Being called upon to pull Santa’s sleigh is an honour for any reindeer shifter, but for Dashiel the timing couldn’t be worse.
Stuart was looking forward to his Christmas Eve date with Dashiel, only to have him cancel at the last minute. He puts his disappointment aside and instead focuses on making his younger brother’s Christmas as wonderful as it can be, despite the loss of their parents the previous winter.
While flying over his home town, Dashiel spots a young boy on the streets, and he knows he has to help. When the young runaway turns out to be his date’s little brother, he brings him on board the sleigh, determined to see him safely home to Stuart.
Can a reindeer shifter pull Santa’s sleigh, reunite two brothers, and find love this Christmas?
“Dashiel, you’re up next,” the elf in charge of fittings called. “Get your hooves moving, you’re holding everyone up.”
Dashiel wondered who had first depicted Santa’s elves as cheerful little toy makers. He had yet to see one smile. They seemed even more miserable than he was right now. Of course, he hadn’t met many, and it was the most stressful time of year for them. Not to mention they hadn’t seen daylight in three months. That would make him grumpy too. Still, there was no need for them to prod him in the rear quite so hard to get him moving.
The next few hours were spent being trained in how to respond to the reins. Dashiel didn’t mind learning how to pull the sleigh, he just wished they could leave off the bells until they were in the air. The constant jingling was driving him up the wall.
Then came the flying lessons. Yuri must have seen Dumbo recently, because he was giving them a loud rendition of the song about elephants flying, but substituting reindeer instead. Apparently teasing the first timers like Dashiel was the highlight of his night. There were three shifters who had never been summoned before, Dashiel being the youngest of the trio.
The first time Dashiel’s hooves left the ground he almost panicked. Thoughts of flying off into space nearly had him hyperventilating, even though the others assured him that no matter how hard he tried, he would never even reach the height of a plane.
Finally, they were as prepared as they could be. Dashiel took his place beside Fred. Yuri and wife were in front of them, the couple taking the lead.
Everyone went quiet when Santa arrived. He was just as Dashiel had pictured him, though he had never seen him in person. Unlike the couple in front of him, Dashiel’s parents had never been summoned on the same night, so he had never been brought to the North Pole with them.
As they took off into the sky, Dashiel glanced below and saw how large the toy factory truly was. It was so much more than a single building. There was an entire village, with every house decorated for Christmas.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” he said to Fred.
“I’ll take your word for it,” Fred replied.
“You’re not scared of heights are you?”
“I’ll be fine as long as I don’t look down.”
Dashiel snorted. “I’d rather look down at the ground, than at Yuri’s arse all night.”
“I heard that,” Yuri replied. “I’ll have you know, my arse is the envy of reindeer the world over.”
Dashiel couldn’t laugh properly in his reindeer form, but he was starting to feel the Christmas spirit now. Chances were, he would be required to do sleigh duty again in the coming years, but there were those who were only summoned once in their life, and since he didn’t know if he would be called again, he intended to make the most of tonight.
About the Author
L.M. Brown is an English writer of gay romances. She believes mermen live in the undiscovered areas of the ocean. She believes life exists on other planets. She believes in fairy tales, magic, and dreams. Most of all, she believes in love.
When L.M. Brown isn’t bribing her fur babies for control of the laptop, she can usually be found with her nose in a book.
Will Eagle and Adam be able to stop a murderer while navigating their changing relationship?
‘Hello, tall, dark and handsome.’ Out and proud gay Albuquerque Homicide Detective Eagle Woodard studied Dr. Adam Coulter, criminal profiler, with a clinical eye. ‘Slender build…narrow waist, but nicely muscled underneath that Hugo Boss suit. People think you work out, Kemo, but you don’t.’ Eagle’s dark eyes narrowed. ‘You know I hate that day old beard look, but you were probably too wasted to bother. Nice eyes, green when they aren’t blood shot. Flawless tanned skin except for that tiny scar through your left eyebrow.’ The former Army Ranger grinned. ‘I gave that to you accidentally when we were 8 years old. When you stood up for this Navajo kid in an all white school. We both got our asses kicked.’ Eagle sighed and shook his head. That was the day he’d fallen in love with 4 times married, 4 times divorced, current roommate, Adam Coulter.
Eagle and Adam are faced with their toughest challenge yet. They must find an active serial killer before he strikes again. With the powers that be not cooperating and the killer proving to be elusive, will Eagle and Adam be able to stop the murderer while navigating their changing relationship?
The cool wind attacked Eagle Woodard’s body as he fell head over heels. He tumbled, body tightly tucked as he cleared the modified Cessna, momentarily catching sight of the blue, cloudless horizon before stretching out to embrace the air. Below him, the rust toned surrealist canvas of desert and mountains began to take shape as he allowed himself to freefall through the biting tempest. The winds transformed his tanned face, warping it into a mad, Joker-esque grin.
The former Army Ranger set his plan into motion. Pulling his muscular arms tightly against his torso, the angle of his descent began to change. ‘I feel the need, the need for speed.’ If the wind hadn’t been so brutal, he would’ve laughed. How many times had they used those iconic words in training? At 38, it felt like a lifetime ago.
Eagle tilted his head down. He pressed his legs together with toes pointed toward the heavens, becoming a human bullet streaking through the atmosphere. He could feel the friction heating his head and shoulders. His dark, goggle covered eyes flickered to the left, quickly gauging his altitude in relation to the horizon. One…, two…, three seconds passed.
With an agility reminiscent of his aviary namesake, he arched his back, catching the horrendous pounding of the wind squarely on his upper chest, making it difficult to breathe. Deliberately spreading his arms and sinewy legs, he succeeded in capturing the furious gale, harnessing it. Using calculated care, he began slowing his descent from Father Sky toward Amá ni’, Mother Earth.
Eagle reveled in the multitude of sensations inundating his body. The angry roar of the wind deafened him. The white noise of the rushing air blotted out all sound except for the popping of the black, nylon jumpsuit. The wind strained the cloth protecting him almost to its limit. The powerful, talon-like turbulence threatened to shred his clothes, leaving him bare and unprotected from the tempest. The bee sting lash of his long, raven ponytail as it whipped against his neck and face revitalized and reddened his brown skin.
‘Four…, five…, six…, seven…, eight.’ With an eerie calm, Woodard counted the seconds. As he drew closer and closer to terra firma, his confidence in his abilities never wavered. Here he was master. Here he was the great bird of his people’s folklore. He was the embodiment of Atsáh, the Eagle, swooping with deadly accuracy toward his prey on the ground.
The Albuquerque homicide Detective didn’t need to see his altimeter. He knew he only had a few more moments of precious freedom. Reluctantly, his right hand moved reflexively to the left side of his chest. Gripping the cold metal ring, he tugged.
