Meeting an A-list movie star like Truman James wasn’t part of my life plan, but neither was temporarily living with my bully of a stepbrother. Being hit on by said celebrity definitely hadn’t been planned.
I wasn’t up for wild parties or talking in front of cameras, so why did I find myself answering Truman’s phone calls and texts? Even more confusing, why did I go on a date with the man?
Beating my social anxiety wasn’t going to happen anytime soon, and avoiding the stubborn actor was even harder, so when I was thrust into the spotlight, there was only one thing I could do…
From the moment I set eyes on Adam Hendrix at my Oscar party, I was enraptured. His sweet demeanor and pretty-boy looks captured my heart from the start, and I refused to let Adam get away.
I never intended to out Adam to the media, but that’s exactly what I did. So, when the paparazzi began to swarm, I did the only thing I could to protect Adam… I whisked him away to a place no one could get to him.
Safe on the little island I loved, I let my guard down and showed Adam the real me. The one only a few people in the world know.
But will it be enough to make him stay? Will I be enough to make him happy?
This is a m/m contemporary romance; alpha/nerd; low angst novel. Trigger warning for some bullying.
I was in Truman James’s car, driving west to Malibu. I’d only been there twice in my life to go to the beach with some people in college. It was a nice place, and nowhere near my stratosphere of everyday life.
What the hell was I doing there? Was Truman really that pigheaded that he couldn’t take no for an answer? If I thought for one second I’d be able to handle the media or his rich lifestyle, I’d feel like a million bucks. As it was, I felt like a little kid sitting on plastic furniture in Grandma’s formal parlor, not allowed to touch a thing. Truman hadn’t told me not to touch anything; I’d imposed that rule upon myself because I was terrified I’d break some priceless work of art or some expensive piece of electronics.
Stomach aching with nerves, I blurted, “Let’s go somewhere else.”
Truman started at my outburst. “Like where? I’m not exactly inconspicuous.”
I took our general location into consideration. “Turn off at the next exit and head toward Pasadena.”
Truman glanced over at me with a pensive frown.
“What?” I asked.
“It just occurred to me that I really don’t know you very well. Are you planning on putting me in some compromising situation, taking photos, and selling them to the tabloids?” He waited a beat, then gave me a shit-eating grin.
I smacked his arm with the back of my hand. “Very funny.” Although it kind of wasn’t. It wasn’t hard to imagine people doing that to him, and it almost made me feel sorry for him. Almost.
About the Author
Este Holland is a writer and reader of all things Romance. She’s also a treasure hunter, a word wizard, a lover, and a fighter. She was born and raised in WV, and now lives in Virginia. She works in marketing during the day. She began writing novels in 2012.
When his new student turns out to be a handsome property developer with a complicated past, teaching is the last thing on Jake’s mind.
When recently single Jake heads off to rural Somerset for a job interview as a reading teacher, he’s expecting his pupil to be a child, but it’s the handsome and charismatic property dealer Nathan Foley who needs his help. Their relationship quickly becomes sexual, and Jake worries he is rushing into another relationship too fast. And, as the heat between them intensifies, Jake begins to question Nathan’s motives.
Adding to the confusion is Nathan’s bitter older sister, Alice, who seems to have taken an instant dislike to Jake, as well as a strange man who Jake spots wandering around the grounds of the house.
What is Alice’s problem? Who is the handsome stranger? And are Nathan Foley’s feelings entirely genuine? Perhaps Jake is the one who is about to learn a hard lesson.
Sunlight was streaming through the huge window when Jake opened his eyes. He could have closed the blinds so that the day wouldn’t have infringed on his sleep, but he was glad he hadn’t. He glanced at his phone, which sat on a small bedside table. It was only seven a.m. He thought about getting dressed and sneaking out of the house alone. He wasn’t sure lunch with Nathan was such a great idea after the knee-rubbing of the previous night, but his new boss had suggested it would be a good chance to talk about how the lessons were going to pan out. Also, if Jake were honest with himself, he liked the idea of spending time with Nathan.
There was no denying he was attracted, but getting involved with Nathan would be a bad idea on so many levels. First of all, Jake was still reeling from his break-up with Matt, and second, Nathan Foley was his boss and student for the next two months. They needed to establish a professional relationship.
As if Nathan could hear his thoughts, there came a knock on the door and the man’s husky voice calling.
“Jake, are you awake?”
Jake froze. Should he keep quiet, pretend to be sleeping or invite Nathan into his bedroom?
The knock came again.
“Yes, come in,” called Jake, making sure the quilt was pulled up to his neck.
Nathan opened the door. He was dressed in a white bath robe that only came down to an inch above his knees. It gaped open at the top, revealing a chest covered in dark hair.
“Morning,” he said. “I’ve made coffee and wondered if you wanted some.” He was holding two mugs in his left hand, one finger looped through the handles.
“Yeah, that would be great,” said Jake, shifting into a sitting position. The quilt dropped down to his waist, revealing his smooth, toned torso. He thought about pulling the quilt up to his neck again but decided it would make him look too paranoid.
“If you’re up for it, I thought we could head over to this beach I know,” said Nathan. “It’s really isolated and would be a great place to walk and chat and build up an appetite for lunch.”
Nathan sat on the end of Jake’s bed, handing him one of the mugs. Jake took it, feeling a flush spread from his face down to his chest.
How did Nathan go from the stony-faced interviewer of just a few days ago to this affable man who brings me coffee in bed?
“That sounds like a plan,” said Jake, unable not to look at Nathan’s exposed chest, one dark nipple clearly visible where the top of the robe hung loose.
“Excellent,” said Nathan, standing. As he moved, his robe momentarily shifted and Jake had to suppress a gasp at the brief glimpse he had of Nathan’s cock. Even while flaccid, it was long and thick, hanging between
Nathan’s firm thighs. Jake hastily averted his gaze, although Nathan’s dick had already disappeared behind the robe.
“See you in about an hour?” Nathan gave him a questioning look.
“Sure,” said Jake, needing Nathan to leave so that he could fantasize about that cock while he masturbated. There was no way he could get through an entire day without responding to the sight of that amazing dick.
