When a missing antique shows up under mysterious circumstances, Ben and Erik are plunged into danger as a cursed hotel’s long-ago scandals resurface. Someone wants those secrets to stay buried—and is willing to add Ben and Erik to the death toll to keep the past hidden.
Erik Mitchell traveled the world uncovering art fraud and relic theft, which pitted him against spoiled billionaires, unscrupulous collectors, mobsters and cartels. He worked with law enforcement across the US and Europe, but a sting goes wrong and Erik ends up injured, then returns to find his partner cheating. Erik decides to stop globe trotting and buy an antique shop in scenic Cape May, NJ, rebuild his life, and nurse his broken heart.
Undercover Newark cop Ben Nolan went down in a hail of bullets when a bust went sideways, after a tip-off from a traitor inside the department. After he recovers, he spends a couple of years as a private investigator, only to tire of seeing the worst of human nature. So when his aunt offers him the chance to take over her rental real estate business in Cape May, it seems too good to be true. Now if he could just believe he could ever be lucky again in love.
When a missing antique shows up under mysterious circumstances, Ben and Erik are plunged into danger as a cursed hotel’s long-ago scandals resurface. Someone wants those secrets to stay buried—and is willing to add Ben and Erik to the death toll to keep the past hidden.
“What the hell did you pack in these boxes? Rocks?” Sean Meirlach shifted the heavy moving box on his shoulder. Sean looked and sounded like the Jersey Shore guy he was, brawny and blunt.
“Books,” Ben replied. “You know, those rectangular paper things? Ever read one?” The teasing was good-natured. Ben Nolan had spent most of his summers working for his cousin’s mom, and they were thick as thieves. Which, Ben reflected, was a poor analogy for an ex-cop-turned-former-private-investigator. And now, at least for this summer, a vacation rental manager in beautiful Cape May, New Jersey.
“Yes, dumbass. I’ve read lots of books. And not just the ones with pictures in them,” Sean said with a smirk. Sean played up his bad boy persona, but Ben knew his cousin had plenty of brains, hustle, and street smarts.
“Good to know. I’d hate to have to break it to Aunt Meg that her favorite son was illiterate.”
Sean snorted. “Favorite son? I’m her onlyson, asshole. And she’s already pissed at me because I just want to run my food truck in Wildwood. Which is why you’re doing me a huge solid, taking over the family business.”
“Whoa, there! Hold up. I’m here for the summer. Justthe summer. I said I’d see how it went. No promises.”
“Just the summer? You sure brought a lot of shit with you if it’s just for the summer.” Sean set the box down a little harder than necessary on a table in the upstairs apartment over the rental office, which would be Ben’s home for the next few months. Ben dumped the tangle of odds and ends he had carried up from the rented van and flopped onto the couch. He had put most of his things in storage when he left Newark and brought what he didn’t want to do without, or what the apartment didn’t have. Sean had driven the truck up to Cape May, while Ben drove his black Mustang, packed to the roof.
He owed Sean a lot for helping him move—and, if truth be told, for pushing him as the perfect candidate for the job to Aunt Meg.
“Don’t screw up the master plan, dude!” Sean chided. “You’re sick of the big city and getting shot. And I need a little of that good life, somewhere not quite as buttoned-down.” He reached for a bottle of water and took a swig. “I love this town, but I need to stretch my wings. And the vibe in Wildwood is different. People come for the Pier and the Boardwalk and the rides. More singles, not just families. And they all have to eat!”
Sean’s truck, Put A Ring On It, specialized in kickass onion rings, which went on everything—burgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, even chili. The combination of great food, a catchy name, and Sean’s outgoing personality had made for a very successful launch.
About the Author
Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions. Characters from her Gail books make frequent appearances in secondary roles in her Morgan books, and vice versa.
On the rare occasions Morgan isn’t writing, she’s either reading, cooking, or spoiling two very pampered dogs.
Other books include Witchbane, Burn, Dark Rivers, and Badlands. Watch for more in these series, plus new series coming soon!
Join my Worlds of Morgan Brice Facebook Group! Get the early scoop on upcoming books and new series, see new covers first, enjoy insider news and special contests and giveaways! Plus it’s where I get my beta readers and launch team!
Three years after his husband’s death, Vitor is still grieving. Too young to be alone and too old to start again, he feels stuck. Accepting a new job in Lisbon is just what he needs, but it also means going back to the city that sealed his fate nearly thirty years ago.
Between looking for his missing brother and running an LGBTQ Youth Center, Tiago doesn’t have time for dating or commitment. When his best friend asks him to find a family member that ran away years ago, Tiago welcomes the distraction.
A past full of secrets.
An anonymous kiss that turns their world upside down.
When past and present clash, will the two men put everything aside and give themselves a chance at happiness? Or are the things keeping them apart stronger than their feelings?
Made In Lisbon is a 60k word May-December MM romance with hurt/comfort themes, lots of steam and a HEA.
Made In Lisbon can be read as a standalone but will be better enjoyed as part of the Made In Series as characters and stories from previous books appear in this story.
“Hey, sweets, how are you doing?” Luís asked before enveloping me in one of his big bear hugs. I allowed myself to melt into it before I answered.
I’d met Luís on the same night I’d met Rodrigo at a student party. I’d been talking to Luís and had thought he was cute, but Rodrigo stole my heart from the first moment our eyes met. When Dri had stolen me away at the party I’d thought I’d never see Luís again, but when we’d bumped into each other at the university campus a few days later, we went out for coffee and ended up becoming good friends.
“Are you really okay?” He put a hand on my chin to tilt my head up so I could look him in the eye.
“I was going through Dri’s shirts earlier and it brought back some memories. Hey, I don’t suppose you want his shirts? You’re the same size.” Despite asking the question I was relieved when Luís said he didn’t feel right taking the shirts, and besides, he didn’t have any use for them since he was an artist and spent more time covered in paint than in nice clothes.
“So, where’s this dinner then? I’ve not eaten since breakfast in anticipation. And since the others aren’t here, I expect a mega portion.”
I smiled and guided him to the kitchen.
This house was Rodrigo’s indulgence. When he’d asked me to marry him, even before it was legal for two men to marry in Portugal, he’d promised he’d design the best house in the country. I never needed something so big, but the kitchen was the one part of the house I was grateful I’d allowed him to indulge in the design.
The food was perfect as always, then again, cooking this meal most Sundays for nearly thirty years, I could almost do it wearing a blindfold.
We ate mostly in silence, which was welcome because I was feeling out of sorts. I also wondered what was in Luís’ mind. In the nearly thirty years I’d known him I’d never seen him go longer than a few minutes without talking. Even when we were younger, he’d always been the one who would bring someone into the conversation by asking the right questions and making them feel like they were the only person in the room.
That was how he’d got me talking that night in the bar, until a single look from Rodrigo had made me feel like he and I were the only people on the planet.
The thought made me shiver. Luís looked at me but didn’t say anything.
Since it was just the two of us, I hadn’t bothered making dessert, but I had made an effort to get Luís’ favorite pastries.
“Have I ever told you how much I love you?” Luís said before stealing one of the mini palmiers part dipped in chocolate with a sprinkle of coconut.
We took our coffees and a plate with the tiny pastries and sat in the living room facing the garden.
“What’s going on?” Luís asked before I had a chance to take a sip from my coffee.