A grunt of air was forced from his lungs. The nylon straps crisscrossing his body suddenly tightened, drawing him up. Eagle grimaced as pain seared up his back. The sudden opening of his parachute at this rate of speed aggravated more than one old injury. Gravity, the purveyor of his discomfort, pressed his chin to his chest for an instant before the strain of rapid deceleration eased.
With skill born of countless jumps, Eagle maneuvered the billowing canopy toward his destination. Calculating the high desert cross winds, he made a last-minute correction which allowed him to plant his right foot firmly onto the center of the large, white cross target. As his left foot touched down, he leaned back, encouraging his chute to take the rest of the breeze until it collapsed and fell impotent to the sand. Instantly, the tall man began to gather the yards of thin ripstop nylon and cord into his arms, beating down any last show of resistance from the exuberant ram-air parachute.
Turning, Eagle reached up and pulled his goggles from his face just as his cell phone rang. Pulling it from his zippered pocket, he grimaced at the sight of the familiar number.
“I thought I was supposed to have a day off, Captain.”
“You do, but I’ve got an FBI agent here that needs to talk with you. Says you knew his brother. Here, talk to him.”
“Detective Woodard, my name is Kessler. Rick Kessler. I think you served with my brother, Dean, in the Army.”
The voice and the name triggered unpleasant memories of a time he had tried to bury. He couldn’t tell if it was his Spanish or Navajo side sending a warning chill up his spine. Suddenly, Eagle realized the man on the other end of the line was waiting.
“Yeah, sorry. Yeah, I remember Dean. He died in Afghanistan, didn’t he? Sorry.”
What Woodard remembered was what a closeted bastard the guy had been and how he’d used the knowledge of Eagle’s own closeted sexuality against him. Threatening to report him and risking dishonorable discharge at best…, or death if members of their team found out. He didn’t mourn Dean Kessler’s passing when he got word that some insurgents finished him. “Captain said you were with the FBI?”
“Yes. Detective Woodard, I’ve heard a lot about you and Dr. Coulter. I was very impressed when you apprehended Martin Devoreaux. I read the case report. You and Dr. Coulter are quite the team. The good doctor’s a legend at the bureau. His book on Ritual Behaviorism Among Serial Killers is mandatory reading now at the academy.”
“Oh, Adam would love to hear that.” Eagle rolled his eyes. The last thing Adam Coulter needed was something to bolster his ego.
“If it’s alright, I really need to talk with both of you about a case I’m working. I think you might be able to help me.”
“No. I’m still putting some final touches on a plan I’ve got in motion. How about tomorrow morning at your home? I want to keep this as low key as possible. Strictly, on a need to know basis, so I’d prefer it if your Captain and I met with you and Coulter privately.”
Eagle unzipped his jumpsuit from chin to navel. “What time?”
“Sure. Tell Cap to bring the creamer.”
Pocketing his phone, Eagle gathered his parachute from the ground and slowly made his way to his truck. Stowing the chute away, he unzipped his jumpsuit the rest of the way. Dragging it down off his shoulders, he revealed a tan-colored work shirt and jeans. He pushed the loose-fitting black nylon from around his narrow waist. Wrestling the last couple of inches of fabric over his shoes, Eagle jerked the material free and tossed it behind the driver’s seat completing his impromptu striptease. He looked up toward the sun before glancing at his watch.
“Yeah…, I know, I’m late.” He said to no one, but the wind.
About the Author
My mother now regrets her fateful words she offered the day I came home from our small town library in Palm Springs, California (yes, I’m a Cali girl) complaining that there were no more books to read. “Then why don’t you write some.”
My father never saw his old Remington portable until I entered college and they gifted me an IBM Selectric. By then I had produced at least two dozen unpublishable novels which make me cringe when I read them today.
I found inspiration in innumerable odd jobs (from migrant work as a Date palm pollinator to the person who cleans the washing machines at the launderette to professional Dominatrix) for stories. After a stint in Rehab for Alcohol and Heroin abuse (so when I write those scenes, I know what I’m talking about), I cleaned up and have stayed that way for 29 years. (Me and Sir Elton, LOL). My gypsy lifestyle gave me a unique perspective on the different people who inhabited the Washington, Oregon, Arizona, California, and New Mexico areas where I have lived.
After 3 very bad marriages to men, I finally figured out what was wrong and fell in love with a woman when I lived in Portland, OR 23 years ago. We’ve been married since 2008 (yes, it was legal in California at that time). We now live in Asheville, NC and love the people in this liberal and accepting corner of the mountains of North Carolina.
To learn all about my upcoming releases, news, and specials, please follow or like me at any of my links!
That is, his holiday-obsessed boyfriend Nick is wearing nothing but a Santa hat and wants to know what Casey wants for Christmas. There is one thing, but it’s something Casey’s been holding back on. Melting candle wax stirs a burning desire in him. All he wants for Christmas is to experience the hot drip on his body…if he can find the courage to finally ask for it. All the sugar cookie-scented candles are making it hard to resist adding a kinky request to his wish list of gifts from his sexy St. Nick.
With the holiday spirit driving him on, Casey asks Nick to give him a hot present he’ll never forget. It’s the season of giving, after all, and this will be a gift they can share. Will Nick become Casey’s personal naughty Santa and fulfill his secret fantasy?
Waxing Poetic for Christmas is a steamy holiday MM romance featuring kink discovery, wax play, holiday sweaters, and a sugary fireside HEA perfect for the holiday season.
Nick breaks out in laughter, pressing it to Casey’s temple in hot puffs that brush over his ear. Nick gives him a squeeze. He backs away from Casey and waves around a lone tube sock.
Casey raises an eyebrow. “Really, Nick?”
“What? The tube sock method is a tried and true classic.” Nick winks and flips the sock in the air once, catching it with a flourish. He’s so dramatic, but Casey loves it. “We don’t have to live on campus to utilize it.”
“I thought you just said we didn’t have to worry about your roommates,” Casey points out.
“I know. I did tell them we wanted some space for the night, but this is just a little extra precaution. Just in case they do end up coming up for air from their science project.”
Casey watches Nick dance down the hallway swinging the sock around.
“Grab the ice and the bowl of cold water, will you?” Nick calls.
Retrieving the last of their safety supplies, Casey trails after Nick into his bedroom. Nick admires his sock-hanging handy work like it’s a Michelangelo in a museum.
“Ohh, ahh,” Casey deadpans. He hoists the bowl of water. “Here.”
Nick takes it from him and sets it on the nightstand by a small fire extinguisher and pile of washcloths.
“Do you really think we’ll need that?” Casey gestures to the extinguisher.
Nick throws him a boyish grin. “Fire safety first. Boy Scouts, dude.”
The snowman monstrosity of a shower curtain is open and spread across the floor, the cheerful pattern winking up at Casey. He sets the bag of ice down.