As the bedroom door clicked closed, Jake threw back the quilt and grabbed hold of his already hard length, jerking it aggressively as he imagined Nathan sitting on the end of his bed, robe fully open, revealing his entire manly body and that suckable dick, gradually growing hard.
Jake came in several thick gushes, covering his stomach and chest. He lay back, breathing heavily, still thinking of Nathan, now imagining his boss leaning across the bed and kissing him on the lips. A familiar warm feeling spread through his body and Jake realized he was developing more than simple feelings of lust for Nathan Foley. This is going to be a confusing and potentially exciting two months.
About the Author
Samuel King is London born and bred, and spent his twenties and thirties hanging out on the London gay scene, mixing with some true characters and even finding romance on a few occasions. Now more likely to be found eating in a nice restaurant on a Saturday night than clubbing, he also enjoys reading across many genres, and watching films—especially old horror films and romantic comedies. He is also the author of Male Male erotic romance, Hard Lessons, available from Pride Publishing from 1 October.
All three would help the clawing anxiety caused by the upcoming trial of Alex’s father. All three would cause Dr. Cooper to rush home from his life-saving job to deal with his neurotic boyfriend.
Adding watching kink to his list of coping techniques, particularly his secret medical fetish, helps until a little voice in his head persuades Alex to try one of his fantasies.
Who knew that adult stars lie about their innocence and that acting out scenes can have horribly awkward painful consequences?
It can also lead to your dreams coming true.
“That’s it, talk, or I’m hauling you down to A and E whether you like it or not.”
Dread kicked in Alex’s chest as he shook his head. “No, don’t do that. I… You… just no.” Shooting to his feet, he made for the safety of a locked bathroom door. Maybe… maybe it was better now.
Once behind a locked door, he eyed the toilet and his bladder spasmed. God, he’d never needed a piss this much in his whole damn life. His entire body ached with it.
Taking a breath, he approached the white porcelain, got his sore cock out, and pointed. He thought about urine flowing out, about waterfalls, and taps running, but as his teeth gritted and tears prickled his eyes, nothing happened. I am so very fucked. What if it ruptures or something?
His phone buzzed in his pocket with a message.
Dr. Knutts here.
I can understand you not talking to that arsehole Cooper.
But you have a problem.
I can help.
What is it?
No judgment from me.
I promise I won’t tell Cooper.
Alex read the messages as they popped up one after the other and had to smile. Nate was such an idiot sometimes, but this technique had got him communicating during those first few days after his overdose. Nate had gotten his way back then, but this? Fuck, all he had to do was damn well pee, and it’d all be ok.
Instead of replying, Alex tried to use the toilet again and failed.
His phone rang, or rather, it began talking. “Take me out; press my button, big boy. Harder, do it harder. Oh, fuck yeah, just like-” Glancing down, TIGGER blazed on the screen with an image of a bouncing tiger with a huge grin as the phone degenerated into sexy moans.
Alex closed his eyes briefly and blew out a breath. Chris was the last person he wanted to talk to right now. That Chris had somehow sneaked Alex’s phone, hacked the passcode, changed his own name and ring tone didn’t surprise him.
“Hi Chris,” he said. If he didn’t answer, the likelihood of Chris turning up at the door was pretty damn high. Nate calling in reinforcements was a low blow. Chris was so damn loud, but he could never be angry with the guy. Love him or hate him, he’d never met anyone who could ignore Chris, himself included.
“Nate’s got his boxers in a bunch about you hiding in the bathroom. He’s worried that you went all Freddy Kruger on yourself again. I told him not to be paranoid. You didn’t, did you?”
Alex managed to get “No” in before Chris was off again. “Well, that’s good. So, why are you hiding in the bog? Did you tattoo your dick? Fuck, you got a piercing, didn’t you? Shit, that’s so cool. Hey Jase, fancy getting your dick pierced?”
Alex grinned at the growled, “What do you think?” that sounded in the distance.
“Aw, sarge, you old stick in the mud. I’ll come with you and hold your hand or your cock, because–”
“Nate messaged you for a reason, Tigger,” Jase called out. “And no, I don’t want to know.”
“Oh right. Alex, why have you locked yourself in the bathroom? I need an answer quick; Jase has his Sarge look on. Which means either I’m about to get one hell of a pounding or we’re coming over. If you were looking out your window right now, you’d see the lights in our flat flashing. It looks fucking cool even if I say it myself. Come out, and you’ll see them.”
“Alex, come out for fuck’s sake before I get a fucking migraine,” Jase called out. Alex had no doubt Chris was doing precisely what he stated.
“Tell me. Tell me, tell me, tell me. You know how long I can keep this up, so you might as well spit it out.” Chris started up with the ‘Tell me’s’ again.
“I can’t pee,” he blurted to shut him up.
“Oh.” There was a brief, blissful pause. “You got an infection or something? Shit, you didn’t catch something from another guy, did you? Because if that’s what’s happened, I get why–”
“Would you shut up?” Alex hissed. “No, I didn’t cheat, and no, I haven’t got an infection. I…” He groaned. “I watched a porn vid and saw someone try something with a glowstick and…” He blew out a breath. “I’m sore, ok?”
He couldn’t hear Chris anymore. Yeah, he’s laughing his fucking head off. Which is why I didn’t want to tell anyone.
After a seemingly lifetime of silence, Chris spoke again. “Um, wow. That’s, wow, so fucking hot. With a glow stick? Right down inside your cock, right? Could you see it, glowing I mean? Because I’d really like to–”
“Back to the not being able to pee issue?” Alex interrupted.
“Oh, sorry. I’ll tell Nate, but you’re kinda cruel trying that on your own, not telling him and making me call you. Even his colossal ego has limits you know.”
About the Author
Emma Jaye was destined to be a little quirky having been born as a surprise twin in Hungry Bottom. She’s been called the Queen of Angst because she love putting damaged, often sweet and funny characters through hell before letting them have a HFN or HEA ending.
When not writing or reading in leafy Sussex, England, she herds birman cats and sons; both groups argue that there are too many of the other sort.
Escape with Leo and Zak in outback Australia as they discover it sometimes takes time, distance, and interfering family to amalgamate.
After five years of living in the UK, it’s time for Leo to return home to his dad’s stud farm in outback Australia. He has no idea what to expect when he arrives. He didn’t exactly leave with balloons and banners.
