Sunday, July 31, 2011

THROUGH THE CLOUDS by Erin Aslin

THROUGH THE CLOUDS by Erin Aslin

"When Lisa Trubin falls in love with Mark Wally and discovers that he's not all he seemed to be, can she save herself from his seductive grasp and overcome his power over her?"

Lisa Trubin, a thirty-year-old single mother, is happy with her life. She works as a massage therapist to support her son, Irving, and although her life isn't the easiest, she doesn't feel as though it's lacking in anything. Then she meets Mark Wally, an attractive, confident and seductive man who overwhelms and excites her. As she falls in love with him, she realizes that she had been longing for something: a father for her son, a man to protect and support her, and a way to complete her family. But as Lisa gets to know Mark better, and their relationship progresses, she suspects that he's not the man she thought he was.

Readers will be inspired by the unfolding of Lisa's story, which is told in this insightful debut novel from writer Erin Aslin. Written from the heart, this novel will appeal to diverse audience, especially women, inspiring them to awaken to their dysfunctional relationships, and to see that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

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CHAPTER ONE

The plane glided through silvery clouds, offering its passengers a glimpse here and there of the patchwork landscape below. Divided by tiny threads of roads and serpentine rivers, the flat rectangles of cities, small towns and fields crawled by despite the high speed.

Lisa Trubin’s twelve-year-old son, Irving, focused on the view. It was his first flight, and he was amazed by the entire experience. The panorama that sprawled beneath him captured his whole attention, and it seemed that nothing could distract him. Lisa smiled and stroked his soft hair. Then she plugged her earphones into the outlet and lay back in her seat. The plane’s engines droned, lulling her into a dreamlike state. She reclined her seat farther back and closed her eyes. Soft music filled her ears, and she didn’t notice when she began to envision scenes from her life.

When did it all start? The darkness, the infinite stress, and the pain? Had it started when she met him, her only love, hope, and dream? How could that be? Everything she had with him promised her a great future…

***
Sunlight had filled the apartment with light, washing over the fresh flowers in vases at the windows. The flowers had looked beautiful and alive, nourishing the living room. Beyond the windows, the trees were showing off their colorful late-September leaves, tossing in a playful breeze. Fluffy light clouds hovered over the landscape in a blue, almost transparent sky. It was 75 degrees—perfect weather in every way for Chicago. Lisa thought it would be a sin to stay inside on a beautiful Saturday afternoon like this.

The phone rang. Her friend Sonya sounded excited. “Isn’t it a great day? I’m having a picnic for a few friends today. Can you come?”

“Of course I’m coming!” Lisa said. “I’d be thrilled to come.” Her seven-year-old son, Irving, was spending the night at a friend’s house, and being home alone, especially on such a beautiful day, hadn’t appealed to Lisa.

“When, where, and what should I bring?” she asked happily.

Sonya laughed. “Just bring yourself. We’ll pick you up in an hour, and I have a surprise for you,” she added in a mysterious voice.

“What’s the surprise?” Lisa asked, intrigued. “What are you talking about?”

Sonya laughed again. “Don’t even ask. It’s a secret. Bye now, and see you soon.”

An hour later, a white SUV pulled up in front of Lisa’s building. The horn blew. Lisa grabbed her linen purse—a Liz Claiborne that she had packed earlier with a small blanket and a makeup kit containing lipstick and a mirrored compact—and ran downstairs. Within seconds she was outside, looking at the faces of the people in the SUV who waved to her through the open windows.

“Get inside,” Sonya invited.

Lisa got into the SUV and sat next to Sonya. There were ten people in the van, most of whom Lisa had met before. “Okay,” Sonya said loudly, “I think everybody knows everybody, but if you see any unfamiliar faces, please raise your hand.” One hand at the back of the van went up. A tall man in his late thirties, wearing designer glasses, asked with a smile, “Who’s this pretty lady you were hiding from me, Sonya?”

“That’s my little surprise,” Sonya whispered in Lisa’s ear before she said, “Mark, meet Lisa. Lisa, this is Mark.”

Lisa couldn’t say a word. She couldn’t explain what was happening. It was as though a bolt of lightning had shot through her, taking her breath away. She managed to smile back at Mark and murmur something indistinct. He kept looking at her. He was poised and confident. Waves of attraction washed over her. A miracle was taking place. It was something that couldn’t be explained rationally. She had never experienced this before. It was as if an unspoken message had passed into her subconscious, giving her understanding. Lisa couldn’t see straight. She knew in her heart that he was the ONE. He was the man she was meant to be with. She also knew that the feeling was mutual. That was how she met Mark Wally and how her new life began…

“Mom, Mom, are you sleeping?” Irving tugged at her shoulders. “Look, we’re inside the clouds.”

Bending into Irving’s seat, Lisa peered out the window. Their big plane was suspended in a milky-white powder puff.

“Are we stuck, Mom?”

The plane’s engines were working with all of their might, pulling them above the clouds.

“Don’t worry, Irving,” Lisa said softly. “We’ll make it out. See how strong the plane is!”

True to her word, the plane carried them out into the bright sunlight and blue sky, leaving the clouds far behind.

“It’s awesome,” Irving exclaimed, pressing his nose against the window again.

Lisa smiled at him. She thought again, as she had so often, how blessed she was to have this boy as her son. He was her own blood, a part of her soul. He was the only one in the world who gave her a reason to live, to struggle, and to win.

Lisa lay back in her seat and closed her eyes, drifting deeper into her memories again. She envisioned the events that happened after her meeting with Mark.

***
He called her the next morning. He sounded a little nervous and less confident.
“Do you mind having dinner tonight?” he asked with barely disguised hope. His voice was deep and soft at the same time. “Yes, I’d like to,” Lisa replied. “Just let me see if I can find a baby-sitter on such short notice.”

“Yes, of course,” Mark said promptly. “Would it be all right if I call you back later?”

“Sure, you can call me around three. I’ll know for sure by then.”

Lisa hung up the phone and smiled. He’d called her! She knew he would!

She dashed to the kitchen, pulled her address book from a cabinet and opened the page that had the baby-sitters phone number. She was an older woman who occasionally helped Lisa by watching Irving. Oh, please God, let Mary not have any plans for tonight! Lisa prayed as she picked up the phone and dialed. Her prayer was answered—Mary was home and was happy to baby-sit Irving. Lisa was very excited. Everything was just going perfectly for her. Mark called five minutes past three and they set a time for the date.

He was standing at the corner across from Lisa’s apartment with a big bouquet of white and red roses. Lisa looked at him as she approached from behind. Mark had broad and slightly rounded shoulders, which she hadn’t noticed yesterday. He looked very elegant in his midnight blue suit. He was carefully holding the flowers out in front of him. There was something in his pose; something in the way he held those flowers, that mesmerized Lisa for a moment. She felt an indefinable closeness to him, as if she hadn’t just met him yesterday but had known him all her life. Lisa’s heart started to beat a bit faster, and she stopped walking for a moment to allow it to slow down. Suddenly, Mark turned around and saw her. He smiled.

“Hi, Lisa, I’m so glad you could make it.” He held the flowers out to her. “These are for you.”
The flowers were fresh, vibrant and beautiful. There was no doubt that he hadn’t simply bought them at the grocery store but had carefully chosen them one by one, at a flower shop. It was very sweet of him.

They spent a lovely time at a fabulous restaurant that evening.

Lisa remembered that night now as if it were yesterday. They left the car with valet parking, and Mark opened the heavy glass door into the lobby. The classic, old-fashioned style of the restaurant pleasantly surprised Lisa. There was an antique cherry wood desk in the right corner, and overhead, a large crystal chandelier and red linen curtains on the windows, all creating a fashionable atmosphere. The gray-haired host welcomed them and escorted them through the main hallway covered in a handmade brown carpet to their table. It was in a cozy corner across from a pianist who was playing a light, romantic piece. The ceiling lights were dimmed. Two gorgeous candles in crystal candelabras glimmered on the table, casting merry shadows.

“Do you mind if I smoke?” Mark asked, putting his cigarette pack on the table.

“No, I don’t mind,” Lisa said, smiling. “I smoke sometimes.”

A tall, shorthaired waiter with a thin, curly tipped mustache appeared to take their order. Mark suggested that Lisa try the White Zinfandel with fried calamari for an appetizer and filet mignon for the entree. Then he chose Merlot and Absolute steak for himself. While their dishes were being prepared, they drank wine and listened to the soft music. Mark gazed passionately at Lisa through his designer glasses as he blew smoke out in a haze. There was something very sexy about him—the way he looked at her, the way he held his cigarette.

“How about dancing?” he asked, putting his cigarette down.

