Thursday, June 30, 2011

QUEEN OF ENVIRONMENTAL CLUB by S.I. Decker

QUEEN OF ENVIRONMENTAL CLUB by S.I. Decker

Rosalee Tatiana is your typical high school junior...medium height, medium intelligence, and moderately popular. Nothing special and not a complete outcast. Just...typical. That's what she thinks anyway.

Rosalee has been striving to stand out, emerge from the masses, and find her day in the sun since her freshman year in high school. In search of this goal, she tried math club, leaving in disgrace on the tails of a bad case of number envy. Then she tried being the manager for the football team, but soon discovered she was averse to sweaty, stinky socks and towels. So, in desperation, she started a fashion club. Amazingly, her Farmer Dan overalls and tube top with rainbow hued high-tops didn't quite catch on. Who knew?

But all of that was behind her now. She had finally found a way to join the cool kids. She'd hit the mother lode of popularity.

She'd joined Environmental Club.

Unfortunately for Rosy, her involvement with EC has brought a new kind of challenge into her life. Rival factions of Earth fairies have taken her under their wing...so to speak...and some of them aren't too keen on her continuing to breathe. And the good ones...the ones who aren't trying to kill her...oh yeah, they just want to make her their Queen.

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Excerpt:

“My baby sister is a veritable sewer.” Cia informed me. “She’s got snot and drool constantly running out of her face and horrible, unmentionable stuff spewing from her other end every five minutes. We’d be doing the world a favor if we could figure out how to address some of that pollution.”

Obviously, Cia hadn’t taken well to the recently acquired knowledge, about fifteen months ago to be exact, that her parents were not only still having sex, but had, apparently through that most disgusting of parental activities, managed to finally spawn the little sister Cia had never wanted and refused to love.

While most girls enjoyed having a younger sibling to mold and protect, Cia had been far too happy with her solo princess role in the Plink castle. And, after fifteen years of sibling free bliss, she’d thought she was home free. But then her parents had apparently had too much to drink one night and decided to perform deviant acts together.

The results had been horrendous.

Now Cia had to grudgingly share her parents’ attention, sexual deviants though they apparently were…I mean, who has sex at the richly fermented age of thirty-eight. It’s just disgusting!

“I don’t think we can get rid of all the babies in the world, though the amount of CO2 they dispense is definitely a factor in the current Ozone layer problem.”

“Maybe we could just put them all in eco-friendly bubbles.”

I grinned at Cia as we reached our cars, sitting side by side at the furthest edge of the school parking lot as always. “Bubble babies? It’s worth some thought I guess.”

Cia opened her car door and threw her overstuffed book bag inside. Tossing her chin length, black bob, she widened her startling green eyes and grinned at me. “I’ll call you tonight and we’ll form our thesis.”

I nodded, thinking that at least our idea would be unique.

Cia honked as she pulled away and I waved. I climbed behind the wheel of my car. Before I turned the key I dug in my purse for my cell phone and turned it on. My parents, being seriously out of sync with the rest of society when it came to such necessities as cell phones, texting, and Internet surfing, made me keep my phone off during class hours under the mistaken belief that it would keep me more focused on my work.

Alas, they’d just forced me to use more prehistoric means of communication. Throwing message balls across the room, saying I had to go to the bathroom so I could find and talk to one of my friends in the library, and writing notes on the bathroom wall in siren red lipstick were effective in the long run, but caused more lost work time in my average day than a simple, “wht r u waring 2nit” would have ever caused.

The human parental unit was not the brightest bulb in the eco-friendly fluorescent light family. But they meant well. And they were good for handing out cash and baking gooey chocolate chip cookies during PMS moments.

I texted my Mom that I was going to stop at Target on the way home and hit send. Dropping my cell phone into the cup holder between the seats, I started my car.

When I looked up again there was someone standing in front of the car. I screamed and grabbed my throat with one hand…you know, your standard heroine in danger mannerism that did nothing to scare off the bad guy or, frankly, return your heart to your chest where it belonged.

It was him. The stupendously cute guy from Environmental Club. He just stood there, grinning at me.

Odd though this behavior was, I couldn’t help being drawn, moth like, to his sparkling smile and happy eyes. I opened my car door and stepped out, returning his smile. “Hi!”

His grin widened, a feat I wouldn’t have thought possible. “Hello.”
“Is there a problem?”

The twelve thousand watt smile dimmed slightly. “Problem?”

I twisted my lips, biting the side of my bottom lip, thinking. Could he really be this oblivious? “Did you need something from me?”

The smile slid completely away. “Need? I’m not sure. Why do you ask?”

Okay, this was getting surreal. “You’re standing there, staring at me. I just thought…you know…maybe you wanted to ask me something.”

He shrugged. “No. I’m just standing here.”

“Oh.” Alrighty then. “Okay.” I gave him a little wave, feeling stupid immediately. “It was nice meeting you.” Uber, uber stupid…I hadn’t met him, I’d just spoken to him, apparently for no reason.

He inclined his head, the smile sparkling from his face again. I started to lower myself back into my car but stopped halfway, pushing back out. I was unwilling to just leave it at my having made a fool of myself in front of a really cute guy. If I was gonna embarrass myself I’d do it up really big by pushing the issue.

He was still standing there staring at me, grinning.

“Why do I feel as if I’m missing a joke somewhere?”

He shoved his hands in his pockets and cocked his head. He wore his hair longer than the rest of the guys at school. It was thick and slightly curly. The sun sparked off the dark red strands. His shoulders were wide and his arms long.

His jeans were loose and his white tee-shirt tight. I’d already seen the back end of the black sneakers he wore. His wide, silver-gray eyes sparkled prettily and his lips were full and kissable. His jaw was square and carried the slight shadow of a beard. I figured he was about eighteen.

I licked my lips, wondering if he could see the zit on my nose from where he stood.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

SAVOR THE DANGER by Lori Foster

SAVOR THE DANGER by Lori Foster

Men Who Walk The Edge Of Honor Book Three

The one woman he couldn't have was the only woman he desired...

She may be aloof, and more pretty than gorgeous, but Alani Rivers is the kind of woman a hot-blooded mercenary can't forget, no matter how hard he tries. So when Jackson Savor wakes up next to the naked, sleeping beauty - with no memory of what happened - he knows he's been drugged...even if Alani doesn't.

After she was kidnapped, Alani swore she'd never trust another man again. Still, something about this strong, sexy hero with the tender touch makes her want to believe him. As Jackson hunts downs a mysterious intruder, he swears he'll move heaven and earth to keep Alani safe. But what really happened that night? And will the truth bring them closer than they ever thought possible - or put Alani squarely in harm's way again?

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Excerpt:

A little slack-jawed, Alani watched as Jackson meandered down the hall and disappeared into her home office. His long-legged, rangy walk set her heart to tripping; the thought of him going through her personal files slowed it again.

She snapped her mouth shut.

Had that parting shot of his been mockery, or a sincere statement reflecting what they’d shared, the bond they’d forged last night?

A bond that only she could remember.

Groaning, she put her hands over her face and slumped into her bedroom. She quietly closed the door and dropped back against it.

Being honest with herself, she had to admit that deep inside, she’d been expecting – maybe even hoping – that he’d press the issue of intimacy. He wanted her again. He’d been more than open and upfront about that.

But instead, he chose to honor her wishes, the wishes she knew to be more responsible. More reasonable.

It would be a very long night.

Taking her time, Alani freshened up, tidying her hair, brushing her teeth, giving her make-up a boost. With nothing more to do, she girded herself for Jackson’s impact, both emotional and physical, and went in search of him.

She opened her bedroom door and found him right there in the hallway, leaning on the wall, relaxed, waiting for her.

Before she could apologize for making him wait, he straightened.

“Ready?”

“Yes.”

She stepped out, and his warm palm curved to the small of her back.

Alani felt the touch everywhere. But then, even if he hadn’t touched her, she’d have been acutely aware of him beside her. When Jackson was in a room, he occupied everything, the space, the air, the attention.

Knowing they were alone, with the bedrooms at their backs, quickened her breath.

“I parked down around the corner.”

Surprise slowed her steps, but since Jackson kept walking, she did too. It hadn’t occurred to her that his car was missing. If she’d seen it on the street in front of her house or in her driveway, she’d have been forewarned of his visit.

And maybe she would have avoided him.

“You didn’t want me to know you were here?”

“I didn’t want anyone else to know.” His hand slid to her hip, nudged her a little closer to him. “In case I was followed, no way did I want to lead anyone to you.”

Another reminder of the danger they might be in. “Well, you should bring your car up to my driveway now.”

“Maybe later.” He stopped at the entrance to her small living room, where so much drama had already gone down. “For now, how about we take your car?”

“All right.” She didn’t mind that. With all he’d been through, it’d probably be better if he wasn’t driving. Sure, he had to be macho and swear he felt no side-effects from being drugged, but how could that be? If she took cold medicine, it wiped her out, and he’d been given a drug so heavy-duty that it had obliterated his memory.

In the kitchen, she found her purse, keys, and Jackson’s hat. She rejoined him in the foyer.

He took the hat from her, slid it onto his head, and then held out a hand.

One brow raised, Alani looked at him in question.

“Keys?” he prompted.