Nope. His farewell involved destruction and his own heart split in two.
He knows seeing the man who’s always held his heart, Zak, is going to be awkward. The older farm manager made his feelings pretty damn clear when Leo hightailed it out of there.
Leo quickly figures out life is going to get complicated and a whole heap more exciting as his trip home becomes so much more.
Amalgamated is a fun and steamy M/M short story in Becca Seymour’s Coming Home series. Stand-alone romances complete with heat, wit, and happily ever afters.
“Promise you won’t be mad.”
Groaning, I shook my head. Any request starting that way was going to result in me being pissed off. “What did you do?”
This time her glance my way had me tensing. Concern flickered in her eyes. When she focused on the road ahead, she blew out her cheeks, her lips pursed. “We’re heading to mine.”
“Okay?” I dragged out the word. I’d figured that out since we weren’t heading towards Dad and Michelle’s.
“Dad kinda got excited about you coming home.”
My stomach dipped. I just knew where she was heading with this. Slamming my eyes shut, I waited for her next words.
They came out in a rush. “Sohekindainvitedaheapofpeopleover. But…” She gasped for breath. “…it’s not technically a party, as there aren’t banners or balloons.”
My eyes sprang open, and I stared at her wide-eyed.
She glanced at me, a mix of horror and amusement on her face. “You owe me big for talking him out of that.”
“Yet you couldn’t have talked him into a small family meal?”
She shrugged. “I did try, but, Leo.” She paused, emotion swirling in her eyes, and I swallowed. This was just one of the reasons I’d stayed away. Guilt still clawed at me whenever I gave it life. “Dad was so excited you were coming home. You know he still doesn’t understand why you left. If it had just been heading to the city, that would have been a struggle, but you travelled to the other side of the world.”
My gut clenched. I still felt shit for leaving my dad, but I had my own life to live, and taking over my dad’s stud farm wasn’t what I wanted. Plus there was the major screw-up with how I destroyed any semblance of a friendship with Zak.
I flashed Jen a resigned look.
“Dad obviously invited Zak.”
My heart seized, and my gut churned. This could not be happening. While I’d anticipated seeing him, I wasn’t prepared for it to be the first night I got home. In hindsight, this was ridiculously naïve of me, considering his place was only a hundred metres or so away from the main house on the property.
“I know, I know, but best to get the whole awkwardness out of the way, right?” She reached out and gave my hand a small squeeze. After I’d run out on Zak the night I’d left, it had taken just a handful of calls from Jen for her to recognize something was wrong and for me to spill my guts. We remained close, even with the distance of the past five years, and without her in my corner, life certainly would have been trickier.
“Yeah, I suppose.” There was something to be said for ripping the Band-Aid off, but my gut clenched in anticipation.
About the Author
Becca Seymour lives and breathes all things book related. Usually with at least three books being read and two WiPs being written at the same time, life is merrily hectic. She tends to do nothing by halves so happily seeks the craziness and busyness life offers.
Living on her small property in Queensland with her human family as well as her animal family of cows, chooks, and dogs, Becca appreciates the beauty of the world around her and is a believer that love truly is love.
Blurb Sequel to Rainbow Award-winning gay romantic thriller The Phisher King and its sequel False Flag.
For years, brainy, charming FBI techie Sam Dupre has helped Hunter Walsh and Cal Riggs solve their cases. He’s also become one of Hunter’s closest friends, someone Hunter counts on when things get tough.
After the events of False Flag, Riggs is no longer the agency’s golden boy, so when Hunter suspects a gay couple has been murdered in a hate crime in an exclusive gated community in Olympia, he takes the tip to Sam instead. While Riggs and Hunter contend with workplace politics and Riggs’s recovery, Sam Dupre drives the case forward, even securing a partner for his undercover field work: handsome, popular recent transfer Rob Crawford.
Crawford’s a seasoned field agent who doesn’t bat an eye at posing as a gay married couple, but Sam can’t help feeling like Crawford’s mocking him. They rub each other in all the wrong ways in private even as they pretend to be a doting married couple in front of the neighbors…at least, until they start rubbing each other the right way.
Sam’s dysphoria-and his HIV status-has held him back, but as he bonds with Crawford, he starts to feel seen for who he truly is. Surrounded by mystery and danger, now is not the time to blur professional lines, but how can Sam help himself?
Featuring: An #ownvoices trans character feeling his oats, a dreamboat foreign terrorism agent trying his hand at a domestic (teehee) case, and a supercute adopted housecat. With a special appearance by Callum Riggs, excessive trolling by Hunter Walsh, and, of course, a happy ending!
Meeting Crawford’s piercing green gaze, Sam steeled himself and said quietly, “We suspect religiously motivated White Nationalists could be involved. Whitewoods Olympia’s mission statement is one big conservative dog whistle for ‘old fashioned family values’ and my insider once toured the area looking for a home only to be given the cold shoulder when introducing a black family member to the mix. You may know Olympia is eighty-plus percent white with a two percent black population. Combined with its status as state capital and a cultural center, it’s an ideal location for racial purists to establish a religious enclave close to the seat of power.”
How Crawford took that news would speak volumes. Often the foreign terrorism agents didn’t take domestic terror as seriously, too wrapped up in their administration-sanctioned Islamophobia to acknowledge the clear and present danger of far-right extremists.
“Sounds like a case for Riggs.” Crawford sat back, brows furrowed again as if assessing the situation. Then he nodded seemingly to himself as if the pieces were coming together. Crawford was sufficiently political to understand why Riggs wouldn’t or couldn’t take the case right now.
“So you think someone in the enclave did away with the Millers? Sounds more like old fashioned neighbor murdering than domestic terror, but we do consult on cases of the murdered or the missing. Could just be some nutjob who somehow thinks queers in the neighborhood could lower property values.”
Sam bristled at Crawford using the word “queers” like it was his word to use. Sure, that was often how Sam described himself, but Crawford was a bro. He had no business using it. He bit back a keep that word out of your mouth and grunted instead, acknowledging the probability.