“What do you mean?”
“Something’s not right.”
I took a deep sigh. What could I tell him? That I felt like part of me had died with my husband and the other part was slowly dying because my son wouldn’t talk to me? That I hated going to work because the desk next to mine was empty? Was three years too long to still be missing him? Or not long enough?
“Talk to me, sweets,” Luís said, putting his hand on my cheek and rubbing his thumb gently over my skin. I always loved how tactile Luís was, almost like touching people was part of his language.
“I don’t know what to say. I feel lost without Dri and Mateus won’t talk to me. I don’t know how to handle it all on my own.”
About the Author
Ana Newfolk was born in Portugal but has lived in the United Kingdom for so long, even her friends sometimes doubt if she really is Portuguese.
After getting hooked on reading gay romance, Ana decided to follow her lifelong dream of becoming an author.
These days you can find her in front of her laptop bringing her stories to life, or in the kitchen perfecting her recipe for the famous Portuguese custard tarts.
Luke Ryan’s life is too chaotic for romance, what with running his business and being the legal guardian to his ten-year-old niece, but he’s hopeful he’ll find the right man.
Trauma surgeon Finn Thomason recently relocated from Chicago to Boston, where his focus on medicine leaves him little space for a personal life. Making a commitment to find a better work-life balance, Finn hopes he’ll also find a relationship.
Caught in an evening rainstorm, Luke shelters under a sidewalk awning…and encounters a handsome stranger. The two strike up a conversation and Finn offers to walk Luke under his oversized umbrella. Charmed, Luke accepts and asks Finn out for coffee in thanks.
Luke and Finn quickly grow close, but, as the summer draws to an end, Luke struggles to keep his connection with Finn while Finn tries to come to terms with caring for a man whose attention is pulled in many directions. Both men are scrambling to get it right, but only time will tell if they’ll learn there is more than enough room in their hearts to go around.
“Hey, Luke, I’m going to Starbucks to buy coffee for everyone. You want?”
Luke Ryan stared at the code on his computer monitors and nodded absently. “Sure.”
“Okay. Grab your stuff and come with me.”
Luke blinked. “What do you need me for?” He turned away from the monitors and faced his best friend and business partner, Simon Martin.
Simon stood and eyed Luke across their shared office. “To help me schlep back the orders.”
“Ugh.” It was nearly two p.m. and Luke’s concentration was flagging. As much as he wanted to keep working, fresh coffee sounded wonderful. The idea of going to fetch it, however, not so much. He stood and picked up his wallet and phone from his desk. “We wouldn’t be having this conversation if you’d let me buy a new coffeemaker.”
“I said I’d buy it, didn’t I?”
“Yes, you said that two weeks ago. And here we are, making the trek to Starbucks once again.”
Simon sighed at Luke’s grumbling. “Oh, goodness. I’ll buy one this weekend, I promise. In the meantime, you could stand to go outside for a few minutes. Your ass has been bolted to that chair all day. You didn’t even break for lunch.”
“Yes, I did.”
“You ate a plastic squeeze tube filled with something green.”
“It was yogurt,” Luke said. “I bought a box of mixed flavor tubes but Ella doesn’t like lime, so they’re all mine.”
Simon grimaced. “That sounds appalling. Serves you right for feeding that girl junk.”
Luke chuckled as they started for the door. His niece, Ella, was ten years old and particular about what she ate. Luke had been stuck eating food she’d rejected before, but he didn’t mind—weird foods came with the territory of raising children. Or helping to raise them, anyway, as Luke had been helping his brother, Peter, do for the past several years, ever since Peter’s wife had walked out on her family and Peter had moved Ella from the Marine base in Virginia back to Boston and into Luke’s Back Bay apartment.
Once outside, Luke and Simon walked a block and a half to Winter Street, navigating around shoppers and tourists. The line at Starbucks stretched nearly out of the door, and they stepped up to its end while Luke read over the orders his coworkers had scribbled on a scrap of paper.
“I don’t know what this says.” He pointed at one messy line. “This looks like Klingon.”
Simon squinted. “You would know, I suppose. I’m fairly sure everyone ordered cold brew, by the way. That’s all those hipster punks drink anyway.”
Luke laughed. “Good point. Gillian wants an almond milk Macchiato, though.” Gillian Vasquez was the third partner in their software development business. Petite, red-haired and whip-smart, her easygoing personality provided an excellent foil for Simon’s brashness and Luke’s hyperfocus. Gillian kept Simon and Luke in line and they knew it.
“Is she still doing the dairy-free thing?” Simon asked.
“I’m not sure. I think she just likes almond milk, to be honest. Ella’s the same.”
“That doesn’t make those bowls of sugar cereal you feed her any healthier, you know.”
Luke rolled his eyes. He’d never understood why kids’ cereals got such a bad rap. Beyond the high sugar content and their dubious nutritional value, that was.
“I found a recipe for Cap’n Crunch cookies,” he said. “I was thinking Ella and I could make them over the weekend.” He snorted with laughter at Simon’s obvious disgust.
“Where on earth would you find such a thing?”
“Pinterest. It’s loaded with all kinds of questionable recipes.”
“Oh, Pickle.” Simon made a sympathetic noise. “This only underscores what I’ve been telling you for months—you need to get out more.”
Luke winced. “Please don’t call me Pickle in public.” He glanced around, hoping no one had overheard the ridiculous nickname, and met the gaze of a dark-haired guy standing behind them.
Well, hello there.
Luke flashed a grin and the guy blinked, clearly surprised. He offered Luke a shy half-smile of his own just before the line shifted.
Luke faced forward. “You know I don’t have time to go out,” he said to Simon. “Even if I did, the men I’d meet would take one look at Ella and run for the hills.”
“Surely not every man you meet is averse to the idea of family.” Simon frowned. “I like children. Or Ella, at least.”
“Yes, but you and I are not dating.”
“Not since I kicked you to the curb a decade ago, true.” He smiled at Luke’s laughter. “Still, I can’t imagine anyone you meet not being charmed by Ella. She’s loveable even when she’s being difficult.”
They stepped forward as the line moved again. Luke hazarded another glance back and felt a pang of disappointment to find the cute guy talking on his phone. He met Luke’s eyes again, however, and Luke smothered a curse when Simon nudged him with his elbow.
“Ella likes you, so of course you think she’s fun,” Luke said. “Not everyone thinks the way you do or wants to stick around while I fill in for her dad, though.”
“Are you so sure?” Simon asked.
“I’m still single, am I not?”
“Yes, though I confess I don’t know why. It’s not because you’re lacking in looks and your personality is certainly adequate.”
“Nice.” Luke shrugged off both the compliment and the tease. He knew he was easy to look at. He was tall and fit with a heart-shaped face and gray-green eyes, and his friends joked he couldn’t take a bad photo. Luke didn’t suffer for lack of attention from men. Keeping a man’s interest presented the real challenge these days, and that had a lot to do with the fact that he was taking care of a young child.
“I’m thirty-two years old,” he said. “The men I meet who want children are either already parents or in committed relationships and headed in that direction.”
“This is why you need to meet new men,” Simon replied. “Ella isn’t your daughter, Luke. Pete’ll be back from deployment in a couple of months and that’ll take some of the pressure off you. There’s no reason for you to be celibate until then, either.”
