Running from a scandal that ruined his life, Isaac Twain accepts a teaching position at Hambden University where, three months prior, Professor John Conlon stopped a campus nightmare by stepping in front of an active shooter. When John and Isaac become faculty advisors for the school’s literary magazine, their professional relationship evolves. Despite the strict code of conduct forbidding faculty fraternization, they delve into a secret affair—until Simon arrives. Isaac’s violent ex threatens not only their careers, but also John’s life. His PTSD triggered, John must come to terms with that bloody day on College Green while Isaac must accept the heartbreak his secrets have wrought. ***WE STILL LIVE is a standalone M/M friends-to-lovers romance featuring detailed adult content, graphic violence, hurt/comfort, and mental illness.***
Close as they were to the foyer, Isaac was the first to notice the front door opening. A student walked inside. The kid dragged a heavy-looking suitcase behind him. Dressed as he was in a slim-fitting button-down, Isaac immediately assumed preppy, although that assumption altered and changed when taking into account the tight black jeans, Converse sneakers, and shaggy hair the color of caramel and chocolate—a mass of waves and curls that fell down the back of his neck but not quite to his shoulders.
The kid pushed his hair out of the way and looked up, eyes finding Isaac and flashing a moment of panicked nonrecognition before seeing Tommy.
“Um.” Isaac pointed toward the new arrival.
Tommy turned and shouted, “John! My man!”
Not a student, then.
Tommy wrapped John in a hug that actually lifted his feet off the ground. Isaac imagined it wouldn’t be difficult. The new guy might have been average height, but he was gangly, skin and bones.
Tommy ruffled his hair. “Have you lost weight?”
John grumbled and scratched his face with his middle finger. “What are you freeloaders doing in my house?” His voice was surprisingly resonant for someone Isaac considered “pretty.” At John’s pronouncement, crows of approval rang from every direction.
“Come meet Isaac,” Tommy said.
John wiped his palms on his jeans before reaching out to shake, and Isaac’s large hand dwarfed his.
“Isaac Twain is the newest addition to our special corner of Hambden hell. Isaac, this is John Conlon.”
John brushed more hair out of his face. “Nice to—”
John and Tommy froze.
Isaac jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “The books on the shelf. Those are yours?”
John’s face, immobile in what looked like dread a moment before, melted into relief, tinged with a bit of blush. “Oh, yeah. You’ve read?”
“No, but I should. You’ve published a lot of books. You must be good.”
John’s nose wrinkled, and he looked away.
Tommy shook him by the shoulders. “John is an amazing writer. He had a story published in The New Yorker when he was, like, five. Are you working on anything right now?”
John glanced at the bookshelf. “Not lately.”
“You need a drink,” Tommy said.
John’s eyes widened on a big breath. “God, yes, I do.”
“Nice to meet you,” Isaac said, but John just nodded quickly, smile thin, before allowing himself to be herded farther into the house toward the sound of quiet laughter and clinking bottles.
Isaac felt it then—an outsider’s emptiness. He became a nervous-looking coat rack in the corner, a terrified tree waiting for the ax. As the party doubled in auditory volume, he bemoaned his spilled wine. Was it okay for him to leave? It wasn’t like he was supposed to make a speech. He was only there because he figured it was the easiest way to meet everyone before the first official faculty meeting, but he’d been standing around too long. He wanted to run.
Out of curiosity, he reopened John’s book from earlier and read the front flap. It was a coming-of-age story about a gay kid in the Midwest. He flipped to the back, and a picture of John stared back at him. He’d assumed the guy was tired when they first met, but no; apparently, John had perpetual bedroom eyes, and his hair was always an artful mess. He skimmed…creative writing professor at Hambden University…gay rights activist…Converse-wearer and “old-people music” enthusiast.
All arrows pointed to John’s probable sexual preference for men. A spark of interest flickered but quickly went out. True, John Conlon was what most people would consider beautiful, but he wasn’t Isaac’s type. John was the kind of man butch guys fought over in gay clubs, but he was too small for Isaac, too fragile-looking, girly. After all he’d been through, the last thing Isaac wanted was someone feminine.
A thin figure ducked into the library and literally hid against the doorframe. He took a long drink of something brown and leaned his head back. “It’s not good when you want to hide in your own house.”
“Library is the best place for it,” Isaac said.
John kicked away from the wall. “Tommy mentioned you just moved here? I’ve been in Lothos forever, so if you need anything…” He examined Isaac from his brown boat shoes to the top of his blond head. John’s large eyes, dark green, seemed bottomless—drowning pools of intellect and soul—only slightly overshadowed by his thick eyebrows.
About the Author
Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, model, and mental health / LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is author of the paranormal rom-com Bite Somebodyseries and Escape Trilogy.
Will Eagle and Adam be able to stop a murderer while navigating their changing relationship?
‘Hello, tall, dark and handsome.’ Out and proud gay Albuquerque Homicide Detective Eagle Woodard studied Dr. Adam Coulter, criminal profiler, with a clinical eye. ‘Slender build…narrow waist, but nicely muscled underneath that Hugo Boss suit. People think you work out, Kemo, but you don’t.’ Eagle’s dark eyes narrowed. ‘You know I hate that day old beard look, but you were probably too wasted to bother. Nice eyes, green when they aren’t blood shot. Flawless tanned skin except for that tiny scar through your left eyebrow.’ The former Army Ranger grinned. ‘I gave that to you accidentally when we were 8 years old. When you stood up for this Navajo kid in an all white school. We both got our asses kicked.’ Eagle sighed and shook his head. That was the day he’d fallen in love with 4 times married, 4 times divorced, current roommate, Adam Coulter.
Eagle and Adam are faced with their toughest challenge yet. They must find an active serial killer before he strikes again. With the powers that be not cooperating and the killer proving to be elusive, will Eagle and Adam be able to stop the murderer while navigating their changing relationship?