Lisa smiled at him and didn’t have a chance to answer. Mark held his hand out to her and gently pulled her up, guiding her from the table. They proceeded onto the hardwood dance floor where a few other couples were dancing. Pulling Lisa close, Mark placed her arms on his shoulders so her right cheek was buried in his chest. They moved to the sounds of the music. Lisa felt his strong body pressed against hers and his strong arms wrapped around her. He smelled like cigarette smoke, which affected Lisa like a strong sedative, making her pleasantly light-headed. It was strange, because usually she couldn’t stand other people’s cigarette smoke unless she was smoking too. She managed to raise her head to look at Mark and smiled. “I can feel your heart beating,” she said.

He didn’t say anything, just bent toward her and lightly touched her temple with his chin. Then his cheek gently tapped hers, softly tickling it with its stubble. Lisa shut her eyes. Mark held her tightly in his arms. His lips moved to the side of her neck, burning her skin with his breath. They moved into her hair, softly caressing it, and then brushed over her eyelids. Lisa felt herself shiver. She felt giddy. She couldn’t resist anymore. Her lips opened toward his. Mark gently kissed her and then slightly relaxed his embrace, still holding her in his arms.

“I see our food is already on the table,” he said. “Let’s sit down.”

“Yes, I’m starving,” Lisa said awkwardly, trying to compose herself. Holding her hand, Mark led her back to their table. Then he pulled the chair back for Lisa to sit down. He filled the glasses with wine, and they started eating. The calamari looked very appetizing with its creamy white sauce and was in fact tasty. Her filet mignon was tender and delicious. Mark asked her to try his steak, and it was so tasty and juicy that it melted in her mouth. Undoubtedly, Mark had a sense for good food. From that moment, she always trusted him to order for her when they were dining out. He’d often encourage her to try different foods at different restaurants, and she was never disappointed with his choices. It was very comforting not having to go through the list of fancy menu items but just letting Mark order for her.

Mark drove her home around midnight and walked her to the door.

“Last kiss?” He smiled, opening his arms and hugging her. He sounded so eager and acted so skillfully that Lisa couldn’t help but welcome his hot lips on her eyes, then on her cheeks, and finally his hard and hot kiss on her lips. Then he moved a little aside, and Lisa noticed his look had changed to guilt and discomfort. His look told her that he wasn’t sure if he had crossed the line by kissing her, and he was apologizing with his heart. There was a mixture of male confidence on the one hand and gentle hesitation on the other, which Lisa found very appealing.
“Do you want some coffee?” she asked, moving toward his arms and his lips.

“Yes. I’m desperate for some strong, black coffee and a cigarette.”

They went up the stairs to the second floor, where Lisa’s apartment was. When she opened the door, the small hallway that led to the living room was lit, but the rest of the apartment was dark. Mary was a very economical person, and she always turned the lights off when there was no one in a room. She kept the hallway light on though, as she didn’t want Lisa to come home to a dark apartment. It was one of the sweetest things that she did for Lisa, and Lisa always appreciated it.

Putting her finger to her lips, Lisa showed Mark to the kitchen. Then she went into Irving’s room and found him asleep in his bed. Mary was sleeping on the couch to the right of Irving’s bed. Lisa smiled, quietly closed the door, and went back to the kitchen.

Mark was sitting in the dark; the only light in the kitchen was coming from the tip of his cigarette. Lisa’s heart lurched with warm waves of attraction. She quickly turned on the light and started to make coffee. She was so glad that she had good-quality coffee and a small porcelain coffee set.

“Why are you alone?” Mark asked suddenly. “Are you divorced?”

Lisa held her breath. Her heartbeat increased. It had been around six years since her husband, Irving’s father, died, but even after all those years, talking about it was hard for her. “My husband died in a car accident,” she said slowly.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know,” Mark added, and silence filled the room.

“Well, it’s not your fault,” Lisa said. “It happened six years ago. Irving was about a year old,” she added and tried to change the subject. “Tell me more about yourself.”

Mark drew on his cigarette and paused, pensively looking at the tiny stream of bluish smoke drifting off the tip of the cigarette. “I’ve been divorced for two years now. Have two kids—a girl who’s ten and a boy who’s eight,” he finally answered. “They aren’t here. They live in New York with their mom.” He drew forcefully on his cigarette.

“Do you miss them?” Lisa asked quietly, turning away to watch the coffee maker.

“Yes,” Mark said. “I miss them, and I hate that judges automatically favor giving children to the mother. It’s unfair, and it discriminates against fathers’ rights. I dream of the day when I’ll gain full custody of my children.” Suddenly, he rose and hugged Lisa from behind as she stood at the kitchen counter. “How’s the coffee coming?” he whispered in her ear.

It was ready, but Mark didn’t let her answer. His lips slid to her neck as he turned her around and pressed against him, burning her skin with his hot kisses.

“No, Mark, no.” Lisa softly pushed him away.
Mark stepped a little aside. “Let me help you with the coffee,” he said.

Lisa poured it into her beautiful porcelain cups, and then placed them on the saucers. Mark carried them over to the table. They sat down and ended the night by talking and drinking coffee.
There was a lot of kissing and touching that night, but Lisa believed that it would be inappropriate to have sex on their first date, so they didn’t.

After a while, Mark started getting ready to leave. The next day was a workday, and he was apologetic for staying so late. He gave her a good-bye kiss—one that made Lisa always remember that moment. Standing at the open door, ready to go, Mark bent and gently touched her lips, his eyes intent on her. There was a mixture of passion, confidence, and softness in his look and in his demeanor, and there was something else too, something indefinable that made her heart sink. That was the image of Mark that Lisa carried throughout their life together. Visualizing that moment would help restore her love for him later in their lives. It always worked.

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

LOVE BEYOND TIME by Rebecca Royce

LOVE BEYOND TIME by Rebecca Royce

The Outsiders Book One

Born one half of a perfect pair, Kal has spent his life believing his other half is gone. But when fate thrusts Isabelle into his arms, he will have no choice but to become the man he was destined to be. That is, if he can battle his own demons first.

Not willing to accept her heritage as an Outsider, Isabelle tries to hide from the truth. But when Kal's life is on the line, she will have to step forward and embrace her powers or watch everything she has come to love disappear.


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Excerpt:

Abraxas Moore stared one more time at the unforgiving clouds forming above him. The weather would soon become perilous, and he knew he had very little time until they caught him. Even the Green Hills, the place that had sheltered him and his kind for centuries--their home--was no longer safe.

The rain that he was sure would start at any moment would not be life renewing. It was not a sign of rebirth, and he knew with a near perfect certainty it was not even natural in its origins. Rather, it had been conjured by those who sought to kill him as a means to draw him out into the open. They hoped he would make a mistake and fail at his task. Then they would be able to trap and kill him.

Most disturbing, however, was he knew they would succeed in their task.

His role as leader of his people, not one he ever truly sought, weighed heavily on him that night, and he knew not even the love of his wife, Niki, would sustain him through what was to come. The prophecy was no longer something that would eventually happen, but was actually occurring in front of his eyes.

Time had finally caught up with them.

After centuries of very little change, his people were facing almost immediate destruction, and it had fallen to him to somehow find a way to help them survive what would be certain annihilation.

Ironically, the storm that had come out of nowhere this evening had been the final sign he needed to indicate their impending doom. When an Outsider stopped being able to predict the weather then it really was the end of the world.

How would humanity last even another decade without them around to silently keep the balance of lightness and darkness in order? His people had thrived, for centuries by walking the lines of grey that fell between the two extremes of Good and Evil. They kept order and balance in their little space in the universe.

They always had and he had hoped they always would.

Oh sure, they may have slightly pushed things towards the side of Good whenever possible. They were, after all, not Gods or Deities who could see the fabric of time and know the outcome of decisions they made before they made them. They were humans--of a sort--with another power, another layer, to their minds that allowed them to see what most humans could not--all things were connected.

Time, energy, life, and even death all flowed on the same strings of current, like a sound wave or an electrical wire, and they had been used or manipulated by his people since the dawn of time to keep things in order. This had been their sacred duty since creation, and it was the obligation they would all be forfeiting with their deaths in no short amount of time.

Without them, it was likely there would be chaos. Humanity would fall in this dimension. Chaos. Enslavement. Famine. Death. Evil would finally win its battle to control all things. Good would stand no chance of prevailing because they wouldn't see the 'bad guys' coming until it was too late to stop them.

His people had forgotten they were not Gods. He was to blame for this, as he was to blame for so many other mistakes over his short reign. If there was a way to fix things, he would gladly do whatever it took to complete the task. But alas, the chanting had stopped for him, and he knew he was out of the precious currency known as time.

Even transporting backwards into the past seemed to be out of the question. It was as if a wall had been erected to keep his kind from reaching back to that moment when all things had gone awry.

He should have been paying better attention.

Clenching his fists at his side, Abraxas stomped across the grass from his small cottage home towards the top of Windfelt Hill. What would the local population think when the barriers fell and they suddenly realized they had been living side by side with unknown people for generations?

The wind blew, pushing his blond hair into his face and since he couldn't see, it made it exceptionally hard to proceed to his destination.

