LGBT Romance Giveaway – 41 separate stories from 30 authors
Free books from some of the Registered Authors of the GRL
These stories are written by
authors attending the GRL Retreat, the must-attend event for people who create and
celebrate LGBTQ romance. Discover new authors, new books, and new series—and find new
While all of the authors with
stories in the giveaway will be attending the GRL Retreat 2021, there may also be additional
authors who were unable to participate.
“A son! A child! How? Why? Fuck! Phil! You can’t have! And does this sperm-child want to see you?”
“A son! A child! How? Why? Fuck! Phil! You can’t have! And does this sperm-child want to see you?”
Abandonment, trust, suspicion and compromise—integral parts of a mystery that involves industrial espionage, sperm donation and coming to terms with oneself and the truth.
Sperm donors know that now, under UK law, offspring who reach eighteen have the right to learn a donor’s identity and last known address, but Phil Roberts donated before the law was changed. He is shocked and dismayed to learn that he has a son called Lewis who intends to visit. Phil’s husband, Raith, is furious—and very scared.
What does Lewis Lennon really want? The man he has always called ‘dad’ is dead. Was his death suicide or was he murdered? Lewis wants Phil to find out. So, Phil, Raith, Mike and Ross, the County Durham Quad, plus their special friend, Nick, are embroiled in another investigation, but, as always, their relationships come under scrutiny too.
Phil sat at the big kitchen table. His beard, neatly trimmed as always, failed to hide the lack of colour in his face. He looked shocked. He was holding a letter.
“You alright, Phil?” Mike was puzzled and concerned. “Bad news?”
“Not ‘bad’ exactly. Unexpected. Very.” He sighed. “I’ve an eighteen-year-old son. Sperm donation.”
Raith, Phil’s husband, dropped the glass of juice he was drinking. It rolled off the table and smashed as it hit the floor.
“A son! A child! How? Why? Fuck! Phil! You can’t have! And does this sperm-child want to see you?” Raith snatched the letter from Phil’s hands. “I can’t read this fucking stuff; it’s in joined-up. Why didn’t he type it?”
“He probably felt that this was more personal,” Mike suggested, retrieving the letter from the floor where Raith had slung it in disgust and shaking it free of orange juice.
“It’s fucking personal alright. You always said they couldn’t identify you, Phil. What the fuck’s gone wrong?”
“It looks as though we might find out,” said Ross, the fourth member of the quad. He was reading the letter over Mike’s shoulder. “He intends to visit. I think we need to talk.”
Mike, Ross, Raith and Phil, four men who shared a home in Tunhead, a tiny hamlet in the Durham hills. Tunhead derived its name from Tun Beck, a little stream that flowed into the larger River Wear. Tun Beck lent its name to BOTWAC too—the Beck on the Wear Arts Centre. Ross managed BOTWAC, Raith provided paintings and ceramics and Mike carried out the maintenance. Phil was the only one whose work was separate. He was a surgeon at Warbridge Hospital, an hour’s drive away and, in a sense, his medical background was the cause of the morning’s shock announcement. The four of them talked about the news that evening.
“You knew I’d donated sperm, Raith.” Phil had always made it clear that when he was a medical student, like many others on his course, he had donated both for research and for procreation.
“I know that, but you’d always done it anonymously. You said so, and you never did it after they changed the law.”
Raith was referring to a change that occurred in 2005 regarding data held at UK fertility clinics. At licenced clinics, that is. Prior to the change, offspring conceived by sperm or egg donation could learn some information about their donor when they reached sixteen, but what was released was very general. If donors wished to remain anonymous, they could do so. From 2005, though, anonymity was lifted. Sixteen was still the age of release of the ‘non-identifiable information’, but at eighteen, offspring conceived by donation had the right to be told their donor’s name and date of birth and, also, their donor’s last known address.
“I didn’t donate after two thousand and five. I think I’d know if I did.”
“Sperm can be frozen though, can’t it, Phil? Perhaps it was used after the change was implemented.”
