What is more dangerous than a man in love? A man in love who feels betrayed.
Marc and Alex have been best friends since childhood. When Marc was fourteen, tragedy struck, and he found himself suddenly orphaned. Having no living relatives, Marc moved in with Alex and his family, who happily opened their hearts and their home to him.
Five years have passed since the tragedy, and Marc’s love and devotion for his best friend has only intensified… some would say, to an almost obsessive level…
Alex’s life is suddenly turned upside down when he is forced to make an impossible decision. Alex quickly learns that Marc’s love for him goes much deeper than just friendship. Alex begins to wonder, just how far is Marc willing to go in the name of love? And more terrifyingly, how dangerous is a man in love, who feels… betrayed.
Fractured Love is a dark story of unrequited love, torment, and murder.
Marc was furious. He jumped onto Alex, as Alex struggled beneath his weight. Alex kicked and punched with all his might. He had no idea how strong Marc could be when he was angry.
He felt like he was fighting a total stranger. This was not the man that he spent countless nights cuddling up against. This man was fueled by anger and rage. How long had this rage laid dormant? Or was it always there but hidden from prying eyes?
Marc let out an angry growl and punched Alex in the face. Blood burst from Alex’s nose as Marc’s fist connected firmly with his face. Alex fell backwards defeated. He was no match for the strength and fury of his former best friend.
Marc suddenly jumped down to the ground and grabbed Alex’s body. He yanked his body close to his own and whispered, “Don’t move.”
Alex’s body tightened as he suddenly heard a deep growl from the darkness ahead of him. With Marc’s arms wrapped tight around his body, Alex pressed his back further into Marc’s chest.
They both watched as a large wolf slowly emerged from the darkness. The beast growled, as it slowly made its way towards the two of them. The beast kept its nose close to the ground as it revealed its razor-sharp teeth.
“Don’t move, whatever you do.” Marc whispered in Alex’s ear. Marc gripped Alex even tighter as he held him close to his body. Alex gripped Marc’s arm, terrified, as he waited for the beast to attack.
About the Author
Matthew Dante is a Canadian indie author who loves to write about magic, fantasy, and romance. He is an avid reader, world traveller, lover of all things Marvel and DC, and a romantic at heart.
Most of his stories center around gay main characters who are usually the love interests and the heroes of these stories. He writes these novels, so that other LGBTQ people will be able to read about characters and stories that they can relate to and be proud of.
Boys in the Band meets Le Cage in an Indiana
Who Plugged the Dyke?
Elections are hard. This one is Murder
The two books stand alone and can be read in either order,
although Any Summer Sunday was written
first and contains more background information. It is a more character driven story. Who Plugged the Dyke is a
Overall Heat Rating: 2 flames. Tawdry, but not dirty. Sex is described as part of a story, but
not in detail. No sex scenes. Not romance. Not erotica. Think of gay friends in a bar who
might describe a conquest (but not the specifics).
Book Title: Any
Summer Sunday at Nacho Mama’s Patio Cafe:
How far should you go to save a friend from her own
TiaRa del Fuego is in love and that means trouble for her
friends. Every Sunday evening we meet in
Hoosier Daddy, our small college town’s only
gay bargather to watch TiaRa del Fuego’s Parade of Gowns drag show.
Performance, love, betrayal, spies, and friendship fight to the fore every Summer
However, this Sunday, dear TiaRa, thin enough to hate, yet
broken enough to love, announces she has found love…yet again…and is leaving after that
evening’s show to be with her new man. We know she is making a huge mistake…again.
What can we do?
Any Summer Sunday is a celebration of friends, drag,
and life. Come and join in the fun.
Excerpt from Any Summer Sunday
With few exceptions, the same group of reprobates
gathered every week. We are no longer young, but all have spent our years wisely or wildly
enough to hold one’s place when the conversation turns a bit too bitchy. We enjoyed our
youth, are enjoying the years beyond youth without regret, and occasionally enjoy
youths—when the opportunity arises, as it were.
All societies celebrate the young, but in gay circles, this
celebration borders on idolatry. Twenty-somethings and now even teeny-somethings who
celebrate their coming out are welcomed into a glorious disco summer camp with every
conceivable need provided. For those of us who are years past the realization and/or
announcement, being out offers far fewer invitations. We often find ourselves between
worlds—not certain of a welcome in either gay or straight society.
In “normal” society, it is tiresome to yet again face the “ . . .
and your wife?” questions in every new group and to worry if it is going to be an issue. If I
have an urge to explore square dancing, must I find a gay square—hmmm . . . Mr. Lynde
springs to mind. Sometimes it’s easier not to bother. Then there are those moments when it
suddenly pisses you off that you are supposed to feel gratitude merely for being accepted or
endured by the dominant pairing paradigm.
