Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday's Montage Mantlepiece: Charmed & Dangerous


Summary:
Magic takes many forms. From malignant hexes to love charms gone amok, you’ll find a vast array of spells and curses, creatures and conjurings in this massive collection—not to mention a steamy dose of man-on-man action. Charmed and Dangerous features all-new stories of gay paranormal romance, supernatural fiction and urban fantasy by ten top m/m paranormal authors.

Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford
For Detective Roku MacCormick, working Arcane Crimes is his passion. Now cleared of any wrongdoing for shooting his last partner, MacCormick is given back his badge… as well as a new case and partner. Trent Leonard isn’t exactly what he’d expected, but then nothing in San Francisco’s Chinatown ever is.

Swift and the Black Dogby Ginn Hale
When Jack Swift killed a tyrant and won the revolution he became a national hero. But someone in the new government prefers dead heroes to living, swearing, cynical wizards. Caught between bullets, revenge and desire, Jack had better be swift indeed.

A Queer Tradeby KJ Charles
Apprentice magician Crispin Tredarloe returns to London to find his master dead, and his papers sold. Papers with secrets that could spell death. Waste paper seller Ned Hall can’t resist Crispin’s pleading—and appealing—looks. But can the wasteman and the magician prevent a disaster and save Crispin’s skin?

Magically Delicious by Nicole Kimberling
Occult attacks against NIAD agents aren’t remotely Keith Curry’s department. But when his lover, Gunther, is assaulted, Keith refuses to just sit back and fill out paperwork. He’s on the case—even if that means enraging powerful mages, crossing leprechaun picket lines, or braving dinner with Gunther’s goblin parents.

Everyone's Afraid of Clowns by Jordan Castillo Price
Psychic medium Victor Bayne can spot a ghost any day of the year, but Halloween holds some special surprises. His psych-groupie boyfriend Jacob coaxes him to the location of an old spirit sighting, but they can’t ghosthunt without enduring a cheesy “haunted house” that’s even more disturbing than they realize.

The Thirteenth Hex by Jordan L Hawk
Hexman Dominic Kopecky doesn’t understand why dashing crow familiar Rook wants his help investigating murder by patent hex. For one thing, Dominic isn’t a witch. For another, the case is already closed—and someone is willing to kill to keep it that way.

The Soldati Prince by Charlie Cochet
Riley Murrough goes from serving lattes to being chased by demons. If that wasn’t bad enough, he bears the mark of a shapeshifter king from a magical realm. Riley’s determined to get answers, but if the demons out for his blood don’t kill him, the urge to strangle the arrogant king might.

One Hex Too Many by Lou Harper
Veteran detective Mike Mulligan is an expert on violent crimes—of the occult variety. He might even be cursed. Detective Hugh Fox is eager to partner up and prove himself, but Mulligan is accustomed to flying solo. Can they trust each other enough to track a killer who’ll stop at nothing, not even summoning a demon?

Josh of the Damned vs. the Bathroom of Doom by Andrea Speed
It's a boring night at the Quik-Mart for Josh and his friend Doug. Until a vampire with a grudge—and the most adorable backup ever—crashes the store. Can Josh survive the Bathroom of Doom?

The Trouble With Hexes by Astrid Amara
P.I. Tim Keller has a problem. And the only person who can solve it is his ex-boyfriend, Vincent, whose job as a hexbreaker was the reason they broke up. It’s hard admitting he was wrong, especially when coughing up organs. But there’s a missing person to find, a hexmaker to hunt down, and a romance to repair before Tim breathes his last.


Swift and the Black Dog by Ginn Hale
We were just kids,” Jack muttered.

Shafts of afternoon light speared through the blinds, illuminating the hard angles of his lean face. He exhaled a cloud of pale blue smoke and ignored the glare of the well-dressed diners seated at other tables. In a moment a maitre’d would appear and smoothly suggest that he remove himself from the building.

Then, inevitably, David would intervene, flashing his ministry badge and pronouncing Jack’s full name a little too loudly, a little too officiously. A halting apology would be offered and followed by requests for autographs and photos. Behind it all Jack would hear the whispers.

That’s Jack Swift?

God, did you see his hand?

He looks like some ragman from the Bone Ledges.

I’ve heard he’s a queer.

Lifting his scarred hand, Jack drew the smoke down to ring his fingers. Let the surrounding diners see that the ragman in their midst was a wizard. They didn’t need to know which one. Any wizard was too much trouble for most decent folk.

Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford
From his square jaw and beefy build down to his dirty blond fade haircut, everything about the guy screamed ex-hardcore military. He moved as if expecting a riot to break out on the upper loft, icy blue eyes scanning each of us, stopping only long enough to mark our presence before moving on to the next cop.

He found me first and then again, last. His gaze pierced through me, assessing and judging in a way that did not say cop. I wasn’t sure what was found wanting, my shaggy mane or my odd ommatidia-faceted pupils, but something made his nostrils flare. I definitely spotted the moment he saw my pupils’ copper-green sheen. His head jerked back a few millimeters and his chin jutted out.

If my new partner had a thing against fae or fae-bred, we were assuredly going to have a problem.


The Thirteenth Hex by Jordan L Hawk
“Mr. Kopecky?”

“Yes, that’s….” Dominic began as he lifted his gaze from the paper. Then his tongue tangled, and he forgot how to speak.

The man standing in front of his desk was…well, he’d never thought of a man as beautiful before, but it was the only word that came to mind now. The white of his shirt collar contrasted with rich, brown skin. Silky black locks brushed his shoulders, and wide lips shaped into a rather cheeky grin.

“…You?” the man prompted, when Dominic only stared.

God! He dropped his eyes quickly, willing his reaction under control. He couldn’t forget himself at work, in full view of everyone. As he glanced down, his eye snagged on the badge pinned to the man’s vest.

A familiar? Here?

Author Bios:
Jordan Castillo Price
Author and artist Jordan Castillo Price is the owner of JCP Books LLC. Her paranormal thrillers are colored by her time in the midwest, from inner city Chicago, to small town Wisconsin, to liberal Madison.

Jordan is best known as the author of the PsyCop series, an unfolding tale of paranormal mystery and suspense starring Victor Bayne, a gay medium who's plagued by ghostly visitations. Also check out her new series, Mnevermind, where memories are made...one client at a time.

With her education in fine arts and practical experience as a graphic designer, Jordan set out to create high quality ebooks with lavish cover art, quality editing and gripping content. The result is JCP Books, offering stories you'll want to read again and again.

Rhys Ford
Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.

Rhys admits to sharing the house with three cats of varying degrees of black fur and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and an overworked red coffee maker.

Ginn Hale
Ginn Hale resides in the Pacific Northwest with her wife and three cats. She spends many of the rainy days tinkering with devices and words and can often be sighted herding other people’s dogs, bees and goats. Her novel Wicked Gentlemen won the Spectrum Award for Best Novel and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award.