“Okay, last checks,” Nick announces. He ticks off his fingers one by one. “Bathroom, protein bar, shaved?”
Casey nods along with each one. His stomach somersaults, but he’s ready.
“Did you pick a safeword?” Nick raises his eyebrows seriously.
“Just use stop lights.”
Nick nods in agreement. “Alright. We won’t make this too long, either. I want to feel out what your tolerance is slowly without tiring you out too much.”
“What about what I said? I want to take it.” Casey’s cheeks burn with the truth of that statement. “Whatever you want to give me.”
“And slow and steady is what I want to give you.” Nick reaches out and threads his fingers through Casey’s hair. “Got it?”
“Yeah,” Casey breathes.
“Get undressed. Leave your underwear on.”
It’s a command, not a request. Nick’s gaze heats with it, pupils going dark with desire. Casey’s stomach bottoms out and he exhales a shaking breath before yanking his t-shirt over his head and flinging it at the bed. His flannel pants follow. Nick picks up and toys with a bottle of oil.
As Casey strips, Nick grabs his fluffy Santa hat and sets it on his head so it sits askew. It pushes some of his wavy fringe into his eyes and he watches Casey as he waits for Nick’s command.
Nick waves to the shower curtain. “Kneel down in the middle. Hand on your thighs.”
Casey’s quick to follow directions, dropping to his knees. The plastic curtain crinkles and it sounds as loud in Casey’s ears as his breathing. A shiver ripples through his body. His nipples harden. It’s cold in the room, even with the building’s heat on.
While he waits, Nick lines up a few candles and a lighter.
“First things first,” Nick murmurs. “I want you to watch me.”
Nick doesn’t even have to ask for that. Casey’s gaze is already glued to him as he lights one candle and lets the wax pool once it begins to melt.
He holds the candle so it hovers over his exposed wrist. His gaze flickers to Casey.
“Are you watching, Case?”
“Yes,” Casey whispers, eyes wide.
Nick waits a beat, moving the candle just enough so the flame dances. Then he allows a drop of melted wax to fall onto his wrist. Nick inhales through his nose and hums. The wax skips down, hardening into a pearly line across Nick’s tan skin.
“Nice,” Nick murmurs. “Want me to do another test drop?”
In his head, Casey says yes.
What happens aloud is a sound that’s some approximation of an affirmative that half-lodges in Casey’s throat. He sucks his lips between his teeth, eyes trained on Nick’s wrist. They’ve barely started and already his chest is expanding, pulse thrumming beneath his skin in anticipation. Casey swallows thickly and resists the urge to shift on his knees, keeping still under Nick’s gaze.
About the Author
Mara Townsend is a bisexual indie author of LGBTQ+ romances. She loves to explore intimate relationship development of the feels-inducing variety to invoke the eternal just kiss plea from the reader, as well as crafting strong platonic friendships with heaps of heart and soul. Her stories showcase diverse representation, love stories with realistic emotions—never mindless fluff, a healthy dose of humor, and a side helping of her favorite tropes.
She hangs out in fan communities online and learned how to write the kind of stories that she’s passionate about through experimental character-driven fiction based in her favorite worlds. When not writing, she can be found soaking up sunshine at the beach, traveling the world to fill in her passport, perpetually collecting plants, and reading as many fake-dating romance books as she can find.
A prophecy, a True Alpha, and fates mates. Can accept Ascha that his life has changed forever?
At twenty-one, Ascha Stanton has it all: a wonderful family, great friends, a long-term girlfriend, and a promising career as an NFL star.
The appearance of three unknown men in his small town changes everything. Not only his life and future but also what he always thought himself to be: straight. Why then is he attracted to the handsome auburn-haired Thaddeus? How can Ascha hear his thoughts? And even more intriguing, what does the mark on both their chests mean?
Thaddeus explains a new path has been paved for him, one with the Wild Oak pack, who has been waiting for seventy years for the True Alpha to show himself and fulfill the prophecy.
Will Ascha accept that Thaddeus is the man he’s destined to be with, and will the rival pack accept him as their new leader?
Awakening is an MM wolf shifter book with elements of fantasy and mention of Mpreg. It includes some sexual content and is suitable for adult readers.
I stomp through the house, dodging my friends, and out to my truck. I slow down as I get closer. The dark-haired guy with the cold eyes I saw earlier is here, leaning against the side of the flatbed.
“Nice truck,” he says and rights himself. He’s taller than my six foot, but not by too much.
“Thanks. Do you mind moving away? I like to get going.” The guy gives me the creeps, and I remember Jared’s words. In my head, I try to reach out to Thaddeus, although I don’t why. Why would I trust him? I don’t even know if I can. “He’s here,” I tell him. I feel dumb, but it’s done. I reach for the handle of the cab.
“Hey, Ascha, you forgot your coat,” a voice behind me calls out. I look over my shoulder. Thaddeus is running toward me, holding a leather jacket I’ve never seen before. The dark-haired guy lets out a hiss and curses under his breath.
“Thanks, man.” As I take it from him, my fingers graze over his, and fireworks shoot up my arm. “Get out of here. I’ll get rid of him.”
“Sure, no problem. See you around,” Thaddeus says.
I drive straight home and park in my usual spot next to Dad’s BMW. Mom’s Prius is parked closer to the house. I climb out, but instead of hurrying inside, I stand still for a minute. I’m not alone. Someone is watching me. I can’t see anything in the pitch black surrounding me, but I know it, sense it. Tiny pinpricks are piercing my skin. The clammy feeling is all over me again. I’m burning up. I stagger inside and stumble through the kitchen. I need to get to my bedroom and my bed. If I lie down, I’ll feel better.
“Ascha? Are you okay?” It’s my dad, but I can’t see him properly. My vision is cloudy.
“No, it hurts. Every-fucking-thing hurts. I’m so hot.” I pant.
My mom lays her hand on me. I pull my arm away. Her touch is soft but still painful on my burning skin. “It’s happening, Tom. Dear lord, it’s happening to Ascha. I thought it was too late, that it had passed him by. What should we do?” Her voice is laced with worry, and tears fill her eyes. I wobble past them and make it to my bedroom, where I tear my clothes off. My T-shirt weighs too much on my skin, and I rip it from my chest. My jeans are next. They are too thick, too coarse, hurting me. Then another wave of pain overwhelms me. The pressure on my chest is like a branding iron, stamping marks on my skin, so hot, so deep, but it’s coming from inside me.
What’s happening? What the fuck is happening? I cry out, but it sounds more like a howl. My throat tightens. Too much pain, too much… my legs buckle, and I collapse, landing on my hands and knees. I cry out again. “Thaddeus.”
About the Author
You will normally find her in the living room—typing away—with her dogs, Maud and Siddiqi. As a hopeless romantic, JJ dives into her stories, always falling in love with her men, making sure they get the happy ever after they deserve, even if they do have to work hard for it.