The cool wind attacked Eagle Woodard’s body as he fell head over heels. He tumbled, body tightly tucked as he cleared the modified Cessna, momentarily catching sight of the blue, cloudless horizon before stretching out to embrace the air. Below him, the rust toned surrealist canvas of desert and mountains began to take shape as he allowed himself to freefall through the biting tempest. The winds transformed his tanned face, warping it into a mad, Joker-esque grin.
The former Army Ranger set his plan into motion. Pulling his muscular arms tightly against his torso, the angle of his descent began to change. ‘I feel the need, the need for speed.’ If the wind hadn’t been so brutal, he would’ve laughed. How many times had they used those iconic words in training? At 38, it felt like a lifetime ago.
Eagle tilted his head down. He pressed his legs together with toes pointed toward the heavens, becoming a human bullet streaking through the atmosphere. He could feel the friction heating his head and shoulders. His dark, goggle covered eyes flickered to the left, quickly gauging his altitude in relation to the horizon. One…, two…, three seconds passed.
With an agility reminiscent of his aviary namesake, he arched his back, catching the horrendous pounding of the wind squarely on his upper chest, making it difficult to breathe. Deliberately spreading his arms and sinewy legs, he succeeded in capturing the furious gale, harnessing it. Using calculated care, he began slowing his descent from Father Sky toward Amá ni’, Mother Earth.
Eagle reveled in the multitude of sensations inundating his body. The angry roar of the wind deafened him. The white noise of the rushing air blotted out all sound except for the popping of the black, nylon jumpsuit. The wind strained the cloth protecting him almost to its limit. The powerful, talon-like turbulence threatened to shred his clothes, leaving him bare and unprotected from the tempest. The bee sting lash of his long, raven ponytail as it whipped against his neck and face revitalized and reddened his brown skin.
‘Four…, five…, six…, seven…, eight.’ With an eerie calm, Woodard counted the seconds. As he drew closer and closer to terra firma, his confidence in his abilities never wavered. Here he was master. Here he was the great bird of his people’s folklore. He was the embodiment of Atsáh, the Eagle, swooping with deadly accuracy toward his prey on the ground.
The Albuquerque homicide Detective didn’t need to see his altimeter. He knew he only had a few more moments of precious freedom. Reluctantly, his right hand moved reflexively to the left side of his chest. Gripping the cold metal ring, he tugged.
A grunt of air was forced from his lungs. The nylon straps crisscrossing his body suddenly tightened, drawing him up. Eagle grimaced as pain seared up his back. The sudden opening of his parachute at this rate of speed aggravated more than one old injury. Gravity, the purveyor of his discomfort, pressed his chin to his chest for an instant before the strain of rapid deceleration eased.
With skill born of countless jumps, Eagle maneuvered the billowing canopy toward his destination. Calculating the high desert cross winds, he made a last-minute correction which allowed him to plant his right foot firmly onto the center of the large, white cross target. As his left foot touched down, he leaned back, encouraging his chute to take the rest of the breeze until it collapsed and fell impotent to the sand. Instantly, the tall man began to gather the yards of thin ripstop nylon and cord into his arms, beating down any last show of resistance from the exuberant ram-air parachute.
Turning, Eagle reached up and pulled his goggles from his face just as his cell phone rang. Pulling it from his zippered pocket, he grimaced at the sight of the familiar number.
“I thought I was supposed to have a day off, Captain.”
“You do, but I’ve got an FBI agent here that needs to talk with you. Says you knew his brother. Here, talk to him.”
“Detective Woodard, my name is Kessler. Rick Kessler. I think you served with my brother, Dean, in the Army.”
The voice and the name triggered unpleasant memories of a time he had tried to bury. He couldn’t tell if it was his Spanish or Navajo side sending a warning chill up his spine. Suddenly, Eagle realized the man on the other end of the line was waiting.
“Yeah, sorry. Yeah, I remember Dean. He died in Afghanistan, didn’t he? Sorry.”
What Woodard remembered was what a closeted bastard the guy had been and how he’d used the knowledge of Eagle’s own closeted sexuality against him. Threatening to report him and risking dishonorable discharge at best…, or death if members of their team found out. He didn’t mourn Dean Kessler’s passing when he got word that some insurgents finished him. “Captain said you were with the FBI?”
“Yes. Detective Woodard, I’ve heard a lot about you and Dr. Coulter. I was very impressed when you apprehended Martin Devoreaux. I read the case report. You and Dr. Coulter are quite the team. The good doctor’s a legend at the bureau. His book on Ritual Behaviorism Among Serial Killers is mandatory reading now at the academy.”
“Oh, Adam would love to hear that.” Eagle rolled his eyes. The last thing Adam Coulter needed was something to bolster his ego.
“If it’s alright, I really need to talk with both of you about a case I’m working. I think you might be able to help me.”
“No. I’m still putting some final touches on a plan I’ve got in motion. How about tomorrow morning at your home? I want to keep this as low key as possible. Strictly, on a need to know basis, so I’d prefer it if your Captain and I met with you and Coulter privately.”
Eagle unzipped his jumpsuit from chin to navel. “What time?”
“Sure. Tell Cap to bring the creamer.”
Pocketing his phone, Eagle gathered his parachute from the ground and slowly made his way to his truck. Stowing the chute away, he unzipped his jumpsuit the rest of the way. Dragging it down off his shoulders, he revealed a tan-colored work shirt and jeans. He pushed the loose-fitting black nylon from around his narrow waist. Wrestling the last couple of inches of fabric over his shoes, Eagle jerked the material free and tossed it behind the driver’s seat completing his impromptu striptease. He looked up toward the sun before glancing at his watch.
“Yeah…, I know, I’m late.” He said to no one, but the wind.