“Only for another year or so, Ross, and under the old anonymity rules. There was a transitional period but, after that, sperm could only be used in exceptional circumstances. To create a sibling, for example. I remember being contacted about it. I had the option of… going public, if you like, but I chose not to do so. I didn’t want…I didn’t want a child, well, not one that I’d feel some responsibility for. I suppose, if I’m honest, I did want to pass on my genes, have that sense of immortality—I knew it was unlikely that I’d ever father a child with a woman. I just wanted to… be helpful, I suppose. I gave a brief self-description at the time, but the details would apply to thousands of people: eyes, hair, height, weight, ethnicity. Even if you narrowed the count with ‘student medic’ and my year of birth, you’d still be talking hundreds. I was careful not to leave traces.”
“How thoughtful of you!”
“That’s not helpful, Raith.”
Ross chastised gently but, tonight, too harshly for Raith.
“Helpful! It’s not help Phil needs—it’s a fucking vasectomy, but he’s eighteen years too late. I’m going up.”
No hugs, no kisses—the little goodnight habits that told the men that they were loved and cared for and cared about. Just “I’m going up” and heavy footsteps on the stairs.
About the Author
Jude Tresswell lives in south-east England but was born and raised in the north, and that’s where her heart is. She is ace, and has been married to the same man for many years. She feels that she understands compromise. She supports Liverpool FC, listens to a lot of blues music and loves to write dialogue.
Private investigator Sloane Beaumont should be enjoying his recent engagement to eldritch god Azaethoth the Lesser, AKA Loch. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have time for a pre-honeymoon period.
The trouble starts with a deceptively simple missing persons case. That leads to the discovery of mass kidnappings, nefarious secret experiments, and the revelation that another ancient god is trying to bring about the end of the world by twisting humans into an evil army.
Just another day at the office.
Sloane does his best to juggle wedding planning, stopping his fiancé from turning the mailman inside out, and meeting his future godly in-laws while working the case, but they’re also being hunted by a strange young man with incredible abilities. With the wedding date looming closer, Sloane and Loch must combine their powers to discover the truth—because it’s not just their own happy-ever-after at stake, but the fate of the world….
“Hi!” the young man said. “It’s okay! You can just call me Jay.” He smiled down at the carrier. “This is Mr. Twigs!”
“Please, come in,” Sloane said, trying to fix his hair as he opened the office door. He ushered Jay in, saying politely, “So, your roommate is missing?”
“Yes,” Jay said, setting the carrier on Sloane’s desk and opening it up. “Everyone at the department thinks I’m going nuts, and Milo said you would be able to help me.”
“I’ll definitely do my best!”
“My roommate has been missing for almost two days now, and this is not like him at all. He hasn’t been to work, he hasn’t been home, but his car is still in the parking lot. The detectives wanted me to wait before filing a missing persons report, and nobody is listening to me.”
“And you think that Mr. Twigs here might be responsible?”
“I’m Silenced, so you know, no magic for me, but I know the sound portals make. I’ve heard it on a ton of documentaries. I know I heard one right before he vanished, and no one else was home except Mr. Twigs.”
The cat slinked out of the carrier and perched right on the corner of Sloane’s desk, its tail swishing. It was fluffy, black, and it was wearing small round sunglasses.
Loch kneeled down, eyeing the cat suspiciously. They were nearly nose to nose, locked in an intense stare.
“Huh,” Sloane said, blinking slowly. “The cat… wears sunglasses?”
“Oh!” Jay blushed. “I know it sounds crazy, but his eyes are really sensitive to light. So yeah. I tried to take them off and he got really upset.”
“Wait, you didn’t buy them?”
“Oh no!” Jay laughed. “He had them on when I found him. He’s a rescue, and he’s, like, literally the sweetest—”
“He is a foul and wretched creature!” Loch suddenly shouted, spinning wildly and promptly smacking the cat across the room. “Go back to the depths of Xenon, you disgusting fiend!”
“Mr. Twigs!” Jay screamed in horror.
“Azaethoth!” Sloane roared, shocked and furious. “How could you? It’s just a cat!”
“That is not a cat!” Loch argued, his tentacles beginning to unfurl. “It’s a monstrous fiend that just looks like a cat!”
“Owww,” a new voice complained, the fluffy black cat picking himself up from the floor and yowling in complaint. He hopped back up on the desk, his tail lashing as he hissed, “That was super rude!”
“Mr. Twigs…?” Jay stared in awe. He started to reach for the cat but drew back. “You’re… you’re talking?”
