Thursday, October 29, 2015

Random Paranormal Tales Part 10


A Weapon Of Opportunity by Kiernan Kelly
Summary:
NYC Detective Hunter Vance has enough problems trying to do his job and catch a crafty, opportunistic serial killer, but complicating matters is the presence of the ghost of his deceased partner, David Brown. David was always annoying and pushy, but now he's perpetually horny as well, continually driving Hunter to distraction.

David's dead, but he has no intention of going anywhere. In denial all his life, dying blew the closet door wide open, forcing David to face the fact that, not only is he gay, but he's in love with Hunter. Now he'll do whatever it takes to correct his past mistakes and experience making love with Hunter, even it's if only vicariously through voyeuristic participation in Hunter's one-night stands.


Under a Cresent Moon by Mercy Celeste
Summary:
Warning: Previously published. No significant changes.
Dark Subject Matter. Mild BDSM.

New Orleans Police Detective Taylor Campbell has done his best to leave Xander Cooper alone. He joined the Army to get away from the temptation of the younger man. But a series of murders around Xander’s restaurant has Taylor running scared. When he happens upon Xander holding off a group of thugs that’s when his honor is forgotten.

Xander Cooper fell in love with Taylor when he was thirteen years old. He’s waited and watched and hoped that Taylor would one day see him as more than a little kid meant to be avoided. He didn’t expect murder to bring Taylor to his bed. For Xander giving Taylor his heart is easy. Letting him in on the family secret is another thing all together. He didn’t expect that Taylor would have secrets of his own. Secrets that make a little thing like being a witch seem tame.

Murder, mystery, sex and magic. It’s just another typical night under a crescent moon.

North on Drummond by KC Burn
Summary:
Sandy Bottom Bay, Florida--Come for the Haunts, Stay for the Beaches!

Drew Drummond might call himself a psychic tarot reader, but he doesn’t believe in the supernatural. The business was left to him by his grandmother, and seemed the best way to rise above the chronic criminal behavior of the Drummond family. Despite his efforts, few of the townspeople consider him a good romantic match. Being gay only makes finding love more difficult.

When Cliff Garcia, Drew’s teenaged crush, moves back to town and joins the police force, Drew doesn’t think he has a chance. After all, the skeptical cop considers Drew’s profession on par with professional conmen, and Cliff had spent his entire school career feuding with Drew’s volatile brothers. Despite the obstacles, Drew and Cliff begin a fiery relationship.

Just when Drew starts to believe they might have a chance, he suffers a head injury and begins having visions of the future. If Drew tells Cliff the truth, he’ll lose the man he’s falling for, but keeping his new ability a secret is no longer an option. If he can’t convince Cliff he’s for real, a murderer will walk free.


Just when you think Cliff's blinders to the possibilities of the existence of the paranormal were ruling his life, in walks Drew Drummond and suddenly everything is turned upside down.  Watching Cliff's inner belief system on the paranormal is heartbreaking at times but it is just one of those things he has to work out for himself.  Luckily he has found an old friend as his new partner on the force and a very interesting psychic as his new lover.  A great all around read that has mystery, romance, paranormal elements, and a huge cast of intriguing characters that captured my heart from beginning to end.

RATING: 

Into the Woods by ML Rhodes
Summary:
Shaun McCarry left home as a young teenager, certain that whatever he had to do to survive on his own was better than being dragged around the country by his troubled, alcoholic father. Once he got away, he vowed never to look back. But years later, on the eve of his thirtieth birthday, he receives a bizarre letter from his dad indicating Shaun’s in grave danger. The letter sends him on a journey deep into the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. There, he uncovers a disturbing family history that leaves Shaun questioning everything he thought he knew about his past and even his future.

His only ally comes in the form of a mysterious drifter named Rannon James who seems to know more about Shaun’s history than Shaun does. Shaun’s drawn to the sexy and vaguely familiar man. And when Rannon tells him a story of love and loss, of loyalty and betrayal, and of two childhood friends who share a destiny, Shaun realizes he’s inextricably and intimately linked to the other man.

But with danger stalking his every move, and fighting a terrifying change in himself that he never asked for, Shaun’s not sure who he can trust. Maybe not even himself...

From Afar by Ava March
Summary:
Some rules are destined to be broken.