Nicole Kimberling
Nicole Kimberling lives in Bellingham, Washington with her wife, Dawn Kimberling, two bad cats as well as a wide and diverse variety of invasive and noxious weeds. Her first novel, Turnskin, won the Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. She is also the author of the Bellingham Mystery Series.

Jordan L. Hawk
Jordan L. Hawk grew up in the wilds of North Carolina, where she was raised on stories of haints and mountain magic by her bootlegging granny and single mother. After using a silver knife in the light of a full moon to summon her true love, she turned her talents to spinning tales. She weaves together couples who need to fall in love, then throws in some evil sorcerers and undead just to make sure they want it bad enough. In Jordan’s world, love might conquer all, but it just as easily could end up in the grave.

Charlie Cochet
Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Lou Harper
Under a prickly, cynical surface Lou Harper is an incorrigible romantic. Her love affair with the written word started at a tender age. There was never a time when stories weren't romping around in her head. She is currently embroiled in a ruinous romance with adjectives. In her free time Lou stalks deviant words and feral narratives.

Lou's favorite animal is the hedgehog. She likes nature, books, movies, photography, and good food. She has a temper and mood swings.

Lou has misspent most of her life in parts of Europe and the US, but is now firmly settled in Los Angeles and worships the sun. However, she thinks the ocean smells funny. Lou is a loner, a misfit, and a happy drunk.

Andrea Speed
Andrea Speed was born looking for trouble in some hot month without an R in it. While succeeding in finding Trouble, she has also been found by its twin brother, Clean Up, and is now on the run, wanted for the murder of a mop and a really cute, innocent bucket that was only one day away from retirement. (I was framed, I tell you – framed!)

In her spare time, she arms lemurs in preparation for the upcoming war against the Mole Men. Viva la revolution!

Astrid Amara
Astrid Amara lives in Bellingham, Washington. She's a former Peace Corps Volunteer, an advocate for animal rights, and a bureaucrat by day. After work she can usually be found writing, riding horses, hiking, or else sleeping. Her novel The Archer's Heart was a finalist for the 2008 Lambda Literary Award.

K.J. Charles
I'm a writer of romance, mostly m/m, often historical or fantasy or both. My books include The Magpie Lord and Think of England.

I'm also a freelance editor, and I blog about writing and editing at kjcharleswriter.com.

I live in London, UK, with two kids, a tolerant husband and an even more tolerant cat.


Jordan Castillo Price
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EMAILS: jordan@psycop.com  /  jcp.heat@gmail.com

Rhys Ford
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EMAIL: rhys_ford@vitaenoir.com

Ginn Hale
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EMAIL: ginn@ginnhale.com

Nicole Kimberling
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Jordan L. Hawk
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EMAIL: jordanlhawk@gmail.com

Charlie Cochet
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EMAIL: charlie@charliecochet.com

Lou Harper
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EMAIL: lou_harper@ymail.com

Andrea Speed
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Astrid Amara
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EMAIL: astridamara@gmail.com

K.J. Charles
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Release Day Blitz: Raber Wolf Pack Book 3 by Ryan Michele

Title: Raber Wolf Pack
Author: Ryan Michele
Series: Raber Wolf Pack #3
Genre: Shifter, Paranormal Romance
Release Date: August 31,, 2015
Summary:
"There will come a time in our world when greed, power and wealth will overrule good judgment, and packs will be destroyed." 

In the blink of an eye, everything can change, altering life as we know it forever.

Sabrea has struggled her whole life with the guilt of not being a perfect wolf. She never wanted to meet her mate for fear of disappointing him by not being what he needs. Even going so far as to avoid the one place where she already smelled him.

Fate has other ideas.

Thor, Gamma of the Raber wolf pack, plays the field and loves every minute of it. That all ends with one whiff of his mate. Nothing can stop him from finding her, having her, claiming her.

As Thor and Sabrea come together, threats to the pack make themselves known, leaving many lives hanging in the balance.

Can the Raber wolf pack defeat their enemy? Can they protect all of the wolves, and keep the humans safe in the process?

This is the action-packed conclusion to the Raber Wolf Pack Series.





Author Bio:
Ryan Michele has a huge obsession with reading, which only came to life after her best friend said she had to read Twilight. After reading that series, her entire world changed in the blink of an eye. Not only was she sucked into new worlds and all of the wonderful words authors put down on paper, she felt the urge to begin to write down the characters that played inside of her head. In doing so, Safe was born.

When she’s not reading or writing, she spends time taking care of her two children and her husband, enjoying the outdoors and laying in the sun.


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Book 3

Book 1

Book 2

Brought to you by:

Impossible Choice by Sybil Bartel

Title: Impossible Choice
Author: Sybil Bartel
Series: Unchecked #2
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Release Date: August 31, 2015
Publisher: Carina Press(HQN)
Summary:
After her parents were murdered, Layna Blair spent three years on the run—until Marine Sergeant Blaze Johnson stepped in and saved her. With him, Layna knew safety for the first time…but two weeks after shipping out for another tour in Afghanistan, Blaze comes home early.

When Layna sees the jagged wounds covering his body, every truth she thought she knew is destroyed. Blaze is distant and angry and though her heart is shattered, Layna desperately tries to keep their relationship together in the face of another tragedy. When the tenuous bonds holding them together are ripped apart by a revenge-hungry maniac, Layna must trust her survival instinct and bury her past for good.

But the enemy is two steps ahead, and before she can take action, Layna’s hand is forced by his deadly demands—save herself or save the man who risked his life for her freedom. Blaze saved her once. This time it’s her turn to protect him.


     I stood there watching the huge bulk that was Blaze pluck two giant duffle bags from the carousel.      Mesmerized by the sight of him, I could hardly believe he was home. When my brain kicked in, I picked up his small duffle and stepped beside him. “I’ll grab a luggage cart.”
     Half his mouth twisted with a smirk. He hefted a bag over each shoulder then took the small duffle from me. His free hand wrapped around mine and shock waves of awareness shot up my arm. “Let’s go, baby.”
     I glanced at his bags. “That’s a lot of luggage.” I’d never seen him travel with anything other than his small duffle.
     He looked down at me but he didn’t comment. “Where’d you park?”
     I indicated a direction with my head and he led the way. He didn’t speak and I was too nervous to say anything.
     When he saw the Tahoe, he held his hand out. “Keys, baby.”
     I didn’t ask him if he was tired, or if he wanted me to drive. I didn’t ask him how long he’d been traveling. I didn’t ask him where he’d been. I simply pulled the keys out of my purse and handed them to him.
     He unlocked the doors, ushered me to the passenger side, kissed me hard and fast then threw his duffels in the back. When he got behind the wheel, he spent three seconds adjusting the seat and mirrors then he glanced at me.
     “Stop being nervous, nothing’s changed.” He didn’t touch me, he didn’t take my hand, he didn’t kiss my knuckles or run a finger up my thigh.
     Everything had changed. “Those are big duffels.”
     “That’s what six years in the military will do to you.”
     “Why aren’t you touching me?” I blurted out.
     The ghost smiled appeared. “You really want me to answer that?”
     Um... “I don’t know, do I?”
     He moved. Quick, precise, I was dragged across the center consul, my legs straddled his thighs, his hands threaded through my hair and he plunged his tongue in my mouth. Heavy, wet, desperate need mixed with unrestrained desire and we became a flurry of hands and teeth and tongues and thrusting hips. When I reached for his belt buckle, his hand slammed down over mine.
     “I wasn’t touching you because I didn’t want to fuck you in a truck like some cheap date. I was holding back, waiting to get home so I could make love you all damn day and touch every inch of this body I’ve been fantasizing about for the past sixty-eight days.”


