Will she be able to
confront her past, learn to move on, and learn to love herself?
Riley is stuck —in a job she hates, a toxic relationship, and
in life. She knows the relationship is bad for her, but she also can’t seem to let her go. After
catching her girlfriend cheating, again, she finds comfort at her favorite
bar, with her best friend by her side.
After punching someone in the face and meeting a
mysteriously gorgeous bartender, Riley thinks things may be changing. Sawyer is
adventurous, sexy, and confident— all the things Riley yearns to be. And a sunrise
motorcycle ride starts to give her hope that things can change.
When she suddenly gets a phone call from her brother, she
discovers her estranged mother is dying. After almost a decade of silence, she’s forced to
return to her small homophobic hometown, say goodbye, and confront her demons.
Will she be able to confront her past, learn to move on, and
learn to love herself?
“Wanna dance?” We both turn and see a greasy guy at least twice our age. I bask in the
audacity of men.
“NO THANKS!” I shout back over the loud music.
He ignores me and starts grinding on Luna’s ass and her eyes almost pop out of her head.
She politely tries to move away but he follows her, keeping his body pinned to hers. Luna
mouths ‘help’ so I try to pull her away.
“WE DON’T WANNA DANCE!.” I yell at the guy. What the hell is wrong with men?
He either doesn’t hear me or he doesn’t seem to care because he grabs Luna’s other arm.
She tries to get out of his grasp and he just laughs, enjoying her squirming. I turn to face this
guy now. He’s barely an inch taller than me, with sweat stains under his armpits and oily
“We said NO! Now let go of my friend.” I am nose to nose with this guy and he still doesn’t
“What are you going to do about it?” He laughs, and I can smell the onions he had for dinner
on his breath.
Without hesitating, I take a step back as if I’m going to walk away before turning around at
the last second and punching him square in the jaw. He stumbles backward, surprised by my
strength and action. He falls to the ground, the crowd backing up to avoid catching him. He
looks stunned for a moment before he looks angry.
I grab Luna’s hand and try to maneuver out of the crowd. We need to get out of here as fast
as we can. Let me just say trying to run through a crowd of people, wearing heels, while half-
drunk, and pulling your fully drunk best friend on your arm is not an easy feat.
I turn back to see if he’s still following us, giving me a second to catch my breath. He’s still
halfway across the club but he seems to be looking for us, so I hold on tighter to Luna and
pull her toward the exit. Only when I feel the cool breeze on my bare legs do I feel safe. We
walk to get out of the way of people to where we can take a second to breathe.
“Dude, are you okay?” Luna’s eyes are wide and that’s when I finally realize the impact of my
punch. My fist is starting to swell and my knuckles are quickly turning purple; only now do I
feel how bad that hurt.
“Jeez, I wouldn’t wanna be on the other end of that hand.” The voice comes from next to us
and I look up curiously.
A woman about our age is leaning against the brick wall smoking a cigarette, looking like
something out of a magazine. She’s wearing tight dark jeans and a low cut opened floral
button-down. Her blonde hair is slicked back like Danny Zuko from Grease. She’s
gorgeous. Where did she come from?
“They had it coming,” I mumbled instantly, losing my confidence.
“They did,” Luna confirms. I try to flex my fist and wince in pain. Shit, did I break
“Want some ice?” The mystery woman puts out her cigarette and motions for us to follow
I look at Luna and we both shrug, following the woman into the side entrance of Puzzles.
About the Author
Shannon O’Connor is a twenty-something, bisexual, self-published poet of several books and
counting. She released her first novel, Electric Love in 2021 and is currently working on
several sapphic romance novels. She believes there is a lack of positive Female/Female
romances in the world, and wants to make them more accessible. She is often found in
coffee shops, probably writing about someone she shouldn’t be.
You’re tellin’ me that if this
shiter buys St Stephen’s, there’s a chance we won’t have access to the graveyard! Over my
The Refuge Bid is a gay mystery and relationships tale set in
fictional Tunhead, northeast England.
Is there a link between a woman who has been missing for
ten years and the people bidding to buy and redevelop Tunhead’s decommissioned church
and graveyard? Can the County Durham Quad and their special friend, Nick, find out and
stop the sale—one grave is special—and can they raise the cash to counter the bids with an
offer of their own? Success involves their drawing on Tunhead’s quarrying industry past and
on employing their very different skills but, also, they must acknowledge what it is that they
really want from their unusual liaison.
Trigger Warning: references to a teenager’s suicide
and to conversion therapy.
Check out the other books in the County Durham Quad series:
Mike Angells is an openly gay CID inspector based in North East England. There are three
men in his life: Raith Balan, Phil Roberts and Ross Whitburn. Mike is particularly close to
Anxiety, but mounting relief. Those were his feelings as he
stamped down the final clod of earth and smoothed the surface. Some stones and bricks
would lie around but who would pay attention to a scattering of those in a place like this?
You wouldn’t give them a second glance. So, he’d done it! Literally buried a problem and no
one would be any the wiser.
And nobody was until, years later, a group of men from
County Durham started digging up the past.