Loneliness. A concept with which Raphael Laurent is very familiar. He’s lived a solitary life for thirty-six years, shunning the excesses of the local vampire clan—until he spots Lord Aleric Vane, the handsome and dissolute third son of a duke. For three years Raphael has watched from a distance, for only when he is near Aleric does the hollow, empty ache in his chest ease.

Cut off from his family for refusing to follow his father’s dictates, Aleric’s nights are filled with vice. But after three years in London, the city has lost all appeal. Desolate and penniless, his future appears bleak. Until a mysterious man drops from the shadows to drive off a trio of murderous thieves.

When Aleric awakens, he finds himself forever changed. The itch for more that drove him to London is gone. In its place is the feeling that he’s known the beautiful Raphael all his life.

But to save Aleric, Raphael had to break the rules, giving him a chance to love the one man he never thought he could have—a chance that could be ripped away by Aleric himself…


A great read of a newly turned vampire and his sire finding their other half.  For me, From Afar ended way too soon but had it lasted longer it probably would not have been as good.  Some stories are just meant to be short and this is one of them but boy was it a great read.  Definitely earned it's place in my paranormal library.

RATING: 

A Weapon of Opportunity
"Fuck you."

"Not likely, although I do admit I love it when you talk dirty to me," David said drily, rolling his eyes. "Come on, Hunter. You know you owe me."

"I don't know anything of the sort. What I do know is that you’re a jackass with more dick than brains. Oh wait. You don’t have either one, do you?" Hunter said snidely.

"Asshole."

"In case you haven’t noticed, you seem to be lacking one of those too. Amazing how you can spew so much shit without one, though."

"Oh now that was just hurtful, Hunter. My body may be insubstantial, but I'm every bit as aesthetically pleasing as I was before," David huffed, turning his back in a snit. "All parts are present and accounted for, and you know it." It really irritated him when Hunter made him beg. It wasn’t as if David had any other option, and Hunter damn well knew it. David had earned the right to hitchhike on occasion -- that was the deal they’d made after all. David had held up his end of the bargain, and he wished Hunter would stop trying to renege.

Okay, so maybe Hunter hadn’t actually agreed to it, but he’d accepted David’s help in the past, and that amounted to the same thing, didn’t it? He would have thought that as a cop, Hunter would be above petty thievery. As far as David was concerned, it was no different from downloading unlicensed music and books from the Internet. Hunter was pirating David’s assistance without paying for it, and that was just plain wrong.

"Come on, Hunter. It’s been forever…" David cringed at the whiny sound of his own voice. Damn it! He hated to beg, but it had been months since the last time, and he was getting desperate. Never mind “getting”…he was past desperate and halfway to frantic. If he’d had actual balls, they’d be blue by now. When Hunter didn’t respond, David gave him his back again.

"Sulk all you want," Hunter said, shrugging into his jacket. "I’m not going to tell you again, David. Stay out of my head."

"Which head -- the big fat one on the end of your neck, or the tiny one three feet lower?"

"Both," Hunter snapped. "Oh, and if the lower one was tiny, I’ll bet you wouldn't be hounding me all the time!" The door slammed shut behind him like an exclamation point on the end of their conversation as he stalked out of the apartment.

David stared at the closed door for a long moment. Hunter could be an arrogant prick, hard-boiled, callous, and totally unsympathetic at times to David’s plight, but underneath it all, David knew Hunter was a warm heart and a compassionate soul.

Maybe not compassionate per se, David thought. More like tolerant. Sometimes. Once in a while. On occasion.

A slow smile spread across David’s face as he slipped out of the apartment, out into the street. Tonight is going to be one of those occasions, whether Hunter thinks it will or not. His grin grew wider and lecherous. He’s going to get laid. I can smell it. He just doesn’t know it yet.

There were damn few advantages to not having a pulse, but the ability to manipulate space was one of the most useful. David had come to realize over time that space was like a blanket. Spread out evenly, it created a large area that took time and effort to traverse. Folded up tightly, it took up a lot less room, and David, as one of the dearly departed, had the ability to press it into accordion pleats, if he so desired. He could travel from one end of the city to the other in practically no time. It'd taken years of practice to master the skill. David had suffered through many mishaps along the way -- reappearing halfway between walls, floors, and on one memorable occasion, on a set of railroad tracks just before the eight o'clock commuter train rocketed by -- but it'd all been worth it for the ability to pop in and out of anywhere at will.

Sometimes being a ghost had its merits.

