PROMO: The Qinali Virus

Promo

The Qinali VirusValerie J. Mikles has a new queer sci fi book out: “The Qinali Virus.”

Rage. Poverty. Disease.

They’re gone. Every last one.

The cost was great. The population has been devastated. But for the survivors, utopia has arrived.

Then the suspicious death of a young person forces Amber to question her world like she never has before. The Contentedness Council is after her, determined to protect their perfect society. Now Amber must unbury her city’s repressed past, expose the crimes that led to their utopia, and find a way to stop the Council from killing the world… again.

Join astral-projecting asexual Amber and her telepathic sister as they fight to save the human race from extermination!

Get It on Amazon


Excerpt

The Qinali Virus MemeJenise gasped. “Don’t do it.”

“Don’t call for help?” Amber asked, setting the tablet aside. “This is an astral injury. Maybe someone back home can help you.”

“No, please,” Jenise whimpered.

Amber felt her body vibrating and heard a ringing in her ears. The world became hazy and she saw her physical body collapsed on the ground. She hadn’t moved, and when she reached to the side, her hands passed through everything. This was how her book had described the astral plane.

“I did it! I’m here,” she squealed. Then she saw Jenise lying on the ground. A needle-like splinter pierced Jenise’s brain, and her aura seemed to ooze from the wound.

“Oh, this… this is bad…” Amber stammered, gathering the oozing essence back toward Jenise. Her hand went right through the glowing ooze and Jenise’s body. “How can I help you if I can’t touch you? What did the book say?”

“She’s coming for me,” Jenise murmured. Her physical form twitched, the red welts spreading as the needle dug deeper into her brain. Amber tried to clamp Jenise’s chin, but Jenise’s body passed through hers, so she grabbed the needle, and suddenly Jenise went still. She saw the needle because Jenise had described the needle. It was a manifestation of an injury; not a physical injury.

“I can manipulate a manifestation,” Amber murmured. Moving gingerly, Amber extracted the needle from her sister’s brain, and Jenise started to scream.

“Do you want me to stop?” Amber asked. Jenise kept screaming, oblivious to the question.

Gritting her teeth, Amber removed more of the needle, and her sister’s essence gushed from the wound. Amber blew gently on the oozing liquid and it seemed to dissolve into her sister’s skin. Once the needle was out, she molded her hands around her sister’s head, trying to close the wound. Her hands kept passing through Jenise’s skull, making her twitch. Amber didn’t like astral surgery, and she hoped she was helping.

“They’re coming,” Jenise murmured, her hands flailing, passing through Amber’s astral body. She felt her form vibrate and a ringing sound filled her ears.

“No. No, I’m not finished!” Amber cried, feeling an anchor pulling her back to her physical form. She curled into a fetal position, fighting to get back to the astral plane.

Jenise rolled onto her side and spooned behind Amber. “We have to run,” she rasped. “Someone’s coming.”

“Who? Is it Parey? Someone from the Council?” Amber asked. Amber heard the truck now, its wheels crushing the dirt and gravel as it came down the road from Highmere.

“I can’t tell,” Jenise rasped. “Don’t give up, Amber. Don’t go back.”

Amber sensed Jenise’s urgency, but when she saw the truck, she felt relieved. Running meant more isolation and uncertainty. What if Jenise wasn’t really better? Going back to Highmere made sense.

“Let’s go home,” Amber said. “You were scared, Jenise. We were scared. We can say… I don’t know. They’ll give us counseling and then we can go back to our lives.”

“I don’t want to go to brainwashing therapy,” Jenise said.

“Stop calling it that,” Amber explained.

“You don’t even know, do you?” Jenise said. “You don’t remember how you were before Cenn died. What “therapy” did to you.”

“It helped,” Amber insisted, looking hopefully at the truck ambling toward them. “I was a mess. I needed to be able to talk to someone without dumping it on all of you.”

“But you stopped feeling,” Jenise argued. “Not just the grief; you stopped feeling joy. You used to make twittering noises when you read books. You used to get so excited about things that Cenn had to sit you down so you wouldn’t pass out.”

“I’ll be fine. I’ll be calm,” Amber said, fighting for a reason to trust her people. “They want the tablet with Chenna’s research. That’s all this is. A misunderstanding.”

“I was almost misunderstood to death!” Jenise cried, kicking at Amber, and rolling out of reach.

“Jenise, unless you can move, we can’t outrun them,” Amber said. “I am not leaving without you. I—oh, no.”

The stress of the argument made her dizzy and she dropped to her knees. A moment later, she was standing by the road, watching the truck roll by. Her voice caught in her throat, but she didn’t need to call out. The husky man in the passenger seat saw her and hollered, and the truck screeched to a stop. She recognized him from the Council—Tobin Wauld.

“I know we’re not supposed to be here. We’re scared. Can you take us home?” she asked. The weight of fear lifted for a moment, but then Wauld hoisted himself out the window, and drew a long-barreled weapon.

“Well, well, Discontent Delouise. This was too easy,” he smirked.

Amber’s lips quivered and her legs froze. She’d never seen a weapon like that in Highmere, but she’d seen them in that zombie movie. Run, you idiot, her brain shouted. She’d muttered it at the characters in the movies often enough.

He shot Amber with an orange-tipped weapon as he stalked past. She felt the sting of the puncture and a thin stream of liquid dripping into her astral form.

“Tobin, you shot her!” his companion cried.

“We came with tranqs for a reason. We don’t have time to argue with discontents,” Wauld said.

Amber still couldn’t believe a councilperson had shot her. Pretending to faint, she turned and dropped, rolling down the embankment. The moment the truck was out of sight, she willed herself back to her physical body.

“How’d it go?” Jenise asked.

“They shot me,” Amber said. Her whole body was trembling from adrenaline and she could feel the spread of the tranquilizer dart pushing against it.

“Misunderstanding?” Jenise taunted.

“Oh, no. Very clear,” Amber said, blinking away the spots in her vision. She had never experienced violence in Highmere, and she didn’t even know her people had dart guns. The feelings of shock and betrayal hit her in waves, as did a profound sense of loss. This wasn’t a short camping trip that ended with a meek return home anymore.


Author Bio

The Qinali Virus - Valerie J MiklesValerie loves dancing, writing, astronomy, sci-fi, and grapes. She’s agender, aromantic, and asexual, and even though her labels describe many things she is not, her motto in life is “I can be everything I want, just not all at the same time.”

Although she has yet to get paid to eat grapes, she was delighted to learn that people would pay her to study black holes, and spent much of her twenties as a black hole hunter. She was rewarded with an astronomy PhD, which promptly inspired her to move to L.A. to be a screenwriter. How she ended up working on weather satellites for NOAA, we may never know.

Her passion for story-telling extends back to before she could write, and in fall 2017, she achieved a life dream and published her first book, “The Disappeared.” Valerie currently has six books published in her New Dawn series You can learn more about Valerie’s books on her website: http://www.valeriejmikles.com

An asexual activist, Valerie has written and produced a series of comedic short films featuring asexual characters. You can watch her films online at: http://www.aces-sitcom.com. Her third book ‘Trade Circle’ features an asexual protagonist, and interestingly, she created this character before she even knew there was a word to describe it. She is super-excited about the release of the Qinali Virus, featuring an asexual, aromantic astronomer (and a weather satellite for good measure).

Author Website: http://www.valeriejmikles.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): http://www.facebook.com/vjmikles

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/valeriebean

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16941635.Valerie_J_Mikles

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Valerie-J-Mikles/e/B074K2QCHG

Author LibraryThing: https://www.librarything.com/author/miklesvaleriej

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PROMO: Belega

Promo

Belega - Dianne HartsockDianne Hartsock has a new MM fantasy romance book out, The Karthagans Book One: “Belega.”

The Karthagans have regained their ancient powers of manipulating nature, but at the price of madness. In their lust for control they’ve destroyed their island and most of their race. They come now to Belega where one of them, Camron, seeks domination over the known world.

The Mage has come from the northern continent of Sennia to bring peace, but finding his strength no match for the coming struggle, he passes his abilities on to Natan, who only desires a simple life. Now only Natan has the ability to stop Camron, but the personal cost is more than he imagines.

It is only with the combined strength of his friends, his Karthagan lover, Kavi, and his deep desire to bring peace to the earth, that he finds the courage to overcome Camron and restore balance to the world. The power of the mind is immense.

In this world, mankind has learned to gather the energies of creation to use at their whim. But absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Publisher | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN

Barnes & Noble | QueeRomance Ink


Giveaway

Dianne is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

Belega meme - Dianne Hartsock“I have you.”

Natan rose into a low crouch from the scrub brush, careful not to scrape his cloak against the foliage, and searched his memory for the trick Kavi had taught him. Oh, yes. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, releasing all worries. His expectations. Letting go. The clip of the horse’s hooves echoed in his mind and he concentrated on that, the smell of the horse, the feel of its hide, the oats on its breath. He became aware of a vague fear in the animal’s mind.

But then the tenuous connection broke without time to try again as the soldier leading the roan brought him to a stop, his gaze sweeping the path ahead, alert. Gathering his scattered wits as best he could, Natan lunged to his feet and dove for the soldier’s legs. They went down hard, Natan gasping at the whoosh of air against his cheek as the horse reared, hooves barely missing him. Knowing he was no match for the soldier physically, he scrambled to jab a knee into the man’s back, then drew his thin knife and pressed it against the pulse at his throat and felt him stiffen.

“Hold very still,” he warned. The soldier didn’t move as the keen blade inadvertently nicked his skin. Recalling Kavi’s imprisonment, Natan gritted his teeth and swung his arm back, then brought the hilt of the knife down sharply on his vulnerable skull. The man went limp with a grunt. Natan climbed to his feet, cursing under his breath as the horse disappeared up the trail. He rolled the man over so his face wouldn’t be in the dirt, making sure he could breathe without difficulty.