She slid her purse strap over her shoulder. “That’s okay. I’ll drive.”

A priceless expression fell over his face.

“Oh please.” Alani had to laugh. “It’s not like I asked to carry your gun.”

Heartfelt, he tipped back his hat and scoffed. “I’d say no to that, too.” He scrutinized her. “But you do know how to shoot, don’t you?”

“I know enough.” And after her kidnapping to Tijuana, she’d done plenty of practicing to ensure she could handle a weapon.

He reached for her purse. “You carrying?”

“No!” Alani snatched the bag away. “Of course not.”

Considering that, Jackson declared, “We’ll get you a piece. You shouldn’t be out and about without it.” He gave her small designer purse a look of dislike. “You’ll need to carry something bigger, though.”

She did not want to be armed. “You’re here, so what do I need with a gun? Aren’t you protection enough?”

He went so still, it almost made her laugh again. Until he said, “You suggesting I should stick around 24/7?”

“What?” A rush of heat hit her cheeks. “No, of course I wasn’t.”

Keeping her caught in his gaze for far too long, he studied her, and finally smiled. “Yeah, I’m protection enough. I guess as long as you’re with me, you don’t need anything else.” He snatched the keys out of her lax hand. “Come on. Let’s get out of here….”

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Monday, June 27, 2011

ANOTHER CHANCE by Rebecca Royce

ANOTHER CHANCE by Rebecca Royce

Patrick O'Callaghan is a vampire grappling with the fate that has been laid out for him. Turned into a vampire during World War II, he lived for many years as a crazed monster searching only for blood and dishing out death. That is until he is approached to join a unique unit of the United States military, a special operations division made up of vampires looking for a second chance, for a way to redeem the horrors they have caused by serving God and Country. The only catch? He had to give up human blood.

Jennifer DeMarco is a hard-nosed reporter and the daughter of an Admiral in the United States Navy. When she goes missing, kidnapped by terrorists she hoped to interview, Patrick's unit is sent out to rescue her and then remove her memory of the events, making it like they never happened.

Things go awry when Patrick responds sexually to Jennifer, something that hasn't happened since he was made a vampire. New truths are unveiled to Patrick-things he never thought he either could or should have as a creature of the undead, and Jennifer's life continues to be in danger.

When disaster strikes, the two will discover that there are second chances if only you're willing to take them.

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~Excerpt~


Jennifer had cried herself nearly asleep, which was the absolute last thing she’d wanted to do. Of course it didn’t really matter. It might actually be better to be unconscious when the time came for her to be raped and murdered. Oh God, why hadn’t she just listened to her father and stuck to a desk job? Why did she have to prove something to everyone by becoming a hardnosed investigative reporter? Ha. She actually laughed. She wasn’t acting at all hardnosed at the moment.

Jerking back, she jumped when she thought she saw something out of the corner of her eye. Straining to turn around, she decided she had to be crazy. The room was pitch black. There was no way she could see anything moving around. Even if there was something in there with her, it was most likely something she wouldn’t want to see, like a rat.

She grimaced at the thought. There was nothing she hated more than rodents, which was funny considering that she was about to be beheaded with the video posted on the Internet for her family to watch. In the world she lived in, there should be a lot more to dislike than one small rodent.

“Don’t move.” A voice spoke from behind her, and she started before she could help herself. No one could have gotten in here. Was she hallucinating?

“I’m real and, no, I can’t read minds. People tend to think they’re hallucinating when I appear.”

Jennifer couldn’t be sure, but she thought she heard amusement in the stranger’s voice. Truthfully, that was sort of comforting in an odd way. If he could be funny then maybe her straits were not as dire as she’d feared. That was, of course, assuming that he was actually there to rescue her, which he had not said.

“I’m going to take off this gag and you are still not going to make any noise, do you understand me, J.L.?”

He’d called her J.L. For some reason that didn’t sit well with her. Usually, she preferred it. Jennifer was the name her parents had given her. J.L. she had invented herself. However, from this man it didn’t sound right. Since she couldn’t see him, all she had to go by was the intonations and accent on his carefully chosen words.

There was no question, he had a thick Brooklyn accent. It couldn’t be mistaken, and she hadn’t heard anything like it in years. Everyone she knew spent so much time trying to hide their origins, to sound so completely unidentifiable in order to gain respectability. It had been a long time since she’d heard such a completely unabashed representation of where someone was from.

She didn’t know a thing about him and already she was anxious to get a look at this person whose very presence in the room intrigued and terrified her.

True to his word, he sliced the gag from her mouth. Her tongue felt heavy and she was horrified to hear herself pant. She’d had no idea she was in such bad shape.

“I’m going to undo your wrists and your ankles. As soon as I have, you’re going to wrap your arms around my neck. Do you understand? Nod, if you do.”

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

BOARD RESOLUTION by Joey W. Hill

BOARD RESOLUTION by Joey W. Hill

Savannah was groomed from birth to take the reins of her father’s manufacturing empire. Her emotional armor is as tough as the steel used in her factories, and nobody is allowed past it.

Business partner Matt realizes that the key to entry is to command her submission. Calling on the unique sensual talents of his four-man management team, he engineers an aggressive and erotic takeover, determined to rescue the woman he loves from the steel cage she’s manufactured around her heart.

Masked and lost to the sensations the team arouses in her, Savannah is theirs, at least for this one night.

Publisher’s Note: Originally published in the Behind the Mask anthology.

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By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18, it is necessary to exit this site.

An Excerpt From: BOARD RESOLUTION

Copyright © JOEY W. HILL, 2005

All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

Chapter One



Savannah put down her briefcase in the immaculate powder room of Kensington & Associates and straightened before the mirror. When meeting with piranhas, it was important to look appetizing but not attainable. She wanted the hunger to be there, but restrained, her opponents recognizing the attractive armor for what it was. A mask for a predator as scary as themselves.

A necessary step when the piranhas were Matthew Lord Kensington and his management team, and the subject of the meeting had yet to be disclosed. He’d simply issued an invitation to discuss a business opportunity over drinks at his office on Friday night. Knowing Matt, that meant glasses of water evenly spaced around the formal conference room table.

She checked her makeup, the arrangement of her streaked blonde hair, the smooth fit of her mid-thigh skirt and the blazer over it. While her father hadn’t believed in using blatant sex to close a deal, he’d had no problem with strategically using the arsenal one had at hand, and that included one’s looks or charm. She had been blessed with an abundance of the former and he’d encouraged her to use it, though always sparingly.

Geoffrey Tennyson’s Rule Twelve: People keep class and elegance around them. Trash gets thrown away after it serves its purpose. The lace of her bra was faintly visible through her white silk blouse if one looked hard enough, and she’d enjoy seeing Matt strain his eyes.

Their negotiations had always been cordial and lucrative, but she’d seen the flare in his gaze when he thought he’d pressed an advantage on her, the tightening of his sensual lips when she’d proved him wrong. She knew he loved it, how they sparred at a table and never could come away claiming anything other than a mutual victory. He craved that, she suspected, hungered to take something from her she wasn’t willing to give. It made things flutter inside her to play the game, to fence and win a draw. Often she went home aching for something nameless, something she was afraid was the desire for him to outsmart her just once, to make her surrender.

If she was totally honest, her interactions with Matt were as close to having sex as she ever got.

Savannah shook herself out of the odd direction of her thoughts, and was appalled to find the crotch of her panties damp. Appalled, but not surprised. He might be surprised though, if he knew how often she’d curled into a fetal ball between her expensive sheets, her thighs squeezed together as she thought of that hard body between her legs, pounding into her, his hands clamped on her wrists, mouth ravaging her neck.

Perhaps it was the time of night making her think this way. A meeting at eight in the evening on a Friday turned her mind to frivolous thoughts, though she didn’t know why. It wasn’t as if she’d be doing frivolous things. While she might have planned an outing with a carefully chosen escort to a gallery showing or movie premiere, that would have been to further the interests of Tennyson Industries. Otherwise, she’d have been home, reviewing the upcoming week’s schedule and analyzing her recent decisions for flaws or holes.

Another of the twelve rules her father had drilled into her to guide every action and reaction. They’d been posted on her bedroom wall like the Ten Commandments, ever since she was old enough to read. Tennyson Rule Eight: A good captain never stops going over every inch of the ship. Every once in a long while she might give herself a Friday night off to watch a movie she’d rented. She’d view it from the couch in her father’s study…her study, now that he was gone.

This might have been such a night. It had been a hard week and she was feeling a bit…well, the armor was a little thin.

Even her disciplined soul wasn’t immune to the flood of anticipation that infused this Friday night with the sense of possibilities. The whole weekend stretched ahead like an adventure.

Mardi Gras had happened this week, and this corporate tower was still feeling the powerful vibrations from the celebration as much as the streets of New Orleans. Several strands of colorful beads and a feathered mask were placed as decoration on the vanity counter. It always bemused her why her father chose to keep their corporate headquarters here, versus New York or Chicago, but whenever she asked, he’d only said that New Orleans was a place where anything was possible. He’d met her mother here, and she suspected the truth was to be found in that. She had died shortly after Savannah was born, of a virulent cancer that had been discovered while she was pregnant. Refusing treatment to protect her unborn child, Portia Tennyson had died nearly six months after the birth of her daughter. She left Savannah a locket containing a curl of her hair and a tiny folded piece of paper, with the scent of lavender and a short message.