“I’m hardly celibate,” Luke muttered, his cheeks hot. “And please keep your voice down.”
He paused as they approached the counter. Simon placed the order and Luke glanced at the guy behind them again. Thankfully, he was still on his phone instead of being forced to eavesdrop on the saga of Luke’s sad single life.
“I know I haven’t had a boyfriend since Ella moved in with me,” Luke continued while Simon paid for the order. “Taking care of her complicates my life, but it’s nothing compared to Pete’s wife taking off on them. And I do go out on occasion, Simon. I date.”
Simon cocked a well-groomed eyebrow at him. “Okay, and when exactly? Because we both know you don’t have time to yourself anymore.”
Despite Simon’s gentle tone, Luke winced. Even with help from his parents and his babysitter, Melissa, he rarely had a minute to himself outside his own bathroom. Even then, odds were Ella would knock on the door and blithely ask questions while Luke showered or shaved.
“In all seriousness, when did you last go out with a man?” Simon asked. They moved aside so the baristas could mix up their magic, and he patted Luke’s arm. “Hell, when did you last pick someone up?”
“I met someone while I was grocery shopping last week, believe it or not,” Luke replied. “We emailed a couple of times, but he dropped off the map. I picked someone up a couple of months ago, the last time Pete came home on leave.” He grinned at Simon. “You and I went out for dinner and drinks, then over to that bar in Back Bay named after Oscar Wilde. Remember?”
“That’s the bar with the boozy milkshakes?”
“Yes! I met Jeremy that night.”
Realization flashed in Simon’s eyes. “I’d forgotten that’s where you met. Where was I?”
“Sucking face with some bartender, I think.” Luke smirked at Simon’s raucous laughter.
“Oh, God, that’s right. Those milkshakes are lethal!”
“Believe me, I remember.” Luke reached up and ruffled Simon’s hair. “Anyway, I didn’t take Jeremy home that night, but we exchanged numbers and spent time together for a couple of weeks.”
“What happened between you two, anyway? I don’t think you ever said.”
“There was nothing to tell. Pete’s leave ended and I canceled a couple of dates because Melissa was busy and I couldn’t find a sitter. Jeremy just faded out.” Despite his careless tone, Luke’s heart twinged a little. He’d enjoyed spending time with Jeremy and watching him withdraw had stung.
Simon clasped Luke’s shoulder with one strong hand. “I’m sorry. It doesn’t have to be that way all the time, you know. I can watch Ella for you if Melissa is busy—I just need some notice. Gillian will, too. Hell, ask around the office if you need someone for a couple of hours. I’m sure at least one of the kids on staff is the babysitting type.”
“I know, and thanks. It doesn’t matter, though. The reality is I’m with Ella a lot because I want to be and guys usually bolt after they figure that out.”
Simon’s gentle scowl warmed Luke’s heart. He loved that his friend cared enough to listen. Then Luke saw the cute guy with the dark hair pay for his single coffee and leave. Damn. Once upon a time, Luke would have struck up a conversation with him instead of watching the opportunity slip away. Maybe Simon had a point.
“It’s fine,” he said. “And you’re right. I should make an effort to get out there and meet new men. Especially since things will go back to normal after Pete gets home. For a while, anyway.”
“That ‘for a while’ is kind of a problem.” Simon’s expression sobered. “Your brother will still be at Quantico more rather than less. I don’t even mean that in a bad way because I know you love having her here.”
Luke nodded. He’d never thought twice about welcoming his niece into his home. “I do. All the more reason to find someone who’s okay with Ella being in my life.”
Is that such a bad thing to want? Luke didn’t think so.
The barista called their order and Luke handed Simon the bags he’d been holding. “At any rate, it’ll be great having Pete back, even if he’s not in Boston. Ella hasn’t been the same since her dad was deployed.” Carefully, he collected the trays of cups.
Simon led the way out, talking over his shoulder as he held the door for Luke. “You think so?”
“Oh, yeah.” Luke sighed. “She really misses him, and it’s not like we can visit. She worries about his safety, just like my parents worry, and I do, too. Life will be a hundred times easier for all of us with Pete on US soil, whether he’s at the Marine base or not.”
“I understand,” Simon replied. “I’m just sorry I can’t do more than listen.”
Luke smiled. “Don’t be. I’d have gone bananas a long time ago without you and Gillian around to listen and keep me sane.”
“Girl, you’ve always been bananas,” Simon said, his tone airy. “But we’re used to it and don’t love you any less.” He shot Luke a wink and they headed for the office.
About the Author
K. Evan Coles is a mother and tech pirate by day and a writer by night. She is a dreamer who, with a little hard work and a lot of good coffee, coaxes words out of her head and onto paper.
K. lives in the northeast United States, where she complains bitterly about the winters, but truly loves the region and its diverse, tenacious and deceptively compassionate people. You’ll usually find K. nerding out over books, movies and television with friends and family. She’s especially proud to be raising her son as part of a new generation of unabashed geeks.
K.’s books explore LGBTQ+ romance in contemporary settings.
Attention: This book contains explicit sexual content between consenting assassins and not so innocent professors. There are depictions of masochistic masturbation, male chastity, breath play, watersports, humiliation, and torture by eighties hair bands with ginger sprinkles on top. Phew! Now, that that’s out of the way, Hi. I’m Mr. No your friendly communications agent for The Assassins’ Guild AKA T.A.G. I’ve been authorized by the head honcho himself, Mr. H, to release approved records from the agent files. Agent Code Name Mr. W was recovering from a near death debacle by way of an easy assignment in a small mountain town. Red flags sprang up immediately around the seemingly innocent English professor. Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery Jacob Peters presented, Mr. W made plans to do what he did best, watch , wait , and then capture and interrogate. But even the best laid plans can go awry and what Mr. W discovered derailed his plan to kill Jacob. Find out what brought Mr. W to his knees in this first release from the archives of The Assassins’ Guild.
Shortly, after the cock cage incident, Dad sat me down to have The Talk. I knew by then that I liked dick. At first, I thought maybe it was because I was around men all the time and hardly ever any women, but one day I pulled up cameras from the women’s locker room just to see. Yeah, even the more masculine looking females did nothing for me. I got off my dad’s laptop quickly before he caught me and went back to my room to look at the gay porn I had smuggled from the sex shop. So, my dad sits me down and I’m worried. Even as isolated as we were on the compound, I had access to the outside world. I knew how homosexuality was viewed. Yes, there were changes being made and it was more accepted now, but I still worried.
I was sitting at the kitchen table when Dad came in with a dildo in one hand and a weird looking toy in the other one. It looked scary from afar. He put them down on the table along with a condom and a bottle of lube before he sat down. I was already blushing and ready to make a dash back to my room, but he pinned me with that look he got when he was dead serious and started his explanation. He showed me how to put a condom on, which I rolled my eyes at because duh. That was proceeded with a long talk on all STDs, how you can catch them in non-sexual ways, symptoms, and pictures. He pulled up pictures on his laptop. I was mortified, but damn if I was going to make sure I used condoms no matter what.