It was absolutely essential he get up the hill before the sun went down and he was plunged into darkness. He needed to place his ritual staff upon the hill and call to the heavens for help. That is if they hadn't abandoned him and could still hear his pleas for his people. Was anyone up there still listening to the Outsiders or was it too late?

The grass chomped below his feet. It was still winter, and spring hadn't made its first pushes to thaw out his part of the world. Ice sat atop the grass, changing its color from its natural green to a more transparent blue. It crunched below his well-worn boots. Niki had started mending them, begging him to actually acquire a new pair, before she had taken off with their daughter to hide with the others.

Perhaps he should have stopped her, but it had seemed futile. Let them go. Let them all go and see if we can hide the children was what he had ultimately decided.

Finally reaching his destination, Abraxas stopped to look around him. He had known the top of this hill intimately since he was a child.

Windfelt Hill was the outer ring of their boundary. To cross over the top of the barrier and over to the other side was to cross into the land of humanity. No amount of power, his or anyone else's, could shield his people for very long from the humans if they crossed this hill, which was why in the past only a select few were chosen to make the trek.

Last month, all of his people, with the exception of him, had opted to cross. His job wasn't done. He didn't have the luxury of leaving. Not until he had exhausted every option. If the Darkness knew where they were, then it was time to be somewhere else. They had decided their strength no longer held in numbers but in small hidden groups that were far from each other, far from the hills and woods that had hidden them and nourished them. It was their last desperate attempt to keep this annihilation of their people at bay and it made him crazier than he cared to dwell on that the whole of their society had opted to run away than stay and fight. Why was he the only one who could see it was better to stay and fight than turn and run?

He wondered how they were all faring out there in the world and once again he felt the pull to Niki and the unrelenting desire to throw away all of his responsibilities and join her in her hiding place. So maybe he wasn't that different from the others when it came down to it. He wanted the family life too. Their daughter was a month older and she aged without him there to watch her do it. A lump formed in his throat and he swallowed it away. He had thought they would never have children. They should have been too old. One lone tear slipped from his left eye and he brushed it away. She was growing up without him and it truly made his insides burn.


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Friday, July 29, 2011

MORE LIES by J.M. Snyder

MORE LIES by J.M. Snyder


In Beautiful Liar, former childhood television star Johnny Thomas wants to get back into show business. He hires his old manager, Lou, who has heard rumors of Johnny's sexuality. Though he's advised to play it straight, Johnny falls for Brett, a photographer whose candid shots of the lovers almost sinks Johnny's career before it can get off the ground.

More Lies takes place several months after Johnny's landed a coveted role in the upcoming Roxy Greene summer blockbuster. Lou tells him Roxy wants the media to think she and Johnny are a hot item off the set to build buzz for the movie. Now that he's dating Brett, Johnny doesn't feel comfortable lying about his love life, but surprisingly his boyfriend thinks it's a great idea.

But when Johnny and Roxy meet for the first time, it's evident neither of them are keen on the charade.

If Roxy's attitude is any indication, she can't stand Johnny. What happens when she finds out he's lying about his sexuality to keep his role in her film?
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EXCERPT:
Note: may contain sexually explicit scenes of a homoerotic nature.



Lunch is a disaster. Despite the cameras and the fans clamoring for attention mere yards away, Johnny feels invisible. Lou and Becky talk shop, leaving him to entertain Roxy, but she’s more interested in her iPhone than anything he might have to say. The few questions he asks go unanswered -- she’s either playing a game on the phone or texting someone, and it takes all her attention. Even though she sits beside him, she’s a million miles away. She even props her head on her hand, letting her hair fall like a veil to obscure her face from him.

He doesn’t know her and already he hates her.

He could really use that rum and Coke now, but when he tries to signal the waiter, Lou intervenes. “Just soda,” the manager says, staring Johnny down. “Who’s picking up the tab?”

Johnny glares at the salad sitting in front of him, a starter course he isn’t interested in eating.

As if feeling the tension at the table for the first time, Becky glances over at her daughter and clears her throat. Roxy ignores her, and Johnny feels a foot brush his under the table, then Roxy jolts as if kicked. She brushes the hair from her face long enough to frown at her mother. Because he’s watching, Johnny sees Becky mouth the words, “Put that away.”

Who’s idea was this lunch again? Because Johnny doesn’t think anyone at their table is enjoying it.

With a huff, Roxy pockets the iPhone and picks at her salad. She tucks her hair behind her ear and glances at him, still scowling. “Who are you again?”

Her mother hisses, “Roxy.”

“Johnny,” he says, glad to be spoken to at last. “Johnny Thomas. I’m in your movie.”

Roxy stabs at her salad with her fork and grunts. “Oh yeah, right.”

Uneasy silence settles over them again. Johnny watches her eat for a moment before deciding to give his own salad a try. Searching for something to say, anything that might get her talking, he asks, “Who were you texting?”

Her answer is short and clipped, hostile. “Mel.”

He almost chokes on his salad. “Boyfriend?” If so, why is he here again?

The look she gives him could curdle cheese. “Don’t you even watch my show?”

There it is -- the million dollar question. Brett had tried to prep Johnny for the luncheon by bringing him up to date on Roxy’s stardom, but Johnny only half listened at the time. He hadn’t honestly thought she’d ask him anything about her television series. Who was that egotistical?

He could lie. Shrug and say, “Sure,” and hope she doesn’t start asking random trivia questions for him to answer. Or he could be honest with her and face the consequences. Yeah, he thinks, swallowing the lettuce he’s chewed into pulp, because everything about this meeting is honest. Bullshit.

Still, the truth has to start somewhere. Reaching for his soda, he admits, “I’ve never actually seen it.”

Her eyes widen until the whites perfectly frame her irises. It’s a spooky look, dark eyes rimmed with white outlined with black kohl. It gives her a frightened appearance. “What?”

“Your show.” He gulps his drink -- too late to turn back now. “I’ve never watched it. To be honest, I didn’t even know who you were before I auditioned for the movie.”

He tenses his shoulders, waiting for the diva-esque backlash he’s sure will come.

To his surprise, she laughs.

He winces and sort of smiles as he turns toward her, not really sure what she expects. Her face is lit with an open, easy expression he can almost like. Leaning closer, she lowers her voice and admits, “It’s okay. I’ve never really watched it, either.”

With a grin, Johnny thinks, Now we’re getting somewhere. “So who’s Mel? Love interest?”

“Best friend,” Roxy corrects. “Female, I might add. So no.”

Her gaze shifts past him to her mother before dropping to what remains of her salad, and something in that worried glance makes Johnny think he’s not the only one playing a part in someone else’s script.

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SECOND BEST FANTASY by Angela Kelly

SECOND BEST FANTASY by Angela Kelly


Everyone dreams of being a rock star. Dating one is the second best fantasy.

Maggie O'Leary is a lonely lesbian dazzled by the talent and charisma of up-and-coming bisexual rock star, Janine Jordan. A romance with Janine could spell trouble, but Maggie can't help falling in love.


Set in New York City during the nineties, Second Best Fantasy follows Maggie and Janine as they embark on an exciting and surprising journey together, which carries them through the music scene toward stardom, creative artistry, career satisfaction, and finally, battles with their own personal demons.


With support and encouragement from families and friends, their life seems to be headed down the right path. But Maggie and Janine learn love is seldom simple or easy, particularly when both women are also involved in committed relationships with their own addictions. Theirs is a tumultuous love affair from the start. Can they survive the curves and upheaval along the way?


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



When Janine left for LA two days later, I became solid steel. We said goodbye at my apartment like old friends, and I as-sumed the several times she made mention of when we would see each other again was just her way of being polite.

“Too Much Trouble” had been steadily climbing its way up the Billboard charts, she would be in greater and greater de-mand with each passing day. I was grateful I’d had my three days, it was a nice story I’d get to tell my friends. Beyond that, I convinced myself I expected nothing, regardless of how I felt, or imagined she might feel. Those few days and nights had been magical, but the real world was waiting just outside the door.

Who was I kidding, that day at beach, imagining the rela-tionship would continue beyond our 3-day weekend? It was easier, simpler, and much less painful to pretend it never hap-pened. I set about a rigorous course of action to forget her that included overtime at work and more alcohol consumption and one night stands than usual. Trying to forget someone I had feelings for wasn’t new territory for me, I had a lot of practice over the years. But Janine was very hard to shake. I stopped listening to the radio, her song was everywhere. I was in Pan-dora’s Box in the village and it was on the damn jukebox. One day at work Jan strolled in wearing a Joan Orlean shirt she’d purchased the night of the party. I felt the universe was fucking with me, and I didn’t like it one bit.