Frowning at the thick trees crowding them, he left his captive a moment to scout the vicinity, at last coming upon a small clearing off the trail. It took some effort to drag the unconscious soldier to the spot, and a relief to roll the heavy body down the last few feet. He retrieved leather strips from his pack and bound the man’s hands and feet to a small sapling, and examined the soldier’s head once again. Although the purplish welt had swollen, the bleeding had stopped.

Natan watched the soldier a moment, and shook his head in disgust when he didn’t waken. “Hit him too hard,” he muttered, angry with himself. He built a small fire as the air grew chilly, and sat with his back to a tree while he waited for the soldier to regain consciousness. Darkness descended on the forest and he chewed his lips in growing anxiety. Bryon had gone to Nagal to petition the Mage to help them recover Kavi. Had he reached the city yet? If so, Natan would need to be at the Lake of Glass to meet with them in a few short days. A lifetime, while Kavi remained captive.

He sharpened his knife on a whetstone to pass the time while the soldier remained unconscious. The stars came out and an ache crept into his chest as he thought of Kavi and how they used to lie awake and watch for falling stars. Natan would make them tea in a little pot over the fire, and they’d wrap in warm blankets and talk quietly while the sky wheeled overhead. Sometimes they made love, Kavi’s warm sleek body pliant as Natan searched out new ways to draw those sweet breathy moans from his lips.

And then it had all ended. Natan closed his eyes at the jab of pain in his heart. The Nagal soldiers had come to their camp and dragged Kavi away, laughing when Natan struggled, and methodically beat him senseless. That had been two weeks ago, and every attempt he’d made to find his lover had failed. The last time he’d been threatened with imprisonment himself.

He would do Kavi no good behind iron bars, he reminded himself again.

Natan opened his eyes to find the captive staring at him from where he’d slumped against the tree. Natan went over and helped him to a sitting position.

“What’s your name?” he asked with ice in his voice. The man continued to stare at him, insolent. Natan looked him over carefully. “Let me guess. You’re dressed as a Nagal soldier, though you’re obviously not one. Maybe a deserter? Maybe a Barkuit spy?” He watched the soldier’s face as he named the rival country, then leaned closer to whisper, “What of Kavi?”

“That trash?” the man asked in surprise, and yelped when Natan lunged at him, knife slipping into his hand.  “Say that again and I’ll slit your throat. Now, what

is your name?”

“Captain Syros Reed.”

Natan sat back on his heels, fury hot in his chest.

“Speak.”

“I could tell you where they mean to bury him,” Syros drawled, holding Natan’s gaze, and smiled slightly at his sharply indrawn breath. “He was alive the last time I saw him, but I heard they mean to bury him soon. If you hurry, he may still be breathing. I don’t know.”

“And you didn’t help him?” With a sudden enraged cry Natan drove his knife into the sapling inches from Syros’s face. “He’d better be alive, for your sake.”

He left his water skin for Syros, should the man succeed in freeing himself, then gave the soldier no more thought as he snatched up his pack and settled into the long run ahead, determined to be at the Lake of Glass on time.


Author Bio

Dianne HartsockDianne grew up in one of the older homes in the middle of Los Angeles, a place of hardwood floors and secret closets and back staircases. A house where ghosts lurk in the basement and the faces in the paintings watch you walk up the front stairs. Rooms where you keep the closet doors closed tight at night. It’s where her love of the mysterious and wonderful came from. Dianne is the author of paranormal/suspense, fantasy adventure, m/m romance, the occasional thriller, and anything else that comes to mind.

She now lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play. Dianne says Oregon’s raindrops are the perfect setting in which to write. There’s something about being cooped up in the house with a fire crackling on the hearth and a cup of hot coffee in her hands, which kindles her imagination.

Currently, Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.

Author Website: http://diannehartsock.wordpress.com/

Author Facebook (Personal): http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/diannehartsock

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/Dianne-Hartsock-Author-107985445959828/

Author Twitter: http://twitter.com/diannehartsock

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/diannehartsock/

Author Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4707011-dianne-hartsock

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/dianne-hartsock/

Author Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dianne-Hartsock/e/B005106SYQ/

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PROMO: Hallelujah

Promo

HallelujahKim Fielding and F.E. Feeley Jr. have a new gay horror book out:

“Hallelujah.”

Can you hear it?

Whispering in the dark.

Secrets only the dark knows.

Joseph Moore, choir director for the First Baptist Church of Lenora, Nebraska, has secrets of his own. Terrible, lonely secrets. One that involves natural human desire. One that calls forth powers he cannot begin to understand. Both with the potential to destroy him and those he loves.

Now the world is changing. The darkness, the shadows, the ghosts, are closing in—and Joseph and his lover, Kevin, are being stalked by a merciless demon, hell-bent on possession.

Can you hear it now?

Warnings: violence. This is not a romance.

There in the dark.

It’s whispering your name.

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords


Giveaway

Kim and F.E. are giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this cover reveal and tour. For a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

“NO!”

Joseph fought against the hands on his shoulders. The room was sweltering, and all his strength had sapped away.

“NO!”

“Joseph, open your eyes! Open your eyes, dammit!”

He was being shaken, and despite his unwillingness, his eyes opened. Kevin’s face stared down at him.

“Fuck you. Let me go!”

Joseph pulled away and fell backward onto the altar steps. His attempt to break the fall caused his wrist to smart painfully, and he whimpered. His whole body shook; he felt sick to his stomach.

Kevin raised his hands in surrender. “What the hell, man? Who did this to you?”

“What?”

“What do you mean, ‘what’? You’re beat to shit. Did someone jump you?”

Joseph looked down and saw his scratched-up legs and swollen ankle. He scanned the sanctuary, half expecting the shadowed figure to be lurking somewhere nearby. But that wasn’t the case. All the lights were on, brilliantly illuminating every corner. There was no sign of the spirit who normally haunted the place.

“Who are you looking for?”

Joseph faced Kevin once again. “What? No one. What are you doing here?”

Although Kevin had been bare-chested at their last meeting, he was wearing a shirt now. Well, part of a shirt. It was an old Budweiser tee with the sleeves cut out and the sides wide open. When he moved, it revealed glimpses of his chest and flat stomach. Joseph felt his face flush as he averted his gaze.

“I was driving by and saw all the lights on and the door open. Figured the joint was getting robbed or somethin’. Then I found you wailing on the floor in…. Damn, dude. Look at your wrist.”

Joseph saw it was swollen. The memory of where he’d been flashed in his mind once more. The red-eyed gaze was burned into his memory.

But that had all been a dream, hadn’t it?

Please, Lord, let it have been a dream.

“Who did this to you?” Kevin repeated with a furrowed brow.

“Nobody. Look, I came back here because I thought I left something, and I fell. I must have banged my head or something.”

“You fell. Where? Into a war zone?”

Joseph snorted a laugh and looked up at him ruefully. “I don’t know what happened.” He hoped Kevin would leave it alone.

Outside, thunder crashed loudly enough to make them jump, and through the front door of the church, they could see the rain falling in torrents.

“Shit, my car windows!” Kevin took off running.

Joseph watched him go, Kevin’s ass bouncing as his long legs carried him out of the door. “Dammit,” Joseph muttered as he clenched his eyes closed.

He tried to get up, but as soon as he put weight on his ankle, it gave and forced him to sit back down.

What am I going to do?

Just then he saw the ghost once more. She was floating on the upstairs balcony, looking down at him. Her mouth was moving, and if Joseph sat really still, he swore he could hear her words, carried on the wind that howled through the open church door.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me

Let me hide myself in thee

He felt sadness wash over him. She wasn’t terrible to look at; in life she must have been quite beautiful. But he didn’t know how to help her.

“You must help them, cher.” Celine had said.

Kevin dashed in through the door. His jeans were soaked and his wannabe T-shirt stuck to his muscular build. “Well, we got two options.”

“Yeah, what’s that?”

“We could wait out the storm before I take you home, or I can haul your crippled ass right now into said storm and take you home.”

Joseph reached out his good hand to Kevin, who grasped it and pulled. Joseph lurched to his feet and, in trying to keep the weight off his swollen ankle, ended up clinging to Kevin. They were almost nose to nose, staring into each other’s eyes as they held fast.

Blood pounded in his Joseph’s head. “I gotta get home.”

Kevin’s long eyelashes fluttered once, twice, three times before registering what he’d said. Yet his hands didn’t move. The two of them looked as if they were on a dance floor waiting for a waltz to start.

“Yeah, let’s get you home. Here, lean on me.”

“I appreciate it.”

They moved slowly across the floor of the church.

“You gonna tell me who did this?”

“I honestly don’t know.”

“Crazy shit, man.”

Joseph nodded. “Yup. It’s been a hell of a night.”

They closed the door behind them, got into the car, and drove cautiously into the downpour with the windshield wipers slapping.

Five minutes later, the lights they’d forgotten to turn off went dark.


Author Bios

Kim Fielding - Hallelujah

Kim Fielding

Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.

After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls California home. She lives there with her family and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.

Author Website: http://kfieldingwrites.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/KFieldingWrites/

Author Twitter: @KFieldingWrites

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kfieldingwrites/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4105707.Kim_Fielding

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/kim-fielding/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kim-Fielding/

F.E. Feeley Jr. - Hallelujah

F.E. Feeley Jr. 

First and foremost, I am a husband to my wonderful husband, John. I am a father of our five-year-old German Shephard, Kaiser. I am an avid reader of Mysteries, Horror, and Suspense, and biographies. I am a gamer. My favorite ones are Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Star Trek Online, Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed, Fallout, and Civilization Five. I love to cook and I love trying new recipes (hint hint). I am an avid music junkie from POPular music to Opera, to Showtunes, Gospel, Rock, Rap, and Hip Hop. I am also a Poet – a lot of which is offered on this web page for free. And I do some gay fiction writing from time to time.