Impossible Promise #1
Summary:
Three years ago, Layna Blair listened in horror over a telephone line as her parents were murdered. When the killer said she was next, Layna panicked and made a deadly deal—his secret in exchange for her life. She’s paid the price every day since, becoming a prisoner in plain sight.

Marine Sergeant Blaze Johnson offers Layna a way out—her freedom, his rules, no questions asked—and she takes it, despite knowing what her keepers do to people who get too close. She doesn’t know Blaze is fighting his own demons or that beneath his warrior fa├žade is a man on the verge of breaking.

Embarking on a wild revenge mission with Blaze and his smooth-talking best friend, Talon, is not what Layna signed on for. But attempting to run when Blaze has made no secret he intends to make her his is a reckless mistake. With the killer closing in, it’s up to Blaze to save them all—and to Layna to realize that she’s risked the one thing she can’t afford to lose.

Author Bio:
I grew up in Northern California with my head in a book and my feet in the sand. I dreamt of becoming a painter but the heady scent of libraries with their shelves full of books drew me into the world of storytelling. I love the New Adult genre, but any story about a love so desperately wrong and impossibly beautiful makes me swoon.

I now live in Southern Florida and while I don’t get to read as much as I like, I still bury my toes in the sand. If I’m not writing or fighting to contain the banana plantation in my backyard, you can find me spending time with my handsomely tattooed husband, my brilliantly practical son and a mischievous miniature boxer…

But Seriously?

Here are ten things you probably really want to know about me.

I grew up a faculty brat. I can swear like a sailor. I love men in uniform. I hate being told what to do. I can do your taxes (but don’t ask). The Bird Market in Hong Kong freaks me out. My favorite word is desperate…or dirty, or both—I can’t decide. I have a thing for muscle cars. But never reply on me for driving directions, ever. And I have a new book boyfriend every week—don’t tell my husband.


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Impossible Choice #2
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Impossible Promise #1
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KOBO  /  ITUNES  /  GOODREADS TBR




Brought to you by: 

Rendered by Samantha Jacobey

Title: Rendered
Author: Samantha Jacobey
Series: Irrevocable #1
Genre: New Adult
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Lavish Publishing
Cover Design: Nicolene Lorette Designs
Summary:
How do you survive, when the only life you’ve ever known disappears in a single night?

With more friends than she could count and the daughter of two wealthy attorneys, Bailey Dewitt had a life most kids dream about. A cheerleader, the auburn haired beauty lived in a large house, where she could afford to be and do whatever she wanted. Residing in a smaller community outside of Chicago, she attended high school, getting ready for college and the fabulous career that would one day be hers. And in a single night, she lost it all; the night her parents died.

Dragged away from the only home she has ever known and forced into the care of her renegade uncle, Bailey must learn to play by a new set of rules. Faced with tough choices, she soon learns that nothing will ever be the same. When she meets Caleb Cross, she realizes her life in Illinois had been a lie. For the first time in her life, she has the chance to be happy. That is, if she can earn her place among the people in the tiny prepper community of Lawson…


“Take care of my brothers then, ok?”

“What’s that supposed t’ mean?” he cut his glare back over to her.

“It means, if you decide to get rid of me, or send me away, or whatever. I mean, you guys are obviously happy to have them here, the way you all fawn over them. Maybe because you’re short on boys, I don’t know,” she kept her eyes on him, watching for his reaction to her hypothesis.

“I guess you noticed our ratio is a little off,” he chuckled.

“Yes,” she sighed loudly, “I noticed. That’s why I figure you’ll send me away. You don’t really have room for another girl. So when you do, please just take care of them. Ok?”

Author Bio:
Samantha Jacobey is a middle aged woman who earned a BS in Business Management and has worked in half a dozen fields. With a relentless zest for life, she enjoys action and adventure, as well as all the love and romance it has to offer. Creating stories in her mind for many years, she has put some of them into print for the world to share, and hopes you will enjoy reading them as much as she did creating them. What drives her most is the love of a good story and is confident you will enjoy her latest creation.


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Brought to you by: 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday's Safe World Shelf: Tales from the Edge by LM Somerton Part 1


The Edge is a training company with a difference. Its weekend clients come for classes in bondage and domination, not team building and problem solving.

The management, staff and customers of The Edge do not lead boring lives. In fact they have a habit of getting themselves into all kinds of trouble. Put Dominant, possessive alpha males together with bratty, loveable submissives and sparks are bound to fly. These Tales from The Edge are their stories.

Reaching the Edge #1
Summary:
When you reach the edge, you can’t avoid taking a leap of faith.

Joe Dexter leads a complicated life. In one world he is a consultant criminal psychologist—in another he runs The Edge, a successful corporate training company. He’s also an active Dom in the London BDSM scene.

A social call to The Underground, a club owned by an old friend, turns into much more when Joe is introduced to a prospective sub. Falling hard for the boy’s tumbling blonde curls, huge blue eyes and desperate need for protection, Joe carefully coaxes him out of his shell. By the end of an intense weekend, unbreakable bonds have been forged and Joe is well on the way to becoming Olly’s Master.

Joe knows that there is trauma in Olly’s past, but it is not until his professional and private lives collide that Joe discovers the truth. He knows he shouldn’t have let Olly out of his sight but it’s too late—Olly’s old Master is back on the scene and he’s not in the mood to forgive and forget.

With Olly’s life on the line, Joe risks everything to save him. Has Joe found his perfect submissive only to lose him in a horrible twist of fate, or will love win the day? They’ve reached the edge and there’s no avoiding a leap of faith.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of D/s, including chastity play, and references to past rape and current PTSD. There are also non-consensual plot elements with an aggressive former Master which include kidnapping, bondage and the forcible insertion of a butt plug.

