things he needed to live his life.
Before, he needed to concentrate to hear other people’s minds, like eavesdropping. Now it was like everyone spontaneously broke into fits of reciting their inner monologues. There was no way to tell when it would start, but nine times out of ten, it was when he needed all his mental faculties.
He’d taken more breaks at work than what his job owed him, just to get away from the noise. People had started to notice. He’d been lucky enough not to hurt anyone yet, but it was only a matter of time.
“You sure?” Jerome said with no small amount of skepticism threading through his words. “You’re a little spacey.”
“I got distracted by a work thing, but I heard every word.”
Jerome cut his eyes at him. “What’s the last thing I said?” He smirked.
“You asked how things are with Shige.”
Jerome sucked his teeth. “Lucky guess.”
The question from his brain reached Phil before Jerome put it into words. It got mixed in the deluge of their fellow diners’ minds, but he remembered because it concerned him directly and hadn’t been about the food. He focused on Jerome, and the feedback lowered to a dull hum, blending with the audible background noise of the restaurant.
“So you got an answer for me? Hurry up, while it’s just us.”
“We’re good. Why would I go on this trip with him if we weren’t getting along?”
The short answer was what Phil told him; things between him and Shige were fine. The truth, as always, was more complex. He didn’t know what they were or where they stood.
Stories longing to have words put to them were in Jet’s heart from an early age. Jet enjoys exploring the connections and similarities between people whether they be shifters, vampires, or aliens, rendering the unknowable very knowable indeed. Jet’s days are spent toiling away at a keyboard, slumped over a pen and paper hunting for those words, or playing around on twitter with a partner, and two rambunctious cats for company in the temperamental North Eastern US.
Konner was looking forward to learning more about his family heritage. What he found was his entire life was a lie.
Konner O’Flattery, a passionate amateur genealogist, has finally gotten back the results of the DNA test he took. He’s been waiting months to uncover what mysteries his DNA has locked inside. But his results aren’t anything like he expected, and he unearths a secret buried since birth. His heart becomes shattered leaving no room for forgiveness. Now, Konner feels compelled to go on a journey to find the truth of who and what he truly is.
Through the miracles of modern technology, Konner meets his distant cousin, Aaron Kirschenbaum. Turns out, he knows exactly who Aaron is, yet they’ve never met. Aaron makes the girls and boys alike swoon from his stunning good looks and velvety voice. Unfortunately, he’s picked up a bad habit of abusing his status for his own personal gain.
Konner’s story pulls on the strings of Aaron’s heart. So, he offers to help Konner, in any way he possibly can. Aaron finds Konner to be incredibly attractive, so the two men are swept up into an intense romance filled with sensuous heat and passion.
Distant Cousins is Eric Huffbind’s second published novel, a Contemporary Gay Male Romance. Take a journey with Konner as he finds heartbreak, intrigue, love, passion, and the importance of forgiveness. If you want to rekindle the euphoric high of falling in love, Distant Cousins is the book for you.
Secrets, lies and a forbidden bond that could change the fate of a kingdom.
Marlin, Selkie prince and fourth alpha-born son of the King of the North, desires someone he shouldn’t. While taking a human lover is not quite forbidden, the one who caught his eye happens to be his brother’s scorned former lover. Nevertheless, every time Marlin’s around the man, he finds Nic hard to resist, even though his attitude can be frustrating. However, Marlin likes a challenge, and Nic’s a challenge he’s willing to tackle.
Nic has been bitter ever since the firstborn prince, Kai, broke off their affair abruptly years ago. To become involved with Kai’s younger brother could be just as heartbreaking because Marlin, like Kai, is obligated to find his fated mate and produce heirs. Something Nic can’t do. However, neither can fight their mutual attraction.
When a traitor escapes, Marlin’s skin is stolen, and danger ensues, it’s Nic who becomes the prince’s hero. And it’s at that very moment that Marlin can’t deny their fate, whether it’s forbidden or not.