“Duh,” the cat replied sweetly. “Now, Jay, why don’t you forget all about this and go to sleep?”
Jay’s eyes rolled back, and he immediately dropped on the carpet face-first.
“What the fuck are you?” Sloane demanded, his hands moving to summon a shield of bright starlight. Loch stood in front of him protectively, his thick tentacles writhing around him and poised to strike at any second.
The cat laughed, transforming into a very thin and very naked young man. He tilted his sunglasses down, grinning slyly to reveal a mouthful of pointed teeth as he teased, “Meow, motherfuckers. Name’s Asta. I’m here to save the world.”
About the Author
K.L. “Kat” Hiers is an embalmer, restorative artist, and queer writer. Licensed in both funeral directing and funeral service, she worked in the death industry for nearly a decade. Her first love was always telling stories, and she has been writing for over twenty years, penning her very first book at just eight years old. Publishers generally do not accept manuscripts in Hello Kitty notebooks, however, but she never gave up.
Following the success of her first novel, Cold Hard Cash, she now enjoys writing professionally, focusing on spinning tales of sultry passion, exotic worlds, and emotional journeys. She loves attending horror movie conventions and indulging in cosplay of her favorite characters. She lives in Zebulon, NC, with her husband and their children, some of whom have paws and a few that only pretend to because they think it’s cute.
Small towns are full of
secrets, some harder to keep than most.
Sebastian Conway is a professional psychologist and
accomplished criminal profiler, but when one of his patients is sentenced to life in prison for
a crime she didn’t commit, he simply cannot let it go. His borderline obsessive behaviour
has embarrassed his boss and lover, Gerrard Wilson, and the relationship has come to a
Seb has now grudgingly taken Gerrard’s advice and come to
the small coastal town of Ruéier in the South of France to get some distance and clear his
head—but he cannot sit by and do nothing.
He has started writing a book he believes will address the
failings in the case, but when he gets swept up in a local investigation into suspected drug
trafficking, which is led by the enigmatic and strangely enticing Antoine Damboise, the
book—and Seb’s intentions to avoid active criminal cases—take a back seat.
He knows it’s a bad idea to get involved, but he can’t seem
to help himself. And when it seems Damboise is tempted to make their relationship more
than professional, Seb finds it easier than ever to ignore his better judgment. But when a
local drug dealer is murdered and Seb is implicated, everything gets a whole lot more
Can the two men set aside their personal feelings long
enough to figure out what’s really going on before Seb ends up in prison? Or
Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of murder and drug use.
I turned back. He was stood by reception looking
thoughtful, scratching at the stubble on his cheek.
“Would you, perhaps, like to get a coffee?”
I blinked. “A coffee?”
“Oui,” he said. “A thank you, shall we say?
His smile was friendly, but his eyes were weighing me
up with a dark intensity I couldn’t penetrate. Whatever it
was going on here, saying yes, I knew, would be a very bad idea.
“Sure,” I said with a smile. “Sounds good.”
His own smile widened, and he nodded. “Bon. I will meet you
I was grinning like a teenager with a crush as I stepped back
out into the street. The fresh breeze dried the clamminess on my face and swelled in my
lungs and chest. A small confidence boost could only help my productivity, I decided. I still
wasn’t sure what exactly his interest was. Heavy looks or not, I got exactly zero read on his
sexuality. But surely even French police didn’t take witnesses for coffee?
I was so busy retrospectively analysing his body language in
the interview room—Did he extend his leg
toward me? Rest his hand near mine?—that I
didn’t hear him behind me until he said my name.
“Apologies,” he said when I started, and a small smile
twitched the corner of his mouth. A pair of sunglasses hid his troublesome eyes from view.
He’d slung his jacket over his arm and, with the bright sunshine glinting in his corn-blond
hair and off his white teeth, I suddenly wondered how I ever considered him plain.
“It’s fine,” I managed. “Where do you want to go?” “Ah, I
know the best place. Follow me.”
We turned back. Adjudant Rayne was hurrying toward us.
She fired French at him whilst frowning at me. Damboise replied calmly, and she said
something more, her eyes leaving me to send Damboise what was unmistakably a warning
bon,” Damboise concluded. “This way,” he said
and turned toward the seafront. Rayne watched us leave with her arms crossed and
“She doesn’t like me very much,” I said.