I love connecting with people. As an ex- fundi, I grew up in a world where there was this invisible boundary set down between me and the world around me. I felt more like an observer than an actual participant in that world. Since I’ve left fundamentalism – it has been my constant endeavor to be a part of the world. To be a part of humanity. And when I write my poetry or my books, I draw from the experiences of being raised in that environment as well as the experiences of tasting the bouquet of humanity I’d been denied all those years ago.

Author Website: https://fefeeleyjr.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/groups/170296487228770/

Author Twitter: @fefeeleyjr

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/f.e.feeleyjr/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6806438.F_E_Feeley_Jr_

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/f-e-feeley-jr/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/F-E-Feeley-Jr/

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PROMO: Peacemaker

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Peacemaker - E.M. HamillE.M. Hamill has a new queer sci fi book out, book two in the Dalí Tamareia series: “Peacemaker.”

Third-gender operative Dalí Tamareia thought their life as an ambassador ended when they joined a galactic intelligence agency. When they’re yanked out of the field and tapped to negotiate the surrender of deadly bio-engineered warriors who crashed into hostile territory, Dalí is thrust headfirst back into the tumultuous world of galactic diplomacy.

Dalí has faced Shontavians before, but not like these. The stranded mercenaries are highly intelligent and have an agenda of their own. Dalí can’t afford to be distracted from the negotiations by their own demons or the presence of a charming diplomat with a mysterious past.

As a brewing civil war threatens to derail the entire mission, Dalí must use all their skills to bring this dangerous situation to a peaceful end—but the Shontavians may not be the biggest monsters at the table. Someone is determined to see Dalí and their team dead before they discover the brutal truth hiding in the wreckage.

NineStar Press | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | Goodreads


Giveaway

E.M. is giving away a $15 Amazon gift card with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

PeacemakerI took a quick turn in the cleanser to rid my skin and hair of the tacky residue left by the decon spray. In the warmth and vibration, I shuddered as the last of the physical characteristics I’d adapted to pass as male shifted back into my neutral, sexless state. My crewmates didn’t expect me to assume a gender, something for which I remained grateful. Without hormone stimulation to drive the change, the process was more painful, and my shoulders complained against the grind of bone and muscle.

I tamed my wavy brown mop as best I could, drawing it into a short, braided queue at the back of my neck before putting on the dress black uniform hanging in my quarters. The white starburst of diplomacy blazed in holographic relief on my left shoulder with the multiarmed spiral of the Remoliad’s sigil on the opposite sleeve.

To be back in the uniform of an ambassador felt strange. Transient reflections in the narrow window showed a me I hadn’t acknowledged in over two years. I barely recognized the echo of who I used to be, a transparent ghost against the stars outside.

The reason I had been pulled out of the field began to make sense, though I still didn’t know what the assignment entailed. Time to find out.

At the closed door of Sumner’s ready room, I tugged at the tunic’s high collar, squared my shoulders, and tapped on the panel to request entry.

“Commander. Permission to enter?”

“Granted.” The door slid aside with his verbal acknowledgment. I stepped through.

Silhouetted by the flicker of busy data screens behind the desk, Sumner wore a black uniform with insignias of diplomatic service similar to mine but without the starburst rank of ambassador. Instead, he wore the pips of an officer in the Remoliad Fleet on the high neck of his collar. He stared at the screen of a PDD, his expression dark and troubled.

Sumner glanced up and a crooked grin formed on his lips as he rose. “Ambassador Tamareia. I haven’t seen you in a while.”

His vocal inflections sounded almost normal, but his eyes still held frost. We were never this formal with each other, a sign of the tension between us.

“I haven’t seen me in a long time either. It feels very strange.” I took a deep breath. “I would like to apologize for my insubordination, especially for what I said in med bay, Commander. I was out of line.” Embarrassment burned in my cheeks, and I lowered my gaze. “I owe Melos and Ziggy more than an apology. I was under the influence on a mission, and I put the lives of my teammates in danger. I will accept the consequences of my actions as you deem appropriate.”

“Grab a chair.” He gestured opposite his desk, and I sat. “I think I owe you an apology as well. I’ve gotten used to autonomy. When some bureaucrat tells me to drop whatever I’m doing and pull my operatives in the middle of a potentially productive mission, it pisses me off. The order to recall you came from so far over my head I got vertigo. The rest is just the frost on the comet, and it pushed me over the line.” He cleared his throat. “I’m sorry for the vendetta remark.”

“No, you were right. I needed to be reminded why I’m here. You promised only that I will be involved when we take them down, not that I would be the instrument.” No matter how badly I wanted the privilege, I had a bigger job to do. “Who told you to recall me?”

His mouth twisted in an ironic smile. “The Remoliad security council.”

My eyebrows threatened to merge with my hairline. “The security council has authority over the Penumbra?”

“Technically. My superior answers to the secretary general, but it’s almost unheard of to receive a direct order from any office.”

“I don’t understand.” I frowned. “Did my mother have anything to do with this?”

“No, Ambassador Urquhart isn’t involved as far as we can tell. We checked since the order was so specific. But I just received more details.” He handed me the data device he’d been scowling at when I came in. “Against all previous declarations of disdain for galactic alliance, the Ursetu recently issued an emergency petition for their planet to become a member of the Remoliad.”

I narrowed my eyes at him and took the PDD. “I saw something about that in my debriefing file. The crown princess is dead?”

“Yes. The queen and her grandson, Prince Razaxha, are still alive.”

“What happened? Was the planet attacked?”

“Yes and no.” He swept his hand and a heads-up display swirled into view between us. “I’ll warn you up front, this is brutal.”

The wreck of some immense ship blighted the forested grounds of a ziggurat-like palace, silhouetted against the backdrop of a sharp black mountain. Columns of smoke and flames traced the outline of warped and twisted debris. The recording lens zoomed in on a section of the disaster where tiny flashes of light sparked and died. As the picture enlarged, I sat forward in shock.

“Enhance this area.” Sumner circled the spot on the heads-up and spread his fingers. The portion of the holovid expanded, grainy, blurred, and blocked by foliage, but I made it out plainly enough. Enormous, gray-skinned figures piled out of the wreckage.

Shontavians.

The four-armed beings appeared unstoppable as they swatted aside the Ursetu and their guns, snatched up the soldiers with their sharp-taloned hands and—

A psychic memory of the taste of blood and entrails hit me so hard I fought the urge to vomit.

“Stop the playback!” I drew heavy breaths through my nose until the nausea passed and my heart stopped pounding. Sumner swept his hand over the enlarged holo, reducing details to a safe distance as my mind attempted to process what I’d seen.

A ship hadn’t crashed in the middle of an Ursetu city. It was the orbiting laboratory where Shontavians were engineered and kept isolated until their sale to whomever bought their mercenary services. It crashed into the planet or was deliberately brought down.

By whom?

The Ursetu faced monsters of their own making—huge, intelligent creatures with the serrated teeth and claws of a predator, created solely for fighting wars. And they had a craving for sentient meat.


Author Bio

E.M. HamillElisabeth “E.M.” Hamill is a nurse by day, unabashed geek, chocoholic, sci fi and fantasy novelist by nights, weekends, and whenever she can steal quality time with her laptop. She lives with her family, a dog, and a cat in the wilds of eastern suburban Kansas, where they fend off flying monkey attacks and prep for the zombie apocalypse.

Her other books include the acclaimed sci fi novel Dalí, the snarky urban fantasy Nectar and Ambrosia, and several short works of fiction. Visit http://www.elisabethhamill.com for a full list of literary work.

Author Website: https://www.elisabethhamill.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/EMHamill

Author Twitter: @songmagick

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16592440.E_M_Hamill

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/e-m-hamill/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00JY0FV8S

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PROMO: When Are You?

Promo

COVER - When Are You?Addison Albright has a new MM time travel romance book out: “When Are You?”.

They have to find him…but how?

A former member of an elite military special forces unit, Leo Bailey can handle anything life throws at him. Except maybe approaching a certain gorgeous, purple mohawk-wearing, heavily pierced artist. Not without his three eye-rolling wingmen along to push him in the right direction.

One look at the mouthwateringly muscled, military buzzcut-sporting man with the endearing blush, and Vincent Noland is in love. Or at least in lust. Love comes later. Then marriage…and sweet, adorable Oscar.

Life is perfect—the stuff of fairy tale happily ever afters—except for Arthur Fletcher, whose unsettling reactions to them threaten to upset the happy balance of their lives. But it isn’t Arthur who throws their lives into turmoil.

A freak event causes Oscar to go missing and leaves both men frantic to rescue their son. As they piece together the clues, they discover that Oscar isn’t somewhere. He’s somewhen. And Arthur Fletcher holds the key—or rather the glass beads—to their one chance of finding Oscar.

Will Leo’s training, Vinnie’s determination, and Arthur’s knowledge help them rescue Oscar, or is the little boy doomed to spend the rest of his life at the mercy of a primitive civilization? Could there be a third possibility?

Publisher | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads


Giveaway

Addison is giving away three sets of a $10 Amazon gift card and a backlist eBook with this tour. For a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

MEME1 - When Are YouThey reached the quivering wall of air and rushed through it to the sound of the old woman on the bench screaming as their shoes found purchase on the park’s pervious rubber pathway, and they surged forward…then tumbled headlong onto the surface as the counterweight they’d been pulling vanished.

Leo grunted as his forearms scraped along the path. He stared uncomprehendingly at the stroller’s handlebar, still clutched in one hand. The handlebar and about six inches of pole on either side ending with a clean cut.

Leo gaped, unblinking and breathing heavily, at the path behind them. The wavering air…it was gone. The air was normal.