The Beck on the Wear Arts Centre, known for ease and for
effect as BOTWAC, and the brainchild of Ross Whitburn-Howe. Ross lay in bed and mentally
ticked off items linked to BOTWAC’s Easter re-opening. People could visit all year round if
they wished to, but the Centre’s location at the end of the lane that wound steeply up to
Tunhead in the Durham hills was an icy deterrent during winter. Come spring, though,
Tunhead shook off winter’s cold discomforts and looked and sounded full of life—even
where it harboured death, for Tunhead had a church with a graveyard.
It might be asked why a tiny village that had never been
home to more than a hundred people at any one time should boast a church, let alone a
graveyard. The church was a gift from the family who, two centuries past, had owned the
limestone quarry that led to Tunhead’s existence. The workers should have Sundays off,
provided they prayed and listened to sermons instead, and as the nearest church was a ten
mile walk from the row of terraced houses, it seemed sensible to offer an alternative on-site
as it were. So, called St Stephen’s after the patron saint of stone masons, the church was
used by the quarrymen, their families, the tenant farmers and farmhands who worked the
fields adjoining the lane and by the old landowners themselves. St Steve’s was still
consecrated although, now, disused. That didn’t mean that the graveyard had become a
dismal ruin. Like the rest of the village, it looked neat and tidy, spring flower-full and ready to
“Yes!” thought Ross. “Everything sorted. Publicity placed
with the tourist board, leaflets ready for distribution, programme of events arranged, social
media angles covered, and bookings already coming in for the workshops and for August’s
week-long pottery festival.”
The man who lay beside him stirred, opened and rubbed
two sleepy eyes and said, “Mornin’, Gorgeous.”
“Morning, Mike.” Ross smiled and returned the squeeze
that followed the greeting. He snuggled down to enjoy a few more minutes’ warmth in bed.
A hair dryer whirred into action from the bedroom across the landing.
“That Raith doin’ his hair? Better get a move on before he’s
down and nickin’ me breakfast sausages.” Mike got up, pulled on a pair of boxers and went
The ‘Raith’ was Raith Rodrigo Roberts-Balaño—known as
Raith Balan: sculptor of erotic art and wearer of exotic clothing. The ‘Roberts’ section of his
name was the surname of his husband, Phil, who in comparison with Raith was extremely
conventional, and a surgeon. Phil was breakfasting on yoghurt, fruit and wholemeal bread
when Mike entered the sunny kitchen.
“Mornin’ Phil.” A kiss on the cheek and a hug around the
shoulders. Returned with a grin and a “Morning.”
And so, Ross, Mike, Raith and Phil looked forward to March
with the optimism produced by mutual affection and the promise of spring.
About the Author
Jude Tresswell lives in south-
east England but was born and raised in the north, and that’s where her heart is. She is ace,
and has been married to the same man for many years. She feels that she understands
compromise. She supports Liverpool FC, listens to a lot of blues music and loves to write
Ryan Stone can’t wait to put his toes in the sand at the
famous Bondi Beach. When he arrives after a flight that was far too long, and having not
slept or eaten, all he can do is stare out at the beautiful expanse of white sand and blue
ocean in awe. And when a blond guy asks him to play footy, he agrees, even if he doesn’t
know for sure what that is.
Ollie Hughes thinks a day at the beach is just what he needs
to take his mind off work. When he sees the cute but rumpled guy sitting by himself in the
sand, he’s drawn to him. The more time they spend together, the less he wants the day to
end. They end up spending a few days together, those few days turn into weeks, and neither
is ready for their time together to end.
A lot of chemistry, and a little bit of luck make for an
interesting day at the beach that both men are reluctant to end. Time and distance could be
their biggest obstacle, but maybe some things are just meant to be. #meetcute
Slipping my shoes and socks off, I carried them with me to
the water’s edge. The water was warmer than it was on our side of the planet, but the last
time I’d been to the ocean had been near Eureka. The water was never warm there. I walked
out enough for the water to hit near my knee.
“Oi, mate. You don’t want to be going out there. It’s a
wicked rip. Pull you right out without warning and you’ll end up across the ditch in New
Zealand.” A very tanned, very blond guy about my age, wearing an aqua and dark blue shirt
with Lifeguard emblazoned on his chest, crossed his arms and planted his feet.
“It’s okay, I’m not going out far. I just wanted to see how
warm it was.”
“If I had a dollar for every time I’d heard that, I’d be a rich
man. Most that have said it, are now about fifty meters offshore.”
My head whipped in the direction he’d indicated, before he
burst out in laughter.
“Just messin’ with ya. But seriously, don’t go out past your
knees. Everyone thinks they can handle it, but it’ll drag you out before you can get your feet
under you.” He stood and waited for me to walk out of the water and waved when I relented
and walked back over to the grassy area.
Leaning my head back I let the heat of the sun warm my
skin as my feet dried off. The sound of the ocean and children playing on the beach were all I
could hear right now. The long flight started to weigh on me, and I knew if I kept my eyes
closed much longer, I’d be asleep. I still needed to find a place to stay so I slipped my shoes
on and walked toward the other end of the beach.