You were worth it.

Her father had never liked her wearing the necklace, so until his death she kept it in her bedside table.

She took a deep breath, closing her eyes. Yes, a wise captain would have chosen tonight to stay on the ship, fight the battle Monday when there were fewer titillating portents in the air. The wild desires and dreams that Mardi Gras madness stirred up like a fairy dust storm could impair her judgment seriously. Especially with this particular man.

Regardless, she’d accepted the invitation and chosen to come alone. She always negotiated with Matt and his Intimidation Team by herself, as if underscoring that she had no fear of any of them. Having spent most of her teen years apprenticing in Tennyson’s corporate and manufacturing offices, she had no apprehensions about discussing any aspect of the business on her own. She’d been accepted a year early to a prestigious Ivy League school, finished the coursework and passed the bar a year before her classmates. Serving the four subsequent years as a trial lawyer with a ruthlessly aggressive Washington firm her father had chosen had seasoned her enough to serve as his CFO. She’d had five years at his side in that capacity before he’d died, leaving her a relatively young but extremely capable CEO of a Fortune 500 company whose wealth and power was based in the male-dominated world of steel manufacturing.

Plus, if the desolate truth was known, she’d become attached to working with Matt’s team on their many mutual interests. She wanted to keep them to herself. As though she’d adopted them as her family. Or not so much like a family as something more, something even stranger.

She choked on a laugh. She was definitely off her game tonight. Maybe Matt knew that Friday night, when the empty weekend yawned before her, was her most vulnerable time. The bastard seemed to know everything else. Their buildings, corporate high-rises, were just across the street from one another, and she wouldn’t put it past him to have planted spies in her ranks.

Well, it was her challenge to show him he wasn’t as smart as he thought he was. Then she could fill her weekend with victorious gloating.

Savannah gave herself one last appraising look. The jacket of the pale tan suit followed the shallow curve of her back, nipping in at the waist to flare out in two layers, like a modest bustle of an old-fashioned Victorian dress. The snug linen skirt revealed a teasing picture of the back of her thigh with the slit in back. Modest and professional, even to the faint whiff of perfume, the outfit was perfectly appropriate for a woman to be wearing after five in the evening. She’d left her hair clipped up on her head, but had loosened a few tendrils, giving her a softer look. She wanted to tease.

“Boys, you’re goners,” she decided, but she knew there was only one man who mattered.

She clipped down the hall in her slender heels, the echo loud in the quiet building. Other evidence of the festivities that had occurred earlier in the week caught her attention as she passed open office doors. Sparkling beads hanging on doorknobs or left across a desktop. The inexpensive plastic masks.

The security guard had indicated they were waiting for her on the top floor. When she rounded the corner and saw the conference room door open, she had to suppress a smile. While there were no water glasses on the table, a crystal pitcher and a tray of tumblers were within easy reach on a side credenza.

Then her attention flickered to the man sitting at the head of the table, and her amusement was swept away by something entirely different.

Matt Kensington was a powerful man on Wall Street, even from the distance of New Orleans. But what made him even more potent was that he was a physically dominating man. Over six feet tall, he had dark eyes, raven hair and a swarthy Italian complexion provided by his mother. However, his father’s Texas roots ensured he had none of the prettiness of Italian men that could suggest weakness. Just all of their sexual charisma.

Her blood hammered harder in her arteries when she saw he was alone, not flanked by his usual four-man management team. Though, regardless of who was in attendance, Matt always overwhelmed a room with his presence. Or maybe he just overwhelmed her.

Tennyson’s Rule Two: Always be brutally honest with yourself. Otherwise, you won’t know the difference between the truth and a lie from anyone else.

Every detail of Matt spoke of power and discipline. From his charcoal gray suit that fit his broad shoulders to perfection, to the white line of his cuffs and the gleam of his Yale class ring. Even his manicured nails in no way diminished the capable strength evident in those hands. His bent knee, visible over the edge of the table, hinted he had his foot braced on a leg of the table so he could lean his chair back. The pose was casual. Disarmingly so. She couldn’t help it that her gaze strayed over the column of his thigh.

He rose as he always did, an act of Southern courtesy she’d teased him about with appropriate feminist acidity. He did it for all women, but somehow the way he did it for her, with his gaze locked on hers as he rose, always set butterflies in her stomach into a tailspin. He didn’t smile, those firm lips and aristocratic nose an inspiration for a sculptor trying to depict a warrior king.

It was an apt comparison. The elegance of the board room was a faƧade. Strip it away, make it the walls of a tent, then prop armor, shields and swords against the wall, and its nature would not change. It was the domain of a conqueror, and every time she came here, she felt it. His desire to claim, control, invade. He’d managed the last, for he’d captivated her mind, but she could accept that.

Tennyson Rule Three: Accept your weaknesses and, if you can’t fix them, compensate for them.

Cleopatra had been no different. She always knew she walked the knife edge between holding the reins and being the spoils of war. Savannah surmised that the Egyptian monarch had kept to the upper side of the knife by being queen first and woman second. If she’d ever forgotten that, had let her woman’s desires completely take her over, her allure to a man of power like Marc Anthony and Caesar would have been fleeting, a piece of candy consumed and forgotten.

Savannah ignored the twist of pain and fatigue such a thought gave her. An emotional reaction, and one she wouldn’t indulge. Men like Matt sought the powerful woman, but a woman wanted a man with whom she could be just a woman occasionally. The problem was that Savannah only wanted a man like Matt. The chicken and egg dilemma of human nature.

She gave a mental shrug, set her briefcase on the table. “Where are your child prodigies, Matthew?”

His wunderkind, they were called. Lucas. Jon. Ben. Peter. The young, hungry men who supported him in the world of manufacturing, now a very dynamic area since technology changed the production playing field almost on a daily basis. They were all attractive twenty- and thirty-somethings who worked hard in the office and played hard in the gym. She wondered if, like a wolf pack, they showered and slept together, and was instantly amused and aroused by the visuals conjured by the thought.

Yes, Savannah, you’re definitely in a strange mood tonight.

Matt had yet to speak, and there was something in his eyes. Something similar to what she’d recognized there before. But tonight it was more direct. Unleashed. For a despicably weak moment, she was glad the length of the table was between them.

Okay, Savannah, enough daydreaming. Time to get a grip or he is going to eat you alive.

And that was entirely the wrong thought, because it summoned a flood of images so powerful they shuddered through her body. She closed her hands on the briefcase to cover the reaction, as if it were a shield she could use against his overpowering attraction.

“You call me Matthew just to irritate me.”

“Would you prefer Mr. Kensington? Or perhaps Lord Kensington?” She added the last in a saccharine tone.

It was a standing joke in the corporate circles, the use of his middle name, bandied about equally as an admiring quip or a bitter insult.

He did not laugh. In fact, he seemed to consider the notion, then his gaze centered on her in a way it had never done before. Perusing her in detail, his attention moved from her face to her throat, pausing over the frantically beating pulse, before continuing down to her breasts, the indentation of her waist, the flare of her hip, just visible to the right of the briefcase. She suppressed the urge to shift out of view.

“If you like,” he said at last. His grin was quick and unexpected. Feral. Pure sex. And it made her focus flounder in a wash of heat. “But I think I prefer Master, or my lord, if you’re using it.”

She blinked. “I’m sure you would.”

“While we’re on the subject, your name is an interesting one.” He seated his hip on an edge of the table. The way he was looking at her across the dimly lit room made her feel the table was not that much of a barrier after all, and that the protection of her briefcase was laughable at best.

“It doesn’t suggest a hard-edged business woman, someone able to shrivel a man’s testicles with a glance, though I have seen you do that. Almost as often as I’ve seen you arouse my men with the simple scent of your perfume, or a glimpse of those killer legs. Particularly when you lean back and cross them so modestly, and you show just the hint of the lace top of your stocking before it’s gone, like a mirage to a man dying of thirst.”

Savannah stayed stock-still, her fingers gripping the handle of her case. “Are you making a point, Matthew, or have you lost your mind?”

“We’re discussing names, I believe, and my point is that a name very much reflects who a person is, deep inside. Savannah suggests a soft, giving woman. When I look at you, Savannah…” He paused, lingering over the name, making a flush rise on her neck. “…I see you waking up in my bed, the cotton sheets caught between your calves, that soft, luscious body molded by a satin sheath with spaghetti straps. One of those straps is falling off the shoulder, so your breast is almost completely exposed, though just not quite. And when I come to you, touch you, make you smile, all that fine, beautiful hair is rumpled and framing your face…”

His gaze flickered over the loosened tendrils that she suddenly wished she had not drawn free of her usually impeccable twist.

She pulled the briefcase off the table, a jerk of motion so he wouldn’t see that her hand was shaking. Men did not affect her that way. “I don’t know what this is, Matthew, but it’s not a business meeting. I’m leaving.”

“Sit. Down.”

The snap of his voice caused her to jump, which made her angry, frosted her voice. “I beg your pardon?”

