Saturday, December 19, 2015

Random Tales of Christmastime Part 8

Where You Lead by Mary Calmes
ATF agent Peter Lomax isn’t a hearts and flowers kind of guy, but he can be possessive, and it caused problems until Carver Fleming. Carver may be part of the art world, but he gets Peter, loves belonging to the man, and Peter treasures the way Carver understands them together.

Carver loves Peter, but he's fully aware that six months doth not a commitment make. Carver wants to make the relationship last forever, but he’ll have to leave their life in Chicago to take care of the family he loves. He wants to do it with Peter by his side, but going from the city of Chicago to tiny Colt, Kentucky is a big change.

Carver has only one Christmas wish: Please, oh please, let Peter fall enough in love with Carver's family to follow Carver home.

I have yet to read characters created by Mary Calmes that I didn't fall in love with from page one and Peter and Carver are no different.  I would love to read more stories featuring this pair but for now I am content adding this amazing holiday tale to my Christmas library.


The Family We're Born With by Kaje Harper
Jesse Calhoun met Devin Palmer five years ago, in front of a Christmas tree at a friend's party. It was Jesse's first holiday alone, away from home. Devin didn't have much of a home to go back to. They found a way to make the season brighter, together.

Four years ago, Jesse brought Devin to his parents' house and came out to them. It wasn't all roses, but his family came around, and Devin has spent each holiday with the Calhouns since then. Jesse really loves sharing Christmas with his family, and sharing his family with Devin.

So he isn't prepared to hear his mom say, “I don't want Devin to come to the house for Christmas Eve this year.” Suddenly it's not smooth sailing, keeping peace with the family he was born with.

Puppy, Car, and Snow by Amy Lane
Ryan’s entire life changed the night Scott surprised him in a bathroom at a party. Now Ryan’s soulless climb up the corporate ladder has stalled—but his quality life has become a whirlwind of laughter, joy and surprises, thanks to Scotty’s playful, gentle heart.

After three years together, they’re going to Ryan’s parents’ cabin to spend Christmas. Snowed in by the weather and locked under the icy glare of his mother’s disapproval, can Ryan show he has found the most profound happiness in the simplest of things?

Another great holiday tale by Amy Lane.  Ryan and Scott are a cute and established couple that mesh perfectly together, too bad Ryan's mother doesn't quite see it the same way.  This is definitely going into my holiday re-read shelf for next year.


Bianca's Plan by BG Thomas
Bianca worries that her daddy, Gavin, is lonely and decides he needs a boyfriend for Christmas. So she enlists her father's best friend, the straight and unattached Curtis. Gavin has a Christmas wish, too, and Curtis setting him up on disastrous dates isn't part of it! Meanwhile, Curtis finds life becoming complicated as he tries to please Bianca, make Gavin happy, and fend off his own unexpected mixed feelings. Will anyone's wish come true?

Nine Lights Over Edinburgh by Harper Fox
Detective Inspector James McBride is riding high on the belief that he's about to bust a human-trafficking ring. But just five days before Christmas, his unorthodox methods catch up with him and his world comes crashing down.

McBride tries to concentrate on his new day job as security for the visiting Israeli ambassador. He even starts to feel a renewed sense of self-worth when the leader of the Israeli team, the aristocratic Tobias Leitner, takes a bullet for him in the line of duty. But he can't forget the trafficking case, especially when his investigations result in the kidnapping of his own daughter! McBride has no one to turn to for help—no one, except Toby.

Can these two very different men work together to bring about a holiday miracle—and heal one another's heart in the process?

Included in His for the Holiday Anthology

Some might classify this story as too depressing for a Christmas story but I didn't.  Yes, James McBride is definitely a detective with some major life issues that have brought him on the edge of a very bad place but he doesn't stay there.  Christmas is all about hope and even if it takes most of the story for James to find the kind of peace we all want, the hope that he'll discover it is there from the beginning, in my opinion anyway.  I'll admit that the plot may move along at a slightly rushed pace but it is a holiday novella and truth is, sometimes life moves at a rushed pace so why shouldn't a story do the same once in a while?  A great addition to my holiday library.


Where You Lead
TRUTHFULLY, THE idea had been a good one, and you had to give it to the director’s wife for coming up with a fun way to drum up contributions to the fallen agents’ fund, but why we all needed to go was beyond me. It wasn’t like, on our salaries, plus living in Chicago, we could actually afford to purchase any of the art on sale.

Not that any of us had any real appreciation of what we were looking at anyway. I had a little more than the others because I had the hot boyfriend who ran a different gallery in the city. He was on loan, along with a lot of other people, to oversee the well-publicized black-tie event.

“It’s a roach,” my partner, special agent Elliott Dorsey of the ATF, was explaining to his lovely wife Felicia. “Pete and I had to come over here earlier to drop Carver off some food so he wouldn’t starve to death, and we saw this creepy piece of crap then.”

“I asked C when the giant—” I burped up a chili dog I’d had for lunch. “—can of Raid was gonna be added, but he just told me to get out.”

“Which was rude,” Elliott commented.


“And I still don’t see it.” He pointed, gesturing at the eyesore in the center of the gallery.

No sound from Felicia, so after a second, we both turned to look at her. She looked absolutely horrified.

“What?” I asked her.

“Are you kidding?”

She seemed agitated but still beautiful. I had never seen her in an evening dress before.

“Bug making you wanna hurl?”

“I don’t really get it,” Elliott said, wincing. “And if you think about it, it’s actually kinda gross.”

“It’s not a bug!” Felicia Dorsey insisted, looking at us both like we were nuts. “And where is Carver? I need him here to cut the stupid.”

“He’s around here some—Hey,” I said defensively. “Are you trying to say something about me and your husband?”

“Trying?” she demanded sarcastically.

“It’s totally a bug,” Elliott said, pointing at the long strands protruding from the top—or what I thought was the top—of the sculpture. “Those are the feeler thingies on top.”

“Antennae,” I corrected him.

“They are not,” Felicia insisted.

“Are you high, woman?” Elliott asked his wife, gesturing with both hands. “Can you not see the legs and the wings? It’s a sewer roach.”

“It is,” I agreed, tipping my head at the back end. “And I think that’s supposed to be crap it’s climbing out of.”

“Oh dear God,” she groaned.

“Maybe it’s supposed to represent urban decay,” Elliott said, obviously pleased with himself.

“The plight of the inner city.”

She whirled around to face the both of us. “You guys are disgusting. They would not put a giant roach on display here at the Sanderson Gallery! Ask Carver if you don’t believe me.”

We were both quiet.

“Stop looking at me like—Gah! I hate you both.”

I squinted at her. “Money where your mouth is, smarty-pants. Twenty bucks says it’s a bug.”

“She’s not taking that bet,” Elliott said. “It’s totally a bug.”

“Ohmygod, where is Carver?” she moaned loudly.

“Don’t cry about it,” I baited her.

“She’s just bein’ weird ’cause she’s all dolled up for once and she doesn’t want us to make fun of all the froufrou art.” Elliott yawned again. “Man, I’m beat.”