The woman hadn’t stopped screaming. Vinnie was panting—hyperventilating?—and snatching at bits of light green fabric that matched the stroller’s canopy.

“Oscar?” Leo’s voice came out in a squeak. Louder, he repeated, “Oscar?” He sat up and scanned the area. An unrelenting hand clutched his heart. Squeezed it. Squelched it. Liquified it. Oscar was gone. The entire stroller, other than the handlebar, was…gone.

Leo shoved his sunglasses to the top of his head. His breath caught in his throat, and he looked around again. He shouted, “Oscar!”

“No, no, no, no…” Vinnie chanted as he stumbled to his feet and spun around, fruitlessly looking everywhere…anywhere. He snatched another bit of green fabric floating on the air. “No, no, no, no…this isn’t happening.”

“Oscar!” Leo yelled again. His stomach lurched, threatening to heave because their actions were pointless. Wherever they’d been, that’s where Oscar still was. The portal had snapped shut, cutting them off, but every cell in Leo’s body screamed in denial of this reality. “Oscaaaaar!”

The woman stopped shrieking but sucked in rattling breaths behind her hands that now covered her face. Behind them on the path, voices broke through Leo’s focus.

“Oh, my God, did you see that?”

“What the hell just happened?”

“They just disappeared…into…thin air.”

“What happened to the kid?”

“Somebody call 9-1-1!”

In the field, the people who’d been kicking soccer balls had stilled and were staring, wide-eyed.

Vinnie crumpled to the ground, hugged his knees to his chest, bits of green fabric clutched in his hands, and rocked. Leo barely heard Vinnie’s words as they tore his heart in two. “No, no, no, no…”

Leo doubled over and retched. He’d failed Oscar. He’d failed Vinnie. He’d failed. Utterly and completely failed.

He hadn’t cried since middle school, but a garbled sob escaped him now. He dragged a forearm across his mouth and turned back toward where the wavy air had been. “Oscaaaaar!”

“Where did it go?” Vinnie choked on a rattling sob of his own. “Where did it go? We’ve got to go back and get him! Where did it go?”

Leo lifted his face to the sky. “Oscaaaaar!”

The faintest of echoes was the only answer to Leo’s agonized plea.


Author Bio

Addison AlbrightAddison Albright is a writer living in the middle of the USA. Her stories are gay romance in contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction genres. She generally adds a subtle touch of humor, a smidgen of drama/angst, and a healthy dose of slice-of-life to her stories. Her education includes a BS in Education with a major in mathematics and a minor in chemistry. Addison loves spending time with her family, reading, popcorn, boating, French fries, “open window weather,” cats, math, and anything chocolate. She loves to read pretty much anything and everything, anytime and anywhere.

Author Website: https://authoraddisonalbright.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/addison.albright.profile

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/AddisonAlbright

Author Twitter: http://twitter.com/AddisonAlbright

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/addison.albright/

Author Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2739864.Addison_Albright

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/addison-albright/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Addison-Albright/e/B00J119QGS/

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PROMO: Going Down

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COVER - Going Down - Lady Jaguar

Lady Jaguar has a new MM erotic action-adventure romance out: “Going Down.”

A misunderstanding leads to seduction, then a life-changing job offer…

Tino Santini is calm and decent with a core of steel, qualities he needs when he is offered the role of PA to ferocious CEO, Richard Mason.

The opportunity arises after Tino is trapped with Mason in the office elevator just before Thanksgiving. A bottle of brandy kickstarts a night of scorching sex which does wonders for Tino’s flagging career.

Pansexual multi-millionaire, Richard, has it all; wealth, success, commitment-free sex every time he snaps his fingers, but a former female lover, a New York gangster and a murky past all threaten to destroy his chance of happiness.

Tino gradually learns who his boss really is, whilst willingly keeping him happy both in the bedroom and out of it. Neither of them expect their relationship to be anything other than business, until a personal tragedy means that Richard needs Tino more than ever.

For both of them, that first chance meeting is the catalyst for a headlong plunge into sexual adventures, murder and possibly love.

Warnings: one instance of drug use, alcohol use, violence, historical incest query, extreme possessiveness.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN


Giveaway

Lady Jaguar is giving away a $15 Amazon gift card with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

Going Down meme - Lady Jaguar

THE CEO’S OFFICE was behind a tall oak door with his name emblazoned on a silver plaque. Tino knocked and went in, figuring it was okay as Mason wanted him to follow in the first place.

The room was empty, so Tino went back outside and asked Eleanor what he should do.

“He’s probably in his bathroom,” she said. “Just wait for him in the office. Don’t make him come looking for you.”

Tino hurriedly returned to Mason’s office. The space was huge, with two glass walls giving views up and across Fifth Avenue. His black mahogany desk was also enormous, and mostly empty apart from a telephone, an ink blotter and an Art Deco lamp.

To one side of the office were two large grey leather couches and a smoked glass coffee table in between. The wall behind one of the couches was dominated by a large square artwork consisting of a series of blips and lines, black on white background. At the bottom was the discreet legend, Love Story. It didn’t make any sense to Tino, but he never pretended to be an art buff.

As he waited, perched on the chair opposite Mason’s desk, he tried to remember what he knew about the man usually occupying the large black leather chair.

Not much, apart from everyone knew he had an evil temper. There had also been some talk of an affair with a transgender hooker, and the supercars he had stored in the parking lot underneath the building. Tino had even heard a rumor that he’d killed someone once, with his bare hands.

He ran his finger around his collar, hoping he wouldn’t start to sweat. The man was terrifying, that much he did know. Some said he was a generous and fair boss who wasn’t to be messed with. Others called him Godzilla under their breath and tried to avoid him at all costs.

There was no doubt he polarized opinion in the office. Anyone who had received a tongue-lashing from him bore the scars for life.

Tino’s backside pimpled and he fought the urge to run. Christ, what was he doing here?

He heard the toilet flush, and within a few moments, Mason came out of another door on the opposite side of the office. He still wore his suit trousers but his upper torso was distractingly bare, revealing a broad chest smattered with silky black hair, and a Celtic knotwork band circling one upper arm. On his back, there was a wolf’s face, similar to the Wolfen company’s logo. As Tino continued to check out the CEO’s muscular swimmer’s shoulders and narrow waist, Mason threw his shirt at him, making him jump.

“Get that cleaned, will you?”

The garment smelled of him, and Tino had to resist the urge to bury his face in it. Instead, he watched as Mason covered up that divine chest with a fresh shirt and began fiddling with the cufflinks.

“Help me,” he said impatiently.

Immediately, Tino jumped to his feet and went to assist. The cufflinks were gold, the stones white diamonds. They must have cost the equivalent of half a year’s salary for Tino. He fumbled and dropped the second one.

As he bent down to pick it up, he noticed Mason’s feet were bare. No shoes. No socks, just long, prehensile toes and perfectly pedicured nails with black nail polish. He tried not to stare, concentrating on the task in hand.

When he had finished, Mason went to sit in the black leather executive chair on his side of the desk.

“First off, questions.” He clasped his hands on the desk in front of him.

Tino waited, staring at the snowy cuffs and sparkling diamonds.

Mason waited.

“Sir?” Tino said, when the waiting became painful.

“Don’t you have any?”

Tino realized Mason had been asking him what his questions were.

“Oh, right! Er, yeah. A bit of a shock, coming in this morning and being told to clear my desk. Why do you want me, sir? I thought…”

Mason took a file out of his desk drawer and opened it. “Valentino Santini, born 1988, educated in Brooklyn. Average grades at best. Came to Wolfen as a filing clerk in 2012. Proved to have an aptitude for marketing and a pleasing telephone manner. Worked up through the company to become a junior manager and then…” He slammed the file shut. “Career stalled thanks to one ambitious little prick. I would fire him, but he gets results. So back to you. You’re loyal, discreet, bright and personable. Those are the qualities I need for someone to eventually take over from Eleanor. Also, the ability not to take shit from anyone, most of all me. You think you can do that, Valentino?”

“Yes sir,” Tino replied promptly.

“My question to you is, why would you want to? Work for me, that is??”

Tino opened his mouth and closed it again. “I… wasn’t given the choice, was I?”

Mason gestured impatiently. “Of course you have a choice. You think I want someone who hates the air I breathe? There are plenty of internal positions within the company, not only here but in any one of our offices. The pay won’t be as good but…”

“I want to work for you,” Tino said, cutting him short.

“Why?”

“I like a challenge. Someone says to me, ‘it’s impossible,’ I like to prove to them it isn’t.”

Mason smiled crookedly. “You expect to have me eating out of your hand any time soon?”

Wow. For a moment, Tino couldn’t speak. He was mesmerized by the man in front of him, enviable cheekbones, straight dark hair that spiked over a high forehead, cruel lips that had …

No, don’t think about what we did in the elevator, for fuck’s sake…

He snapped back to the present.

“If I did, it wouldn’t be a challenge, would it? Sir.”

Mason rested back in his seat, long fingers stroking the fat leather chair arms.

“One could argue this is a woman’s role. Being my Man Friday? Being at my beck and call? Listening to me when I’m jacked up on JD and wanting three whores in my apartment within fifteen minutes? Ringing you when you’re at your sick mother’s bedside and screaming at you for forgetting to organize my pastrami bagel? Threatening to fire you every five minutes? Do you really want to work for a blue-chip asshole like me?”

He came around to Tino’s side of the table and perched on the desk in front of him, impaling him with an intent glare. Tino could smell his sandalwood aftershave and something much muskier, beguiling him, screwing with his reason. He tried not to look at the man’s crotch. If he didn’t know any better, he was sporting a healthy-looking semi.

“I think I can handle you,” he muttered.

“Oh, I know you think you can.” Without warning, he took Tino’s chin in a strong grip and forced him to look up. “Don’t make the mistake of falling for me, Valentino. Eleanor probably already told you this. I break balls, rip hearts to shreds and fuck like a demon, but I don’t do love. Respect, yes, if it’s earned, but not love. Never forget that.”