“You misunderstand,” he said without looking at me. “She
was just reminding me of some paperwork that is late. I will do it after a bit.”
I spent the rest of the walk pondering the possible reasons
behind his lie.
The breeze was brisker and the air fresher as we stepped
out onto the seafront boulevard. The beach was crowded with families—the children
running, laughing and shrieking in the gentle swell of the shallows. The boats bobbed
sedately in the harbour, shining all the colours of the rainbow under the bright, sapphire sky.
Bicycles whizzed up and down the road, baskets laden with groceries or bottles of wine. The
men with guns seemed like a distant dream.
I followed him as he crossed the road to the Café De La
“You have been here before then, yes?” he said as he
pulled out the chairs around one of the plastic tables under a blue-and-white parasol.
“The first day I got here,” I said, a little warily as I surveyed
the clear view of the harbour. “The coffee is good, but I think it’s better at Cafe Maman.”
“Oui,” he said, hanging his jacket on the
back of his chair and sitting. “I would say that is true. But have you tried the chocolat chaud?”
“Hot chocolate?” I translated dubiously, taking the other
chair. “I don’t much like it.”
“Just wait,” he said, signalling a smiling waiter with a raised
hand and placing the order. Damboise made meaningless small talk for the interval until the
waiter returned. I blinked, surprised, as he set the shallow cup half-full of dark liquid that
looked more like espresso than chocolate in front of me.
“What, no squirty cream? Marshmallows?” I asked with a
half-smile as Damboise lifted his small cup in his distractingly delicate grip.
“We respect chocolate too much to pollute it so. This is the
local recipe, melted then mixed with a splash of cognac. Go ahead. Try it.”
I lifted the cup to my face and inhaled the rich, thick scent.
It was sweet, yes, but savoury too—bold, rather than cloying. It reminded me of
fresh-turned earth, with a slight smokiness, like when the wind brings the scent of a distant
bonfire. I drank. It was so thick that I could almost chew it. It tasted like it smelled—rich and
earthy, with the spice of tree bark and apricot from the cognac.
“Yeah,” I said, tipping the cup farther to coax more into my
mouth. “This isn’t like the instant stuff.”
“In France, nothing is instant. Everything is slow.
“I’m beginning to get that,” I said, scraping the remains of
the chocolate with the tiny spoon that had come with it. Damboise smiled at me, sipping his
own drink like someone sampling a fine wine, then he dabbed his lips with a napkin.
About the Author
S.J. Coles is a Romance writer originally from Shropshire, UK.
She has been writing stories for as long as she has been able to read them. Her biggest
passion is exploring narratives through character relationships.
She finds writing
LGBT/paranormal romance provides many unique and fulfilling opportunities to explore
many (often neglected or under-represented) aspects of human experience, expectation,
emotion and sexuality.
Among her biggest influences
are LGBT Romance authors K J Charles and Josh Lanyon and Vampire Chronicles author Anne
Trope/s: Action, mystery, hurt/comfort, geeks in love, supernatural
secrets, a brave historian and a lovelorn private detective, plus a guaranteed HEA. Old
secrets, hidden psychics, secret shifters, ghosts, scandals—and true love.
Themes: Age gap, starting over, friends to lovers,
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 60 000 words/200
It is a standalone book, but
there are soft ties to Morgan’s Fox Hollow series. Other than the shared elements of the
magic emporium, it does not connect to any of the other books in the Magic Emporium
Old secrets, hidden
psychics, secret shifters, ghosts, scandals—and true love.
A series of long-ago disappearances leads cold case private
detective Austin Williams to investigate a troubled sanitarium. Jamie Miller is new in town,
temporarily running the local historical association, and he willingly signs on to help solve
Austin’s mystery. Sparks fly between them as they dig into the hospital’s troubled past. But
someone wants the past to stay buried—and is willing to bury Austin and Jamie to keep it
Haven is part of the Magic Emporium series. Each
book stands alone, but each one features an appearance by Marden’s Magic Emporium, a
shop that can appear anywhere, but only once and only when someone’s in dire need. This
book contains explicit scenes, action, mystery, hurt/comfort, geeks in love, supernatural
secrets, a brave historian and a lovelorn private detective, plus a guaranteed HEA. It is
loosely connected to my Fox Hollow series.