Living on the Edge #2
Summary:
Sometimes it takes willpower to resist temptation but courage to give in.

Aiden Keller is a brilliant and intriguing young man. When he’s convicted of hacking, his sentence takes him to The Edge, a high-end corporate training company with a mysterious sideline. There he is given into the custody of its owner, the enigmatic and demanding Heath Anders, and his business partner Joe Dexter.

From the moment Heath takes charge of Aiden he recognizes the boy’s submissive nature, even though it is well hidden beneath a veneer of snarky attitude. But for twelve months, Aiden will be his responsibility and Heath cannot allow himself to get involved whilst the boy is obliged to obey him.

Aiden settles into his new life with the help of Olly, Joe’s pretty, submissive boyfriend, who is very perceptive when it comes to noticing the sparks of attraction flying between Aiden and Heath. Slowly and gently, he teaches Aiden that submission is not a weakness and to accept his desire to be dominated.

Unable to resist, Heath starts to test Aiden’s willingness to be obedient, and against all the odds, love (and lust) start to bloom. Aiden, however, is not quite what he seems and his past is about to endanger all their lives.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of BDSM, including D/s, bondage, chastity play, masturbation and voyeurism. It is best read as part of a series. 

Dancing on the Edge #3
Summary:
Life is a dance. Whether you lead or follow, the passion of it should sweep you away.

Carey and Alistair have the kind of relationship that is the envy of their friends. Carey is an old-fashioned Dom who appreciates quiet obedience. Alistair is a sub who is comfortable in his skin and finds peace in his submission. Needless to say, their happiness is too good to last.

When Alistair’s powerful father chooses his reputation over his son, all hell is let loose. Forcibly committed to a clinic for reversion therapy, Alistair can only hope that his lover will save him.

Carey calls on his friends from The Edge and they band together not just to rescue Alistair but also to protect his future. They’ve all flirted with danger in the past - but friendship is worth any risk. As the tension mounts and the stakes get higher, new bonds are forged but will Carey and Alistair’s love survive?

Reader Advisory: This book contains the use of restraints, the pushing of boundaries and edging, kidnap, forceful imprisonment and forms of visual torture along with scenes of prolonged physical torture. It also contains characters with extreme prejudiced views. This book is best read in sequence as part of the series.

A Double-Edged Sword #4
Summary:
How do you stay standing when the ground is torn from beneath your feet?

Becket and Christian are taking the first, tentative steps towards the committed D/s relationship they both crave when the world literally explodes around them. In a frightening reversal of roles, Becket has to deal with his own vulnerability and Christian must find the strength to take care of his Dom. With the help of their friends at The Edge, the two men come to realise that dominance and submission cannot be switched on and off.

Events that could have ended in tragedy provide the catalyst that affirms their trust in each other, but there are still questions to answer. Is the safe path always the right one to take? Is control simply a state of mind?

One thing’s for certain, life’s too short for compromise.

Reader Advisory: This book is best read in sequence as part of a series.

Rough Around the Edges #5
Summary:
Can a new beginning be found in leather and chains?

Kai Smithson’s life changes dramatically with his first glimpse into the world of BDSM. Completely innocent, Kai can hardly believe his eyes, but he knows what he likes and apparently that’s hot, dominant men in leather. He isn’t sure if he’s a submissive because he doesn’t really know what that means, but the feelings he is experiencing are exciting and new.

Harry Croft, bar manager at The Underground BDSM Club, believes in insta-lust rather than love at first sight. And when he agrees to train Kai, the contract between them has one condition—no sex. But Kai has some very definite plans about losing his virginity and a piece of paper is not going to stand in his way. In his new friends at the club and at The Edge, Kai has a ready-made support group of subs that show him that the only rules in a D/s relationship are those he wants to make for himself.

The old saying that you can choose your friends but not your family is proved horribly true for Kai, as the mysteries of his past are revealed. As he and Harry start out on their journey together, they must contend with bullets as well as bondage, danger alongside domination, and it’s not easy to establish trust when the whole world is going to hell.

Reader Advisory: This book contains characters who have extremely prejudiced views and scenes referencing physical abuse.

Scorched Edges #6 (Coming September 8, 2015)
Summary:
Love forged in fire is unassailable.

Fireman Salter Beauman, Beau to his friends, has had his eye on cute Marty Standish ever since he helped rescue Marty and his boss from the bombed out rubble of Temple Church. An analyst for the security services, Marty is cute, geeky and submissive through and through—even if he doesn’t know it yet.

With a serial fire starter making inroads into Beau’s life expectancy, he decides that there is no time to waste and introduces Marty to the D/s lifestyle. Marty responds with wide eyes, an insatiable desire to learn and the ability to turn Beau on with nothing more than a wiggle of his slim hips.

But Beau has a second, far more malevolent admirer. ‘See me dance’ is the message left at a series of increasingly dangerous fires. Beau and Marty must work together to catch a psychotic arsonist before their love goes up in flames. Literally.

Reader Advisory: This book contains a scene that includes sexual abuse.


Reaching the Edge #1
"Alyson, I realise that I’m a clinical psychologist, but my specialism, as you well know, is criminal psychology. What on earth makes you think I can help this boy?"

"He’s not a boy, Joe, he’s a young man. He’s been through the kind of trauma that would turn most of us into gibbering wrecks, and survived, against all the odds. But I can’t get him to trust anyone enough that they can help him. He’s so closed down that he’s barely functioning."

"What exactly does that mean?"

"He looks after himself on a basic level. He eats. He keeps clean. He does housework. But he hasn’t been able to return to work and he has horrific nightmares. I don’t think he’s slept properly in months."

"What aren’t you telling me? There has to be something…"

"Just read his file. I’ll buy you dinner." The slightly wheedling tone grated on Joe’s nerves and he found himself agreeing just to get the annoying woman off the phone.

"Fine. Send it over and I’ll take a look, but that’s it, Alyson. I’m not promising anything."

He could feel her triumph reverberating through the handset as he replaced the phone in its cradle. He’d known Alyson Bell for several years. She was well respected and, despite the fact that he didn’t like her all that much, he knew she was good at her job. She had referred patients to him in the past when the skills of her colleagues at the private clinic where she worked had been exhausted. He had no illusions about being the call of last resort. It was that very thing that intrigued him—the challenge of trying to help people whom everyone else had given up on.

It was Friday evening and he was looking forward to the first free weekend he’d had in nearly two months. He picked up the phone again and dialled his business partner and best friend.

"Heath. How’s it going?"

He smiled as he listened to Heath relay information about the week’s courses at The Edge, the corporate training company they ran together. He divided his time between his growing private practice and what was turning into a very successful business venture.

"I’ll be up next week as planned. Enjoy the weekend off." Joe tried not to sound too jealous.

Heath chuckled knowingly. "You don’t sound very sincere, my friend. What will you be getting up to?"