He straightened off the table, one lithe, quick movement, but his steps toward her were measured, the intent but slow paces of a wolf stalking prey. Or in his case, a shark, those dark glittering eyes promising no mercy.

“You heard me. Sit your pretty ass down, now, or I’ll wear it out so you can’t sit for a week.”

Shock gripped her, both at the words and at the serious intent in his eyes, which told her he very likely meant the astounding thing he had just said. She should be giving him a disdainful look, turning and making her exit, but she couldn’t make her feet move. As if his words were a lightning bolt that had immobilized her in a crackle of powerful current that charged her entire body, all the cells vibrated with apprehension and something else, something rising in her, responding to him and his ridiculous words.

He took another step toward her. Then another. “You drive a man to distraction. Not just the sneaky bit of leg, but that drape of neckline revealing a tiny cup of lace just barely holding your breast in when you lean forward to make a point. The way you touch your hair just behind your ear, lightly, or moisten your lips when you talk.”

“Stop it,” she whispered. “Stop.”

But he didn’t. Not his forward movement or his words. “That’s the thing. You’re teasing my men, but you’re challenging me. From the first moment we met, you’ve known you were mine. Every negotiation has been a dare, a taunt. You want me to prove I’ve got what it takes to make you submit, claim what’s been mine all along.”

Why was her pulse pounding like she was hearing a terrible truth instead of the ravings of a lunatic?

“You’re a tough nut to crack, aren’t you, little girl?” He was almost around the table, and still she couldn’t move. His footfalls were silent, hushed in the carpet.

“Don’t call me that.”

“Oh, that’s right.” He nodded, dark brows drawing down like the shadow of a hawk’s wings. “You’re not a little girl. You’ve never been a little girl. Groomed from birth to take the reins of your father’s empire. Daddy’s closer all your adult life, and then you stepped right into his shoes when he died. You’ve never allowed yourself to be vulnerable, never allowed yourself to be a woman, never daring to risk it. You’ve become so good at it you don’t even know you have a warm, wet, soft pussy, aching for a cock. My cock.

“Tell me, little girl. What would you do right now if I turned you over my knee and gave you a spanking?”

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DEMON'S KISS by Marie Treanor

DEMON'S KISS by Marie Treanor


Charlotte's been good too long. Now only a demon will satisfy her.

Charlotte is a reformed bad girl, who releases her inner demons through art. But her talent and her disastrous decision to marry a "good" man have attracted powerful interference. When her painting comes to life and her own sexy demon invites her into the orgy she created on canvas, she realizes she can't deny her identity or her desires any longer.

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Charlotte slammed her front door. She hurled her bag across the narrow hall and threw her jacket on top of the heap before striding through the tiny flat like a caged animal.

Trying to break up with someone who believed you were too stupid to know your own mind was infuriating. The old familiar demons were bursting out. She wanted to scream with rage and frustration, smash things, slap James' smug, patronizing face. She wanted to drink to excess and party the night away.

The very idea opened the floodgates of lust. Oh yes, sleazy party before screwing some hot stranger senseless.

Charlotte kicked the kitchen doorframe hard enough to chip the paint and grabbed the kettle, banging it on the counter to check for enough water, then smacking the switch to on.

No, she wouldn't let James do that to her. She wasn't going back there. But the truth was, it didn't matter how good a man James was, she wasn't sure enough of her own feelings anymore. She couldn't marry him.

Charlotte grabbed up her coffee, feeling it slop over her hand, but she ignored the pain as she marched out of the kitchen-living room and across to her small, cluttered bedroom. The painting took up most of one wall and it was ugly, if less disturbing, with its back to the room. Charlotte set down her coffee and turned the canvas around. Tonight, she needed desperately to paint the demons away. It didn't matter that she'd almost run out of canvas, she'd just keep painting over it.

She dragged the old wooden stool to her with one foot and reached for her brushes. She dived straight for the deep, sinful scarlet, lifted her red-dripping brush, and paused as she gazed upon her vision of hell. It was no inferno of agony and suffering; it was, simply, an orgy of pleasure.

In bright, vivid colors, she'd painted food that made your mouth water, goblets decorated with handsome little devils, full of rich, dark red wine. Naked bodies entwined in dance or sex littered the floor and the walls of her hell. Some wore the vacant smiles of chemical or alcohol-induced ecstasy, others expressions of fevered lust or sensual, cat-like satisfaction. One, bending over his tied lover, held a raised whip. A few were eating and drinking off the bodies of others. Many were joined in a tangle of limbs and mouths.

Charlotte couldn't help admiring what she'd done. She'd brought a vital, detailed vision to life, and boy did it provoke a reaction. As usual, she let herself gaze last on the central figure, like a reward.

Tall and splendid in his nakedness, he stood almost in the center of the picture, accepting as his due the besotted, beautiful women who clung to his legs. His luminous dark eyes gazed outward at Charlotte, his black, sloping eyebrows raised, his parted lips revealing the beginnings of a smile -- in all, an expression of such intense, knowing lust on his handsome face that Charlotte's long-celibate body responded in spite of herself. From his totally bald head, down his broad muscled shoulders and chest to his lean, suggestive hips and long, strong thighs, he was the personification of her own sexual need.

Her lust-demon.

His erection, mouth-wateringly long and proud, was thrust forward between the avid gazes of the kneeling women who caressed his thighs. Charlotte had begun painting him as James, to ease the need that couldn't be assuaged, and so he was white and handsome. The James she wanted him to be, all muscle and power and desire for her, only for her. But that wasn't really James and over the weeks, her lust-demon had changed. She no longer even thought of him as James, just the personification of her own wicked, long-denied desires.

He was all her demons rolled into one. Uncontrolled hedonism, sexuality, beauty. She wanted it all. And he was almost perfect.

She shifted on her stool as the wetness of desire flooded between her legs. Familiar heat spread outward, churning her, tingling every nerve. When she slowly lowered the red brush and reached instead for the white flesh-tones she'd already mixed, her pebbled nipples brushed achingly against the fabric of her shirt.

"Oh yes, you're mine," she whispered. "All mine. And I can make you do whatever I want..."

Awareness thrummed through her as she worked -- awareness that her own picture should not be the most powerful lust-object in her life; awareness of her own body as much as that of the demon she'd created. She admired the graceful flexibility of her slender wrist as she worked the brush; she gloried in every wriggle, every sensual movement of her hot, wicked body and the excited tingling of her pussy.

When she'd finished to her satisfaction, she stood up to admire her work, and smiled. Now it was perfect. Her beautiful, sexy demon wasn't just looking at her. He was reaching out for her, commanding her.

She gazed straight into his warm, knowing eyes, letting them heat her further. It was as close to sex as she was likely to get now she'd dumped James before the wedding. But she could imagine. Slowly, she cleaned her hands on the rag from the table and let it drop to the floor. She thought back to her wild student days, giving life and reality to the orgy she'd created on the canvas.

But she'd never had a lover like her beautiful demon. Or at least, if she had, she couldn't remember him. And one would remember him. He had strong features -- those sloping eyebrows, a long, thin nose, broad yet fine cheekbones and full, sensual lips that made her ache to feel them on her mouth, her skin... everywhere.

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

DAY AND KNIGHT by Michele L. Levigne

DAY AND KNIGHT by Michele L. Levigne

~A Fae daycare teacher, and an exterminator under a family curse need each other more than they can guess when magic goes wonky.~

All's Fae in Love and Chocolate #1

Glori loved working with children--and not just because children produced magic that fed her own Fae magic. But when her magic started going wonky and all her maintenance spells for the daycare started working backwards, not even her Fae administrator could fix what was wrong.

Lance Knight faced a lonely future, thanks to a family curse that turned him into a mouse at the dark of the moon. Lonely, except for the ghosts of all his angry, misogynistic male ancestors. And he would join them someday, if he didn't find a woman to love him despite the curse.

He needed the kiss of a Faerie princess to break the spell. When he got called to Glori's daycare center to deal with an unbelievable bug problem, and realized she was a Fae, he thought his problems were solved.

Glori hated telling Lance that the Fae didn't have hereditary royalty anymore, but she promised she would try to find him a solution while they worked together to solve her problem. Things got sticky when she realized that she was going through the Fae equivalent of puberty, and Lance might just be the answer to her problem. If only his nasty, ghostly relatives wouldn't keep getting in the way.

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EXCERPT:

"Ah... If you'll come inside, maybe we can get started?" she managed to say in a reasonable tone of voice. Somehow, Glori slid her hand free of his grip and took a step backwards. She pulled the gate open and gestured for him to walk down the yellow brick walkway to the front door.

"Are you free for dinner, ma'am?"

"Mr. Knight--"

"Call me Lance." He offered up a grin that showed off nice, white teeth and a dimple in his left cheek.

"You might not be free. The bugs could keep you very busy." She turned her back on him in desperation. If she looked into his big cobalt blue eyes for a few seconds longer, they both might be frozen there until morning. That wouldn't look good for her business, would it?

"No bug ever kept me that busy," he mumbled, behind her.

Glori closed her eyes as she gripped the door and spelled the lock open. She took a deep breath and braced herself to bolster the magic, altering it just enough to let them in without letting the bugs out. The door swung open. Every surface in the main room was...moving.