In the gay
community, the adulation of youth and horror of aging can make one feel diseased. Even
previously enjoyable activities can be snatched away. Take window shopping. I enjoy looking
at a pretty pair of pants when it walks by, even if I know it will never fit, I can’t afford it, and
the style is all wrong for a man of my years and shape. I look because it is pretty, and I enjoy
looking at pretty things. But, if every time I go looking, the trousers, upon noticing my gaze,
gasp in horror, turn away with a look of sardonic pity, and begin to whisper with their fellow
couture, I eventually will give up looking.
So, when we find
a group and an enjoyable activity where we can simply be, without the need to prove or
explain ourselves, then it is something to be cherished. Not misty-eyed, bosom clutching
cherished, but those people and enjoyments are simply too dear to give up without a care.
Sunday afternoons were like that. That is why, when one Sunday, TiaRa del Fuego—dear,
sweet, damaged TiaRa—announced that she had found love, yet again—this time on a
dating site and was leaving town to be with her new man who was driving up that very day
to help her move—well, we knew something had to be done and quickly.
Book Title: Who Plugged the Dyke?
Publisher: Any Summer
Cover Artist: James at
Length: 218 pages 67,000
Release Date: July
Genres: LBGT Mystery, LGBT Humor, LGBT Fiction
Themes: Friendship, small town gays, detection, politics
A gay mystery full to the
tits with action and wit.
Some Elections are hard … This one is Murder!
Get ready for Excitement, Laughs, Thrills and Fun!
In 10 days she’ll be the 1st in your face lesbian judge
elected in homo-hating Indiana. But someone wants to kill her and her little dog
The friends from Nacho Mama’s Patio
Cafe must put on their big boy panties, get out of
Hoosier Daddy, the only gay bar in town, onto the streets and go hunting for the
Thrills, drag shows, danger, laughs and a kick line of drag
queens in judicial robes as the anti-heroes dodge explosions, fire, guns, knives and terror,
seek out the hidden mastermind and sashay to the rescue.
You loved Any Summer Sunday at Nacho
Mama’s Patio Cafe. Now, the merry band from the
small Indiana college town’s drag bar return. It’s an Indiana Election Mystery. Who Plugged the Dyke?
Excerpt from Who Plugged the Dyke?
I noticed that the big, bearded Tooth Fairy had moved nearly in front of me. There is
something wonderfully wrong about a big ol’ hunka hunka in a pink tutu. I grinned at him.
He didn’t grin back. His attention was fixed on Deb. However, he was not smiling. He was
just staring. Something in the back of my mind tickled. I started watching him more carefully.
He was playing with his magic wand. It was about three feet long and trailed stars and
strands of glitter. But he was pulling off the covering and it was looking less and less like a
wand and more and more like a weapon. Recalling what I had been told, I looked for Roger
or Petunia or one of Nacho’s Twinks. I couldn’t see Roger. Petunia was at the back of the
stage, guarding the way in. I saw a couple of cute Twinks, but didn’t know if they were
Nacho’s boys or not. I started to raise my hand and kind of gesture toward the Tooth Fairy. I
was trying to be cool and not alert him that I had noticed anything untoward. He continued
to pull away the spangles. He was looking down at the wand and then up at Deb, and I could
see a look of menace grow across his features.
I waved my hands over my head and then pointed down at him. Some in the crowd saw
what I was doing and waved, too. They thought it was a celebratory gesture. I began to wave
my hands and point more emphatically. I nearly lost my balance, but no one seemed to get
the message. No one was heading in that direction. I looked at he man, who was no longer
looking fairy-like at all. He had finished pulling all the detritus off his wand and while I was
not a weapons guy, even I could recognize that what was once a wand was now, very
obviously, a weapon. A blow gun.
He reached into his bag and pulled out, not a handful of glitter, but a rather large dart with
a very large and very sharp point. By this time, subtle was no longer on the table. I waved
my hands wildly above my head, then pointed at the guy. I did not care if he saw. I had to
stop him, and no one seemed to be coming to do anything about it. Deb was talking. The
girls were dancing. And the Tooth Fairy dropped the dart into his blow gun.
