Check out the Myths & Magic Box Set Release Blitz from Enticing Journey Book Promotions
Check out the Myths & Magic Box Set Release Blitz from Enticing Journey Book Promotions
A big welcome to Susan Mac Nicol today as part of her retro tour with Embrace the Rainbow Book Promotions for Men of London from Boroughs Publishing.
With the release of Survival Game, book #9 in Susan Mac Nicol’s contemporary MM Romance Men of London series, fast approaching, Embrace the Rainbow Book Promotions and the supporting bloggers would like to take you on a flashback tour through the Men of London series so far . . . . . . . . .
Men of London Book One **LOVE YOU SENSELESS**
One of London’s up-and-coming chefs, Eddie Tripp has just the right recipe to drive tragedy from the mind of Gideon Kent—and leave him senselesswith desire.
THE MEN OF LONDON
From Soho to Norwich, there’s no escaping love.
A TASTE OF FOREVER
An award-winning chef with his own restaurant and an inexhaustible passion, Gideon Kent once had everything. Then came tragedy. It stole more than Gideon’s home. He hasn’t cooked since.
Until Eddie Tripp. Fun-loving and vivacious, the Norfolk redhead’s a real up-and-comer in Gideon’s kitchen—and other places. Slim where Gideon’s broad, easy-going where Gideon is growly, he and Gideon seem polar opposites, and yet Eddie conjures flavors that would tempt anyone with a taste for perfection. The sauce of love is already simmering, and this pair is about to dine on the most delicious dish they’ve ever prepared. Because Eddie’s been Gideon’s missing ingredient all along.
Gideon tapped the pen on the desk in nervousness at having Eddie so close. Not for the first time he wished he could smell him, see if the man’s scent was sweat or cologne, or soap or sweet-scented sugar from the creations he made.
“She did, did she? She can be a really interfering biddy. And how many times have I told you to call me Gideon? Mr. Kent was my dad. And I don’t see him here.”
He bit his lip as his snark returned in Eddie’s presence. It was as if his mouth had no other way to react when Eddie was near.
Eddie seemed to be suppressing a smile. “It’s a little difficult to be on first-name terms with a man who’s always growling at me,” he said, faint amusement in his tone. “I thought perhaps I should keep it professional.”
Oh, Eddie bites does he? Not such a whippersnapper after all. I quite like that. The idea of him biting is definitely something I’d like to pursue.
Gideon shifted in the chair, trying to stave off the erection forming in his jeans.
Christ, that would be all I need, physical evidence of how he turns me on. I don’t even know if the man is gay or straight and he’d probably deck me. They say redheads have tempers, don’t they?
Men of London book two **SIGHT AND SINNERS**
The murder of a shared friend leads a high-profile investigator and a psychic into a mystery involving lies, blackmail, BDSM—and into each other’s arms.
From Charing Cross to Waterloo, there’s no escaping love.
28-year-old Draven Samuels has a tragic past, but as an investigator with a high-profile London company he now gets what he wants. Tough, sarcastic, and sceptical, he has no patience for lies and even less for people who waste his time. Even if they’re as beautiful as the wild and dark-haired Taylor Abelard. Especially when they’re talking over the body of a murder victim.
Psychic Taylor Abelard is used to people calling him a freak. He can see past events and feel the ghostly vibrations of people close to him who’ve passed on. It’s why he doesn’t get too close to the living. But this time, against his better judgment, despite Draven’s mocking rejoinders, Taylor will get closer than ever before. The mystery of a dead friend will lead the two men down a dark and seedy trail of blackmail and lies. Add in the heartbreak of a family tragedy, and events lead them straight into each other’s arms. By the end of this night, all their demons will have risen—and been banished with the dawn.
Men of London book three **SUIT YOURSELF**
Scarred both physically and emotionally after a motorcycle accident, twenty-five year old ex fashion model and porn star Oliver Brown is about to be stripped bare by flamboyant twink Leslie Scott—and they’ll rebuild love from the bottom up.
BARING THE BEAST
Twenty-five year old Oliver Brown is addicted. Two years ago, he was at the height of his career as “Nikki Star,” fashion model, porn actor, partier without peer. Then came the accident. Hiding his scars, both emotional and physical, he’s gone into hiding. But fine clothing is some solace. A new suit by Debussy? Better even than a ride on his motorcycle Hulk or all the things he used to give and take on camera.
Enter Leslie Scott, the flamboyant, dark-haired, heel-and-tiny-short-wearing twink sent to deliver Oliver’s newest fix. A firecracker, Leslie is dapper, generous, in touch with his feminine side but all man, and as gorgeous as any garment ever made. He makes Oliver dream of ending his reclusion, of recapturing a future forever denied him. But for that to happen, Leslie would have to strip him to the bone. Only then will they rebuild life from the bottom up.
Men of London book four **FEAT OF CLAY**
TORN. TORTURED. LOVED.
Though they went their separate ways, Tate Williams and Clay Mortimer have been crazy about each other since their school days. Clay went into the SAS. Tate became a cop. Neither mentioned their attraction to the other. Both sought out danger. Both found it.
Imprisoned and shot in an undercover assignment gone wrong, Tate somehow survived…and found his way back into Clay’s arms. His old friend is now the owner of an elite investigation agency and everything any man could want: patient, handsome, commanding. And Clay knows what it takes to survive. But Tate can’t bring himself to share all his secrets, nightmares that force him to rebel against everything. He finds solace from his past as a graffiti artist, a childhood passion, but his demons drive away all who might care for him. Only when he faces that past—and learns that everyone has tasted despair—can the two men truly be brothers-in-arms…and more.
Men of London book five **CROSS TO BARE**
TWO OF A KIND
It’s amazing what a little mascara and lipstick, a blonde wig, false boobs, and top-notch female fashion can hide. Not that Lenny James is hiding his masculinity. He uses his normal voice when he’s Laverne, and he’s not particularly camp as a man. His reasons for creating his alter ego are locked deep in his past. He is who he is: tough in business, and a romantic at heart. What he’s hiding is vulnerability. He wants a man to accept both sides of him.
Gorgeous, commanding, and dark as sin, Brook Hunter meets Lenny and knows nothing about Laverne until fate pushes her into his path. Cross-dressing is as far from Brook’s reality as fashion is from his world of diplomacy and high finance. Understanding and truth take time, and trust doesn’t come easy. But Brook is about to show Lenny that there are no sides to true love, just the place where they meet in the middle.
Men of London book six **FLYING SOLO**
Flight attendant Maxwell Lewis has spent years cultivating a bon vivant image only to find he finally wants something more—and that something more includes the never-does-repeats game designer Gibson Henry.
ABOVE AND BEYOND
Maxwell Lewis is proud of the life he’s made. Having turned tragedy into triumph, he’s now a beloved member of a Target Airlines cabin crew with more than his fair share of attention both in the air and on the ground. But lately he’s wanted something more than the occasional hook-up or sometime sex buddy—particularly after meeting game designer and passenger Gibson Henry.
