Just in case anyone needs a dose of good queer science fiction, here’s a link to a place where you can find just that! Sign up for the mailing list and you get free books, too!
Hurri Cosmo has a new MM paranormal romance out, The Oletti Shifters Book 2: “Graham’s Rescue.”
“You’re pregnant, Graham.”
Wow. Life has tossed Graham a lot of curveballs, but he never expected to hear those words. Then, just as Graham and his fated mate, Hyden, are getting used to that amazing news, someone from Graham’s past returns and kidnaps him, threatening the very future they want to build. Talk about curveballs! Graham is an Oletti, a bloodline of wolf shifters that seems to be part of an ancient prophecy, one that speaks of a hidden magical spring of water that can restore the earth and all that is in it. A power some would kill to possess. Except, in the wrong hands, it can also turn humans and shifters totally away from what, and who, they truly love, tearing families and even fated mates apart.
Unfortunately, Hyden has been forced to drink this water so no one is coming to rescue Graham. It’s now up to him to not only save himself, his unborn child and his fated mate, but very possibly the world. Except superhero capes are hard to come by and he never liked himself much in tights. Still, with the help of his Oletti powers, this should be something he could do, right? Oh, Great Wolf, let this be something I can do…
Graham’s Rescue (Book 2)
Hyden’s Law (Book 1)
Mates, Inc (Book 1.5 – short story)
Hurri is giving away a $20 Amazon Gift Card with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:
Dreven shuffled to stand before Hyden and Graham and Graham couldn’t help but gaze up at the man. Oh! Such a kind face. Plus, he was beaming ear to ear. But even bent over, this old man was taller, wider, broader built than Graham. He was quite impressive. However, that huge smile faded as he studied Graham. After a few moments Dreven sighed and shook his head. Graham shot a wide-eyed glance up at Hyden who frowned deeply. What was going on? Was there a problem? Was that problem Graham? Oh damn, were they not fated mates after all? Had that been a lie too? He tried to pull away from Hyden but Hyden just tightened his grip. “Hang on, pup,” he whispered.
The spiritual leader leaned over to kiss Graham’s forehead. Reaching up, he brought Hyden’s face down to kiss his forehead as well. Immediately, Hyden let out a breath and relaxed beside Graham which allowed him to breathe again. Evidently, it was some sort of ritual for accepting Graham into the pack, maybe announcing a mating. Whatever it was sent the room into a low roar of mutterings. The older man held up a hand then turned back to Graham when the room once again was quiet.
“Oh, little one, for most of us life consists of choosing paths. We are tasked with making many decisions every day that affect what we do and where we go. Some are obvious choices, like the jobs we are meant to do. Others not so clear, like who we are to mate with. Still others of us,” he glanced up at Hyden, “make choices that affect us all and we are glad for it.” He nodded at Hyden before returning his attention back to Graham. “For every path we take, many others continue to open to us. Paths of glorious joy, love, a chance at dreams. And sometimes deception and perhaps betrayal. And so it goes all of our lives.” The older man sucked in a breath and let it out slowly as he touched Graham’s stomach. “But for a few there is an ancient calling that will allow only one path.” He gazed into Graham’s eyes. “You, my pup, are about to witness greatness.” He glanced up at Hyden. “Take good care of them, Alpha. The child he carries will change our world. And… I see great trouble ahead.”
There were gasps all around the room, the questioning whispered words of ‘child’ and ‘could he be pregnant’ flowed like a gentle wave.
Dreven’s smile, although a bit sad now, resumed as he stepped back and turned to the crowd. “We are in the presence of a pivotal moment in the lives of shifters. This” – he gestured back at Hyden and Graham – “is a true fated, destiny-bound mating between our great leader, Hyden, and this young man, Graham. A mating, of which, I can do nothing but approve.”
There was a moment of hesitation but then a cheer rose loudly from the gathered pack members. Finally, Hyden raised his hand for silence. When the noise died down, he spoke. “I did not need for the Shaman to confirm that Graham and I are fated mates. But it is good that he sees it. Thank you, Dreven, and,” he bowed slightly toward the older man. “we obviously need to talk later?” The older man nodded once and stepped back into the crowd while Hyden spoke again. “I now want to introduce to you my fated mate, Graham, soon to be Solfang. Yes, he is one of the rare Oletti and he carries my child.” He gazed down at Graham. “No one was as surprised or pleased as I was to learn that very thing just this morning.” He returned his attention to the crowd. “That is the reason I wanted this meeting. I wanted to announce Graham and I will be joined as one under the next Mating Moon a month from tonight.”
The cheer that went up was wild and the pack crowded in around Hyden and Graham. Hyden held Graham tightly to his side as congratulations and slaps on the back and handshakes rocked them both.
Suddenly there was a shout from the living room and all attention turned to Myrk, who was standing on top of one of Hyden’s beautiful coffee tables.
And he was very obviously pissed.
“You!” he pointed at Graham. “You husband stealer!” Myrk glanced around the room and then down to the elders who were sitting, stunned, on the couches. “You all know Hyden was to mate with me. And not this… this… imposter who somehow bewitched Hyden into believing he’s an Oletti. He’s no Oletti! He only claims that because he knows that’s what I am, and he thinks to trap Hyden with his fantasy of being pregnant. You can’t let this happen. You just can’t. Hyden is mine. He said so. You have to make him honor that.”
Hi, my name is Hurri Cosmo. I live in Minnesota where I hold tight to the idea that here, where it’s cold a good part of the year, I won’t age as fast. Yep, I avoid the truth as much as I avoid mirrors. But one of the reasons I love writing is reality doesn’t always offer up a “happily ever after” and being able to take control of that is a powerful lure. Being a happy ending junkie, writing just makes them easier to find.
Oh, I don’t mind “real life” and I do try to at least keep it in mind when I write my stories, but I truly love creating a wonderful couple, knowing they will fall in love and have their HEA every ―single ― time. And, of course, that is exactly the reason I love writing this genre, too.
Give me a glass of red wine, some dark chocolate, and my computer, whether I am reading or writing, and I can entertain myself for hours. The fact that I actually get paid to do it is Snicker bars on the frosting on the cake.
Author Website: https://www.hurricosmo.com
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J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer sci fi book out, Liminal Sky: Oberon Cycle Book 1: “Skythane.”
Jameson Havercamp, a psych from a conservative religious colony, has come to Oberon—unique among the Common Worlds—in search of a rare substance called pith. He’s guided through the wilds on his quest by Xander Kinnson, a handsome, cocky skythane with a troubled past.