Note: A 60k-plus word m/m shifter mpreg story, this is the fourth book in the Royal Alpha series. Due to the “knotty” times in this book, it is recommended for mature readers only. While it can be read as a standalone, it’s recommended to read the series in order. And, like all of my books, it has an HEA.
Marlin, Selkie prince and fourth alpha-born son of King Solomon, and, not to mention, complete utter fool, stood staring up at the little cabin in the woods.
He closed his eyes for a moment and inhaled the aroma of the forest surrounding him. That didn’t slow the runaway train that was his heartbeat.
Nor did it help his cock that flexed in his pants at the anticipation of doing something so wrong, but also so… desired.
It wasn’t necessarily wrong for a Selkie to find pleasure with a human… as long as that human was willing. But what made this feel iniquitous was that the man who lived in that little cabin in the woods was the former lover of his oldest brother, Kai.
His heartbeat went from racing to thumping loudly in his ears as the front screen door opened and the subject of his recent inappropriate dreams stood staring back at him while leaning against the door frame.
Dominic. Nic for short.
He was long and lean, his body built like a normal human. His shoulders were broad, his hips narrow. Even from where Marlin stood, he could see Nic’s dark hair appeared to be a ruffled mess, which made him even more attractive.
Maybe Marlin had disturbed the man’s afternoon nap.
“You just going to stand there? Like a stalker?”
His voice was deep, smooth, and all that delicious goodness swirled around Marlin, pulling him forward like he was a marlin being reeled in on a fisherman’s line. He wanted to fight it, but he couldn’t.
He couldn’t because he was exhausted from doing just that… resisting his desires. There was something about Nic…
Maybe it was his expressive brown eyes, and his attitude. Strong-willed, sometimes crass, but definitely sensual at other times.
Like that little bit of time Marlin spent with him the last time he was here. When his brother Zale was searching for his omega, when Nic had hid Finn in his home. While Zale was sneaking around inside the cabin searching for his mate, Marlin had kept the human occupied.
And it was then that he knew he was doomed. Knew he’d eventually show back up on the man’s doorstep no matter how many times he told himself it was wrong.
Plenty of other humans or betas were willing to take care of Marlin’s needs. But he didn’t want any of them.
He wanted Nic.
Even if it was just once. Just a simple taste. Maybe them spending a night together would exorcise the man from his system.
For the last few weeks, he couldn’t sleep through the night. No, he’d wake up in a sweat after dreaming about taking Nic, pleasuring him, making him come, then giving the human his knot.
Which never should happen.
Human males weren’t physically built to take Selkie knots. Not like an omega.
So, giving Nic his knot would only ever remain a fantasy. One that—when Marlin would wake up with a raging erection—would fuel his own release so he could go back to sleep.
But now it was happening every night. And, even worse, during the daylight hours thoughts of Nic would drift through his mind.
These thoughts of the male, the one standing on his porch and watching him intently, were interrupting his life and Marlin needed to get them to stop. Out of his brothers, he was the next prince in line to find his omega. His fated mate. Though he was in no rush, he knew the Presentation Ceremonies might begin at any time. Or at least as soon as the Selkie Seekers could find six appropriate omegas to present to him. So, he needed to concentrate on doing his duty and finding the right mate to produce pups, he should not give in to his base desires.
While Nic could never be Marlin’s mate, nor become pregnant with his heirs, he could be simply a temporary detour.
And the man did seem to show some interest the last time they were face to face.
“Marlin,” Nic called from the porch. “Why are you here? Is something wrong? Did you royals lose another omega?”
About the Author
J.J. Masters is the alter-ego of a USA Today bestselling author who writes hot, gay romance filled with heart, humor and heat. J.J. became fascinated with mpreg romance as soon as she figured out what mpreg stood for. She loves to write about “knotty” men!