Joe was still trying to decide what to do with his own free time. "Not sure. Think I might put in an appearance at The Underground tonight."

He fiddled with a pen on the desk, then dropped it as Heath made a couple of very detailed suggestions as to what a night at The Underground might offer.

"It’s been so long since I played, I think I may have forgotten how to use one of those!"

A snort of disbelief sounded down the line, followed by a few caustic comments.

"I’m just going for a quiet drink and maybe a little innocent voyeurism. It won’t do the business any harm if I put in an appearance, anyway."

He held the phone away from his ear slightly and waited for the laughter to subside.

"Fine. Have your fun. I know that 'just watching' has never been my thing, but I’m fed up of all those doe-eyed submissives who just want to play for a night, then go back to their safe little worlds. I’m pushing thirty, Heath. I want something more and he has to be out there somewhere."

He tilted his chair back and smiled at the kinder words that followed.

"All right, all right! Twenty-eight isn’t thirty! Yes, I will have a good time. Yes, I will be careful and no, I will not be fucking telling you about it in the morning. Goodnight, Heath."

He began to tidy his office and prepare to leave, letting his mind wander back to the first time he and Heath had met. The Underground was an exclusive—and expensive—private club catering to London’s gay BDSM scene. Joe had been lounging against the main bar, craving a nice, soft merlot, whilst nursing a glass of something involving mango and apple that the barman had convinced him to try. He entirely understood the club’s ‘no alcohol’ policy but sometimes it was a pain in the taste buds.

Heath had drawn every eye in the place as he had strolled across the room, black leather clinging to long legs and a gorgeous arse, his body draped in a filmy silver-grey shirt. There’d been a few disappointed sighs as it had become obvious that this was not a new, tender submissive but a confident, young Dominant who would provide dangerous competition for all of them.

He’d ordered water with a twist of lime, glanced at Joe’s fruity concoction with a smirk and introduced himself. "Heath Anders. I need someone to teach me and I’m told you’re the best."

It had gone from there, and Joe had enjoyed every moment of showing his willing student what it meant to be submissive, and how to be the best possible Dominant. Friendship had led to partnership and the development of The Edge into something more than just a corporate training company. The Underground had provided them with a number of excellent clients and he was proud of the fact that they were making an active contribution to making their world safer and more respectful of others’ needs.

Living on the Edge #2
The car sped along the motorway, its interior lit by flashes of neon orange and red from signs warning drivers to take a break, not to drink and drive and to slow down in the rain. Esther looked at her husband, Adam, who was driving. His forehead was creased into a frown, his eyes narrowed in concentration. It was dark, the rain was kicking up more spray than Niagara Falls and every truck they passed seemed to be generating a tidal wave of watered-down mud. In the passenger seat, Esther rearranged the rolled-up pullover she was leaning against, but it was impossible to get comfortable and she couldn’t relax anyway. She glanced into the rear-view mirror and pursed her lips. The cause of her anxiety was slumped in the back seat, the side of his face pressed against the cool window glass. His unusually pale eyes were open but unfocused, as though he were deep in thought. In the dim light it was impossible to see true colours, but his hair was dark and somewhat unruly, falling across his face in tousled waves.

"How long are you going to keep up the silent treatment, Aiden?" Esther spoke sharply and her husband cast a resigned glance in her direction.

"Leave him be, Esther. He doesn’t have to talk if he doesn’t want to."

"He brought this on himself, Adam. If it wasn’t for me, he’d be rotting in jail right now."

"I know. And he’s going to have a whole year to regret his actions."

"He’s twenty years old. He should know better."

"Yes, dear."

A pained sigh came from the back of the car.

"For fuck’s sake, Sis. Lay off. You’ve committed me to a year of purgatory. Stop trying to justify your own actions."

"Even you must accept that this is a better option than prison."

"I’d have been out in six months. This is double the sentence. Thanks a lot."

"You ungrateful brat. The things I do for you…"

Aiden rolled his eyes. "I didn’t ask you to help, Essie. Stop acting the martyr."

"We’re here."

That stopped the bickering as they pulled off the motorway into a gloomy, unwelcoming service station.

"Esther, relax. Aiden, think about it. What do you think would happen to someone who looks like you do in prison?"

Aiden scowled but then muttered an apology under his breath. Esther shook her head and looked at her little brother. Adam was right, but it wasn’t Aiden’s fault that he looked the way he did. He was prettier than she was with his beautiful, unusual eyes, fine bone structure and soft, dark hair. Sometimes it was hard to believe that they were related. Aiden was the only member of the family who wasn’t stocky, sandy-haired and freckled. He was slim, pale-skinned and, at five foot eleven, relatively tall. She loved him deeply, but the last year had challenged even her tolerance for his behaviour.

It had all started three years ago, on Aiden’s seventeenth birthday. He had decided, against her better judgement, to come out to their somewhat old-fashioned parents. There had been no histrionics, no judgement, just a quiet disappointment that had gradually eaten into Aiden’s soul.

He’d been a brilliant student, a year ahead of his peers, and as soon as he could arrange it he’d left home for university. To start with he had emailed his sister regularly, choosing to keep in touch with her rather than face awkward phone calls with his technologically challenged mother and father. He’d seemed to thrive in the rarefied academic atmosphere, embracing the demands of studying maths and IT at the same time.

Then, in his third year, the emails had started to tail off. They’d become shorter and less informative. Esther had gone to visit and had found Aiden holed up in a darkened room with a computer and an intimidating man whose name she had never learnt. Though clearly shocked to see her, Aiden had taken her out to dinner, made all the right noises about studying and enjoying himself, then had sent her on her way. It was only when she’d got back home that she’d realised he had actually told her little of substance, and that she still had no clue as to what he was up to.

The first she’d learnt of exactly how much trouble he was in was when their mother had called her, mildly hysterical, to tell her that that Aiden had been arrested for hacking. Six months of hell had followed. Aiden had refused to talk about what he had done or why. He’d been released into Esther’s care on bail, pending trial, and was banned from being anywhere near a computer. The university had allowed him to finish his degree remotely and that was what he had spent six months doing—painstakingly writing his dissertation by hand and avoiding all mention of the impending trial.

Esther had attended court in the expectation that the trial would take weeks, but to her shock Aiden’s lawyer had entered a guilty plea on his behalf. Aiden hadn’t met her eyes once as the lawyer had made a statement pleading for leniency. Then the judge had asked for both the defending and prosecuting councils to meet in his chamber. What had emerged was a choice—six months in prison, or twelve months’ attachment to an organisation of the judge’s choosing for community service. The latter depended on payment of a bond and that was where Esther had come in. She had agreed to post the bond, which meant that if Aiden reneged on the conditions of the sentence, she stood to lose her house and business.