“Riggs is still recovering from the white nationalist attack from the group Weisse Drache, or I’m sure he’d be all over this. It’s definitely his wheelhouse.” Sam kept his voice as even and authoritative as he could, despite his urge to lash out. It was that self-control that had allowed him to climb so high in the Seattle office. “Even if it’s not White Nationalistic domestic terror—which I’m not theorizing; it’s what my anon suggested—it sounds very much like a hate crime. But…”
Sam trailed off, studying Crawford and doing his best to mask his irritation. Then he asked, “The other disappearances… What’s behind those?”
“Inconclusive.” Crawford stared, almost seeming to challenge Sam. “At least per the local PD. We could go in, see if we can draw some conclusions. If you really think it’s a hate crime, we could go in undercover. Either way, if we infiltrate the community, we can see what’s what.”
“We go in undercover,” Sam echoed, disbelieving. “We ‘infiltrate the community’.” Really, that was Crawford’s go-to?
After a beat, Sam grimaced, letting it all sink in. “That would be one way to access their information infrastructure and surveil the environs. The family is maintaining the house for the missing Millers, and from what I’ve heard they’d cooperate and let us use it as a base of operations for our efforts. You’ve got the green light to pursue this?”
“I was told to check it out, so that’s what I’m doing. Checking it out.” Crawford turned to his computer and put in his password along with the security dongle code. “Doesn’t need to be really deep cover. We could claim to be part of the family, housesitting, but make ourselves really at home. See what we can see.”
“Have you tapped someone to partner with you in the field?” Sam pulled out his phone, ready to plug in their third’s data, and looked up to meet Crawford’s eyes expectantly.
“We,” Crawford gestured between the two of them. “Can check this out. I really just need you there to give the appearance of a gay family. You can come in to work as usual if you need. The rest of my crew’s still in Turkey. It could take weeks to get another agent—if they’d assign another at all right now. By then, I may be off again.”
“You want to pretend we’re a gay couple?” Sam’s voice came out much squeakier than usual, and he cursed internally, hating how pubescent he sounded. “You want to replicate the Millers’ situation and see if there’s a bite?”
Technically Sam could do most of his work remotely, but pretending to adore Crawford was not a viable career choice. What the shit?
Then he thought of Hunter’s worried face, remembered how hollow Riggs seemed at Sunday dinner. They weren’t in any place to investigate this, even if Riggs could get the go-ahead, and the last thing Hunter needed was to be separated from Riggs right now. Or rather, the last thing Hunter needed was to go undercover himself, because he’d done enough of that, and Sam was over it, officially.
“Is that coffee done yet?” It sounded more plaintive than Sam had hoped, like he was in desperate need of caffeination, but he was. God, he really was.
“Sure.” Crawford turned and moved the press closer and pushed the plunger down steadily, big meaty hand on the top. “Listen, as a field agent who often works undercover, it’s not my first gay rodeo. Though, I’ll admit, it’s why I can’t just call just anybody in to help. You know, some people around here…”
Crawford leaned in as if taking Sam into his confidence, also implying that he was a cool kid somehow for not being squeamish about doing his job. “Particularly lately. We can just go in say we’re more or less housesitting until the Millers come back, leave it open ended but make ourselves at home, if you know what I mean. See what the mood is. If it’s nothing, we’ll just leave, no need to make a big deal of it until there’s something actionable.”
He pushed the finished coffee closer. “Sound like a plan?”
About the Authors
The Thursday Euclid is a strange and elusive creature dwelling in the Texas Gulf Coast region. Frequently mistaken for Bigfoot, Chupacabra, or the monster of the week, he is, in fact, a 30-something black sheep with a penchant for K-pop, geekery, and hot and sour soup. When he’s not playing Dragon Age or SWTOR, he’s probably watching B-movies or talking to his best friend and frequent collaborator Clancy Nacht. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, or email him at thursdayeuclid at gmail dot com.
Clancy Nacht is a bisexual genderqueer person who lives in Austin. Clancy has published several bestselling romances. Many of her books have been honored with Rainbow Awards; Le Jazz Hot won for Best Bisexual/Transgender Romance & Erotic Romance. In 2013, Black Gold: Double Black was a runner-up for a Rainbow Award. In 2015, Gemini won an Honorable Mention for Gay Erotic Romance and in 2016, Strange Times won an Honorable Mention for Science Fiction. Wyatt’s Recipes for Wooing Rock Stars was a finalist in the highly competitive William Neale Award for Best Gay Contemporary Romance. The Phisher King won second place in the Rainbow Award for Romantic Suspense, 16th for Gay Book of the Year.
A one-night-stand turns into a love story full of dark secrets.
Metropolitan Police detective Pete Tucker’s world comes crashing down when his wife sues for divorce and sole custody of their only son.
Desperate to forget his sorrows for a while, Pete seeks refuge in a Soho bar where he is approached by a sexy, funny, and clearly interested stranger. Photographer Liam Jackson is just the ticket for one oblivious night of perfect passion.
However, their attraction proves too intense for a one-night-stand. To his surprise, Pete finds that he’s game for something more – but his baggage soon gets in the way. Then Liam’s own dangerous secrets claw their way to the surface, and threaten to derail the budding romance.
Is their growing bond strong enough to weather the violent storms ahead?
Mel Gough loves writing about love – but with a twist. Nominated for the 2019 Selfies Awards, her bisexual romantic suspense novel He is Mine is a typical Mel Gough story. She needs her HEA fix, but on the way there will be thorns and fire, and sometimes brimstone. All right, that might be over the top, especially since her stories are firmly based in the real world – though not always in the here and now.
Born in Germany, exploring other realities has been Mel’s siren call since she was young. Books opened up a plethora of worlds, and soon gave her a strong love of the English language. After an MA in Anthropology, field work in the middle of nowhere seemed like one adventure too far, so Mel settled in London, which, to misquote Dr. Johnson, she will never tire of.
Mel loves to bend genres – her romances are gritty and dark, and sometimes there’s a dead body. She’s been told that her prose is beautiful yet disturbingly real. She’s curious about bygone times, and hopes to speculate about the future in one of her next books.
She was once asked “How to tell you’re in a Mel Gough novel”
You were either sick or in an accident, or you’re caring for someone who was
You’re bisexual (or your partner is)
Your partner has unusual eyes (probably grey)
Life sucks a lot, but then you meet someone, and things get better
The course of true love runs through every neighborhood….