About the Author
My mother now regrets her fateful words she offered the day I came home from our small town library in Palm Springs, California (yes, I’m a Cali girl) complaining that there were no more books to read. “Then why don’t you write some.”
My father never saw his old Remington portable until I entered college and they gifted me an IBM Selectric. By then I had produced at least two dozen unpublishable novels which make me cringe when I read them today.
I found inspiration in innumerable odd jobs (from migrant work as a Date palm pollinator to the person who cleans the washing machines at the launderette to professional Dominatrix) for stories. After a stint in Rehab for Alcohol and Heroin abuse (so when I write those scenes, I know what I’m talking about), I cleaned up and have stayed that way for 29 years. (Me and Sir Elton, LOL). My gypsy lifestyle gave me a unique perspective on the different people who inhabited the Washington, Oregon, Arizona, California, and New Mexico areas where I have lived.
After 3 very bad marriages to men, I finally figured out what was wrong and fell in love with a woman when I lived in Portland, OR 23 years ago. We’ve been married since 2008 (yes, it was legal in California at that time). We now live in Asheville, NC and love the people in this liberal and accepting corner of the mountains of North Carolina.
To learn all about my upcoming releases, news, and specials, please follow or like me at any of my links!
That is, his holiday-obsessed boyfriend Nick is wearing nothing but a Santa hat and wants to know what Casey wants for Christmas. There is one thing, but it’s something Casey’s been holding back on. Melting candle wax stirs a burning desire in him. All he wants for Christmas is to experience the hot drip on his body…if he can find the courage to finally ask for it. All the sugar cookie-scented candles are making it hard to resist adding a kinky request to his wish list of gifts from his sexy St. Nick.
With the holiday spirit driving him on, Casey asks Nick to give him a hot present he’ll never forget. It’s the season of giving, after all, and this will be a gift they can share. Will Nick become Casey’s personal naughty Santa and fulfill his secret fantasy?
Waxing Poetic for Christmas is a steamy holiday MM romance featuring kink discovery, wax play, holiday sweaters, and a sugary fireside HEA perfect for the holiday season.
Nick breaks out in laughter, pressing it to Casey’s temple in hot puffs that brush over his ear. Nick gives him a squeeze. He backs away from Casey and waves around a lone tube sock.
Casey raises an eyebrow. “Really, Nick?”
“What? The tube sock method is a tried and true classic.” Nick winks and flips the sock in the air once, catching it with a flourish. He’s so dramatic, but Casey loves it. “We don’t have to live on campus to utilize it.”
“I thought you just said we didn’t have to worry about your roommates,” Casey points out.
“I know. I did tell them we wanted some space for the night, but this is just a little extra precaution. Just in case they do end up coming up for air from their science project.”
Casey watches Nick dance down the hallway swinging the sock around.
“Grab the ice and the bowl of cold water, will you?” Nick calls.
Retrieving the last of their safety supplies, Casey trails after Nick into his bedroom. Nick admires his sock-hanging handy work like it’s a Michelangelo in a museum.
“Ohh, ahh,” Casey deadpans. He hoists the bowl of water. “Here.”
Nick takes it from him and sets it on the nightstand by a small fire extinguisher and pile of washcloths.
“Do you really think we’ll need that?” Casey gestures to the extinguisher.
Nick throws him a boyish grin. “Fire safety first. Boy Scouts, dude.”
The snowman monstrosity of a shower curtain is open and spread across the floor, the cheerful pattern winking up at Casey. He sets the bag of ice down.
“Okay, last checks,” Nick announces. He ticks off his fingers one by one. “Bathroom, protein bar, shaved?”
Casey nods along with each one. His stomach somersaults, but he’s ready.
“Did you pick a safeword?” Nick raises his eyebrows seriously.
“Just use stop lights.”
Nick nods in agreement. “Alright. We won’t make this too long, either. I want to feel out what your tolerance is slowly without tiring you out too much.”
“What about what I said? I want to take it.” Casey’s cheeks burn with the truth of that statement. “Whatever you want to give me.”
“And slow and steady is what I want to give you.” Nick reaches out and threads his fingers through Casey’s hair. “Got it?”
“Yeah,” Casey breathes.
“Get undressed. Leave your underwear on.”
It’s a command, not a request. Nick’s gaze heats with it, pupils going dark with desire. Casey’s stomach bottoms out and he exhales a shaking breath before yanking his t-shirt over his head and flinging it at the bed. His flannel pants follow. Nick picks up and toys with a bottle of oil.
As Casey strips, Nick grabs his fluffy Santa hat and sets it on his head so it sits askew. It pushes some of his wavy fringe into his eyes and he watches Casey as he waits for Nick’s command.
Nick waves to the shower curtain. “Kneel down in the middle. Hand on your thighs.”
Casey’s quick to follow directions, dropping to his knees. The plastic curtain crinkles and it sounds as loud in Casey’s ears as his breathing. A shiver ripples through his body. His nipples harden. It’s cold in the room, even with the building’s heat on.
While he waits, Nick lines up a few candles and a lighter.
“First things first,” Nick murmurs. “I want you to watch me.”
Nick doesn’t even have to ask for that. Casey’s gaze is already glued to him as he lights one candle and lets the wax pool once it begins to melt.
He holds the candle so it hovers over his exposed wrist. His gaze flickers to Casey.
“Are you watching, Case?”
“Yes,” Casey whispers, eyes wide.
Nick waits a beat, moving the candle just enough so the flame dances. Then he allows a drop of melted wax to fall onto his wrist. Nick inhales through his nose and hums. The wax skips down, hardening into a pearly line across Nick’s tan skin.
“Nice,” Nick murmurs. “Want me to do another test drop?”
In his head, Casey says yes.