“I have no intention of marrying you, sir,” Tino replied, deadpan. Inside his chest, his heart was beating so loud, he was surprised Mason couldn’t hear it.

Mason let go of his face, grinning savagely. “And that, Valentino, is why I want you. I think we understand each other.”


Author Bio

Lady Jaguar’s first den was in the depths of Archive Of Our Own and Wattpad, where she still writes fan fiction for Holby City, Good Omens and Doctor Who (Eight.)

Now she has ventured out with a story her readers asked her to write and is just about to place it at your feet like a dead rodent. Expect filth, high-octane frolics and every beloved romance trope known to mankind!

Lady Jaguar is on Instagram (when they haven’t banned her,) Twitter, and down with the kids at Tumblr.

Author Website: https://www.jaynelockwood.com

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/realladyjaguar

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ladyjaguarwrites/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19878228.Lady_Jaguar

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/?s=lady+Jaguar&search_type=book_search

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PROMO: Of Magic And Scales

Promo

Of Magic and Scales - Natalina ReisNatalina Reis has a new MM Paranormal murder mystery romance out: “Of Magic and Scales.”

With a serial killer on the loose, the baffling mystery of Aiden’s past, and their tenuous budding romance, Aiden and Fouchard tread through a world of magic and myth on padded shoes, terrified to stir up something neither can control or defeat.

Aiden Mercer’s life now centers around lounging on the sunny beaches of his adopted country with a beer in one hand and a coffee in the other while admiring the local male population. After a rough life as a respected detective in DC, playing it cool shouldn’t be too hard, right? With the magical community on his case and dead bodies piling up around town, the responsibility of finding their killer seems fated to fall on him and deny him of his easy living.

Then there is Naël.

Cantankerous merman Naël Fouchard’s life is focused on bringing up and protecting his little sister. When DNA found at the scene of the murders mark him as the prime suspect, Naël seeks out the help of Aiden, whose reputation as a detective grossly belies his lazy lifestyle and apparent lack of ambition.

The chemistry between the strong, stoic Naël and the easygoing Aiden is undeniable, no matter how many walls Aiden builds.

If this unlikely pair can’t come to terms with their feelings for each other long enough to catch the killer, their emotional turmoil might yet allow the murderer to kill them instead.

Hot Tree Publishing | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Amazon AUS | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads


Giveaway

Natalina is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win:

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Excerpt

Of Magic and Scales - Natalina ReisI’m not sure what I am, but I certainly know what I am not. I know I’m not a witch because—well, I’m male. I’m definitely not an elf, since I have no sudden urges to hop onto somebody’s shelf around Christmas. Vampire I am not. My perfectly straight teeth have never once turned into fangs, neither have I ever had a sudden, strange craving for human blood. I’m not a werewolf either. I do have hair on my body but nothing that would qualify me as a wolfman. Besides, I am still pretty much myself during full moons.

But I am not a regular either, because unlike most normal humans, I can see magic beings. By “seeing,” I mean I recognize them as such. Anyone can see them, unless the magicals choose for them not to. I, on the other hand, can always recognize them, unless they purposely hide themselves behind a special magic charm.

I don’t remember not having the ability, so I’m guessing I was born like this. Whatever this is. Good thing that I’m used to it, because seeing magical beings for what they are can be a pretty traumatizing experience, as it was the time I freaked out during a trip to Greece, when I had a close encounter with a minotaur. Nice chap as it turns out but not a pretty sight.

I’ve lived a pretty normal, average life running Bicas R Us, a coffee shop in a small coastal town in sunny Portugal, for the past year or so. After an incident in Northern Virginia that put me on the pages of the local news—don’t ask; it involved a pretty handsome elf and his irate troll boyfriend—I thought it would be better to start again somewhere new. I had visited the tiny nation some years before and fallen in love with its never-ending beaches and kicked-back lifestyle, so I packed my bags, contacted a real estate agent and the immigration office, and got myself a brand-new life.

I had played with the idea of buying a coffee shop on the beach, but I figured it would be a mother to keep the place—and the coffee—free of sand. So, I bought a store nearby in the town square, a short walk from the beach. Portugal is littered with three things: tourists, ancient churches, and coffee shops. Nobody would notice me, the brown haired, blue-eyed American who came to explore the locals’ passion for the hot brew.

The other perk of living here was that magical creatures were not spotted as often. Vampires were virtually nonexistent because of the year-round sunny weather, trolls and ogres were limited to the mountains in the north and, unless you visited the nearby mountain of Sintra that crawled with magical activity, the only thread of magic on the coast was the sporadic water sprite and the beachcombing witches who sold their wares in local shops. All in all, a pretty placid place for someone like me to live in.

I enjoyed today’s cool breeze blowing from the ocean, sitting on a chair in my small esplanade under a red umbrella with a glass of cold beer in my hand. Yes, in this sunny paradise I was allowed to sell and buy alcohol in my coffee shop. Behind my light pinewood counter, the wall shelves were covered in bottles that held more than coffee flavorings. What a great nation this was.

While Cristina, my only employee, was busy serving the few customers who loitered inside the café, I could enjoy the local fauna as they hurried from shop to shop or headed out to the beach. Summer hadn’t quite arrived yet, but the sun had warmed the air enough for the locals to shed their wintry clothes and don more relaxed apparel. From behind my shades, I followed the trek of three young men, all shirtless and in swimming trunks. Hot. Not the weather, the guys—tanned, lean and muscular, shorts low enough on their hips to reveal that sexy vee—

“Olha para ti, a salivar como um cão por um bife.” Cristina had sneaked up from behind and interrupted my yummy thoughts.

“Speak English, woman,” I told her, sliding my glasses down my nose to look at her over the rim. “You’d think you’re Portuguese, or something.”

She slapped me mercilessly across the back of my head and plopped herself on the chair next to mine. “Idiota.”Without so much as a may I, my small Portuguese friend and employee grabbed the glass from my hand and took a long swig of my beer. “Are you going to sit here all afternoon watching the hot guys walking by?”

“And what’s wrong with that?” Cristina spoke flawless English but enjoyed confusing me with spurts of Portuguese once in a while. She pulled up another chair and placed her feet on the seat, her legs crossed at the knees. “What exactly did you call me just now?”

“A dog salivating over a steak.” She took another swig before I could retrieve my beer. “Don’t you have more important things to do with your life, Aiden?”

I wiped her foam mustache with a finger. “Not really. Why do you think I moved here from Virginia?” She blinked her eyes at me, pretending not to know what I was talking about. “Easy living, sunshine, and hot, half-naked guys.”

Cristina laughed, her face turned to the sun. She had skin the same color as the cork in a wine bottle, a honeyed brown made darker since the early spring weather replaced the cool air of winter. “You’re something, Aiden. You have no other dream or ambition? Just basking in the sun and ogling sexy men?”

Not quite correct but part of the truth. “Are you jealous?”

The skin crinkled around her green eyes as she turned her gaze to me. “Only if you flirt with guys I have my eyes on.” She spotted a couple of newly arrived customers and hopped to her feet. “Customers. Unlike you, I have some interest in making a buck here and there. I enjoy having a roof over my head.”

As she walked away, I yelled, “No need. You can always sleep on the beach.”


Author Bio

Natalina ReisNatalina wrote her first romance at the age of 13 in collaboration with her best friend. Since then she has ventured into other genres, but romance is first and foremost in almost everything she writes. She’s the author of We Will Always Have the Closet, Desert Jewel, Loved You Always, and Lavender Fields.

After earning a degree in tourism and foreign languages, she worked as a tourist guide in her native Portugal for a short time before moving to the United States. She lived in three continents and a few islands, and her knack for languages and linguistics led her to a master’s degree in education. She lives in Virginia where she’s taught English as a Second Language to elementary school children for more years than she cares to admit.

Natalina doesn’t believe you can have too many books or too much coffee. Art and dance make her happy and she is pretty sure she could survive on lobster and bananas alone. When she is not writing or stressing over lesson plans, she shares her life with her husband and two adult sons.

Author Website: https://natalinareis.com/

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/authornatalinareis

Author Facebook (Page): https://www.facebook.com/authornatalinareis/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/TichaB

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reisnatalina/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14883335.Natalina_Reis

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/natalina-reis/

Author Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Natalina-Reis/e/B01ADQ9FJW/

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PROMO: Ice Gladiators

Promo

Ice Gladiators - Genevive ChambleeGenevive Chamblee has a new MM sports romance book out: “Ice Gladiator.”

Dalek “Taz” Tazandlakova is the epitome of a hockey player—tall, broad, and powerful. As a forward for the Lafayette Ice Water Moccasins, he’s also the physical embodiment of domination and intimidation.

He’s everything Liam Jolivet isn’t.

Liam possesses an inner strength and confidence Taz has never mastered. On the surface, Liam appears to be a perfect match for Taz. The problem is, Liam is dating Taz’s roommate. It’s not the only problem, either. Taz is a “playa” and has commitment issues—along with a pain-in-the-ass coach who’s threatening to ruin his career, and a second roommate who wants to dictate his social life for his own personal gain.

Nevertheless, Taz wants Liam, and Liam appears to want to reciprocate. Do they dare cross the line?

Hot Tree Publishing | Amazon US | Amazon CAN | Amazon UK | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads 


Giveaway

Genevive is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

Ice Gladiators(Contains explicit language)“Actually, you’re more likely to get jabbed in the ribs or guts than beat over the head. That’s too obvious a penalty.” Taz reclined on the sofa. “The entire point of sticking is to move someone out of your way or send a message without getting caught. Hockey’s physical and intense, but it isn’t vicious. We respect each other, even if we don’t always like each other. We hit hard, but it’s without malice. At the end of the day, it’s our job. Besides, I thought this kind of thing turned you on. At least, that’s what Jackson said.”