Talented and driven, Gibson has built a company ready to be the next big thing in gaming. Devoted to his work, he takes onetime pleasures where he finds them and never does repeats…which is what he tells handsome, sexy Maxwell Lewis after a little mile-high flight attendance. But a chance encounter in a London club is about to change things forever. Two men, one who’s flown solo and another who’s only ever played alone, are about to find that at some point all games come to end, it’s time to bare your heart and try for love.
Men of London book seven **DAMAGED GOODS**
Touched by tragedy, love is an elusive dream never to be realised by eighteen-year-old Jax Grady–until he discovers his secret admirer and receives the sweetest gift he could ever desire.
THE SWEETEST GIFT
Tragedy and horror shaped Jackson Grady’s life, leaving him orphaned and scarred. At eighteen he’s ready to claim his future, but who could love his disfigured face and damaged soul? Definitely not a big, burly, beautiful Irish Traveller who is entirely the stuff of dreams.
Dare Rowan didn’t mean to become obsessed with the blue-eyed man he first saw across a field, but that porcelain skin and innocent air demanded another meeting. Jax has the face of a wounded angel, and the rest of the young man is as heart-breakingly perfect. Jax is beautiful in every way and teaching him about love and life will be something Dare will embrace. Like unwrapping and savouring the candy at the shop where he works, Dare will show this young man everything Jax desired but never thought he’d have, and take Jax to new highs while he holds him through the lows. Between them, they’ll find out just how sweet life can be.
Men of London book eight **HARD CLIMATE**
Eco-warrior Mango Manning must shake the demons of his past to win back London nightclub owner Ryan Bishop, who is suddenly facing issues of his own.
WITH BOTH HANDS
Brawny, beautiful, complicated and sexy as hell, eco-warrior Mango Manning is everything performer and London nightclub owner Ryan Bishop wants in a life-partner. But Mango has been loving and leaving Ryan for the past two years, and Ryan’s had enough. That’s why he’s moving on. Ryan’s the monogamous type—which means now he’ll be alone at the worst possible time.
Mango Manning knows he’s screwed up and has commitment issues. That’s why he’s been so on-and-off with Ryan these past two years. He’d thought he found a safe haven, a place to hide from the losses of his past, but there are other demons you just can’t escape. Like Ryan’s health. If Mango is to put things right, he must man up and discover a way back into Club Delish and the heart of its owner. Only then can they look to the future together, come what may. True happiness will slip through their fingers…unless they both grab on and hold tight.
Men of London book nine **SURVIVAL GAME** releases September 2017
Since his true love died, paramedic Eric Kirby has been living a half life, but when he meets purple-haired Kyle Tripper, Eric’s heart is jolted into a whole new rhythm.
Kyle Tripper has led an interesting life. Currently the manager of London’s famous Club Delish, he used to be a croupier extraordinaire in Las Vegas. But not everything in that life was so glamorous; his ex was a piece of work. Now gun-shy, Kyle hopes there is someone special out there for him, and secretly wishes it’s luscious paramedic, Eric Kirby.
Every day Eric Kirby goes through the motions. Yeah, he saves lives, and, sure, he makes a difference, but he doesn’t feel it anymore – not since he lost his one true. But, when he meets wild, flamboyant Kyle Tripper and learns there’s a skittish, apprehensive man beneath the bold façade, the best of Eric’s protective nature kicks in, and opens his heart to a new love.
Find Survival Game on Goodreads
Find Men of London series on Goodreads
Giveaway: Win a SIGNED copy of Survival Game
About the Author
Susan Mac Nicol is a self-confessed bookaholic, an avid watcher of videos of sexy pole dancing men, geek, nerd and in love with her Smartphone. This little treasure is called ‘the boyfriend’ by her long-suffering husband, who says if it vibrated, there’d be no need for him. Susan hasn’t had the heart to tell him there’s an app for that…
In an ideal world, Susan Mac Nicol would be Queen of England and banish all the bad people to the Never Never Lands of Wherever -Who Cares. As that’s never going to happen, she contents herself with writing her HEA stories and pretending, that just for a little while, good things happen to good people.
Sue is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America and is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association in the UK. She’s also Editorial Manager at http://www.divinemagazine.biz, an online LGBTQ e-zine, and she’s a Charity Board trustee at http://wwwbeingmecampaign.com in London.
She’s passionate about research for her books and has stayed in a circus, taken lessons from a blind person on how it feels to be non-sighted, and travelled to a lighthouse with maintenance crew to see first-hand what it’s like inside. She’s also writing a screen play with a Hollywood actor named Nicholas Downs, with a view to taking her latest release, Sight Unseen, to the big screen.
All in all, she’s happy with her lot and loves that you love to read her books.
You do, right?
The death of Oakley’s sister has left his family broken and buried beneath their grief. In an attempt to get out from underneath their pain, they rent an isolated cottage in the Cotswolds. For Oakley, it’s an exercise in futility. He doesn’t see much hope for things to get back to the way they used to be, and he’s bored and restless as he waits out the time until he can return to the city and university. All of that changes when he meets local boy Bobby, and the connection between them is instant. Within a few days, Oakley is ready to walk away from everything to stay with Bobby. However, Bobby has problems of his own, and they might be more than the budding romance can survive. But they might also give Oakley a new perspective on his own situation.
This is the first story I’ve read by Asta Idonea, and I loved it.
The first scene set the mood immediately, and pulled me into the story. Although it’s not a long read, I didn’t feel as though it was too short either. The characters still had enough room to grow, and I got invested in them quickly. The ending left me with a bittersweet feeling, as it’s not really a HEA, yet I still felt hope for the characters’ future. Both Oakley and Bobby have a lot to work through, and I liked the way they grew as the story progressed.
I had worked out the plot twist early on, but part of that is because I read a lot of this genre, and it didn’t detract from the story. I thought the POV changes were very cleverly done, so that the secret of who Bobby really is isn’t revealed through his POV. The hints as to what is going on are subtle, and nicely done, with enough for me to guess, but not be sure until the reveal. The setting is a character in its own right, and adds to the feeling of the story. I enjoyed the author’s writing style—it flowed well, and I read the story in one sitting.
I’d recommend Wish You Were Here to readers who enjoy a shorter length story with interesting characters who aren’t always what they seem, a plot twist, and a hint of the paranormal. 5 out of 5 stars.
Read my monthly post over at Love Bytes Reviews and find out ‘what’s tingling my molecules’. (and yes it does include Big Finish, why do you ask?)
A big welcome today to Nicki J Markus as part of her blog tour for Her Majesty’s Milken from Fireborn Publishing.