The alarm on Jamie’s phone went off, telling him it
was time to lock up. “I have to close on time,” Jamie said, sorry to bring the conversation to
an end. “Our insurance company won’t let me stay open beyond the posted times or have
anyone inside after we’re closed.”
Austin rose. “I understand. Thanks for listening. I’ll
be glad for any help.” He paused. “One more question—where’s a good place to get a bite to
eat?” he asked with a slightly shy smile that sent a surge of heat to Jamie’s
“Do you like pizza? Moosehead Inn is a locals’ joint
that serves great food. I was going to head over once I lock up—you’re welcome to join me
if you don’t have other plans,” Jamie offered, trying to sound nonchalant.
Did I just ask him out? Holy shit. I haven’t done
Austin brightened, and his smile grew broader. “I’d
like that. I’ll wait outside. Can we walk there? I didn’t bring my car.”
Jamie nodded, still a little surprised at his own
boldness. “Sure. See you in a few minutes.”
He ushered Austin out the door and locked it
behind him. Fortunately, Jamie had gotten a head start on the lock-up checklist before the
sexy stranger arrived. He powered down the computer and started flipping off light switches
as he made his way toward the back door.
This was the part he really disliked. Once he turned
on the alarm system, the security lights would come on. But on the way to the back door,
the old house got darker, and the shadows stretched longer with every switch he
I thought I knew what I was getting into when I
took the job. But it’s just temporary, and I’m still sending out applications for something
better, he reminded himself.
An old house like this was likely to have ghosts,
even without being turned into a museum of sorts. Bring together the personal belongings
of hundreds of people, bits of local history, journals, and letters, and it didn’t surprise Jamie
that the place was haunted. Even if no one else seemed to believe it.
Click, click, click. He turned off the lights in the foyer and the former sitting room and dining
room. Jamie had closed up the upstairs rooms early since it was a slow day. It held a storage
area, a library of books written by local authors and books about the Saranac Lake area, as
well as a conference room and a small classroom for lectures. The attic and basement were
storage areas that weren’t open to the public, which made Jamie very happy since both
gave him the creeps.
lights in the old parlor went dark, and Jamie braced himself. On the nights the ghosts felt
frisky, this was when the shenanigans started.
A cool breeze out of nowhere made the hair on the
back of Jamie’s neck rise. He heard the glissando of crystal pendants gently bumping
together, the decorative dangles on a vintage oil lamp in the parlor that shouldn’t have any
reason to move.
Jamie resolutely ignored the shadow gliding just at
the edge of his peripheral vision as he hurried down the hallway. The kitchen doubled as the
staff room and was the least haunted place in the building. Jamie heard footsteps on the
stairs and forced himself to breathe. He knew there was no one else in the old house—at
least, no one living.
In the room to his left by the back door, the former
sewing room for the ladies of the house, he glimpsed a familiar gray figure and heard the
swish of crinoline and linen. To his right, in the small office that was once the cook’s room, a
rocking chair creaked.
Jamie’s hand shook as he set the alarm. The ghosts
didn’t act up every night, and some evenings they were more riled than others. So far, none
of them had tried to hurt him. As unsettling as the ghostly manifestations were, Jamie
couldn’t object to spirits wanting to stay in a place that meant something to them. He didn’t
mess with them, and he really hoped that meant they would return the favor.
The alarm beeped, and the security lights came on,
dim but enough to send the shadows scurrying. The sounds stopped, and the house grew
quiet. Jamie slipped out the back door and checked the lock, then let out a long breath. The
halogen light above the door made the area around the steps almost as bright as day. He
shook off the weirdness and smiled, excited about dinner with Austin.
It’s not a date. But I wish it was.
This could be a pleasant diversion, Jamie told
himself. Austin was just in town to look up some family history, and Jamie’s role with the
archive was temporary. Nothing said they couldn’t have a little fun while their paths
About the Author
Morgan Brice is the romance
pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male
paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with
the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with
co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less
romance, more explosions. Characters from her Gail books make frequent appearances in
secondary roles in her Morgan books, and vice versa.