Truthfully, David hated the term "ghost." It reminded him of himself as a kid, running around draped in his mother’s crisp, white linen sheets on Halloween, eyeholes cut out crookedly, the toes of his Keds peeking out from underneath. And that reminded him of the smell of tart apples and cinnamon, and the taste of chocolate, and a myriad of other half-remembered pleasures that had become merely ghosts themselves.

Sex being chief among them.

God, he missed sex most of all. Missed it more than a frosty beer fresh from the tap, even more than a hand-rolled Cuban, or a thick, rare hamburger swimming in fried onions and grease…hell, he missed sex more than he missed breathing.

Luckily, David had discovered a secret that few -- if any -- of the Incorporeal Club, as he often thought of the others who shared his deceased status, knew existed. Or if they did, they kept it as closely guarded a secret as he did. Given the right person, a psychic or someone with a strong sense of empathy, a ghost could live vicariously through them for a short time, feeling emotions and physical sensations just as sharply and powerfully as when he'd been alive.

David had found that person in Hunter, who possessed a strong empathic streak, although Hunter would never admit to it. They also shared another connection that went bone deep, one that was profound enough to bridge the gap between the living and the dead, and helped ease the way for David to tap into Hunter's emotions. The bond had been formed when David had been alive -- they’d been partners and close friends for eleven years. That was back when they were Detectives David Brown and Hunter Vance of the Third Precinct, before David was gunned down in the line of duty. They'd been closer than brothers. Hunter had mourned David’s death for a full year.

David wasn’t sure why their connection enabled Hunter to see and hear David when no other living person he’d come across -- so far, at least -- could, and as far as David knew, Hunter couldn’t see any other ghosts…just David. He figured it was because of their close bond during life, but quite frankly, he didn’t care. Nobody really cared why or how television worked; only that it did, and you didn’t miss the latest episode of your favorite show.

Nowadays, Hunter spent most of their time together trying to get rid of David, not that David would ever considering leaving. The only alternative to living -- for lack of a better term -- a half life with Hunter was enduring none at all without him. It was no option, as far as David was concerned.

Christening his discovery "hitchhiking," David indulged himself in it fully and at every possible opportunity. Sadly, such times were few and far between with Hunter, especially when it came to sex.

The man was an absolute control freak when it came to his feelings. Hunter rarely let loose, or allowed himself to feel passionate enough about something for David to tap into his emotions, and worse, he barely ever got laid. David knew Hunter was never one to hang out at clubs, and he couldn’t recall Hunter ever having had a relationship lasting more than a few months at most, but he didn’t remember him being exactly virginal, either. It seemed to David that Hunter’s sex life had gone from spotty to scarce to nearly nonexistent after David’s death.

It wasn’t his looks. Hunter would be virtually stunning if he ever lost the boxy, off-the-rack, hopelessly outdated, rumpled suits he wore and discovered hair care products. Topping six feet two, Hunter kept his body in great shape, working out as frequently as his schedule allowed. He was thirty-seven years old but was aging incredibly well. The combination of his broad shoulders, trim waist, and an ass that men ten years younger would kill to possess made for an incredibly attractive hunk of man. His eyes were the most piercing green David could ever remember seeing, clear and expressive, set in a face that was almost movie-star handsome. Hunter’s only flaws were a slightly crooked nose that’d been broken one time too many, and a disposition that could curdle milk.

The former added character to Hunter’s face, in David’s opinion. The latter was what kept his bed empty and cold most of the time, which in turn, resulted in the rarity of David’s sexual hitchhiking opportunities.

Not tonight. David had gleaned a nugget of information from Hunter’s brain that was very encouraging. Hunter was going to Feathers, a bar not far from the precinct. There was only one reason for him to go to one of the most notorious gay bars in the city, and it had nothing to do with the two-for-one drink specials and everything to do with the thick piece of meat hanging between Hunter’s thighs.

Hunter was going cruising, even if he wouldn’t admit it to himself, and he was going to have a hitchhiker with him whether he wanted one or not.

David was still smiling as he slipped through the outer wall of Hunter’s apartment. He was immediately enveloped in what felt like thick cotton candy, the oddly soft sensation caused by folding space. He emerged on the sidewalk outside the apartment building a second or two later. There was Hunter’s green piece-of-shit Dodge, just pulling away from the curb. David arched an eyebrow and sighed. He needed to have a serious talk with Hunter about getting a better ride. Most people wouldn’t be caught dead in that ugly tin-can-on-wheels. As with everything else about his appearance, Hunter simply didn’t seem to give a shit.