About ten days after we’d said goodbye, I came home from work and a stuffed manila envelope fell to the floor as I was sifting through my mail. The return address was somewhere in LA. I sunk to the floor and started to cry, Janine had not for-gotten me after all. Smiling through my tears, laughing at my silly attempts to deny what I felt, I tore open the package. The first thing to fall out was a CD single of “Too Much Trouble” with Janine’s script in black magic marker sprawling across the cover that read, “To my Jersey girl.” If that had been all the package contained, I would have been overjoyed, but there was more. A photograph from a shoot for the next album cover showed Janine half smiling at the camera with the boys in the band surrounding her on all sides. A sheaf of cocktail napkins with random lines and paragraphs of poetry, and a note on the last napkin that said, “You’re helping me finish this when I get home.” And, finally, a brief letter:

Darling Maggie,

I am sure the moment I walked out the door you thought you would never hear from me. My dear girl, so scarred from past betrayals, I under-stand your fears. It seems so unfair that the moment I found you, this cor-porate world of music wants to swallow me whole. I never really wanted to be a rock star.

I think about you every moment alone I can steal. There is something deep within me that wants to tell you all my secrets. I’m sorry I haven’t called, it is hard for me to get away on my own for any length of time. I just keep thinking of how much sweeter it will be the next time I get to see you. I wish I could see your face when you opened the package. You probably had that little grin that starts at one corner of your mouth and spreads across your face like an artist’s hand.

Soon, Janine

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MY BIG BROTHER by Ike Rose

MY BIG BROTHER by Ike Rose


May 1968. High school bodybuilding champ Ed Green is excited and eager to celebrate his 18th birthday. As a "legal adult" now, he can drink with his older buddies. With graduation just around the corner, he will soon be able to move away from his alcoholic father and Dad’s sluttish young girlfriend, who’s set her sights on Ed.

But the main reason for Ed’s excitement is he’ll be seeing his older step-brother, Johnny, a Marine hero from Vietnam whom he hasn't seen since puberty. The two aren’t related by blood, but they grew up together and Ed has always looked up to his older “brother.” The last time they saw each other, Ed was a shy, short kid with thick glasses. Then Johnny had been Ed’s personal hero and protector, and his move to California devastated his younger “brother.” Now Ed plans to surprise Johnny with muscular changes to his formerly scrawny, weak body.

Only one thing has Ed worried. Though he dates girls, he’s known for a while now that he’s sexually attracted to older men. John will have to share Ed’s bed in the small house for the next few weeks, which makes Ed worry about hiding his lust for the man he's always had a crush on.

How will the hunky Marine react when he learns that not only is his kid brother gay, but that Ed has the hots for him, too? Will sharing a bed with his macho big "brother" lead to Ed's best birthday gift ever?
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EXCERPT:
Note: may contain sexually explicit scenes of a homoerotic nature.



I went into the kitchen, returning with a six-pack of beer, beginning a night of drinking as we renewed our bond. In some ways, it was as if we had never been apart, since we had kept in touch so closely by mail, but in other ways, we were strangers. The last time we had seen each other, John shaved twice a month, while I had no hair on my body. Now, I looked bigger than him because I was more muscular. We established that after three boilermakers, when he stripped to his skivvies so we could stand in the mirror and compare.

John had a great body. There was no question about it; the Marines do know how to build men. But I'd spent the last two years working on my shoulders, legs, arms and chest, so although I was over four years his junior, my hairy chest and body compared to his almost hairless body made me look more mature and larger. We were the same height, but I massed more. We stood there looking at each other in the big mirror in the hall. I admired a small Marine tattoo on his left pec, drunk enough to run my hand over it. My hand touched his nipple, and he moaned.

It was then that I finally noticed two things. Both of my stepbrother’s nipples were erect and the size of erasers, while both of us were sporting hard-ons. Confused, I walked over to the sofa to think. It had to be a coincidence. John was a fucking Marine. A leatherneck couldn’t be queer like me?

John interrupted my bewildered thoughts, “Hey, Squirt, do you get high?” I guess I looked confused. “You know, pot?” He mimed smoking a joint.

“Yeah, sure I do. Why?”

“'Cause I got some excellent shit I smuggled back from ‘Nam upstairs in my trunk. Let’s go up to our room and get wasted, Squirt.”

“Sure, Shrimp-dick.” He stared at me, startled. “I wanted to see how you liked being called a demeaning nickname. I don’t think I qualify as Squirt anymore, do you?”

He grinned. “Hell, Squirt, you can call me anything you want. I can still kick your fucking ass after my leg heals.”

“Do you need me to carry you up the stairs, Baby-balls?” We broke into drunken laughter as he struggled up the stairs in front of me. I stared at his muscular ass moving in the thin cotton skivvies. I realized that this was not only going to be a long night; it was going to be a long visit, with a hell of a lot of cold showers. Suddenly the idea of dating and fucking girls as second best seemed almost acceptable. Maybe I'd get John some double dates so I could get to watch him fucking them. I even started to think of which girls I'd fucked who might agree to being shared, figuring that was as close as I'd ever get to having sex with my stepbrother.

We sat on the bed as we smoked the joint, and a second one. By then, I was so fucking horny that I had to tell Johnny the truth.

“Uh, John, if you’re going to be sleeping in this bed with me for about the next month there’s a tiny detail you gotta know about me.” “What? You snore? I’ve been sleeping in a barracks with a hundred grunts, so I’m used to that. If you’re gonna tell me you jerk off, the same applies. Besides, I do, too.”

He giggled drunkenly as he gave me a punch on the arm that hurt.

“No. Now, nothing I ever wrote to you is a lie. Every one of the stories about girls is the truth. But ... shit, you’re gonna beat the crap out of me, but I gotta tell you the truth. I’ve never done anything about it, but I’ve known for the last couple of years that I’m ... I’m ...”

“You're what?”

I shouted, “I’m a fucking queer homo faggot!”

John sat and looked at me for a full minute. Then, his lips slowly spread in a huge grin. “So am I, little brother, so am I. And I've done a hell of a lot about it.”

I sat, staring at him dumbly as he grabbed my wrist to pull me towards him.

“I thought I’d dropped dead and went to queer heaven when you came down those stairs almost naked this afternoon. Fuck, you’re so damned hot, Squir ... Ed. I’ve seen a lot of hot men in the last six years, but you’re the hottest I’ve ever seen. Um ... you ... you wouldn’t happen to be ... ?”

His entire beautiful body blushed.

“Hot for you? Johnny, I’ve been fucking horny for you since ... Hell, I suppose since I was six years old. For about three years I beat off sniffing a sweatshirt of yours that I stole before you moved away. When I saw you smoking that cigar on the steps this afternoon, I just about shot a load in my pants, you looked so fucking hot.” I put a hand on his cheek, relishing the feel of a man's beard stubble for the first time. “Johnny, teach me. Show me what to do. I’m told I’m good in bed with chicks. Shouldn't that be a good start?”

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TEA AND CRUMPET by UK Meet Acquisitions Team

TEA AND CRUMPET edited by UK Meet Acquisitions Team


Raise your rainbow umbrellas high and celebrate!

Enjoy this enchanting, entertaining and thought-provoking collection, a heartfelt expression of what it means to be queer in Britain, past and present. All these stories reflect the iconic sights and national character of the British Isles: a taste of our idiosyncrasies and eccentricities, but also an unashamed representation of the love, loyalty and laughter of our people.

Including a wide range of style and subject, this is the perfect way to sample different authors and to find both existing and new favourites. Follow the British way of life from historic villages to modern cities, from the countryside to the sea, through history and with a fantasy twist, in gardens, churches, campus and the familiar, much-loved local pub.

The stories cover universal themes of romance, desire, remembrance and reconciliation. The authors range from multi-published to up-and-coming, and they all share a passion for their characters, whether through great drama, erotic excitement, humour -- or a combination of all three!

Contributors include: Alex Beecroft, Jennie Caldwell, Stevie Carroll, Charlie Cochrane, Lucy Felthouse, Elin Gregory, Mara Ismine, Clare London, Anna Marie May, JL Merrow, Josephine Myles, Zahra Owens, Jay Rookwood, Chris Smith, Stevie Woods, Lisa Worrall, and Serena Yates. Edited by: UK MAT (UK Meet Acquisitions Team).

This anthology is a souvenir of the 2011 UK Meet, an occasion for GLBTQ supporters to get together in a relaxed setting to celebrate and chat about the fiction community they love. Funds from the sale of this anthology will go towards future UK Meets, to which all are welcome.
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EXCERPT FROM "Making Camp" by Clare London:
Note: may contain sexually explicit scenes of a homoerotic nature.

Saturday morning, I awoke to a trumpet call from Hades itself, or that’s how it sounded: a wailing scream, a shriek of hate and despair, ripping through the dawn.

Heart pounding with shock, I scrabbled out of my (borrowed) sleeping bag, cursing whoever had twisted the zip up between my arse cheeks while I slept. The traffic had been so bad the previous evening, we’d arrived really late at the campsite, and there’d been no time for anything except putting up the tents and crashing out. This morning, I barely remembered where I was, let alone why I wasn’t waking to decent rock music on my digital radio alarm. I blundered into the side of the (also borrowed) tent, breathing harshly, wondering if oxygen were available for those with an allergy to polyester. My elbow thumped the tent pole at the doorway and the whole structure shuddered around me.