“I said what?”

“You said he liked hockey. Obviously, he doesn’t.”

Spencer’s brows furrowed. “I’m right here. You can talk to me.”

“I said no such thing,” Jackson, Taz’s other roommate, rebutted, picking through the mixed nuts.

Victor set the bowl on a table. “And that’s my cue to leave.”

“What did I miss?” Liam Jolivet questioned, carrying three beers and two soft drinks.

“Nothing,” Victor answered. “Hand them their drinks. You and I are watching the rest of the game in my bedroom.”

Pfft.” Jackson snorted. “You’re leaving to fuck.”

At least someone’s getting lucky tonight, Taz thought. And with a hottie like Liam, why not?

Victor frowned. “And what’s it to you?”

Taz shook his head. “Wow, Jack, that was tacky, even for you.”

“Calling them like I see them.”

“You must have cataracts in both eyes, then,” Taz huffed.

“What did you mean by sticking sending a message?” Liam asked, distributing the drinks.

“Not that kind of sticking,” Jackson interjected before Taz replied. “But if you have to ask, Vic must not be handling business.”

“Fuck you, Jack,” Victor barked.

Jackson smirked. “That’s what I meant.”

“Shut up and drag your mind out of the sewer. Come on, Liam.”

“Okay, just a minute. I want to hear Taz’s answer.”

“Suit yourself,” Victor snapped, storming down the hallway and slamming a bedroom door.

Twisting the cap off his beer, Taz stared after Victor for a moment before turning his attention to Liam. “You’d better go.”

“I will, but I’m interested in what you were saying.” Liam plopped on the couch, his soulful brown eyes genuinely intrigued. He bore a meet-your-parents smile with a hint of danger that stirred Taz’s curiosity. “I know you probably get sick of all my questions every time I come over, but search engines only tell so much—computer-compiled facts. You give not only the human aspect but spill an inside scoop. It’s not like Victor ever tells me this stuff.”

“It’s an intimidation tactic,” Taz answered. “If guys know you hit, they don’t hit you or your teammates.”

Spencer clicked his tongue. “As I said: barbaric.”

Taz waved his hand. “It’s part of the game—not a nice part, but there it is. And it’s a lot tamer these days with league regulations than several years ago. Back in the day—”

“Liam!” Victor yelled from the bedroom.

“You’re being summoned, fuck boy.” Jackson laughed.

A flush swarmed up Liam’s throat to his face as he rose and trekked to the bedroom.

“He’s too easy.” Jackson chuckled.

Taz rolled his head across the back of the couch to face his roommate. “Why do you do that?”

Jackson shrugged and took a swig of beer.


Exclusive Content!


Author: Genevive Chamblee
Book Title: Ice Gladiators
Type: Author Interview/Writing
Subject: Places I Find Interesting

There is so many places that I find interesting and ways to answer that question. Literally, I could discuss this for hours. Let me begin by saying I love traveling. Due to scheduling and obligations, I do not have the opportunity to do much of it. However, if you follow me on my blog, most of you know that I commute cities regularly. I don’t consider that travelling.

Years ago, I traveled frequently, and I really enjoyed it. I had the opportunity to see awesome sites and meet terrific people. However, much has changed since then. I have plans to return to being able to travel more in the future. My bucket list items include to visit the stadiums of every SEC football team. Hey, what can I say? I’m a football type of girl.

This next may seem creepy, but it is what it is. I find cemeteries to be interesting. Each tombstone is a marker of someone who once walked this earth, and a way for them not to be forgotten. Now, I admit when I was younger, I was terrified of cemeteries. And to be completely transparent, you won’t find me skulking around them alone (or with anyone else) at night. Yet, there is a beauty to a place dedicated to appreciate life. I like to stroll among the graves and note the names, dates, and epitaphs. It keeps me in contact with my humanity—that no day is ever granted and to appreciate the living. Sometimes, if a grave appears neglected, I’ll pull the weeds or leave a flower. Mind you, if the grave looks too far gone with overgrowth, I’m not going near it. This here is the bayous, and slithery, creepy crawlies conceal themselves in brush. And that is also why I don’t pick strawberries. Nope, not happening.

Side note. Several years ago, I had someone who tried to convince me the majority of snake bites are warranted because the person did something wrong. The something wrong, according to this person, is getting to close. Well, yeah! If I don’t see the dang thing, how am I supposed to know I’m close to it? This person continued and said that if a snake hears (feels the vibration or catches the scent of a person) it leaves an area. Okay, believe that if you want to. We’re going to have to agree to disagree because I happen to know how aggressive cottonmouths are, and they will chase a person. I’m not open to discussion about this. Been there; done that. End of story. I don’t do slithery. As a result, I don’t really do nature. I love animals, and never want to see any mistreated. I respect their space, and hope they respect mine. If one is injured, I’ll try to help, of course. And in a control setting, I do not mind petting. But I’m not about to trying to be bore whisper or a Parselmouth.

I’m a history buff. Any time I have the opportunity to visit a museum, I’m taking it. Wax museums are some of my favorites.; although, they tend to be too chilly for me. I especially like museums that have little known artifacts or displays how objects work. My head is a vault of trivia. (Guess what one of my favorite games to play is.) My friends would also say I’d be their call person if they were ever on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. (I couldn’t be on Jeopardy because I stink at geography, and it always is stacked with geographical questions.) In general, if it is unusual, it’s something that I’m going to want to learn more.

On a similar note, I find how the mind works intriguing. I’m trained in psychology and behavioral science. For that reason, I’m good at noticing patterns. Solving puzzles or riddles is a fascination. Thus, it’s very rewarding to unravel someone’s thinking patter so that they can receive proper psychiatric help. I’ve worked in mental health for many years in different environments. My primary duties have been diagnostics and evaluations and not so much as counseling. In the field, I’ve seen more than a fair share of oddities and strangeness. My coworkers accuse me of always having a story for whatever topic they’re discussing.

From a more global perspective, Rome definitely piques my interest. It is an abundance of history—from architecture to music to people to art to language. It has everything. A grand tour of the country ranks in the top ten on my bucket list. (Number one on my bucket list is a Disney Cruise.)

Several years ago, I watched a program that highlighted different tourist locations. One place discussed was a prospect place. Tourist paid a fee and could mind for gold and other gems. Anything they found was there’s to keep. I suspect it has had so many tourists that there is not much left to be found. However, it would be fun trying. I’ve never been in a crystal/gem mine, and diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

Those are just a few of the places. For more of my interests, likes, dislikes, how I write, my stories, and my shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, http://www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.
And also, don’t forget to check out my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series.
Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit http://www.books2read.com/penalty. Defending the Net can be ordered at http://www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.
Until next time, happy reading and much romance.


Author Bio

Genevive Chamblee - Ice GladiatorsGenevive Chamblee is a southern darling and resides in the bayou country where sweet tea and SEC football reign supreme. She is known for being witty (or so she thinks), getting lost anywhere beyond her front yard (the back is pushing it as she’s very geographically challenged), falling in love with shelter animals (and she adopts them), asking off-the-beaten-path questions that makes one go “hmm,” and preparing homecooked Creole meals that are as spicy as her writing.

Genevive specializes in spinning steamy, romantic tales with humorous flair, diverse characters, and quirky views of love and human behavior. She also is not afraid to delve into darker romances as well.

Author Website: http://www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/authorgenevive.chamblee.7

Author Facebook (Author Page): http://www.facebook.com/genevivechambleeconnect

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dolynesaidso

Author Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/genevivechambleeauthor

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16429845.Genevive_Chamblee

Author Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/genevivechamblee

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PROMO: Students of Barrenmoor Ridge

Promo

The Students of Barrenmoor RidgeJackson Marsh has a new MM YA romance out, book two in his Barrenmoor Ridge series: “The Students of Barrenmoor Ridge.”

Book two in ‘The Barrenmoor Series’ of MM romance stories with a mountain rescue theme.

Liam has set himself a goal. To come out to his best friend, Casper, before his 18th birthday while hiking at Fellborough in the Yorkshire Dales.

Things don’t go according to plan, and when a violent storm hits, the camping trip takes a potentially fatal turn. Local mountaineers, John Hamilton and his husband Gary are called to help, but it soon becomes apparent that the rescue is more than physical. Liam and Casper both have secrets that when known, have the potential break or mend their hearts.

A mix of YA, romance and adventure, ‘The Students of Barrenmoor Ridge’ brings back popular characters from the first Barrenmoor book in a familiar setting with love, mountaineering and the dangers of both.

‘The Mentor of Barrenmoor Ridge’ is the first book in the Barrenmoor Series of MM romances with a mountain rescue theme. ‘The Students’ takes place two years later, and it is better, but not vital, to read the stories in order.

From the series reviews:

“No usual tried tropes here. Great story, natural dialogue, well-developed characters, and unpredictable plot.”

“I loved reading the entire “mentor” series. Such great escapism. I Love the Pacing of the story, the twist and turns, the suspense, conflict, romance. The whole series is wonderful to read.”

Amazon Print | Amazon US | Amazon CAN | Amazon UK | Amazon AUS | Amazon GER | Amazon FRN | Amazon SPN | Amazon ITA | Amazon NL | Amazon JAP | Amazon BZL | Amazon MX | Amazon IND


Giveaway

Jackson is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour. Fir a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47107/?


Excerpt

The Students of Barrenmoor RidgeJohn was unable to sleep that night. The raging wind didn’t bother him even though the roof tiles rattled, and he knew the old yew tree would be creaking as it bent towards the lean-to. He was used to it and so was the cottage. It was well built.