How could this have happened to her? It had never happened before, in all the years since she bought the building. How could so many bugs have showed up in just one weekend? It wasn't as if her children were messy. No more messy than any ordinary children. Just a few buckets of paint and modeling clay, two spilled glasses of juice, maybe a cup of cookie crumbs spread over a playroom thirty feet by thirty feet. Glori thought about it again, even knowing that considering her problem would create another headache--and she was totally out of chocolate.

No, the only explanation she could come up with was that her magic had decided to take a vacation without warning. And whatever "temporary" magic had come to take its place was working totally backwards!

Lance took one look, braced his arms on the doorframe, and went pale.

"We're gonna need a bigger boat."

The music whispering through the back of his mind, in time with his racing heart, didn't sound like the theme music from Jaws. But it came close.

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COLD HANDS, WARM HEART by Vincent Diamond

COLD HANDS, WARM HEART by Vincent Diamond

When Byron Reese infiltrated a big cat refuge in north Florida, he knew undercover work wasn't all fun and games. But now the case is over, the arrests have been made, and yet ...

And yet he's still here at the refuge, working with Kendall, sleeping with Kendall, and maybe, just maybe, falling for Kendall.

This story appears in the author's print collection, Rough Cut.

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EXCERPT:
Note: may contain sexually explicit scenes of a homoerotic nature.



Byron stripped off his gloves and stepped over to the laundry area, stacked with dirty blankets and towels, rank with the odor of various cats’ scent markings. Christmas week had been traditionally cold and they’d put out linens for the animals. Now, in a reversal common to Florida winter weather, the temperature was back to tropical and blankets weren’t needed. Byron grabbed a clean towel from the refuge dryer.

Kendall bent low over the sink, running his soapy hands over his shoulders and upper back. The water sluiced off his caramel-colored skin, some into the sink, some onto the tile floor. Byron enjoyed the show: Kendall’s thick chest and sculpted arms, the way his waist narrowed into his khakis, the absurdly cute outie belly button. He rinsed off and Byron scrubbed the towel over Kendall’s face and shoulders, then leaned in for a quick kiss.

I like taking care of him, I really do.

Kendall gazed up at Byron, brown eyes soft, the look that said, “Come here and fuck me, big boy,” the look that made Byron’s knees tremble even after four months together.

They’d met when the Wildlife and Game Commission had sent Byron in to investigate the refuge. WGC suspected Kendall, the owner, and Ricardo Lopez, a silent partner, were big game dealers, selling endangered and protected species to the canned “hunt” farms where anyone with the cash could shoot a lion, a tiger or a leopard. They were half-right: Ricardo had been dealing out the leopards, lions, tigers, and other big cats. Kendall merely ran the refuge without being involved or even aware of the criminal operations. When Ricardo threatened them both with a shotgun, Byron shot him -- the first time he’d ever used his gun on the job. Ricardo’s death had shaken him -- badly -- and Kendall’s injury during the op bothered him as much. Byron stayed on after, taking a desk duty job up in Tallahassee, commuting the two-hour trip on Friday and Sunday nights, so he could spend weekends in Kendall’s arms -- and bed.

Now, Kendall leaned back against the sink, arms and chest out, posing.

“You want winter? I’ll give you winter.” Byron scooped up some cold water from the rinse water sink and flicked it Kendall’s way.

“Anything. As long as it’s cold!”

“Babe, if I could change the weather for you, I would,” Byron whispered. He had to push the words past a knot in his throat, unexpected. It jarred him. His heart sped up. “Winter? Step right this way.”

He grabbed Kendall’s hand and dragged him to the walk-in freezer. Two bare bulbs sent a dim light in the small space. Boxes of meat stamped “not for human consumption” were stacked on utility shelving; the flesh showing through the carry holes was dyed blue. A pallet in one corner held five gallon buckets of chicken parts. A row of bloodsicles gleamed with red-brown ice crystals. The door thunked shut behind them, and air filled with frosty condensation as their breath spiraled up to the lights.

Kendall grinned and shook his head. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“You ever made love in the snow?”

“I’m a Florida boy. It’s you Yankees who hobnob in the cold.”

“Hobnob, that’s an interesting term for it.” Byron let his gaze drop to Kendall’s shorts. The outline of Kendall’s thick cock pressed against the khaki fabric. “Lose those.”


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Friday, June 24, 2011

OTHER LANDS by Steve Nugent

OTHER LANDS by Steve Nugent

Jack Mitchell is troubled by dark memories of his past, unable to accept his own sexuality. Skeptical of help offered through religion and psychology, he rejects the love of his partner, Peter, and scorns any attempts to alter his situation.

Then he returns to the country where he grew up, the source of his haunting troubles, where an unexpected encounter points him toward a resolution.

This story appears in the author's print collection, ATTRACTIONS.

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EXCERPT:
Note: may contain sexually explicit scenes of a homoerotic nature.



Jack moved Peter’s arm away from his knee, stood up and walked to the window.

“Fuck it, Peter, I’m not here to be helped by you. You make me feel as if I’m one of your maladjusted students who are doing badly at school. I don’t want to be dependent on you, or anyone for that matter. I know I should have been more open with you, but I want to do it in my own time. I thought that going there would help. And now I know I’m just as closed up and pissed off as ever.”

“I can see that, and I’m getting the brunt of it.”

“Sometimes you just seem like fucking perfect, Peter.”

“And not perfect enough for you, obviously.”

“What do you want of me? You took me as I am now. You knew how screwed up I was when we met. I never hid anything from you. Now it’s like you’ve got some missionary zeal to convert me -- to what? To who? To someone you want me to be?”

“You’ve got it all wrong. I just want you to be a happy guy, regardless of who you are.”

“Very noble, Peter. Selfless and saintly.”

“Now you’re trying your own brand of sarcasm to get to me. At times I don’t think you want this relationship, and you just want to find a way out of it. You think that if you get me pissed off enough with you, maybe I’ll surrender you up. You also knew what I wanted when we met. I wanted to get close to you. I needed a guy who would give me that. I’m not succeeding.”

“Obviously not. I wonder why you keep on trying.”

“I keep hoping that as long as you keep trying to deal with your demons, we’ll make it. I can’t fight them; I don’t even know what they are. I just hope that you won’t give up.”

“So now you don’t believe I finish what I start?”

“That’s not fair. No, I don’t believe that. I’m just hoping you can see it through once and for all. I keep hoping we may reach a point where our relationship can really work. But I’m beginning to wonder if that’s ever going to happen.”

“So all this is just hard on you.”

“I’m not saying that. I don’t think of it in that way.”

Outside, a pigeon was building a nest on a neighbour’s balcony. Jack envied its solitude, its single-mindedness. Will it be left there in peace?

Jack leaned his forehead against the glass. “I don’t know where all this leads, or even what I want.”

“You will know when you get there. Your heart will tell you.”

“Straight from the pages of Boy’s Own Psychology,” he said, turning to look at Peter. “What’s in the next issue?”

“I can’t win here, can I, Jack?"

“Probably not.”

“Why do I love you?” Peter asked.

“I don’t know. I always wonder.”

Peter laughed.

Jack turned from the window. “I love you, too.”

So easily said, so automatic, thought Jack, and so untrue, for he knew he had never been in love with Peter.

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MY STRANGE LITTLE OASIS #2: BOTHERHOOD OF THE FIRE

MY STRANGE LITTLE OASIS #2: BOTHERHOOD OF THE FIRE by Steven Kerry

Book 2 in the My Strange Little Oasis trilogy

Go, the voice of the spirit whispers to Ren Gallagher.

Ren fears he will only be rejected at The Oh Aces due to his disfigured face, but yearns for relief from the suicidal depression and social isolation he is sure will kill him in time.

At The Oh Aces Ren finds its members, The Aces, are like brothers, and share such a blazing sexual bond they happily “eat together and then eat one another.” To his surprise, what he doesn’t find is rejection.

However, a gifted psychic named Andy wants more than just sex with Ren. He wants to win Ren’s love by helping him out of the abyss of his depression. But Ren soon fears he has a stalker of the worst kind: one who wants his body and invades his mind.

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EXCERPT:
Note: may contain sexually explicit scenes of a homoerotic nature.



On his way out of the club Ren said goodnight to Lee, Benjy, and a few of the other Aces sitting at the snack bar, and he wondered if he would ever return.

As he walked out the door, he glanced at the red light at the entrance. This time, instead of seeming to wink at him, it appeared weak and faded as though its bulb was burning out. Ren drew closer to the light, and it sputtered briefly, then crackled back to life with renewed energy. For all its tacky, artless simplicity it’s somehow perfect, Ren found himself thinking. In its way it seemed to symbolize so many things at once: sex, lust, heat, the allure of the forbidden ... everything that nearly two decades of disease and death had destroyed or diminished in a community. He then looked at the ivy-covered brick walls of the club’s exterior, telling himself he should never return, yet knowing he probably would, although he definitely needed to avoid Andy.

“Quite an odd little outpost, isn’t it?,” a man suddenly said, startling Ren.

“What?” Ren replied. The man stood beside a glistening blue Ford pick-up truck that looked brand new. Ren recognized him as the guy with the amazing muscled chest, the one who never took his shirt off in the club, much to his disappointment.