People were everywhere, and dogs, and cars, and even
what looked like a group of lifeguard trainees. “Hey, you up for some footy?” a guy with
long, curly blond hair that hung in soft waves around his face asked as he jogged
I wasn’t sure exactly what he meant.
“Yeah, we can just toss it around.” He threw the football up
and caught it with a grin.
“Sure.” I stood and followed him down to where the sand
had been raked smooth. People were gathered around the area, but most were at the edges
of the immaculate sand. I set my
backpack down on the edge and followed him. Noticing he
was barefoot, I hurried back to take my shoes off.
As soon as I was on the sand again, he tossed the ball to me
and turned to run. I threw it back and he made an amazing diving catch. We both laughed as
he dusted off sand before tossing it back to me. “What’s your name?”
“I’m Ryan, what’s yours?”
“Ollie, Ollie Hughes.” He caught the ball and did some weird
jumping throwing thing that looked funny as hell but did the job.
I caught it and before I could toss it back, he was running at
me. At first, I didn’t realize what he was doing but then he tackled me. We rolled around
laughing until I was able to get away and run farther down the beach. When he got up and
started to come at me, I threw the ball to him and turned to chase him down. Both of us
laughed as we crashed together onto the sand and wrestled around to get the ball.
He got a grip on it and bolted away from me as a few
people near us clapped. “Oh, I see how it is now,” I yelled and gave chase. He ran around
other people that were sitting either in a chair or on a towel, and the ones standing tried to
move out of the way.
Finally, when he got to an open area, he turned around and
stopped with the ball tucked under his arm. “How long are you here for?”
“How do you know I’m not from here?” I asked.
About the Author
BL Maxwell grew up in a small town listening to her grandfather spin tales about his
childhood. Later she became an avid reader and after a certain vampire series she became
obsessed with fanfiction. She soon discovered Slash fanfiction and later discovered the MM
genre and was hooked.
Trans Christ born in a
modern-day, transphobic England
The Word was with God. The Word was God. Nothing was
created apart from the Word. The Logos became a trans woman and she dwelt amongst us,
full of grace and truth.
Four men have their lives changed forever: Jude, the
terrorist sent to kill the transgender Christ; Peter, the repressed gay man grasping after a
religion of certainty; Andrew, the slave to his sexual appetites; and Tom, the ardent atheist
with crippling financial problems.
From the towns and moors of northern England to the
shadow of the cross in the City of London… the light shone in our darkness and the
consumer, military technocracy comprehended it not.
Tom Bauer scanned the myriad titles in the Selfish Help,
Mind n’ Body, Religion, and Pop Psychology subcategories, publications propped and penny-
stacked on white MDF shelves.
Pop Psychology? What’s the world coming
to? Tom thought. What he wanted was Death
Metal Psychology, Hip Hop Head-Help, Roland TB 303 Counselling: anything but fluff and
bluff. He started to laugh, at book shops, at life, at himself for being such a useless sack of
shit. How have I ended up
here? he demanded of existence, desperate for
a fix of some arsehole’s fake positivity?
The woman stood next to him reading the inside cover of The Secret slid it back onto the shelf, then hurried away.
The man who didn’t believe in belief pulled a volume from
the packed display and examined the recommended retail selling price printed beneath the
barcode—the book was the same price as a leg of lamb, as three large chickens. How the fuck can I justify spending
that? he thought.
There was enough money to last another couple of months.
His personal account was overdrawn, as was the joint account. There was always the credit
card and the emergency second credit card, the one that Kristin didn’t know about. The
feeling of being overwhelmed, of drowning, washed over him. Tom was scared: scared that
they could lose their house, scared that what had been certain, mundane, predictable was
now fuzzy and nebulous.
He picked out a copy of the Selfish Help bestseller I can make you Bulletproof and tried to read the introduction, but the words expanded and
went blurry against the paper. Kristin stepping up her working hours to full-time helped, but
it wasn’t anywhere near enough to cover the shortfall in his wages: the choice was now
which bills had tobe paid.
Tom knew that he was not on his own: across the Public
Sector thousands of people were being let go, especially, it seemed, in the north of England.
Every suitable vacancy had hundreds, thousands, of applicants. His mind flicked to the visit
he had made to the Didsbury Job Centre that morning: there was nothing, not unless he
wanted to be an amusement park squirrel on minimum wage. He had asked the stony-faced
Employment Agency manager whether a drug habit was a mandatory requirement for the
Some people have no sense of
humour, he reminded himself.
Once he had been on an upward trajectory within society.
Now, Tom visualised his family falling into the abyss of poverty.
Tom pushed I
can make you Bulletproof with its free hypnosis
CD back into the shelf. He stared at the rows of crack-lit books, at the dope publications, at
the trash written by authors selling glass pipes and rocks to the vulnerable, pushers who
peddled badly cut gear to existential junkies. Bluffers and bullshitters, he thought, the lot of you. And yet, I want to buy your
product, get high, face the inevitable come down, buy the sequel. The thought compounded his sense of despair.