What happens aloud is a sound that’s some approximation of an affirmative that half-lodges in Casey’s throat. He sucks his lips between his teeth, eyes trained on Nick’s wrist. They’ve barely started and already his chest is expanding, pulse thrumming beneath his skin in anticipation. Casey swallows thickly and resists the urge to shift on his knees, keeping still under Nick’s gaze.
About the Author
Mara Townsend is a bisexual indie author of LGBTQ+ romances. She loves to explore intimate relationship development of the feels-inducing variety to invoke the eternal just kiss plea from the reader, as well as crafting strong platonic friendships with heaps of heart and soul. Her stories showcase diverse representation, love stories with realistic emotions—never mindless fluff, a healthy dose of humor, and a side helping of her favorite tropes.
She hangs out in fan communities online and learned how to write the kind of stories that she’s passionate about through experimental character-driven fiction based in her favorite worlds. When not writing, she can be found soaking up sunshine at the beach, traveling the world to fill in her passport, perpetually collecting plants, and reading as many fake-dating romance books as she can find.
A prophecy, a True Alpha, and fates mates. Can accept Ascha that his life has changed forever?
At twenty-one, Ascha Stanton has it all: a wonderful family, great friends, a long-term girlfriend, and a promising career as an NFL star.
The appearance of three unknown men in his small town changes everything. Not only his life and future but also what he always thought himself to be: straight. Why then is he attracted to the handsome auburn-haired Thaddeus? How can Ascha hear his thoughts? And even more intriguing, what does the mark on both their chests mean?
Thaddeus explains a new path has been paved for him, one with the Wild Oak pack, who has been waiting for seventy years for the True Alpha to show himself and fulfill the prophecy.
Will Ascha accept that Thaddeus is the man he’s destined to be with, and will the rival pack accept him as their new leader?
Awakening is an MM wolf shifter book with elements of fantasy and mention of Mpreg. It includes some sexual content and is suitable for adult readers.
I stomp through the house, dodging my friends, and out to my truck. I slow down as I get closer. The dark-haired guy with the cold eyes I saw earlier is here, leaning against the side of the flatbed.
“Nice truck,” he says and rights himself. He’s taller than my six foot, but not by too much.
“Thanks. Do you mind moving away? I like to get going.” The guy gives me the creeps, and I remember Jared’s words. In my head, I try to reach out to Thaddeus, although I don’t why. Why would I trust him? I don’t even know if I can. “He’s here,” I tell him. I feel dumb, but it’s done. I reach for the handle of the cab.
“Hey, Ascha, you forgot your coat,” a voice behind me calls out. I look over my shoulder. Thaddeus is running toward me, holding a leather jacket I’ve never seen before. The dark-haired guy lets out a hiss and curses under his breath.
“Thanks, man.” As I take it from him, my fingers graze over his, and fireworks shoot up my arm. “Get out of here. I’ll get rid of him.”
“Sure, no problem. See you around,” Thaddeus says.
I drive straight home and park in my usual spot next to Dad’s BMW. Mom’s Prius is parked closer to the house. I climb out, but instead of hurrying inside, I stand still for a minute. I’m not alone. Someone is watching me. I can’t see anything in the pitch black surrounding me, but I know it, sense it. Tiny pinpricks are piercing my skin. The clammy feeling is all over me again. I’m burning up. I stagger inside and stumble through the kitchen. I need to get to my bedroom and my bed. If I lie down, I’ll feel better.
“Ascha? Are you okay?” It’s my dad, but I can’t see him properly. My vision is cloudy.
“No, it hurts. Every-fucking-thing hurts. I’m so hot.” I pant.
My mom lays her hand on me. I pull my arm away. Her touch is soft but still painful on my burning skin. “It’s happening, Tom. Dear lord, it’s happening to Ascha. I thought it was too late, that it had passed him by. What should we do?” Her voice is laced with worry, and tears fill her eyes. I wobble past them and make it to my bedroom, where I tear my clothes off. My T-shirt weighs too much on my skin, and I rip it from my chest. My jeans are next. They are too thick, too coarse, hurting me. Then another wave of pain overwhelms me. The pressure on my chest is like a branding iron, stamping marks on my skin, so hot, so deep, but it’s coming from inside me.
What’s happening? What the fuck is happening? I cry out, but it sounds more like a howl. My throat tightens. Too much pain, too much… my legs buckle, and I collapse, landing on my hands and knees. I cry out again. “Thaddeus.”
About the Author
You will normally find her in the living room—typing away—with her dogs, Maud and Siddiqi. As a hopeless romantic, JJ dives into her stories, always falling in love with her men, making sure they get the happy ever after they deserve, even if they do have to work hard for it.
As a bona fide bookaholic, coffee-addicted, wine-drinking and swear-like-a-sailor type of girl, she has yet to work out how to act her age!! LOL. And she has no intentions of growing up or growing old gracefully.
JJ lives in a small, very quiet, village in Lincolnshire, UK, with her husband and dogs, and spends all day dreaming up stories full of really hot men.
Christmas. A Wedding. Family. It’s the Perfect Storm…
For Rory Kincaid marrying Jack, the youngest son of the aristocratic De Lacy family, on Christmas Eve, is a dream come true. Handing over the wedding planning to Jack’s mother, the strong-willed Lady Diana, is turning out to be more of a nightmare.
As their big day approaches, the pressure’s on and the strain is beginning to show. Announcements in society magazines, a guest list that’s growing and growing, and fittings for the best bespoke tailoring in London, it’s all a far cry from Rory’s humble upbringing. Piece by piece, Rory and Jack’s dream of a simple winter wedding is fading fast.
Rory is Jack’s everything. Sweet, kind, and totally adorable, Rory is all Jack has ever wanted. And what Jack wants most of all is to give the man he loves the wedding day of his dreams — and that means taking a stand against the indomitable Diana.