Characters—Her Majesty’s Milken
Even when a story idea starts with a plot concept, my tales always end up being very character-driven, so once I had the basic narrative framework in mind, the main characters in Her Majesty’s Milken came to me very quickly. From the start, I knew that I wanted to do a class divide, pitting a lower-class burglar against a gentleman thief, and an important part of any character development for me is giving them each appropriate names—ones that reflect their personality, their role in the story, or both. Sir Wesley Smythe is a prime example of this. He is an amateur inventor and his surname (a variant on smith, from blacksmith) reflects his tinkering with cogs and gears. Meanwhile, Grace is so named because of her abilities as a house burglar, slipping into homes and through rooms, unseen.
Her Majesty’s Milken
Nicki J. Markus
11 August 2017
Heat Level: 1
When part-time pilferer Sir Wesley Smythe seeks out famous housebreaker the Mayfair Milken, he little suspects he could soon be using his skills in service of the crown.
Whitechapel resident Grace is the pluckiest thief in all of London. Her housebreaking feats in the heart of fashionable Mayfair have earned her the nickname the Mayfair Milken. All members of high society fear for their valuables—all except Sir Wesley Smythe.
Sir Wesley, one of London’s most eligible bachelors and a keen amateur mechanist, thrills at each new report of the Milken’s exploits. Prone to a little light pilfering himself, he longs to meet his idol, only to be shocked at the discovery that the Milken is a woman.
However, they are not the only thieves in the city, and when they uncover a plot to steal from Queen Victoria, they must work together if they wish to foil the criminal.
Video Excerpt: https://youtu.be/N2Gu_yKrrso
Written Excerpt: https://tablo.io/nicki-j-markus-asta-idonea/her-majestys-milken-excerpt
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074N4KS91
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B074N4KS91
Nicki J. Markus (aka Asta Idonea) was born in England but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.
Nicki launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts not only between MM and mainstream works but also between traditional and indie publishing. Her works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind!
As a day job, Nicki works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theatre, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel, all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing.
Amazon Author US: https://www.amazon.com/Nicki-J-Markus/e/B004JM0UC8
Amazon Author UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nicki-J-Markus/e/B004JM0UC8
I am offering an eBook copy of my MF PNR short story Canção do Amor to one lucky reader.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
A big welcome today to Jere’ M. Fishback as part of his blog tour for Indigo Marketing and Design for Becoming Andy Hunsinger from NineStar Press.
What I write
I’ve always enjoyed writing. Even as a grade school kid I wrote fiction. I earned a B.S. in Journalism at the University of Florida, and then I went on to graduate from Florida State University College of Law. I was a litigator and I wrote legal materials every single day of my career, lots of writing. After I retired, I began writing fiction full-time, beginning in 2004. My first novel, “Josef Jaeger”, was first published in 2009. Most of my books are aimed at gay YA readers. I also write gay erotica under a pseudonym. I’ve had dozens of books and short stories published under that pseudonym. But my YA books are still my favorites.
Title: Becoming Andy Hunsinger
Author: Jere’ M. Fishback
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: Aug 14, 2017
Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex
Genre: Historical, friends to lovers, college, coming out, coming-of-age, historical, drug/alcohol use
It’s 1976, and Anita Bryant’s homophobic “Save Our Children” crusade rages through Florida. When Andy Hunsinger, a closeted gay college student, joins in a demonstration protesting Bryant’s appearance in Tallahassee, his straight boy image is shattered when he is “outed” by a TV news reporter. In the months following, Andy discovers just what it means to be openly gay in a society that condemns love between two men and wonders if his friendship with Travis, a devout Christian who’s fighting his own sexual urges, can develop into something deeper.
Becoming Andy Hunsinger
Jere’ M. Fishback © 2017
All Rights Reserved
On my seventh birthday, my parents gave me a Dr. Seuss book, The Cat in the Hat.
I still have the book; it rests on the shelf above my desk, along with other Seuss works I’ve collected. Inside The Cat in the Hat’s cover, my mother wrote an inscription, using her precise penmanship.
“Happy Birthday, Andy. As you grow older, you’ll realize many truths dwell within these pages. Much love, Mom and Dad.”
Mom was right, of course. She most always was. My favorite line is this one:
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
Loretta McPhail was a notorious Tallahassee slumlord. On a steamy afternoon, in August 1976, she spoke to me in her North Florida drawl: part magnolia, part crosscut saw.
“The rent’s one twenty-five. I’ll need first, last, and a security deposit, no exceptions.”
McPhail wore a short-sleeved shirtwaist dress, spectator pumps, and a straw hat with a green plastic windowpane sewn into the brim. Her skin was as pale as cake flour. A gray moustache grew on her wrinkled upper lip, and age spots peppered the backs of her hands. Her eyeglasses had lenses so thick her gaze looked buggy.
I’d heard McPhail held title to more than fifty properties in town, all of them cited multiple times for violation of local building codes. She owned rooming houses, single-family homes, and small apartment buildings, mostly in neighborhoods surrounding Florida State University’s campus. Like me, her tenants sought cheap rent; they didn’t care if the roof leaked or the furnace didn’t work.
The Franklin Street apartment I viewed with McPhail wasn’t much: a living room and kitchen, divided by a three-quarter wall; a bedroom with windows looking into the rear and side yards; and a bathroom with a wall-mounted sink, a shower stall, and a toilet with a broken seat. In each room, the plaster ceilings bore water marks. The carpet was a leopard skin of suspicious-looking stains, and the whole place stank of mildew and cat pee.
McPhail’s building was a two-storied, red-brick four-plex with casement windows that opened like book covers, a Panhandle style of architecture popular in the 1950s. Shingles on the pitched roof curled at their edges. Live oaks and longleaf pines shaded the crabgrass lawn, and skeletal azaleas clung to the building’s exterior.
In the kitchen, I peeked inside a rust-pitted Frigidaire. The previous tenant had left gifts: a half-empty ketchup bottle, another of pickle relish. A carton of orange juice with an expiration date three months past sat beside a tub of margarine.
Out in the stairwell, piano music tinkled—a jazzy number I didn’t recognize.
McPhail clucked her tongue and shook her head. “I’ve told Fergal—and I mean several times—to close his door when he plays, but he never does. I’m not sure why I put up with that boy.”
McPhail pulled a pack of Marlboros from a pocket in the skirt of her dress. After tapping out two cigarettes, she jammed them between her lips. She lit both with a brushed-chrome Zippo, then gave me one.
I puffed and tapped a toe, letting my gaze travel about the kitchen. I studied the chipped porcelain sink, scratched Formica countertops, and drippy faucet. Blackened food caked the range’s burner pans. The linoleum floor’s confetti motif had long ago disappeared in high-traffic areas. Okay, the place was a dump. But the rent was cheap, and campus was less than a mile away. I could ride my bike to classes and to my part-time job as caddy at the Capital City Country Club.