When I lurched outside, the fresh air hit me like chemical warfare, my bare toes curling up with the shock of grass underneath them so early in the morning. There was a sudden flurry of black feathers as birds launched themselves from the nearby trees. I stared at the world through dilated pupils, panting, expecting to see the Four Horsemen charging in on some satanic version of a tractor.

Instead, only Max was there, crouched outside his own tent, his back to me. He was dressed in just his shorts and he looked completely at home, stirring away at something in a pan, its surface bubbling and the sharp tang of its sauce catching in the back of my throat. I peered over at the pan, suspiciously. Was he going to eat that? From what I could see, it looked like it’d been vomited up by the Beast of Exmoor.

As I groaned and grasped the tent pole for extra support, his head whipped around. “What is it?” He looked concerned. “The crows wake you up?”

I never got time to reply with something witty and face-saving because we were both distracted by a strange creaking sound. Max stood up, abruptly, still clutching the spoon, globules of sauce dripping from its end. His eyes widened. The only other warning I got was the flapping sound of a loosened flysheet, and then the heavy rustle of canvas crumpling down on itself.

I stood there, staring resolutely and helplessly forward, listening to the dull twang of the poles springing free behind me, bouncing against each other, scraping down the seams of the tent. Then the muffled clang of them hitting the ground.

I thought I’d knocked each peg securely into the field the night before, but ... maybe I hadn’t.

There was a final thump and everything went quiet again. I didn’t dare turn around. I coughed from grass seed in my throat. A stray acorn rolled past my foot. Max’s gaze shifted down from over my shoulder to a point barely six inches from the ground.

“Shit,” he said, thoughtfully. “Looks like the guy-ropes weren’t tightened properly.”

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DON'T GO BACK by Terry O'Reilly

YOU DON'T GO BACK by Terry O'Reilly


What do you do when the past comes walking through your front door?

That’s what Rick Jensen and Ed Doherty have to decide when Jerry Taylor, Ed’s former lover, long thought dead, comes knocking on their door the night of their sixth anniversary. Will Jerry’s re-emergence in Ed’s life bring the end to the happiness Rick has found with him? Or will Rick’s love for Ed be strong enough to supersede the memory of what Jerry and Ed shared?


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



Rick opens his eyes. For a moment he is disoriented. Then he remembers. He looks around the living room of the cabin on the mountain. He and Ed had built this cabin just a year earlier. He sighs deeply and realizes he still holds a glass in his hand as he sits hunched down in the overstuffed chair in which he had fallen asleep. The glass is empty and the stain on his jeans reveals he has spilled his third glass of whiskey probably as he had drifted off. He pushes himself upright, sets the glass on the table next to his chair and puts his head in his hands and rubs his eyes. Rick has to piss. He gets up and walks to the bathroom and relieves himself. He turns and looks at his reflection in the mirror over the sink.

“How did this happen? How could this happen?” he asks himself out loud. “How could this fuckin’ happen?” he says again, pounding his hand on the vanity, causing the mirror to shake.

Rick walks back into the living room and to the big bay window. He looks out on the lake with the sun glistening on the water: 7:23 by his wristwatch. He stares vacantly at the lake and lets the sparkling ripples mesmerize him. Scenes from the previous night come back to him.

* * * *

He and Ed came home to their house in the valley after dinner and were in bed. They turned in early, eager to celebrate their anniversary. They had been together for six years: six happy, fulfilled years. Ed lay on his back smiling up at him. Rick was between his legs, they pressed their lips against each other. Rick was just about to complete their union when the doorbell rang.

“Damn,” he exclaimed.

“Ignore it,” Ed said pulling him down and arching his back.

“What if it’s Becky?”

Ed replied, “Becky would just come on in and yell, ‘Hey Daddy, Rick, ready or not, here I come.'”

Now there was knocking -- not loud but persistent.

Rick sighed. “Don’t go away.” He kissed Ed on the nose, got out of bed, slipped on a pair of pajama bottoms and slippers and padded out of the bedroom.

“Git rid of the son of a bitch whoever it is and git back here.” Ed growled.

Rick switched on a light in the living room that was semi-dark in the summer twilight. “Hold on, hold on I’m coming.” The knocker had continued its persistent pounding. It was getting louder now.

He opened the door and switched on the porch light. “Yeah?”

The man on the porch looked totally perplexed. “Oh,” he stammered, “I must have the wrong house. Sorry I bothered you.” He turned to walk away.

“Who the fuck was that?” came Ed’s gruff voice as he walked up behind Rick.

The man on the porch froze. He turned around.

“Ed?”

Rick looked at the man and then over his shoulder at his partner. Ed’s eyes were wide and the color was draining from his face.

“O ma God.” Ed staggered backward and lost his balance on the ottoman behind him. Rick turned and grabbed his arm to steady him. “O ma God!” he said again. “Jerry ... Jerry ... you’re supposed to be dead!"

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    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    SEDUCING THE SWORD by Dakota Trace

    SEDUCING THE SWORD by Dakota Trace

    Book 1 Darkest Submission Series: Camulos

    While she wants no part of being a TrueMate, he has to have her or die.

    Camulos, the God of War, lost his family when he couldn't give up what his wife, Ashlyn, called his war-like ways. After she leaves taking their twin sons, he secludes himself. He's unprepared when ten years later Cayleigh, Ashlyn's aunt, shows up with his now teen-aged sons.

    With his wife dead, he's shocked to realize after waiting for centuries the Fates have finally given him the headstrong TrueMate he requires. Even as Cayleigh denies his claim, in the throes of the assero vel'abeo he has no choice. He has to have her submission. With less than twenty-four hours to insure it or die, whoever said the Fates were kind?

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    Chapter One

    "Kill him!" The clash of metal against metal rang out. "He doesn’t deserve to live! Remember Berwick!" A warrior wearing blue war paint and wielding a broadsword bellowed.

    "I will, brother. We will have our revenge!" His brother in arms swung viciously at the British knight in front of him, lopping off his hand. The man screamed in agony.

    Camulos, the former Celtic-Romano God of War, rolled his eyes at the corny lines being shouted on the television screen. These fools don’t even have a clue what actually happened at the Battle of Berwick. He pressed the pause button on his remote, stilling the bloody battle.

    "Who the hell writes their dialogue? Like any warrior would stop in the middle of battle to talk about another bloody battle. It’s a damn fine way to lose your blessed head." After jotting down a few suggestions for the director, he thumbed the remote and the battle resumed.

    By the end of the footage, he had a list of suggestions for the director and a half-assed headache. He often wondered why he ever thought consulting with this damn film company in New Zealand would alleviate the boredom brought on by his marriage. His family was gone. He was lonely once again and was still bored.

    If only I’d known. But then again they say hindsight is twenty-twenty.

    He rubbed his temples in frustration. "Damn her! Why couldn’t she have understood? I was the freakin’ God of War!" Even though, he’d known Ashlyn might have issues with his nature, and that she wasn’t his TrueMate, he’d wanted the Serenity Faerie.

    And to have her, I tried to give up my warrior ways. I was so tired of being alone, that I gave her my oath. I quit practicing with Invincible because she said there was no reason to keep my sword skills honed. I cancelled all the tourneys that were to be held in my honor because even as a sport she saw them as violent.

    He began to pace the theater room in agitation, unwilling to let the past go.

    I should’ve realized after thousands of years being together, she’d freak out about me being a fight scene consultant. Even without me wielding the sword, she’d still find issues with violence portrayed on the screen. I should’ve never stolen her from the faerie realm. I should’ve realized she wouldn’t be able to handle the constant turmoil in the Mortal realm. The only good thing that came from our marriage is our sons.

    A sharp pain filled his chest at the thought of them.

    When he’d come home to find Ashyln gone, her desertion wasn’t a surprise, but it hurt like hell when he realized she taken their twin sons with her. He missed Kennet and Flannery, his little blond-haired tykes, like a drug addict yearned for his next high.

    All the while he had no one to blame but himself. Ashlyn’s parting words made sure of it.

    "I just knew you couldn’t change, Camulos. Once a God of War - always one. I was foolish to think you would keep your oath. We’re going back to Faerie realm, where your blood thirst won’t rub off on my sons."

    He’d pled with her to not take his children, their precious miracles who were finally conceived after thousands of years of marriage, but in end it hadn’t mattered. His boys were whisked away to the Faerie realm and out of his reach until they came of age.

    His broken oath had sealed his fate.

    Across the room the phone rang, jerking him out of his torturous memories. He considered ignoring it just as he had the last six times it’d rung. When it continued ringing unabated, he finally snatched the receiver from the cradle.