“What art?” I grumbled. “It’s a bug.”

“It’s not a bug!” she half yelled. “Do you know what normally gets sold out of this art gallery?”

“Art?” Elliott snickered, cracking himself up.

I nodded helpfully.

“Seriously, could you two just grow up for one night?”

“Gotta be good,” I told him. “We’re dressed up.”

“’Cause it’s nice in here.”


“Fancy,” he said, dragging out the word


“Refined.” He made a clicking noise with his tongue.




He furrowed his eyebrows because he was thinking.

“Ohmygod, stop,” his wife snapped at us. “If you two could not ruin my night with your juvenile crap, I—”

“Speaking of,” Elliott said, cutting her off, his gaze on me. “I bet you can’t take a crap here.”

“You’re daring me to take a dump?”

“No, I’m saying I bet the bathroom is way too nice here to drop a load in.”

“Are you kidding?” Felicia moaned.

“No matches,” I offered.

“Only scented candles,” he confirmed, shaking his head. “Not gonna cut through the noxious cloud of gas.”

“You’d have people passing out all over the place.” I gestured to include everything.

“Ohmygod, you two need to be separated,” she whispered harshly, stepping between us.

“But why?” Elliott stomped his foot.

Spinning me around and then shoving me forward, she ordered me to get lost.

“Yeah, but—”

“Go rescue your man from whoever’s got him,” she directed, sliding her arm through her husband’s to lead him away. “And remember, we’re going to dinner on Sunday because I want to see you guys before you leave on your trip.”

“Oh, don’t remind him,” Elliott whined. “He’s a fuckin’ basket case about it already.”

“You are?” She switched from wanting to brain me with her sequined black clutch to worrying. “Why?”

I shook my head.

“What if Carver’s folks hate him?” Elliott theorized. “It’s not like Pete’s some great catch. I mean, look at him.”

“He’s gorgeous,” she soothed me, leaning forward to kiss my cheek. “And he’s an ATF agent, which is sort of romantic, and—”

“You think our job’s romantic?” he asked his wife seductively. “You wanna come with me to my car, lady?”

“I’m going to beat you ’til you’re dead,” she said flatly.

He made a noise of disgust. “Not hot.”

“Walk with me,” she said between clenched teeth, tugging Elliott forward. “I look fantastic, and I never look fantastic, so you two better suck it up and give me a goddamn elegant evening!”

“Elegant,” Elliott repeated, snapping his fingers. “That’s the word I was trying to think of.”

She growled and started walking away with my partner.

“The snarling certainly isn’t elegant,” I called over to her.

The flipping me off over her shoulder wasn’t either, but it made her husband laugh.

I walked from sculpture to painting, saw the bids on little sticky notes on the corners of the glass, moved on before anyone could ask me if I liked whatever I was looking at, and kept an eye out for my boss.

I was trying to stay out of Director Harvey’s way since he would not be happy to see me and I really didn’t want to get into it with him again. What he called reckless, I called saving lives. Yes, I had traded myself to a gunman for a civilian, and yes, I had been taking a chance, but it had been a necessary risk. Afterward, Elliott had punched me so hard in the stomach I had doubled over, and when I got home—since he had gone ahead and called Carver and informed him of the peril I had put myself in—that had been a whole other scene. It had taken hours of reassurance and cajoling to get the man I loved to speak to me. And even though it was weeks ago at this point, I was still on the director’s shit list. Everyone had gotten out safely, including the gunman, but still, the director was pissed. We had saved three lives at a liquor store robbery that had escalated and turned into a hostage negotiation. And while I didn’t think I would get a commendation, neither had I anticipated my director thinking I had a death wish. I didn’t. Not at all. But Friday night, after work, was not the time to have that discussion. So when I saw him walk in the front door, I ducked out toward the back.

I walked around some walls and came out in front of a painting that didn’t make my eyes bleed or my brain hurt. Not that I liked it, that part had to be made clear, but certainly it was the only piece in the gallery I found interesting.

As far as I could tell, I was looking at yellow ghosts. Maybe. Or they could have been shadows made of gold or sunlight, because there was also rain.

I thought it was rain.

Maybe the vantage point was inside looking out at the rain.

God, I hated art.

“You’re looking at my piece.”

I turned slowly because, really, I would have had to be deaf to miss the come-on.

“You are.”

“Yes, I am,” I said, pivoting to face the man.

“You like it?”

“I don’t hate it,” I conceded.

He held out his hand for me. “Anton.”

“No last name?” I asked, taking the offered hand.

“Just Anton,” he simpered, running his gaze over me from head to toe and back.

It took me a second to realize that the delicate, vulpine-featured man who I had thought would be intimidated with my size had clasped my hand with his other and was holding on tight.

He was five foot six, with huge, limpid green eyes fringed in long, thick, brown lashes, and was maybe all of twenty. The way he was smiling up at me was absolutely decadent.

I scowled and then it hit me. “I’m not an art collector, I don’t own a gallery, and I’m not looking to be your patron.”

“Okay,” he whispered, stepping in closer to me and inhaling.

“Are you drunk?” I asked dryly. “Anton?”

“No,” he purred. He reached out, put a hand on my hip, and curled a finger into the belt loop of my dress pants. “I’ve just been stalking you since you came in, and I kept hoping I’d figure out a reason to come talk to you. Who knew you were an art lover?”

“I’m not,” I clarified, cupping his chin in my hand and staring down into all that emerald. “It’s just that of all of them in here, yours is the only one I at least get.”

He lifted one mischievously arched eyebrow. “And? What do you see?”


“And you knew that before or after you read the title?”

“Don’t be a wiseass,” I snapped, letting him go. “I figured something like that before.”

“Go on.”

“But is the painting supposed to be in the rain?”

“You see rain there?”

I groaned.

His breath caught. “I bet people tell you all the time how beautiful you are.”

“No,” I said softly. “Only my boyfriend.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah.” I said frankly. “But thank you, I’m very flattered.”

“He’ll never know,” he assured me, lifting his hand to my bicep.

“I’ll know.” I was adamant, taking a step back so his hand fell off my arm. I wasn’t stupid; I knew what I looked like, and at six foot three, built like a linebacker, with muscles formed from years of devotion to the gym and a strenuous job, I knew some men noticed me. But more importantly, I always had one man’s full attention and that was worth more than every other on the planet. That’s what love did: it made you accept no substitute once you found the real thing.

“Would you like to have dinner with me?”

“If he were single,” Carver said as he appeared at my elbow, “he would probably love to have dinner with you, Christopher Banks. But since he’s not, he can’t.”

Poor kid—his eyes got huge and round, and he looked like he’d seen a ghost.

“Walk away before I get angry,” Carver warned him.

“I—Mr. Fleming, I had no idea he—you…. Please don’t pull my pic—”

“I won’t,” Carver said, taking hold of my hand. “No harm done. Just go. Now.”

Anton, aka Christopher, didn’t say another word, just bolted like he was being chased.