About the Author
Steve Schatz writes with a
crazy mashup of laughs and excitement and humor. Readers can’t stop reading, but don’t
want the story to end. Each book is an adventure where endearing anti-heroes struggle
against this crazy world and triumph using the twin forces of intentional, creative action and
friends helping friends. Schatz draws on a lifetime of varied and fascinating experiences,
from instructional designer and college prof to party clown and nightclub
His series of adult fiction
highlights a group of middle-aged gay friends who gather every week in a small, Indiana
college town. Mixing drinks, snappy repartee, and the humor and joy of long-time friends, in
one book they rescue the fair drag queen from an obvious miscreant. In another, they ride
to the protection of a lesbian candidate for judge who is being targeted by mysterious
evil-doers. The excitement reveals itself against a backdrop of drag performance and efforts
by anti-heroes. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll beg for more. Steve Schatz offers a new voice
and a smile for the LGBT community and their friends.
Three senior girls in rural
Alaska escape their abusive pasts by raising their dyke flag for themselves and their
Crystal Rose woke up at three in the morning today,
drenched in sweat and breathless after another sex dream with Haley Carson.Later at school in the
tiny town of Clear, Alaska, Crystal saves Haley from an assault by her abusive
The two girls renew a love started years ago that had to
stay hidden until now. But with Crystal’s grandparents in the hospital with Covid and the
possibility of her drug addict parents returning from a 14-year absence, Crystal needs Haley
as much as she needs Crystal.
They connect with Payton Reed, a gun-toting artist who
helps them feel proud to be gay and willing to stand up to anyone. Together they struggle to
make Crystal’s house safe for those who are hated for their love.
Crystal’s room is small with drawings and photos
stuck randomly all over the walls—closeups of leaves, flowers, and berries; intricate natural
designs created by Labrador tea, spider webs, and lichen; every local animal, including a
grizzly sow and two cubs digging through trashcans from this past June; sunrises and
sunsets plus northern lights; and, of course, line drawings of her house and family, along
with pages of self-portraits. Crystal’s entire world greets her every morning and evening.
Nothing is ever removed or covered, just added to, now up one corner of the ceiling. A large
white board on one wall displays a self-portrait drawing of Crystal sitting.
Haley stands in the doorway, open-mouthed, trying
to absorb it all. “Damn, Crystal, you are something. I love this.”
Crystal smiles. “I’m glad. So do I.” She opens her
closet to show Haley her clothing options, including a never-worn pair of stretch jeans
Crystal bought at Value Village in Fairbanks—a size too big for her, but a size too small for
“I’m not sure my butt can fit into these,” says Haley,
holding the pair waist high. “You’ll have fun watching me put these on.”
“Oooh, do I get to watch?”
“Certainly.” Haley raises a brow and half smiles as
she pulls off her sweatshirt.
Crystal’s breath catches in her chest as her mouth
“Oops! I forgot to pick out a shirt. Can I use your
robe until I find something suitable?”
Crystal’s face reddens. “Sure.” She removes her
robe and tosses it to Haley, who then tosses it on the bed. “Now we can stare at each
Crystal licks her lips. “You are so evil.”
“I’m just getting started.” She tilts her head and
cocks a brow. “Do you like evil?”
“So far.” Though she’s afraid her heart will burst,
it’s beating so fast.
“Great.” Haley moves toward Crystal until their
chests touch. “I love your drawing on the white board. Would you do another of me? Maybe
one of us kissing?” Haley touches her lips to Crystal’s.
“Yes.” She struggles trying to pull her phone out of
her pocket while Haley rubs her tongue tip over Crystal’s bottom lip. Gasping for air, Crystal
asks, “Do you want me to take a pic or not?” Haley smiles and steps back a little. Crystal
props her phone against the mirror on her dresser and sets the timer. “We have five
Haley moves her hand to Crystal’s neck as they kiss.
The camera takes the picture, but they don’t separate.
After a few more seconds, Haley pulls back just
enough to speak. “You are the best kisser. Even in fifth grade I liked kissing you. Think of all
that time I wasted.”
“We have plenty of time now.” She grabs her
phone and shows Haley the photo. “I like that. I can draw it now, if you want.”
“Hold it for me.” Crystal takes her drawing pad and
pen from her desk and sits in her chair.
Haley holds the phone against her cleavage, her
boobs hanging over her arms. “Is that good?”
Crystal stares and shakes her head. “Evil. Pure
“Just focus on the photo, Crystal.” Haley slowly
sways her torso, making her boobs jiggle close to Crystal’s face. “Can’t you focus?” Her voice
drips with seduction.
Crystal clears her throat and closes her eyes. “I
think I can. I think I can.” She takes a deep breath, opens her eyes, and places her pen on the
paper. Haley sways faster. Crystal starts a line then runs it off the page. “Can you please stop
moving?” she pleads, unable to turn away from Haley’s breasts. “Just for a few minutes?”