“It’s just a funky little outpost that’s somehow managed to survive just like we have. Pretty amazing, huh? So are you coming or going?”

“Oh ... well ...” Ren said, caught like a deer beneath the all too bright security lamp of the small parking lot. He stepped out of its direct glare. “I’m going ... because I already ... came.”

The guy laughed. “ I’ll bet you did. Good for you. I like that. That’s what it’s there for, a little bit o’ joy in the wilderness. I was kind of hoping you were just getting here though.”

“Really?” Ren said, dubious.

“Sure. I don’t want you to think I’m a snob. I’m a friendly guy. I’ve seen you in there. I just never had the opportunity to say hi. You’re always ... busy.”

Ren shook his head and looked away shyly. “You must be kidding. I have a reserved seat at the far back corner of the patio. I probably look like a mannequin.”

“Yeah, but that horn dog who thinks he’s Merlin the Magician always seems to dominate your time. I never get a chance. Anyway, if I said you had a beautiful body would you hold it against me?”

And he smiled this great, warm smile that made him look super-woofy. Ren was expecting the What’s Wrong With This Picture look by now, especially considering the bright lighting in the lot. Damn, he thought. Why couldn’t we have met in the club? I feel so fucking naked out here.

“Sorry,” the guy said sheepishly. “That was pretty lame, I guess. It’s the title of some country song I heard on KZLA. Anyway, I really have been wanting to talk to you a little in the club. Don’t worry, I don’t bite.”

“That’s too bad. I kind of like nasty animals,” Ren said.

The man chuckled. “ Oh well, maybe we can talk sometime soon. I think I’ll be here Friday night if you’re around.”

Ren looked at him, not sure whether to feel flattered or confused.

“What’s your name?”

“Ren.”

“Hey Ren, I’m Gust. Nice t’ meet you.”

“Gus?” Ren asked. What’s with all the old geezer names in this place? he thought. Barney ... Cornell ... Gus ... isn’t anybody named Billy or Josh or “Mikester” like they are in bars or chat rooms?

“No. It’s Gust. Like a ‘gust’ of wind. And please don’t say what that goofy psychic who’s always talking to you on the patio always says to me: ‘Hey Gust, you blowing or wanna get blown tonight?’ And then he cackles like some demented hyena. That guy’s got more tricks up his sleeve than I got in the seventies. He gives me the creeps.”

“Me too,” Ren replied immediately. “ I thought I was the only one ...”

“Hardly. Oh, well, hey, I don’t wanna hang you up out here since you’re leavin’. Maybe I’ll see you on Friday night if you can make it. That would be nice.”

“Sure” Ren replied. “Maybe I’ll see you.” By now he had gradually scooted well outside the glare of the security lamp and was a little more comfortable.

Gust noticed this, but remained in the light himself, a short distance from Ren, not wanting to seem too aggressive or overbearing. “And maybe I’ll see you,” he replied, smiling winsomely. “Have a good night.” Gust headed toward the entrance to the club.

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TRUCKER AND PUP by Drew Hunt

TRUCKER AND PUP by Drew Hunt

For months, office worker Kevin Lawrence has carried a torch for Joey Goldman, head driver at the haulage company where they both work. One rainy night, Kevin slips and falls on a patch of motor oil and Joey is there to catch him.

Despite being damaged both emotionally and physically from previous relationships, Kevin is helplessly drawn to the dominant trucker. Joey’s muscles and rugged good looks means he never has trouble finding men to take to bed. But no man has managed to get under his skin ... until Kevin.

Life for Joey soon becomes complicated. He isn’t out to his family, but feels an increasing need to be Kevin’s Sir -- to love, protect and guide his submissive lover.

Can Joey and Kevin make the journey together, or will outside forces and internal fears cause them to travel in opposite directions?

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EXCERPT:
Note: may contain sexually explicit scenes of a homoerotic nature.



As they stood side-by-side in the rain, Joey’s six feet three inch frame dwarfing that of Kevin’s five feet two inches, Joey couldn’t resist wrapping a protective arm around Kevin’s shoulder. It was the first time he’d ever had any prolonged physical contact with the slightly built man.

“Can you walk on that ankle?” he said, staring down at the shorter man.

Kevin tried to look away, but Joey held his gaze.

“I think so.” Kevin took a step but would have fallen if Joey hadn’t caught him.

“Well, that answers that question, then.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Sir? Did he say sir? Joey asked himself. “Um, I can take you home on the back of my bike, it’s the least I can do.”

“Oh, no, honest, I can wait for the next bus, I’ll be all right.”

“Give over arguing, it’s decided.”

The smaller man sagged, seeming to resign himself to his fate.

“Come on, lean on me.” Joey wrapped an arm around Kevin, helping to support his weight as he hobbled along. The rain was beginning to creep under Joey’s leather jacket, causing him to shiver. “Shit, this is too slow.”

“Sorry, I can’t go any faster.”

“Sor-right, I know you can’t.” Joey picked Kevin up. As he carried him towards his motorcycle Kevin began to squirm. “Stop wriggling!” Joey commanded.

“Sorry.” Apart from the occasional shiver, Kevin managed to lie still.

After gently placing his charge on the pillion seat, Joey got out the spare helmet and made sure it was correctly positioned on Kevin’s head before straddling the bike and kick starting the engine. As usual, the throaty roar and the vibration between his legs gave Joey a thrill.

“Put your arms around me, and hold on!” Joey shouted, but Kevin didn’t respond. Obviously the guy didn’t hear him, or was too panicked to comply. Reaching behind himself, Joey grasped his passenger’s arms and wrapped them round his chest. Letting out the clutch, Joey sped out of the car park.

As he travelled down the rain-swept streets, Joey realised he hadn’t asked where Kevin lived. Maybe this was a conscious oversight; he’d just have to take the man back to his place. Joey smiled, his dick twitching at the thought.

The evening traffic was light, so it only took ten minutes to get home. Pulling up outside a set of garages, Joey hopped off his bike, unlocked the garage door, then got back on and drove the pair of them into the dark interior. Cutting the engine, Joey waited a few seconds for his ears to stop ringing before he took off his helmet.

Leaning back in the saddle, Joey was certain his passenger was sporting wood. Hmm, interesting.

“Okay, time to dismount.”

“But, but, I don’t live here.”

“I know, I thought I’d get you dried off and everything at my place first, okay?”

“But, but ...”

“Don’t argue. Come on.” Joey gave a light whack to Kevin’s behind; Kevin shot upwards in shock, and started to shake.

Christ, he’s a timid one. Better go careful.

The two made slow progress towards the back entrance to the block of flats, Kevin needing to lean quite heavily on Joey, the latter finding it strangely appealing.

“It’d be quicker if I carried you up the stairs.”

Kevin stiffened.

Turning Kevin round to face him, Joey stared down at the smaller man. “It’ll be okay. I don’t bite. Well not often anyway.” Joey laughed, but Kevin didn’t join in. “What’s wrong?” Joey lifted the smaller man’s drooping chin with a finger.

“Sorry, Sir,” the man said, still shaking.

What’s with all this sir shit? Joey mused as he picked the bloke up. Though he had to admit Kevin’s deference did give him a bit of a thrill. He’d role played with a few of his more adventurous tricks, Joey always taking the role of the master, of course. He wondered what would happen with a man who was naturally submissive.

Finally reaching the third floor, Joey gently set Kevin down as he fished out his key. “Welcome to my humble abode,” Joey said, carrying his human cargo into the hallway.

Joey was about to apologise for the mess which he knew would await them, he wasn’t much into housework, but the place shone like a new pin. Joey could even detect the faint odour of lavender furniture polish. He didn’t think he owned any furniture polish.

After setting Kevin on a stool in the kitchen, Joey went to the fridge to confirm his suspicions. Not finding what he was after, he depressed the pedal on his waste bin and pulled out an unopened packet of bacon. “For fuck’s sake!”

The harshness of his tone caused Kevin to start in alarm.

Joey noticed it and immediately went to reassure his guest. “Sorry. It’s just when I saw that the place had been cleaned, I knew my mother had been round.”

“Oh, right.”

“She’s Jewish, so’s my dad. Which of course makes me Jewish, too, though I don’t observe.”

“Okay.”

Looking at the clean kitchen, Joey went on, “And like mothers the world over, she can’t help sticking her nose in.” He put a set of flowered tea-towels in the bottom drawer of the cabinet, before fishing out his usual plain white ones. “Trust me, Yiddish mothers are the worst for interfering.”

Kevin looked sad.

“What’s up?”

“Nothing.”

“It’s okay, Pup, you can tell me.” Joey wondered why he’d used the epithet. It seemed to suit Kevin, those chocolate drop eyes of his looked so much like those of his dog, Bertie.

Kevin couldn’t meet Joey’s gaze, even though the latter had made a conscious effort to soften it. “My parents disowned me, um ... When they --”

“When they found out you were gay.”

Kevin stared at Joey in absolute terror.

Joey suddenly realised what he’d said. “It’s okay. I’ve known about you and Cal for ages, Cal didn’t exactly keep it a secret.” Joey recalled the many macho boasts Cal had imparted to his mates about how he was able to dominate his submissive partner. Though he’d remained unusually quiet on the subject recently.