On the rare occasions
Morgan isn’t writing, she’s either reading, cooking, or spoiling two very pampered
Witchbane, Badlands, Treasure Trail, Kings of the Mountain and Fox Hollow. Watch for more
in these series, plus new series coming soon!
A story of loneliness, loss, treacherous perception, family secrets, and… rebirth.
People tell me I should count my blessings. “You’re handsome, Marc,” they say, “handsome, rich, young, and intelligent.” But then, given time and opportunity, people would always say inanities, I think.
Am I handsome? Honestly, I don’t know, but it seems so; handsome enough, at any rate, that I’m allowed to live comfortably off my looks. I’m not rich, mind you, but the men and women paying for my company fling enough crumbs of their wealth my way. I’m still fairly young, too, but since when is youth anyone’s personal achievement? Last but not least, I’m not sure about my intelligence. I’m not even sure being intelligent would be a blessing.
Anyway, I can’t complain—my life is not unpleasant. I’m a bit bored, a bit melancholic, my mood often as black as the clothes I wear all the time.
And now my father has died. It shouldn’t mean anything to me—for years we tried to have as few ties or dealings with each other as possible. But all of a sudden, everything comes crumbling down, and my life turns into an unwholesome mess…
He is just that guy. In his sixties, balding, short and slender; some would even say gaunt. His skin is white and papery. Thin lips, thin features, a jaded attitude. His eyes are… wait a second… grey? Yes, grey, I think, the shade of light-coloured steel, and his gaze is cold but not too cold. He is no man of extremes; a nondescript guy in fact who looks like an accountant or a small-town solicitor.
Someone of little interest or concern for me, more present in the media than in my thoughts.
And yet, by one of those strange, sly whims that destiny seems to love, that guy is my father.
Or rather, that guy was my father. Because he is dead now.
My older sister is the one who spills the beans. It’s half past nine in the evening. I’m sitting on my white sofa, turning the pages of a fashion magazine, my gaze empty like the faces of the models who are striking poses on the glossy pages before me. Gentle boredom seeps in through the half-open windows, glides over the walls, oozes from every piece of furniture, glistens on the glass or metal surfaces, forming a motionless, invisible, indolent space-time that surrounds me like a halo.
I’ve switched the television on but turned the volume down to a subdued whisper. The soft sounds of a TV game blend with the persistent hum of the traffic downstairs. From time to time, I lift my eyes from the magazine to look at the game host’s white-toothed smile, which seems as genuine as a handbag purchased from a street vendor in Italy. I don’t really follow the show; it is just a means to drown the mortal silence of my apartment. My other choices would have been to listen to the unutterable sadness of a Mahler symphony, or bear the silent cries of my immaculate walls.
That’s when the phone rings.
I pick it up and recognise Raphaëlle, my older sister. Apart from sounding breathless, she is the same as usual. Her vocabulary remains precise, her weary and cold inflections suggesting that we are not on earth to have fun but for other purposes, none of which very pleasant. That’s her in a nutshell: unfazed, unaffected, wintry. Imagine an emotionless automaton. Well, I’m speaking of so-called positive emotions, of course. She knows how to be curt and authoritarian. She knows how to throw an angry fit if needs be.
“Hi Marc. It’s Raphaëlle,” she says. Then, without further ado, she tells me the news. She is staying with our mother, because the old man died.
“Did he? When? And how?” I enquire.
“Let me think… Two days ago. Or was it three? I don’t know. You want me to ask Mother?”
“No, don’t bother. I’m simply surprised it wasn’t announced on the news yet. Where is she now? Mother, I mean.”
“In the kitchen. Said she was feeling peckish.”
“Opening a new bottle, you mean. I should’ve known. Nice try, though…” I trail off, my brain blank for a second. What should I say now? Am I supposed to condole Raphaëlle? Would that be the appropriate next step?
I don’t want to make a mistake, so I ask, “Do I need to come over? I suppose there’ll be a funeral, right?”
“Of course.” My sister makes a strange noise, something between dry laughter and a sniff. “One doesn’t say funeral, however; one prefers to say obsequies, brother dearest. I even brought my pearls for the occasion. One needs to be glam, you know. But you don’t sound eager to join us.”