“You,” he growled at me.

“Oh, I didn’t do anything, and you’re so not mad.” I laughed softly, kissing his cheek.

“I’m not? Because I think I am.”

I took his face in my hands, marveling as I always did that the man with the big, beautiful brown eyes, adorable little upturned nose, and the most beautiful lips I had ever seen in my life belonged to me. “No. You know better.”

“I’m mad,” he snapped even as his eyes betrayed him, drifting shut as I bent to kiss him. “Don’t pick up little boys.”

“Never,” I promised, slanting my mouth down over his.

He opened for me, tilted his head back in surrender, and wrapped his arms around my neck as I took and he gave, boneless against me, a low whine in the back of his throat as I claimed him.

“You like kissing me,” I mumbled, smiling before I straightened up.

“No. Correction: I love kissing you,” he husked, grabbing the lapels of my suit jacket and then tugging me back into an alcove before reaching up—he was five foot ten to my six foot three—and wrapping his arms around my neck. He pulled me down and kissed me, pressing his hard, lean body into mine.

His attention, as always, annihilated me. It had from the beginning.

The very first time I saw the man, I nearly swallowed my tongue. He had been standing in a group of people at my friend Irene’s fortieth birthday party, and the only thing wrong with him was the other man draping his arm around his shoulders.

Lithe, with a lean, taut frame, his back tapered to a narrow waist and a beautiful, tight, round ass. His long legs were encased in threadbare jeans, and the color on his arms was, I was guessing, the same as he was all over, a gorgeous golden tan. I wanted to check and see, have him naked under me so I could perform a thorough head-to-toe inspection.

“That’s Carver Fleming,” Irene had explained as she wafted by on her boyfriend Gus’s arm. “Cute, huh?”

I had nodded, watching him laugh, curl his hair around his left ear, and shift from one foot to the other, just that much movement showing off the fluid, sleekly muscled lines of the man. Because I was so involved with my own carnal thoughts, I didn’t notice when the entire group of five people—my dream guy, his date, and three others—focused on me. It was fantastic. Everyone got to see me drool.

Groaning, I turned toward the sliding glass door to make as dignified a retreat as possible and was alone out on the patio of the club in River North moments later. Fortunately it was summer in Chicago or I would have frozen to death.

“Caught you staring.”

When I turned my head, of course I found myself looking into the big, warm, brown eyes of the man I wanted to make a meal of. “Yeah, I’m sorry if I embarrassed you or—”

“Why would I be embarrassed?” he asked, walking forward to join me at the rail, his gaze searching mine. “A gorgeous man checking me out? How is that bad?”

“Oh,” I said curtly, trying to remain aloof. “I just—I saw your boyfriend and I meant no disrespect.”

“He’s not my boyfriend,” he clarified.


“No,” he assured me, leaning closer, into my space, putting his hand on my arm. “I’m Carver Fleming. What’s your name?”

“Peter Lomax.”

“And what is it you do, Peter?”

“Pete,” I said without thinking.

“Pete,” he echoed, smiling up at me with hooded eyes.

“I’m an ATF agent.”

“That’s like FBI?”

“Not really. We do tobacco and firearms and a lot of other crap. Mostly gun-trafficking, bring people up on firearms violations.”

“Gangs, the mob; I bet you see a lot of them.”

“Pretty much, yeah,” I said, gazing down at him as he slid his other hand under my jacket and settled it on my left hip.

“So, Pete,” he began, “like I said, I noticed you checking me out.”


His smile was warm. “Well, obviously I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t been looking right back at you.”

It made sense.

“I have a soft spot for bright Caribbean-blue eyes,” he teased, winking at me.

He was an artist, so I understood the extra modifiers. Black wasn’t black, it was onyx. Beige was ecru and yellow was amber. But the truth was, only one color got me worked up.

“I like brown,” I rumbled, and I watched as his lips parted and heard his breath catch. “Blue, green, gray—those can all be cold. But brown is always warm and soft and deep.”

He nodded, and when he spoke, his voice had dropped an octave. “Okay, so forget about the flirty banter I was gonna lay on you… would you like to grab a late dinner with me and then go back to my place?”

I liked straight to the point. I was a big fan, actually. “Yes, please,” I sighed as I put a hand on his cheek and dragged my thumb over his lips. “Except we should pick something up and I should take you home with me.”

Something flickered in his face. “You want to take me home?”

“If that would be all right?”

He scoffed. “Got a revolving door on your bedroom, agent?”

I chuckled, powerless to glance away from him. I was riveted. “Not at all, not in a very long time.”

“Can’t be that long, how old are you?”

“Thirty-four. You?”

“Thirty-six,” he answered, squinting at me.

“Older man,” I teased him. “That’ll be different.”

“How so?” he asked, letting go of my jacket and reaching up to slide his right hand around the back of my neck, and step into me, parting my thighs with his knee, notching his groin against mine.

“Maybe you know what you actually want,” I said playfully, licking my lips because they had gone dry, along with my throat. “That would be a nice change right there.”

He nodded. “Get a lot of that, do you? Indecision?”


“Me too,” he confessed, “and guys wanting to take things slow but without the pesky monogamy.”

I grinned wide. “I think we’ve been dating the same people.”

“Have we?”

“Yeah. I mean, apparently I don’t even know how to date, since I’ve been told I get too serious too fast.”

He seemed bemused. “Let me understand: a man who looks like you, and no one wants to keep him? What’s wrong with you?”

“Well, for starters, apparently I’m much too possessive.”

“I would think it would be the other way around.”

“Why’s that?”

“I bet you get hit on everywhere you go. I could see that getting old for whoever you’re dating.”

I scoffed at him. “Hardly.”

“Do you own a mirror, Agent Lomax?”

“No. I mean,” I hedged, “I don’t scare little kids when I walk down the street, but I’m not normally the guy people follow around after either.”

“Oh no?” he asked, slipping his fingers up into my hair and massaging the back of my head. “I find that very hard to believe.”

“Well, it’s—” God, he smelled good, and the stubble on his cheeks, was so sexy, and his dark, full lips. “—true.”

He tightened his grip as he bent my head down. “I think you’re mistaken. You’re definitely the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in a very long time.”

It didn’t matter if the man was deluded, the important part was how he sealed his lips over mine, the way I opened for him, and the press and play of our tongues together.

His low moan made me brave, and I tore my mouth free.

“No, don’t go,” he protested.

I grabbed his hand and yanked him after me down the stairs and around the side of the building into the alley. Crowding him, I walked him back into the wall on the other side of the dumpster, pushing, pressing, putting my hands all over him, desperate for skin. I tugged on his shirt, got under it to run my hands over the washboard abs, and then slid them lower to his belt buckle.

“Say it.”

“Whatever you want.” His breath fanned hot over my face.

“Fuck a lot in alleys?”

“No. I never—this isn’t like me,” he gasped, and I understood. He was a little too classy to let some stranger grope him in public. “You’re just so—”

“Intent,” I replied, working the belt loose first, then the snap on his jeans and the zipper, before shoving my hand down the front of his pants.