He then picked up the item that I had been avoiding looking at. It was multicolored and just weird looking. It turned out to be a big silicon asshole more or less. It was weird. Later, I found out why it looked so weird, but that’s just not something I want to think about. Although, I did end up buying a few dildos from the fantasy dildo company it was from when I got older. But back to my horrifying sex talk with my dad. He opened the lube and briefly went over the best kinds of lube to use and when. At this point, it hadn’t occurred to me how my dad knew all this stuff. He was my dad. He knew everything as far as I was concerned. He then showed me how, if I were to have sex with another man, how to prepare them or myself for it using the silicon asshole of course. He explained things like the prostate and other key erogenous zones of the male genitalia. By the end, I knew I was scarlet and dying of embarrassment. If my dad was embarrassed in anyway, he didn’t show it. He was very clinical about it. He used his instructor voice and could have been going over the parts of a P-90, he was so unphased.
He never once said anything about women. The next day, I went to his office and asked him, “How did you know?”
He quirked an eyebrow at me and said, “Yoshi, do you really think Mr. Th (that was his assistant) got you stuff from the adult store in town without my permission?”
I turned beet red and stuttered, “No, sir.” I thought I was in huge trouble and kept my eyes on my feet.
My dad pulled me into his arms and hugged me tight, surprising me. “I’m not mad. I’m glad that you went to him rather than try to sneak off on your own or do something irresponsible. I figured you weren’t ready to talk to me about those kinds of things and that’s okay. Just know that I’m always here if you need me and I’ll never judge you.” I nodded and hugged him tight, not realizing that I had started crying. I hadn’t really thought how much I was worried about it until I felt the relief his words brought me.
“I love you, Dad.” The words came out more of a whisper than I intended.
He pushed me to arm’s length, so he could see me and wiped my eyes. “I love you too, Son. Now, go out to the range. You have a test tomorrow.” I nodded and headed to the door. I had my hand on the knob when he spoke again. “Just so you know, I’m gay too.”
I turned my head in shock. The surprise evident on my face, my eyes wide. He furrowed his brows at me. “What? Did you not think I had a love life, too?”
I tried to pick my jaw up off the ground to answer. “No, Dad. Honestly, I never thought about you having a relationship much less sex.”
Dad burst out laughing then. “Well, I do.”
I stuck my fingers in my ears and started singing, “Lalalalala. I don’t want to know, Dad.”
My dad sobered then and cleared his throat. “Do you think if I found someone I really liked that you’d be okay if I brought him round?”
I took my fingers out of my ears and went back and threw my arms around him again and squeezed tight and then let go. “Yeah, Dad.” Before things could get any more awkward, I dashed out the door and closed it behind me. I hissed traitor as I passed Mr. Th’s desk and went out to the range.
About the Author
A.G. Carothers is actually a dragon very cleverly disguised as a human. They are a non-binary author of LGBTQIA Romance and Urban Fantasy, who enjoys writing original and entertaining stories. They are very excited to share the worlds they’ve created with you.
A.G. currently lives in Tennessee with their platonic life partner, who is not a dragon. They yearn to live back in Europe and will some day. In their spare time they are addicted to losing themselves in the lovely worlds created by other authors A.G. is committed to writing the stories they see in their head without restrictions. Love is blind and doesn’t see gender, race, or sexuality.
Ever since then, he has lived as an immortal house cat—short one life.
Anselm is a mildly depressed vampire with a soft spot for the feline he calls friend.
They live together as equals, companions for eternity—or so they hope.
But their lives take a dark turn when the witch who cursed Edmund long ago dies.
And suddenly, he is human again.
In a race against time’s cruel hand, Anselm and Edmund must make a decision.
Do they find a dark witch and re-enact the curse that plagued Edmund so they can be together for an eternity? Or . . . does Edmund give up forever as a cat to be with Anselm for now as a man?
I clenched my jaw. If this stranger had hurt Edmund, there would be hell to pay.
My immortal cat, as irritating as he could be sometimes, was my best friend. We’d been a pair since the beginning of the twentieth century and . . . in reality, he was all I had.
Everything changed but not Edmund. Nor me.
He was a cursed cat, once a young man in the prime of his life. I was the vampire he called friend.
“Edmund,” I called, dropping the bags I held. The fresh fish and blood I’d bought cascaded to the floor. Some of the packets burst open, but I didn’t care about the mess the blood would make or the smell that would linger for days; I cared about my best friend. “Edmund?!”
The stranger turned; his sharp gaze followed me though he was rooted to the spot.
I rushed through the living room, heading deeper into my home, knowing that if my heart still beat, it would be pounding against my chest like a sledgehammer.
Where was Edmund? Why wasn’t he answering?
Hunting through the rooms, I checked in all of Edmund’s favorite hiding spots—on top of the bookshelf, on my side of the bed, behind my pillow, in the perfect patch of moonlight that streamed through the bay windows in my office—but Edmund was nowhere to be found.
He was missing, gone, disappeared.
“Where is he?!” I demanded as I raged into the living room and caught the stranger by the throat. My fingers tightened as my anger—my fear—tainted the air, sending the thick stench of decay curling around us. The strange young man’s lips parted, opening and closing like a fish out of water as he grasped my wrist and fought for breath. “If you hurt him—” I couldn’t even finish the thought, much less the sentence.
The very idea of not having Edmund, of being without him . . .
I shook the man impatiently. “Where is he?!” I bellowed, shaking the boy.
He appeared desperate as he clutched my wrist and tugged on my arm, attempting to remove my hold, but my grasp was absolute as my fingers tightened around his neck.
Panic danced across his face. His wide eyes shined, a familiar neon blue that I knew.
My lips parted. “Edmund?”
I loosened my hold. It wasn’t possible. Edmund was . . .
The man I held by the neck trembled in my grasp, one minute a man, and in the next, thick black fur sprouted out of his transformed body.
“Y . . . You choked me,” he gasped as I gathered him close.
“You turned into a-a-a man!” I pulled him away from my chest, inspecting him as I did so.
How was this possible? He was cursed by a witch to live the rest of his life, or at least nine lives—eight now that he’d died once—as a cat. Right now, the fluffy black thing I peered down at looked like my housecat, but seconds ago . . .
About the Authors
Autumn Breeze is a bestselling LGBT+ author, and current Radish Content Provider. She is also the winner of a 2015 Watty Award, a former Wattpad Star, with more than 70K followers on Wattpad who was featured in Cosmo in 2017 “My Lessons with the Sexy Dance Instructor.” In 2017 she worked as a Freelance Writer for 20th Century Fox on, “A Cure for Wellness: Seeking A Cure.”
Ashley Chamblee is a bestselling author with 10+ years of experience who specializes in writing horror, fantasy, paranormal, and romance with LGBT themes. Currently, she has 35K+ followers on her combined Wattpad accounts EzraWinn and HonestDying. When Ashley isn’t writing she is either working with special needs adults, playing video games, reading or spending time with friends and family.
Blood Prize, her bestselling novel is available on Amazon.
Dive into the first volume of a bleak cyberpunk tahgmahr you can’t afford to miss. What would you sacrifice to survive?
By 4042 CE, the Hierophant and his Church have risen to political dominance with his cannibalistic army of genetically modified humans: martyrs. In an era when mankind’s intergenerational cold wars against their long-lived predators seem close to running hot, the Holy Family is poised on the verge of complete planetary control. It will take a miracle to save humanity from extinction.