Neither knows that Oberon is facing imminent destruction. Even as the world starts to fall apart around them, they have no idea what’s coming—or the bond that will develop between them as they race to avert a cataclysm.
Together, they will journey to uncover the secrets of this strange and singular world, even as it takes them beyond the bounds of reality itself to discover what truly binds them.
Scott is giving away your choice of a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or a signed first edition of the Liminal Sky: Ariadne Cycle Trilogy (USA only). Enter via Rafflecopter:
And we fairies, that do run
By the triple Hecate’s team,
From the presence of the sun,
Following darkness like a dream.
–William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Quince sat at her desk by the window of her flat, staring off into the distance through the floor-to-ceiling plas window.
Outside, the storm was coming. It had roared out of the Pyramus Mountains that morning, causing flooding all the way down to the Gildensea, and now the vast tempest was approaching Oberon City. The angry purple clouds stretched up to at least 30,000 feet above sea level, and great multiforked lightning bolts lanced down from the sky.
She was tired of everything—the city, the attitudes. A winged skythane woman among all these wingless lander men.
The streetscape of the city lay spread out below her, thousands of amber lights running in strings along the main roadways where the ground transportation rumbled among the mostly industrial buildings.
In the distance beneath the clouds, she could just make out the blue shadow of the Pyramus Mountains, their peaks a sharp-toothed wall of darkness along the eastern edge of the world. Above them, in a break in the clouds, the stars swam in the deepest night, thickest overhead.
Neither Hermia nor Lysander, Oberon’s two moons, was up to challenge the stellar dominance of the night sky. Somewhere out there, Titan Station tracked slowly across the heavens.
She watched it all from her small apartment, perched halfway up one of Oberon’s great arcos—ten two-hundred-story residential-commercial habitats that housed most of the population of the city.
In her mind’s eye, she could see the waters of the Argent Sea on another world, lapping at the rocks far below her bedroom window, half a lifetime ago.
She closed her eyes and remembered the day it had all begun.
Quince was all alone in the forest just outside Ballifor, searching for hoarberries to take back home to her uncle’s house. She walked under the great redoak trees, the sunlight filtering pink through the branches and leafy canopies down to the forest floor.
Something cracked behind her, and she spun around, catching her foot on a root and falling hard to the ground. When she looked up, winded by the fall, the most beautiful creature stood there, looking down on her.
It was a nimfeach. She… or was it a he? It, she decided. It looked like a luminescent butterfly as tall as a human being, its gossamer wings trailing off into a shower of soft sparks, golden in the darkness under the trees. Its features were humanoid, but its eyes were far larger, and its face was heart shaped.
The nimfeach had existed here for as long as humanity. There were legends about them going back to the first skythane settlers. Some said they brought luck; others that they were tricksters.
Quince was unafraid. She stood and approached the creature. Its large eyes regarded her with what she could only interpret as curiosity.
It held out a glowing hand with three fingers, and she lifted up her own so that they met.
I have come to find you.
Quince broke contact, surprised. How could such a beautiful creature know someone as lowly as she, let alone want to speak with her?
The voice persisted. There is a task we must ask you to perform. It will not be easy, and it will profoundly change your life.
Quince considered. Her life was dull beyond words, living here in a small village away from Gaelan and the Court. Maybe it was time it changed for the better. She nodded. “What do you want me to do?”
The creature smiled, and Quince was flooded with warmth. When the Queen of the Gaelani calls for you, you must go. She has borne a child….
Shortly after, she had been summoned by the Queen. Apparently Robyn had gotten a visitor too.
A loud crack of thunder startled her out of her reverie. She had been so young then. Sometimes she felt she’d lived a century in these past twenty-five years.
These storms had grown worse these last few months. Her time here was growing short.
The last message from Robyn had arrived in a tube tied to the scaled leg of an imprean along with a vial of pith, a delivery method so antiquated it made her smile.
The news inside had not.
The King was dead. Whether by natural causes or the machinations of the invaders, it wasn’t clear. But what was clear was that their quarter-century wait was at an end.
Coincidental or not, the crisis they had anticipated was upon them.
With luck, they would be reunited soon, and the years-long occupation of Gaelan would come to an end. All their carefully laid plans were coming to fruition at last, but there were so many things that could still go wrong.
She tapped the side of her head, activating her cirq. “Ari, where is Davyn?” she asked quietly. It had taken Quince a long time to get used to the tech of the Common Worlds, so different from how simple things had been back home, so inherently invasive, and yet, so convenient.
Her personal assistant responded immediately. “Xander is at home. All vital signs seem normal, though he does appear to be in a state of some excitement.” The voice was warm and professional.
Quince chuckled. I’ll bet he is. “And Lyrin?” He’s finally coming home.
This time it took longer.
While she waited, Quince went over her contingency plans. She had to get the two of them together, and soon. The fate of both worlds depended on it.
She recited Elyra’s prophecy—written seven hundred and fifty years before—that she had long ago committed to memory:
Tempest comes with clash and thunder,
Skies alight with rainbow’s blood,
When the sunlight runs to red,
Comes the reaper for the dead.
One with wings as black as night
One with wings of golden light
Spin the worlds back into one
To save them from the murdering sun.
It looked like the end time was finally here.
Ari broke into her reverie. “Jameson is on approach—he has arrived at Titan Station and is expected in Oberon City by shuttle this afternoon at 13:20.”
“Thank you, Ari.” Everyone said personal assistants were just bioware, that they had no true feelings, but it cost her nothing to be polite. One never knew.
“You’re welcome, Quince.” Ari sounded satisfied.
Quince closed her eyes and sat back, thinking about all the things that could’ve gone wrong up to this point. Thinking about Robyn with her long dark hair, her eyes alight with mischief….
She shook her head. This was no time for fanciful daydreams. “Ari, access protocol ‘clear screen.’”
There was a slight pause. “Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure. Please run the protocol.”
“Running protocol ‘clear screen.’”
In five minutes, all record of her time here would be erased from Oberon’s grid. Even in the virtual jungle, it was best to cover one’s tracks.
She stared off toward the edge of Oberon City for a moment longer. Beneath the approaching storm, the neat, geometric lines of the city scrambled and snarled in the Slander, where the Syndicate held sway.
Quince stood and took one last look around the small, sparsely furnished room. It wasn’t much. She had chosen it mostly for the view, which had astonished her when she had first arrived in this thriving, decadent metropolis so many years before. The room held a bed, a small writing desk by the window, and a couple chairs.