“Yes,” he moaned.

His noises were so sweet, so full of surrender.

“Pete you—oh,” he panted when I closed my fingers around the long, hard length of him.

“If you feel this good in my hand, I can only imagine how good you’d be in my mouth.”

“I want to—eat with you,” he whimpered as I dropped to my knees, “and—Pete!”

I shucked his jeans and briefs to his knees in one sharp motion, leaving no room for protest, then slid my lips over the large, flared crown. I loved that he was already rock hard simply from being close to me.

“You’re not supposed to—”

He stopped talking when I took him down the back of my throat, swallowing, squeezing, and then licked the underside, making everything wet, laving and sucking until the man was writhing on the wall, clutching at my hair.

“I can’t… you have to stop.”

But I kept the suction strong, bobbing my head as I quickened my movements and he began pumping in and out of my mouth, chanting my name, whimpering softly.

“Just—please,” he begged me.

I shoved my fingers into my mouth beside his dick and got them wet, slick with saliva, and then dragged one along his crease as I swirled my tongue over the length of him, tracing the thick vein on his beautiful cut cock.


Pulling back, I let him slide free of my mouth and stood fast, spun him around, and shoved him roughly up against the exposed brick wall. He clutched at it, bracing himself as I jerked him off with one hand and parted his cheeks with the other, working a finger slowly, gently, up inside.

He yelled my name as he spurted over the wall, rigid in my hands, gasping, jolting with aftershocks before he started mumbling something under his breath.

“Slow down and talk to me.”

But he was shuddering too hard to speak coherently, and when I wrapped him in my arms, he leaned back heavily.

It took long minutes for his breathing to even out, and I was careful as I uncurled my fingers from his shaft, and slid free of his clasping channel. Tenderly, I lifted his underwear and pants, zippered and belted, piecing him back together. Turning him, I leaned next to his ear and kissed the skin behind. He took a deep breath, and when he did, I could finally make out the word.

“What about home?” I asked as I leaned in to hug him.

He coiled his arms around my waist, burrowing against my chest. “Take me home with you. Let’s go now.”

“You sure? I just manhandled the hell out of you.”

“I’m sure.” He shivered, sighing deeply. “And you can do that whenever you like.”

“Remember what I said about being possessive?”

“I do, and I’m looking forward to it,” he murmured, lifting his head to kiss over my jawline. “You lead, I’ll follow.”

And for the past six months, the highly independent, driven man who worked day and night to make his gallery the premier spot in the art community in Chicago—hosting everyone from new and upcoming artists, trending ones, and established darlings of the art world—also, amazingly enough, made time for me. But I too had changed, bent for him. What I had done for no others—small things like making sure we always ate dinner together, calling before making plans to check if he wanted to come, and never, ever, letting an argument fester—I did for Carver Fleming. And I knew why: I was finally, desperately, in love. He was my home and I was his. The problem was, unlike my own family, which was scattered to the wind, his was in one centralized location, and even worse, they expected him for Christmas.

“… not listening to me.”

Jolting, I met his gaze and saw how amused he looked. “What?”

“You didn’t hear a word I said.”

“No.” I cleared my throat. “I did.”

“Really?” He was trying not to laugh. “What did I say, then?”

I had no clue, so I went in another direction. “I noticed that you didn’t put your painting in the show.”

“Don’t try and change the—”

“You don’t want to own an art gallery; you want to be an artist.”

He glared at me. “I’m not ready yet.”

“I think you are.”

It had been a common conversation lately: his dreams versus his life.

“I don’t want to talk about this right now,” he said irritably, stepping away from me, letting me go.

“Why not?”

“Because it’s not time.”

“That sounds ominous.”

He shook his head. “I’m going to have to ask you to make a choice here soon, but not yet. I need more time.”

I should have known it was all too good to be true.

The Family We're Born With
Chapter One
Jesse stared at his mother. “You want what?”

“I'm sorry.” She reached for him, cutting her gesture short with a flutter of her fingers. “You know I love Devin. I think he's great for you, really.”

“But you don't want him to be here when Sam arrives.”

“Just not right at first,” Mom said. “I want us to start off right. Sam's looking for his roots, his birth mother, and I want it to be good. He was raised in Texas, you know. He's a Marine. His adoptive parents have lots of money. I don't want us to seem too...”

“Too what? Too weird? Too liberal? Too gay?”


“Don't Jesse me, Mom.” He wanted to pace, to shout, maybe hit something. He cracked his knuckles, not trying to annoy her but all the same, today he didn't stop when she winced. “I am gay. If he's going to hang around with us, he'll have to live with that.”

“I know, and he will. I promise. I'm not asking you to hide it. Just don't push it in his face the first day.”

Jesse frowned at his mother, wondering where the hell this was coming from. She hadn't been thrilled when he told her he was gay, four years ago, but she'd never asked him to hide it or suggested there was something wrong with him. This was coming out of left field and it hurt, even at twenty-five with a job and a boyfriend and all. “I could just stay away myself tomorrow, leave you to bond him to the normal part of the family.”

“Oh, dear.” His mother pleated her sweater into folds between her fingers. “I don't want you to go away. I just want us to all have a lovely holiday with no fighting.”

“What makes you think that can't happen if Devin celebrates it with us, as usual?” For the last three years, his boyfriend had been part of their family Christmas. Devin's own mom was long dead, and his father was in a nursing home. They were all the family Devin really had. How many times had Mom said she thought of Devin as one of her kids? Apparently that stopped when one of the real kids came home, even if it was a kid she hadn't seen since the day he was born.

“Sam was in the military for years,” she said. “I really don't want to push my luck.”

The tremble in her voice made Jesse stop and take a calming breath himself. He hated it when Mom cried. “What do I tell Devin? That we just found out my long-lost adopted illegitimate half-brother is going to come see us on Christmas Eve, so Devin should just go hide in the hotel while we kill the fatted calf?”

“He could come on Christmas day, maybe. Once Sam's been here a bit.”

“Look, Devin and I can just play it cool at first. Until we sound Sam out and see if he really is homophobic. We won't kiss, or even stand too close together. Okay?”

“That won't work.” Mom touched his arm. “Can't you tell Devin it's a compliment, really? That he loves you so much, it shows when you're together.”

“Some compliment.” Jesse shook her hand off and turned for the door. “I'll be at the hotel.”

The whole drive there, he turned her words over in his mind. Objectively, maybe he could understand why she... no, on second thought, he couldn't. This was his mother, who put spiders outside rather than kill them, and gave money to every panhandler she passed. Who claimed kindness was important, and now suddenly was willing to make Devin feel like shit.

By the time he got to the door of their room, he'd worked up a good head of steam.

“She said what?” Devin pulled him inside and closed the door. “Slow down, you're not making sense.”

“She doesn't want to offend that damned Sam with our gayness.”

“So you can't wear make-up to dinner?” Devin teased. “No kissing under the mistletoe?”

“No you.”