Dancing on the Edge #3
Alistair let the pounding beat of the music soak into his body. The deep thrum of the bass reverberated through his feet, up his spine and into his brain. He moved instinctively, twisting his hips and swaying, lost to the euphoria of the dance. The Underground’s dance floor wasn’t big, as if it had been deliberately designed to bring overheated bodies closer together. Alistair liked to be in the centre of the press of writhing flesh because there he could be anonymous. Nobody would notice that he was dancing alone. Occasionally someone would slide a sweaty arm around his waist or press a hard cock against his arse—he could just slip free and disappear into the crowd. No offence given and none taken.

It wasn’t often that he had the freedom to really let go, but it was his night off and he was determined to enjoy himself. It was so stifling that for a moment he wished he were still wearing the short leather kilt that formed The Underground’s skimpy staff uniform. The black PVC trousers he had on were ludicrously hot. Perspiration ran down his bare back and chest and his hair was soaked. It was time for a long, cool drink and he really needed to towel off.

Alistair made his way gradually to the edge of the dance floor. It took a while—the music was intoxicating and hard to withdraw from. He hovered on the periphery for a while, still dancing but aware now of what was going on in the wider room. The stage was empty apart from two men who were manhandling a large wooden cross into its centre, cursing and swearing at the weight of the thing. Alistair knew that some eager sub would be chained to it later, enjoying the kiss of the whip.

Many of the tables that circled the dance floor were occupied. Alistair knew all of the regulars by name and recognised quite a few of the less frequent visitors. A team of waiters, unashamedly employed for their looks and desire to please, attended the tables. On six nights out of seven he was one of them and enjoyed being part of the team. They were well paid and, though subservience was required, they had no other obligation to the clientele. The members were well aware of the rules and kept their hands to themselves, but it was perfectly proper to ask a server if he would be available to play when he got off his shift. Most of the boys Alistair knew were more than willing. For an unattached sub, The Underground was safe. It also attracted dominant men who were committed enough to the lifestyle to pay the exorbitant fees. For those that wanted them, there were plenty of opportunities to test compatibility or just to find someone happy to deliver a sound spanking with no strings.

Alistair had taken advantage of his position many times. He was slim, blond and pretty—all attributes that appealed to a large proportion of the members. He never had a problem finding a Dom for an evening of fun and games that they would both enjoy. It helped that he adored having his arse paddled until it glowed and if he was tied up while it happened, so much the better. He scanned the room catching several interested glances, but Alistair was only looking for one man. The man who was always present, whomever Alistair played with. The only man he had ever allowed to fuck him. It was dark and crowded—spotlights blinded him as he peered up at the gallery, his stomach knotted with anxiety. Where was he?

Bodies between Alistair and the bar moved apart and there he was—Carey Hoffman—and he was looking directly at Alistair, a slight smile curving his lips. Alistair relaxed as soon as he locked gazes with the darkly handsome man. Carey was his anchor in a bewildering world and there was no way Alistair would have walked across the club alone unless he knew Carey was watching. He began to move, careful not to brush against anyone or make eye contact. He didn’t like rejecting people, but he wasn’t wearing a collar and that made him fair game. He made it three paces before a huge, leather-clad guy loomed over him with a leer.

"Well, pretty boy, what are you doing here all alone?"

Alistair looked up and took in the extensive tattoos that covered his new friend’s heavily muscled arms, then the thick neck and shaved head.

"I… I’m not…"

Alistair flinched as the stranger took his arm, gripping his biceps tightly. "Don’t be scared, little one, we can have a good time together." He tugged Alistair towards the tables.

"I’m sorry, Sir, I’m not available tonight," Alistair finally managed to get out.

"Or any night," Carey said as he appeared next to him and stroked his hair. "This one’s taken, Frank." The big guy looked disappointed, but he smiled, revealing a dimple that was completely incongruous.

"S’all right, Carey. Haven’t been in for a while—didn’t realise." Frank released Alistair’s arm and stepped back.

"Not a problem. In fact I think Toby over there might suit you." Carey gestured towards a server with dark hair and a cheeky grin.

Frank grinned right back. "Pretty. Is he interested, Carey?"

Carey crooked a finger at Toby and the slight waiter came scuttling over with undignified speed.

"Oh, I think you might say that."

Toby bounced on the spot, his dark brown eyes glinting. He looked like a puppy that had just been given the best treat ever. He disappeared with a squeak as Frank wrapped a beefy, decorated arm around his shoulders.

A Double-Edged Sword #4
The Underground’s stage was cleverly lit to highlight the chair set at its centre. Almost throne-like, the bespoke piece of furniture was made from polished oak and upholstered with padded green leather. The back had a cushioned middle panel and intricately carved side pieces, so it looked impressively regal without sacrificing comfort. The arms were wide and flat, lightly padded as well. At first glance it could have been an antique piece from a stately home, but closer inspection showed how it earned its place on the stage of a BDSM club. At the top of the backrest, a curved leather neck support and headrest stood proud from the wood. The seat was significantly wider at the front than the rear and subtly concealed within the leather was a circular section that could be removed. Brass eyelets were set at regular intervals down each of the chair legs, the sides of the seat and in the vertical wooden panels of the back. It was a chair made for display, for restraint and for some very kinky play.

Dave Becket leant back in his seat and watched disinterestedly as a blindfolded, naked man was led out onto the stage and positioned in the chair so that his arse, cock and balls were accessible. The Dom with him proceeded to fasten narrow leather straps around his sub’s limbs until he was secured in position, legs spread wide.

“The show doesn’t inspire you, Dave?”

Becket turned to his companion and shook his head. “Public displays don’t do much for me, I’m afraid. Any sub of mine will be kept for my pleasure, not the titillation of others.”

Carey Hoffman nodded his agreement. “I would never put Alistair up there, certainly. We seem to be in the minority, however.” He gestured at the crowded tables that surrounded the stage. “The shows are very good for business.”

Becket grunted and cast a glance around the room. The Underground was a popular venue. Membership was expensive and the serving staff attentive and pretty. For anyone seriously into the scene, it was the place to be. Becket attended when he could, though the demands of his job meant that his visits were sporadic at best. He enjoyed the atmosphere and Carey had become a good friend. There were advantages to being close to the club’s owner, including the prime position of the table the two of them currently occupied.

“Will Alistair be joining you tonight, Carey?” Becket grinned as a soppy smile fixed itself onto Carey’s handsome face.

“Yes, he will.” Carey glanced at his watch. “In fact, he should be here any minute. He had to go over to a gallery in the West End and check on the hanging of some of his work but he should be back by now. He’s probably upstairs changing.”

“He’s doing incredibly well with his photography, isn’t he?”

Carey nodded, his expression full of pride. “Since he won the Forbes prize, he’s been in great demand.”