It will also take a miracle to resurrect the wife of 331-year-old General Dominia di Mephitoli, who defects during martyr year 1997 AL in search of Lazarus, the one man rumored to bring life to the dead. With the Hierophant’s Project Black Sun looming over her head, she has little choice but to believe this Lazarus is really all her new friends say he is–assuming he exists at all–and that these companions of hers are really able to help her. From the foulmouthed Japanese prostitute with a few secrets of her own to the outright sapient dog who seems to judge every move, they don’t inspire a lot of confidence, but the General has to take the help she can get.
After all, Dominia is no ordinary martyr. She is THE HIEROPHANT’S DAUGHTER, and her Father won’t let her switch sides without a fight. Not when she still has so much to learn.
The dystopic first entry of an epic cyberpunk trilogy, THE HIEROPHANT’S DAUGHTER is a horror/sci-fi adventure sure to delight and inspire adult readers of all stripes.
The Disgraced Governess of the United Front was blind in her right eye. Was that blood in the left, or was it damaged, too? The crash ringing in her ears kept her from thinking straight. Of course her left eye still worked: it worked well enough to prevent her from careening into the trees through which she plunged. Yet, for the tinted flecks of reality sometimes twinkling between crimson streaks, she could only imagine her total blindness with existential horror. Would the protein heal the damage? How severely was her left eye wounded? What about the one she knew to be blind—was it salvageable? Ichigawa could check, if she ever made it to the shore.
She couldn’t afford to think that way. It was a matter of “when,” not of “if.” She would never succumb. Neither could car accident, nor baying hounds, nor the Hierophant himself keep her from her goal. She had fourteen miles to the ship that would whisk her across the Pacific and deliver her to the relative safety of the Risen Sun. Then the Lazarene ceremony would be less than a week away. Cassandra’s diamond beat against her heart to pump it into double time, and with each double beat, she thought of her wife (smiling, laughing, weeping when she thought herself alone) and ran faster. A lucky thing the Governess wasn’t human! Though, had she remained human, she’d have died three centuries ago in some ghetto if she’d lived past twenty without becoming supper. Might have been the easier fate, or so she lamented each time her mind replayed the crash of the passenger-laden tanque at fifth gear against the side of their small car. How much she might have avoided!
Of course—then she never would have known Cassandra. That made all this a reasonable trade. Cold rain softened the black earth to the greedy consistency of clay, but her body served where her eyes failed. The darkness was normally no trouble, but now she squinted while she ran and, under sway of a dangerous adrenaline high, was side-swiped by more than one twisting branch. The old road that was her immediate goal, Highway 128, would lead her to the coast of her favorite Jurisdiction, but she now had to rediscover that golden path after the crash’s diversion. In an effort to evade her pursuers, she had torn into a pear orchard without thought of their canine companions. Not that the soldiers of the Americas kept companions like Europa’s nobles. These dogs were tools. Well-honed, organic death machines with a cultivated taste for living flesh, whether martyr or human. The dogs understood something that most had forgotten: the difference between the two was untenable. Martyrs could tell themselves they were superior for an eternity, but it wouldn’t change the fact that the so-called master race and the humans they consumed were the same species.
That was not why Cassandra had died, but it hadn’t contributed to their marital bliss. And now, knowing what she did of the Hierophant’s intentions—thinking, always, what Cassandra would have said—the Governess pretended she was driven by that ghost, and not by her own hopelessness. Without the self-delusion, she was a victim to a great many ugly thoughts, foremost among them being: Was the fear of life after her wife’s death worth such disgrace? A death sentence? Few appreciated what little difference there was between human and martyr, and fewer cared, because caring was fatal. But she was a part of the Holy Family. Shouldn’t that have been all that mattered? Stunning how, after three centuries, she deserved to be treated no better than a human. Then again, there was nothing quite like resignation from one’s post to fall in her Father’s estimate. Partly, he was upset by her poor timing—she did stand him up at some stupid press event, but only because she hoped it would keep everybody occupied while she got away. In that moment, she couldn’t even remember what it was. Dedicating a bridge? Probably. Her poor head, what did the nature of the event matter when she was close to death?
That lapse in social graces was not the reason for this hunt. He understood that more lay behind her resignation than a keening for country life. Even before he called her while she and the others took the tanque to the coast, he must have known. Just like he must have known the crash was seconds from happening while he chatted away, and that the humans in her company, already nervous to be within a foot of the fleeing Governess, were doomed.
Of the many people remaining on Earth, those lumped into the group of “human” were at constant risk of death, mutilation, or—far worse—unwilling martyrdom. This meant those humans lucky enough to avoid city-living segregation went to great lengths to keep their private properties secure. Not only houses but stables. The Disgraced Governess found this to be true of the stables into which she might have stumbled and electrocuted herself were it not for the bug zaps of rain against the threshold’s surface. Her mind made an instinctive turn toward prayer for the friendliness of the humans in the nearby farmhouse—an operation she was quick to abort. In those seconds (minutes?) since the crash, she’d succeeded in reconstructing the tinted windows of the tanque and a glimpse of silver ram’s horns: the Lamb lurked close enough to hear her like she spoke into his ear. It was too much to ask that he be on her side tonight.
Granted, the dogs of the Lamb were far closer, and far more decisive about where their loyalties stood. One hound sank its teeth into her ankle, and she, crying out, kicked the beast into its closest partner with a crunch. Slower dogs snarled outrage in the distance while the Disgraced Governess ran to the farmhouse caught in her left periphery. The prudent owners, to her frustration, shuttered their windows at night. Nevertheless, she smashed her fist against the one part of the house that protruded: the doorbell required by the Hierophant’s “fair play” dictatum allowing the use of electronic barriers. As the humans inside stumbled out of bed in response to her buzzing, the Disgraced Governess unholstered her antique revolver and unloaded two rounds into the recovered canines before they were upon her. The discharge wasn’t a tip-off she wanted to give to the Lamb and her other pursuers, but it hastened the response of the sleeping farmers as the intercom crackled to life.
“Who is it?” A woman’s voice, quivering with an edge of panic.
“My name is Dominia di Mephitoli: I’m the former Governess of the United Front, and I need to borrow a horse. Please. Don’t let me in. Just drop the threshold on your stables.”
“The Governess? I’m sorry, I don’t understand. The Dominia di Mephitoli, really? The martyr?”
“Yes, yes, please. I need a horse now.” Another dog careened around the corner and leapt over the bodies of his comrades with such grace that she wasted her third round in the corpses. Two more put it down as she shouted into the receiver. “I can’t transfer you any credits because they’ve frozen my Halcyon account, but I’ll leave you twenty pieces of silver if you drop the threshold and loan me a horse. You can reclaim it at the docks off Bay Street, in the township of Sienna. Please! He’ll kill me.”
“And he’ll be sure to kill us for helping you.”
“Tell him I threatened you. Tell him I tricked you! Anything. Just help me get away!”
“He’ll never believe what we say. He’ll kill me, my husband, our children. We can’t.”
“Oh, please. An act of mercy for a dying woman. Please, help me leave. I can give you the name of a man in San Valentino who can shelter you and give you passage abroad.”
“There’s no time to go so far south. Not as long as it takes to get across the city.”