She rips off the page and readies another.
Her voice coy, sweet, and sultry—“As you wish. I’ll
stand perfectly still.” She holds the camera away from her body, partially covering her
Crystal starts a line under her chin, sweeps down to
make hair, then her face and lips before moving to Haley’s lips, hair, and then ending with
her hand. She stares at the drawing for a few seconds then turns it around. “What do you
“Oh, my god! I love it. We look good together.” She
gives Crystal a kiss. “Thank you. Thank you.”
About the Author
Brooke Skipstone is a
multi-award-winning author who lives in Alaska where she watches the mountains change
colors with the seasons from her balcony. Where she feels the constant rush toward winter
as the sunlight wanes for six months of the year, seven minutes each day, bringing crushing
cold that lingers even as the sun climbs again. Where the burst of life during summer is
urgent under twenty-four-hour daylight, lush and decadent. Where fish swim hundreds of
miles up rivers past bear claws and nets and wheels and lines of rubber-clad combat fishers,
arriving humped and ragged, dying as they spawn. Where danger from the land and its
animals exhilarates the senses, forcing her to appreciate the difference between life and
death. Where the edge between is sometimes too alluring.
Crystal’s House of Queers is her third novel.
websitefor information about her first two
novels, Some Laneys Died and Someone To Kiss
“Some people are so
low, they gotta look up to see Hell.”
“Some people are so low, they gotta look up to see Hell.”
The death of Thomas Reis continues to ripple through the
lives of those connected to his case fourteen years later. Andrew O’Donnell and Lawrence
Boggs have already fallen, but three more pick up where the others left off, and each for his
One believes in justice, the second loyalty, and the third
desperately seeks a reason to live. All three, however, share the same final end game;
The hunt begins.
“I’m glad I caught you before you left then. I’m truly sorry.”
He bowed his head. “I held your husband in the highest regards.”
“He respected you, too. Can I get you something to drink?
I’m afraid I don’t have much. I’ll be leaving in the next day or two, but I think I have some
orange juice, and I just made a fresh pot of coffee.”
“No, thank you.”
Norrma led him into the kitchen and sat down at the table,
one of the few pieces of furniture left behind until the day she left. Various paperwork lay in
little piles on the table, some it from the landlord, and others from the movers, bank, and
relatives who’d sent cards.
“Lawrence’s funeral was this past weekend, then I insisted
the kids head back to school. I know they wanted to stay with me and help out here, and
maybe it was cruel to send them away, but I think staying busy and being around their
friends will help them more than being here right now.” She sniffed. “Lawrence would have
insisted they get on with their lives as soon as they could. ‘Death,’ he told us many times, ‘is
a natural part of things. Living is for the now. Mourning can always be done later.’ He always
made sure we knew exactly how he felt. None of us had to guess whether or not he loved
Joe nodded. “His directness is something I appreciated
She took a sip of coffee. “The police came, had a look at his
case files, and couldn’t really make heads or tails out of them.” Norma chuckled. “Lawrence
always had a unique way of organizing things in life that sometimes only he understood. I
packed up what they didn’t take. Honestly, I think they confiscated a few things here and
there just so it looked good in their report. I don’t believe they’ll ever find anything, though.
Nobody really understood what Lawrence worked on, not in the big picture way.”
Joe grinned. “I know the type. Law enforcement through
and through. Takes one to know one, I guess.”
“That’s what I was thinking.” She peered down at her cup.
“Do you know what might have happened to him?”
“Maybe.” Joe leaned in. “I sent somebody down here from
Iowa, a young man named Andrew, who was looking for a case file I’d loaned Lawrence.
Honestly, I figured things would go one way, and Lawrence would swat the boy on the ass
and send him back home. Turns out the kid had a way about him, and I think they started
working together. This tells me Lawrence was already working on a case and they somehow
connected, or he found a use for Andrew.
“The problem is, I don’t have a lot to go on. Something isn’t
feeling quite right. The parts aren’t adding up, only I’m not getting a big enough glimpse of
the picture.” Joe leaned back in his chair. “I need a bit more.”
“Would these help?” She reached under the stack of
folders and paperwork, pulled out two large envelopes, and handed them over.
Anybody who knew Lawrence would recognize his
handwriting in a heartbeat. Same perfectly shaped letters. Same size. Unmistakable. And the
words written on the front? JOE MURPHY.
Joe’s head cocked to the side. Curiosity? Disbelief? Both?