“I read about that,” Becket said. “The youngest ever winner, I understand?”

“That’s right. It was an amazing achievement even though he tries to play it down. Alistair is very shy about his success.”

“That’s because you keep him so well grounded, my friend.” Becket took a sip from his glass of iced water and prodded at the slice of lime floating in the top. “What’s your secret? The two of you always seems so…content.”

Carey’s forehead wrinkled in thought. “It’s no secret and no mystery really. We’re compatible. We give each other what we need.”

Becket frowned. “But how did you know? I mean, was it love at first sight or did you grow together?”

Carey gave a short chuckle. “Fuck, Dave, your reputation would be shot if it ever got out that you were asking questions about feelings.”

“And what about you?” Becket retorted. “You’re supposed to be a big bad Dom but one mention of Alistair and you go all smooshy.”

Carey choked on his drink. “Smooshy? There’s a word I never thought I’d hear coming out of your mouth, Agent Becket. What’s this really about, as if I couldn’t guess?”

Becket’s face heated. He shouldn’t have started this conversation. Better to focus on the sub getting his arse whipped up on the stage. He was saved by Alistair’s arrival, the pretty blond immediately commanding all of Carey’s attention.

“Good evening, Sir. Good evening, Mr Becket.” Alistair leaned over to kiss his master then sank gracefully to his knees in front of Carey, head demurely bowed.

“I’m glad you’re here, Alistair, I missed you.” Carey ruffled Alistair’s hair gently. “You look beautiful.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

Becket smiled as a delicate blush crept across Alistair’s cheeks. Carey wasn’t exaggerating—Alistair did look gorgeous. He wore skin-tight leather trousers in a shade of deep burgundy and nothing else, apart from the slim collar encircling his throat. He was slender and toned but not overly defined. Becket approved—he wasn’t into men who spent more time in the gym than they did in the real world. Cut abs were great to look at but Alistair’s sleek muscles were just as pretty.

Alistair looked up at his Master. “Is it all right if I get myself a drink, Sir?”

Carey immediately nodded. “Of course. Dave, would you like anything while Alistair is at the bar?”

“Another glass of mineral water would be welcome, thanks.”

“And I’ll have the same please, sweetheart.”

Alistair practically glowed at the simple endearment. Becket sneaked a sideways glance at Carey whose gaze was firmly fixed on Alistair’s neat, leather-clad arse as he picked his way through the tables to the bar.

“You’re a lucky bastard, Carey.” Becket wasn’t jealous. He could admire Alistair as a beautiful young man and a well-trained submissive, but Alistair wasn’t his type. Becket liked an edgier look than the boy-next-door wholesomeness that Alistair effortlessly exuded.

“I know it.” Carey’s focus didn’t leave Alistair until he returned with their drinks. “Thank you, love. Sit here please.” Carey gestured to a spot on the floor between his legs.

Alistair wriggled into position and leant back against Carey’s chair with a contented sigh. “It’s good to be off my feet, Sir.”

“Relax and have your drink, love. Dave and I need to pick up the conversation we were having before you arrived. Don’t think I’ve forgotten, Becket.”

Becket groaned. “I should learn to keep my mouth shut.”

Rough Around the Edges #5
The moment Kai walked into The Underground clutching Olly’s hand, he knew he’d found his place in the world. The club smelled of leather and polish and men. The low light soothed his eyes and made him feel less visible, which suited him just fine. He liked to disappear into the background—it was safer that way. Joe steered them toward a table ringed by comfortable low chairs but they couldn’t sit down straight away as there were so many people milling around them that it took a while to get through the throng. Kai lost his grip on Olly and grabbed hold of Joe’s sleeve instead while Olly held onto Joe’s other arm—it was the only way to avoid being swept away.

“Cut the crowding, people!”

Kai turned around. Someone was standing on the bar, yelling.

“Give them some space. You’ll hear all about it soon enough.”

The crowd thinned as people went back to their tables and settled down, though the level of chatter and sense of excitement remained high. The man from the bar hopped down and came across to speak to Joe. Kai earwigged shamelessly and caught a little of their conversation.

“Why don’t we let Carey and Alistair get reacquainted and I’ll get the three of you some drinks?” Though he was talking to Joe, the man—who Kai figured had to be one of the bar staff—kept his gaze firmly fixed on Kai.

Kai examined the floor, afraid that if he looked back, those stormy gray eyes would mesmerize him.

“Sounds good,” Joe answered. “It was a long drive. Fresh orange juice for all of us please, Harry.”

Now Kai knew the man’s name. Harry. He liked it. It sounded strong and confident, just like the way the man appeared. Joe took a seat at the table and Olly immediately clambered onto his lap. Kai didn’t sit down straight away—he stood and took in the view. Everywhere he looked there were gorgeous men—all shapes and sizes, all colors and ages. Men who seemed comfortable in their skins.

His eyes widened as he realized just how little some of the club’s members were wearing. He spotted latex and leather in a variety of colors, though black was in the majority. Most of the chairs were occupied, but there were also men sitting on cushions on the floor or kneeling, with their heads bowed. It was a feast for Kai’s eyes. Belatedly, he realized that he was staring and that his mouth was open. He snapped his lips together and cast around anxiously to see if he’d offended anyone. If the winks he got when he made eye contact were anything to go by, apparently he hadn’t.

Kai checked the whereabouts of his new friends, needing the security of knowing where they were and that he wasn’t alone. Alistair stood a few feet away, wrapped in the arms of a handsome older man who acted like he’d just won the lottery. Kai assumed that must be Carey, Alistair’s Dom. Just behind where Kai loitered, Olly sat in Joe’s lap, chattering away while Joe listened, looking cool and serene. Kai felt a little pang of envy at how happy they all seemed. Still, he should be grateful. He’d just been rescued from a terrifying ordeal. Alistair had said he could stay with him and Carey for as long as he needed. He was safe. He had somewhere to go, people who cared about what happened to him. He had much to be grateful for.

“I’ve never seen so much leather in one place before,” Kai whispered. He hadn’t addressed the comment to anyone in particular. It was just an observation but Olly grabbed his hand and tugged him to a chair.

“You should be here in the evenings. There’s considerably more bare flesh to ogle then. Though it’s hard to beat hot men in tight leather at any time of the day. I don’t think there should be time limits on visual stimulation, do you?”

Kai shook his head hard. Olly made a good deal of sense.

“You shouldn’t be eyeing up other men,” Joe snapped at Olly. “And they shouldn’t even be glancing in your direction. You’re mine.”

Kai stared. It was the first time he’d seen Joe’s icy-cool demeanor slip into something more emotional.

Olly chewed his lower lip and gazed back at him adoringly. “You’ll just have to punish me, Sir.”