As a bona fide bookaholic, coffee-addicted, wine-drinking and swear-like-a-sailor type of girl, she has yet to work out how to act her age!! LOL. And she has no intentions of growing up or growing old gracefully.
JJ lives in a small, very quiet, village in Lincolnshire, UK, with her husband and dogs, and spends all day dreaming up stories full of really hot men.
A crime to solve, a lover to save, and an ace-happy ending?
Organ trafficking, types of attraction and far-right nationalism are ingredients in this tale about Mike, Ross, Raith and Phil, a gay polyamorous quad who live in North-East England.
Phil is a surgeon in Warbridge Hospital. A patient’s organs are harvested illegally. Are Phil’s colleagues involved?
Detective Nick Seabrooke returns to Warbridge to ask Phil to aid the investigation. Agreeing endangers the quad in more ways than one. How will Nick, who is asexual, react to meeting the quad again? How will they react to him?
This is the fourth story in the County Durham Quad series. Background information is included for new readers.
“I hoped I’d never see him again.” Words that were being echoed three hundred miles away in London. Nick Seabrooke stood at the window of his flat and stared across rooftops to the dome of St Paul’s. He re-read Phil’s message. It was terse and to the point: Considered what you said. Will do it. Feel free to set a meeting up. Was it the answer he’d wanted? Yes, from one point of view. No, definitely not, from another.
He’d hardly believed what he’d heard the previous Monday. Nick was a detective with the NCA, the agency responsible for criminal investigations that went beyond national borders. Money-laundering involving forgery was his normal remit. He’d met the quad when Raith had been chief suspect in a case and he had been a sergeant. Now he was an inspector. So, he’d answered the chief superintendent’s call, expecting to be briefed about a fraud or a forgery. Instead, he was told about organ trafficking. But although trade in body parts was a crime that cut across borders, it seemed well outside his area of expertise. He’d tried to tell the chief so. Yes, the chief knew that, but whoever had requested Nick’s involvement knew that he had liaised, successfully, with Tees, Tyne and Wear Constabulary the year before and, more importantly, knew that he’d worked closely with a surgeon at the hospital at the centre of the enquiry.
“This doctor, Philip Roberts,” the chief had said, “would he be involved in something like this?”
“I very much doubt it, sir,” Nick had answered promptly. “I think he’d feel that it was beneath his ability and beneath his dignity. He’s totally focused on his own niche. He developed this graphene-based colorectal repair procedure almost single-handedly. He pioneered the research. He carries out most of the ops. I can’t see him whipping out a kidney or cornea when no one’s looking. And he’s conscientious. The ethics would bother him.”
“More than he needs and, I’d say, not particularly materialistic.”
“Then contact him,” he’d been told. “See if he’ll work with you on this. We need a medic inside that hospital. Eyes and ears and a way for you to get in and use yours. You stayed at his house, didn’t you, when you were up there last year?”
“No, sir. I stayed with one of the artisans. In Tunhead though. All the houses are owned by Roberts and the men he lives with. They rent them out to arts and crafts personnel. They call the venture BOTWAC—the Beck on the Wear Arts Centre.”
“Interesting sense of humour. Well, see if you can stay there again. It’ll give you some safe opportunities to talk with this doctor without being overheard, and he can teach you all you need to know about proctology.”
Nick knew the meaning of ‘proctology’, but he was focusing on ‘safe’. Safe for whom? The chief misinterpreted his concerned look and his silence, and began to explain proctology.
“Yes, I know, sir,” he said, interrupting, and then he’d been politely dismissed, and tomorrow he’d have to phone Phil. Shit!
So that was what he’d done—phoned Phil, and now he had Phil’s answer.
He closed Messages and, almost reluctantly, opened Gallery. Should he scroll to it—the photo that he’d taken in Raith’s studio that last time he had met the quad? The photo of a portrait of Mike. He hadn’t looked at it for months. …………
………….. Mike had fascinated him, but he realised that he’d rarely even thought of County Durham, or Tunhead—or Mike—for weeks. He was over his crush or whatever it was. So it hadn’t been love. Couldn’t have been love. So, really, he should be able to bin the photo. It shouldn’t be a problem, should it? There was no good reason to keep it, was there? But, although he could resist opening the file, he couldn’t bring himself to press Delete. Couldn’t bring himself to execute that oh-so-final break-with-everything action. So, what did his reluctance, his cowardice, mean? Well, soon he’d have more than a photo in front of him. He’d have flesh and blood. It wouldn’t be so easy to avoid looking at the real thing. He wouldn’t be able to press a key and—abracadabra—delete Mike.
He was probably needlessly worrying. Professional concerns would dominate and there wouldn’t be time to give ex-inspector Michael Angells more than a quick hello and a passing thought. And, being the sensible man that he was, Nick picked up the folder marked Warbridge and re-read the chief’s background information.
About the Author
I’m married, I’ve grown-up children, I’m asexual (although a different sort of ace from Nick) and I do enjoy writing stories that aren’t constrained by hetero-norms.
The plots are always stimulated by something on the news – in this instance, reading that, in 2020, organ donation will become the default position where I live and, also, reading that enforced organ harvesting is carried out in some countries. I enjoy writing funny dialogue as well as dealing with serious issues, though, and I hope that some of the quad’s interchanges will make readers smile. And regarding the extract, I didn’t know the meaning of ‘proctology’ when I saw the word in a review of Book 3! (The term ‘colorectal’ is more common in the UK.) I couldn’t resist including a reference to it.
Only the assassin sent to kill him can free him from the mirror.
When King Lucius is imprisoned in a magic mirror by an evil wizard, he is forced to watch as his life is destroyed and his kingdom brought to the brink of ruin. Trapped in his own reflection, he only has the freedom to move and talk when the wizard sleeps.
With his subjects under the dark spell of the wizard, Lucius is forced to rely on the most unlikely of heroes if he hopes to get his life back.
Harry comes from a long line of assassins and prides himself on being one of the best in the kingdom, but when he is hired to kill King Lucius he discovers that all is not as it seems in the Kingdom of Cinders.
Harry agrees to help Lucius in return for a full pardon for his crimes, but to complete his quest he may have to give up everything, including his freedom and the king he has come to love.
King Lucius sat in the chair in his bedchamber, reading the book he’d started the previous year. He was making slow progress since all the text was a mirror image of the writing he had grown up with.
On the other side of the barrier, his body slept. The evil wizard who had taken over his life four years ago had finished his dastardly deeds for the day, freeing Lucius to wander through the world of mirrors, instead of being stuck reflecting the actions of the wizard.
It was a frustrating existence and one he was eager to escape from.
Unfortunately, he could see no way out of his miserable prison.