Only one thing stands between Gregory MacPherson II and his dream revitalization project for the gritty neighborhood of Ball’s End: a rinky-dink, run-down used bookstore called Hailey’s Comic. But when master negotiator Mac shows up to make a deal with the owner, he comes face-to-face with quirky, colorful Hailey—unexpectedly good-humored about Mac’s attempted eviction and, also unexpectedly, a hot guy.
Hailey won’t give up his lease, no matter how much money Mac offers. When it comes to consummating their mutual attraction, though, he’s a lot more flexible. Soon Mac has as hard a time prying himself out of Hailey’s bed as he does prying Hailey out of the building. But Hailey doubts Mac’s plans serve Ball’s End’s best interests, and he insists Mac give him a chance to prove his case. If they’re going to build a happy ever after, one of them will have to be remade….
GREGORY MacPherson II didn’t have the time or the patience to make a personal trip to a bookstore, but here he was. Alone.
No patrons roamed the narrow aisles formed byoverstuffed bookshelves. No clerk waited at the vintagecash register sitting on top of a linoleum-covered counter barely capable of holding its weight. No one rushed to greet him from behind the tawdry multicolored curtain hanging at the back of the store.
From where he stood only a few feet inside the doorway, leery of allowing anything in the dusty hodgepodge to brush against his suit, he could see straight down the center aisle all the way to the back of the store. It was a thirty- foot-by-sixty-foot shoebox, longer than it was wide, oneof four retail spaces on the ground floor of the six-story brick building and the only one still open. Which was whyGregory MacPherson II, commonly referred to as Mac, had personally dragged himself down here.
How the place could stay in business without any workers, never mind customers, was a mystery he didn’t intend to solve. He was there to shut the place down, not rescue it, though in the few short minutes he’d been exposed to Hailey’s Comic, he could already list a half-dozen ways to improve its profitability.
That sign out front, for instance. It was a purple whirlwind of planets, well done if you were going for an acid-trip vibe, but the name implied there’d be comics, and the sign implied there’d be comets. Or drugs. And from what he could see, there were neither. If an establishment wanted to bring in customers, it needed to make clear theservices it provided and establish confidence that it wouldprovide them well.
Then there was the matter of actually waiting on the customers you did bring in. A bell had tinkled as he’d entered, but apparently only for its own enjoyment.
“Hello?” He raised his voice to a level that couldn’t be ignored and had a brief moment to wonder if he really was completely alone before a head and a hand appeared around the edge of the curtain.
“Mercy, you scared me,” the head said. It belonged to a young man and had a mop of brown hair piled on top of it, a few shades lighter than Mac’s own reddish brown.“Sorry, I didn’t hear the bell. Give me a minute. I’m sort of in flagrante delicto.” The head disappeared.
“In flagrante delicto doesn’t mean naked, you know,” Mac told the air where the head had been. “It means you were caught doing something you shouldn’t have been.Something sexual.”
“Now, now. It’s never wrong to masturbate. There.” The head reappeared, this time attached to a body that gave Mac a startlingly clear vision of how it would look masturbating. The man was stringy, taller than Mac’s six- foot frame, but lean and underdeveloped—the body of aperson who spent a lot of time reading. Or jerking off.
“What can I help you with?” He was in his midtwenties,so perhaps ten years younger than Mac, dressed in jeans laddered with intentional rips, each the same two inches wide, running down his thighs like claw marks. His face was clean-shaven, fresh with his youth, and Mac wondered how his skin would react to having Mac’s tightly trimmed beard rubbed all over it.
“You’re free to browse around, even if I’m not out here.”
Mac added lax security to the mental list he was pointlessly compiling. “I need to speak to the owner.”
Hailey Green, owner of Hailey’s Comic, was the only thing standing in the way of his plans to revitalize this misbegotten section of Ballhaven, which plan started with this very brick building and would ultimately lead to Ball’s End—as everyone called it; he’d have to do something about the branding—becoming the newest hot spot for millennials to eat, drink, shop, and live. Urban revitalization was Mac’s business, and Hailey Green was Mac’s problem.
“Still me,” the man said, tilting his head to the side asif to take in Mac’s appearance more carefully.
Mac hadn’t changed clothes before driving down to Ball’s End, though he could’ve guessed the place would bedirty. He’d been reading a report on the effort to clear 502 Main Street of its tenants and had made an abrupt decisionto come down and take care of ridding the building of its final holdout himself.
About the Author
Tanya Chris writes feminist-friendly romance in a variety of sub-genres and pairings–most especially M/M. Born on the West Coast and raised on the East Coast, she’s fact-based but thirsty for justice, and her books often include an examination of a current social issue, even when they’re set in the past. As a lifelong genre-hopping reader herself, she admires character-driven work with a message, regardless of the form it takes.
Tanya is an avid rock climber, a long-distance runner, and a participant in her local community theater where she has tackled most roles, including playwright, actor, director, producer, and stage manager. Her travels, both for climbing trips and for cultural exploration, have brought her to places as fascinating as Egypt and as beautiful as the Dolomites, though there’s no place like home.
Tanya is best known to readers for having written Aftercare and to writers for the quote “Writer culture is researching what degree is needed to be a paleontologist so your shapeshifting vampire dinosaur erotica will be authentic.” Her website features dozens of free stories, including the aforementioned (and highly authentic) shapeshifting vampire dinosaur erotica.
Wonderland is the hottest club in River City, but it’s time to close. It’s a different world now, and club owner Chester doesn’t see Wonderland having a place in it. What will that mean for resident bartender and hotty bottom Brandon Sweet? Or for headliner, the Queen of Hearts? Or customers like Jesse and Colton, whose open relationship and threeways are the stuff of legend? This group of friends navigate the changes in their lives until one night when everything changes for good.
Brandon Sweet’s first thought on waking up was this isn’t my room.
His second thought was oh god, who is this?
He rolled over, facing away from the stranger next to him, in this strange bed in a strange room. He hadn’t even had that much to drink really. At least, not compared to a weekend night.
It’s the tequila, he thought. I need to stop with the tequila.
“Morning,” the twink next to him said with a moan.