That was when Dave Lucas and Bob Nielson from the
Salford Health Trust Planning Department strode past the end of the aisle and took their
seats in the coffee bar. Tom had forgotten the two spreadsheet goons read manga and
graphic novels for free during their lunchbreak. The last thing he needed was Dave—the
Lurch lookalike in his X Files T-shirt—and Bob—his skinny anaemic monosyllabic
sidekick—asking him how he was. And he certainly didn’t want to hear how things were
going back at the office, didn’t want to see that “you-poor-bastard” smile, or, even worse,
the sparkle of glee in the eyes of those spared the executioner’s axe. In Tom’s considered
viewpoint, anyone who still believed in “love for your neighbour” need only set up a
corporate redundancy programme to see the reality of the human: fuck thy neighbour lest
thou too get fucked.
Bob Nielson—a sadistic un-helpful prick in Tom’s
opinion—was the man widely suspected of being the elusive Phantom Logger, that
desperado of the digestive system who delighted in cooking up foot-long turds and
depositing them in the men’s third-floor toilets and leaving without flushing. A closed toilet
bowl lid was a sure sign that Nessie was back in town. Neilson had been spotted giggling
outside Trap One just before one particularly unpleasant discovery. Maybe Bob n’ Dave took it in turns, Tom considered, competing in
their own ghastly gastrointestinal game.
How had those two morons survived whilst he’d been cast
He needed to escape the book shop ASA-fucking-P. Tom
knew that if he had to engage in any form of communication with Beavis and Butthead, he
was liable to murder one, or both, of them; bash their heads in with a British Bake Off
Option One was to hide in the stinking toilets for an hour
like a junkie. Screw that, Tom decided, which left him with Option Two.
Option Two was printed on the flyer that he had been given
by a smartly-dressed woman outside Boots the Chemist on Market Street, a piece of paper
that announced Manchester Cathedral were running a lunchtime programme of speakers
with that day’s febrile attempt entitled, “The
Myth of Eden—a new approach to Genesis.”
Having someone attempt to defend the Great Book of Fairy Tales enraged and fascinated
Tom at the same time.
He decided that facing down a representative of a
misogynistic, homophobic, corrupt organisation staffed by paedophile pensioners would
take his mind off his financial woes, even if only for a short time. Tom wondered if he could
get thrown out of church for heckling. Watch out
all you bishops and kings, he thought, the Pale Rider is at your gate.
He paid for a copy of The Times at the self-scanning machine,
extended it to its full height, hid his head behind the newspaper, and strode through the
main door. Once he was on Deansgate, he stuck his tongue out at Dave and Bob through the
window. The two men didn’t notice, but an old man drinking a latte from a tall glass stared
at him in surprise.
It took two minutes for Tom to walk to his favourite place in
the whole world, the John Rylands library. Tom loved everything about the building—the
décor, the stillness and, most of all, the collection of ancient writings, works that covered
every aspect of the human experience across three millennia: legal, medical, science, and
the history of tribes and lost nations. He could spend his entire life in this one library and still
only scratch the surface of the knowledge within.
Plus, it was free admission.
Through the glass entrance, through the gift shop and café,
up the modern staircase, past the Italian tourists, then into the red-stone vaulted cloisters,
and up the stone staircase to the third floor where Thomas reverently entered the Reading
Room. There, he was greeted by old friends: Luther, Milton, Shakespeare, Goethe, and
Calvin, evidently no girls were allowed in Enriqueta Ryland’s library, apart from the lady
herself. Tom sat at the mahogany table beneath the statue of Gibbon. Trusting in the
presence of this enemy of Faith he read the newspaper, searching all the while for the one-
liner that would transform his life.
Tom finished the easy, then started the medium difficulty,
Sudoku puzzle. Thirty minutes later, he had ground to a frustrating halt. Checking his watch,
he noticed he was late for the Genesis gig at God’s gaff. He had a choice to make—sack off
scripture or go and put the righteous in their rightful place. Still holding the newspaper, Tom
legged it from the library, dove down Deansgate, veered along Victoria, and arrived, gasping
for breath, at the Cathedral doors.
The presentation in the Saviour Chapel had already begun
and all the black metal chairs had been taken. Tom edged right and stood, leaning against
the cold stone wall.
A blonde woman in jeans and a blue t-shirt prowled the
front of the chapel. “Clothes are made from the cotton plant,” she said to her audience,
“from animal hide, from nylon that is made from oil found under the seabed. Clothes are
human constructs of naturally occurring materials. Gravity is a physical law, but our certainty
that the universe is a matter machine is a human construct, a metaphor. Even when we are
given fact, we fashion it into meaning to wear about our person.”
“Amen,” a man in front of Tom said.
“For fuck’s sake,” Tom muttered, shaking his head,
realisation dawning on him that he had made a dreadful mistake.
“Our certainties adjust during our lifetime,” the woman
said, “new knowledge and different learning become more important, people we love die,
friends change, our pets grow old and die, the world around us changes, new roads are built,
and our favourite breakfast cereal has a packaging redesign.”
To his left was a disabled man in a wheelchair—twisted
limbs, twisted face, thick oversized ears, and jam-jar spectacles. Tom averted his gaze. Poor sod, he thought. It would have been better
for him, for his family, for society, if he’d never been born.