BlurbHe’s a Russian devil and he owns me.JR Richards What’s worse than wanting the one person you can never have? How about finally getting them. Don’t get me wrong the sex was great, but everything that came after? Yeah, it’s like they say, be careful what you wish for. Ruslan Belikov My brother made a deal that didn’t go as planned. Now I have to get back what’s ours and pretty boy Jacoby is the tool to make that happen. I’ll torture and use him until I get what I want, then I’ll toss him aside like the rest. A motorcycle club and a Mafia family shouldn’t make deals. Someone’s bound to lose. Family, friends and hearts, nothing’s safe in a world fueled by drugs, money and sex. WARNING: Ruslan Belikov and Jacoby Richards may not be for everyone. They are two dominant men thrown into an impossible situation. Some readers may find their story makes them uncomfortable. If you don’t like dark and dirty mafia bosses who use torture and sex to get their way turn back now. You have been warned.
Excerpt I follow behind them quietly as Demitri shoves him toward the bathroom. I notice Jacoby wince as Demitri squeezes his shoulder. I file that information away for later when the fun really begins. As I enter the bathroom, I remove my suit jacket folding it over the counter and rolling my sleeves up to my elbows.I see Jacoby shiver as Demitri blasts the cold water on him not bothering to let him remove his underwear. “Leave us.” I bark. Demitri jumps as if I’ve startled him, but does as told and scurries from the bathroom shutting the door firmly behind him. Jacoby’s eyes watch me as I move closer. I’m not sure if it’s fear or something else in his eyes as he glares at me. There was no heat behind it. “You like this, don’t you?” I wave a hand over my body. Jacoby nods. Good, no point in lying to me when I could see it written all over his face. My cock is painfully hard and I decide it’s time for some relief. “On your knees.” My thick accent becomes even thicker the more aroused I become. When he does nothing but drop to his knees and await my instructions, my hands go to my belt unbuckling it and pulling the leather slowly from my slacks. His breath catches in his throat when I pull myself out stroking once, twice before stepping forward and grabbing a fistful of his hair. “Open,” I growl shoving myself down his throat. He gags and his eyes water as I start my punishing pace. Both my hands are in his hair pulling it roughly as I piston my hips. It only takes him a second to acclimate and stop gagging. I push harder and move faster. The feel of absolute control feels like heaven and has me coming like a river down his throat. This kid is the perfect submissive. Too bad I can’t keep him. As soon as I find my drugs, I’ll have to get rid of him. The thought has me pausing momentarily. No matter, I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.Once my cock is sated, I close up my pants and walk out of the bathroom without a word. Demitri gives me an odd look as I exit the room and make my way down the hall. “Hang him up by the hook for the night, Demitri.” I never turn as I give the order. I hear Demitri’s grunt of understanding and continue to my apartment above the club.
About the Authors
Ember-Raine Winters lives in sunny California with her two beautiful kids and a wolf. Also known as Apache her pure white Siberian Husky. She loves writing romance and reading just about anything she can get her hands on. And, football! She loves watching football and going to games. It’s one of her favorite ways to unwind. She dislikes the super-hot temperatures in her city and exercise. She hates to exercise but somehow her sister still gets her to do it every day. She also thinks it’s completely awkward talking about herself in third person. Ember loves connecting with readers so don’t be afraid to stalk her and drop her a line on social media.
Faith Ryan is wife to a handsome bearded man and mother to three, yes three, teenage girls. She lives in a small town in Ohio and is an avid reader of romance and frequently finishes several books in one day. A coworker once told her that people who read romance are considered smarter than others, Faith totally agrees and thinks this doubly applies to romance authors. Everyone needs a little bit (or a lot) of romance in their life!