Brandon rolled back over and took him in: brown curls and blue eyes and a smooth slender torso with a whisp of hair on abs that disappeared into the white sheets tangled around his waist. Whoever he was, he was certainly Brandon’s type.
“Morning,” Brandon said, sitting up in bed, letting the sheet drop to his lap. He looked down at his own body, comparing it to the twink beside him. Not bad, for thirty-one, but oh, to be twenty-one again! When he was twenty-one, he could’ve handled twice the tequila he’d had last night, and woken with half the headache. He knew he could have, because he had done just that. Week in, week out, for a decade.
Too early for that train of thought, he told himself.
“I had a really good time last night,” Twink said.
“Me too, me too. Hey, where’s my phone?” He looked on the floor for his clothes.
“Other room. You stripped off as soon as we got here,” Twink said with a smile. “So hot.”
“Hey, what can I say? I know what I want.” Don’t know your name, mind you, but I do remember how badly I wanted to get laid.
He did love a good Thursday night fuck.
“I can’t believe I finally got to fuck THE Brandon Sweet.”
Brandon smiled at him as he stood up. “Hope it was everything you expected.”
Twink reached across the bed to run his hand over Brandon’s abs. “And more!”
Brandon smiled again. “I’m going to get dressed then. Work night.”
“I’ll walk you out.” The twink stood up and yes, Brandon remembered that impressive appendage. Young, hung, and hard – check, check, check.
Had they gone to Brandon’s last night, if he’d woken up with home turf comfort, he’d be pushing Twink back into the bed and climbing aboard to go again. Here though, in a room he didn’t know, with a guy he didn’t know, he suddenly felt vulnerable.
Once he’d slid back into underwear and jeans, it was a bit better. But his phone had 3% power, 32 notifications and it was halfway through the afternoon. He had to get home.
“Hey, my phone’s dead. Can you call an Uber for me?” He hated to ask but…
“Really?” Twink asked. “You said last night you only live a couple blocks away.”
That rang no bells, but Brandon was professional. “Oh yeah, I remember now,” he said, pulling his shirt over his head. “Will you be out later?”
“It’s Friday,” Twink said. “Of course.”
As Twink walked him to the door, Brandon took in the apartment, trying to find something to jog his memory. It was simple, sparse, and wholly unfamiliar. Luckily, as he bent down to tie his Converse, he happened to glance at the fridge, where a photo radar ticket was held by a magnet. With his name in black and white.
“Ok, well, I’ll see you later then, Billy,” he said.
Twink laughed. “You don’t know my name, do you?” he asked. “Billy’s my roommate.”
Fuck. Brandon swallowed and smiled. “Sorry. Tequila. What was it again?”
“Derek.” Twink grabbed Brandon by the belt and pulled him closer, taking his hand and guiding it down. “You’ll remember this at least,” he said.
Brandon smiled again, kissed Derek’s cheek, and bolted out the door.
About the Author
Rob Browatzke has been writing for as long as he can remember, and is pretty darn excited for someone else to be reading his stuff finally! When it comes to gay bars and booze and drugs and drama, he knows what he’s talking about. He came out in the mid-90s, and liquor and drama went hand in hand. He has 20+ years of experience working in gay clubs in Edmonton, Alberta, and his current Wonderlounge is every bit as amazing as Alex’s Wonderland. Rob is now 8+ years clean and sober, although there’s still a bit of drama once in a while, for old times’ sake.
Noah Sinclair Noah Sinclair is best described as an egotistical, pompous, anal retentive, asshat. And those are his better qualities. Lately, Noah has lost touch with his playboy character “Jace” on the show Americana and can’t quite put his finger on why. The studio decides it is time to shake up his character by making him an offer he can’t refuse, literally. They will introduce a new love interest for his character “Jace.” Only this time, there’s a twist. Josh Hill Josh Hill is up a creek and sinking fast. He’s got no job, no money, no credit and is about to be kicked out of his apartment. Opportunity comes in the form of a job offer from the show Americana. Everything should be perfect; only there is one hitch. He will be the new love interest for Noah Sinclair’s character on the beloved show. So, opposites are supposed to attract, right? Not so fast. No one said life was that easy. Both actors find themselves in untested waters. Will they be able to play a same-sex couple with no prior experience authentically? Well, they say practice makes perfect. Carefree, fun-loving Josh and uptight, overbearing Noah, realize they need to make the best of their bad situation and are forced to find common ground. Over time, their roles in each other’s lives become blurred. Is their attraction fake, or is it real? To top it off, Noah has a dark skeleton in his closet that can prevent them from ever moving forward. Can they get on the same page and save both of their careers and their relationship? Or will they end up yesterday’s tabloid fodder?
It’s been almost 10 minutes. Five to go. Fuck.
I have no clue what this meeting is about, and I am not in the mood to be dealing with Steph and Genie’s crap today. Some random stagehand just came back here to let me know my attendance was required. I try to think back and wonder if I personally offended anybody yet today. Hmm… Nope. Not today, anyway.
Steph and Genie are the producers for the show I star on called Americana. It’s a newer concept in programming. The show streams daily on Netflix as an evening drama. Small town life under a microscope is the idea. It’s a modern-day spin on a soap opera really, but there is no way on earth I am admitting to working on a soap opera. The show itself is heavily ingrained in social media where the characters have taken on a life all their own. It’s been almost two years now since they cast me, and the show has been live.
I graduated from college several years ago. After that, I spent a couple of years bar tending and serving. With good parts so scarce, I was lucky to get this opportunity. The show has been a ratings winner, and the entire cast is becoming well known.
What drew me to the part was its unique take on the dissection of America and how different communities have changed over time. Our show takes place in America’s heartland. It focuses on the lives and loves of the residents of Greenfield, Indiana.
My character, Jace, is the town barkeeper. He was a great role to play early on because he had a lot of interaction with the main cast. Lately, though, something has changed, and I’m not feeling in touch with the character as much as I once did. It’s showing in my performance, so I’m sure that’s what this meeting is about.
I’ll bet it has to do with me flubbing lines lately. I haven’t been able to focus, and it looks like they have noticed. My part is getting reduced to nothing. Maybe this is the kick in the pants I need to move on. Ash, one of my castmates on the show, mentioned that they are having open auditions for a new show on FOX. Who knows, it may work out for a season or two. The only thing is that FOX has a bad reputation for short-term junky shows.