And then she saw something else, a tensing in the man’s posture and narrowing of the
The predator senses prey?
Joe hefted the two envelopes in his hand. “Lawrence left
these for me?”
The lump in her throat returned. “That’s why I was hoping
you’d come. I think he knew what he was working on might not end well, and he once told
me if anything ever happened to him, you’re the only one he trusted to look into it.”
She watched the man run his fingers across the surface of
the envelopes, across his name.
“You didn’t give these to the locals?” he asked. “Or show
She shook her head. “Lawrence trusted you. I’ll put my
trust in you before them, too.”
“I don’t know what’s in these.” Joe patted the top
envelope. “I can’t promise anything.”
“Don’t expect you to.” Norma sat up straight. Strength.
Maybe a little pride. “Maybe one promise. Someone took away my husband, my children’s
father. Someone took our love, my happiness, and future. Whoever it is ain’t no better than
a roaming, rabid dog, and those kinds of dogs get put down.”
He stared at her. He stared long and hard. “Yes. Yes, they
About the Author
Kristoffer Gair grew up in
Fraser, MI and is a graduate of Grand Valley State University. He is the author of 8
novels—some written under the pseudonum Kage Alan—been a part of 6 anthologies, and
currently lives in a suburb of Detroit.
Tropes: Ghosts, witches, supernatural creatures, found family,
Themes: Starting over, creating found family, old secrets coming to light
Heat Rating: 1
Length: 7 hours and 14
It can be read as a standalone
story. It is the fourth Deadly Curiosities novel and the series crosses over with a number of
Morgan Brice series. Other books do not need to be read in order to enjoy the
Find the demon box. Stop
the killer ghosts. Break the curse.
Cassidy Kincaide runs Trifles & Folly in modern-day
Charleston, an antiques and curio shop with a dangerous secret. Cassidy can read the
history of objects by touching them, and she teams up with friends and allies who use magic
and paranormal abilities to get rid of cursed objects and keep Charleston and the world safe
from supernatural threats.
Caribbean ghosts terrorize Charleston and start racking up
a body count. Then Beckford Pendlewood, the heir to a powerful family of dark warlocks,
shows up raving about a bound demon locked in a lost box and begs sanctuary. Can Cassidy
and her friends find the demon box, stop the killer ghosts, and break the Pendlewood curse
before Beckford’s murderous cousins and the vengeful demon destroy them all?
Note—This is primarily an urban fantasy/supernatural
adventure with a secondary romance, but there are two different evolving MM romances
that play an important role in the book.
It is the ‘tent
pole’ series from which all the others spin off. Cassidy Kincaide is Simon Kincaide’s cousin
(Badlands), and Teag Logan, her best friend, shows up in all the rest of the Morgan Brice
books as a helpful hacker. Simon and Vic (Badlands) come to Charleston in this book and
play a big role in fighting the big bad, as does Dante the pirate ghost from The Rising and
Loose Ends (Badlands). Teag is in a long-term relationship with Anthony, Beck and Logan
(new characters in Inheritance) fall in love, and Simon and Vic are badasses–so there are
three MM couples who play major roles with the plot even though the MC (Cassidy) isn’t
gay. (She has a boyfriend but there’s no MF sex on page beyond very minor kisses and
Inheritance falls between Flame and Ash and Unholy in the in-book timeline (and slightly before Loose Ends, oddly enough). Also, Unholy
takes Seth and Evan to Charleston where Cassidy and her crew play an essential role in
defeating that book’s witch disciple.
About the Author
Gail Z. Martin writes epic
fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books, Orbit Books, SOL Publishing,
Darkwind Press, Worldbuilders Press and Falstaff Books. Recent books include Convicts and
Exiles, Sellsword’s Oath, Inheritance, and Night Moves. With Larry N. Martin, she is the
co-author of the Spells Salt & Steel, Wasteland Marshals, Joe Mack and Jake Desmet
As Morgan Brice, she writes
urban fantasy MM paranormal romance including the Witchbane, Badlands, Treasure Trail
and Fox Hollow series.
Immortal blood is precious and Kokawa Taku’s makes him especially unique.
After vampire hunters force them to flee Tokyo, Taku and his lover, Thane, try to make a new life for themselves in England. But three months later Thane is still tormented by nightmares of the fire that almost cost them their lives. This leads to carelessness and the discovery of one of his victims.
When faced with threats from all sides Taku tries his best to protect them although his actions are met with disapproval and anger from Thane. Unknown to his lover, Taku is also struggling to keep hidden the truth of what really happened three months ago.