BlurbBen’s life appears perfect. He has a career to shine in and a beautiful family. But his marriage has broken down, and being a small-town cop is turning into a dead-end job.Hot-headed troublemaker Donnie is used to being side-eyed by the fuzz. Getting dragged into the station for a crime he didn’t commit is no big surprise – but a cop who gives a damn sure is.Ben has no clue how much a second encounter with the secretive redneck will shake up his life. Donnie’s sullen vulnerability arouses a passion Ben hasn’t felt for a long time. Soon, nothing matters but helping Donnie fight his demons. Can they carve a new life together out of the ashes
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Excerpt From Chapter One“WHAT HAVE WE got, Lou?” Ben asked the gray-haired desk clerk at Corinth Police Department. He glanced at a handcuffed man who sat on a nearby bench, staring down at the scuffed linoleum floor. The man’s dark hair was disheveled, falling low over his forehead and brushing his long eyelashes as his eyes flicked up at Ben. He looked to be in his mid-twenties. One knee jiggled with nerves, and his jaw worked as if he was biting the inside of his mouth over and over. His dark blue eyes were mistrustful, almost pained.“That guy was driving the vehicle involved in the hit-and-run yesterday,” Lou said. “Browne and O’Donnell brought him in. They’re with the captain.” Just that moment, the door to the inner sanctum of the station opened, and Jason Browne strode out of Captain Buckley’s office. The sleeves of his uniform were rolled up as usual, to show off his muscular, tanned arms. “How was court, brother?” Jason sounded cheerful, but his gray eyes were cold. In Ben’s partner and best friend since high school, that was never a good combination. Ben gave Jason a long look, then shrugged. “As expected.” He didn’t want to think about the peculiar effect Mr. Abbott’s words had had on him, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to discuss it in front of a suspect, or Lou. “You missed all the excitement.” Jason gestured toward the handcuffed man, who had his gazed directed at the floor again. “Saunders here knows some pretty colorful language, and he was none too happy to accompany us, neither.” “Hence the handcuffs?” Ben asked, his tone dry.Jason nodded, smirking.“Wasn’t me that hit that kid,” Saunders muttered, his dark voice shaking with suppressed anger. “Told y’all I wasn’t in town.”Jason sighed, folding his arms across his chest with exaggerated impatience. “And I told you this: We got witnesses placing you at the scene, smart-ass. It’s your word against theirs. Who’re we gonna believe, some deadbeat, or the boy’s mother?” Ben frowned at his partner. They had been in the radio car on their usual route the day before when the call about a hit-and-run near Corinth High had come over dispatch. O’Donnell and Myers, the department’s other two sergeants, had been closest and responded to the call. Last night, back at the station, O’Donnell had told them that the boy had a broken leg from being flung off his bike, but that he would undoubtedly survive. There really was no need for Jason to be so aggressive about the issue. Saunders sat up straight on the bench, glaring at Jason. “It wasn’t me! Why’re you not listening?” His eyes were wide with fury. Ben, knowing Jason’s thought processes and impulses almost as well as his own, stepped in his partner’s way. Gaze fixed on his friend, he said loud enough for Lou and any bystanders to hear, “Why don’t you and I take Mr. Saunders through to the interrogation room for a statement?” He put special emphasis on the last words, hoping Jason would get his meaning: Anything other than a polite request for an official statement from the suspect would be out of order at this point. Taking Jason’s reluctant jerk of the head as assent, Ben turned around, intending to escort Saunders to the interrogation room. But as soon as his back was turned, Jason stepped nimbly around him and grabbed the man hard by the upper arm. Saunders flinched, but Jason’s grip on him was like a vise. Saunders’s eyes met Ben’s, and there was pure animal fear in them, as well as something Ben couldn’t quite place. Anguish, perhaps? He stepped up close behind Jason. “If you dislocate his shoulder there’ll be an awful lot of paperwork to fill in for both of us, brother.” Ben kept his voice quiet and even, but Jason knew him well enough to detect the steely undertone. After a moment, Jason huffed, then let go of Saunders and took a step back. There were finger-shaped marks on Saunders’s bicep, just