Another quick burst of energy, and David found himself riding shotgun.

North on Drummond
Sunlight flashed off the ocean on Cliff Garcia’s right as he drove along the two-lane road toward Sandy Bottom Bay. Salty air rushed into the car as he opened the window, and he drew in a deep breath, the scent making his homecoming seem more real than it had until now. He’d lived in Los Angeles for the past eight years, and despite frequent trips to the beach with friends, for some reason the Pacific just wasn’t the same as the Gulf Coast of Florida, where he’d grown up. Maybe it was because he couldn’t shake the stink of smog out of his nostrils, even at the beach. Maybe it was the aridity of California. Most people didn’t enjoy the thick, muggy humidity of a soggy Florida summer afternoon. Cliff didn’t much either, not when he was enduring it, but strangely, he found he’d missed even that while he’d been in California.

Not that he’d been perpetually homesick. The big city had taken some getting used to, for sure, but he’d made great friends and enjoyed the nightlife LA had to offer, when he wasn’t working. He’d left Sandy Bottom Bay as soon as he could after high school graduation and hadn’t ever expected to return, despite the fact that being a cop in LA hadn’t been what he’d expected.

Florida had a different vibe, a different scent, a different way of life. One that wasn’t always congruent with being gay, at least not in his tiny hometown. But then, he hadn’t been out on the LAPD either. The cynicism and nonstop threat of violence had worn him down in four short years on the job and turned him into a jaded, world-weary man at the tender age of twenty-six. It hadn’t taken long before he’d begun to wonder if he’d made a mistake living in LA. Cliff wasn’t entirely sure small-town life suited him, but here he was, back again, for the foreseeable future. Maybe there was nowhere he truly belonged. Nowhere he could be himself. Nowhere he could be happy.

Statistically, there had to have been other gay people in Sandy Bottom Bay, but Cliff had never known any of them. Instead, as one of his high school’s best athletes, he’d pretended to be straight, counting the days until he left for university.

California had seemed ideal, for a while. He’d been close enough to visit his dad in Pasadena; he’d had boyfriends, one-night stands, a job he both loved and hated, and his best friend, Pete. When the boyfriend cheated, the job became less satisfying, and Pete died in an accident, the allure of California vanished. A shiver ran through Cliff. Maybe he was only running away. Again. Maybe he didn’t have the strength of character to suck it up and stick it out when things got tough. His stomach churned. Was he a coward? Weak?

He wasn’t going to hide, though. Not this time. He was tired of hiding. If Sandy Bottom Bay didn’t like him as he was, he’d soon be on his way again. Hell, he’d flown in three days ago and found a long-term rental motel about ten minutes out of town, then spent the intervening time stocking up on supplies and relaxing in front of the television. He hadn’t set foot in Sandy Bottom Bay yet, nor had he told his mother he was returning. There would be plenty of time for that, for finding an apartment, getting his stuff shipped from California, and changing his driver’s license. Despite taking a job with the SBBPD, he still had one foot ready to run from this place.

A rueful chuckle escaped, the sound rusty since Cliff hadn’t spoken to anyone outside of requesting the room at the motel and ordering food for delivery. He couldn’t quite escape the knowledge that, as much as he hadn’t ever intended to return to Sandy Bottom Bay, events in LA had sent him running just as surely as when he’d run to LA in the first place. Where would he run to next? Would he even recognize a place he could make his home?

A billboard framed by palm trees caught his eye. White sandy beach, glistening blue water, and the words Visit Sandy Bottom Bay! Voted Best Beach in Florida.*

Cliff slowed his car, since there was no one on the road with him, to read the asterisked disclaimer, written in small enough font that most people wouldn’t be able to read it as they tore down the road at sixty-five miles an hour--or more, depending on whether they were defying the posted speed limit.

The disclaimer made him cringe. It represented everything he despised about his hometown, which wasn’t their probable lack of acceptance of his sexuality. This was the reason his parents had broken up. This was what his mother loved more than his father, more than him, more than anything in the world, as far as Cliff could tell. His mother’s delusions were not only accepted in Sandy Bottom Bay, they were actively encouraged. If it weren’t for the crackpots, con men, and charlatans who lived in and flocked to Sandy Bottom Bay, maybe his mother would be able to accept that she needed professional help. That she was only driving away people who cared about her and welcoming people who only wanted to exploit her wealth, status, and position.