It had been ten seconds since she’d heard the last dog. That worried her. With her revolver at the ready, she scanned the area for something more than the quivering roulette blotches swelling in her right eye. Nothing but the dead animals. “He’ll kill you either way. For talking to me, and not keeping me occupied until his arrival. For knowing that there’s disarray in his perfect land. He’ll find a reason, even if it only makes sense to him.”
The steady beat of rain pattered out a passive answer. On the verge of giving up, Dominia stepped back to ready herself for a fight—and the house’s threshold dropped with an electric pop. The absent mauve shimmer left the façade bare. How rare to see a country place without its barrier! A strange thing. Stranger for the front door to open; she’d only expected them to do away with the threshold on the stables.
But, rather than the housewife she’d anticipated, there stood the Hierophant. Several bleak notions clicked into place.
One immaculate gray brow arched. “Now, Dominia, that’s hardly fair. Knowledge of your disgrace isn’t why I’ll kill them. The whole world will know of it tomorrow morning. You embarrassed me by sending your resignation, rather than making the appearance I asked of you, so it is only fair I embarrass you by rejecting your resignation and firing you publicly. No, my dear. I will kill these fine people to upset you. In fact, Mr. McLintock is already dead in the attic. A mite too brave. Of course”—he winked, and whispered in conspiracy—“don’t tell them that.”
“How did you know I’d come here?”
“Such an odd spurt of rain tonight. Of all your Jurisdictions, this one is usually so dry this time of year! Won’t you come in for tea? Mrs. McLintock brews a fine pot. But put that gun away. You’re humiliating yourself. And me.”
About the Author
M.F. Sullivan is the author of Delilah, My Woman, The Lightning Stenography Device, and a slew of plays in addition to the Trilogy. She lives in Ashland, Oregon with her boyfriend and her cat, where she attends the local Shakespeare Festival and experiments with the occult.
Find more information about her work (and plenty of free essays) here.
The first paragraph of Kerry Ashton’s new memoir explains a lot: “I told this story once as fiction in the 1980s, but this time I tell the truth. I even tell the truth, in #MeToo fashion, about being violently raped by another man when I was 18, with a knife held to my throat—a secret I kept from everyone, including myself, for over 40 years. The rape, like other experiences I endured while a student at Brigham Young University, where I came out in the early 1970s, had a profound impact on my later life. But this story is not so much about my rape or my coming of age at BYU, as it is about the lifelong effects of shame itself, not only about how I internalized and inherited a wounding shame from my Mormon upbringing, but also how I eventually unshamed myself. It is about the journey of a lifetime, finding spiritual growth, self-discovery and healing along the way, while encountering many miraculous events that pushed me forward through darkness toward the light.”
Telling about his experiences during his four years at BYU—the rape, falling in love for the first time, police surveillance, harassment and arrest, while enduring three years of conversion therapy and electric shock treatments—provide the structure of Kerry’s memoir. But intermittently, the author shares memories from his childhood, growing up Mormon in Pocatello, Idaho, and later from his adulthood, as well as from his professional career as an actor and writer, both in L.A. and NYC, describing encounters with Barbra Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis and Julie Harris, while detailing his experiences with Tennessee Williams and his brief affair with Stephen Sondheim. Lastly, he talks about the 12 years he spent in therapy, about his 16-year battle with cancer, how he eventually rid himself of the shame internalized from his Mormon youth, sharing glimpses into his sexual journey from his innocent youth through S&M and the gay leather scene in mid-life to the loving monogamous relationship he now enjoys.
The Holy War, as I have come to think of it, began on a hot day in early September 1971, the day I left Pocatello to drive four hours south to Provo, Utah, to attend Brigham Young University. As in all wars, whether holy or unholy, it would not be without its casualties.
I spent the morning packing things in my ‘56 Chevrolet, parked in the spot on the lawn where our driveway would have been had my parents ever had the money to pave it. A yellow-and-bronze, two- door coupe with cream interior, a huge cream steering wheel, and black dashboard, the car had class, which is why I named it Oscar— after the Academy Awards I hoped to win one day.
As I packed Oscar full of boxes, Dad worked under the hood of the car. Once Oscar was filled with boxes, I sank down on our front lawn. Knowing this would be my last day at home, I tried to capture everything I saw and felt around me: The red of Mom’s roses framing our side porch, the hazy blue of the late morning sky, the large pine tree at the front of our corner lot, and the blue-grey crag of Scout Mountain in the distance, where I had always imagined Santa’s sleigh flew over on Christmas Eve.
Hearing Mom humming in the kitchen as she prepared lunch, everything seemed right in my Latter-Day-Saint world.
Getting up from the grass, I walked over to where Dad was still working under Oscar’s hood. “Everything look okay, Dad?” I asked.
“Oh, sure,” Dad replied in his folksy way. “I just wanted to make sure everything’s good with your car. I don’t want you stranded on the highway.”
Though I had fulfilled every church obligation, I was not the mechanic that Dad had hoped each of his three sons would become. I left mechanical jobs to Dad or to my two older brothers, both married by then.
“I love you, Dad,” I said suddenly. He stopped tinkering with the spark plugs and looked up at me. “I love you, too, son,” he replied, embracing me with a greasy hug.
Mom came out on the side porch just then. Wiping her hands on her apron, she called out to us, “Okay, you two! Lunch is ready!”
I washed my hands at the kitchen sink and let Dad wash his hands in the bathroom. Then I joined Mom at the kitchen table while we waited for Dad.
“Kerry Lynn,” she whispered, stroking my dark brown hair as she often did, “I don’t know what I’m going to do without you.”
Now a grown-up, or so I thought, I bristled at her calling me by both my given names as it sounded so girlish. But since it was my last day at home, I chose to ignore it.
“With all the kids married,” Mom continued, “and you going off to college, this house is going to feel awfully empty without you.”
“Maybe you and Dad will finally get some peace and quiet,” I kidded. “Maybe now you two can finally go on that second honeymoon you’ve talked about.”
“Maybe,” she said, laughing as she reached out to hold me. “I
love you, Kerry.” As she held me tight, I never wanted to let go. Once Dad joined us at the table, he said a blessing on the food, as we always did in our home.
After the blessing, we tore through the food. Mom had made some of my favorites: Her wonderful potato and egg salad, savory burgers with all the trimmings, and delicious corn-on-the-cob bought fresh from the farmer’s market.
After lunch, we went into the living room where Dad anointed my head with oil, laid his hands upon my head, and gave me a sacred Father’s Blessing—the blessing of a Melchizedek Priesthood Elder— warning me to be “mindful of the Adversary.”
Before I left that day, Dad took a photograph of me standing in front of Oscar. Barely 18 and dressed neatly, at 6’3” and 190 pounds, I was the very image of a conservative, clean-cut, LDS young man who loved his Mormon family, the LDS Church, and his Heavenly Father.
I arrived at Salt Lake City three hours later. From there, it took me another hour driving south on Interstate 15 before I arrived in the city of Provo.
Taking my first glimpse that day of Provo through Oscar’s wide windshield, I could see the white LDS Temple huddled against the Wasatch Mountains, its golden steeple gleaming in the late afternoon sun. Further north, Mount Timpanogos reached heavenward, while a sign at the main entrance to the BYU campus read: “The World Is Our Campus.” In reality, the campus became my world.