There was an open carry sack on the mattress, filled with the few possessions she cared to take with her.
The apartment was impersonal, and yet it had been hers for these twenty-five long years.
She closed her eyes. She was tired of fighting. So tired. She sighed, resigned to the fact that her life was about to change once again, but soon enough it would all be over.
She checked the contents of her carry sack once more, then ran her hand over the edge of the bag to seal it seamlessly. She snapped the straps over her shoulders, letting the sack rest between her white-feathered wings.
She closed the door closed behind her, leaving the place empty.
As if she had never been there at all.
Scott lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were.
He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.
A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).
Author Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com
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Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ
Well, would you look at that! I finally did something.
The Apex Mage is now live on Smashwords, and “in review” over at Amazon! They always take their own sweet time about setting a new release loose in the world.
Talisha Eldridge, mercenary mage of the Concordance School. For over twenty years she earned her living through fighting in the Central Lands, watching humanity’s best attempts to destroy itself after the extinction of its Elmothran overlords. Tired now, Talisha longed to put away her armor and spell shards and find the comfort of a home. A peaceful place, where war need not touch her. A place big enough to bring her dearest dream to life and found a mage school.
When the approaching winter ended the year’s fighting, Talisha yielded to an impulse and rode north for the first time in her adult life. Curious about the Highland region since childhood, she had the chance to investigate it, and the money to hold her over the cold season. Besides, she’d heard rumors of trouble, hints of a conflict brewing. Conflict, in her world, meant the certainty of employment come spring.
Talisha never expected to find her heart’s desire up in the frigid Highlands. Much less did she expect a dark mage, holding a terrifying and impossible power, to snatch it away from her again.
But who better than a lifelong mercenary to take on an ancient evil in a struggle where the fate of the world hangs in the balance? And perhaps more important, Talisha’s chance for a home and family.
Who ever said retirement would be easy?
Talisha found the Captain up on the battlements again. This time she called for him to come down. She’d gotten plenty of exercise on this day, damned if she’d go trotting up there to see a man that had a problem with her authority.
“Yes, Fuguarrain?” Captain Ludec asked. His tone was polite, if rather distant, but his expression still had that hint of distaste. Damn the man’s prejudice, anyway.
“You and I need to question our captive mage,” she said, “and discuss plans for bandit hunting. Those bastards are raiding in the town, and I’ll not have it.”
“We have a captive mage?”
“Taken in battle while you were away. Let’s go.”
The cell down on the third sub-level was about what she expected of a castle holding cell. Deep underground, dark, damp on the walls, and plenty of rats. Nasty. The front of it was open bars, though, letting in light and warmth from the fireplace set up for whichever unfortunate fucker had the watch.
Talisha looked over the watchman with a combination of curiosity and dismay. The poor fellow was ancient! What was he doing down in this pit, rather than enjoying a warm pensioner’s apartment?
“Who are you?” she demanded. The old man looked at her, sharp blue eyes out of place in the age-spotted, wrinkled face. He sat in a wooden chair by the fire, leaning on a table, reading a book by the light of an oil lamp.
“I had a name, but I forgot it,” he wheezed, then chuckled at her expression.
“That’s Alfrecht, Fuguarrain,” Ludec said, a note of respect in his voice she hadn’t heard yet. “Now let him be. If you want to question this mage, we should get to it.”
Talisha gave Alfrecht another disbelieving look. Surely he was old enough to have seen Them in person!
“Fuguarrain, are you?” the old man said. “May you be better than the last.”
She let Ludec divert her to the mage, who sat on the hard, narrow cot pushed hard against the wall. The scorched and somewhat tattered robe still gleamed a bit in the firelight.
“Who are you?” Talisha demanded again, this time of the mage. It was a man, rumor had gotten that much right. And he had brown skin. A southlander!
Not that it came as a surprise. The southlands held no prejudice against mages, and the training was easy to pick up for anyone with the aptitude.
“If you think I’m going to tell you everything just because southlanders should stick together in these barbarian wilds, think again.”
“Huh,” Talisha said. “Nice accent. How long’s it been since you left Brieland?”
The mage responded only with a sneer.
“We need to know where your base is,” she said. “Talk, and I’ll see you across the Vialy.”
“You think I want to go back there? You’re crazy.”
Talisha stepped close to the bars of the cell, peering into the dimly lit space. Neither fire nor oil lamp could compete with the stygian hole. She made a gesture at Ludec, hoping he would understand it was his turn. The mage inside gave her a dismissive glance, turning his attention to the firelight flickering on the wall.
Ludec got the keys to the cell from the old man. “I suggest you speak, Brielander,” he said, approaching the cell door. His decent, careworn face looked odd in the flickering firelight, settled into menacing lines.
“Or what, you’ll hurt me?”
“No, not I.” The Captain nodded at Talisha, who placed her hand ostentatiously on her belt with its crystal armament. “Her. I’ll let her use her magic on you.”
“If you want to threaten me, find something else,” the mage said, sounding bored. “No proper little southern mage with props and incantations can scare me, not after seeing the glory that is my Master.”
“What do you mean?” Talisha demanded. “What Master?”
Ludec opened the cell door and stepped inside. Quick as a flash, the mage made a fireball, and Talisha slapped up a spellwall before the ball could leave his hand. If nothing else, her reflexes were faster than his. But…
The man hadn’t used a spell-shard, or a crystal.
“Where is your camp?” Ludec asked.
He hadn’t used anything but his will.
Talisha flicked little sparks at the mage’s feet, trying to irritate him into throwing another fireball. She did it the only way she knew, the only way any human mage knew. She focused her will on a specific, tuned crystal shard, with a mental command word to release the energy from the glowing red fragment tucked into her belt. Part of her wished she had her full arsenal, most of which sat safely in a chest upstairs. But she didn’t really want to kill the man, just make him talk.
“Out with it, Brielander. What Master?”
The enemy mage backed away from the sparks. His robe smoldered in several places, sending up thin threads of smoke before going out.
“You’ll find out soon enough,” he sneered. “The Apex Mage will rule the world.”
Talisha pushed her spellwall forward, flattening the man up against the wall. She stroked another crystal, this one much larger. “Want to live? Then you’d better tell us everything. Who are you, where is your camp, who is your Master?”
How the fuck did you throw fire like that?
The spell nested in the thick, smoky crystal wasn’t a particularly nice one, but it got results when interrogating prisoners. It created a vise of air, slowly tightening around the entire body of the mage.