    "Yeah?" His snarl seemed lost on the person on the other end.

    "Don’t you take that tone with me, Camulos! Open the gate! If it hasn’t escaped your notice it’s raining out here."

    The feminine voice was both sensual and tart. It had him pausing even as his body reacted violently. His cock, which had refused to respond to another’s touch, was now primed as if he’d indulged in hours of foreplay. A tingle at the back of his neck and the urge to mate—no to dominate the woman—consumed him. He nearly dropped the phone in surprise.

    This can only mean one thing!

    While he hadn’t been interested in any female, let alone reacted to one since his wife left him, his body was now telling him his TrueMate was at his front gate.

    He cleared his throat before forcing himself to speak. "Who are you?"

    "Your worst nightmare unless you open this god damned gate!"

    Even through his daze from his body’s unexpected reaction, he could hear a young male in the background. The need to kill the male boiled over. He reached for a sword that was no longer there.

    "Now he went and did it. Only a fool pisses off Auntie."

    "I’m going to show you who the fool is if you call me that detested title again, Flannery. Quit laughing, Kennet, before I kick your ass up between your shoulder blades!"

    The shock of hearing his sons’ names calmed his need for blood. She has my sons!

    With no recollection of the woman presenting him such temptation, he surged out of his chair. He had to find out who she was and why she was with his sons.

    "I’ll be right there." His voice was gruff as he dropped the phone on the floor, uncaring about the muffled protests coming from it. He left the room at a dead run.

    * * * * *

    Standing outside the gate, Cayleigh grumbled as she pushed her damp hair off her forehead. The rain continued to fall. It was late autumn in Colchester, England and, as usual, the weather just sucked. Cold and rainy did not agree with her demoness side at all. She liked hot and dry – not cold and damp places. Behind her the cabbie looked at her hopefully from inside the warm taxi. Probably waiting to be paid. Jerking her head at Flannery, he nodded before ambling over to pay the man.

    Moments later the car was gone and Kennet’s continued laughter had her considering the idea of knocking the teen on his ass. Despite the fact at sixteen he towered over her did little to deter her. Of the two, he was the practical joker. While both boys supposedly had the bodies of their father – the God of War – she wasn’t the least bit intimidated by him or his twin, Flannery. They may have had a good fifty pounds on her and ten inches in height, but she was just plain meaner and nastier. After my stay in the Underworld, how could anyone expect me to turn out differently? Her niece had accused her more than once of being down right vicious.

    Cayleigh made no apologies or excuses for her nature. She was a bitch partially because of her father. As a minor demon under Bilé - the ruler of Underworld, her father, Alastir, whisked her at a young age to the world of eternal damnation when her mother had died.

    As a Serenity Faerie few things other than misguided love could kill them. Her own mother’s continual denial of her love for Alastir had caused her to slowly waste away as if being eaten from inside. Not unlike humans with their deadly cancers.

    Raising a young girl, even a half-demoness, in Hell had taken serious balls. Under Alastir’s patient guidance, she grew up every inch a true demoness despite her slightly pointed ears and the delicate frame she’d inherited from her mother. In fact most considered her a full-blooded demon because of her vicious reputation.

    It was quite the surprise, when her peace-loving niece called her for help five years ago. Her great-nephews were beginning to mature and were running roughshod over Ashlyn.

    Remembering the situation she’d walked into, her niece’s pleas made perfect sense. At eleven, the twins towered over Ashlyn and were capable of being more than their already weakening mother could handle. It’d pained Cayleigh to watch her niece wither away from the same calamity as her mother. Only a foolish faerie woman gives her heart to an unacceptable man. Cayleigh had decided then and there she would never allow it to happen to her.

    Thankfully it only took me a couple of weeks to get them under control and bring some sort of semblance of order to their house. The last thing Ashlyn needed was more stress in her life as she grew worse. Now all I have left to do is honor her last request.

    Feeling an unfamiliar pang in her chest at her reason for bringing her nephews to Colchester unsettled her. Not wanting her unease to show, she faked a lunge at Kennet. She grinned when he scrambled backwards.

    Despite the rain and the cold breeze, they were on the verge of a full-blown wrestling match when Camulos rushed through the gate. His long blond hair blew in the wind and rain dampening his dark sweater and faded jeans.

    "What the hell are you doing? Unhand my son!"

    Cayleigh froze at the god-like boom, and the effect it had over her senses. Even though she ignored the faerie side of her nature on most days, she couldn’t help but pause. It was a well known fact that faeries love sound, especially the deep timber of a virile man.

    Narrowing her eyes at her grinning nephew, she promised him retribution for his little taunt. She shook her head when Kennet burst out in laughter. "Insufferable brat."

    She stiffened when a large masculine hand landed on her shoulder.

    "Remove it or lose it." Her breath left her in a rush when she was spun around by the hand. Looking up, she smirked at the thunderous expression on the man’s face. "Ew - is that your scary face, Cami-baby?" The knowledge the man in front of her was a real but ancient Celtic god didn’t scare her. Let him try to strike me down, I’ll be waiting for him in Hell. She laughed when utter disbelief crossed his roughly honed features.

    "What did you just call me?"

    Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Kennet double over in laughter. Flannery took a step forward, as if he wanted to protect her. When will that boy learn? I don’t need protecting? She shook her head.

    "Cami-baby, you need to get over your bad self. I come bearing gifts." She nodded to the two boys. "Meet Kennet, the fool, and Flannery, the protector. Your sons."

    He gave her a not-so-gentle shake. "I know who they are, but what I don’t know is why my wife’s rabid demoness aunt has them!" He kept his hands on her shoulders.

    Biting her lip, she tried to control her need to deck the tall, yummy-looking god in front of her. "I see my reputation has preceded me. You’re going to get a first hand demonstration, if you don’t let go of me. Right now!" Keeping her tone soft and even, she could still feel the press of her horns begging to be released. During her time in this realm of normalcy, she’d been tempted many times to allow her true nature to show, but until this very moment she always managed to keep herself in check.

    When he tossed his head back and laughed, a low warning hiss escaped her. She noticed that Kennet had stopped laughing to watch the unfolding drama.

    "Father, I wouldn’t…" Flannery’s warning barely penetrated the standoff the two adults were having.

    "Ah, shut it, Flan! I want to see Auntie kick Dad’s ass!"

    Of course the little shit does, he’s almost as bloodthirsty as his brother.

    Camulos laughed even harder, but didn’t take his eyes off her, even as he spoke to the boys. "Like there was ever a chance she could take me. You wound me with your lack of faith, Sons."

    She let an evil smile cross her face. "Just remember you can’t say you weren’t warned, Cami-baby." Loosening her control, she let the strange ripple that accompanied her glamour dropping away flow over her to reveal her true form.

    **END EXCERPT**

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    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    FREEZER BURN by Kate Early

    FREEZER BURN by Kate Early

    When David and Randy literally crash into each other things heat up in the grocery store freezer

    Randy is facing the gauntlet of grocery store aisles and too many options when he crashes into another shopping cart. David can't hide his reaction, recognizing Randy has him short of breath.

    Things heat up when the men escape into the store freezer for a little privacy.

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    Freezer Burn


    Free Range.

    Fertilized.

    Organic.

    Vegetarian.

    Free Range Organic.

    How many fucking different kinds of eggs were there? Randy started to reach into the cooler filled with the neatly organized cartons for the third time then stopped. He was pretty sure all the different options were stocked on the shelves just to confuse him and every other clueless guy that wanted something yellow to go with his bacon. The chickens were having their subtle revenge. A picture of the foul birds rubbing their feathers together and plotting formed in Randy's mind.

    With a groan of defeat, he picked one carton at random and added it to his cart. Visiting the grocery store was not a high point in his week. He’d worked up the motivation to go only after sitting on the toilet next to an empty cardboard roll. He was not a masochist, so only emergency items were written on the paper towel shopping list. Looking down at his messy scribble, he searched out the next item. Bacon, check. Eggs, check. He took a step forward, shopping list in hand. Time to move on to—Bang!

    "Umph."

    The sound of metal crashing together echoed in Randy's ears as his cart collided with another one coming down the aisle. The force of the collision pushed the handlebar out of his hand and buried the edge in his gut as the cart swung around. He grunted painfully as the air blew out of his lungs, leaving him hunched

    over and gasping.

    The painful stabbing via shopping cart distracted him. Add that one to the list of lethal weapons. He tuned out the other driver's apologies until he heard his name.

    "Oh my God, I am so—Randy?"

    Of course, he would recognize that voice. Embarrassment felt like a snake squeezing his chest tight.

    Was it too much to ask that he crash into someone he didn't know?

    Shit, this could have been a scene from a bad comedy. He could see the script now, being green lighted as ‘Randy, the Bumbling Idiot’. Handsome man turns the corner at the grocery store and runs into another shopper. Queue laugh track.