***Warning: this story contains two gorgeous men, a mountain of mince pies and cupcakes, a punk rocker Christmas fairy called Bunty, and a snowy Christmas Wedding.***
“Where are we going? The Tube station’s that way.” Rory nodded in the direction they were coming from.
“We’re not going home, or not just yet.”
“Oh? I thought we were going to decorate our living room, drink lots of advocaat, and then get naked on the rug.”
Jack threw back his head and laughed. “That sounds like a plan, but there’s something I want to do first.”
“You mean something is more important than naked advocaat?”
Jack just smiled in response. There wasn’t a lot that was more important than naked advocaat, but what they were about to do next just about topped it.
The tiny street would be so easy to miss in the messy and higgledy-piggledy maze that was the City of London.
Jack pressed his fingertips to Rory’s lips and gazed into Rory’s questioning, confused eyes.
“Just go with me on this, okay?”
Jack pushed the door open, and he and Rory stepped into another time.
The shop was crammed with tall and narrow display cabinets, all of them holding a treasure of watches. Behind the counter, in a corner and almost hidden, sat a small, round, bald-headed man. A pair of glasses perched on the end of his nose, and another was wedged on the top of his head as he worked on the mechanism of a pocket watch, using what looked like a set of toy tools.
“Mr. De Lacy.” The man put aside his work, stood up and extended his hand to Jack.
“Mr. Hogarth. Let me introduce Rory Kincaid, my fiancé.”
Jack moved aside to allow Rory to shake Mr. Hogarth’s hand. Jack smiled; in a moment everything would be revealed.
“Let me bring your order.” Mr. Hogarth disappeared into a back room.
“Jack, I don’t understand. What’s going on?”
Before Jack could answer, Mr. Hogarth returned bearing a small black box, which he handed over to Jack.
“Please.” Mr. Hogarth gestured to a small table and a couple of chairs on the other side of the shop, in the only space not taken up with display cabinets, before he returned to his place once more behind the counter and took up his work as though he were alone.
“I want you to have this,” Jack said, opening the box as soon as he and Rory were seated.
“What?” Rory gaped at the watch, displayed on a pad of black velvet. “But we agreed a strict ten-pound budget, just something silly this year. I haven’t—”
“No, it’s not a Christmas present.”
“Then what—? I don’t understand.”
Jack took the watch out of the box. Like his own, it was plain and unadorned. The black Roman numerals were stark against the white face; the casing was gold, deep and burnished.
“When I was twenty-one, my father presented me with a watch from this shop. He did the same for George,” Jack said, referring to his elder brother. “My father also had a watch on his twenty-first birthday, as did my grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather. The De Lacy men have had watches in one form or another from Hogarth’s since the late eighteenth century. All those watches came from here, from this very shop.” Jack glanced toward the counter, but Mr. Hogarth had gone and was now nowhere to be seen.
“This isn’t a Christmas present, Ro. This is something every De Lacy man receives. And I wanted you to have one, too, because that’s what you’re on the point of becoming: a De Lacy man.” Jack’s lips lifted in a wry smile. “I didn’t know you when you turned twenty-one, although I wish I did. I’m just making up for lost time. On Christmas Eve, you’re going to take my name. I want you to be wearing this watch when you do.”
“Jack, I–I don’t know what to say.”
“Then don’t say anything. Just accept it, along with the words I had engraved.”
Jack held the watch out. All his focus was on his fiancé, reading for the first time the words engraved not only on the watch but on Jack’s heart.
Love, always and forever.
Four simple words which said everything Jack held deep inside about the man he’d found huddled on his doorstep just two Christmases before.
About the Author
I love all kinds of MM romance and gay fiction, but I especially like contemporary stories. Born and raised in London, the city is part of my DNA so I like to set many of my stories in and around present-day London, providing the perfect, metropolitan backdrop to the main action. I write at home, in the gym, in cafés —in fact I write any place I can find a good coffee!
Mac’s life isn’t perfect, but he likes it the way it is: safe and predictable.
Mac works in a struggling pole dancing club at night, and a gym during the day. He’s tired and cash strapped, but content, until a confident twink walks into the club and turns his life upside down. It’s hard to resist when Russel asks him to be his fake boyfriend for one night, in return for double his normal take-home pay.
One date turns into more, as Mac helps Russel get an exclusive that will secure him the job he’s always wanted. But the rich playboy who holds Russel’s career in his hands isn’t going to give him the scoop so easily.
As Mac and Russel spend more time together, the lines between fake and real begin to get blurred, but can their relationship become strong enough to be unbreakable in the face of adversity?
Unbreakable is a fake boyfriend MM romance, with a buff pole dancer who swears like a trooper, a twink who likes to take charge, some spanking, light bondage, and a happy ever after. It’s a prequel story to Broken, but can be read as a standalone romance.
“I’ve been invited to a very exclusive party on Saturday, but it’s couples only. And, horror of horrors, I can’t find a date.”
Mac laughed loudly. “So you thought you’d ask me?”
Russel shrugged in an attempt to appear nonplussed. “Why not? You’re sexy and we’d make a hot couple.” He flicked his gaze up and down Mac’s body. “You do have some nice clothes, don’t you?” When Mac’s eyes widened, he shook his head. “Never mind. I can take you shopping.”
Mac put his hands on his hips, shaking his head. “You can’t be serious?”
“Handsome, I’m deadly serious.”
“Let me get this straight: you want me—a total stranger—to be your date for some posh party?”
Russel nodded. “That about sums it up.” He wagged his finger. “Except you need to pretend to be my boyfriend. Like I said, it’s couples only.”
Mac stared at him, jaw slack and eyes wide.
“I’ll pay you.”
Mac jerked his chin up a little. “Huh.”
“Whatever you’d earn here on a Saturday night, I’ll double it.”