Puppy, Car, and Snow
Chapter 1
First Round
“HEY, Ryan, give me your hand.”

Ryan made sure his aching foot and calf were firmly anchored on the brake and the car was completely stopped before he looked over at his boyfriend, trying not to yawn. Five hours. They’d been trying to get up the hill to Donner Summit for five hours. God—were they the only people who could put chains on before it got critical?

The smell of exhaust was making him queasy; he’d started up and killed the engine about six times to conserve gas while they were at a standstill; and Blitzkrieg, the world’s most massive not-poodle, had needed to be walked on the side of the road three times. She’d also eaten some of Ryan’s luggage. Ryan didn’t want to look. It was a new set, and it was just too painful.

The look he shot Scotty was annoyed at the world at large.

Scott grinned back.

Scotty Davidovich had high Russian cheekbones and longish, if carefully cut, hair. (It was black and yellow this month—dyed specially, Ryan thought, to piss off Ryan’s mother at the holidays. It was a worthy endeavor. Ryan approved.) He also had blue-gray eyes with dark lashes that glinted wickedly when he looked sideways and full, smiling lips that looked like sex in a shot glass when he licked them and parted them just so. He was Ryan’s first male lover, and the love of Ryan’s life.

And right now, in the car, the look he was shooting Ryan was pure, one-hundred-percent, unadulterated, give-it-to-me-baby, fuck-me-without-mercy-in-front-of-the-dog sin.

That look was so incongruous with the little Honda stuck in traffic on the way up to visit Ryan’s parents for Christmas that Ryan had to look twice.

He put the car in park and turned off the ignition just in time for Scott to grab his hand from the keys and put it under the blanket he’d thrown on his lap the last time they’d turned the car off.

Ryan’s eyes got so big the chilled air from the windows dried them out. He blinked rapidly and squeezed, listening to Scotty’s grateful “Ah-ah-ah… ooooooohhh…” with a little bit of shock.

“Scotty, is that your…?” Stupid question. He squeezed Scotty’s cock—stiff and warm and peeking out over Scott’s underwear, yet still under the warm fuzzy blanket. Scott whined a little and bucked his hips and thrust deeper into Ryan’s hand.

Ryan’s heart started roaring in his ears, and he took a rabbity little look around their vehicular neighborhood to make sure no one was watching him give Scotty a hand job in the front of the car.

People in front of him in the big SUV? Little kids apparently enthralled by a new Dreamworks film featuring a fifty-foot woman with a nice rack. Check. Pouty teenage girl with iPod to the left of him, asleep against a pillow on the window? Check. People behind him still blocked by the luggage sharing the back seat with Blitzkrieg? Check. Rowdy frat boys on Scotty’s side surreptitiously passing a joint from person to person in the traffic? Check.

Operation Hand Job was a go!

Ryan loved the feeling of Scotty’s prick in his hand. It was hot, and the skin was soft, and the veins throbbed against Ryan’s palm. He watched Scott’s face as he stroked, loving the way Scotty threw his head against the headrest and started moaning softly in complete abandon. Traffic? Scotty didn’t see no stinking traffic; all he knew was that Ryan was jacking him off, rubbing his pre-come over his cock-head and murmuring hot things into the cold space of the car.

“You like that?”

“Mmmm…. Yeah….”

“Want it harder?”

“Ohhh… please, Ryan!”


“God yes!”

Ryan let his grip slack to nothing, and Scotty’s cry of denial was almost a howl of pain.

“Ry! Please, Ry… please… lemme come… I wanna come… God… please….”

His hands were on the armrests, holding them tightly, and Ryan recognized the game; Scotty wouldn’t touch himself right now, because that was Ryan’s job.

Ryan worked hard to be good at his job. He tip-toed his fingers up Scotty’s slender length, listening to the hitch in Scott’s breath tell him that his teasing was just right. When he got to the tip, he rubbed his fingers in the pre-come that was drooling out of the slit. Scott whimpered, and Ryan used two fingers and two fingers only to slick Scotty up. He knew that the air leaking in under the blanket would serve to titillate Scott even more.

Scott wasn’t gibbering anymore. All of his concentration was on keeping his ass locked in his seat and his hands clenched on the armrests. So when he turned to Ryan with his eyes large and pupils dilated, his hips squirming and his full lips parted in mute appeal, Ryan knew he was about at the end of his rope.

“Please?” he murmured. “Please, Ry? Please finish me off?”

Ryan took one more look around and, after twisting his body in the unforgiving space of the car, dropped his head, grateful when Scotty pulled the blanket back and then covered him up with it. In the warm cocoon of come-scented dark, he fumbled for a minute, then found Scotty’s cock with his mouth and swallowed him down.

Scotty grunted, the sound reverberating against Ryan’s ear, and then Ryan grunted, because after three years together he loved this, loved taking Scotty’s cock into his mouth and sucking hard, and loved the sounds that Scotty made when clenching his hands in Ryan’s hair and bucking up, unashamed, completely lost in Ryan’s mouth on his body, in being tended to and waited on and loved.

Scotty groaned, the sound starting in his toes, vibrating in his thighs as they sat under Ryan’s cheek, and bouncing around his stomach for a while, and then Ryan was too busy swallowing, swallowing, not letting himself gag on the taste even a little, or it would make him spit up and Scotty would need to change his pants.

Scotty stopped coming, and there was quiet then under the fuzzy blanket as Scotty rubbed his hands on Ryan’s head and Ryan let Scotty’s cock fall out of his mouth and pulled back far enough to breathe.

Then Scotty’s whole body stiffened. “Oh shit, Ry! There’s a news camera three cars up. They’re interviewing people. Sit up, quick, before they spot us!”

Ryan sat up so suddenly the blanket came up, and then there was a frantic scrabble as Scotty pulled his loosest pair of jeans up and did the fly and Ryan wiped his face on the edge of the blanket while Scotty was using it to cover his crotch, just in case.

Ryan let go of the blanket, and Scotty pulled him forward for a kiss that suddenly stopped time and panic and all sorts of things, including Ryan’s heart. When Scott pulled back, his smile was gentle, even though his eyes were still dancing wickedly.

“Thanks for helping me get my perv on,” he said, that mobile mouth stretched into a smile.

“God, I love you!” Ryan blurted, because there was one person in the world who could have convinced Ryan to commit vehicular fellatio in a traffic jam.

Scott’s smile faded, and his hand came up to cup Ryan’s cheek and rub his lips with a tender thumb. “The news crew is about to knock on our window, Ry. Don’t make me get all sloppy stupid right now, ’kay?”

Ryan laughed and then almost jumped out of his jeans at the knock on the window. He clicked the keys, pressed the button, and turned around and flinched back from the blast of cold air and the fucking camera that damned near pushed its way into the car.

“Hi, I’m Suze Bachman from FOX News. So, what brings you up the hill in the middle of the crush?” Her hair was blonde and stiff under the fashionably soft red hat, her teeth were brightly veneered, and her voice was sort of scritchy-bright, and Blitzkrieg gave a muffled “ooof?” from the back seat. Ryan smiled and tried to sound like a lawyer and not a sexual deviant.