A noise from the bedchamber in the real world tore his attention away from his book, and he set it aside. It wasn’t the wizard who had stirred. That was the one thing he knew for sure. He was always the first to know when the wizard woke to start the day.
Creeping towards the barrier, Lucius peered out into the darkened room. The only light came from the candle on the bedside table, the counterpart of which Lucius had been using to read by.
A movement near the balcony caught his eye. Someone was stealing into his chambers, and considering they had decided not to enter by the door, he had to assume they had mischief on their agenda.
Lucius waited in silence, observing the intruder as he stumbled about in the dark. He was lucky the wizard was such a heavy sleeper. Had Lucius been in his own body, the uninvited guest’s bumbling around the bedchamber would have woken him for sure.
Stifling his amusement and keeping as still as possible, Lucius watched as the intruder tiptoed closer to the bed. He clearly hadn’t spotted the living reflection in the dressing table mirror, but few people did. In the dark hours of the night most people chalked it up to imagination, or having mixed up the portraits and mirrors adorning the walls.
The flash of metal in the candlelight doused his amusement in an instant. This was no thief. This was an assassin.
“Stop!” Lucius ordered. He tried not to raise his voice too loud, lest the wizard woke.
The assassin ducked and rolled under the bed in a move that Lucius couldn’t help admiring.
“You can’t stay there all night,” Lucius said. “You might as well come out before he wakes up.”
“Who said that?” the intruder whispered from under the bed.
“I did,” Lucius replied. “Are you going to come out from under there, or are the contents of the chamber pot that interesting?”
“Who are you?”
Lucius sighed heavily. “I’m King Lucius the fourth, and you won’t be delivering the killing blow to me this night.”
The assassin crawled out from under the bed. He stood up and looked at the sleeping figure. “Are you awake?” he asked.
Lucius rolled his eyes. “Behind you.”
Finally the dagger-wielding idiot turned and saw who had spoken. “What magic is this?” he whispered.
“The blackest kind,” Lucius replied. “Would you mind going through the door behind you and following the corridor to the left?”
“So we can talk properly without him waking up,” Lucius explained. “You seem to be quite a resourceful chap, and I think maybe you can help me with a little problem I have.”
“What sort of problem?”
Suddenly, voices shouted from outside in the castle grounds. “Intruder! Call out the guards!”
“Dammit,” Lucius swore.
A grunt and snort from the bed caused the assassin to startle and Lucius sensed the king was about to wake. “Hide in the closet,” he said, pointing to another door.
The assassin didn’t argue with him this time. He ran for cover, only just sliding the door closed when the wizard sat up, awake.
Lucius, trapped in the mirror, lost control of his body the moment the wizard rose. He was a reflection once more, albeit a conscious one.
About the Author
L.M. Brown is an English writer of gay romances. She believes mermen live in the undiscovered areas of the ocean. She believes life exists on other planets. She believes in fairy tales, magic, and dreams. Most of all, she believes in love.
When L.M. Brown isn’t bribing her fur babies for control of the laptop, she can usually be found with her nose in a book.
After 260 years apart, can their love survive the on-coming supernatural onslaught?
Will he find them before it’s too late?
Jamie struggles with an illness no doctor can diagnose; one that keeps him from living a productive life. Until he meets a witch who promises him a cure for a price. But when his target says he knew him in a past life, Jamie is conflicted.
260 years after they lost their soul mate, Riley struggles to hold his imbalanced relationship with Ben together. He grows more powerful even as his reasons for living shrink. His immortality came at a steep price, but when Jamie shows up out of nowhere, he may have to pay it to keep him.
Ben knows Riley loves him, but Jamie was the glue that held them together. Without him, life is unbearable even for an immortal Vampire. Until Jamie shows up one day, the same but different and he realizes they will have to fight to keep him.
Can Jamie, Riley and Ben survive the new threat to their lives? Will Jamie survive the supernatural?
Against All Odds is the second book in the Eternal Soulmates Series; a sexy saga of stories about vampires, witches, werewolves and the humans unfortunate enough to cross their path. If you enjoy steamy, emotional and action-packed romantic adventures, this story is a must-have for you.
Ben saw Riley’s office in his sightline as the elevator doors open. But the exhaustion that came with the Blood Ritual already took hold and he felt almost too tired to walk the tiny distance to the man he loved. Preparations for Festival Week didn’t help. He felt like he hadn’t seen Riley in a week, even though it couldn’t have been that long.
He pushed past Thom who may or may not have offered a greeting, only sighing in relief as soon as he found Riley’s comfortable couch. Riley was on the phone. The conversation was high energy, Riley yelling at whoever it is that was on the other end. Festival Week brought out the worst in everyone, even Riley.
Ben closed his eyes, letting his man’s voice soothe him. He didn’t look up when he heard Riley hung up the phone. He didn’t need to say or do anything; being close to Riley was all he needed. And when everything became too heavy to bear, he would come here when he knew Riley was alone, just to sit here and feel his protection, his love.
This week would be tough for all Vampires. Born-Vampires like his brothers would have it the hardest, their bodies growing weaker the longer they denied themselves the life-giving blood they needed. Made-Vampires like him lasted a little longer on the blood-bags, but eventually, they needed fresh blood from the vein.
This was the whole purpose of Festival Week. Humans saw it as the party of the century, limited tickets making it even more attractive. But to Vampires it was a once-a-year opportunity to get the fresh blood they needed to survive. Some were lucky enough to find a human soul mate who continued to provide the much needed nourishment. But Festival Week continued to become a necessity. It was also a lot of fun, when someone else was planning it.
Riley moved from his desk to the couch and Ben sighed when the familiar hand through his hair. His eyes remained closed, even as he turned his body towards his soul mate, “I’m so tired.” He hadn’t meant it for it to sound so whinny.
Riley kept the perfect pressure on his skull, rubbing with enough pressure to make his headache go away, “Of course you are. Festival Week sucks.”
Ben opened his eyes, “But you don’t look tired.”
Riley smiled before pulling Ben closer, “I run on magic and I have an endless supply.” He nodded towards the door, “Can’t say the same for poor Thom out there.”
“Send the guy home. He’s always here.”
Riley looked at his watch, “He should leave in a few minutes. How’s Bello Locus?”
Ben snuggled into his arms, “if you’re asking if we’re ready, I think so. But Adam keeps saying we don’t have enough alcohol.”
“He’s the expert.”
“There’s just so much to do. The stage guys at the ground had a mishap and they must work through the night to get it ready.”
Riley nudged him to look at him, “How are you doing?”
“I wish I didn’t have to take blood from a stranger. But other than that…”
Riley avoided talking about the subject and Ben couldn’t blame him. The Blood ritual was a very erotic affair, and no one wanted to see their man unable to control their urges in the arms of another. If only they could find Jamie.