below the rolled-up sleeve. Now Ben stepped forward, and Saunders looked at him. His breath still came fast, but the fear began to fade from the indigo blue eyes. Ben motioned at Saunders to stand, then pointed down the corridor. “Would you come this way, please?” Good cop, bad cop. Ben hated playing this game, but Jason had left him no choice. Saunders got up. He was no taller than Ben, who just about scraped five foot nine. Jason towered over them both, still glowering. Saunders gave him a quick, disgusted look, then preceded Ben down the dreary-gray hallway, handcuffed arms held stiffly behind him. His narrow back was tense, the shoulders hunched. At the door to the interrogation room, Ben let Jason draw ahead. He followed the two men inside and closed the door. Jason approached Saunders, who had backed up against the one-way mirror. “Turn around,” Jason growled. Saunders ignored him and stared straight at the bottle-green linoleum floor. Ben spoke before Jason could get angry again. “Sir, the sergeant will move the handcuffs to the front so you can sit down more comfortably.” The eyes that met Ben’s were still full of mistrust, but after a moment, they softened and Saunders turned around. “Sit,” Jason said when he had shackled Saunders’s arms again in the front. Saunders flopped into the single chair on one side of the square floor-bolted table. Ben and Jason took the two chairs opposite. Leaning forward, Ben waited until he had the suspect’s attention. “Do you mind if we record this conversation?” “You’re arresting me?” The narrow blue eyes were suspicious again, but Saunders sounded more wary than belligerent. And he ignored Jason, his gaze never wavering from Ben. “No, we’re not,” Ben said in an even tone. “But having a record of what we talk about will aid your cause.” Saunders chewed this over, trying to decide whether Ben told the truth. Eventually he gave a small shrug. “Sir,” Ben said. “Please state for the protocol: Do you mind if we record this conversation?” Forcing the police procedural on this man was distressing. The tension vibrating off him made Ben wince. Saunders gave him a pained look. “Go ahead.” Jason pressed the digital recorder button on the small panel in the tabletop to his right. But it was Ben who spoke again. When they interrogated a suspect together, Ben usually started off the interview. His milder, calmer demeanor tended to relax the atmosphere better than Jason’s hot temper. For now, Jason seemed to have gotten all his anger out by playing scary cop in front of Lou and sat back in his chair without interrupting. “Statement protocol, September twenty-second, eleven forty-five a.m. Officers present: Sergeant Ben Griers and Sergeant Jason Browne.” Ben nodded at the suspect. “Please state your full name for the record, sir.” “Donnie Saunders.” The man’s voice was quiet, and he sounded tired. Ben waited for Saunders to look at him again, and nodded his thanks. Then he glanced at Jason, eyebrows raised, reminding his partner with his most level stare to act appropriately. “Officer Browne will now ask you a few questions.” “All right,” Jason said. Ben took this as the opening of the interview and an affirmation that he would stay calm. “Mr. Saunders, your pickup truck was seen driving away after hitting Dennis Mallory on his bike while he was riding home after school yesterday afternoon at about three thirty p.m.” “I told y’all three times now, it wasn’t me. Why is it that you can’t hear me?” Saunders’s voice had risen again in volume, but there was a strange quiver in it, too. He leaned back in his chair as far as he could, regarding Jason from eyes narrowed in anger. Before Jason, who looked ready to explode again, could respond, Ben said, “Let’s rephrase the question: Sir, where were you yesterday at three thirty p.m.?” Saunders didn’t immediately reply. His eyes darted around the room, never meeting Ben’s, and still ignoring Jason. Then they settled on the shackled, tightly folded hands in his lap. Is he trying to come up with a lie?At last, Saunders said, “Was in Atlanta. Had an appointment at the DFCS.” His voice was very quiet, and he didn’t look up. It didn’t sound like a lie, but a truth the man was reluctant to share. Ben decided not to press for details. It was none of his business why the guy had been summoned to the Division of Family and Children Services. As long as he could determine that Saunders had been forty miles away from the scene of the hit-and-run, he had done his job. “I need to know who you were there to see,” Ben said just as quietly, and wasn’t surprised when his gaze was met with one of suspicion again. He added in explanation, “A phone call to the person you had the appointment with will clear you.”Saunders gave a small jerk of the head in understanding. “Stacy Miller.”