“Hi, Suze. We’re just going up to visit my parents for the holidays. I got caught up in work, and we left a little late. We were trying to beat the rush.”

“So, you and your roommate are staying in the family cabin for Christmas. That’s sweet.” She didn’t trip over “roommate,” and he didn’t see a reason to correct her—until she put her manicured hand on his shoulder through the window. He flinched back and Blitzkrieg, being the good guard dog she was, sensed the tension, skipped the “ooofing,” and let out a for-real bark.

Scott and Ryan both cringed as the entire car shook until the windows rattled. Suddenly, Blitzy wasn’t just a hidden monster in the luggage. She was a giant, black, curly head with ears long enough to fly, thrusting her narrow muzzle between the car seat and the window and biting like Suze Bachman was a new flavor of Alpo and she was gonna get her some of that.

Suze gave a little yelp and tripped backwards, and Scotty leaned over Ryan’s lap and called out, “Sorry about that. She’s jealous of strangers.” Ryan shot him a droll look that Scotty returned blandly, and then they both smiled at the camera and waved when Suze and her camera man took the “How Miserable Are These People In Traffic” show down to the next car in line.

Ryan rolled up the window, and he and Scott looked at each other and giggled like the stoned frat boys in the next car. (And why weren’t they getting interviewed for the six o’clock news, that’s what Ryan wanted to know!) Blitzkrieg whined, and Scotty pulled her forward, rubbing those fantastically silky ears and crooning, “Good dog! Who’s the bestest good girl in the world, oh yes! Driving off that nasty, mean reporter who wanted your other daddy’s body! Good girl!”

Ryan rolled his eyes. “She was just being annoyingly friendly—no lust needed.” But he joined Scott and petted the dog, because she was warm and she liked to lick their faces, and because she was their baby and had been since Scott had brought her home from the grocery store six months earlier and said, “Isn’t she a sweetheart? She’s supposed to be a toy poodle, and she was free!”

They’d learned a couple of things since that day in the summer. Thing the first: the dog wasn’t a toy poodle. She was maybe a cross between a giant poodle and a Clydesdale horse. Thing the second: They both loved the rapidly growing kibble disposal unit with an almost frightening intensity. Thing the third: There was no such thing as a free dog.

It was a thing Ryan had known when he put her in the backseat with the new luggage and the reason he could forgive her for slobbering all over his best suit right after he’d had it cleaned. It was the reason he’d risked his credit for a little house in the suburbs and the reason for the exclusive “Yes, I make house calls because your idiot canine ate garbage with a chaser of shoes” veterinarian, and generally one of life’s big lessons that didn’t hurt at all when Blitzy was licking your face after a shit day at work.

And now, as Ryan’s hands tangled with Scott’s in the curly tornado of Blitzkrieg’s fur, he realized that the dog might not be free, but that didn’t mean she didn’t pay you back.

“Yes,” Ryan said softly, squeezing Scott’s hand. “The dog saved me from the predatory heterosexual female who was horning in on your turf. Are you going to give her a treat now?”

Scotty flushed. “Sorry, Ry. It’s not the female that got me, really. You know that, right?”

Ryan knew. Scott usually wasn’t jealous at all—mostly because he kept saying that Ryan was the most trustworthy man he’d ever met. But usually they weren’t going to meet Ryan’s family.

“Look,” Ryan said reluctantly. “If you really don’t want to go, we can always take the next overpass and turn around.”

Scott rolled his pretty gray eyes. “For another five hours of traffic? No. We have to visit with them eventually. I mean, they do love you.”

And it was true. They did love Ryan. It was Scott they weren’t so crazy about, and not because he was the reason their son came out of the closet, either.

Ryan sighed, and then flashed a grin at Scott. “Just shows they’re biased—doesn’t mean they’re smart.”

“Yeah? How smart are they going to have to be to figure out that we were fooling around right before that news camera showed up?”

Ryan shrugged. “It wasn’t like it was written on our faces. Besides, that Suze person didn’t even see it, and she had to have read the vanity plates.” SCTSBOI was what the plate actually said. “Scotty’s Boi-Toi” was what the plate frame around the plate said. Scott had bought them for Ryan’s Christmas present the year before, and Ryan loved them.

Scott gave Ryan a purely male shove on the arm. “For all she knew, you were Scott, and the plates were about the car! And as for written on our faces….” Scott finished the sentence by pulling his hand up to Ryan’s lips and rubbing his thumb across the bottom.

Ryan looked in the rearview mirror and groaned. He’d wiped off his mouth, but his lips were both swollen and red. He’d been doing something with his mouth, that was for sure.

“Oh shit,” he mumbled. “God. I do. I look like I’ve been blowing someone with a cock the size of the Chrysler building.”

Scott smirked. “Well, I don’t like to brag….”

Ryan was aware that the cars around them were starting up in preparation to move, and he did the same. But no one was moving quite yet, so he turned around and smiled gently at the man he was pretty sure he couldn’t live without. “It’s not bragging, sweetheart, it’s the truth. Besides, what are the odds that’ll actually show up on the news and my folks will see it? Best way to kill time in traffic ever.”

Scott’s smirk softened, became the rather vulnerable smile that Scott saved for Ryan and Ryan only, and then the car in front of them moved and it was time to move on.

Bianca's Plan
“CURTIS? Do you think Daddy’s happy?”

Curtis Harrell turned from the turkey he was stuffing to look at the ten-year-old peering at him across the table. Her dark-brown hair was pulled back tight and her big brown eyes were filled with deep concern. “What makes you ask that, Bee?”

Bianca shrugged and looked away for a moment. “I don’t know.”

Curtis raised an eyebrow. There was never a time that Bianca didn’t know why she was asking anything. “Come on, Bee. Out with it.”

She made a face and blew out a puff of air. “He should have a boyfriend, don’t you think?”

Curtis stopped stuffing and flexed his sticky hand. This he had not been expecting. Bianca, interested in her father’s love life? He supposed he should be grateful she was so casual about the gay thing and that she had no fantasies about her father finding her a new mom.

Truth to tell, Curtis did worry about Gavin. It made him sad there was no one special in his best friend’s life. “Maybe he’s not ready.”

“What’s he not ready for?” She bit her lower lip. “It’s been a long time since Voldemort ran off.”

Curtis tried not to laugh at Bianca’s nickname for Gav’s ex. Voldemort—Steve—had vanished one day while Gav was at work. Gavin had been frantic with worry, only to discover the creep had run off with the owner of The Watering Hole, a semi-popular Kansas City hangout. Neither Curtis nor Gav had gone to the bar since. That had been almost two years ago.

“I never liked that freak, anyway,” Bianca added.

Curtis hadn’t liked the guy much either. Steve had been gorgeous, there was no doubt about that. But the man had always felt fake to Curtis. He certainly hadn’t been very… intellectual. Curtis suspected it was Steve’s Olympic accomplishments in the bedroom that had kept Gavin interested more than any other reason. And hell, why not? But it was just that Curtis felt his friend deserved more.