Visit Sandy Bottom Bay! Voted Best Beach in Florida.*

*By readers of Paranormal Broadcast Weekly

A lengthy honk pulled Cliff’s attention from the billboard, and he realized he’d come to a full stop right there in the middle of the road. He quickly got back up to speed, but he couldn’t deny that the billboard, which looked brand-new, had soured his mood even more than having to venture into the town where he’d accepted a job. Where he’d have to find an apartment if he was going to stay for any length of time.

The next billboard, right at the city limits, made him let loose a growl.

Sandy Bottom Bay--Come for the Haunts, Stay for the Beaches!

This was going to be harder than he’d thought. He might resent his mother for what she’d done to his family with her belief in the supernatural, but he still loved the woman. This town and its delusions of ghosts only bilked the unsuspecting or gullible into parting with their hard-earned cash, in ways that seemed innocuous. His mother was the matriarch of the town, her family having lived in and supported it since the area had been settled. However much she bought into the occult crap, he wasn’t going to let her get taken advantage of by the townspeople. He didn’t give a shit about the money, except that he didn’t want his mother to give it away to people who pretended to buy into her delusions, in the hopes of financial gain.

Quaint buildings in faded corals and yellows came into view as the thick foliage on either side of the road thinned out. His hometown made him want to run away again. Leave his new job, leave his boss in the lurch, and drive as far away as he could. Cliff had never felt more divided in his life, not even when he pretended to be straight, dating one of the hottest girls at SBB High. A heavy sensation weighed down his stomach. He had an uncomfortable hunch that he was going to be a resident for a long while.

A glance at the clock confirmed he was going to be very early for his first shift. He wasn’t ready to start working yet, so he pulled into the parking lot of the Publix. Might as well grab something for lunch at the grocery store’s sandwich counter while he had the time. There were far more cars in the parking lot than he would have expected for that time of day.

Before he got out of the car, a flash of bright red hair, gleaming in the early morning sunlight, had him staring.

A simply gorgeous man, a few years younger than his own twenty-six, walked out of the store, clutching a loaf of bread and jar of peanut butter. Tall and lanky, he moved swiftly through the parking lot. Cliff didn’t know who the hell the red-haired man was, but he was going to find out...and also find out if by chance Sandy Bottom Bay had another gay resident. Because not even the frown that pulled fair eyebrows together could change the fact that Cliff had spied one of the best-looking men he’d seen in a long time. Cliff had never been with a ginger before, but he loved how they looked, this one more than any.

From the number of people waving at him, and the fucking gorgeous smile he returned to them, the guy was undoubtedly a Sandy Bottom Bay resident, although he must have moved to town sometime after Cliff left. The smile made him hotter and sexier, with a hint of innocence Cliff hadn’t seen on any of the men in California.

With another big smile, the ginger stopped by an old Chevy, where an elderly woman was attempting to put her groceries in the trunk. After placing his peanut butter and bread on the roof of the car, he made short work of loading the groceries for her, then stood for a moment chatting. Cliff wasn’t parked close enough to get a hint of what the guy’s voice sounded like, but the sweetness of watching him do a good deed was a turn-on even while it warmed something inside that had become dark and cold in LA.

After a few minutes, the guy nodded and strode away to return the cart. When he continued to walk in the opposite direction of the elderly woman, Cliff unsnapped his seat belt, intending to call out, let him know he’d forgotten his own groceries, but was too late. The woman called to him, but not loud enough for Cliff to catch the guy’s name, and he rushed back, cheeks reddened in embarrassment. A few more words were exchanged before he grabbed his stuff and headed for the sidewalk.

The almost shoulder-length hair was practically aflame, and as the guy walked through the parking lot toward the sidewalk, heading for the main strip in town, Cliff continued to stare. Between the hair, the adorable blush, and the round, peachy ass enclosed in thin, faded jeans, Cliff might actually weep if the man wasn’t gay.

Unlike many of his friends, Cliff had never been interested in straight men. There was no magic to “gay for you,” no cachet to turning a straight man. In his opinion, a straight man who got seriously involved with a gay man had only been lying to himself until then and either wanted to keep his orientation a secret or had a mess of baggage Cliff didn’t have the time or patience to deal with. Not that Cliff hadn’t had more than a few guys call him a hypocrite for not being openly out at work, but he just hadn’t been comfortable putting his life on the line and trusting his fellow officers would do what was right when the chips came down.