“That which is our reality, our certainty, is but a metaphor.
It is unreal in the sense that it is a construct of a construct. All our certainties are torn down
at our death. We arrive at check-in stark naked and shivering, belonging to no culture and
belonging to all. Stripped of all that we have ever wrapped around ourselves, what is
You’re shit-boring, love, Tom thought. Wish I hadn’t
come now. Behind the altar, a huge red curtain
hung from the roof. Tom was struck by how much the church resembled the 2-3-74 temple
in Ultimate Negation 2—the first-person shooter game that had used a digitised version
of the building as the backdrop for all-out war between the remnants of humanity and
hordes of gun-toting alien invaders. The Church authorities had claimed on the TV news that
their Cathedral was a “space for grace,” and the Japanese corporation who had produced
the game had violated this sacred principle. Tom had never heard anything so stupid in all
his life: most city-centre tourist attractions would give their right arm for that kind of
About the Author
I am the author of Trans
Deus, 7 Minutes, Parably Not, and A Particular Friendship. My stories are about the
intersection of faith and sexuality. I am a William Blake obsessive, and I’m working on new
books with Blake’s themes – sex and gender, revelation and rebellion – at the heart of the
In Gamilaraay, the language of the
Kamilaroi peoples of north-western New South Wales, it’s the word for The Milky Way. It’s
also the name of Peter Dixon’s homestead and sheep station, situated in the lee of the
Liverpool Ranges. In 1947, Peter returns from war, his parents and
younger brother dead, the property de-stocked and his older brother, Ron, having emptied
out the family bank account and nowhere to be found. The House With a Thousand Stairs is the story of a
young man, scarred both on the inside and the outside, trying to re-establish what once was
a prosperous and thriving sheep station with the help of his neighbours and his childhood
friend, Frank Hunter, the local Indigenous policeman. Enveloped by the world of Indigenous spirituality,
the Kamilaroi system of animal guides and totems, Peter and Frank discover the true nature
of their predestined friendship, one defined by the stars, the ancestral spirits, and Baiame,
the Creator God and Sky Father of The Dreaming. Maliyan bandaarr, maliyan biliirr.
Two days later, Richard Williams, Sparrow’s nephew, turned
Peter was standing in the old kitchen when he heard the car
horn. He’d been shaving off his patchy beard and still had soap on half his face, so yelled up
the side passage, “Out here!” He couldn’t be bothered shaving since he’d come back home
and had let his beard grow for a few days. It grew thicker along his chin line than on his
cheeks, and had got to the length where it looked untidy and scraggly … and it itched like a
“Jesus, look at you,” he said as Richard poked his head in the
door. “You grew.”
“So did you.”
The first thing Peter noticed in his shaving mirror was how his
boyhood friend had filled out. Dressed in a singlet under a pale blue shirt, opened to the
third button from the neck, and overalls rolled down to the waist, Richard leaned against the
doorframe, idly inspecting Peter’s back.
“Few war wounds, Pete.”
“You bring any back?”
“Only on my dick. Teeth marks mainly.”
Peter laughed, holding the razor away from his face so he
didn’t cut himself.
“I bet if I had a good look I’d find teeth marks in other places,
“No one calls me Dick anymore, except my uncle, Pete.”
“You’ll always be Dick to me,” Peter replied with a wink.
His friend laughed. They stared at each other in the mirror
longer than men who hadn’t been close as teenagers might have done.
“Mechanic, eh?” Peter said, rinsing off his face and wiping his
razor on a towel. He still used a straight edge.
“Here,” Richard said, “turn around, you’ve missed a bit.”
He took the razor and then scraped under Peter’s chin, nudging
it upwards first with the back of his fist.
“I’ve missed more than a bit,” Peter said, pushing forward
gently so their hips bumped against each other.
“I don’t do that anymore,” Richard replied with a smile.
“Yeah, neither do I.”
They both laughed.
There’d been a small group of boys, on the cusp of becoming
men, who’d been close. They’d “mucked about together”, as it was called back then. They’d
laughed and joked about it, compared sizes, talked about the girls they said they’d rooted,
when every one of them knew each of them had lied. But then there’d been those times
when a few of them would slip off somewhere together without the others, or meet up by
chance with ants in their pants and find somewhere quiet.
Peter had been popular—the others had sought him out. He
was happy to do the thing the others were leery of, or felt was somehow not manly. None of
them blabbed about his ability to roll onto his tummy or lift a knee against a tree to let them
have a go. He didn’t care what anyone thought. It didn’t make him feel any less of a bloke for
it—he simply liked the feeling. His availability had always come at a cost, though. He’d
invariably asked, “A ride there for a ride back?” And they’d always nodded dumbly, their
knees trembling, knowing the reciprocal ride back was as rare as hens’ teeth. Dick Williams
had been one of the few of his mates who had been happy to allow Peter to climb on after
he’d had a turn, or to get on his knees and give him a gobbie afterwards to bring him
“Christ you’ve got some muscles on you, Pete Dixon.”