“You know I could just give you some bullshit figure, right?”
Russel nodded. “I’m aware.”
Mac scratched his chin. “You’re nuts and your time’s pretty much up.”
Russel took thirty pounds out of his pocket, stood, and put it in the money jar on Mac’s behalf. “Now I’ve got three more minutes.” He sat down again. “So, are you going to pretend to be my boyfriend on Saturday night, or are you going to make me beg?”
“You really are serious, aren’t you?”
Mac threw his hands up. “What the hell. Why not? It could be a laugh.”
About the Author
Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairytale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.
Love is supposed to be easy. You are supposed to find your person and fall in love, and then you hold each other and kiss and live happily ever after.
Well, Erik has ended up in the wrong bloody love story. He is stuck in the one full of angst and worries and confusion and pain. Lots of pain.
Oskar Høiland hides from life. It just makes things easier that way, not having to face all the fears and drama of living. He especially hides from other people, because Oskar has grown up fearing the snide remarks and the quick glances that strip him of the tiny scraps of confidence he still has left. He is just going to keep existing. Work hard to complete his medical degree and perhaps watch a few more series on Netflix in peace and quiet over Christmas.
Erik Nøst Hansen should be an almost fully-fledged adult. He should be able to sort out the mess that festers in his head and stop lying. It’s just hard. And it’s bloody terrifying to even acknowledge the thoughts that swirl around in his head at night when he can’t sleep. He also needs to figure out how to talk to the boy downstairs. The one with the golden curls and the crooked smile. The boy who is completely monopolising Erik’s messed-up heart.
A story of falling in love and being brave. A Christmas tale with a difference, set in the university dorms of central Oslo, where lies are uncovered, snowflakes are falling all over the place, and beds are made to lie in. There is a slightly unconventional family. A mess of animal onesies. Too much food and a very Merry Christmas.
Oskar’s first instinct is to flee. Run. Hide somewhere until the thing in his bed has disappeared. He blinks. Shakes his head in disbelief and looks again.
Nope. He’s still there. There is still a very-much-fast-asleep person in his bed, his breathing soft against Oskar’s pillow, and that ridiculous pink bandana is sliding down over his eyes.
He moves carefully to get a closer look, then recoils back as he remembers. No clothes! He is stark naked in his own room, like a normal person would be. It’s just, this dude is there. Right there. On his bed.
Yes, he had left his door unlocked, but then that doesn’t mean any random person can just come in and decide to sleep in his bed? Does it? Especially when the random person is flat-out drunk. Oskar can smell the alcohol now, his body recoiling at the fumes escaping along with little bubbles of spit at the corner of the dude’s mouth. Beer-scented mouthfuls of air with every breath. Every little snore.
He doesn’t know how he didn’t realise someone was here before. I mean, the dude is not exactly quiet, snuffling and snoring and smacking his lips together in his sleep.
Oskar’s eardrums are still ringing from having his earphones on the highest volume, and the beats from upstairs are still going strong, but still, he should have noticed. How the fuck didn’t he notice?
There are a pair of threadbare joggers on the floor, which he pulls on, and the t-shirt on the floor looks clean enough, so he pulls it over his damp hair and tiptoes further up along the side of his bed to get a closer look.
It’s definitely one of the guys from upstairs. The tall pretty one. The one with all the girlfriends. The one with the reputation.
Yes, Oskar listens. He might not speak much to the other students, but his hearing is good—well, it was until today, and he will sue if his hearing is damaged from this bloody party, starting with suing the pants off this dude that has crashed Oskar’s planned Netflix marathon—and he pays attention to the stories. The tall tales of weekend shenanigans. The obvious boasting and lies. And the things that might actually be true.
Like the whispers doing the rounds about this guy. The tall one with the messy dark-brown hair and full lips. Kisses like he means it. Great lay apparently. Can get any girl he wants. That’s what he has heard. Hangs around with the dark-haired guy with the black floppy fringe, and that lanky boy with the frizzy hair. Well, he probably hangs around with everyone. Always smiling and never alone. Never sitting on his own in the cafeteria like Oskar, hiding in the corner with his headphones on.
No, this dude is always the centre of attention. Surrounded by people clinging to his every word. Laughing at his jokes. Staring adoringly at him as he throws his head back in laughter.
Except this dude is now here. And Oskar hasn’t got a clue what to do.
He could go get Freddie, he supposes, and they could probably manhandle the dude out of the room. Dump him on the sofa for the night. He is quite sure the girls would approve, and in the morning, he would wake up and find this guy on the sofa making all the girls laugh, having charmed them into making him coffee and buttering his toast and spoon feeding him their secret imported stash of Swedish Treo hangover fizz, whilst placing tiny morsels of hot buttered toast on his tongue.
He pushes that scene out of his head with a sigh. The boy is his problem. He is in Oskar’s bed. And if he doesn’t get him out of here, things will be shit awkward in the morning, he is sure of that.
“Dude,” he whispers, and nudges the guy’s shoulder before he can stop himself. He should think this through, make some kind of plan. Maybe wake him up gently so he doesn’t scare the shit out of the poor guy, waking up and realising he has crashed in Oskar’s bed, instead of wherever he thought he was crashing.
He probably took a wrong turn, thinking this was Madeleine’s room. Or Ingvild’s. Or one of the other girls. Maybe he thought he could get lucky by just throwing himself in some lucky girl’s bed. Just like that. Oskar wonders if people do that, just full-on go for it and shamelessly offer themselves like that.
Oskar shudders at the thought. It’s a mistake whatever it is, and Oskar won’t let him get away with this. Not tonight. Not now. He doesn’t need the grief, or the inevitable shaming in the morning when this dude tells all his friends that the nerd downstairs tried to get him in the sack. Lies and raw laughter trying to make light of a situation that he knows will end badly, with Oskar being the butt of every joke. The one the girls will gossip about and point their fingers at. The one that came on to one of the beautiful people. One of their people. Where Oskar just doesn’t belong.