They’d first come up with Festival Week two decades after Bastian had tried to usurp the Vampire throne in 1957; partly for the revenue the Festival brought to the island and also for the Vampires survival. Every year, the party grew bigger than the last, attracting more humans. But to Ben and Riley, this was just something else they had to do without Jamie.
“Are mother and Grandma coming?” Ben asked to keep himself and Riley from thinking of Jamie more than was healthy.
“She said they would try to make it by the last day. But Edie will be here.”
Riley’s hand was back in his hair and although he was exhausted, Ben was aroused by the proximity. When Riley pulled on his hair, he turned to him to find the same aroused look in his lover’s eyes.
Riley ran a finger over his lips, “Do you know what I thought the first time I saw you?” The finger passed across his lips, dipping inside his mouth as soon it was open.
“You hated me?” They’d had this conversation so many times over the years, and Ben loved where it was going.
Riley chuckled, his own heavy breaths betraying the state of his arousal, “I thought, you were the most beautiful person I had ever seen.” He pulled his finger out of Ben’s mouth, “But I was standing next to the most beautiful person in the world.” He placed a single kiss to Ben’s lips, “You confused me. I wanted you so much.”
Ben tried to chase his lips, moaning when Riley kissed his neck instead. He tilted his head, giving Riley room to continue his pleasurable assault, “So, you hated me?”
Riley’s hand reached under his shirt, pulling it away from his already heated body as he tried to reach for Ben’s sensitive nipples, “I had never wanted someone the way I wanted you, not even Jamie. I still want you so much.”
Riley captured his lips in an overpowering kiss before Ben could confess his own overwhelming need. Ben straddled his lap as the delicious kiss invaded all his senses. Riley’s hands grabbed his ass and pulled him even closer to his already aroused cock. Ben wanted to be naked, but he wanted this kiss, the tight embrace more than he needed Riley’s cock. That changed when Riley pulled on his belt, undoing his pants all in one move without breaking the kiss. He pushed pants and underwear out of the way and grabbed his bare ass, pulling him even closer.
Ben moaned into Riley’s mouth when his bare cock brushed against Riley’s clothed body. He wanted to be naked and when he started to undo his shirt, Riley relented long enough to allow him to undress.
He stood before Riley battling to get his clothes off, breathing hard. When his shoes, socks and pants were off, he noticed that Riley wasn’t too keen on getting naked. Instead, he leaned back on the couch, arms behind his head as he watched Ben undress.
Riley’s gaze moved up his body, making him shiver, “You are so beautiful.” When Ben attempted to move back on to his lap, Riley shook his head, “Touch yourself for me.”
About the Author
Growing up Elle was the girl sitting in a corner with her nose in a book. For as long as she could remember, she would journey to different destinations around the world with the characters she met in the many books she read. So when she turned fifteen, it was not surprising that she found herself ready to create her own world of characters. The Paranormal world was particularly intriguing, especially immortal vampires and the humans sharing their fascinating existence. Her first book was not published and got lost somewhere in the midst of her life. Her love of stories- literature, Movies, and TV, only intensified as she got older, becoming a major part of her life. Soon, she would find herself working as a freelance writer (a girl has to pay her bills) all the while sharing her life with voices in her head that screamed for an outlet. She saw an opportunity to give life to her characters when she stumbled on self-publishing and her first Paranormal romance series- The Eternal Flame Series was born. A tea addict, Elle also has a powerful love for Music and her ever-expanding Family. She is overjoyed to share her love for Romance with all her readers and grateful for their unending support.
Christmas. A Wedding. Family. It’s the Perfect Storm…
For Rory Kincaid marrying Jack, the youngest son of the aristocratic De Lacy family, on Christmas Eve, is a dream come true. Handing over the wedding planning to Jack’s mother, the strong-willed Lady Diana, is turning out to be more of a nightmare.
As their big day approaches, the pressure’s on and the strain is beginning to show. Announcements in society magazines, a guest list that’s growing and growing, and fittings for the best bespoke tailoring in London, it’s all a far cry from Rory’s humble upbringing. Piece by piece, Rory and Jack’s dream of a simple winter wedding is fading fast.
Rory is Jack’s everything. Sweet, kind, and totally adorable, Rory is all Jack has ever wanted. And what Jack wants most of all is to give the man he loves the wedding day of his dreams — and that means taking a stand against the indomitable Diana.
***Warning: this story contains two gorgeous men, a mountain of mince pies and cupcakes, a punk rocker Christmas fairy called Bunty, and a snowy Christmas Wedding.***
“Where are we going? The Tube station’s that way.” Rory nodded in the direction they were coming from.
“We’re not going home, or not just yet.”
“Oh? I thought we were going to decorate our living room, drink lots of advocaat, and then get naked on the rug.”
Jack threw back his head and laughed. “That sounds like a plan, but there’s something I want to do first.”
“You mean something is more important than naked advocaat?”
Jack just smiled in response. There wasn’t a lot that was more important than naked advocaat, but what they were about to do next just about topped it.
The tiny street would be so easy to miss in the messy and higgledy-piggledy maze that was the City of London.
Jack pressed his fingertips to Rory’s lips and gazed into Rory’s questioning, confused eyes.
“Just go with me on this, okay?”
Jack pushed the door open, and he and Rory stepped into another time.
The shop was crammed with tall and narrow display cabinets, all of them holding a treasure of watches. Behind the counter, in a corner and almost hidden, sat a small, round, bald-headed man. A pair of glasses perched on the end of his nose, and another was wedged on the top of his head as he worked on the mechanism of a pocket watch, using what looked like a set of toy tools.
“Mr. De Lacy.” The man put aside his work, stood up and extended his hand to Jack.
“Mr. Hogarth. Let me introduce Rory Kincaid, my fiancé.”
Jack moved aside to allow Rory to shake Mr. Hogarth’s hand. Jack smiled; in a moment everything would be revealed.
“Let me bring your order.” Mr. Hogarth disappeared into a back room.
“Jack, I don’t understand. What’s going on?”
Before Jack could answer, Mr. Hogarth returned bearing a small black box, which he handed over to Jack.
“Please.” Mr. Hogarth gestured to a small table and a couple of chairs on the other side of the shop, in the only space not taken up with display cabinets, before he returned to his place once more behind the counter and took up his work as though he were alone.
“I want you to have this,” Jack said, opening the box as soon as he and Rory were seated.
“What?” Rory gaped at the watch, displayed on a pad of black velvet. “But we agreed a strict ten-pound budget, just something silly this year. I haven’t—”
“No, it’s not a Christmas present.”
“Then what—? I don’t understand.”
Jack took the watch out of the box. Like his own, it was plain and unadorned. The black Roman numerals were stark against the white face; the casing was gold, deep and burnished.