However, it is only a matter of time before Taku’s past and bloodline catches up with him.
Book Title: Never Change (Demon’s Blood universe short story)
Author: Shari Sakurai
Length: 47 pages
Release Date: December 1, 2018
It is part of the Demon’s Blood universe, but can be read as a standalone.
Thane’s arms curved around his back and he felt the younger vampire trembling as he rested his head on Taku’s shoulder. So easily broken, Taku often forgot what it had been like in the beginning. For him things had been different, he reminded himself. He had already known what it felt like to take a life.
With Nagasaki in the grip of a bitter winter, two vampires struggle to hunt in the challenging conditions. When an opportunity to feed from a dying man presents itself, Taku insists that they take advantage of it. Yet his newly turned lover is left feeling devastated by their actions. Seeing Thane so distraught is more than Taku can bear and so he makes a decision to shield Thane as much as he can from the darker side to their existence. However his desire to protect Thane might one day cost him everything.
Never Change is a short story set in the Demon’s Blood universe.
Book Title: Demon’s Life (Demon’s Blood universe #2)
Out of respect for the relationship we once had I will spare your life. However, if you try to obstruct me again then I will kill you
Vampires are now an endangered species. Possessed by the demon Kurai, Kokawa Taku has sworn to eradicate all those whom he deems inferior.
Determined to free Taku from the demon’s corruption, Thane seeks help from Taku’s sire, Takata Koji. Thane’s search for answers takes him to Hong Kong where he learns the devastating truth. That in order to save Taku, Thane may have to kill him.
Refusing to accept this, Thane makes a decision that places the fate of all vampires in the balance. However Thane is unaware of the betrayal around him and that his actions will either save Taku or destroy him.
Excerpt from Demon’s Blood (Demon’s Blood universe #1)
Ōtsuki, Kai Province, Honshū, JAPAN, 29 January 1714
Takata Koji knew he was dying. The sickness that had swept through his village had been relentless and had claimed the lives of scores already. He had fallen ill five days ago, two days after his younger sister, Kaede, died. The physician had just been to see him. The grim expression on the man’s face and the distraught weeping of his mother only confirmed what, deep down, Koji already knew. He did not want to die. He was only twenty-five. He wanted to cling onto life with every fibre of his being. But simply the will to live was not enough. Koji’s body ached and he could not get warm, no matter how many blankets his mother brought him. His voice had failed him two nights ago and was yet to return.
It was a cruel hand of fate that the direct descendants of the Takata clan had managed to survive elimination at the hands of their enemy only to perish now. The Okada clan had defeated his relatives almost a hundred and fifty years ago in battle. Of their branch of the family Koji was the only male born; the last heir. His mother could bear no more children.
Hearing the voices of his parents Koji glanced towards the shoji. He had only seen his father once since he became ill. His mother said the man was consumed by grief. Koji knew better than this. Takata Kazuhiro had talked of nothing other than reclaiming his clan’s status and land since Koji was a boy. Yet his own frailties had prevented him from achieving this himself. Some of the Takata clan’s descendants had managed to secure positions within the Tokugawa Shogunate. However, a poor background and ill health had prevented Kazuhiro from doing the same. Koji had been his last hope. It was more than his son dying; it was Kazuhiro’s dreams too.
Koji inhaled deeply, finding even this intake of air difficult as he shifted his position on the futon. The movement caused one of the woven blankets to slip off him and onto the tatami floor. There it remained. Koji lacked the strength to reach over for it. A hacking cough shook his fragile form. He had lost so much weight that his clothes hung off of him. The last time he had gazed at his reflection he had seen a corpse rather than a man staring back.
Koji gasped, fighting to catch his breath as the painful tickling sensation in the back of this throat relentlessly forced the violent coughing fit. A metallic taste welled up in his mouth and the frightened young man gagged over the side of the futon. The hand automatically flying to his mouth came back slicked with crimson.
“Nishimura-san!” his mother raced into his bedroom screaming for the physician at the sight of her son’s blood. Koji felt hands on his shoulders. He was roughly shaken when he failed to respond. Panicked golden eyes raised to meet his mother’s terrified ones even as his vision began to fail him.
Her cries were becoming fainter now and the darkness that he was falling into was more inviting. As much as he feared death, Koji now felt some relief at its embrace. He was so tired. As much as he wished to hold onto life he realised that, deep down, all he really wanted was to be free of the pain.