Gary was curled up behind him, spooned in with one arm across John’s chest. The bedroom was warm, Gary’s presence warmer, and the pillows were soft. There was no reason sleep shouldn’t come, they were safe from the battering, cocooned in the perfect shelter of each other’s arms, and yet…

The scream of the wind as it charged them from the summit of Lhotse, the vibrations of the ground when an avalanche fell, the hiss of snow stinging the tent, and the mountain’s roar, all sounds he heard through the inconsequential force six doing its best to rattle the house. The bitter bite of memory gnawed at his mind for sure, but the main reason his thoughts leapt from the anesthetising approach of sleep to the worst conditions in the world had nothing to do with the past.

There were people out there now, at Everest, yes, but also on the fells. The team were over at Northpeak and they’d picked a fine night for training, but closer to home, there were hikers and climbers huddled beneath inadequate canvas hoping their pegging was sound and wishing the night would end. Daylight might bring security, but it didn’t guarantee good weather, and it was still hours away. A lot could happen. The storm had worsened to a frightening zenith before the thunder abated slightly, but still he couldn’t sleep. The lessening conditions meant the eye of the storm was overhead, and there would be more, possibly worse, to follow.

He pictured the fell from above, seeing through the agitated clouds to the swamped ground a mile below. Lit by lightning bursts, he imagined it as waves frozen in mid-roll with Fellborough peak a crest and the lower terrain its ripples. Peppered around it were insignificant dots of inappropriate colour, the shop-bought, budget tents of the unwary trembling against the elements.

He had pictured the scene on many nights as he lay listening to the conditions and wating for the MRT radio to spark into life, or for his pager to double-beep the call sign, but tonight he was seeing it more clearly, as if it was unfolding on a widescreen television in high definition. Unaffected by the storm, he floated above it, watching over its potential victims, safe at his altitude and apart. The         unhinged tempest beneath blasted from one insane thought to another, swiping at anything in its path, but John was safe, hovering on a warm updraft that dulled him towards the soft paws of sleep.

Until he fell.

Security gone. No handholds, no rope, only the empty space between him and the life-taking certainty of rock.

Gasping, he opened his eyes as his body jerked. The clock glowed one-forty-seven, and Gary had rolled away leaving him exposed and vulnerable. The pager was silent, and John was safe in his bed, but a few miles away, people might be battling for their lives, and all he could do was wait.

 

The rain no longer stung when it swiped Liam’s face, his flesh was too numb to register the pain. The torch beam was nothing more than a thread through barely penetrable blackness, but it showed him the ground a few steps at a time.

That was all he needed to do, take it slowly using common sense and exercising caution. The tent had been facing west, and he found the way down from the ledge between two large boulders with no trouble. Straight on to the south, he met the path. Over to his left, the lightning was now on the horizon, and the wind was swooping down from the fell on his right. If the storm didn’t change direction, it would keep him on course, and the path, now more like a stream, was marked here and there by cairns. With the wind to one side and the dying lightning to the other, he only needed to keep going downhill until he met the riverbed. If it was flooded, he’d wade straight through to if he had to.

It was his fault that Casper was in trouble. Whatever had made him go out unprotected in the storm, and whatever had happened next didn’t matter. There was nothing that could be done to change that, all that mattered now was finding someone who could save him. Repercussions of a bad decision would come, and Liam would deserve them – unprepared, inexperienced, thinking he knew what he was doing… Why hadn’t he just taken Casper down to the beach at home to tell him? Why drag him halfway up the country and make him climb a hill to ruin their friendship? He could have done that weeks ago had he not been such a ridiculous romantic. There was nothing romantic about destroying their friendship and leaving his best friend shivering to death on…

He yelled at himself to stop. Beating himself up wouldn’t do any good. He had to concentrate on his footing, and pretend he knew what he was doing. Casper needed him to be strong, to be wise, to take only a course of action that would lead to rescue, everything else had to wait.

Not knowing how far he had descended, he stopped and took out his phone. Sheltering it as best he could against his chest, he switched it on only to find no signal and the battery bar now glowing red. The phone back in his pocket, the torch aimed at the path, his head down, he continued.

The rain was easing off, that was a blessing, but the gale roared in his ears, low and booming one moment, high-pitched the next. As uncoordinated as his frozen feet, as wild as the anger he turned in on himself, it would not leave him alone. It taunted and jabbed as it bullied, and in the cacophony, he imagined laughter, spiteful and insulting, but deserved.

Another sound grew closer on a rumbling vibration beneath his feet, and a few paces further, he came to the edge of the riverbed.

Except now there was no bed, only river as thousands of gallons of water teamed from the blackness on his right to vanish back into the night on his left. The torch lit foam spewing around rocks in untamed channels that bubbled wildly and fast across his path. There was no way to judge the depth, and no way of knowing if the rocks that stood above the surface were stable, but equally, there was no time to think about it. Squinting through dripping eyelashes and aiming his light, it was impossible to see how wide it was either, but he knew for certain that there was no way to go up and around. Downhill, it could flow east for miles and take him off his path. The only way was through, and he knew he might not survive.


Author Bio

Jackson MarshJackson Marsh is a British born author of novels and screenplays.

Jackson has a background of theatre, cabaret and music and yet holds a social policy degree. He was born on the Romney Marshes in Kent, UK, but now lives on a mountainous Greek island. During the 1980s in London he campaigned for gay rights and performed political satire cabaret, writing song and reviews, appearing at Pride events, national venues and on television.

He moved to Greece in 2002 and married his partner there in 2017. He has won awards for his gay erotic writing, and in 2007, won a European-wide award for short stories. In 2017, he won awards for his screenplay writing.

Jackson is the author of ‘The Clearwater Mysteries’, and also writes fiction under the name James Collins.

Author Website: www.jacksonmarsh.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002130420544

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/jacksonmarshauthor/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/CollinsWords26

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17332953.Jackson_Marsh

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/jackson-marsh/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Jackson-Marsh/e/B077LDT5ZL/

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PROMO: Shadows of the Past

Promo

Hey, check it out! This post has unique content, an excerpt that nobody else has. Enjoy!

Shadows of the Past cover

Matt Doyle has a new lesbian sci fi mystery out: “Shadows of the Past.”

Shadows of the Past is the new novella collection set in The Cassie Tam Files universe! Enjoy two new stories that follow PI Cassie Tam and her girlfriend Lori Redwood as they deal with the fallout from LV48. This book is part of a series and needs to be read in sequence.

A Week in New Hopeland

When Lori Redwood agrees to help out her girlfriend, PI Cassie Tam, by going undercover at a local shipping firm, she gets more than she bargained for. Her ‘boss’ Mr. Graves is a misogynist and a bully, and has been targeting one girl in particular. Cassie is known to him, and he tends to be cautious around Tech Shifters. Which means that Lori may be the best person for the job.

Will Lori be able to help Cassie gather enough evidence for the police to act, or will she become the next target?

PI Cassie Tam is not the only person who lives with regrets, and like most people, she just wants to get on with her life. But in New Hopeland, the past never remains buried. When she’s hired to track a stalker that’s been using some interesting tech to mask their identity on the city’s security cameras, Cassie ends up face-to-face with her darkest memory.

Can Cassie find out who’s responsible before her past mistakes tear her – and her friends – apart?

Warnings: Contains: bullying, stalking, a deceased family member, guns, and workplace harassment

About the Series:

New Hopeland City was built to be the center of the technological age. It was supposed to be a shining example of humanity’s achievements. A beacon to guide us towards a better future. But some habits die hard. Within five years, it had become a hotbed of crime and corruption. And now, even the police are sometimes in too deep to help. That’s where I come in. My name is Cassie Tam. I’m a PI. When no one else will help, I’m the one people turn to …

NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Smashwords | Goodreads 


Unique Content!

Shadows of the Past – Chapter One

“So. You said you need my help. What kind of help?”

“Protection, partially. And for you to find someone.”

I raise an eyebrow and tap the fingers of my top hand on the lower one. “Sounds complicated. Are both things connected, or are they two separate issues?”

“Yes, they’re both connected. I’m being…stalked. I need you to find out who by.”

I drop my hands to the table and sigh. Complicated was right. “Do you mind if I grab a coffee myself?” Faraday nods and I make my way to the kitchen. Even with the table so close to the kitchen, my kettle is currently running at the volume known as “stubbornly boisterous,” so when I continue, I have to raise my voice to make sure I’m heard. “First things first, why do you think you’re being stalked?”

“I wasn’t sure at first. I’d catch things out of the corner of my eyes, familiar shapes and so on, but I brushed it off as part of the daily routine. I leave home, go to work, and come home again.”

Huh. I’d presumed she just stayed at the office. That’s interesting. Let’s just treat this like she’s human. “Let me guess. You take the same routes to work and back each day, so you figured you were catching people with similar habits.”

“Yes. I keep fairly regular hours, the same as most people. And you’ve seen the offices. Quite aside from the sheer number of staff, there are plenty of other businesses nearby. So, I made a game of it. I started trying to take note of the people around me, to see if I could figure out who I was spotting. But that one person was always just out of sight. It was as if they were intentionally avoiding me getting a good look at them.”

“And you’re certain there’s only one person doing this, and it’s not multiple similar sized people you’re noticing?”

“Yes.”

“I suppose, all things considered, you’d be able to tell, right? Your eyes would be like Bert’s.”

“Actually, no. Bert’s purpose is his own, and he is built to be suitable for his particular role. I, on the other hand, am built to imitate humans, and that comes with certain limitations. While my eyes operate in a similar way to Bert’s, their power is more akin to the average person.”

I finish pouring my coffee and make my way back to the table. “That opens up the possibility of this being just a case of someone taking the same route as you each day.”

Faraday shakes her head. “No, they’re definitely following me. I know, because I tricked them.”

“Okay, explain.”