Still, I hesitated.
The past two years, I’d lived in my fraternity house with forty brothers. I took my meals there, too. If I rented McPhail’s apartment, I’d have to cook for myself. What would I eat? Where would I shop for food?
Other questions flooded my brain. Where would I wash my clothes? And how did a guy open a utilities account? The apartment wasn’t furnished. Where would I purchase a bed? What about a dinette and living room furniture?
And how much did such things cost? It all seemed so complicated.
Lack of privacy at the fraternity house would pose a problem for me this year. Over summer break—back home in Pensacola—I’d experienced my first sexual encounter with another male, a lanky serviceman named Jeff Dellinger, age twenty-four. Jeff was a second lieutenant from Eglin Air Force Base. I met him at a sand volleyball game behind a Pensacola Beach hotel, and he seemed friendly. I liked his dark hair, slim physique, and ready smile, but wasn’t expecting anything personal to happen between us.
After all, I was a “straight boy,” right?
We bought each other beers at the tiki bar, and then Jeff invited me up to his hotel room. Once we reached the room, Jeff prepared two vodka tonics. My drink struck like snake venom, and then my brain fuzzed. Jeff opened a bureau drawer; he produced a lethal-looking pistol fashioned from black metal. The pistol had a matte finish and a checked grip.
“Ever seen one of these?” Jeff asked.
I shook my head.
“It’s an M1911—official air-force issue. I’ve fired it dozens of times.”
Jeff raised the gun to shoulder height. He closed one eye, focused his other on the pistol’s barrel sight. “Shooting’s almost…sensual.” Then he looked at me. “It’s like sex, if you know what I mean.”
I shrugged, not knowing what to say.
Jeff handed the pistol to me. It weighed more than I’d expected, between two and three pounds. I turned it this way and that, admiring its sleek contours. The grip felt cold against my palm and a shiver ran through me. I’d never fired a handgun, never thought to.
“Is it loaded?” I asked.
Jeff bobbed his chin. “One bullet’s in the firing chamber, seven more in the magazine; it’s a semiautomatic.”
After I handed Jeff the gun, he returned it to his bureau’s drawer while I sipped my drink, feeling woozier by the minute. Jeff sat next to me, on the room’s double bed. His knee nudged mine, our shoulders touched, and I smelled his coconut-scented sunscreen.
Jeff laid a hand on my thigh. Then he squeezed. “You don’t mind, do you?”
I looked down at his hand while my heart thumped. Go on, chickenshit. He wants you.
I gazed into Jeff’s dark eyes. “It’s fine.”
Moments later, my swim trunks lay in a corner and Jeff knelt in front of me, slurping away. Currents of pleasure crept through my limbs, and then I felt a buzzing between my legs. When I came, I thought I’d pass out. I closed my eyes and drew a deep breath. Then I watched fireworks explode inside my head.
Jesus, this feels good. Why haven’t I done this before?
Thereafter, we rendezvoused several times during summer, always at the same hotel.
“I get a military discount here,” Jeff explained.
I quickly learned the basics of male/male sex from Jeff, and each session proved better than the one before. During these meetings, Jeff introduced me to anal intercourse, something I’d never dreamed I would do.
The first few times, Jeff took a passive role. But then he asked me to surrender my cherry, and I acceded. Jeff’s initial penetration felt painful, but soon I relaxed, and I discovered a side of myself I hadn’t known existed. A fullness and warmth crept through my body as Jeff thrust inside me. The whole thing felt so…natural.
Whenever I lay in bed with Jeff, after sex, I always rested my head on his chest, and while I listened to his heartbeat I felt like a guy released from jail. I knew I was queer then—there was no doubt about it—and the realization made me feel a bit foolish, like I was the last guy at the party let in on the joke. I was a faggot, a fudge-packer, a butt pirate. My attempts at dating women had been a ruse—I’d only done it to fit in with my fraternity brothers—and what a waste of time it had been for all concerned.
Like most guys, I’d masturbated chronically since my early teens, and now I knew why visions of naked men crept into my thoughts whenever I did so. Now I knew why my friends’ girlie magazines had never held my interest. No wonder showering with my PE classmates in high school had thrilled me so.
It all seems stupid in retrospect. How could I not know I was gay? But in 1976, most guys weren’t in touch with their inner selves. I don’t know why, but we weren’t. Feelings weren’t a topic of male conversation. Emotional needs took a backseat to more “important” matters: achievement, sports, and politics—“normal” concerns, if you will.
My summer with Jeff changed all that, for me at least. In the sexual sense, I had found my mother lode. I belonged in the arms of a man—I would settle for nothing else—and I was fine with it. But now fall had arrived, and I would live in Tallahassee again. I couldn’t drive to Fort Walton Beach every weekend. That would mean a three-hour drive on monotonous Highway 90, passing by cow pastures and slash pine forests, just to meet up with Jeff. And how much sense did that make? I needed a boyfriend who lived nearby, and assuming I found one, I would face a few problems.
If I remained at the Lambda Chi house I’d share a room with a fraternity brother, so I’d have no privacy. Plus, the guys at Lambda Chi wouldn’t understand if I dated another male, no way.
Wasn’t it time I had my own place?
Now, in her run-down rental apartment, McPhail blew a stream of blue smoke. After the cloud rose to the kitchen’s cobwebbed ceiling, she looked at me with her insect eyes.
“Well?” she said.
I studied my shoes and licked my lips. Go on: do it.
I swung my gaze to my future landlady.
Jere’ M. Fishback is a former journalist and trial lawyer who now writes fiction full time. He lives with his partner Greg on a barrier island on Florida’s Gulf Coast. When he’s not writing, Jere’ enjoys reading, playing his guitar, jogging, swimming laps, fishing, and watching sunsets from his deck overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.
8/14 Happily Ever Chapter
8/15 Love Bytes Reviews
8/16 V’s Reads
8/17 MM Good Book Reviews
8/17 The Novel Approach
8/17 Drops of Ink
8/17 Diverse Reader
8/18 Xtreme Delusions
A big welcome today to S.T. Sterlings as part of her blog tour with IndiGo Marketing and Design for King of the Fire Dancers from NineStar Press.
I’ve always loved the word, “koi.” The fish are cool, too. Actually, I’m kind of afraid of fish, lol. I didn’t want to spell Coy’s name as Koi, so I went with “Coy” since it’s literally the opposite of his personality. I don’t know. At first it doesn’t seem like someone like him would be named Coy, but then it starts to grow on you, I think.
As for August, I will admit, I love when characters (and real people) are named after months of the year, or seasons. I knew a girl named Winter, and I thought that was such a beautiful name. I also know a girl named Autumn. When they’re named after states, or have unisex names, that’s cool, too. I dated a boy in high school named Ashley. I also dated a boy named Simone. I always try to choose names that are easy to pronounce. I’ve read books where the characters have impossible names, and I end up having to give them nicknames.