Because the boy is beautiful, even Oskar can see that. Soft long dark hair framing his face, freckles decorating his pale skin and those lips. Even his fucking profile is perfect, his straight nose burrowing into Oskar’s pillow.
“Dude, come on! Wake up.” Oskar shakes his shoulder this time, but the guy is dead. Dead to the world. Not a hint of pretending to wake up. He just snores and burrows further into the pillow.
“YO. MATE!” This guy is no mate of his. Nor will they ever be, mates or whatever, but Oskar is shouting now. Desperate. He needs to get to bed. He needs an hour of some mindless American sitcom to calm him down. He needs to sleep. Please.
He tries to pull the guy off the bed, grabbing the dude by the ankles only to realise the guy is still wearing shoes. Big clumsy boots with heels. Ridiculous. I mean who wears shit like that in the middle of winter? It’s not like December in Oslo is the place for something that wouldn’t look out of place in a Texas Rodeo.
“Fuck,” he grits between his teeth.
The sofa out in the main room is seriously uncomfortable. No one ever bothers to even sit on it, and even if he considers sleeping there, the bleach fumes would make him retch before long.
It’s not like he could go sleep in anyone else’s room. It’s just not the kind of thing he could do. Not his thing. Not that he is close enough to any of the others to warrant such a request.
He could sleep on his own floor, he supposes, except that the dude is lying on top of his duvet.
It takes a few good pulls, but finally the duvet gives way and the dude rolls over as Oskar drags the fabric from underneath his body. He almost bursts into laughter, because the dude is now on his back, mouth wide open and the bandana has slipped down covering his eyes and nose. He looks like a twat.
A drunk snoring twat in ridiculous boots.
Oskar is a medical student. Oskar fucking knows what can happen. He wouldn’t be a responsible human being if he didn’t ensure that his unwelcome roommate at least survives the night.
The boots come off his feet to reveal socks underneath. Ridiculous socks with little reindeers and Santas that make Oskar swallow another inappropriate giggle. This isn’t funny. This isn’t funny at all.
He rolls the bandana up over the dude’s fringe, carefully removing it before tossing it aside, and straddles his body to try to roll him into the recovery position. He has done it several times in training, but always with willing perfectly conscious subjects underneath him. Never a half-dead comatose man breathing alcohol fumes at him, making him retch in disgust.
It takes a few goes, and Oskar gets braver as the guy is definitely out for the count. He doesn’t wake up, even when Oskar knees him in the balls by mistake, trying to manhandle his shoulder over towards the mattress. But he is finally there, safely in position on his side with his hand supporting his chin, so any accidental vomiting won’t choke him to death and there is nothing restricting around his neck to hinder his breathing. His airway is open, and he is safe. In the middle of Oskar’s bed.
Oskar wants to cry. He wants to bury his face in his hands and howl. Scream out in frustration.
Instead, he covers the unconscious body in his warm duvet and switches off the light. Lets his own body slide in under the covers at the very edge of the bed, as far away as he can get. Oskar lies there, perched on the edge of the mattress, yet he can still feel the breath from the other man hitting the back of his neck. Soft puffs of air stroking the skin under his still-damp hair.
He shudders. It’s hours until he finally falls asleep. Restless and terrified of what he might find next to him in the morning.
About the Author
Sophia Soames should be old enough to know better but has barely grown up. She has been known to fangirl over tv-shows, has fallen in and out of love with more popstars than she dares to remember, and has a ridiculously high-flying (un-)glamourous real-life job.
Her long-suffering husband just laughs at her antics. Their children are feral. The Au Pair just sighs.
She lives in a creaky old house in rural London, although her heart is still in Scandinavia.
Discovering that the stories in her head make sense when written down has been part of the most hilarious midlife crisis ever and she hopes it may long continue.
Miriam Latu is a Norway based artist, specialising in hand-drawn pencil portraits. She works with old-school pen and paper, and more of her work can be found on Instagram @om_hundre_ar_er_allting.
Also by Sophia Soames, with cover artwork by Miriam Latu
I promised myself many years ago that I would never set foot in London again. I promised. Adam promised. I said I wouldn’t. He said I would never have to. Yet here we are again, and life has become quite surreal. This is us, a good few years later, older and wiser with more baggage than the baggage belt at Heathrow. And now it is Christmas and Adam is working too much and I have far too much time to think about things that shouldn’t really matter. Or maybe they should? 717 miles Christmas Special is a short novella to follow on from 717 miles, the novel, and should not be read as a standalone.
Around a campfire late at night, someone begins to tell a ghost story. Flashlights clutched in hands, we huddle close and listen with intensity, startling at the slightest sound, but we try to be brave. This is no different. Memoirs of the Human Wraiths, a book passed down from generation to generation, details the lives of those living on the edges of society, stalked by the darkness that awaits us all. Come see what walks the halls of Timber Manor. Step inside Jonathan’s inescapable mirror. Venture to the island where promises made are enforced by a powerful curse. Try to be brave.
Another flash and my eyes locked on a pair of yellow eyes staring at me from the place where I saw them before. Not a ghost or a killer—a wolf. Standing about twenty feet away, a huge, magnificent wolf was watching me with an oddly disconcerting amount of intelligence in its eyes, head hung low. Its gray-and-white fur was gorgeous and oddly dry-looking. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Instead of fading into the darkness, it began to walk forward into the headlights of my car. The beast never took its eyes off mine. Like it was staring into my soul. My heart began to hammer and my breathing quickly picked up. My hands went back to the steering wheel and clamped down again, as white-knuckled as before. A chill passed through me, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up straight. As if the wolf could sense my distress, it stopped and gave me a wicked grin. “You know I can see you, don’t you?” I whispered aloud. “You know I am afraid.” The wolf, in response, tilted its giant head up toward the rain and gave out a chilling howl as if to confirm that. “Why, yes, I do know, dear boy. What do you think I’m doing here? You wanted to die? Step out of the truck, and I’ll gladly make your dreams come true.”