Driving north past the immense Cougar Stadium, and then into the foothills just beyond the BYU campus, then turning east and heading toward the mountains, I came to the huge Marriott Sports Arena under construction on my right, and stopped at the light. Once the light turned green, I made a left turn onto Sumac Avenue, climbing dramatically into the foothills, before pulling into the driveway in front of my new off-campus apartment.
About the Author
Raised in Pocatello, Idaho as a Mormon in the heart of Mormon Zion, Kerry attended BYU in the early 70s, where some of the most dramatic events recounted in his memoir took place.
Always interested in pursuing a career as both an actor and writer, Kerry wrote his first play, BUFFALO HEAD NICKELSat the age of 17, and published it at 18. Since then, he has published several works, among them most prominently THE WILDE SPIRIT, a one-man play with music, in which Ashton starred as Oscar Wilde, and also wrote the play’s book, music and lyrics. The play won Kerry critical acclaim for both his writing and performance, and three 1977 L.A. Civic Star Awards for Best Actor, Play and Direction. The play ran for three consecutive seasons in Provincetown, MA from 1990-1992, and was produced Off-Broadway in 1996, winning Kerry a National Award of Merit from ASCAP. The author now makes his home with his partner Victor Ramirez in South Florida. For more info, visit www.KerryAshton.com.
Blurb Myobu has waited all his life to find love, and just as he makes a connection, it’s taken from him in an instant. Reeling from the fatal climax of his love story with Prince Kitsune, the magical Yokai must take advantage of his second chance at life, reconciling his past and present while keeping the prince from going down a path of darkness. Together with Kitsune, Myobu is tasked with destroying an evil that threatens the brass machine—and their world.Meanwhile, Prince Kitsune is lost in the depths of responsibility and the murkiness of grief. His role is at the head of an army, defending against the whims of his deranged father. King Oni’s aggression is mounting, and he will stop at nothing to maintain his power over Kitsunetsuki. Overcome with the guilt of killing the man he loved, Kitsune finds direction when he discovers the legendary Sword of Inari—but when the voices within the steel speak to him, they lead him deeper down a path of deceit. In a tale of good versus evil, life and death, Kitsune and Myobu must come together alongside their allies to face unspeakable horrors.
ExcerptIt was the perfect morning.Treating himself to a good long stretch, Myobu worked his way up to sitting. With his back against the wooden headboard, he looked down at the pair with whom he had spent the night. Ryn and Nikki owned one of the oldest taverns in Hawte, having belonged to Ryn’s family for generations. Myobu had met them not long after arriving in the capital nearly three sun cycles ago.Something else had happened as their friendship grew. Late one night after helping close up the tavern, they had spent a few hours drinking by the hearth. Ryn and Nikki spoke of their first encounter and subsequent marriage, purportedly a scandalous affair.Having lived over a century without ever engaging in sexual activity, Myobu had drunkenly bombarded them with endless questions on the subject. The pair looked at one another, a glimmer of humor and desire in their eyes, and decided to answer his queries physically rather than verbally. Taking him by the hand, they led him upstairs to bed.Upon closing the bedroom door, the first thing the couple did was peel off their clothing. Myobu had watched in awe as the differences in their skin were revealed. Ryn was a burly man, and there were few areas on his body not covered in hair. Nikki was dark-skinned and appeared free of any blemishes or extraneous hair.The two had begun tugging at Myobu’s own clothing, which he sluggishly gave up. He wasn’t timid or particularly self-conscious, though he had wondered if the human form he had taken was correct in the details. He possessed all the parts of a man, but he lacked the massive tufts of hair Ryn displayed. He was almost as smooth as Nikki. Concerned they would figure out he wasn’t actually human, he had contemplated adding hair to his body before his shirt could be removed.In the end, the two hadn’t given a second thought to his nearly hairless form. They stripped him naked, looked at him appreciatively, and began running their hands over his body. The dual sensations of Ryn’s rougher palms and Nikki’s smoother fingertips elicited a gasp from Myobu. Goosebumps broke out over his flesh. It heightened his tactile awareness, dulled his sense of time, and deeply aroused him. He tentatively put a hand on each of their bodies, awkward at first, but easily got into it once he realized his touch elicited the same types of responses from them.
About the Author
Isaac Grisham currently lives in a blue county of Illinois with his partner and doggos. By day, he works at a local college. The King’s Fear is his second completed novel and, by night, he is busy assembling the gears of the third and final piece of The Brass Machine.
Callum Saxon wakes up to a totally different universe where all around him is water. Strangely he can breathe it as if it’s air. The bad thing is he can’t remember how he got there. He can’t remember himself, either.
Ainsley Carlisle is more than a man with long blond hair. He’s a unicorn shifter with secrets as widely stretched as the rainbow supposedly coming out of his rear. Ainsley won’t help Callum uncover who he is because Ainsley wants him to remember it himself.
In this new universe, Callum has to survive the creatures that live there, such as vampires, shifters, werewolves, you name it. But there’s more to Callum than meets the eye.
Callum wasn’t completely unaware of where he was going. He recognized the place as the kind of pub Ainsley had showed him earlier. He wasn’t sure how he was going to pay for his drinks but the thought of losing himself in alcohol was as big of enticement as his desire to erase his mind completely — if there was any to erase.
Callum blinked his eyes, adjusting to the dim light inside. The place was quiet, practically empty. Perhaps it was still quite early. It wasn’t unlike other pubs he frequented — ha, he remembered that piece of information. The only thing keeping this one apart from the ones he knew was the slow moving thick water around him. Callum just hoped he wouldn’t get sick like some time ago when he first shoveled food down into his stomach. He gazed straight at the bartender. Now what could he say to get a free drink …
He looked up. A literal tall, dark, and handsome was looming over him. Callum wouldn’t call himself short but compared to this man? He was a midget.
“What are you doing alone in this place, baby doll? Where is your, ah, partner?”
“What do you mean?”
The stranger waved his hand. “You know, that blond bastard?”
So he knew he’d been going about with Ainsley.
“Come on,” the man said dismissively. “Two pretty creatures like you? You were both strolling around the town like the happiest couple in the realm, making everyone jealous.”
Callum sputtered. “Jealous? We’re not a couple and I’m not sure about the pretty creatures …” Talking about pretty, he himself couldn’t tear his gaze away from … what was his name?
“Who are you?” Callum’s voice was as weak as he was feeling at the moment.
The man closed the distance between them and Callum sniffed his cologne. It was a scent he’d never smelled before. It was a mix of their surroundings, like ocean breeze as well as the old woods, added with citrus aromas and a trace of musk underlying all of those. It was strong but not too overpoweringly so or suffocating. It was more like the flow of the ocean water, soothing and lulling, spellbinding.
“Is a name that important to you?”
Callum felt like he was coming back from a long slumber. He looked up from the man’s strong, sculpted jaw, which sat at his eye level.
“What’s yours, l’ange?”
It took a beat and Callum realized the man just called him angel in French. So they spoke French here, too, Callum mused. He wondered what other languages they spoke.
“Callum. Callum Saxon.”
“Your name is as pretty as its owner.” He practically purred.
“How about you?”
To Callum’s surprise, the man withdrew a little to make a deep bow with one leg pulled back and a hand waving low.
“I am usually called Patrice Deniau. I believe that’s my real name though it’s been centuries and I honestly can’t remember in which period of time I was named that.”