Both August and Coy have physical appearances that are similar to real people. I don’t want to say who those people are because I’d rather leave their appearance to reader interpretation. Another thing about August that I really love is his long hair. If you know me, you know I have a weakness for guys with long hair. Jason Momoa has long hair. I talk about him a lot, lol. It’s because he’s gorgeous, and I have a hard time accepting that someone so beautiful can actually be a living breathing human being.
Elias wasn’t based off anyone, but he was named by a great friend of mine. I thought the name was so pretty, I wanted to give him a pretty appearance to go along with it. I don’t remember where I got Dinina’s name, but I love it. It’s funny, I always get compliments about my characters’ names, but I probably don’t put nearly as much thought into them as other authors. Maybe that’s why it works! I’d rather name them and let them grow into their names. If I feel like they’re not growing into it, I’ll end up changing it.
Both Coy and August have bits and pieces of my personality. I’m nowhere near as confident as Coy, but I’m stubborn like him. I have more of August’s insecurity. We’re also smart-mouthed and sarcastic at times, haha. I guess I may be a bit like Ari, too. I’m a kid at heart, and extremely impatient. I’m trying to work on that…
I try to avoid creating characters that are 100% based off of other people. I may use some of their physical characteristics, or elements of their personality, but never anything where someone would read and go, “Um, this is me…” Can you imagine how awkward that would be, especially if you’re putting that character through the ringer. Other than that, I just pick and choose what interests me (be it elements of personality of physical characteristics), and build from that. So far, that’s been the method that works for me, and I don’t really have the desire to change it. Still, writing is one of those things where you learn as you go. You’re always finding new ways to develop your characters and your stories, so maybe I’ll change it up one day!
Series: Shift Happens, Book One
Author: S.T. Sterlings
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: Aug 14, 2017
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, abduction, captivity, shifters, slow burn, enemies to lovers
When he’s propositioned by a wealthy stranger, it seems Coy Conlin’s impoverished life is about to be upgraded. But before he can share the news with his family, he comes home to find his grandmother murdered and his little brother missing. To make matters worse, he’s thrown in prison along with every other shifter under the Sovereign’s orders.
August Seaton left his laboratory job at the Asuda Registry to become a Registry officer. But after a mission with his partner goes horribly wrong, August ends up with Coy’s dead grandmother on his hands, and Coy thinks he’s the murderer. Worst of all, his partner discovers his secret.
August is a shifter. And now he’s Coy’s cellmate. Coy and August must survive each other, abusive guards, and a scientist hell-bent on forcing Coy into a breeding program.
Teamed up, the pair escape prison and journey across the country. With the Registry hot on their trail, they have enough things to worry about. Falling for each other wasn’t supposed to be one of them.
King of the Fire Dancers
S.T. Sterlings © 2017
All Rights Reserved
There were two things that Coy Conlin was exceptionally skilled at. The first was dancing. The second, and more unconventional, was turning into a dragon. Both were in his blood and took years of trial and error to perfect, but the former wasn’t a danger to those around him. It wasn’t easy maneuvering a dragon body, especially not one as big as his. Dragons had claws, scales, and fangs. He even had the misfortune of retaining his proneness to seasonal allergies, which sure as hell took explosive sneezing to a whole new level. Still, thanks to his grandmother—a dragon shifter like him—he’d mastered shifting and everything that it entailed from a young age.
His prey was a slender boy with white skin and blue eyes. The boy raced past, auburn hair catching the wind and blowing about his head. He scurried through the dried grass, his pale, gangly legs kicking up dirt as he rushed to hide behind a large tree. Laughter disguised as a growl escaped Coy’s mouth. As if a mere tree would provide the boy sanctuary.
Coy hated flying. Dragon or not, he preferred to keep his feet—and claws—securely grounded. But, humans were often smarter than they looked, and he knew that if he continued to creep along the ground, the boy would feel the vibrations caused by his heavy footsteps. And so, he pushed off, sharp talons grazing earth as he hovered above the coarse ground. His wings, as wide as sails on a cutter, pierced the air and sent forward a powerful gust of windblown, dusty dirt. He flapped them again, creating a mini dirt storm between himself and the tree and, most importantly, his prey.
A shower of prickly leaves and thin, brittle branches fell to the ground. Seconds later, the boy emerged from behind the tree, arms up and over his head, shielding himself from the downpour. Amidst the cascading debris, Coy caught the look of determination on the boy’s face. Wedged tightly in the boy’s grip was a rock, jagged and angled, the tip pointing toward the sky. A rock? Really? A puny, misshapen hunk of slate? What good would that do against a ninety-foot-long dragon with scales as black as onyx and five times as hard?
The little idiot.
The boy let out a wail of a battle cry and charged forward, gripping the rock in his hand like a warrior wielding a sword. There were hundreds of ways Coy could have reacted, and most would have ended with the boy dead on his feet. Instead, he stood there, a beacon of massive power and pride, and allowed the boy to attack. He didn’t feel the impact of the rock smashing against his leg, though he did see the resulting blood. It wasn’t his. It would have taken much more than a rock to puncture his scales.
It was the boy’s.
The force behind the thrust of his hand had caused the rock to ricochet off a section of scales and created a shallow cut in the center of his reddened palm.
Coy had been specific with the rules—no blacking out, no crying, and no bloodletting. If any of those happened, the game ended immediately. And, although the human tried to hide it, he was definitely bleeding.
“No, wait. I’m okay. I swear it. I’m fine. Look. It barely—”
The protest fell on deaf ears—literally. Coy couldn’t hear—or see—anything during the transformation. It was as if he were alone in a black, soundproof room, nothing but darkness and depth and the feeling of endless falling. His heart rate quickened, slamming against his chest like a musician’s calloused hands pounding against a hand drum. He inhaled through his nose, focusing on the rhythm and physically and mentally controlling the pace of his heartbeat. He calmed his mind, grasping at emotions pulsing like lightning, smoothing them out until his vision began to return. First, blurs of colors: reds and browns and a single blob of white standing directly in front of him.
Then, all at once, everything returned.
“It’s barely a scratch,” the boy muttered, folding his pale arms over his chest.
“Too bad,” Coy replied, rubbing at his jaw. It felt good to use his vocal cords again. He was incapable of speech as a dragon, just limited to snarls and hisses…and fire breathing. That last one came in handy. “Rules are rules, Ari.”
Ari—Coy’s adopted brother—frowned. “You didn’t even give me a chance.”
“A chance to what?” Coy rolled his shoulders in an attempt to relax some of the tension in his muscles that came from shifting. “Find another rock? What was that supposed to do?”