Candles flickered in the dark, the heat from their burning light touching his sensitive skin as he was drawn from unconsciousness once more. Hot, red wax dripped onto the stone altar from the ceiling above. One spot landed on his palm, causing a hiss of pain to escape him. The clan’s Mon – coat of arms – was etched crudely into the low ceiling. The large circle and rhombi making up the outline of the symbol seemed to swell in size the longer that he stared at them. The two smaller diamonds in the centre were coloured completely in red.
Koji could hear the hum of lowered voices around him yet they remained in shadow. He tugged weakly on the rope that bound his arms above his head and back against the stone surface. An unnecessary precaution, for the fever had robbed him of most of his strength. He could barely curl a palm into a fist.
A weakened cough alerted them to his wakefulness and one man stepped forward. Koji tried to make a sound but a gentle gasp was all that was permitted from dry lips as his father approached. Takata Kazuhiro’s stern expression did not falter although there was some regret lingering in his reddened eyes.
Kazuhiro sustained a leg injury in a fight before Koji was born and had walked with a stick ever since. He leaned heavily on this now, as though it would somehow give him strength. A candle lit lamp was held in his free hand. Koji shifted slightly under his father’s gaze not understanding the situation or the reason for the man’s silence. He had slowly begun to recognise the room that he was in and confusion filled him. It was the village shrine.
“Kazuhiro!” Another voice broke through the quiet murmurs. Koji’s gaze turned to the newcomer. Tears stained his mother’s cheeks. Her hair had fallen free from her usual ponytail to tangle around her face in wild waves. The streaks of silver were clearly visible now. Since he had fallen sick she seemed to have aged twenty years.
“Do not do this,” she pleaded softly of her husband. “Nishimura-san—”
“Cannot help him,” Kazuhiro finished for her. His words were as hard as stone. “This is the only way.”
“He is our son! And you would condemn him to this!”
“It will save his life,” Kazuhiro gestured to the two men – whom were neighbours of the Takata’s – standing behind him. “It is a great gift, Natsumi.”
“How can you call it a gift? It is a curse!”
Koji watched helplessly as the two younger men seized his mother and dragged her from his line of sight and back into shadow. He could make out her further protests and sobs for a few moments. A cry pierced the calm of the room. Then silence followed.
About the Author
Shari Sakurai is a British author of paranormal, horror, science fiction and fantasy novels that almost always feature a LGBTQ protagonist and/or antagonist. She has always loved to write and it is her escape from the sometimes stressful modern life!
Aside from writing, Shari enjoys reading, watching movies, listening to (loud!) music, going to rock concerts and learning more about other societies and cultures. Japanese culture is of particular interest to her and she often incorporates Japanese themes and influences into her work.
Shari loves a challenge and has taken part and won the National Novel Writing Month challenge eleven times!
Connor is out. Liam is the secretly gay football player. Together they must navigate a hush-hush relationship while working together to solve the murder of Liam’s sister.
17-year-old Connor doesn’t believe his best friend’s death was an accident. Falling down the stairs was random, and Connor can’t help but wonder if someone might’ve pushed her… Determined to find out the truth, Connor starts his own investigation. Along the way, he discovers Evelyn’s affair with a married man and thought she was pregnant before she died. Connor thinks he’s found her killer, but an airtight alibi forces him to look in a new direction. Perhaps closer to home. Complicating the situation more is Connor’s own secret – an unexpected hook up with Evelyn’s twin brother, Liam, at a party the previous spring. Afterward, Liam goes on a homophobic rant and punches Connor, leaving him confused. His confusion deepens when, after Evelyn’s death, Liam apologizes and they start to hook up secretly. Liam is trapped between his attraction to Connor and his abusive father. Connor struggles with his growing attraction for Liam. Their secret rendezvous are fun, but if Connor is going to have more with Liam, he’ll have to be honest about his feelings and his suspicions on who killed Evelyn. Will either survive the truth coming out?
I left the hair salon the following evening.
A faint chill permeated the air, and the waxiness of the full moon glinted against the ground, providing extra lighting while I walked to my Mercedes.
Normally, I wouldn’t have picked a 7:00 P.M. appointment, but it was all the hair salon had had on such short notice.
“The fuck you doing at a hair salon?” someone called.
I whipped my body around. Liam stood about ten feet from me.
“I’ve gotta go.” I pulled out my car keys, then grabbed the car door handle.
“Please don’t leave,” he pleaded.
I looked over my shoulder, meeting his eyes. “Why would I do you any favors?”
“Because I wanted to apologize.”
Wow. Lucky me, getting two surprises in less than a week. First Evelyn’s death, now this. The only difference was that there was a chance this surprise would be wanted.