“When I was twenty-one, my father presented me with a watch from this shop. He did the same for George,” Jack said, referring to his elder brother. “My father also had a watch on his twenty-first birthday, as did my grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather. The De Lacy men have had watches in one form or another from Hogarth’s since the late eighteenth century. All those watches came from here, from this very shop.” Jack glanced toward the counter, but Mr. Hogarth had gone and was now nowhere to be seen.
“This isn’t a Christmas present, Ro. This is something every De Lacy man receives. And I wanted you to have one, too, because that’s what you’re on the point of becoming: a De Lacy man.” Jack’s lips lifted in a wry smile. “I didn’t know you when you turned twenty-one, although I wish I did. I’m just making up for lost time. On Christmas Eve, you’re going to take my name. I want you to be wearing this watch when you do.”
“Jack, I–I don’t know what to say.”
“Then don’t say anything. Just accept it, along with the words I had engraved.”
Jack held the watch out. All his focus was on his fiancé, reading for the first time the words engraved not only on the watch but on Jack’s heart.
Love, always and forever.
Four simple words which said everything Jack held deep inside about the man he’d found huddled on his doorstep just two Christmases before.
About the Author
I love all kinds of MM romance and gay fiction, but I especially like contemporary stories. Born and raised in London, the city is part of my DNA so I like to set many of my stories in and around present-day London, providing the perfect, metropolitan backdrop to the main action. I write at home, in the gym, in cafés —in fact I write any place I can find a good coffee!
Mac’s life isn’t perfect, but he likes it the way it is: safe and predictable.
Mac works in a struggling pole dancing club at night, and a gym during the day. He’s tired and cash strapped, but content, until a confident twink walks into the club and turns his life upside down. It’s hard to resist when Russel asks him to be his fake boyfriend for one night, in return for double his normal take-home pay.
One date turns into more, as Mac helps Russel get an exclusive that will secure him the job he’s always wanted. But the rich playboy who holds Russel’s career in his hands isn’t going to give him the scoop so easily.
As Mac and Russel spend more time together, the lines between fake and real begin to get blurred, but can their relationship become strong enough to be unbreakable in the face of adversity?
Unbreakable is a fake boyfriend MM romance, with a buff pole dancer who swears like a trooper, a twink who likes to take charge, some spanking, light bondage, and a happy ever after. It’s a prequel story to Broken, but can be read as a standalone romance.
“I’ve been invited to a very exclusive party on Saturday, but it’s couples only. And, horror of horrors, I can’t find a date.”
Mac laughed loudly. “So you thought you’d ask me?”
Russel shrugged in an attempt to appear nonplussed. “Why not? You’re sexy and we’d make a hot couple.” He flicked his gaze up and down Mac’s body. “You do have some nice clothes, don’t you?” When Mac’s eyes widened, he shook his head. “Never mind. I can take you shopping.”
Mac put his hands on his hips, shaking his head. “You can’t be serious?”
“Handsome, I’m deadly serious.”
“Let me get this straight: you want me—a total stranger—to be your date for some posh party?”
Russel nodded. “That about sums it up.” He wagged his finger. “Except you need to pretend to be my boyfriend. Like I said, it’s couples only.”
Mac stared at him, jaw slack and eyes wide.
“I’ll pay you.”
Mac jerked his chin up a little. “Huh.”
“Whatever you’d earn here on a Saturday night, I’ll double it.”
“You know I could just give you some bullshit figure, right?”
Russel nodded. “I’m aware.”
Mac scratched his chin. “You’re nuts and your time’s pretty much up.”
Russel took thirty pounds out of his pocket, stood, and put it in the money jar on Mac’s behalf. “Now I’ve got three more minutes.” He sat down again. “So, are you going to pretend to be my boyfriend on Saturday night, or are you going to make me beg?”
“You really are serious, aren’t you?”
Mac threw his hands up. “What the hell. Why not? It could be a laugh.”
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.
Love is supposed to be easy. You are supposed to find your person and fall in love, and then you hold each other and kiss and live happily ever after.
Well, Erik has ended up in the wrong bloody love story. He is stuck in the one full of angst and worries and confusion and pain. Lots of pain.
Oskar Høiland hides from life. It just makes things easier that way, not having to face all the fears and drama of living. He especially hides from other people, because Oskar has grown up fearing the snide remarks and the quick glances that strip him of the tiny scraps of confidence he still has left. He is just going to keep existing. Work hard to complete his medical degree and perhaps watch a few more series on Netflix in peace and quiet over Christmas.
Erik Nøst Hansen should be an almost fully-fledged adult. He should be able to sort out the mess that festers in his head and stop lying. It’s just hard. And it’s bloody terrifying to even acknowledge the thoughts that swirl around in his head at night when he can’t sleep. He also needs to figure out how to talk to the boy downstairs. The one with the golden curls and the crooked smile. The boy who is completely monopolising Erik’s messed-up heart.
A story of falling in love and being brave. A Christmas tale with a difference, set in the university dorms of central Oslo, where lies are uncovered, snowflakes are falling all over the place, and beds are made to lie in. There is a slightly unconventional family. A mess of animal onesies. Too much food and a very Merry Christmas.
Oskar’s first instinct is to flee. Run. Hide somewhere until the thing in his bed has disappeared. He blinks. Shakes his head in disbelief and looks again.
Nope. He’s still there. There is still a very-much-fast-asleep person in his bed, his breathing soft against Oskar’s pillow, and that ridiculous pink bandana is sliding down over his eyes.
He moves carefully to get a closer look, then recoils back as he remembers. No clothes! He is stark naked in his own room, like a normal person would be. It’s just, this dude is there. Right there. On his bed.
Yes, he had left his door unlocked, but then that doesn’t mean any random person can just come in and decide to sleep in his bed? Does it? Especially when the random person is flat-out drunk. Oskar can smell the alcohol now, his body recoiling at the fumes escaping along with little bubbles of spit at the corner of the dude’s mouth. Beer-scented mouthfuls of air with every breath. Every little snore.
He doesn’t know how he didn’t realise someone was here before. I mean, the dude is not exactly quiet, snuffling and snoring and smacking his lips together in his sleep.
Oskar’s eardrums are still ringing from having his earphones on the highest volume, and the beats from upstairs are still going strong, but still, he should have noticed. How the fuck didn’t he notice?
There are a pair of threadbare joggers on the floor, which he pulls on, and the t-shirt on the floor looks clean enough, so he pulls it over his damp hair and tiptoes further up along the side of his bed to get a closer look.
It’s definitely one of the guys from upstairs. The tall pretty one. The one with all the girlfriends. The one with the reputation.
Yes, Oskar listens. He might not speak much to the other students, but his hearing is good—well, it was until today, and he will sue if his hearing is damaged from this bloody party, starting with suing the pants off this dude that has crashed Oskar’s planned Netflix marathon—and he pays attention to the stories. The tall tales of weekend shenanigans. The obvious boasting and lies. And the things that might actually be true.