He trudged away from his younger brother, crushing dead grass beneath his bare soles. He spotted his discarded sarong lying by a fragment of slate, the latter’s golden-brown surface highlighted with speckles of fiery red. The color was reminiscent of his own skin, warm brown with red undertones—the exact opposite of Ari’s. Even if Ari had somehow managed to slightly injure him with his dumb rock, the bruise would have been difficult to see. One of the many perks of having brown skin was that it didn’t display bruises well. Growing up, that played to his advantage with the number of fights he got into.
Ari pouted. “It was the only thing I could think of.”
“Yeah, well.” Nude, Coy bent down to retrieve his sarong. “That type of thinking is going to get you killed. Or worse, you’ll get your ass kicked.”
Ari rubbed his bloody hand against his sweat-soaked tunic. “How can getting beat up be worse than dying?”
Coy watched as the blood stained the faded fabric. Ari had already outgrown most of his clothes. What he had left was either tainted or torn. Coy would have to take up private performances at this rate just to make sure he could afford to buy Ari clothes.
“If you’re dead, you won’t have me around to rub it in.” He grinned at Ari and then motioned toward the open wound on his hand. “Better not let Dinina see that. You know how she gets.”
He wrapped the thin, cobalt-colored sarong around his waist, securing the two ends into a knot. They’d spent half the morning outside, which meant he’d spent just as long in his dragon form. He’d be exhausted later, but it was worth it. He always had fun hanging out with his little brother. Still, he felt like he was forgetting something.
And then he remembered.
“Shit!” he shouted, the sound so loud and sudden that it startled an unkindness of ravens perched in a nearby tree.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” Ari asked, blue eyes wide with concern.
There were several things wrong, and all of them could be summed up with two words.
ST Sterlings is a librarian, and a mother of two (two boys, and one exhausting female GSD). She’s an avid fan of LGBTQ romance, and also loves the horror genre. She’s from Hampton, VA, but currently lives in Lancaster, CA.
8/15 MM Good Book Reviews
8/15 Erotica For All
8/16 The Novel Approach
8/16 Drops of Ink
8/17 V’s Reads
8/18 Love Bytes Reviews
My winner for the rafflecopter was Amanda H. Congratulations!
A huge thank you to everyone who followed my tour, and who entered the rafflecopter. You guys rock!
A big welcome today to Beth Bolden as part of her release blitz with Embrace the Rainbow Book Promotions for Taste On My Tongue.
Title: Taste on My Tongue
Author: Beth Bolden
Release Date: August 15th 2017
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Almost pop-star Landon Patton has just turned a corner on the worst two years of his life: dropped by his label and dumped by his ungrateful ex-boyfriend. However, his new agent’s brilliant plan for Landon’s superstardom doesn’t have anything to do with his music – it’s called Kitchen Wars, and it’s the hottest new reality show on TV.
Landon wishes he could have nothing to do with it.
Since the first morning he mixed flour and water, Quentin Maxwell knew he wanted to be a baker. After becoming the pastry chef at a popular LA bakery, anyone else might be satisfied. But Quen wants to call his own shots. Going on Kitchen Wars to win the money for his own bakery seems like a huge risk, but maybe it’s worth it.
They’re an unlikely pair. Landon can’t even figure out how to turn an oven on, while Quentin makes his living with one. But with each passing week on Kitchen Wars, they discover what a great team they make – on set, off set, and between the sheets.
Winning should be everything, but what happens when the tastiest pairing is their own?
Find Taste on My Tongue on Goodreads
When Landon walks into the studio for his first day of cooking bootcamp and sees his chef, he has to instantly revise every expectation. The man in front of him is all long lines, lean legs, and this sculpted torso that literally nobody that cooks for a living should have, all topped off by a wild curly mane that Landon’s fingers itch to touch, wide blue eyes, and a pair of lips that send his mind straight to the gutter.
It turns out there is most definitely a man out there that will interest Landon in learning to cook.
The topper is when Landon saunters over, eyes flicking over those long legs in tight jeans and the little glimpses of tattoos he sees through his mostly transparent white t-shirt, the man actually blushes.
“Landon Patton,” Landon says, extending a hand. “Unfortunately, it’s gonna be your miserable job to teach me to cook.”
The man flushes even pinker as he takes Landon’s hand. “Um, Quentin. Quentin Maxwell.”
For one rather breathless moment, they stare at each other, Quentin’s hand clasping Landon’s, his palm warm and soft and slightly damp with nerves, and Landon feels his heart start to beat faster. He feels almost breathless with the possibilities, and it’s hard to deny that Quentin looks equally blown away.
Quentin reluctantly releases his hand. “I’m a huge fan,” he adds. “Really, you should have won your season. Can’t believe you only got third place.”
Landon can definitely believe it. Third place was far better than he ever thought he’d end up. But you can say all you want about Landon—and many, many people have—he’s driven to succeed even when the cards are stacked against him.
So Landon just shrugs and leans back, all carelessly but purposefully arranged curves as he tries to figure out if the way Quentin’s fluttering his eyelashes at him means he’s actually interested in flirting or if this is just Quentin’s natural state of being.
GIVEAWAY: WIN a $50 Amazon Gift Card!!!
About the Author
Beth Bolden lives in Portland, Oregon with her supportive husband and their beloved cat. She wholly believes in Keeping Portland Weird, but wishes she didn’t have to make the yearly pilgrimage up to Seattle to watch her Boston Red Sox play baseball. She’s a fan of fandoms, and spends too much of her free time on tumblr.
Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal. She’s published two novels, The Lucky Charm and Getting Lucky, and a short story, Eye of the Storm. Her next novel, Summer Attractions, will be released in August 2016.
A big welcome today to Keelan Ellis as part of her blog tour with IndiGo Marketing & Design for The One Thing I Know from NineStar Press.
A POST ABOUT REJECTIONS
If you decide to become a published author, there aren’t too many things you can count on to experience. One thing, however, is universal: rejection. There are so many opportunities for rejection in an author’s career. You might think you don’t have the stomach to handle that on a regular basis, but I can tell you that it gets easier as you go along. Well, I could tell you that, but it isn’t necessarily true. You can develop a thicker skin, but it still smarts.
REJECTIONS FROM PUBLISHERS
I will tell you the story of my first rejection from a publisher, which also happened to be the first book I ever submitted to a publisher. It took eight weeks to hear from them, and then they declined. It was a tough thing to hear right out of the gate, and I immediately decided that the book was no good and had to be completely overhauled. I knew I loved my main character, and I knew I had the bones of something with a lot of potential. So I spent the next six months basically writing a new book, using only the basics of the characters, with a whole new plot and setting. Then, about three quarters of the way through it, I knew it didn’t feel right. So I spent another several months going back to the original story, but revamping it and allowing the personal story more room to breathe. Then I sat on it. In the meantime I got my first acceptance—yay! Then I wrote a sequel to that, and another book after that one, but still I had this nagging feeling. I had a finished book, and it was one that I felt quite strongly about. I wanted to share it with readers, but I still felt incredibly insecure about it because of that first rejection. Finally, after sitting with this book for almost three years, I found a home for it, and it felt amazing. It’s been my best selling book so far, and I almost let it die.