About the Author
F.E.Feeley Jr is a poet and the author of six published works – four full-length novels, two short stories featured in anthologies, and a poetry book. Married to the love of his life, John, he came to the writing world about four years ago where he fell in love, again, with the written word.
Nash, a longtime Dirty Angels MC member and lead singer of Dirty Deeds, has a secret. For years, he’s hidden his bisexuality from his brothers, fellow bikers, worried how they’d take the news. But Nash isn’t the only one keeping secrets from his brotherhood. So is Cross, a police officer and member of the Blue Avengers MC.
As opposite as they come, when Cross spots Nash across the bar, he can’t resist the unexpected attraction. Then lines are crossed, boundaries blurred. And they need to survive in two different worlds where men who like other men aren’t usually accepted, and where bikers and cops don’t mix.
Reality and fantasy are two different things. The fantasy being Cross and Nash can be together, that they can make it work. The reality being their situation is impossible. Cross will never give up being a cop. Nash will never give up being a biker. What either of them would have to walk away from is more than anyone should ask for. In the end, fighting reality could be a losing battle in a war they might never win.
Note: A standalone, Crossing the Line is a crossover gay romance involving a member of the Dirty Angels MC and one from the Blue Avengers MC. It includes forbidden love, enemies to lovers, cop vs biker, alpha vs alpha. As with all my books, it has no cliffhanger and an HEA.
The man with the long dirty-blond hair, whose name he still did not know, jerked away from him and moved from the bar and through the crowd. Cross saw a few sets of interested eyes following him as he went. He understood that interest because he was feeling it himself.
The man they were watching had long, lean legs which could eat up real estate fast. His hair was a bit shaggy for Cross’s taste and his beard a bit haphazard, but his hazel eyes held a story Cross wanted to hear.
He doubted he’d ever get the chance, but he still wanted a shot at it.
How the man knew he was a cop, Cross didn’t know. He didn’t have a severe haircut like most, nor did he carry an arrogant air. When it came to his job, he tried to be fair. He treated others as he’d want to be treated if he was in their shoes when dealing with an officer of the law.
But the nameless man whose back he watched as he shifted through the crowd, didn’t seem to want to give Cross a chance.
Ignoring his beer, he quickly got to his feet and decided to follow. The more the man refused to give him his name, the more Cross was determined to learn it.
He wasn’t one to give up so easily.
He also wasn’t the one who gave up on his last relationship, his former boyfriend did. Being a cop, he didn’t want the hassle of coming out. Other cops usually didn’t like it when “one of their own” wasn’t quite “one of their own.”
And luckily, his department was one which pretty much stuck to “don’t ask, don’t tell,” so Cross kept that shit to himself.
But Jeff didn’t want to keep their relationship a secret. He didn’t want to go back in the closet. He wanted to go to Cross’s station functions, like the annual Christmas party, as a couple. Or attend their own parties and fundraisers.
He also wanted to ride on the back of Cross’s Harley when the Blue Avengers, the law enforcement MC Cross belonged to, did their monthly runs.
That was never going to happen because things with him and his career would never be the same again. He wanted to make corporal by the end of the year, and he figured if he was outed that might not come to fruition. Excuses could be made why Cross wouldn’t get that fucking promotion, even though he was qualified and had time enough on the job, but Cross would know the truth of why he kept getting passed up.
If Cross had to decide between getting dick and his career, he was choosing the one that would most likely last the longest. All he needed was another fifteen years on the job and he could retire with a nice pension and full bennies.
So why the fuck he was tracking the man who refused to give him his name and who had something against cops, Cross didn’t fucking know.
And even though he knew it wasn’t smart, his feet wouldn’t change direction.
No, instead he pushed out the front door of The Cockpit and into the late fall night. The paved lot was well lit, so he spotted his target immediately moving between two rows of cars.
Cross began to jog. He needed to stop him before he left. It would bug the shit out of him if the guy left before Cross ever got to know his name.
Cross was a detail type of guy. Being a cop, that was important. While he could easily see what vehicle the man got into and run his plate, that would be an abuse of power and if he got caught doing that shit, he could kiss his promotion goodbye.
He caught up with him a few vehicles down from the entrance.
“Wait. Hold up.” Cross reached out to grab his arm and stop him. But the man spun on him, taking a defensive position by planting his feet wide.
Cross stepped back giving them space in case the guy tried to take a swing at him.
“What the fuck do you want?”
This was a bad idea. A really bad fucking idea. Cross should go inside and find someone a lot more willing. But for some reason, he couldn’t let this go. He hadn’t had this strong of a reaction to anyone in a long time, even to Jeff. Which probably was why when Jeff broke it off, Cross didn’t give a shit. Yes, he’d miss the sex, but that was it.
The only time Jeff didn’t bore him was when they were in bed, which was another major problem between the two, as well. Cross should’ve known they were doomed from the start.
Not that Cross was looking for any kind of meaningful relationship with this guy. The one who clearly had a thing against cops, which was a big part of who Cross was. But they didn’t have to discuss their career choices or anything much personal at all.
He simply wanted a name.
About the Author
JEANNE ST. JAMES is a USA Today bestselling romance author who loves an alpha male (or two). She was only thirteen when she started writing. Her first paid published piece was an erotic story in Playgirl magazine. Her first erotic romance novel, Banged Up, was published in 2009. She is happily owned by farting French bulldogs. She writes M/F, M/M, and M/M/F ménages.
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.