“Thank you.” Ben looked at Jason, considering his options. Could he leave these two alone for a few minutes? His partner’s steel gaze never wavered from Saunders, and Ben could feel Jason’s tension. But if he told Jason to make the phone call, would he try very hard to get at the truth? No, Ben would have to call the DFCS himself. He’d just had to be quick. “Jason, stay with Mr. Saunders. I’m going to call Ms. Miller.” Not waiting for Jason’s acknowledgment, or asking permission from Saunders to make the call on his behalf, Ben got up and left the room. He went back to the front desk. “Lou, find me the number for Atlanta DFCS.” The desk clerk looked grumpy for a moment but then started hacking away at his keyboard without a word. Finally he picked up the phone, dialed a number, and held the receiver out to Ben. “DFCS switchboard,” a tinny voice announced in Ben’s ear. ���How can I help?” “Stacy Miller, please,” Ben said, ignoring Lou, who tried hard to look like he wasn’t listening in. “Hold the line.” Ben half turned away while he listened to the annoying phone queue music. After a few moments, there was a click and a crisp voice said, “Medicaid assessment team. How can I help you?” About the Author
Mel was born in Germany, where she spent the first twenty-six years of her life (with a one-year stint in Los Angeles). She has always been fascinated by cultures and human interaction, and got a Masters in Social Anthropology. After finishing university she moved to London, where she has now lived for ten years.If you were to ask her parents what Mel enjoyed the most since the age of six, they would undoubtedly say “Reading!” She would take fifteen books on a three-week beach holiday, and then read all her mom’s books once she’d devoured her own midway through week two.Back home in her mom’s attic there’s a box full of journals with stories Mel wrote when she was in her early teens. None of the stories are finished, or any good. She has told herself bedtime stories as far back as she can remember.In her day job, Mel works as PA and office manager. No other city is quite like London, and Mel loves her city. The hustle and bustle still amaze and thrill her even after all these years. When not reading, writing or going to the theater, Mel spends her time with her long-time boyfriend, discussing science or poking fun at each other.
Seb didn’t plan to kiss Matt and Connor, but he doesn’t regret it, even if it has changed their friendship forever.
Matt has never considered dating a man before, let alone two. Despite his confusion, being with Seb and Connor feels right.
One uncertain future.
Connor’s potential fate has stopped him living and loving. Can he face his fears to be with the men he loves?
Matt adjusted his jogging bottoms and leaned back against the sofa. The next words popped out of his mouth unfiltered. “I could do with a blow job.”
Seb snorted out a loud laugh. “Too much information.” He patted Matt’s shoulder. “But hey, if you’re desperate, I don’t mind obliging.” Seb’s laughter trailed off into a nervous chuckle. “Umm… that was a joke.”
“Yeah, yeah, of course.” Matt couldn’t look at Seb. A week ago, he’d have taken a comment like that and ribbed his friend with it mercilessly. Now, he wasn’t sure at all that it had been meant in jest. He wasn’t even sure that he wanted it to be a joke. He rubbed his jaw, clearing his throat again. “What would you do if I said yes?”
Seb twisted on the sofa so he was facing Matt. “You’re not going to say yes.”
“What if I did?” Matt kept his stare on the ceiling, but he was still able to see Seb shrug out of the corner of his eye.
“I’d give you one.”
Seb’s reply was so matter-of-fact that it sent a chill running up Matt’s spine. It did nothing to ease the pressure in his cock. If anything, blood pumped to it faster.
“Really?” Matt asked. Why the hell was he still talking? It was like he was engaged in a game of chicken with Seb, trying to see which one of them would back down first. He had no idea how far his head, or his cock, was willing to take it.
“Sure, why not? It’s just a blow job, right? It wouldn’t mean anything.”
“But we’re friends,” Matt stuttered.
“Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve sucked off a friend.”
About the Author
Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairytale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.