    Randy fought to stop wheezing and respond, but it took a moment to recover his breath. The other man froze like a deer in the headlights, staring at Randy and making the situation even more awkward. He hated looking like a klutz and drawing attention to himself in public.

    ‚Hello, David.‛ By the time he managed the two words, heat burned his cheeks and he was taken over by stage fright. It was Macbeth in high school all over again. He didn't know his lines.

    **END EXCERPT**
     
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    UP HILL by Jody Overend

    UP HILL by Jody Overend

    Hillary Wilkes, better known as Lary - rhymes with "scary" - is a physically and romantically challenged Over Fifty. Once a big shot producer of a TV cooking show, she is abruptly fired, thanks to one Pamela Effing Griffin. Now reduced to showing real estate condos for ten bucks an hour to Typically Upscale Urban Couples, Lary is overweight and unloved.

    But never mind. Life is about to change - drastically and hilariously.

    The romantic misadventures of Lary, her niece, Pumpkin, and her Air Canada flight attendant pal, Becks, with a weakness for musicians, will keep you guessing until the very last page. An LOL tale, UpHill is best enjoyed with a martini and a large pizza.

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    Saturday, July 23, 2011

    WOLFE'S LADY by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

    WOLFE'S LADY by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

    Stella Raines was looking for a change. She moved to the small town of Riverville to begin her first year of teaching history. She quickly learns that teaching in such a rural high school is no picnic, but the math teacher in the class down the hall makes her first week all the more intriguing….

    Darien Wolfe is a staple of Riverville High School, with his rule-breaking hair and attire. He seems to have taught there since, well, forever. However, Darien never knew how much his long life might change until he notices the new history teacher down the hall.

    Their attraction is instant and for eternity, like the stars under the full moon. But can Stella survive Darien’s secret?

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    Excerpt:

    For the first time, Stella realized that the house sat in the midst of thick woods, aged trees with broad trunks that isolated it from the road. Not one neighboring house was visible through the thickets and in addition, the lawn ran wild with forsythia bushes, rose of Sharon trees, evergreens, and even dogwoods. Flowers bloomed everywhere, some in neat, tended beds but others rampant across the lawn. Most were old-fashioned flowers, storybook blossoms like hollyhocks, roses, lilies, and more. The sheer wild beauty of the scene caught her breath for a few moments, and then she turned to Darien with honest enthusiasm.


    “This is absolutely lovely, Darien. It is like something out of a storybook or fairy tale. It reminds me of Sleeping Beauty’s castle when the prince found it, a jewel tucked away in a verdant wood.”

    Darien offered her his hand, chuckling with pleasure as they mounted the broad stone steps to the wide covered porch that ran the front of the house. There, too, clematis and moonflower vines climbed trellises, adding to the air of privacy.

    “You approve; that’s very good,” he said. “Let’s see what you think of the interior.”

    He threw open the heavy carved door and let her walk ahead into a huge room with many windows. To her right, a carved staircase ascended, as graceful as an Edwardian lady waltzing would. A chandelier with multiple prisms sparkled from the very center of the ceiling. Each doorway that led from the room – into a dining room, a hallway, and the library – each had dark walnut trim. Even the furnishings, crushed velvet crimson sofas and chairs, added to the air of mystique and yesteryear.

    “Darien, this is amazing. This room is stunning.”

    “No. You, my dear, are stunning,” he said. He stood beside her and then turned her to face him. Stella’s heart pounded faster as he bent and kissed her, unhurried, his lips burning against hers, warm and soft as melted candle wax. Her body kindled at his caress and she leaned against him, letting the fever that spread over her body consume her. Stella felt his powerful body surge against hers, masculine and vital. His passion, his desire was a living thing between them. When he released her, she almost fell, her legs weak but he caught her.

    “Stella, dear heart, you are a delight. Come have a drink with me in the library before I lose my head. Will champagne do?”

    Her mouth refused to work so she nodded, trailing in his wake into the library, tucked behind the foot of the stairs. This too was a marvelous room, cozy with a granite fireplace, each block carved with intricate designs, and the walls lined with books. Most appeared to be antique volumes but among them Stella recognized a few more modern works. A small bar stood opposite the hearth and after he pointed her to the black leather loveseat, he brought out two fragile flutes and filled them with Dom Perignon. Darien handed her a flute and raised his glass to touch hers with a soft, ringing sound.

    “To what the future and the stars may hold,” he intoned in a voice as serious as a prayer, soft as a blessing.

    “To the future,” Stella repeated and sipped.

    The sweet, crisp wine was a good vintage and her surprise was evident as the smooth taste burst into her mouth.

    “This is 1975 v Dom Perignon,” Darien said. “It is one of the best modern vintages available. Will it do??”

    “It’s awesome,” Stella said, draining her glass. The wine must have gone to her head, she thought, for without hesitation, she mimicked a child’s British accent and quoted Oliver Twist, “Please, sir, may I have some more?”

    Darien’s face shifted, his lips twitched and his eyes rolled until he burst out laughing. He sat down on the loveseat, wiped tears of mirth from his eyes, and drank his champagne.

    “You are the most remarkable woman I have met in years.” Darien said, shaking his head. “Stella, I find myself quite smitten with you. Dare I hope that it might be reciprocated?”

    She made a quick translation of his old school language and replied in her own vernacular,

    “I think you’re totally hot, Darien, so yes.”

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    IMPULSE CONTROL by Sara Brookes

    Book One of the Sypricon Masters

    Planetary Deputy Chief Marshal Selene Orasova is looking for a reminder pleasure still exists in the universe. Fresh off her latest case, she heads to Tawse, a BDSM club on the planet Sypricon. However, upon her arrival she finds the club almost empty as nearly all the staff has been hired out of for the night. Disappointed, she starts to leave, only to walk face first into a wall of muscle.

    Vaughn, one of the few Doms at the club Selene hasn't been under the command of, is immediately intrigued by the hard-edged cop. A few instructions and she is easily under his guidance. However, Vaughn quickly discovers Selene has a problem relinquishing total control. She likes to top from the bottom and that isn't something Vaughn will stand for. Determined to correct her, Vaughn pushes her limits with a little impulse control.

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    ~Excerpt~

    Vaughn stepped off the platform and tried to hide a wince as his erection scraped against his pants. He hadn’t expected to get this hard this quickly, but when Bales indicated Selene wanted a Dom for the night—and hinted around at the fact it was him specifically—her interest propelled him to discover more.

    “Bales, hand me some hydrator.”

    “Finished already?”

    “Not even close.” He’d barely warmed up and had already hit a few walls in that time. She intrigued him and made him want to push her more. “She’s so caught up in five seconds ago she can’t concentrate on the now.”

    “Explains why you’re over here then.”

    “That, and it’s a damn stunning view.” He leaned against the bar as he cracked the seal on the container of ishke the club used to keep its members hydrated to proper levels. As he sipped, he took note of the way she sat, the pace of her breaths as she waited. He looked for tells to signal her level of nervousness. Things he would need to know as the night wore on.

    She wore her blonde hair pulled back into a severe tail. It added harsh angles to her face, did nothing to soften the hard line of muscles in her arms. Her sharp brown eyes stared straight ahead, her expression completely blank. She appeared to be tougher than the type of sub he usually chose, but he would enjoy the challenge. There was softness under all those layers of cop.

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    Friday, July 22, 2011

    THREE-WAY GAMES by Cheryl Dragon

    THREE-WAY GAMES by Cheryl Dragon

    An Erotic Gems Short Story

    Blackout!

    When the lights go out secrets are uncovered. Steph has a phobia about the dark and runs across the hall into the arms of her gay best friends.

    This sexy pair of gamers have backup power and her naked form programmed into their latest video creation on a huge TV screen. Their secret lust for her revealed, the passionate exploration heats up.

    Safe in the dark with her men, Steph doesn't care if the lights ever come back on!

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    Excerpt:

    The second the lights went out Stephanie Kissle bolted up in bed. Her heart pounded despite the logical explanation. In the middle of a big city, it was never truly dark except when the power went out. Still she grabbed for her flashlight from the nightstand and ran out to the hallway of her apartment building where emergency lighting greeted her.

    To her further relief, she ran into her neighbors from across the hall. The sexy and slightly geeky duo, Elliot and Nate. Elliot’s glasses were a little askew, but his hair flopped in his eyes as adorably as ever. Nate, the taller and darker haired of the two, ran his fingers through his mop of boyish curls. They were her friends and her secret lust. Both were twenty-seven and currently wore nothing but boxers so she got a delicious look at Nate’s curly chest hair and Elliot’s hard muscles.

    “You okay?” Nate asked her.

    “Sorry, it’s so bizarre. I have a thing about the dark.”

    Everyone in the building said Elliot and Nate were gay, and Steph saw no reason to doubt it. She had weekly dates with Ell to do laundry, while she and Nate did the grocery shopping together to make it more fun and max out on savings. Truth be told, she was in love with her gay boyfriends and her female friends kept trying to set her up to get her out of the rut.