“Comes from doing push-ups with blokes on my back who say
‘I don’t do that anymore’.”
Richard snorted softly. “Guess that’s something you didn’t give
up in the army?”
“I’ll bet you a fiver you didn’t either.”
Richard didn’t reply, he merely shrugged and looked over his
shoulder out of the doorway. It’s what nervous blokes did, Peter thought. What have
you got to be nervous about, Richard Williams? Those were his thoughts, but
something below his belt had answered his question.
“So, we gonna go have a squiz at your truck?” Richard asked,
offering his packet of tailor-mades.
“In a minute,” Peter said, shaking his head at the offer of a
Chesterfield and then taking his makings pouch from the pocket of his shirt, which had been
draped over the back of a chair.
“What you waiting for?”
“You to take your clobber off and get in there,” Peter said,
tossing his head in the direction of the room in which he’d been sleeping for the past three
“I dunno, Pete … it’s been a long while, and as I said, I
“Get in there, Williams,” Peter said with a growl as he lit his
cigarette. “The squiz at the truck can wait a bit, there’s something in your pants I want a
gander at first.”
He watched for a few seconds while Richard fumbled with his
shirt; his hands were trembling. There’d always been a lot of chemistry between them. It
was something he’d almost tasted the moment Richard had poked his head around the
“Let me unbutton your shirt,” Peter said gently, passing him his
“Unless they had different names for them in the part of the
army you served in, Pete, that’s not my shirt,” Richard said with a laugh.
“Buttons, buttons, shirt or pants, they all have to be undone,
sooner or later.”
About the Author
After a thirty year career as a
professional opera singer, performing as a soloist in opera houses and in concert halls all
over the world, I took up a position as lecturer in music in Australia in 1999, at the Central
Queensland Conservatorium of Music, which is now part of CQUniversity. Brought up in Australia, between the bush and the
beaches of the Eastern suburbs, I retired in 2015 and now live in the tropics, writing,
gardening, and finally finding time to enjoy life and to re-establish a connection with who I
am after a very busy career on the stage and as an academic. I write mostly historical gay fiction. The stories are
always about relationships and the inner workings of men; sometimes my fellas get down to
the nitty-gritty, sometimes it’s up to you, the reader, to fill in the blanks. Every book is story driven; spies, detectives,
murders, epic dramas, there’s something for everyone. I also love to write about my country
and the things that make us Aussies and our history different from the rest of the
world. I’m research driven. I always try to do my best to
give the reader a sense of what life was like for my main characters in the world they live
I’ve crushed on my brother’s best friend since I sprouted
hairs on the unmentionables. Once upon a time, he was straight, until he wasn’t… and talk
about bad timing.
And when we’re finally at a place for me to make my move,
sexy rural firefighter Dan clams up and acts weird and I’m left with pants that are too tight
and my heart feeling bruised… but he’s a good friend and I’m grateful he’s in my life.
Because of course Dan is a good guy.
Though him being “good” and ridiculously easy on the eyes and possibly the best man I know only makes me want him more.
When we’re thrust into a situation that brings both of us
close to danger, it’s hardly the time to be chasing first kisses or finally acting on my crush.
But Dan doesn’t seem to mind.
I just know that when the stakes are high and emotions are
running wild, sometimes you have to show your hand and go all in.
And that’s exactly what I plan to do.
The squeal of brakes had me exhaling. Any minute now,
he’d be stepping out of my brother’s Toyota. With just a few metres and steel between us, I
had no idea how to react, not with the nervous excitement thrumming in my veins.
The doors opened, and movement caught my attention.
Dan Madison followed after my brother, his eyes already on mine.
His hand tightened around the pack of beers he carried,
and pink coloured his cheeks.
But that was likely my imagination making a much bigger
deal about this reunion than it really was.
Funny, the things you noticed, though. He had new glasses.
They were thicker rimmed than any style I’d seen him wear before. He rocked the whole hot
geek vibe. Killed it, in fact.
Though there was nothing geeky about him in the
traditional sense. Not when he worked with his hands for a living as a carpenter, and I
doubted so much had changed that he wasn’t digitally challenged beyond a game on the
It took everything in me not to allow my gaze to eat him
Two years—however brief on that one-week visit
home—of not working side by side with the man when I talked him into fitting me some
Two years of not listening to his addictive laugh that made
me smile so big my face hurt.
And two years since once again, he’d left me disappointed
when he’d waved goodbye and headed back to the city—and his boyfriend—where he’d set
himself up with a new life away from the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
Never once had I told him about how I felt, the right time
never seeming to arrive. If I’d known he was gay before he’d left town when he was twenty,
perhaps I would have been more obvious with my crushing. At eighteen, I’d been very
definitely out. But Dan’s sexuality came as a surprise. Craig had dropped that bombshell
when I was in my second year of uni.
And hadn’t that been a kick in the gut, swiftly followed by
elation. For the first time ever, I’d considered that just maybe I had a chance.
The chance never came, though.
There was no point when we lived a couple of hours apart.