“Well, I was heading home, and started catching sight of the shape again. Rather than continue on my normal route, I took a shortcut down an alley. Yes, it was risky, but I’m familiar enough with the area to know I wasn’t getting closed in. I only take the longer route normally because I prefer the scenery. Anyway, I kept going, and by this point, being out of the crowds, I could hear their footsteps. When they stopped partway down I… I couldn’t stop myself. I turned and saw them. Sort of.”

“Sort of?”

“They were wearing a dark hoodie and had turned away to look at something. A security camera, I think. Regardless, the hood was up, and they weren’t looking at me, so I couldn’t see their face.”

“And what did you do then?”

“I ran. I knew for certain someone had been following me then, and human limitations being what they are—” she flexes her fingers a little and sighs “—I’m not exceptionally strong. My hands are better suited to my allocated job than to fighting.”

“Okay,” I reply, keeping my voice as light as possible. “When you saw this person, did you notice anything at all that may help identify them? Any clear indicators of gender, any standout physical traits?”

“No, I’m sorry. The hoodie was baggy enough to hide their shape well.”

“That makes it a little difficult, but if they were looking at a camera, then maybe we’ll get lucky. I’ll be honest with you; I’m going to have a lot of questions. But… your safety is the most important thing right now. I assume you’ve finished work for the day?” She nods. “How does it feel when you’re there? Do you think you’ll be safe in the office?”

“Definitely. I’ve not noticed anything once I’m in there, only on the walks to and from.”

“And at home?”

“I’m not sure. They are clearly aware of where I live, though I’m not sure if they know which apartment.”


Excerpt

Shadows of the Past Meme

I roll over in bed and let my arm flop into the empty space next to me. Even with my eyes closed, I can tell the early morning light is beginning to creep in through the window. My slightly bent leg finds a long warm spot, giving away that Cassie hasn’t been up long. I instinctively grip the bedsheet where her body would normally end and let out a content sigh.

“Mine,” I say to myself and roll onto my back again. I raise my hands to my face and rub the sleep out of my eyes, taking in the familiar sight of my bedroom as I clear the cobwebs a little. There are other things to wake me up too; new things that are becoming more familiar as time passes. Smells and sounds I don’t experience as often as I’d like. But I have to be careful, gentle even. Cassie is outwardly quite rough, but she’s softer on the inside. She’s like an emotional armadillo.

A partial conversation from last night flashes across my mind, and a smile reaches my lips. I sit up and stretch, forcing out a yawn as I glance at the back of the door. “Someone’s borrowing my robe again.”

I grab my spare from the wardrobe and tie it up, then walk down the hall, through the living room, and up to the kitchen. I rest against the doorframe, watching Cassie as she carries on oblivious to my presence. After a moment, I say, “Morning.”

Cassie jumps a little and smiles my way. She pulls gently at the sleeve of the robe and says, “Sorry, I didn’t bring mine. I wasn’t planning to stay over, but…”

“Ink can be quite persuasive, can’t she?” I nod to the frying pan on the hob and ask, “What’cha cooking?”

Cassie’s lips tighten and her nose wrinkles, making her look like a cute, frustrated, pouting bunny. She taps the bowl she’s been piling the food in. “It was supposed to be pancakes. I don’t know what went wrong, I’m normally really good with pancakes. These keep sticking, though. And burning. Maybe I didn’t use enough oil.”

“Nah, it’ll be the pan,” I reply, walking into the room and grabbing some plates from the cupboard. “And they look fine, just a little broken.”

“The pan, eh?”

“Yup. That one never was much good. Everything sticks to it, no matter what you do.”

“Huh. If it’s that bad, why keep it?”

“Sentimental reasons,” I reply and start splitting the pancakes out. “So, come on, detective, see if you can figure it out.”

“The first thing you bought for here?” she tries.

I hand her a plate and shake my head. “Nope. Try again.”

“A gift from a relative?”

“Swing and a miss,” I say and start pouring us a drink from the percolator she’s been keeping warm in preparation. “One more guess.”

She shrugs and grabs two forks from the drawer. She hands me one as she answers, “You got me.”

We walk to the living room and sit on the couch. “Well, a few years back, I was woken up by this noise in the kitchen. It must have been about three in the morning, I think. Anyway, I started panicking, right? There’s someone in the house. Who is it? What do they want? That sort of thing.

“Well, we’d been covering some home break-in stories at work, and I decided there and then I wasn’t going to be just another victim, sitting scared in my room while someone takes all my stuff. So, I got up, and creeped up to the kitchen as quietly as I could, and what did I find? Someone going through the fridge.”

“Who was it?”

“I couldn’t tell. Between tiredness, the darkness, and the fridge door being slightly closed, I couldn’t see anything at all really, other than a silhouette. So, I grabbed the first sturdy thing I could.”

“The frying pan.”

“Exactly. I grabbed it, waited for them to step back, and swung. Bam.”

“Then what happened?”

“The woman dropped her milk and starts yelling, ‘What the fuck, Lori?’ So, I turn the light on, and everything starts slotting into place. I’d been out at a club and taken this lady home. Karen, I think her name was. The problem was, I’d gotten a bit drunk and, between that and the stories we’d been covering, I’d completely forgotten she’d stayed over and had gotten a little paranoid.”

“Was she all right?” Cassie asks, staring at me in disbelief.

“She was angry more than anything. That was our one and only night together, though. But yeah, so the frying pan is sentimental for me because it reminds me that one, I shouldn’t bring people home if I met them while drunk, and two, I’m not as much of as a wuss as I thought.”

Cassie laughs. “I guess I should be happy you didn’t think I was an intruder, eh?”

I smile and kiss her forehead. “You never need to worry. If I wake up and you’re gone, I’ll just assume you’re off dealing with any intruder. And even if I did somehow forget you were staying over, I can always tell when you’re in the kitchen in the morning. You sing while you cook.”

Cassie stops mid-sip, and her eyes go wide, peering over the top of the mug. “Diu. You can hear that?”

“‘Iris’ by the Goo Goo Dolls, wasn’t it? I mean, it’s clearly a product of its era, but it’s a good track.”

“Oh, no, no, no. You weren’t meant to hear that. It’s why I stop when I hear your bedroom door open.”

I tilt my head and frown. “Really? I like it. You sound happy.”

“I am happy, but…I don’t really sing…well. Or in front of people.”

“Oh,” I reply, a little worried now. “Sorry, I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t really notice you stopped. I always get excited to see what you’re making, so it never really occurred to me.”

“It’s fine,” she says, but I can tell she’s still embarrassed. “Anyway, it can’t be that exciting. I only use what you have in.”

“I know, but I don’t always bother myself. Usually, it’s cereal or toast if it’s just me. Work, right?”

Cassie’s shoulders relax a little and she takes another mouthful of coffee. “Oh, I get that. I’m the same at the apartment, really. I don’t usually stay here when I have a case on, so there’s rarely any rush for me in the morning when I do. I do try to get up early, though, just in case you need to head out earlier. I can make sure I still get something made for you then.”

I take a leaf from Cassie’s playbook and fail to stop the blush rising to my cheeks. If she enjoys doing it, I may as well tell her. “Okay, confession time. Sometimes, I buy a few things I know I might not have the time to cook. You know, to see if you use them when you stop over. I kinda might have noticed you enjoy cooking more than you let on. And, you know, I quite like what you put in front of me.”

I take another big mouthful of pancake to prove the point, and Cassie giggles. “Well, aren’t you full of surprises today?”

“Oh, speaking of surprises, it’s the Saturday after next, right? Your birthday?”

She rolls her eyes. “Yes, it is. Look, Lori, I really don’t want you to make a big deal out of it. Just something small, eh?”

I wave my hands frantically, spilling a little coffee on my knee. Good job it’s cooled down. “Absolutely. I promised I wouldn’t go overboard, so I won’t. We’ll do a stop at a café. And maybe a present or two.”

“No more than two,” she says, fixing me with a stern look.

“No more than two,” I reiterate.

“And a limit of one hundred dollars.”

“I know, I know. You never did explain why you don’t like doing too much.”

Cassie sighs and puts her empty mug down. “Okay, I guess I owe you that much at least. If you really have to know, my birthday falls exactly one week before…one week before the anniversary.”

Cassie’s dad was a cop back in Canada. He took a bullet for her during her last major case back there, and his death tore her and her mom apart. That was why she moved to New Hopeland. “I’m sorry. I knew it was coming up, but the connection didn’t click.”

She waves it away, and her walls come up a little. “It’s fine; I never told you the date. Honestly, if I didn’t want to do anything at all, I wouldn’t have told you my birthday either.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah.”

“Just don’t be a Nancy, okay?”

“A Nancy?”

“My nan. She hated having a fuss made on her birthday, like at all. But she never told us because she didn’t want to disappoint anyone. It wasn’t until she was at death’s door that she finally came clean. Don’t be like her. If it’s too much, tell me so I can back off.”

Cassie’s face softens a little and she pulls me into a gentle kiss. “Thank you. It means a lot knowing you’d do that. It’s fine; just keep it low key. Anyway, I better get a wash and head back home. You never know when the next case will drop in your lap.”

She gets to her feet and starts walking to the door, but I can’t help myself. “An armadillo.”

She stops. “What?”

“Last night. You asked what sort of animal I thought you’d be if you were a Tech Shifter? Well, I’ve decided. An armadillo.”

“An armadillo,” she repeats. “Why?”

I gather the plates and mugs and give her a wink. “I’ll let you figure that one out.


Author Bio

Matt Doyle - Shadows of the Past

Matt Doyle is a speculative fiction author from the UK and identifies as pansexual and genderfluid. Matt has spent a great deal of time chasing dreams, a habit which has led to success in a great number of fields. To date, this has included spending ten years as a professional wrestler, completing a range of cosplay projects, and publishing multiple works of fiction.

These days, Matt can be found working on multiple novels and stories, blogging about pop culture, and plotting and planning far too many projects.

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