Unexpectedly, he laughed.
She would never forget the sight, and she suspected Ludec wouldn’t, either. Flickering firelight. Smoky air. Mage, face twisted in pain, cackling like a madman.
Then his eyes flew open, and another intelligence looked out of them.
“Fool,” he said, voice somehow echoing hollowly. “You will know pain and death before I am through with you.“
“Master!” he screeched in his own voice, then burst into flames.
After much fuss and ado about nothing, I have finally gotten myself organized enough to have a genuine release date for my new novel The Apex Mage.
Hold on to your socks, world. The Apex Mage is coming for you on Saturday, 10/10/2020!
The book will make its appearance on Amazon, Smashwords, and an assortment of other ebook retailers. Get ready for a wild ride!
I mentioned a bit ago that I got the Bastion Sanguinaris vampire house in ESO. Not because I like vampires, which I don’t, but because the thing is located in Blackreach. That’s right, glowing mushroom-covered Blackreach, one of my favorite places in Tamriel. It was huge, and empty, and rather gloomy, but I had a notion to turn it into a pretty and glowy place.
Well, I did. I ran around to all my other houses and scooped up pretty much every statue I could find, bought mountains of glowing plants from the luxury vendor–or at least, decent-sized anthills of them. Those things are expensive!–and decorated at high speed to get ready for a guild housing tour. Then I put many of the statues back where they came from, without remembering to take any pictures of the shiny tour version of the place. Oops!
But now I’ve got the place pretty much the way I want it, and I actually remembered to take pictures. So here they come. I’m pretty sure in the future there will be more plants, but when I tried to put more plants in, my brain froze up and couldn’t decide what went where. At the moment, though, everything is shiny, bright, and pretty, in a most un-vampiric way.
A word about the giant walkways in there: I thought it would be cool to build kind of garden paths up in the air. I put a couple of platforms on them, where I’ll eventually have chairs to sit on and look out over all the glowing things. But I discovered that I fall off them all the dang time. Even though I know it’s a game and therefor not real, the walkways still give me vertigo. Crazy, right? But true. I’m getting better at staying on the stairs and not falling off, but wow, it’s wild going out there.
And I got another house. Don’t roll your eyes at me, this one was free! Everybody with Greymoor got the Antiquarian’s Alpine Gallery. I’ll be posting pics of it sometime.
Eric Alan Westfall has a new queer fairy tale out: Prince Ivan, “A. Wolfe & A Firebird.” And there’s a giveaway!
What do you get when you combine a greedy Great Tsar, his two cheating, bullying older sons, his youngest esser (shh! no saying that aloud) son, stolen gold apples, a Firebird quest, A. Wolfe who has the power t’assume a pleasing shape, a magickal sandstorm, as well as two bands and a full Symphony of Gipsumies?
A rollicking, roisterous Russian Fairy Tale, with vigorous esser activities in tents, halls, bedrooms and alcoves, with and without the assistance of PSTs. Plus princely parades, a duel over Gus, new lyrics to an old drinking song, and the possibility of bits of blood, gobs of gore or moments of mayhem. As required by CORA (the Code of RFT Authors), should these occur, your author will give you timely warning.
Ah. Still not ready to part with your kopek-equivalent? Consider the fun you’ll have reading chapters like:
- “To Kvetch, Or Not To Kvetch? A Reader’s Choice”
- “Ivan Has A Close Encounter Of The F-Word Kind”
- “Second Direction Questers vs. The Caliph’s Sayer Of Sooths”
- “Will Sasha Succeed In Seducing Prince Ivan?”
- “Bad Prince Ivan! No Touch Cage!”
- “A Travel Pause For Gratuitous Sex In The Tent—Which Does Not Advance The Plot—At The Insistence Of The Characters”
- “A Necessary Interlude To Consider The Age-Old Questing Question: What The [Expletive Of Your Choice, Dear Reader] Do We Do Next?”
If you buy it and try it, you’ll like it, or so says your most talen…er…humble author.
p.s. If Karrie Jax and I have covered you and blurbed you to buy, look for “Dear Reader, Along The Way, Did You Happen To See The Allusion To Olivier?” in the TOC. It’s a spot-the-allusions chance at gift cards of $25, $15, or $10.
166,000 words of story fun and frolic, plus a 2160-word teaser from another MM fairytale: The Tinderbox.
Eric is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour. Enter via rafflecopter:
IVAN PUTS HIS HORSE AT RISK, AND MEETS A. WOLFE
“A wolf who talks,” Ivan said, his voice all full of surprise.
“I am not a wolf, Prince Ivan, I am A. Wolfe.”
Ivan lifted an eyebrow, in his long-perfected “inquiring princes want to know what you mean” mode, while wondering what effect it might have on such an enormous beast. Well, not a beast, exactly, since it could talk.
No reaction, except the bright gold eyes—so like one of his father’s apples, well-polished after plucking, or the gold circles in the Firebird’s tail—stared back, unblinking.
Since his eyebrow inquiry failed to a verbal response, it was Ivan’s turn to talk. Politeness had worked with the Firebird, when used in place of “I am royal, hear me roar” arrogance, and might be best for Ivan’s well-being in the current situation, conversing with a wolf, the top of whose head was above Gus’ shoulder.
“‘A wolf who talks,’” yes. My exact words, Sir Wolf.”
The wolf opened his mouth. Wide. No mere flash this time. Ivan was fully fanged. As they had only just met, he could not tell whether he was being fang-grinned for a reason he could not fathom, or fierce-fanged to frighten him. If it was the latter, there was a glimmer of starting-to-work happening.
But the wolf’s voice was neither fierce nor fun-filled when he hid most of his fangs and talked again. His tone was a goblet of great size, filled not just to the brim but overflowing—with more coming from somewhere so the over kept on flowing—with…patience. The kind of patience you use for, with, and on, those who are not very bright. Indeed, those who are so dim that if their brains were used to provide light for reading at night they’d be as effective as an inch-tall stub of a quarter-inch wide candle, set in a candlestick in the bowels of a cavern on the far side of a mountain range five-and-a-half eighths of a continent away.
“When you bathe, do you clean your ears, Prince Ivan?” [See above for how he said it.]
A sigh was heard.
Ivan wished he’d brought along a sigh that big, but then, since it was a large wolf letting it loose, accompanied by, Ivan was almost sure, a hint of a scent of pasta, pesto, garlic and butter, Ivan might not have been able to use it with the same effect. The sigh might almost have been designed to complement the show-patience-to-the-afflicted voice.