Maybe they aren’t going to renew my contract. Oh god. I’m being sacked. I can see it now. Gah, I’m already planning my pity party table for one.
I reluctantly get up from my chair, padding out of the room, trying hard not to make eye contact with anyone. I arrive at the end of the hall and hold my hand on the doorknob. “Okay here it goes,” I say to no one in particular.
I enter the room and see Genie and Steph seated across from each other around a large square glass table. Steph is probably in his early 40s, (never can tell for sure in Hollywood), smallish frame with short sandy brown hair, mischievous eyes and a car salesman smile. He is kicking back with his half-eaten Subway sandwich hanging out of his mouth.
Genie looks up to see me. She has her requisite Starbucks Spiced Vanilla Chai Latte and is eating some salad that looks unhealthier than Steph’s meatball sub. “Noah, right on time, per usual.”
“Hey, guys.” I’m hoping to keep good vibes flowing.
Steph says, “Come on in and take a seat. Shut the door behind you.”
Oh boy, that doesn’t sound good. I move toward the desk, taking a chair next to the window, moving it in close next to Genie. The smell of the eggs on her salad is strong. Steph takes a napkin to his lips to wipe the marinara sauce off and starts talking.
“Noah, you’ve been here for over a year, right?”
“Uh, yeah, almost two years next month.”
“So, you’re up for contract negotiations then, right?”
“Yeah, I haven’t talked with my agent about it yet.”
“Well, that is what Genie and I would like to discuss.”
I swear the smell of the eggs is getting stronger. It is permeating the entire atmosphere.
“You know we get the daily stats on the show’s overall performance and having talked; we decided we are going to have to make some changes.”
It’s coming. I feel it. With the show being purely streaming, it is easy for the showrunners to pull up all types of analytics on the show, like what age group is watching, and income bracket. Annoyingly, they can also track what parts of the show are being watched and skipped over. A favorite character will have higher click averages than a third tier one. With my part being scaled back so much, I’m fairly sure my numbers are in the gutter. For sure I’m getting the boot. I start sweating.
Genie jumps in and says, “Your numbers have been pretty consistent, but not growing at the pace we would like to see.” All I can smell now is the nauseating stench of eggs. I am going to puke. Right here. Right now. Right on their fancy $3000 glass table.
Genie looks at me with concern in her eyes. “Are you okay? You don’t look so hot. Would you like a glass of water?” She jumps up from the table to grab me a glass. Her dark hair is nearly falling out of the messy bun at the back of her head.
“Yeah, that would be great.” She comes back and sets the glass down in front of me. I pick it up and drink slowly. My throat is constricted, and I nearly choke. She is still concerned and looks over to Steph. She pushes her black-framed glasses up on her nose and turns back to me.
Sensing my stress, she quickly says, “We are thinking of taking your character into a new direction.”
“A new direction? Okay, what were you guys thinking about?”
Steph says, “We’ve done some marketing research and have found some niches that we think will work well for our show.” He crams in another mouthful of sub.
Ever the tag team, Genie says, “It’s a direction that may be more challenging, but we think given your range that you would best be able to play the role.”
“What’s the direction you were thinking?”
She looks over to Steph, then back at me. “Your character, Jace Alexander will enter into a relationship with a new character, named Max.”
“Max? Well, what is Maxine’s backstory?” I let out a huge breath. They had me there for a minute.
“It’s just Max, not Maxine. Specifically, Max Shephard,” Steph says.
Slowly my head starts to wrap around what they are saying. “So, wait, Max is a guy?”
“Yep,” they say in unison.
“You made him gay?”
“Look, Noah, I know this is a real shock, but think of it this way. You will have a unique storyline, and it will get people back into your character again,” says Steph. “It’s been what, a year now since Jace broke up with Gracie? The character has just been drifting, and we need to get that viewership back.”
“Are you kidding me? How the hell am I supposed to play gay? This is so far out of my league. I—”
“I’m going to be honest with you,” Steph says, finally having put this sub down. “Genie and I had to go to bat for you to keep you on the show. They were ready to cut you. We pulled this idea out that we had a little while ago and they went for it. So basically, you stay on the show on the condition that you accept this storyline. Otherwise, they are releasing you at the end of your contract.”
I sit back in my chair, dumbstruck. I look between the two of them and see there is no way out. I have no words.
Genie says, “I know you feel blindsided and I don’t blame you for being upset but think about this rationally. This is the opportunity you have been waiting for. A chance to stretch your acting skills.”
Then she pulls forward in her chair, she grabs my hand and looks me in the eye. “You don’t have to answer right now. Think about it over the weekend, and we can all talk about it again on Monday.”
I don’t say a word, still unmoving and dazed.
“We have an audition video for the actor we have in mind. Why don’t you take this copy and see if you think you can make this work?”
Wordlessly, I take the flash drive and get up to leave. I go back to my dressing room and finally lose the contents of my stomach.
About the Author
T.L. always hated math, so it was a good thing she had a way with words. Since she was a shy and quirky kid; words were her best friends. She would imagine entire worlds in her head and talk to herself endlessly. Her mother wondered if she was speaking with ghosts for a while.
Her older sister was a voracious reader of trashy romance novels and would pass them down to her after she had finished them. T.L. was the only 10-year-old kid sitting in class reading “The Stud” by Jackie Collins during reading time. Oddly enough, she never got called out on it.
As she grew older, her tastes evolved, but one thing held fast; her undying attachment to love stories. One day out of the blue, she decided to write the love stories she always wanted to read instead of searching for her story. Since then, writing has been a dream fulfilled for her and she could not be happier.
She enjoys writing about love, regardless of gender and is a proud supporter of the LGBTQ community.