“I’m not out to my family, and I’d like to keep it that way.” Joey shuddered at the thought of them knowing. Needing to change the subject, he said, “Listen, we’ll have to get you out of those wet things, otherwise you’ll catch your death. I’ll run you a bath, then I’ll find you something to put on, though none of my stuff will fit you.”

Kevin’s panic appeared to have lessened. “That’s okay, Sir, please just take me home, I’ll be fine.”

“Rubbish.” Joey was feeling protective towards his guest. “Come on, I’ll carry you to the bathroom, you can strip off in there.”

“No, honestly, I --”

“Pup,” Joey held Kevin’s face in his hands, “You’re staying for a bath, and it’s not negotiable.”

Kevin sagged, obviously giving into the inevitability of it all.

Joey hoisted up his burden and carried him into the bathroom. Putting Kevin down on the closed toilet lid, he began to run the water, making sure he added plenty of bubble bath.

“Now strip.”

“Um, it’s okay, Sir, I can manage, please.” Kevin looked up pleadingly into Joey’s face.

Something inside Joey shifted, making him feel…what? He wasn’t sure he could identify it. “Okay,” Joey said softly, backing out of the room. In the hallway, he slapped the side of his face. ‘You’re turning fucking soft, Joe.”

He walked back to the kitchen to rustle up some food. Deciding it probably wasn’t safe to use the bacon, he opted for his old standby of a couple of frozen TV dinners. Joey knew he was no cook.

Once the foil trays were in the oven, Joey remembered he hadn’t seen any towels in the bathroom. No doubt his mother had taken them back to her house to be washed. Reaching into the airing cupboard, he pulled out a couple of large bath sheets.

Pushing open the bathroom door, Joey said “Here’s some fresh ...” The rest of his statement died on his lips as he stared disbelievingly at the sight that greeted him.

Kevin lowered his shaking shoulders, a sob escaping from his lips. This snapped Joey out of his inactivity; he moved into the bathroom and went down on his knees in front of the bath. Reaching out a hand, he began to touch the numerous thin raised scars on Kevin’s exposed back. This only seemed to cause Kevin to weep harder. One of the more obvious marks was in the shape of a belt buckle. Joey battled to suppress his anger.

“Did Cal do this?” Joey asked through clenched teeth.

“Sorry, Sir. I ... I ... I didn’t want you to see them, I’m sorry, I’m sorry ...” Kevin dissolved totally.

Joey counted to ten, using the time to dig deep into his reserves of strength. Taking a deep breath -- and despite being fully clothed -- he reached for Kevin. Using as much gentleness as he could muster, Joey plucked the little bloke out of the bath. Wrapping a towel round the shaking ball of human misery, Joey sat on the closed toilet lid and seated Kevin on his knee, holding him close.

“Hush, Pup. Please hush.” He began to rock the smaller man.

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BEAUTIFUL LIAR by J.M. Snyder

BEAUTIFUL LIAR by J.M. Snyder

At fifteen, JT Pierce was the star of a hit TV show and had the world in his hands. Every teeny-bopper magazine had his face on it; every teenage girl had his poster on her wall. But then the show went on hiatus, and JT wouldn’t lower himself to bit parts or commercials. Slowly, his star faded from view.

Seven years later, JT is Johnny Thomas, who hopes to jumpstart his career by hiring his former manager, Lou Merrin. He wants to do serious movies, a huge blockbuster or two, and claim one of those coveted Oscars for himself. But Lou cautions Johnny about the paparazzi, who can make or break a star these days, and he’s heard rumors of Johnny’s sexuality that might prevent him from landing those coveted leading roles.

Still, Johnny’s nothing if not persistent, and he swears he’ll play it straight. Until he meets Brett, a photographer who turns his life -- and his heart -- upside down. Suddenly the celebrity gossip website Z-23 seems to have exclusive pictures of Johnny, and someone close to him leaks information about an audition that was supposed to be kept quiet. When photographs surface that Johnny thought were taken in confidence, he realizes he must choose between the career path Lou offers him and the love he wants to share with Brett.

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EXCERPT:
Note: may contain sexually explicit scenes of a homoerotic nature.



Inside the club, the air is close and smoky. The crowd moves like the tide, flowing from one side of the room to the other, catching Johnny in the undertow and pulling him along until he’s washed up against the side of the bar. He’s seeing stars he only dreams about meeting one day and he stands with his back against the bar, watching them bob past him like ships in the night. All the big names are here, and he feels his own status burn a little brighter just being this close to the others. This is what he’s missed all these years. This is where he should’ve been, where he belongs.

Someone bumps into him. He moves aside to make room but the stranger presses against him, clinging to his side. He feels a strong hand ease around his arm to settle somewhere in the small of his back, and hot breath curls into his ear. A masculine voice sighs into him, “Hey.”

Johnny spares a glance and finds himself staring into deep eyes the color of rich chocolate. His gaze flickers to take in short brown hair, lighter than his own, streaked by the sun and standing up from a tanned, sweaty brow. A strong, aquiline nose above too red lips. A small gold hoop earring in one ear and, around a slim neck, a black cord with a handful of white puka shell chips like all the surfer guys wear. The shells fall in the hollow of the stranger’s throat, accenting his dusky skin.

One thought crosses Johnny’s mind. Fuck Lou. He isn’t famous yet, right?

His grin must be encouraging, because it makes the stranger grin back. Leaning against Johnny, he shouts to be heard over the music and the crowd. “Anyone ever tell you that you should be a model with a smile like that?”

Johnny laughs. “Is that your best line?”

“I’m serious. Brett Cary.” The stranger holds out a business card for Johnny to read. Freelance Photographer. “With your looks? I could make you a star.”

Taking the card, Johnny jokes, “That seems to be the general consensus today. You do headshots?”

“I’ll do whatever you want,” Brett says.

His suggestive look says he’s not only talking about photos, either. And suddenly Johnny’s evening goes from just alright to hell yeah.

“You come here often?”

Johnny shakes his head. “I’m usually at the Den downtown,” he calls out, raising his voice to be heard over the crowd.

The Den, only Hollywood’s hottest gay club. Johnny watches Brett smile, a slow, sexy grin that says he got the hint. Closing the distance between them, he leans down over Johnny’s shoulder, one hand brushing over the soft skin on the inside of Johnny’s elbow. The touch is ticklish but Johnny doesn’t pull away. Instead, he studies those dark eyes and imagines they’re shadows he could disappear into tonight. Brett’s mouth curves into a bemused grin. “Can I buy you a drink?”

His gaze flickers past him and Johnny turns to see the bartender, waiting to take his order. When he moves, his back presses against Brett’s arm -- warm, firm, strong. With a coy glance over his shoulder at Brett, he suggests, “How about some Sex on the Beach?”

The photog’s eyes widen at his brazen words, but a moment later, they soften and the smile’s back. One hand drifts to Johnny’s waist, nimble fingers easing into the band of his jeans. “You want to wait that long?” he teases. “I was thinking the VIP Lounge upstairs ...”

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

FRIENDS OF DOROTHY MONOLOGUES ACT I by A. Scott Boddie

FRIENDS OF DOROTHY MONOLOGUES ACT I by A. Scott Boddie


Friends of Dorothy -- FOD. I first heard the expression when I was sixteen, and it wasn't until my twenties did I realize what it meant. I became a writer because words and the ways humans used them fascinated me. No matter what language, words are more dynamic than violence, more cohesive than rage, and satirically compelling.

FOD is a euphemism that originated during the Second World War. New York Socialite Dorothy Parker was an American poet with a close-knit of gay male friends in her social circle. If you were one of those fabulous gay men, you were referred to as a "friend of Dorothy."

Monologues are driven by characters thinking aloud, expressing their inner thoughts. Sometimes dramatic, sometimes humorous, the monologues in this collection are riddled with true situation, expressions, and voices. The monologues are about no one and regarding everyone, but they aren't for the faint of heart. They are gritty and unnerving, a wonderful insight into gay dimensions rarely given voice.

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EXCERPT:


Scene 3: An Unfinished Letter

My mother traded me. She gave me to her dealer for a bag of crystal meth when I was fourteen. He took me to get ice cream afterward and gave me three hundred dollars cash. My mother didn’t return home for three days, and when she did, I left for good. It took me five years to realize my mother had pimped me, and to this very day, she dictated how I would live my life. I gave in far too easily.

I lay in a New York City hospital bed in a dark, dank room reeking of Lysol, vomit and desperation, suffering from the many setbacks of full-blown AIDS, drug abuse, and the many side effects of the medications, but I’m only thinking of my mother. I laugh under my breath each time the nurse calls me Christopher or Mr. Johnson; I hardly recognize that name or person. I would’ve easily responded to a car honk or a head nod before my birth name.

When I flew away, I landed in Manhattan. On the first night, in the bus terminal of the Port Authority, I met a boy about my age who explained how I could get a good night’s sleep, food, and some cash. We walked down to the West Village and stood in front of a deli on the corner of Bleecker and Christopher Street, and my new friend taught me how to pick up men for money. My friend was an expert and taught me I didn’t have to like having sex with old men; I merely needed to be good at it. I tagged along on his first date to see what it required, and at the end of my first night, I had made five hundred dollars.