My new release was originally rejected in short story form. After the publisher suggested I expand it to novel form, I did that, and resubmitted. After the full eight weeks, they told me they weren’t looking for that genre at the moment. Naturally, rather than take them at their word, I assumed it was because they simply didn’t like the book and were just trying to make me feel better (it didn’t). That’s just how my mind works. But this time, I knew I had a good book on my hands. I had developed a thicker skin and a lot more confidence, so I went right out and submitted it elsewhere. And now you can buy it!
Bad reviews are another form of rejection, and for me, they’re the hardest ones to cope with. When my first book was released, I obsessively read every single review. I craved positive feedback, and I got it. I also got to read about people who disliked the book, and who listed every reason why in detail. And that’s fine, of course. Honest reviews are valuable. Most of them aren’t mean-spirited, but that doesn’t make them sting less. In a way, for me, a thoughtful negative review is harder to swallow than a nasty one, because it’s easier to believe every word of it. The reason bad reviews hurt so much, in my opinion, is that part of me knows they’re right. I take criticism to heart.
I continued reading all my reviews until about halfway through the release of my third book, and then came to the brilliant realization that I don’t have to. I thought it might be difficult to stop—like biting my nails or smoking—but it was easy, and immediately made me happier. Before, I’d read a bad review and be paralyzed in my writing for days, it bothered me that much. Any time I get tempted to read a review, I’d think of a line or two from some bad review in the past, and the temptation would be gone.
Poor sales are, of course, another form of rejection, but it’s the one I’m least bothered by. This is because I am not relying on it to make a living. I can’t imagine the stress of being an idie author trying to live on my writing, feeling pressure to put out six, eight, twelve books a year while handling the covers, the editing and the marketing on my own. It’s seriously impressive and for me, impossible. I am not that kind of writer. I write slowly. I take breaks for my mind to recharge. I don’t write for money; I write because I want to tell a story. I live in hope that one day, I’ll write a story that resonates with enough people that I have a best seller on my hands, but that’s not what’s in my mind when I write. It’s only the people I’m creating and the world they live in. But if that could some day also involve large sums of money, well, then I’d be living the dream.
Title: The One Thing I Know
Series: B-Sides, Book One
Author: Keelan Ellis
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: Aug 14, 2017
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Genre: Historical, romance, gay, bisexual, historical-1970’s, California, musicians, rock star, drugs/alcohol use, enemies to lovers, road trip
Talented studio musician, Henry Cole, is offered the dream job of touring with popular rock band, the Vulgar Details. Things aren’t all rosy, though, as he is hired to replace Dell Miller, creative force behind the band, who recently flamed-out in a car accident.
Henry is all too aware that he’s no replacement for someone like Dell. He’s not the only one who feels that way, either. Terry Blackwood, band front man, has been giving him a hard time even before the tour start. He seems to resent Henry’s presence beyond all reason. What Henry doesn’t know is that Terry and Dell’s relationship was both intensely close and fraught with conflict.
Terry’s grief over Dell’s death is overwhelming and threatens to destroy not only the band but his life. It doesn’t help that the new member of the band makes him feel things he doesn’t want to. Worse, when he sings, Henry sounds just like the man Terry cared so deeply for.
With so much at stake, everything could come crashing down around them and mean the end for the Vulgar Details. Or, just maybe, Henry and Terry will find the one thing they need most.
Sometimes redemption comes from the last place you expect to find it.
The One Thing I Know
Keelan Ellis © 2017
All Rights Reserved
Henry woke up to the sound of the shower turning on in the bathroom down the hall. He got up and sorted through the clothes strewn around on the floor, separating his from his guest’s. The two pairs of white briefs were, unfortunately, the same brand and size, so he took his best guess and tossed one of them on top of the pile he was holding. He set the whole thing down outside the bathroom door and went to the kitchen to make coffee. He lit a cigarette and opened the window above the sink. The shower shut off just as the coffee finished brewing, and a few minutes later, his previous evening’s date appeared in the doorway. His name was Danny, and they’d been introduced by a mutual acquaintance. He was as cute as he was dumb, but Henry was fairly certain one night had been enough to satisfy his curiosity.
“Morning,” Henry said. “There’s coffee if you want it.”
“Thanks,” Danny said. He poured some into a cup and leaned against the counter. “Hey, I’m going to the beach later. You want me to stop by and pick you up?”
“Nah. I have work.”
“Oh, right. On the Details’ new record, wasn’t it?”
Henry nodded. He was slated to play pedal steel and Dobro on six tracks for the Vulgar Details’ upcoming album. It wasn’t the first time he’d played with those guys. The band counted on Henry to fill in the gaps whenever their songwriter and pedal steel player, Dell Miller, was off taking peyote in the desert or barricading himself in a hotel room shooting up with whoever he’d brought home that night. Henry had never met Dell and still thought of him as more myth than man. “I should get in the shower pretty soon,” he hinted.
Danny either didn’t pick up on it or didn’t care, and he poured more coffee into his cup. “You think it’s going to be a good one?”
“I think it’s the best one yet.” He rinsed his cup out and put it in the drainer. “I need to get ready. Thanks for coming over. It was fun.”
Danny raised his eyebrows at him, and his lips turned up with wry amusement. Maybe he wasn’t as dumb as Henry had thought. “Sure thing. You got my number. Call if you want.” He set his cup down and gave a little salute before he left. Definitely cute, Henry couldn’t deny that.
Henry got to the studio early and ran through his parts before the band arrived. The songs that Henry had learned for that day’s session were, hands down, the best work the band had done. The new songs were dark and personal, explorations of loss and hopelessness, set to some of the loveliest melodies he’d ever heard. The Vulgar Details had come so far from their beginnings as a brash blues rock band that they were almost unrecognizable. Henry had never thought of them as anything special until their third album, Heart’s Desire, was released back in ’69.
Henry had been lying by the pool at his friend Richard’s house, passing a joint back and forth with him, when he first heard that record. Henry was twenty-four then, and Richard was ten years older, with family money and a beautiful house he’d had built in Laurel Canyon. He threw amazing parties attended by young musicians and hippie hangers-on who were there for the free food, booze, and drugs. Richard didn’t care why they were there. He loved the beautiful boys and girls, the music, and the easily available sex. When he wasn’t partying, he liked having Henry around. Sometimes they fooled around, but Richard never made it seem like a requirement. That day, when he put on the new Vulgar Details record, Henry scoffed.
“I thought you had more interesting taste than that,” he said.
“You’re getting too old to be such a snob.”
Henry stretched and grinned up at him. “Probably getting too old for you, then, huh?”