“Are you kidding me? To be filmed during Father’s—obsequies, is it?— why, nothing could enchant me more.”
My sister sighs. “Marc, spare me your sarcasm, okay? The funeral takes place the day after tomorrow. It goes without saying that you should assist. But if you prefer to stay away, no problem. Do what you want. You’re free, after all.” Her voice remains monotonous.
“All right. I’ll check the train schedule,” I reply. “And call you back sometime tomorrow. Is that okay?”
I notice how peculiar her voice sounds, hoarse and croaky. “What’s up with you?” I ask, incredulous. “Don’t tell me you’ve been weeping!”
“Don’t be ridiculous! It’s just that… it’s bloody freezing in this house. I guess I’ve caught a cold. That’s all.”
Born in the early 70s, I grew up in a little village in Austria. At the age of 18, I moved to Vienna to get my master’s degree in Political Sciences, French, and Spanish. Today, I’m living in Paris, France, with my boyfriend and work as a graphic designer.
In my spare time, I write, read, cook fancy recipes, take photos, and as often as I can, I travel (Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Egypt, the UK, and many more places). My literary tastes are eclectic, ranging from fantasy, murder mysteries, gay romances to dystopian novels, but I won’t say no to poetry or a history book either. I’m more a hoodie/jeans/sneakers kind of guy than a suit-and-tie chap.
So far, I’ve published two short-story collections as well as four poetry collections. My first murder mystery novel “The Stuffed Coffin” has been released on January 6, 2019 and is also available in German and French. The French version has won the prestigious French Gay Murder Mystery Award 2019 (Prix du roman policier – Prix du roman gay 2019). My second novel “Till Death Do Us Part” was released on June 24, 2020. You can also find me on Rainbow Book Reviews, where I write book reviews under the pseudonym of ParisDude (for French reviews, have a look at my review site livresgay.fr).
“Have a seat, Mr. Valentine. What can I do for you?”
Leonard Quill, private investigator, never expected a case to walk through his door quite like this one, complete with murder, a frame job, blackmail, and powerful players, especially coming from a man with bright blue eyes behind his glasses, a crooked bow tie, and an impossible smile.
Mr. Valentine—call me Westley—looks the part of bumbling fool, who’s too naïve to know he’s walked into the lion’s den even being near this neighborhood without packing some heat but turns out he has a few secrets even darker than mine. His old man is in the clink, doing time for killing his mother. Only Westley swears the real culprit is someone else and his father has been framed.
Maybe that’s true, wouldn’t put much past this city, but if Westley is right about who’s behind the frame job, this isn’t a case I can take lightly.
“Sorry, kid, but you think James Deckard is behind all this? He’s not the type of man you bring down legally.”
“I know that. That’s why I came to you. The cops laughed me out of the precinct.”
“I ain’t a hitman either,” I snarl, wondering if sweet and innocent was an act and this kid has it in him to get all murdery and scuffed up, so long as someone else does the killing.
But those blue eyes go wide, and I know that if there is a darker side to him, it’s buried much deeper than trying to pull one over on me. “I don’t want a hitman, Mr. Quill. But I need someone willing to go the extra mile the cops turn their noses at. Someone who’ll take the risk to get real evidence and finally put this monster away. Even the worst of the worst for all the crooked cops in this town can’t cover up Deckard’s deeds if we have proof.”
An optimist. Great.
Westley isn’t wholly off base though, with the right judge, the right amount of ammunition, but it would be life or death with my hide on the line to get it done. Usually, that’s par for the course, half the fun of the job is getting a little lost in the muck, but Deckard is the type to make you disappear real quiet like—to the outside world. You wouldn’t be gone right away; you’d stay breathing for weeks, screaming where no one could hear you.
“You tell my secretary all this?” I ask, already knowing the answer given Roxanne’s response to the kid.
“Of course. She was sure you’d agreed. Please, Mr. Quill, won’t you help me?”
Damn this kid, and damn Roxanne too. She knows the stakes involved, but she has it out for Deckard’s business partner, Jeffrey Yacobian, who she’s suspected for a long while had a hand in her sister’s murder. This opens another avenue to investigate the scum of our city with me as the point man.
Roxanne also knows I can’t say no. I promised her we’d catch Yacobian someday. Bringing down Deckard could pave the way for that and ease the potent grief of this kid in front of me who might be the last sunny disposition left in these dank streets.