“Do. You. Clean—”
“I heard you the first time, Sir Wolf. I just don’t understa—”
It was the wolf’s turn to interrupt. “It’s clear you don’t understand, young prince. I was trying to ascertain whether your inability to understand plain Russian was based on a physical defect—stuffed ears, whether unclean or for another reason, bad hearing, something of that sort—and if not, on some mental lack which in theory requires me to be considerate and gentle.”
There was a tiny pause, so infinitesimal Ivan would have had no chance to get a syllable of a word in edgewise, sidewise, upwise, or downwise, even had he tried. “You do understand kindness and gentleness are not traits associated with a wolf, and especially not A. Wolfe?”
At the end of this series of insults, the Great Tsar would have raged, calling on his ever-present Imperial Guards to “Rid me of this wolf!”
Anatol would have ranted about the presumptuousness of peasants who did not know or stay in their proper place, probably forgetting who had just offended his sense of propriety.
Vlad would have grabbed his sword, and whether from horseback, or following a grandiose leap to the ground which displayed his awesome athleticism for the admiration of any viewers lurking in the vicinity—it was his policy to always act as if he was being viewed with admiration—would have started hewing and hacking away.
In part because Ivan suspected the outcome would have been the same with all three of those scenes—dead soldiers, dead royal family, likely including bystander youngest prince—Ivan chose the fourth door…and laughed.
He couldn’t say why he saw—thought he saw—a twinkle of humor in the great golden eyes. But he must have been right, because the wolf didn’t leap up, all howling, growling and slavering, and drag him off Gus before doing the devouring which would logically follow offending laughter.
Ivan forced a halt to his own humor. With gasps interrupting his initial words, he said, “My apologies, Sir Wolf. I was not laughing at you. It was an image in my head of my family’s reactions to your words, and yours to theirs. However, with all the respect to which you are entitled, which seems to be at least a reasonable amount”—Ivan was willing to be reasonable, but not obsequious—“I have no mental or physical defect which interferes with my hearing or my understanding. Perhaps the, ah, flaw lies in your explanation of what you mean? Or, you might consider, the lack of one?”
Ivan gave the wolf a princely grin of satisfaction with his response.
Wolfe gave the prince back a wolfeish huff. “I’ll entertain the possibility you might be right, if you’ll entertain the possibility you are not listening as well as you should.”
“Very well. Repeat after me, ‘A wolf is not the same as A. Wolfe.’”
“A wolf is not the same as a wolf.”
Wolfe sighed again. He apparently had an inexhaustible supply, in a wide range of sizes.
“A wolf is an animal, Prince Ivan. It resembles me, but is far smaller, roams the forest, howls from time to time for various reasons, and at times for no reason at all. Perhaps because it doesn’t reason. I am a wolfe—with an ‘e’ at the end. Which means I have magickal skills. My name is: A…full stop…Wolfe.”
Ivan grinned again. “Your first name is Afullstop? What an unusual name. Not Russian, is it?”
“No. Not an ‘uh’ sound, but a long a-sound, which rhym… You’re teasing.”
Ivan learned another lesson in wolfe-prince relations. A wolf-with-an-e-at-the-end could grin, without his fangs looking all fearsome.
Ivan widened his own grin. “I am. So what does long-A stand for?”
“A handsome name for a handsome wolf-with-an-e.”
Ivan paused. He shouldn’t, he really shouldn’t, but he decided he would, anyway. “Sir Wolfe, now that I know your name is A. Wolfe, and since we are being so precise with our pronunciations, are you really quite certain I shouldn’t call you ‘A. Wolfie?’ To be sure the final ‘e’ gets its just and proper due?”
Ah. So that’s what a Wolfeish glare looked like with a fillip of fang.
A Pause to Provide a Reassuring Response for the Horse Kvetchers in the Crowd
The author extends his apologies, dear reader, for this interruption. But the kvetchers in the crowd, whinging on and on about the horses, are a probable distraction for other readers who, unlike you, are incapable of fully focusing on the tale while extraneous noise is being made. So, if you will be so kind as to bear wi—
The horses belonging to the princes. As you will recall, the horses were…
Oh. You don’t.
Well, in that case, this interruption will serve as a reminder for those who perhaps don’t care as much as they should about tales which seem to include the abandonment of two fine animals to an unknown, and potentially dire fate, given the RFTness going on. This will also be a reassurance for those more vocal in their concerns over the possibility of off-page horse endangerment.
As it so happened—and as you know, you may trust the author to true-tell all this tale’s events occurring on and off the pages—not long after the brothers were swept up and swirled away by the sandst…
No. There has not been a precise allocation of the passage of a particular amount of time sufficient to serve as a definition of “not long.” Suffice it to say—and with all the authorial respect appropriately due to the kvetchers in the crowd, when this author decides something sufficeth, more than a mere sufficiency of sufficing has thereby been accomplished—the not-longness was not short enough to make subsequent events even more improbable than they already are because of the fairy taleness occurring, but also not long enough for the horses to experience more the mildest need for something to eat or drink.
If the author may now proceed?
As the author was saying, not long after the brothers were swept up and swirled away by the sandstorm, a band of Gipsumies happened by.
A happenstance of any form, of course, is by its very nature naturally nothing more than an alternative form of coincidence, but one which carries with it far less sheerness.
The Gipsumies—sometimes referred to by the ignorant as Roaminies, which they find offensive—were experienced travelers and well aware they were well beyond the far edge of All The Russias in the third direction.
Their band arrived at the site of the happenstance—the location of two saddled, bridled, Imperial warhorses—with all its instruments in tune, and being played with vigor, especially the violins, and with the men, women, and other genders, dancing with spectacular (of the non-Russian-axe variety) leaps and bounds, swirls and twirls and intricate steps. The perfect-pitch singers sang a series of songs during the course of the happening-by arrival, with also-perfect timing so they all finished simultaneously with a final stamp of the dancers’ feet, and a long-lasting high or low note from the singers.
No. There is no definition of how long the last notes lasted.
Great Tsar’s War Hammer, as named by Vlad—the horse much preferred his actual name, Nikki, but he answered to the other one because he had no choice—had seen a Gipsumy arrival before in Moscow and was impressed. Unaware this was only a rehearsal, he rose a bit on his back legs, and slammed his front feet down, giving them his stamp of approval.
Gleb, who answered to Anatol’s choice of Imperial Storm Racer, had seen that Moscow arrival alongside Nikki, but was less impressed with this one. He gave it only a modest half-stamp of a left foreleg of approval.