Kai giggled. Olly was so naughty. He liked him enormously. They could have loads of fun together. He perched on the edge of his chair and people-watched for a couple of minutes. There was so much eye candy to enjoy. Not that I’d have the first clue what to do if one of these men approached me. Olly and Alistair seem to think that I’m a sub, but what does that mean? I’m not sure I want to be spanked!

Scorched Edges #6
“We have ourselves a firebug, Beau, and he or she seems intent on destroying every derelict building south of the fucking river.” Commander Norm Archer kicked the leg of his battered desk as he passed. A new dent joined several already present, creating a pattern on the abused wood. Steel toe capped boots came in handy at times of stress. Archer threw himself into his chair and slumped forward to stick his elbows on the desk and rest his head in his hands.

Salter Beauman took an ‘at ease’ stance automatically. Eight years in the marines had fixed the position into his body’s memory and he couldn’t help himself. He stood, legs shoulder-width apart, hands clasped loosely behind his back, and maintained eye contact with his boss. His cranky, soot-streaked, exhausted boss.

“He picks his targets well,” Beau said. “This one isn’t stupid or careless, he only torches places where he can prepare thoroughly without much risk of anyone seeing him.” Beau had little doubt that the arsonist was a man—the vast majority were. He’d eat his boots if the bug turned out to be a woman. “So what’s his motivation?”

“Who the fuck knows?” Archer scrubbed his hands through what remained of his filthy hair. Normally silver, it was currently ash gray. “Could be your average fruit loop with too much time on his hands or he could be trying to get someone’s attention. It might be the fires are the only things that get a rise out of his dick. Fuck. Should have taken early fucking retirement when it was offered.”

Beau chuckled. “They’ll take you out of here in a box, boss, we all know that. Sooner or later this guy is going to make a mistake, they all do eventually, you know that. He’ll get complacent, then he’ll get careless.”

“No doubt,” Archer agreed. “The only question is how much this idiot is going to escalate before the boys in blue are able to arrest his ass and toss it into a nice, fireproof cell.”

Beau grunted. That had them all worried. Every fire put the entire crew in danger, but those started by a criminal who delighted in making things burn were far more risky. “He’s already getting more ambitious. Allotment sheds first then that derelict fish-packing place, this time a house. The property might have been boarded up and empty but it was in a terrace and there were plenty of people around. A residential area. Jesus, if we hadn’t arrived as quickly as we did, it could have been much worse. As it is, two families are going to be living in temporary accommodation for a while, until their homes are cleaned up. You know how long smoke damage takes to deal with.”

“I do. Fucking carbon sticks like glue to every available surface. You’re second in command. You’re closer to the men than I am. How are they dealing with this?” Archer asked.

“Well, we’ve assumed that we had a serial bug on our hands for a while now. The old hands are angry but professional. The newbies are scared and trying not to show it. Every shout that comes in they half expect to be another nasty one and that puts them on edge. Being off for the next forty-eight hours will help. Fatigue makes everything seem worse than it is.” Beau rolled his neck and listened to the cracking joints.

“You’re a little haggard yourself, Beau. Are you worrying about the same thing I am?”

Beau frowned at the cryptic comment but nodded. “All the shouts that can be attributed to the firebug have been during our watch.”

“Could be a coincidence,” Archer said, tapping his pen on the desk.

“And I might meet a nice girl, settle down, produce a couple of kids and adopt a mutt from Battersea.”

Archer snorted. “Pigs might levitate. Maybe the next forty-eight hours will prove us wrong. If the next watch find spray-painted messages on the walls, we’re off the hook. If not, we have a serious problem. In the meantime go get cleaned up, find yourself a nice young man and get laid. It’ll do you good.”

“I might just do that, though I can’t guarantee he’ll be ‘nice’.” Beau checked his watch. “Nine o’clock. Shit. I don’t suppose I’m getting paid overtime for this, am I?”

Archer had a bout of mild hysteria, and Beau took that as his cue to leave the room. As he walked down the corridor toward the showers he could hear laughter and chatter coming from the recreation room. The night shift were settling in and a tempting aroma of cooking food permeated the air.

“Beef stew and dumplings.” Beau identified the meal under preparation. His stomach rumbled. “Dinner at the club, I think.” The smell made up his mind and he changed his plan for a quiet night in. In the locker room he stripped off his grimy kit and dumped it in the laundry crate. The big plastic bin was almost full, testifying to the fact that his watch had already passed through and the rest of the team were on their way home. Naked, Beau padded to his locker and grabbed his washbag. He stank of smoke and sweat and couldn’t wait to get the acrid stench out of his nostrils.

One of the things the fire service managed to get right was the shower facilities. Endless hot water and powerful water pressure were essential at the end of a long, dirty shift. Beau scrubbed away some of the stress of the day along with the grime. He shampooed his hair twice and let his head hang as mucky water sluiced down the drain. Jet-black strands hung in front of his face, a little longer than regulations strictly allowed. Tiredness washed over him and he pushed it away. His two days off couldn’t come soon enough.

Beau dressed quickly. He hadn’t planned to go to the club that night so didn’t have his leathers or even a dressy pair of trousers, but his jeans were clean and the pale blue button-down shirt he wore was smart enough. Carey Hoffman, the owner of The Underground, didn’t enforce a dress code, but very few members showed up in casual clothes. Beau only intended to go there to eat, so he wasn’t too concerned about fitting in. He pulled on his jacket, slammed his locker door decisively and left.

From the fire station it was a thirty-minute walk across Westminster Bridge, around the Houses of Parliament to The Underground. Beau took his time, enjoying the cool night air. He loved the relative calm of London by night as opposed to the noisy bustle of the day. There were still plenty of tourists around snapping pictures of the Thames and Westminster Abbey. Big Ben told him it was nine-thirty as he made his way into quieter streets and eventually to The Underground’s discreet entrance. The only indication that the building housed a club was the presence of a couple of impressively muscled men loitering on the pavement. Beau nodded to the bouncers, flashed his membership card and went inside.

Author Bio:
Lucinda lives in a small village in the English countryside, surrounded by rolling hills, cows and sheep. She started writing to fill time between jobs and is now firmly and unashamedly addicted.

She loves the English weather, especially the rain, and adores a thunderstorm. She loves good food, warm company and a crackling fire. She's fascinated by the psychology of relationships, especially between men, and her stories contain some subtle (and some not so subtle) leanings towards BDSM.


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EMAIL: lmsomerton@aol.com



Reaching the Edge #1
B&N  /  KOBO  /  iTUNES  /  ARe

Living on the Edge #2
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KOBO  /  iTUNES  /  GOOGLE PLAY  /  ARe

Dancing on the Edge #3
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KOBO  /  iTUNES  /  GOOGLE PLAY  /  ARe

A Double-Edged Sword #4
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Rough Around the Edges #5
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Scorched Edges #6(Coming September 8, 2015)
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