“The risks involved ain’t gonna come cheap. How much is all this worth to you?”
Westley looks me square in the eyes, that blushing virgin routine set aside as he sits up taller—maybe all that light was a clever mask after all. “Everything I have, Mr. Quill.”
“Leonard. You’re either turning over your life savings when this is over or paying for my funeral if it flops, so call me Leonard.” Might as well be on a first name basis considering we’re both gonna end up on ice. “Now let’s start at the beginning, and you tell me everything you know.”
About the Author
Amanda Meuwissen is a bisexual author, with a primary focus on M/M romance. As author of the paranormal romance trilogy The Incubus Saga and several other titles with various publishers, Amanda regularly attends local comic conventions for fun and to meet with fans, where she will often be seen in costume as one of her favorite fictional characters. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband, John, and their cat, Helga.
Rick feels like he’s finally getting his life on track…until a dead body in his flat threatens to derail more than his new career.
Things are finally looking up for Rick Bennett. He’s landed a job with Swanson and Gerrard, one of the top finance firms in London and, with it, a chance to pay off his father’s debts and finally make something of his life.
When he’s put in charge of brokering the biggest deal in the company’s history, he knows he can’t lose, even though his boss, Cecily Swanson, clearly wants more than just a professional relationship.
When a rich, handsome stranger, Kim Bailey, introduces himself to Rick at the Swansons’ New Year’s Eve party, Rick is thinking he can definitely get used to rubbing elbows with the upper set. He feels everything is finally working out, despite Cecily’s increasing interest that only seems to strengthen as they approach her high-profile Valentine’s Day wedding.
When someone is murdered in his flat, Rick is shocked but still determined to hold on to his dream. Cecily believes he’s innocent and, more importantly, so does Kim. Though he’s beginning to suspect that there’s more to the guy than meets the eye, Kim’s belief in Rick keeps him strong.
As the investigation continues and Rick finds himself buried deeper in a mess of conspiracy, betrayal and intrigue, he will come to wonder whether the life he’s dreamed of could ever be real.
He’d deleted and re-phrased the text three times by the time he’d got his keys in the front door. He shook his head to himself. He was acting like a teenager again. But everything else was coming together just right. He may be working ten-hour days for a woman he would eventually have to let down, and still couldn’t entirely stop thinking about the envelope in his desk drawer, but it finally felt like his life was coming together.
He wanted to make dating Kim part of that life. He’d never felt the potential of something so early on in a relationship before, especially when he knew so little about the person. But when he thought of Kim’s light, easy manner and the way he treated Rick like an equal without appearing to even have to think about it, something that wasn’t just lust stirred under his belly.
Of course, the striking, beautiful face, devilish smile and sleek, toned body didn’t hurt matters. He tantalised himself with the thought that tonight they might get to—
Rick switched on his living room light and froze. The new sofa was positioned at right angles to his glass coffee table and smart TV. His boxes of vinyl were stacked against the far wall and his running shoes were by the front door. Everything was as he’d left it that morning, but something was…off. There was a chill in the air. And an odd smell.
He moved forward, trying to identify what was causing unease to snake up his spine. A draught brushed against his face. He moved to the balcony door and found it was open a crack. He frowned. Had the handyman left it open? Why would he even open it on this freezing January day? He slid it shut, turning the key in the lock.
The smell was stronger in the kitchen. He frowned. His breakfast plate was in the sink but he’d only had time for toast so that didn’t explain the sickly-sweet, almost meaty, smell in the air. It was then he noticed his block of chefs’ knives was on its side, the knives spilling out onto the counter. He righted it and returned the knives to their slots. There were two missing. He turned, scanning the kitchen and froze.
About the Author
S.J. Coles is a Romance writer originally from Shropshire, UK. She has been writing stories for as long as she has been able to read them. Her biggest passion is exploring narratives through character relationships.
She finds writing LGBT/paranormal romance provides many unique and fulfilling opportunities to explore many (often neglected or under-represented) aspects of human experience, expectation, emotion and sexuality.
Among her biggest influences are LGBT Romance authors K J Charles and Josh Lanyon and Vampire Chronicles author Anne Rice.