Rehearsal and arrival complete, the members of the band swiftly put their instruments away, stripped off their costumes and handed them over to the cleaners, and donned working garb in dull, drab colors, designed to make them easily overlookable in civilized circumstances. That done, the pre-selected men and women—it was the other genders’ turn for a day off from this task—spread out to investigate this most excellent finding in many a happening-by.
What the surroundings said to the Gipsumy investigators in subtle signs was threefold.
First fold, “There’s no one anywhere around who might claim to be the owner of the horses.”
Second fold, “There are some owner-type footsteps leading from the horses to the edge of the desert, but there are no steps indicating an owner’s desire to return to two valuable horses before anyone happens upon them and concludes they were abandoned. There are no signs of steps to the right of the desert line, nor steps to the left, or steps out into the desert. Therefore, the only conclusion to a reasonable degree of Gipsumy investigatorial certainty, is that the owners stepped out onto the sand and were likely sucked down.” (One lithe, elegant, more fey than the Fae, Gipsumy man sighed at the thought of such a sad ending to a sucking.)
Third fold, “Inasmuch as horse abandonment is a clear sign of intent to relinquish ownership thereof to anyone who thereafter happens by, and we, having thereafter happened by, it unquestionably follows the horses, and everything on them, are ours.”
Experienced in avoiding ownership confusions caused by returning persons denying horsical abandonment, the members of the band took the time for a brief meal and taking care of those needs which cannot be mentioned. After hitching Nikki and Gleb to the back of the chief’s caravan, and storing the saddles, bridles, saddlebags, and everything else in secret compartments scattered throughout the rest of the band’s caravans, they left the scene of the happenstance.
Some time later—
they reached actual civilization, and thanks in part to the parchment provenance carefully crafted on the way, the Gipsumies made a more than healthy profit off an investment of the few rubles spent keeping the horses healthy and happy on the journey.
As paid-up members of GAPCHBOP—the Gipsumy Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Happened-By Beasts and Other Property—this band took more than the minimum amount of time mandated by GAPCHBOP rules to ensure that the new owner of both horses would treat them with love, care, and good food, water and grooming.
The author adds his personal assurances that many years after the events in this tale were concluded, Nikki and Gleb died of comfortable old age, surrounded by several herds’ worth of horsical friends, acquaintances and a great many descendants, the pair having been most active in their post-prince years.
Moving along, dear readers, moving along…
Eric is an American Midwesterner, and as Lady Glenhaven might say, “He’s old enough to have sailed with Noah.” In the real world he writes for a living, with those who would claim what he writes is fiction. His partner of thirty years—who died unexpectedly in 1995—enthusiastically encouraged him to try to get his writing published (mostly poetry back then, plus some short stories), but he didn’t have the guts to do so until 2013. At this point he’s not sure which was officially first, The Song, or Like a Mountain, Waiting.
Starting then, he’s published 13 novels and novellas, 1 poetry collection, 2 short story collections, and 3 short stories. God willin’ and the crick don’t rise, 2020 will also see The Tinderbox out and about. But since real life is, as we all know, a pain in the (anatomical site of your choice)…no guarantees.
Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/Eric-Alan-Westfall-1045476662268838/
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The nagging of my conscience couldn’t do it, but a bit of extra public embarrassment worked. I wrote today!
Only 250-ish words, true, but that’s a couple hundred more words than I wrote yesterday.
Also, I’ve set myself a goal for my day off:
Saturday, I intend to finish formatting The Apex Mage. I will also complete the update on my website, and get the new version off my damn hard drive. It’s not doing anyone any good there, and the time is rapidly approaching when I need that sucker fully current and functional.
Oh, and by the way, because everything is online this year, I actually get to participate in Mile High Con! Yay for virtual author tables!
I’ve been taking more writing classes again, and have come to the conclusion that I’m lazy. I keep whining to myself that I never get anything finished, yet I keep blowing off the daily writing thing. So I will now publicly embarrass myself by admitting it out loud: I play ESO when I should be writing!
There. I said it. Now to break the bad habit and start writing daily again.
Next bit of randomness: a smoky sunrise today. Never mind the dumpster, it insisted on being in the shot.
And the other bit of randomness: my camper got stolen. 😿 All that’s left is the wood I had the tongue resting on.
Aurora Lee Thornton has a new queer fantasy book out: “All or None.”
In a world where everyone has a soulmate, uniquely powerful mage Royiora and reluctant assassin Kalo collide in the worst of ways.
Royiora Daralkaen, the only mage alive able to use all five kinds of magic, has a near idyllic childhood in the country of Porescalia – before war breaks out with their antagonistic neighbors, Kloria.
Kalo Porla, a naturally magic-proof individual known as a Null, is trained to be as an assassin by the authoritarian empire known as the Domain.
When Kalo and his partner assassin are sent to kill a mage and his apprentice, it starts a journey neither man was prepared to begin.
Is this our destination? Roy considered, but chose to wait to find out.
His assumption turned out to be correct, as Kalo sighed in relief when he saw it, leading the way right to the door and knocking.
A woman of Kalo’s race answered it, even with the same red skin and gray hair. She laughed and pulled his soulmate into a hug when she saw him, before pulling back and flicking his ear with something even Roy recognized as an admonishment.
The assassin replied something tiredly, walking past the woman with the slight limp he’d had for the past week or so.
Then she turned to the mage, and in perfect Porescalian said, “And you must be my brother’s soulmate. Hello, I’m Rela.”
Roy flinched in surprise, then cleared his throat and shook the proffered hand, “Yes, uh… I’m Royiora.”
“Do you shorten it?” Rela asked, ushering him inside, “I read most Porescalian men do.”
“Um, yes,” the Porescalian man replied, “I usually go by Roy.”
The horned woman nodded, half pushing him past high vaulted halls into another room, “You must be freezing – come on, let’s get you something warm to drink. I’m sure you have plenty of questions Kalo couldn’t answer.”
Roy didn’t get a word in until after Rela had taken the borrowed coat and replaced it with a surprisingly warm blanket, sitting him at a table in what appeared to be a study or classroom with the promised hot drink.
“There are warmth runes inside the stuffing,” someone said, and then a strange looking man with six arms and blue skin hung down from the ceiling. Unlike Rela and Kalo, he had purple glowing eyes, and held out one of his arms, “Hello, I’m Xia – Rela’s one of my soulmates, and this is our home.”