Long-distance wasn’t something I thought I could handle, even when it was for my brother’s
best friend, the man who’d snagged a piece of my heart when my balls first dropped and my
dick had thickened watching Gerard Butler in 300.
There was also the fact he’d had a boyfriend. Had been the exciting word of the day. Almost a year ago, they’d split.
The gravel under his feet grew louder, and his gaze
remained fixed to mine. Barely a metre apart, and he stopped, shifting the six-pack to his
“Hey, Ross.” Pretty light-brown orbs peered back at me,
wide and just as mesmerising as I remembered. “Bloody hell, you’re a sight for sore
I grinned, uncertain of the words that might fall out of my
I didn’t need to worry. In Dan’s next breath, he said, “Get
your arse over here already and give me a hug.”
I ignored my brother’s snort as he snagged the beer from
Dan and walked on past us.
A deep exhale escaped my lungs as I stepped forwards and
pulled him into my arms. I wrapped myself around him, holding him tight. The feel of his
large limbs, strong and firm, wrapped around my own frame made my heart sing.
“Good to see you too, mate. About time you made the
move back to civilisation.” My grin remained wide when I eased away, his snort making me
“Yep. You better believe it. You know, a Subway opened in
town, and Bunnings got an extension. Civilisation at its best.”
Dan’s laugh washed over me like a familiar hug, the
sensation warming me, much like the log fire already built in my sitting room did.
“Come on.” I gripped his arms, giving a happy squeeze.
“Let’s go and grab one of those beers.”
About the Author
Becca Seymour is the #1 gay
romance best seller of the True-Blue series, having sold more than seventy thousand copies
of book one in the series so far. Known for “steamy and endearing” and “emotionally
profound love stories” (InD’tale Magazine) her books have been nominated for multiple
Becca lives and breathes all
things book related. Usually with at least three books being read and two WiPs being
written at the same time, Becca’s life is merrily hectic. She tends to do nothing by halves so
happily seeks the craziness and busyness life offers.
Living on her small property
in Queensland with her human family as well as her animal family of cows, chooks, and
dogs, Becca appreciates the beauty of the world around her and is a believer that love truly
CLUBBED TWO is historical fiction, set in Philadelphia from
1982 to 1992. Club Sanctuary can be seen as a metaphor for the greater LGBTQ community,
but it is written as a real place, with characters who are fabulous, funny and
flawed. The author combines historical characters and
events with fictional ones, creating a story that’s entertaining, informative and emotional.
The love story between the two main characters, Joey and Henry, serves as a vehicle for
connecting the stories of diverse, Queer characters. This second book in the CLUBBED series continues
the story as the LGBTQ community fights prejudice and ignorance in an effort to be
recognized as people worthy of respect. Will the community be torn apart by fear, or will
they come together to support PWAs? (People With AIDS)
Experience the drama, the beauty, and the excitement as
well as the music, fashion and fads of the 80s with CLUBBED TWO: Anxiety, Anger, Activism.
When he let himself into Kirk’s room, he found Kirk sitting
on a small sofa in front of a 13-inch black and white TV with no cable. The picture was fuzzy
and the volume was low while a rerun of Happy
Days was on.
“Just put the box on the coffee table and we can eat here.
And keep out two beers and put the rest in the fridge.”
Kirk proceeded to eat, with no hint that anything sexual
was about to take place between them. This felt awkward to Jando who didn’t really know
how to act on a date. He was used to quick fuck-n-sucks, usually in a public place like The
Hole at the club. So, he copied what Kirk did. He figured Kirk knew how to act better than he
After a few minutes, there was only one slice of pizza left.
Kirk looked at the young Puerto Rican guy sitting next to him with a mischievous
“Hey Bae, you know what I always wanted to do?”
“Please don’t tell me you always wanted to smash a guy in
the mouth with a slice,” Jando joked.
“No, not that. But you know how in the movies, a couple
will share something they’re eating, until they end up mouth-to-mouth. And then they have
to decide whether to kiss or what they’re gonna do next?”
“Yeah,” Jando said. And not just people do that. Remember
in that cartoon where Lady and the Tramp were eating spaghetti?”
Kirk laughed, actually snorting a little as he thought about
that famous scene.
“If you’re the Lady, I guess that makes me the Tramp,” Kirk
said, still laughing.
“You wanna try it?” Kirk asked, reaching for the final slice,
trimming it into a very slim slice and pointing the uncrusted end towards Jando’s
Kirk closed his eyes and started to eat the crust on his side
of the slice. He felt the pull as Jando joined him, taking small bites of the other side.
Kirk started laughing again. “Damn! I didn’t think about
that we actually have to stop to chew.”
Now both of them were laughing, as Kirk continued to hold
the slice in mid-air between their two mouths.
“Keep going, Bae. Keep going.”
With gooey cheese dripping down and various pieces of
pepperoni, green peppers, onions and mushrooms falling, and while they tried to keep from
laughing, their mouths continued to inch closer.
Finishing the slice, they were both chewing as their lips
finally brushed up against each other’s.