    “Well, come in our place. We’ve got backup battery power, and we can always rig a generator.” Ell opened the door and nodded her inside.

    They followed her, and she felt safe in the warm glow of their huge TV and torch lamps. “I hope you don’t mind. I just get freaked out. My older brother loved horror movies and my parents didn’t care if I watched, but they were tough about no nightlights. Not the worst childhood trauma.” She sat on the sofa and smiled.

    The duo sat on either side of her. “No problem, you’re welcome any time. Of course, we had to watch out for you. Some of the old geezers might’ve tried to grope you. It’s for your own protection.” Nate looked at her body.

    “No robe?”

    She looked down and felt her face burn. A lace white tank and matching panties. “I’m really not a slut. I just hate hot summers so I dress light.”

    “So do we. Just less lace.” Ell winked at her.

    She looked at the TV and froze. “What’s that?”

    “Sorry.” Nate grabbed for the remote.

    Steph got it first. “No. Why does it look like me?” A woman about her build with long brown hair and dark eyes lay stretched out a bed on the TV. It was a video game but looked a little like porn.

    “It’s only one option. We’re making a new video game, and she’s a potential heroine people can play,” Ell explained. “I agree, she needs some work. Not as hot as you but close.”

    “She’s naked. What sort of game is it?” The figure on TV had a big bust.

    “It’s part of the mature content. She’s a zombie hunter and must replenish her strength by sleeping with humans. How many, how graphic, and so on is up to them. It’s a compliment to you.” Nate slid his arm behind her on the old sofa.

    Vaguely, she remembered they did do some work on video games, reviewing and designing, but she had no clue she was in them. Glancing down at Nate’s boxers, she saw his cock straining the material. Elliot showed the same reaction. That was the real compliment.

    “Aren’t you two together? We never talked about it, but I always sensed a sexual tension. You’re not gay?” Steph tried to slow her thoughts, but her body was way ahead. Her dreams might not be so farfetched after all.

    “We are together. But not strictly gay.” Nate leaned in and kissed her. A jolt of happiness hit her. They wanted her.

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    PROVOKED LOVER by Zenobia Renquist

    PROVOKED LOVER - Caveat Emptor Book Three by Zenobia Renquist


    After an attack leaves Theron's allies scattered, Sicily finds herself in the care of Lamon, a vampire who looks like he would rather kill her than protect her.

    The unlikely pair must become very close -- sexual energy is necessary to disrupt the spell the mages are using to track Sicily.

    Emotions become confused as their bodies entwine. Sicily finds herself falling for a man she can't have... or can she?

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    Caveat Emptor: Provoked Lover
    Zenobia Renquist
    All rights reserved.
    Copyright ©2011 Zenobia Renquist

    This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.


    Sicily stared at her phone in disbelief, not believing the number displayed on the caller ID.

    Ryver.

    She hadn't heard from Ryver in over a week. That was a big deal for Sicily because of the reports of vampires breaking free of their docility charms and then massacring their human masters. Ryver had purchased a vampire, despite Sicily's efforts to talk her best friend out of the purchase.

    Sicily had never liked the idea of owning a vampire. It was too much like playing with matches while living in a house soaked with gasoline. She didn't care how safe the mages proclaimed the vampires to be once under the control of the docility charm. Some part of Sicily had always felt the charms would fail. Her worst fears had come true, and her first worry had been Ryver, who had staunchly refused to return her vampire. Only the promise of a daily phone call to assure Ryver's continued health had kept Sicily from dragging the vampire back to the mages herself.

    Then one day, Ryver didn't call. Sicily could only keep her paranoia at bay twenty-four hours before she was on the phone with the cops. No trace of Ryver could be found, not even foul play. The cops said she had merely left and forgot to call. After a week of Sicily's incessant phone calls, the cops elevated Ryver's case to a missing person. Ryver was a vampire owner, so the cops and mages assumed she was dead and her body stuffed in an unmarked grave between here and the vampire territories.

    Sicily refused to believe that. She couldn't believe that. Ryver had to be alive. The fact that her number was appearing on Sicily's cell proved it.

    Sicily pushed the talk button. "Ryver?"

    "Sissy!"

    "Oh, God, Ryver. It's good to hear from you." Sicily felt happy tears spring to her eyes. Ryver was alive. Nothing else mattered except for that.

    "I'm sorry, Sissy. I'm sorry. I should have called sooner and let you know I'm safe."

    "Safe where? Where are you?"

    There was a pause so long that Sicily thought the call had dropped. She pulled the phone from her ear and looked at the call status. It was still connected. "Ryver, are you still there?"

    "I'm here. I'm with Theron in vampire territory."

    All of Sicily's happy feelings stopped. She asked in a deadpan voice, "What?"

    "Don't worry. I'm safe."

    If Ryver had been standing in front of her, Sicily would have shaken the woman until some sense fell out. "Ryver, are you crazy? How can you think you're safe?" Sicily didn't mean to yell, but that was the only volume that would come out of her mouth.

    "I am. Theron is with me."

    "So what?"

    "Sissy, there's something I didn't tell you before." Ryver sighed into the phone. "When the charms started failing, Theron's did too."

    "I knew it. I knew it." Being right didn't make Sicily feel better. "What did he do to you?"

    Again there was a long silence. Ryver made a surprised squeak before Sicily could think the call might have cut off. Sicily couldn't interpret the sound or guess what had caused it. "Ryver?"

    "Anyway, I'm safe with Theron. I need your help, though."

    "You want me to call the cops?" Sicily already had her hand on her landline phone. She had the detective assigned to Ryver's case on speed dial.

    "No. Nothing like that. I need some way to remove Theron's charm."

    The urge to shake Ryver returned. Sicily settled on squeezing the phone. "Why in the hell would you want to remove the docility charm? If it's still working, make him bring you home."

    Sicily would have said more but the sudden appearance of five robe-clad men in her living room gave her pause. She looked at each of the men in turn. She tried to ask them what they were doing in her house but no sound left her lips. Several attempts ended with similar results.

    The men's sudden appearance, and her inability to make any sound to alert Ryver or anyone else of this intrusion, panicked Sicily. She tried to scream. That didn't work, so she stopped after the first few seconds of nothing.

    On the phone, Ryver said in a rush, "Sissy, I know this is all weird to you, and you probably don't believe me, but I'm perfectly safe with Theron. I want to set him free. I was hoping you could help. Didn't you say you dated a mage back in college?"

    Sicily tried to tell Ryver that she had more pressing problems than Theron and his stupid docility charm. When her mouth still refused to make sound, she tried to end the call. Sicily thought Ryver was crazy for willingly consorting with a vampire -- and Sicily still had doubts about the willing part -- but Sicily wouldn't let the mages get her. Her fingers refused to move, which meant she couldn't push the end button or toss away the phone.

    Ryver asked, "Sissy?"

    Sicily found her mouth moving of its own accord. "I'm still here. Yes, I dated a mage in college, but I haven't talked to him since we broke up."

    Those weren't her words. Sicily couldn't stop the words from being spoken or say more to warn Ryver that Sicily wasn't the one talking.

    "Oh."

    "I am friends with another mage, however. You're in luck, since he happens to be a vampire sympathizer."

    "You never mentioned him before."

    "You never mentioned your vampire was loose." Sicily wanted to snort at that flippant response. It was something she would actually say, and might have said if she had control of her mouth.

    Ryver gave a dry laugh. "That's true."

    "I'll give him a call, ask him about the charm and then call you back. Okay? You're going to stay by the phone, right?"

    "Yes. I'll be right here. Thanks, Sissy."

    "No problem. Bye." Sicily pushed the end button, again moving against her will.

    Obviously the mages surrounding her were the culprits. She glared at the man standing directly in front of her.

    He nodded to her and said, "I am Mage Lord Quincy. These other fellows are my associates. Your mention of removing the docility charm alerted us to you."

    Sicily had heard rumors that the mages monitored the phones. Now she had proof. If she lived past this encounter, she would blast the Internet with the news.

    Quincy said, "Your friend has been led astray by vampiric suggestion. We can help her."

    "How?" Sicily gasped in surprise at being able to talk again. "I can talk."

    One of the other mages said, "We had to command your voice and body for a short time. It was necessary to keep you from alerting your friend to our presence. The puppet spell is now ended."

    Sicily snapped, "You shouldn't have done it at all."

    Quincy said, "That is in the past. We plan to help your friend by rescuing her from the vampires." He twirled his hand, making a round jewel appear on his palm, and held it out to her. "This is what your friend requires to remove the docility charm. Once it is removed, it will transport you and your friend back here."

    She didn't want to take it. No one had ever accused Sicily of being naÔve or gullible. She didn't believe for a second that these five mages had entered her house without permission, after spying on her conversation, just to help out Ryver and her vampire.

    She stepped back while shaking her head. "Not going to happen."

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