“Uh, hello,” the mage said, shaking as he looked up at the rest of the man’s insectoid body clinging to the ceiling, “I’m… Roy.”
“Nice to meet you, Roy,” Xia said, skittering over a bit to lower himself to the ground, “Rela and I took the trouble of learning your language some time ago, as our other two soulmates appear to be Porescalian as well.”
“And Kalo asked me to translate his soul writing when we were kids,” Rela said, sitting across from Roy, “He was so very excited to meet you, you know. Though, judging by the state of the two of you, I’m guessing it wasn’t under happy circumstances.”
“Not… exactly, no,” Roy said, feeling comfortably warm for the first time in a while. He took a sip of the drink – it was oddly nutty, but enjoyable nonetheless, “Uh… what… is Kalo?”
Rela snorted, “A bit of a pain in the ass, honestly.”
Xia laughed, and went over to the chalkboard in the room. He cleared it with a bit of arcane magic, and started drawing, “Kalo is what we call a ‘null’ – magic doesn’t affect him, and he can absorb it to fuel pseudo-magic abilities of a limited range.”
The strange insect man pulled back to reveal the celestial star, with words written underneath each point.
“Divine magic gives him self-regenerative abilities and invisibility,” Xia said, pointing to Radzmia’s crystal throne, then moved on to Pelzz’s obelisk, “Arcane provides mental acuity and teleportation,” onto Ruelop’s spring, “Physical resistance and enhanced senses,” Guulruf’s nine-pointed star, “Physical strength and shadow walking,” and finally, Forea’s whirlpool, “And physical speed and water breathing.”
“They identified him and our cousin when they were five,” Rela said, smiling, “We were all so excited – the government provided us stipends for their education and care. Us, a little provincial family of no repute.”
“So it’s an…” Roy struggled to keep up as the warmth and stillness worked on relaxing him to the point of drowsiness.
“That’s what they told us,” the woman snorted, taking a drink, ears flicking, “But when they were twelve, they went to the Institute.”
“Where they train them to be tools of the Trinity,” Xia sighed, coming back to the table.
“The… Trinity?” Roy asked.
“Our leaders, Frezians like Xia,” Rela supplied, then shook her head. She looked up at the mage, “Let me tell you about what happened to my brother.”
Kalo was so glad to finally lay down on a pad and sleep without worrying about being attacked. Rela had said she’d talk to Royiora, explain things, and he trusted her to do so.
His sister and Hult might be the only people he trusted anymore.
The null didn’t know how much time had passed before there was a gentle touch on his shoulder, and his soulmate saying his name softly.
Kalo sighed, forcing himself to sit up and turn to look at the mage.
Royiora frowned at him, then his eyes lit up gold and he hesitantly reached up and laid a hand on the null’s cheek.
The assassin understood, but still hesitated himself before kissing his soulmate. It wasn’t like the time when he’d had to stop Royiora from killing them both by causing a cave in – it was slow, deceptively intimate.
He only took enough to heal his current injuries before pulling back.
The mage was still frowning at him. Royiora’s gaze fell – to the arm which used to have Kalo’s soul writing on it.
The assassin sighed, and unwrapped it. What did you go and tell him, Rela?
Kalo held the arm out, rough, burnt skin obviously clear of writing on display.
His soulmate reached out hesitantly, gentle fingertips brushing over the scarred skin. Then he took a sudden breath, hand jerking back as if he were the one burned.
Kalo looked up to see the other man crying. He shook his head, reaching out without thought to cup his soulmate’s face and brush away the tears with his thumbs, “No, don’t – don’t cry over me. I don’t deserve that.”
Royiora stared up at him, and something like resolve seemed to enter his eyes. He pushed up, barely hesitating before kissing Kalo himself.
At first, the null didn’t know how to react. This wasn’t an exchange, it wasn’t necessary. It couldn’t be affection – so what was it?
And then Royiora’s hand brushed over his burns again, and it clicked – sympathy.
Aurora is a nonbinary, asexual writer with a new goal in life: to write the queerest books possible. (And yes, xe means gay, but also weird is good too.)
Xe loves dragons and fantasy, and someday hopes to complete a (soft) science fiction novel as well. Currently, xe lives with xyr two cats.
Author Website: https://www.auroraleethornton.com
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R.L. Merrill has a new MM rock and roll book out: “Brains and Brawn.” And there’s a giveaway!
Billy “Brains” Brennan has achieved rock stardom in not just one, but two chart-topping bands, but events from his past have him convinced he’s living on borrowed time. Brains and his brothers-in-Hush are ready to take the last cross-country Warped Tour by storm…until the actions of two drunk dudes with bad attitudes set off a chain of events that leave him incapacitated…and face-to-face with a handsome stranger who inexplicably feels like home—and not the home Brains fled at sixteen.
Chief Petty Officer Paul McNally has spent his 25-year career as a Navy Corpsman responding to emergencies and caring for wounded soldiers. When fate has him in the right place to provide aid to a fallen rock star, it sends his life spiraling on a trajectory he never planned for. Instead of concentrating on his impending retirement and a second career, he’s now playing nursemaid to a fascinating younger man…and falling in love—a fact he can’t seem to figure out how to explain to his adult son.
A health scare, band drama, and pain from both of their pasts threatens to end Brains and Paul’s fledgling relationship. Fate brought them together. It will take trust, honesty, and hope to keep them together.
R.L. is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win:
Paul’s head whipped around when he heard the first scream. He watched in horror as the tent Bowie had just been standing in front of—Hush’s tent—collapsed and a crowd of people fell.
Without hesitation, he ran for the tent. Then he spotted Bowie standing over some big guy.
“You okay?” he yelled to him.
Bowie nodded, his big blue eyes wide as he looked back at the disaster.
Security began barricading the area around the tent and moving the screaming fans away from the scene. Adults attempted to pull the kids out of harm’s way.
That’s when Paul saw the tabletop on the ground and a pair of black-clad legs sticking out from underneath.
Guys in bright yellow security shirts lifted and pulled the rest of the tent out of the way. Paul rushed toward the broken table and sank to his knees next to Brains.
“Can you hear me? Are you with me?”
Brains locked gazes with him, and Paul felt pain in his right hand. He looked down to see Brains squeezing the life out of it.
“Please don’t leave….”
Medical staff approached in blue cargo pants and polos and swarmed the members of the band and their staff, several of whom were on the ground. Two women approached Brains with medical kits, and Paul started to move back, but Brains’s grip grew tighter.