Swallowing hard, Kirk took the lead and kissed Alejandro
forcefully. He pushed Jando back so he was prone on the sofa as he slid his tongue into
Jando’s mouth, tasting the pizza but also the sweetness of Jando’s lips and tongue. Jando
returned the favor, kissing with a passion that he’d been holding back for a few hours,
needing some release soon.
“I wanna do this right. Let’s go in the bedroom,” Kirk
whispered, lifting himself off Jando’s writhing body. “And bring the beers with you,” Kirk
reminded him as he took hold of a walking cane that was next to the sofa, unnoticed by his
About the Author
Robert A. Karl is a native son
of Philadelphia, PA, a retired educator, a queer author, and the proud Gay Dog Dad to Zuna,
the Awesome Boston Terrier. He now resides in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he enjoys the
beauty and culture of La Isla del Encanto, The Island of Enchantment.
Follow along and you will see a tale retold in a world of unimaginable creatures,
gods, and goddesses. A world filled to the brim with magic. Our story begins with a sorcerer
with too much power without the age to match.
Ryder, our hero, who just so happens to be a painfully short redhead, has found himself
burdened with the fates of thousands, in a life where he has so far received very few
answers. In order to find the cure to the plague that has overtaken the Kingdom of Solais, he
sets off on a quest to seek out his slightly crazy grandmother, in the Yore Forest.
Add in one flirty, handsome werewolf Prince, a sarcastic sorcerer-hating werewolf, some
full-blown insanity, and a bit of magic, and Ryder finds his momentous task doubling in
difficulty and stress. But all is not what it seems, and sometimes life takes you to places you
never wished to stand. In the end, Ryder’s decisions and paths are not choices but destiny.
And in said destiny lies insurmountable magic, death, and maybe even love.
Bane sprinted into the forest, running faster than Ryder could ever hope to.
The thudding of the man’s bare feet on the dirt path almost lured Ryder to sleep.
It would have been to their detriment. The danger was not over. Escaping
his grandmother would take more than physical strength and a little magic. She would not
give up that easily.
Ryder had barely had that thought when he felt it—magic. The air became
electric as it surged closer. He could taste it. Ryder could feel it permeating his very bones.
But something was wrong. Instead of fear or apprehension, his very soul felt elated.
Ryder felt energy build inside him. Strength he shouldn’t have had, it called
for his magic to rise. And as the unknown force sped towards them, his heart started to race
At first, there was only a thundering rumble. Then the ground began to
shake, and a roaring symphony of cracking, snapping, and explosions followed—sounds of
pure destruction. Screeching beasts could be heard in the distance, the creatures dying as
they are unable to get out of the way of his grandmother’s spell. And soon, the already dim
sky darkened further.
He watched Bane quickly glance back. When the werewolf swore and
started a brutal pace, he knew they were probably screwed.
Even knowing that, Ryder couldn’t stop his eyes from widening in horror
when he finally caught sight of what was after them. It was not something anyone could
outrun. Headed their way was a tsunami-size wave of dirt, rocks, and trees. He could see
nothing beyond it. Not only was it coming from behind, but from all sides, leaving only an
increasingly narrow path in front of them.
And as the two waves began to swell over them, stealing away their path,
Ryder’s first thought was that they were going to die. But then the defiant part of him, that
always pushed him to defeat the odds, screamed no—no, he would not die this way! Ryder
He let his magic consume the mysterious energy—he let it free. Instead of
recoiling from the all-consuming spell coming for them, his magic flew towards it. As their
magic collided, a spell he had never learned filled his mind. The language was old, foreign to
him, but he somehow understood.
When the world turned to darkness, the wave mere seconds from crushing
them, time slowed for Ryder.
His body hummed, and the spell he shouldn’t have known past his lips.
“Îgňaęϋe těŕrvŉa ɋȏnǹ ȸrǽ relǽg’uɱ Ťę môrʋǐtȕs!”
He began to emit a red glow. That glow became brighter and brighter, until it
Ryder blinked as time returned to normal. The wall of dirt, all of it was gone.
The only evidence of it having been there was the barren land all around them.
“That was…insane,” Bane rasped, voice shaking. The man had a death grip
on him, and the werewolf’s voice wasn’t the only thing shaking.
In a slight daze, Ryder peered up at the man. Fearful brown eyes met his. It
was the look one cast at a monster. Ryder quickly glanced away.
Clearing his throat, Bane announced, “We should get going.”
Going where, Ryder thought weakly. He found he was too tired to ask. The
energy and magic that had saved them had dissipated, the spell that had been so clear
moments before was lost to him.
Bane started off again after a moment of hesitation, carrying him into the
barren wasteland the spell had created. Listening to the werewolf’s speeding heartbeat,
Ryder let his exhaustion take him.
While he did not know where they were going, or what was going to
happen, the one thing he did know was that this was far from over.
About the Author
Books have always been a big part of Shelby Rhodes’
life. Unfortunately, growing up writing had been a constant struggle for her. So, even with
her head filled with stories she never tried to write them down.
It took many years to gain the confidence to explore
writing as a creative outlet. Now writing has become a way for her to dive into new
adventures and explore new worlds.
With confidence, she fully intends to explore
everything that has been stuck in her head. It is her hope that others will join her on her