Callum felt as if all the air in his lungs was sucked out. Centuries. Period of time. What was this man whose name sounded French, too — Patrice Deniau? A vampire?
A shudder ran down his spine. Patrice did look like a vampire with his tall, slender figure, sharp chin, dark hair, and a pair of intense blue eyes that easily bewitched Callum.
“I, uh, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Deniau.”
“Mister?” Patrice’s laughter was soft and lilting. “Unless you are to call me Sir or Master, Patrice will suffice.” He stroked Callum’s jaw with his long fingers.
Callum let out an involuntary moan. He knew he had to pull back, move away. But he couldn’t. Instead, he leaned in and his eyes shuttered closed. He practically purred.
“Yes, all right, Patrice.” It was Patrice for now. Later, he decided, he might change to Sir, even Master.
“Very well. Good Lord, you’re so gorgeous. Has anyone told you that?”
“Oh, yeah, I guess.” Amidst his foggy mind, Callum heard himself replying, not that he knew exactly what he had been asked.
“Really? Who was that, someone special?”
Callum nodded. “Yes.”
“Someone you loved or someone who loved you?”
“Both. Love.” Why past tense? “He still loves me.”
“As you deserve, someone as captivating as you. May I know — I believe it’s that Carlisle boy? Ainsley?”
Ainsley. Callum’s cheeks heated up as the name was mentioned. He’d definitely developed a certain infatuation with the man. But love? They had not even declared their feelings to each other. Declare, because Callum was certain their feelings were mutual. He shook his head slowly.
“No?” Patrice sounded surprised. “You’ve only been here for, what, two days, three days at the most. I can’t believe you’ve been fooling around, let alone falling in love.”
But of course he’d not been fooling around. He’d barely met other people aside from Ainsley and his mother. Yet it was neither of the two who he had on his mind.
Callum blinked as a name suddenly flashed across his mind. He shook himself inwardly and took a deep breath. The name sounded familiar. It had to be familiar. Otherwise, why would it turn up out of the blue?
“What is it, my dear? You look ashen.”
Callum was suddenly out of breath, near hyperventilating. “He was … he is …”
“Yes?” Patrice’s hand crept up at the back of his head.
“I don’t remember but … but he was important to me. I just know it.” Patrice stroked his scalp with knowing fingers and it was all Callum could do to stop himself from moaning.
“Is he still important now?”
About the Author
I’m Iyana Jenna and you can call me Iyana. I like writing, romance, and man-love, so you’re mostly going to find my stories as m/m whether they are for adults or young adults. They are not going to be too heavy on explicit sex, though, as many say that my stories are considered sweet romance.
When I don’t write, I teach English to children, teens, and adults. I also work in the curriculum and materials department in a language institution. Among my responsibilities are writing books and tests.
“Gladiator or toy?” Kaspar asks, as if it’s the easiest choice in the world.It might be an easy answer for someone branded, brainwashed, and who remembers no other life. But that’s not me, not yet anyway. I’m a cop—or at least I was until my cover got blown. Now, I’m one of the trafficked people I vowed to save.Kaspar’s a toy —a pleasure slave— content to warm our sadistic owner’s bed; he laps up the abuse he’s conditioned to associate with affection.He’s my only way out. To gain our freedom, I must play the hardest undercover role of my career and be everything his fractured mind needs: a more controlling bastard than the man who turns people into grateful slaves for a living.Officer Jiao Sweatt thinks I’m a victim. He has a lot to learn. And it’ll hurt.This book is part of CRIMINAL DELIGHTS. Each novel can be read as a standalone and contains a dark M/M romance. Warning: These books are for adult readers who enjoy stories where lines between right and wrong get blurry. High heat, twisted and tantalizing, these are not for the fainthearted.
He accepted, absorbed, and floated in the serenity of obedience. His physical pain became walled up in a corner of his mind. The only thing that mattered was his master’s will.
“Fuck, I didn’t see you down there. Why didn’t you say something?”
“It’s not my place to disturb my master.”
Jiao frowned. “Don’t call me that. I’m nobody’s master, and you’re nobody’s slave, Kaspar. Come on, up you get. You don’t have to kneel to me.”
Kaspar didn’t move. He didn’t know if he could get up, but they needed to establish something first.
“I do have a master, and right now, it’s you.” He handed Officer Sweatt the Chorbaji’s note. He hoped Officer Sweatt wouldn’t mind that it was a little damp and crumpled from being in his hand all this time.
Jiao glanced at it and scowled. “Well then, as your master, I order you not to kneel to me.”
Kaspar didn’t resist smiling. A pet’s duty was to adapt to his master’s needs. Officer Sweatt clearly liked teasing, playfulness, that he could do.
“That’s going to make blow jobs a little uncomfortable, but–”
“You don’t have to do that either; now get up and talk to me like a man.”
“Can’t men kneel?”
“Just get up, will you? You make me feel uncomfortable.”
That got him moving. Making your master uncomfortable, unless it was to entice him to pleasure, was not good pet behavior. He tried for his normal graceful, hands-free stand, but ended up on his ass; his sore, bruised, battered, and cut ass. Rolling to his side he sucked in a breath, trying to contain the bright flare of pain while expected a kick for his lack of grace.
“Shit, how long were you down there? Never mind.”
With surprising strength, his new master lifted him to his feet, one hand on his bicep, one across his chest, under the brands, and helped him limp across to the bed. He climbed up and lay on his side, head resting on one fist while he balanced himself with the other in front of him. He hoped he looked at least a little enticing. Flirty and playful, that’s what had put a smile on his new master’s face in the gym.
“You’ve been on a drip.” Jiao nodded toward the small cotton ball taped to his inner arm.
“Not a lot gets past you, does it, Ma–” he paused at Jiao’s frown. “Well, what would you like me to call you? Sir? Officer Sweatt? Chief? Boss? Please, don’t say Daddy, anything but–”
“Would you shut up?”
Kaspar’s mouth snapped shut. At least he’d got him to give an order.
A hand pushed through the inky black hair. “Look, Jiao is fine. I got called ‘Sweaty’ enough as a kid never want to hear ‘Sweatt’ again.”
Kaspar frowned. “I’d never call you that, and your first name hardly seems respectful. I–”
“This is important to you, isn’t it?”
Kaspar’s frown deepened. Understanding this new master was a challenge. “Of course it is. The higher the status of my mas–” he paused, grinning “–special friend, the higher I–.”
As he spoke, his new master grabbed a bathrobe from the back of the bathroom door and draped it over him.
Humiliation hammered. He dropped his forehead to the mattress. He was useless, unworthy, and unwanted. He disgusted this man he had been instructed to please. His failures swirled and thickened in his mind like fog.
You deserved what Azur did to you; he should have finished it. Put you down like a useless old dog.
About the Author
I have a reputation for writing dark, angst filled stories in a swathe of genres, from Sci-fi and paranormal, to contemporary romance and erotica with m/f, m/m and multiple partners. I blame my rebellious muse (who looks like Chris from the Paint Series) for the erotic aspects tickling the angst, and the humour cuddling up with the erotic. You’ll find all this and more in my books! No matter the genre, I can promise different characters, dark themes, steamin’ sex, laughs and a HEA or HFN.
When I’m not writing or reading, in leafy Sussex, England, I herd Birman cats and sons. Both groups argue that the other is too large.