“Your dad’s busy, honey. He works hard for his money.” Gavin did too. He worked a full-time shitty job (plus as many overtime hours as they’d allow) to support himself and his daughter. “Why else do you think he’s not here helping us get dinner ready?” Curtis asked.

Bianca sighed and rolled her eyes. “You think that damned job is going to let him go home early? Who has to work on Thanksgiving anyway?”

Anyone who worked Thursdays at RMMS, Gav’s shitty place of employment, Curtis thought. The place was open 365 days a year and Gavin worked Thursdays, so he always worked Thanksgivings.

“Don’t swear, Bee,” Curtis said.

She rolled her eyes again. “All I said was ‘damned’.”

“Nevertheless,” was his only answer.

Bianca pouted. It only made Curtis grin. She was too old to pout and he told her so.

She humphed in reply and, humming “Jingle Bells” under her breath, began to open cans to make the green bean casserole.

God, Curtis loved that little girl, in many ways wished she were his own. But she wasn’t. All he could do was hope he found the right woman so that one day he could have a child. One day! It had better happen soon. He was already thirty.

Curtis shook his head. “It’s going to be a great day one way or the other,” he told Bianca. “We’ll have a big wonderful dinner no matter what.”

“I wish you weren’t straight,” Bianca said suddenly.

Curtis let out a bark of surprised laughter. “Why is that?” he asked.

“Because I love you. And you and Dad would be a great couple. You’re already best friends. I think it would be cool having you as my other dad.”

Nope. Bianca harbored no wishes that her dad would meet “the right woman.” Curtis shook his head. “You come up with the craziest stuff, Bee.”

Bianca turned back, scrutinized him. “You are straight, right?”

Curtis leaned on the table and propped his chin in his hand—too late realizing it was the one that had been stuffing the turkey. “Shit.”

“No swearing,” Bianca cried.

With a snort, he stood and grabbed a towel and wiped at his chin. How did he answer her? So complicated. “Straight enough,” was the answer. But instead he said, “Have you ever seen me date a dude?”

“I haven’t seen you date a girl in forever!”

“What about Caitlin?”

Bianca grimaced. “Please.”

Well, yeah. He deserved that. He tried another. “Susan?”

Bianca flicked her hand, not even honoring the name with a comment. To be fair, Susan wasn’t really worth it. Not that she was a bad person, she just wasn’t his type. Whatever that was. He’d yet to discover that.

“And you better not say Alison either,” Bianca stated flatly.

“You keeping tabs?” Curtis started to run his fingers through his hair, and remembered at the last second that a sticky chin was bad enough.

“Yes,” she said with a toss of her head.

“Then how can you say I’m not dating?” He began to stuff the turkey again. He’d finished the chest cavity and was now filling the neck.

“’Cause you never date them twice.”

“What about Alison?”

Bianca flipped a piece of onion peel at Curtis. “I told you not to mention her.”

“Hey! No throwing food!”

Bianca threw a piece of eggshell.

Curtis flapped his hand and bits of stuffing flew at Bianca.


“Stop throwing food,” he repeated.

Bianca sighed again and flounced onto a kitchen chair.

“Do you think Dad is hot?”

Curtis coughed, nearly choked. “Hot?”

She nodded. “I mean, why doesn’t anyone ask him out? He’s not ugly, is he? I was in the laundry room yesterday and heard Preston telling his sister that Dad’s hot when he didn’t think I was listening.”

Preston, the skinny little florist who lived two floors down, thought Gavin was hot?

She shook her head. “It’s hard to tell when it’s your own dad,” she said.

Curtis cleared his throat. “Well… ah, I don’t know if I’m the best person to ask.”

“Because you’re straight? Come on, Curtis. You can admit another guy is hot, can’t you? I think Taylor Swift is hot. You don’t have to want to bang him!”

Bang? Had Bianca really just said “bang”? Curtis cleared his throat. Gavin, hot? The image of Gav came to his mind. Slim, nicely built, athletic, dark-blond hair, shining blue eyes, sweet smile, and…. Oh hell. Why not admit it? “I… ah… he’s a good-looking man. I suppose if I dated guys, I’d ask him out.”

Bianca sighed as only a ten-year-old could. “But you don’t. Dammit.”

“Bee. What did I say about that?” Curtis shook his head and turned to the sink, started the water with his elbow, and began to wash his hands. “Why are you suddenly worried about your dad having a boyfriend?” he asked over his shoulder.

“Teacher was asking us the other day what we wanted for Christmas, and I only had to think about it for ten seconds. I want Daddy to get a boyfriend. Since you’re too uptight to snap him up, then we got to find him someone.”

“We?” Curtis spun to face his best friend’s daughter. “No. No way.”

“Curtis, you gotta help,” she said, eyebrows furrowed. “Santa won’t.”

“Santa?” Did ten-years-olds still believe in Santa Claus?

“Yesterday Daddy took me to the mall, and Santa was there. I figured it was just some fat guy with a fake beard, but when we walked by I saw he looked like the real thing. His clothes were all smudged and his big beard was real. Daddy asked me if I wanted to get my picture taken, and I didn’t really, but I wanted to talk to him. So we waited in line and I got in his lap and he smelled like tobacco. But it was nice and not like cigarettes, you know? So I asked him to get Daddy a boyfriend.”

Curtis started coughing. She did what? “You—you asked Santa to get your Daddy a boyfriend?” Boy, what had the man thought about that? “What did he say?”

“He said slavery was illegal and he couldn’t get Daddy a person! So I told him I wanted a Project Runway Make-Up Set.” She rolled her eyes.

Curtis tried not to laugh.

“So you see, you gotta help me!” she exclaimed.

“I told you,” Curtis said. “There is just no way I’m doing that.”

“Why not? You know a lot of gay men. Almost everybody in this building is gay.”

Which was true. The Oscar Wilde did have a high percentage of gay renters. The few straight women in the building were always sure to remind Curtis how happy they were that he was available. The problem was he didn’t find any of them appealing. They were too skinny or too soft or their breasts were way too big to be believed.

You better hurry up and pick a type, his inner voice advised him, or you’re going to be ninety before your kids graduate.

“It doesn’t matter,” Curtis said.

Bianca’s eyes grew wide. Sorrowful, even. “Why not? Do you want him to be alone another Christmas?” she asked piteously. “No one to cuddle with in front of the fireplace?”

“You don’t have a fireplace,” Curtis reminded her.

“No one to kiss under the mistletoe?”

“Look, baby girl. I think one of the biggest mistakes in the world is trying to set someone up. Especially a friend. It almost always ends in disaster. Remember it was your dad that introduced me to Alison.”

Bianca picked up a piece of celery, almost threw it, but stopped at the last second. “No mentioning Alison.” She popped the celery in her mouth.

“Okay. But get this idea out of your head. Right now. I am not setting up your dad. And that’s the last word.”