T.L. calls the Pacific Northwest her home and enjoys the quiet rural life of her little oceanside home with her playful/crazy husband and their giant dog Noah.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer covering LGBTQ+ affairs. As a member of the queer community, our issues don’t get enough press and I see it as my job to shine a light on the many amazing things we’ve achieved. To help me out, my dad sets me up with an internship at his best friend’s company, which is a place that puts out a weekly newsmagazine. It’s perfect because I can use this opportunity to write about gay-centric issues to my heart’s content. But the problem is that the boss doesn’t necessarily see it that way. Dane, my dad’s friend, is handsome, forbidding, and dare I say it? A little scary. He’s used to giving orders, taking risks, and making money hand over fist. Despite being gay himself, he doesn’t want me to use his paper as a platform for our community because he says quote-unquote: “It won’t sell.” Since when has everything become about money? Have we, as a society, lost our moral compass? Even more important, how can I change his mind? On the one hand, sparks fly whenever Dane and I clash. But on the other, can I really be with a man who won’t stand up for the cause closest to my heart?
I took on Chris as an intern as a favor to my oldest friend. After Nick begged, cajoled, and pleaded, I agreed on a three-month summer internship for his son. With an emphasis on temporary. Chris and I weren’t even supposed to cross paths because as the boss, I don’t really interact with newbie reporters. Yet the moment he walked into my office, I knew that Chris was going to be trouble. The young man is lively, forceful, and hell-bent on writing stories that highlight the achievements of the gay community. Of course I support him, at least on some level. After all, I’m a member of the LGBTQ+ community myself, and proud of the discrimination we’ve overcome, not to mention the acceptance we’ve achieved. As a result, I have nothing against his ideas per se, except that they won’t sell very many papers. Does that make sense? As a player in capitalist society, we have to market our wares in order to survive. But why can’t Chris understand my point of view? Sure, everyone knows that the publishing industry is in jeopardy and facing a sea change in terms of how we do business. But how can I make the young man see this? How can I help him understand that the world is more complicated than it appears, and that sometimes, we work for many masters and wear many hats simultaneously? Most importantly, how can I convince Chris that I’m worthy of his love when his commitment to LGBTQ causes may outweigh his affection for me?
***This is a full-length MM novel with no cliffhangers and a happily ever after.***
After we check into our hotel and drop our bags off, Dane and I stroll hand-in-hand down the main streets. We take in the sights, window shop, people watch, and soak in the perfect summer weather. It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon but not too humid today. Everything looks straight out of a postcard. We see kids in khaki shorts and Sperry deck shoes riding beach cruisers, eating ice cream, and laughing so loud they leave our ears ringing. We pass a coffee shop and I practically drag Dane inside, even though I had two espressos before we left this morning.
As we’re sipping our drinks, I take the opportunity to mention some LGBTQ issues that could potentially be included in Globix publications. There’s one about how fundraising for LGBTQ issues is particularly challenging given the current political climate, and another one pertaining to an upcoming Supreme Court case.
“What do you think?” I ask casually, my heart beating with anticipation. Hopefully Dane likes the ideas and assigns me to report these stories.
He’s noncommittal, merely squeezing my hand and looking off into the distance.
“It’s a beautiful view,” he says in a low voice. “I love this part of the Northeast.”
I shoot him an even look.
“No seriously, Dane. You know these issues are important to our community. What do you think of the fundraising article? Or the Supreme Court case? Front page stuff, right?”
This time, he turns to look at me and sighs deeply.
“Chris, what did I tell you about the Supreme Court?”
“Nothing,” I answer stoutly. “Why?”
Dane muses a bit for a moment.
“You’re right. I never did mention how I feel about those stories, and how they play out for our business. Well, I’m not going to hold back because I think you need to hear it, sweetheart: stories like that, as compelling as they are, don’t speak to our readers. Our readership likes mainstream stuff, even if it pains me to say it.”
I wrinkle my nose.
“What are you talking about? This is mainstream. We are mainstream. That’s what we’re trying to do!”
Dane sighs again.
“No, Chris, we’re not mainstream yet. A small, yet significant proportion of the population identifies as queer in some way, but we’re not there quite yet. And because we’re not there, it means that most of the people buying our papers are straight. They want to hear about issues that pertain to them, or they want to hear about fun human interest tidbits. They don’t want to hear about cut and dried Supreme Court decisions, and they definitely don’t want to hear about fundraising. It’s not going to sell papers.”
I stop and stare at him.
“But we have to feature these articles because we want to become mainstream. Only by including these stories will we make a dent in the overall American consciousness. Don’t you want to do that? Isn’t that a worthy goal?”
Dane sighs again and his shoulders slump a bit.
“Of course I do, but there’s this thing called revenue, and also Globix’s board. I answer to them, and if we don’t deliver good figures, you know what happens? I’m out of there, and so are you, frankly.”
I’m stunned. How can this be? I can’t believe that Dane would nix an idea because LGBTQ issues aren’t what our readers want to read about. Sadly, it makes a sick sort of sense and I turn to him with a horrified expression.
“When’s the last time we featured an LGBTQ-centric article?” I ask in a quavery voice.
The publisher merely looks down.
“It’s probably been two months,” he says in a low voice. “And that’s if you don’t count how Charlize Theron is raising her oldest child as a transgender girl.”
My heart pounds painfully in my chest. Oh my god, I had no idea. Or I did, but I had no idea it was this bad. I seize his hand.
“Well, we can feature more,” I say in a rush. “There’s plenty of space in a couple of the newsmagazines, and I’m sure I can get two or three articles ready in no time –”
Dane cuts me off.
“No Chris,” he says in a low voice. “That’s not going to help. The long and the short of it is that sometimes, we have to wait for the world to be ready for us, and right now? It’s ready, but not that ready. We can’t force a slew of LGBTQ pieces down readers’ throats because they’ll never buy our stuff then. A small trickle of gay-friendly stories is okay, but we can’t make them drink from a fire hose.”
I stand frozen in place. This is so difficult to swallow, but I make myself nod.
“Yes of course you’re right,” I say, still trying to catch my breath. “Revenue matters. Keeping readers engaged matters.”
And the thing is, I actually believe these things, but the revelation is still devastating. What’s more important? Money or the cause close to my heart? I swallow and take Dane’s hand again, and we begin to walk once more.
It’s moments like these when I feel like I’m in over my head. Dane knows so much about the practical realities of business, whereas I know so little. But am I willing to let go of what I love in order to succumb to the gods of money? Or will the realities of capitalism pull me apart from this man whom I adore?