“Please don’t leave me!” Brains said again, more insistently. He was panting, his face losing color, and Paul feared he was going into shock. He glanced at the table on his legs and at the staff who were preparing to lift it off him.
Paul worried perhaps the worst had occurred, but the fact that Brains was still squeezing the shit out of his hand was a good sign.
Brains coughed as he brought his other hand up to grasp Paul’s. “Please!” His appeals were growing in urgency.
Paul leaned a little closer to his face and pressed his free hand to Brains’s cheek. “I’m not going anywhere, okay? But they’re going to lift the table now. You ready? Try not to move.”
Brains nodded—another good sign—but Paul pressed a hand to his shoulder. “Stay still.”
The staff guys counted to three, and then they lifted the table.
Brains let out a guttural shout, and tears streamed down his face as he winced in agony.
Paul breathed a sigh of relief to not see any blood or rips in Brains’s pants. He half expected to see a bone shard sticking out. But they weren’t out of the woods.
“Brains, listen to me, okay?”
Paul frowned. “Billy?”
“My name is Billy. Please—”
“I’m not leaving you, but these medics here are going to look you over, and they’re probably going to poke and prod you a bit.” He nodded to the young women in Rock Medicine shirts who stood by, hesitating to approach. Paul heard sirens in the distance, which meant better-trained professionals were on their way, but Brains—Billy—needed to be assessed immediately.
“Sir, we need you to move—”
“He’s not going anywhere!” Brains shouted at them.
Paul addressed the one with the first-aid kit. “My name is Paul McNally. I’m a Navy corpsman, and I’m trained in triage and emergency medical treatment.” And I’m not leaving his side.
The young women looked to each other and then crouched down next to Billy. One of them placed a hand on Billy’s arm.
“I’m going to touch you, okay?”
“He’s staying with me, you got it? He’s staying.” Billy’s chin quivered as he spoke to the medics. The two women looked at each other with eyes wide.
Paul was losing circulation in his hand, but he wouldn’t have left Billy if the entire venue burst into flames. The way he was reacting… Paul had been through countless emergencies and could recognize when there was a psychological issue at work that needed attention.
He looked around for Bowie and saw him with Dimples, watching from a distance. Relieved that he hadn’t been hurt and seemed to be doing okay, Paul turned his full attention on Billy.
One of the women took Brains’s vitals, and the other ran her hands over his body, checking for injuries. She barely spoke to Brains, and Paul was perturbed at the way they were assessing him.
“Billy, can you wiggle your toes for me?” Paul asked.
Brains nodded, and then Paul looked at his Vans-clad feet. Thankfully, he saw movement on both.
Paul smiled down at Brains. “You’re doing great. You know what today is?”
“A fucked-up day? I had a bad feeling this morning….”
“Seems like it was warranted.”
Brains’s deep blue eyes fixed on Paul, and his breathing seemed to slow for just a moment. Paul hoped that meant he would maybe be able to relax—
“Sir, I’m going to need to put a collar on you.”
Brains flinched when the medic touched him. “I’m fine, just let me up—”
Paul placed a gentle hand on his shoulder, and it was enough to keep Brains from trying to sit up. “Billy? It’s important that you lie still and let them put a collar on you. With this sort of accident, they need to keep your spine aligned to avoid any further injury, okay?”
Brains began to pant and tugged Paul’s hand as though he wanted to try to pull up, but when he tried to move his legs, only the right one moved, and he screamed in pain.
“Look at me,” Paul said, getting closer to his face. He needed to distract him, to make Brains focus on him. “Brains, they need to take you to the hospital—”
“No. No, no, no, please,” he whispered. “I can’t go, please, Paul, please—”
“I’m not going to leave you. I won’t let them hurt you, okay? They need to take you in for X-rays to make sure nothing’s broken.”
Brains’s voice sounded like that of a frightened child. Something was seriously wrong. He pulled on their joined hands again, and the medic placed a hand on Brains’s chest to keep him from moving.
“Sir? You may have a spinal injury, so we have to place you on this backboard with a collar to protect you. If you won’t cooperate, we’re going to have to sedate you.”
“Can you give us a minute?” Paul asked the medics, irritation clear in his voice.
“We need to get him to the ambulance,” the medic closest to him said, and then was distracted by the band’s manager. She gave the medic Brains’s information and shot a worried look Paul’s direction. His full name was Billy Brennan.
Paul ground his teeth together and took a breath to calm himself. “I understand. Will you give me a moment to speak to Mr. Brennan? I’d like to avoid the use of sedatives.”
She nodded, and they stood and backed away a few feet to confer.
Paul squeezed Brains’s hand and placed the other on his forehead.
“Hey, man. The sedatives are a drag. This will all go better if you let them collar you and get you on the backboard. Hopefully everything is fine. The fact that you’re moving your toes and strangling my fingers leads me to think your spine is just fine, but it’s procedure. I swear I’m staying with you.”
Billy swallowed hard, his eyes wild. “I know I’m acting crazy. There’s a reason, I just… please.”
Paul smiled at him. “You haven’t seen crazy until you’ve got a wounded Marine pulling his pistol and pointing it at your face while you try to remove a sliver from his other hand.”
Brains’s eyes bugged out. “A sliver?”
Paul shrugged. “It was a four-inch piece of shrapnel, but I’d still call it a sliver.” He winked, and Brains barked out a laugh. Good, keep that smile. “You going to let them collar you and take you for a little ride?”
Brains’s smile faded. “Just please stay with me. Can you? Will you?”
If Paul hadn’t already been 100 percent in on this mission, he was now.
R.L. Merrill brings you stories of Hope, Love, and Rock ‘n’ Roll featuring quirky and relatable characters. Whether she’s writing about contemporary issues that affect us all or diving deep into the paranormal and supernatural to give readers a shiver, she loves creating compelling stories that will stay with readers long after.
Winner of the Kathryn Hayes “When Sparks Fly” Best Contemporary award for Hurricane Reese, Foreword INDIES finalist for Summer of Hush and RONE finalist for Typhoon Toby, Ro spends every spare moment improving her writing craft and striving to find that perfect balance between real-life and happily ever after.
She writes diverse and inclusive romance, contributes paranormal hilarity to Robyn Peterman’s Magic and Mayhem Universe, and works on various other writing and mentoring projects that tickle her fancy or benefit a worthy cause.
You can find her connecting with readers on social media, educating America’s youth, raising two brilliant teenagers, trying desperately to get that back piece finished in the tattoo chair, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.
Author Website: https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com
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