Richard smiled, shook his head, and sat back down. “Give it a chance. You might be surprised.”
It started out sounding much like all of their previous stuff, but somehow better. Previously, their songs tended toward aimless, slightly silly rip-offs of “Mr. Tambourine Man,” or juvenile rock and roll songs about pretty girls. These were something else altogether. They dealt with love, anger, and desire—the subjects of most rock lyrics—but with a depth almost never heard in popular music.
“Jesus, this is great,” Henry said. “Where the hell did it come from? Did Terry Blackwood get a brain transplant or something?”
Richard laughed. “Not quite. They got a new member. Don’t you follow this stuff, working in the industry?”
“Must have missed that one.”
“His name’s Dell Miller. Actually, he was at that party you came to last month. Skinny, pretty, long-haired country boy? Walked around with his shirt open the whole time?”
“Oh yeah. I think I remember him. The girls were all over him. He wrote all of these?”
“All the good ones,” Richard said.
The last song on the album, “Traveling Abroad,” was the best one, and Henry insisted playing it three times in a row. It had an entirely different sound from the rest of them. It was almost a traditional country song, but the arrangement was complex and the lyrics made him want to cry. There was so much yearning in it that it was almost hard to listen to. When he left Richard’s house that afternoon, he went straight to the nearest record store to buy his own copy.
That was three years and two albums earlier. The Vulgar Details had only gotten better, despite Miller’s increasingly unreliable presence. The band’s sound drifted more and more toward the mellow country- and bluegrass-influenced style Miller had brought with him from Tennessee. A few of the blues rock numbers that were Terence Blackwood’s bread and butter still remained, but these no longer represented the bulk of their output. This new album took that even further, and Henry had to wonder how the rest of the band—Blackwood in particular—felt about that. In most bands, a shift like that would have led to at least one angry departure. Somehow, the Details had managed to keep it together without any public drama, unless you counted Miller’s multiple rehab stays and a short stint in jail for public intoxication and possession.
They weren’t planning to record any vocals that day, so Blackwood wasn’t around. The lead guitarist, Steve Smith, and drummer, Kenny Sailes, had entered the studio in the middle of a contentious but good-natured disagreement over which one of them would be harder to replace if they went into rehab. Alex Benton, the bass player, shook Henry’s hand and gave him a one-armed hug.
“Maybe you can settle that argument, Cole,” he said, grinning.
“They can both go, as far as I’m concerned,” Henry said. “You’ll have to tough it out, though, Benton. I don’t like playing bass.”
“You heard him, you assholes. Cole here is gunning for you, and he’s a man of many skills. Watch your backs.”
“Not me. I don’t want to be a rock-and-roll star. I prefer to work for a living.” They all laughed, and Henry said, “So, uh…how is Dell doing, anyway? Rehab working out, I hope?”
The mood turned slightly somber, and they all glanced down at the floor. Finally, Smith shrugged and said, “Terry said the place looked pretty nice, and Dell told him he was actually going to try this time. Who the fuck knows.”
Benton sighed and nodded. Sailes snorted skeptically and muttered, “I think we all pretty much know, Steve.”
“Sorry,” Henry said. “I didn’t mean to—”
“Don’t worry about it,” Benton said. “It’s not your fault. You gotta understand, we’ve been on this ride a few times, man. Dell is…Dell.”
Henry cleared his throat. “Well, anyway—the new songs sound great.”
“The fucked-up hillbilly bastard sure knows how to write a goddamn song. Can’t take that away from him,” Smith said, smiling again. “It’s going to be the best thing we’ve ever done.”
The session went as smoothly as anyone could have hoped for, and Henry left the studio on a serious high. He wanted to get laid, but the thought of calling Richard to see if he wanted company left him restless. As soon as the idea of going to a bar occurred to him, he knew it was exactly what he was looking for. He rarely went out to bars alone, and rarely with the express purpose of finding sex. That night, he felt like a different person.
Henry’s usual haunt, the Westside Clubhouse, was a relatively laid-back place. Guys went there for the same reason they went to any other gay bar, but mainly because it was a place they could relax and be themselves. The drinks were generous, the bartenders were cute but not intimidating, and they all knew Henry. But that wasn’t the kind of place he was in the mood for. Instead, he went to the Hammer and Nail, which he’d heard about but hadn’t yet ventured into.
He stood in line outside the club while the bouncers checked everyone out at the door. While he waited, a couple of guys got turned away for not being fit enough, young enough, handsome enough, or for not fitting who-knew-what other criteria. Henry had been confident when he first queued up, but by the time he got to the front of the line, he was nervous. The tall, blond, muscular bouncer eyed him up and down and motioned him inside without a word, smacking him on the ass as he walked past. The whole process was fairly disgusting, and while Henry was opposed to the attitude in theory, he couldn’t deny that it felt good to know he passed muster.
Inside, the bar was dark and loud. At least half the guys were shirtless, and all of them were beautiful. He bought a gin and tonic and walked through the throngs of sweaty men. He’d need at least two more drinks before he’d be able to get on the dance floor, so he didn’t wander too far from the bar.
Henry turned around to see a sound technician at one of the studios where he regularly worked. “Hey, man,” he said, searching frantically for the man’s name.
“Pete, right, of course. I’m sorry. From Blue Door Studios, right?”
Pete nodded. “I didn’t know you were…” He motioned vaguely around the room.
“Yeah, well,” Henry said, smiling lamely and shrugging. “I don’t usually come here, though. It’s not exactly my scene, but I was in some kind of mood tonight. I had a good day.”
“Why? What happened?”
“Laid down some tracks with the Vulgar Details,” Henry said, striving for casual, as if it was the kind of thing that happened every day. “Great stuff.”
“Oh, cool. Was Terry Blackwood there? He’s so sexy.”
“Nope. No Blackwood, and no Dell, of course. He’s the reason I got hired.”
“Right, the drug thing,” Pete said. “Too bad you didn’t get to meet Blackwood though. I bet he’d think you’re cute.”
Henry rolled his eyes. “I have met him. He treated me like the hired help, which I was. And I think those rumors are all bullshit anyway. Just because he partied with Lou Reed or got a blow job from some drag queen—supposedly—doesn’t mean he’s into guys. I think he wants people to think he’s interesting, like Bowie, instead of a second-rate Mick Jagger.”
Henry gave him a sheepish grin. “I was unaware I had any opinion of him whatsoever until just that moment.”
“Well anyway, a boy can dream.”
Keelan Ellis is an author of romance and detective fiction, who is always seeking to expand her literary horizons. She is a lover of music and food, and has an intense love/hate relationship with politics. Her stories reflect her passions.
8/14 Drops of Ink
8/14 Hoards Jumble
8/14 Happily Ever Chapter
8/16 Erotica For All
8/17 Love Bytes Reviews
8/17 MM Good Book Reviews
8/18 Bayou Book Junkie