Like the whispers doing the rounds about this guy. The tall one with the messy dark-brown hair and full lips. Kisses like he means it. Great lay apparently. Can get any girl he wants. That’s what he has heard. Hangs around with the dark-haired guy with the black floppy fringe, and that lanky boy with the frizzy hair. Well, he probably hangs around with everyone. Always smiling and never alone. Never sitting on his own in the cafeteria like Oskar, hiding in the corner with his headphones on.
No, this dude is always the centre of attention. Surrounded by people clinging to his every word. Laughing at his jokes. Staring adoringly at him as he throws his head back in laughter.
Except this dude is now here. And Oskar hasn’t got a clue what to do.
He could go get Freddie, he supposes, and they could probably manhandle the dude out of the room. Dump him on the sofa for the night. He is quite sure the girls would approve, and in the morning, he would wake up and find this guy on the sofa making all the girls laugh, having charmed them into making him coffee and buttering his toast and spoon feeding him their secret imported stash of Swedish Treo hangover fizz, whilst placing tiny morsels of hot buttered toast on his tongue.
He pushes that scene out of his head with a sigh. The boy is his problem. He is in Oskar’s bed. And if he doesn’t get him out of here, things will be shit awkward in the morning, he is sure of that.
“Dude,” he whispers, and nudges the guy’s shoulder before he can stop himself. He should think this through, make some kind of plan. Maybe wake him up gently so he doesn’t scare the shit out of the poor guy, waking up and realising he has crashed in Oskar’s bed, instead of wherever he thought he was crashing.
He probably took a wrong turn, thinking this was Madeleine’s room. Or Ingvild’s. Or one of the other girls. Maybe he thought he could get lucky by just throwing himself in some lucky girl’s bed. Just like that. Oskar wonders if people do that, just full-on go for it and shamelessly offer themselves like that.
Oskar shudders at the thought. It’s a mistake whatever it is, and Oskar won’t let him get away with this. Not tonight. Not now. He doesn’t need the grief, or the inevitable shaming in the morning when this dude tells all his friends that the nerd downstairs tried to get him in the sack. Lies and raw laughter trying to make light of a situation that he knows will end badly, with Oskar being the butt of every joke. The one the girls will gossip about and point their fingers at. The one that came on to one of the beautiful people. One of their people. Where Oskar just doesn’t belong.
Because the boy is beautiful, even Oskar can see that. Soft long dark hair framing his face, freckles decorating his pale skin and those lips. Even his fucking profile is perfect, his straight nose burrowing into Oskar’s pillow.
“Dude, come on! Wake up.” Oskar shakes his shoulder this time, but the guy is dead. Dead to the world. Not a hint of pretending to wake up. He just snores and burrows further into the pillow.
“YO. MATE!” This guy is no mate of his. Nor will they ever be, mates or whatever, but Oskar is shouting now. Desperate. He needs to get to bed. He needs an hour of some mindless American sitcom to calm him down. He needs to sleep. Please.
He tries to pull the guy off the bed, grabbing the dude by the ankles only to realise the guy is still wearing shoes. Big clumsy boots with heels. Ridiculous. I mean who wears shit like that in the middle of winter? It’s not like December in Oslo is the place for something that wouldn’t look out of place in a Texas Rodeo.
“Fuck,” he grits between his teeth.
The sofa out in the main room is seriously uncomfortable. No one ever bothers to even sit on it, and even if he considers sleeping there, the bleach fumes would make him retch before long.
It’s not like he could go sleep in anyone else’s room. It’s just not the kind of thing he could do. Not his thing. Not that he is close enough to any of the others to warrant such a request.
He could sleep on his own floor, he supposes, except that the dude is lying on top of his duvet.
It takes a few good pulls, but finally the duvet gives way and the dude rolls over as Oskar drags the fabric from underneath his body. He almost bursts into laughter, because the dude is now on his back, mouth wide open and the bandana has slipped down covering his eyes and nose. He looks like a twat.
A drunk snoring twat in ridiculous boots.
Oskar is a medical student. Oskar fucking knows what can happen. He wouldn’t be a responsible human being if he didn’t ensure that his unwelcome roommate at least survives the night.
The boots come off his feet to reveal socks underneath. Ridiculous socks with little reindeers and Santas that make Oskar swallow another inappropriate giggle. This isn’t funny. This isn’t funny at all.
He rolls the bandana up over the dude’s fringe, carefully removing it before tossing it aside, and straddles his body to try to roll him into the recovery position. He has done it several times in training, but always with willing perfectly conscious subjects underneath him. Never a half-dead comatose man breathing alcohol fumes at him, making him retch in disgust.
It takes a few goes, and Oskar gets braver as the guy is definitely out for the count. He doesn’t wake up, even when Oskar knees him in the balls by mistake, trying to manhandle his shoulder over towards the mattress. But he is finally there, safely in position on his side with his hand supporting his chin, so any accidental vomiting won’t choke him to death and there is nothing restricting around his neck to hinder his breathing. His airway is open, and he is safe. In the middle of Oskar’s bed.
Oskar wants to cry. He wants to bury his face in his hands and howl. Scream out in frustration.
Instead, he covers the unconscious body in his warm duvet and switches off the light. Lets his own body slide in under the covers at the very edge of the bed, as far away as he can get. Oskar lies there, perched on the edge of the mattress, yet he can still feel the breath from the other man hitting the back of his neck. Soft puffs of air stroking the skin under his still-damp hair.
He shudders. It’s hours until he finally falls asleep. Restless and terrified of what he might find next to him in the morning.
About the Author
Sophia Soames should be old enough to know better but has barely grown up. She has been known to fangirl over tv-shows, has fallen in and out of love with more popstars than she dares to remember, and has a ridiculously high-flying (un-)glamourous real-life job.
Her long-suffering husband just laughs at her antics. Their children are feral. The Au Pair just sighs.
She lives in a creaky old house in rural London, although her heart is still in Scandinavia.
Discovering that the stories in her head make sense when written down has been part of the most hilarious midlife crisis ever and she hopes it may long continue.
Miriam Latu is a Norway based artist, specialising in hand-drawn pencil portraits. She works with old-school pen and paper, and more of her work can be found on Instagram @om_hundre_ar_er_allting.
Also by Sophia Soames, with cover artwork by Miriam Latu
I promised myself many years ago that I would never set foot in London again. I promised. Adam promised. I said I wouldn’t. He said I would never have to. Yet here we are again, and life has become quite surreal. This is us, a good few years later, older and wiser with more baggage than the baggage belt at Heathrow. And now it is Christmas and Adam is working too much and I have far too much time to think about things that shouldn’t really matter. Or maybe they should? 717 miles Christmas Special is a short novella to follow on from 717 miles, the novel, and should not be read as a standalone.