But when Curtis saw that look come over the face of the girl he almost thought of as a daughter, he wondered if it was. Bee could be very determined.

And she almost always got her way.

Nine Lights Over Edinburgh
A cold, unforgiving she-wolf of a city.

Not the parts the tourists saw, though in some places the two worlds coexisted, like the vaults, where population pressure had caused the Old Town builders to dig as far below the earth as they had raised their rickety structures above it. Guides took visitors down there—to gawp at grinding poverty safely set two hundred years in the past, though McBride knew men and women who lived there still.

McBride knew his city. He made his way in the grip of a bitter elation down the cobbled wynds that led between the Grassmarket and Cowgate. The back streets were icy, but he did not slip or fall. He knew the glitter side: Holyrood and the Tattoo, the peerless art galleries and science museums of the Enlightenment. He knew the squatting dwellers of the vaults, the tramps and gangs of disaffected kids who scratched out a troglodyte existence there. Even with a skinful of scotch, he knew how to place his feet on the cobbles to be steady and quiet and sure.

The city was his: he had conquered it. McBride knew the underworld network of clubs that threaded the Grassmarket. Some were for the tourists, a bit of spice and vice to titillate the lads on their stag weekends. And some were much worse. McBride, undercover as Archie Bayne, alcoholic and gambling addict, was a paid-up member of the worst of them. Oh, he knew Auld Reekie, who stank high enough to live up to her name behind these elegant, crumbling Georgian facades. McBride knew—almost—from which of the underworld dens Sim Carlyle was trading in the lives of Romanian women and kids.

Fifteen years on Edinburgh's streets, from constable to DI. Many of them happy, while he was pulling off his act as a heterosexual family man well enough. Team years, those had been, shouldering the harness beside Libby, ticking over like clockwork in his Harle Street squad. Then came his promotion. Better pay, plain clothes and the beginning of working alone. Of thinking too much and drinking too much to drown the thoughts; learning too well how to vanish undercover into night. Of Libby growing tired of playing mistress to a man now married to his job.

McBride emerged from the wynds and onto Castle Street. He snatched a surfacing breath. Leave all that mess down in the murk with Sim Carlyle. There was his city: a river of lights pouring down over the Royal Mile ridge, and above it all, brooding, visible only by its darkness, the root of the ancient volcano. Six days before Christmas, the cold had come down from the hollow sky at dusk, ringing, reverberant, making McBride's blood sing. His pockets were fat with cash from his poker winnings, his mind alight with all the things he knew. He was better off without his team—without a partner.

Without a family. The courts had granted Libby custody of their ten-year-old daughter, Grace. That was natural and good. McBride had not contested it. He had his girl for weekends and holidays, and that was enough. What kind of life could he give her? If McBride still really cared for anyone, it was the brat. She was staying with him on Christmas night. The money rustling in his pockets was destined, of course, for the police treasury—most of it, anyway; McBride was not as particular as he once had been concerning such niceties. All he was thinking as he turned the corner into Usher Close, was whether an iPod or that absurd Swarovski crystal necklace would go down best as an extravagant, unnecessary stocking filler. Both, maybe, though that would piss off Libby something cruel.

"Hoi, Archie!"

Author Bios:
Mary Calmes
Mary Calmes lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband and two children and loves all the seasons except summer. She graduated from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, with a bachelor's degree in English literature. Due to the fact that it is English lit and not English grammar, do not ask her to point out a clause for you, as it will so not happen. She loves writing, becoming immersed in the process, and falling into the work. She can even tell you what her characters smell like. She loves buying books and going to conventions to meet her fans.

Kaje Harper
Kaje Harper grew up in Montreal and spent her teen years writing, filling binders with stories about what guys like Starsky and Hutch really did on their days off. (In a sheltered-fourteen-year-old PG-rated romantic sense.) Serious authorship got sidetracked by ventures into psychology, teaching, and a biomedical career. And the challenges of raising children.

When Kaje took up writing again it was just for fun. Hours of fun. Lots of hours of fun. The stories began piling up, and her husband suggested it was time to try to publish one. Kaje currently lives in Minnesota with a creative teenager, a crazy little omnivorous white dog, and a remarkably patient spouse.

Amy Lane
Amy Lane dodges an EDJ, mothers four children, and writes the occasional book. She, her brood, and her beloved mate, Mack, live in a crumbling mortgage in Citrus Heights, California, which is riddled with spiders, cats, and more than its share of fancy and weirdness. Feel free to visit her website or blog, where she will ride the buzz of receiving your e-mail until her head swells and she can no longer leave the house.

BG Thomas
B.G. Thomas lives in Kansas City with his husband for nearly fifteen years and was legally married in 2014. Ehey have a fabulous little dog, Sarah Jane. He sees his wonderful daughter just often enough to miss her when she isn't there! He has a romantic soul and is extraordinarily lucky to have many friends.

He loves science fiction & fantasy, horror, romance and more, has gone to SF&F conventions his entire adult life, and been lucky enough to meet many of his favorite writers. He is a “Star Trek” and Joss Whedon fan from way back!

He has written all his life, it is where he finds his joy. In the 90’s, he wrote for gay magazines, but stopped because they wanted him to cut out story and romance, and write only sex.

Then through a few friends, he discovered the growing market of M/M Romance and was thrilled beyond words. FINALLY, a way to write the stories he always wanted to write. Adventure, romantic comedy, science fiction, and more, but with gay characters. And he wouldn't have to fade to black! People wanted to read the erotic as well. Plot and sex! HURRAY!

B.G. Thomas very much believes in The Law of Attraction and that "thoughts become things." A lot of things all started happening at once. He heard the words, "Leap, and the net will appear," and something re-kindled inside. He sent out a story and was thrilled when it was almost immediately accepted.

He believes that we are divine expressions of the Universe, each and everyone. "It is never too late!,” he states. “Pursue your dreams! They will come true!"

Harper Fox
Harper Fox is an M/M author with a mission. She’s produced six critically acclaimed novels in a year and is trying to dispel rumours that she has a clone/twin sister locked away in a study in her basement. In fact she simply continues working on what she loves best– creating worlds and stories for the huge cast of lovely gay men queuing up inside her head. She lives in rural Northumberland in northern England and does most of her writing at a pensioned-off kitchen table in her back garden, often with blanket and hot water bottle.

She lives with her SO Jane, who has somehow put up with her for a quarter of a century now, and three enigmatic cats, chief among whom is Lucy, who knows the secret of the universe but isn't letting on. When not writing, she either despairs or makes bread, specialities foccacia and her amazing seven-strand challah. If she has any other skills, she's yet to discover them.

Mary Calmes

Kaje Harper

Amy Lane

BG Thomas

Harper Fox

Where You Lead

The Family We're Born With
B&N  /  KOBO  /  iTUNES  /  ARe

Puppy, Car, and Snow

Bianca's Plan

Nine Lights Over Edinburgh
B&N  /  KOBO  /  iTUNES  /  ARe

No comments:

Post a Comment