On the streets of New York, I quickly learned a good-looking, tall, and well-built young boy with beautiful black, curly hair and sparkling eyes could go far on little. My competitors were fair-haired young boys with cheeks of tan, but my exotic look melted the heart of every dirty old man that stopped to talk to me. For five years, I received many gifts from my patrons and some of them have metamorphosed into Pneumocystis Jiroveci Pneumonia, lesions, and Kaposi Sarcoma.

For the last two days, which I’m positive are my last, I have been thinking of my mother and the choices that have displaced me from her. The letter I’m attempting to write so far reads, Sorry.

My choices appear childlike, but they are mine and have shaped the person I am today. My single regret is not having a second chance to make things right with my mother.

For the first time I feel I could forgive her, tell her I hated her and she ruined my life. It’s time I accept my part of the shame. As the tears roll down my face and the familiar feeling of loneliness and anxiety all but consume me, I begin the letter to my mother again, I write one sentence and for the last time I give in, easily.

Hello Mother,

I’m sorry for all the tears I must’ve caused you, now and in the future; I blame you for nothing and forgive you for everything ...

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LOVE NEVER FAILS by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

LOVE NEVER FAILS by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

Old love sometimes fades away...

When a late night phone call from the former love of her life interrupts both her sleep and her otherwise quiet existence, Caroline Cunningham finds she can’t refuse Reid Ramsay's request for help. As the call pulls Caroline back to her small hometown and into the heart of the search for Reid's missing brother, Caroline finds the feelings she thought she'd buried where Reid was concerned are indeed alive and well.

And sometimes it refuses to die...

Reid Ramsay is still in love with Caroline Cunningham. As they work together searching for Reid's brother, Reid and Caro finding themselves attempting to rebuild the life they once shared together. But their future remains uncertain. Before they can find the happiness they seek, each must work through the emotional baggage of the past and test the theory they desperately hope rings true.

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From Love Never Fails:

When Caroline finished reliving that awful night, she was crying as hard as she had then but when she looked into Reid’s face, she saw tears there too.


“Caro, honey, she never called me. I would've been there if she had. I wish I had been. I wish that I'd known that you lost our baby.” His voice had an edge like a serrated knife. “You tried to tell me, didn’t you? When you came to see me and I wouldn’t listen because I thought you were dating Sam.”


She nodded. A week after her miscarriage, after he failed to come and she heard nothing from him, she'd gone to his apartment. He opened the door, stared at her with hostile eyes, and said, “What do you want? It better be important because I’m busy.”


“I wanted to talk to you.” She whispered to him but he shook his head and shut the door with a quiet, firm click.


“You shut the door in my face.”


“I had no idea. I thought you wanted to tell me about dating Sam.”


“I tried one more time, before I left. Do you remember?”


Reid flicked tears away from his face with one hand.


“I do. You caught me filling up the car at Fastrip and you came over, said that you guessed you were going out to California to stay with your cousin and finish your paralegal training there. I was mad, my feelings were hurt, and I wouldn’t listen to you.”


She remembered so well that it hurt.


“You turned your back on me and ignored me.”


His eyes darkened with sorrow. “I did and I’m sorry, Caroline. I had no idea about the baby. I should've never listened to Julia. I should've had more faith in you. I failed you and it’s my fault for believing lies.”


She should have felt vindicated, hearing his broken voice take blame but she couldn’t. She, too, had fallen short. They'd had the love but not the trust, not the certainty that they should've felt back then.


“It wasn’t just you,” Caroline said, “I let her convince me, too. I knew that you'd come but when you didn't, I let her sway me. We were both wrong, Reid.”


He bobbed his head in agreement and released her hand so he could rise and walk the floor, hands behind his back.


“That doesn’t make what I did right, Caro. We almost had a child together. If it weren’t for your aunt’s intervention, we’d be married by now. We were planning to get married.”


“I remember.”


They'd dated since she was fifteen and talked about marriage for the last two years. At nineteen, almost twenty, Caroline was certain she wanted to share her life with Reid and he had no doubts, either. Money was the issue that concerned him and so they'd been saving together, in a joint savings account at the bank. Caroline had forgotten about that, until now.


“What happened to our money in the bank?”
He reached the table and did an about face, pacing back toward her.


“It’s still there, all of it and more. At first, I thought you'd come home so I kept putting money in the account. Even after my accident, I wouldn’t touch our money so it’s still there. I kept the ring, too.”


In his agitation, he ran his fingers through his dark hair as she tried to puzzle out what he meant.


“Reid, I don’t know anything about an accident or ring.”


He stopped before her and sighed.


“I guess you wouldn’t but at the time I thought you would. After you left, I went a little crazy. I didn’t care much about anything so I was reckless. Ross got onto me all the time about it. He was the only one that tried to tell me there must be more behind your leaving than there seemed but I wouldn’t listen. I was hurting too damn bad. I drank too much, drove too fast, and did wild things.”


Even though all of it was long past, her stomach contracted with fear for him and all he'd done.


“What wild things?”


He gave a bitter laugh. “I went swimming at night. I started drag racing anyone who would do it. I went down to Tulsa to the roughest bars I could find. I rode a little rodeo, always on the wildest bulls or broncos going. I think I wanted something to happen to me that would either send you home or make you sorry that you left me.”


“What happened?”


Reid rubbed his face with his hand. “I wrecked the GTO one night out on the highway going about 90 miles an hour. I was going too fast, I'd had a couple of beers and I just lost control. I ran off onto the side of the road and then into the ditch. The car flipped over with me in it and I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt. I couldn’t get out, though, and I was afraid the car would burn with me inside. When the highway patrol came, they thought the occupant – which was me- must be dead because the car was crushed.”


“Oh, Reid, if I'd known, I would've been here. Nothing would have kept me away, not even Julia.”


He snorted. “Yeah, that was what I thought. I was actually happy as they loaded me into the ambulance because I thought you'd come home. That didn’t last long. I was hurt pretty bad and when you didn’t come, I was miserable.”


Caroline was crying, thinking of Reid hurt and so alone, waiting and watching for her just as she'd waited and watched for him. She thought her heart would burst from the pain.


“How serious were your injuries?”


Reid rolled up the left leg of his blue jeans.


“This leg was damaged so badly they put it back together with pins.” He touched round, white scars, counting them. “I had a hard time learning to walk without a limp but I did. I had some internal injuries too. I was critical for almost a week, serious for two and it was a month before I went home. Ross was worried sick and mad at me, too. He said it was my own damn fault and I guess it was.”


“Mine, too,” Caroline whispered. “Oh, Reid, mine too. It wouldn't have happened if I hadn’t left. I should've tried harder to tell you about the baby. I'm so sorry. No one told me, not ever. I wish someone had.”


“Yeah?” His voice sounded so tired. “I wish they had, too, if it would've brought you back sooner. Come here, Caro.”


Reid opened his arms wide and she walked into them. He held her cocooned in his embrace and as she began to weep, he cried too. They stood together, meshed, and wept for all they'd lost. For the pain of the past and for the love that survived it all. They bawled like a pair of babies, venting all the frustrations and the hurts. The misunderstandings, the barriers that kept them apart vanished, washed away in the torrent of tears. Any obstacles to their full reunion evaporated away. The five years lost, those more than 1800 days and nights, were irretrievable, but from here, they could advance together. They had their whole lives ahead of them.


Caroline could feel the love pouring into her from him and then he kissed her, his mouth claiming what belonged to him with force and pleasure. Caroline responded, joy fueling her passion as she drank from his cup of ardor, head spinning as if she sipped pure alcohol. His hands moved over her with remembered surety and new desire. She pushed her fingers through his black curls as she'd ached to do since the moment she saw him again and he moved his mouth lower, from her lips to her throat, where he nibbled. Her spine tingled as desire teased down her back, the delicious sensation spreading as he reached beneath her blouse to unhook her bra. She shrugged her shirt away and he put his face between her breasts, kissing them with tiny, tender kisses.


Caroline sighed with pleasure, her head back, eyes closed. His hands reached her jeans and undid them.


“Are you ready for this?” He asked, lifting his head to meet her eyes, every naked emotion he felt on his face.


“Yes, I am.” She'd waited five years for this moment and her body ached for fulfillment.


“Are you sure?” He teased.


“I am, Reid.” Her hands sought his belt and undid it. “Love me, babe, please.”


He made love to her with slow hands, unhurried caresses that titillated and teased. Reid cherished her with his mouth, appreciated her body with his own, and gave himself to her, physical and spiritual. After he carried her into the bedroom, he held nothing back and loved her without restraint. His passion swept her into the floodtide and she rallied to meet his challenge, to accept his desire and channel it back. Together they spiraled toward culmination, circling closer to that moment of release and when it came, it rocked them both. They shuddered together as the bed rattled, hitting the wall with the force of their coming together, of reaching the summit together. Reid cried out with wordless joy and Caroline shouted her delight.


Afterward, warm and sated, she curled against him, fingers intertwined with his. Their bodies touched, skin to skin, and their minds were at peace, unified after the long separation. Caroline felt refreshed, as renewed as dry land when the rain fell to relieve the drought.


“I love you,” she whispered soft against his chest.

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