About the Author
Chris Bedell’s previous publishing credits include Thought Catalog, Entropy Magazine, Chicago Literati, and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, among others. His debut YA Fantasy novel IN THE NAME OF MAGIC was published by NineStar Press in 2018. His 2019 books include his NA Thriller BURNING BRIDGES (BLKDOG Publishing) and his YA Paranormal Romance novel DEATHLY DESIRES (Deep Hearts YA). In addition to his YA Thriller BETWEEN LOVE AND MURDER, Chris had several other books released in 2020, including his YA Contemporary I’LL SEE YOU AGAIN (Deep Hearts YA). Furthermore, Chris graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2016.
A young gay man has a near death experience that forces him to go through therapy and recount the events of his abusive past that led to his excessive drinking and depression.
The Emancipation: Dion’s Baptism is a fictional story about a young man who has a near death experience and ends up going to therapy, forcing him to dig up painful memories from his past and discover what is the real cause behind his depression and his excessive drinking. He not only finds the answers he’s looking for but also the strength to forgive all the people who have hurt him.
“It’s something I don’t normally tell people about because I don’t want them blaming my sexuality on that. With me being gay, I feel that people in my life always look for an explanation as to why I’m gay or how I “became” gay. It’s not like it was one particular incident that made me like guys, I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. As a child I didn’t really know a name for it or a label to attach to it, I just knew I was always attracted to men. I don’t care too much about how anyone else feels about it, this is part of who I am.”
“If you don’t mind me asking, what people in your life did you feel wanted an explanation from you about your sexuality?”
“Everyone, at least that’s the way it felt. Close friends, family members. They all wanted to know why I’m like this; they treated it like it was a disease. I remember people in my family asking me if I had been molested by someone in the family or saying that I turned out like this because I used to carry my grandmother’s purse to her car for her before she went to work. People tried to find every explanation for something that didn’t need one. It’s like I’m asking me why I’m black. Who cares as to why I’m this way, I just am.” Dion doesn’t look Cathy directly in her eyes when talking about him being gay and feeling rejection.
“Seems like you felt the pain of rejection a lot in your life.”
“More than you know, in some ways I think rejection is the very reason that I’m in this office talking to you in the first place.”
“What is your earliest memory of being rejected?”
“Ouch. I need to take another drink before I tell you this one.”
“Is it that bad?”
“Not sure if bad is necessarily the right term to use–more so painful.”
August 5th, 2001
“DJ, what are you doing?” Kesiah asks in a slightly critical tone.
“Singing duh, I love to sing.”
“You do? Since when?” She rolls her eyes.
“Since always, I always sing in my plays at B.C. Cook.” Dion expresses with a child-like excitement
“Well you need to stop singing.”
“Because you aren’t good at it. Momma used to always say that ‘if you ain’t gone sing a song right then don’t sing it at all.” Keisha walks away, leaving Dion’s eyes full of tears that he silently lets out.
Present Therapy Session
“Keisha is your sister, correct?
“Yeah.” Dion twiddles his thumbs showing his anxiety from talking about his sister.
“When she told you that you couldn’t sing, how old were you?”
“I was seven, I looked at my sister at that time as my best friend. I looked to her for encouragement and support.”
“In that moment, do you feel like she failed you by crushing your expectations of her?”
“I did feel that way, wisdom and time has helped me to forgive her and understand that she wasn’t really trying to hurt my feelings. She was a thirteen-year-old girl who was still hurting from the death of her mother, our mother. And she didn’t fully know how to process the things that were going on in her life at that time. Looking back, I actually feel bad for not being more understanding about the pain she was in. I held that against her for a long time.
“I know you said that you forgave your sister but what about the effect of what she said? Do you still want to become a singer?”
“Not really, I mean she wasn’t entirely wrong in what she said. She wasn’t entirely right either. I did love singing and my elementary school was a performing arts school so I got to do every area of performance whether I was good at it or not. I decided that my real passion lies somewhere between not just performing but also creating.”
“So you want to be a music producer? Or a singer-songwriter?”
About the Author
Dijon McIntyre is an Author/Actor/Director amongst many other things. He was raised in the beautiful sunshine state of Florida which has had a profound effect on his writing and his artistic performances. Getting into acting at the young age of 6, he is familiar with many different types of performing including acting and music but he attributes his love for all of these things to his undying love for God. Raised as a Christian and now identifying as a “follower of Christ”, Dijon has a vision to use his publishing/production company FreedomArtz to open up opportunities for the people who want to make their dreams come true while still maintaining a liveable wage doing what they love. You can find any of his three books on Amazon, Google Books, or any major online retailer.