If this man were bi-curious or straight, though, he might change Cliff’s mind about GFY, although the more Cliff watched, the more the guy pinged Cliff’s gaydar. Or maybe that was just Cliff’s wishful thinking.

The slow, steady throb of his cock, filling to full hardness in his uniform pants, surprised him. He was beyond--or so he’d thought--the unruly, unwanted erections that had plagued his younger years. The gorgeous ginger had gotten him all hot and bothered with nothing more than peanut butter and a good deed. For a few minutes, Cliff let himself picture stripping the red-haired hottie down to nothing, kissing skin that was amazingly pale for anyone who’d spent time in Florida.

But Cliff’s mental vignettes were only making his cock more eager for relief, and he wasn’t about to spend his first few minutes as an SBB police officer jacking off in the station bathroom, fantasizing about some guy who could be straight or taken.

Into the Woods
...The rain seemed to have let up a bit, from the big pelting drops to a persistent light drizzle that somehow wasn’t much better. Shaun trudged across the cemetery, his shoes squelching in the puddles. He should have worn boots today, but, hell, it hadn’t been raining when he’d left home. He circled around the stone church to his SUV, which sat alone at the edge of the parking lot, bordered by the encroaching darkness of the forest. The mud-splattered black FJ Cruiser looked the worse for wear after taking on the winding mountain roads in the rain.

He reached for the door, but before he could open it, a low, masculine voice from directly behind him said, “I’m sorry ’bout your dad.”

Shaun’s heart pounded like a bass drum. Jeez! How had someone snuck up on him?

He turned…and discovered the stranger from the funeral stood less than two feet away from him, close enough to reach out and touch. And, for a split second, Shaun almost did touch him, warring between the desire to push back the hood of his black wool coat that kept his face hidden in shadow so he could really see him and know who he was dealing with, and the urge to lunge and tear into him for sneaking up on him. He did neither, forcibly reining himself in with another deep breath to settle his edginess. What’s the matter with me? First the priest and now him. Shaun had never been a violent person, never felt the need to pick fights. He couldn’t understand why he was wound so tight today.

Except for Doyle’s damn letter.

Gee thanks, Dad. Your final legacy…leave me infected with your paranoia.

“You all right?” the stranger asked, sounding concerned.

Shaun realized the silence had stretched unnaturally long. “I’m fine,” he mumbled, wishing he could see who he was talking to. He could tell very little about the guy except that up close he was a few inches shorter than Shaun, had a lean build, wore jeans turned dark from the rain, and heavy black leather boots. But his voice unexpectedly affected Shaun—it had an easy drawl to it, a Texas accent maybe, with a gritty, sensual undertone that made Shaun think of…well, of slow, hot, sweaty sex.

Christ. His pulse thrummed in a way that didn’t have anything to do with caffeine overload or whatever else ate at him.

Realizing the silence was dragging too long again, he said, “You knew him? My father?”

There was a pause, as if the question had surprised the stranger. “A bit.”

“A bit?”

“I…talked to him a few times.”

“Do you live around here?”

“Not really.”

What was with the vague responses? But even more than that, Shaun suddenly wondered how the man had known who he was. The unsettled tension of earlier crept up his spine again, making the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. The only person he’d spoken to since he’d gotten here this afternoon was Father McKenzie. And the woman at the post office, but he hadn’t told her who he was. The priest was the only one who knew Doyle was his father. How could this guy possibly know it?

Who exactly are you? he was about to demand, but the stranger chose that moment to reach up and push off his hood, causing the words to die unspoken on Shaun’s tongue.

Shaun found himself staring again, blatantly, at a man around his own age, with disheveled dark blond hair, a golden glint of stubble along angular cheeks and chin, a dusting of freckles across his nose, sensual lips, and a pair of striking, pale green eyes.

A ripple of something—Familiarity? Déjà vu?—slid over Shaun.

Did he know this guy? No, surely not. He would have remembered meeting someone like him. The stranger had the kind of active, outdoorsy appearance that had always appealed to Shaun. He wasn’t classically handsome, but there was an unpretentious, down-to-earth sexiness about him that Shaun knew he would have found hard to forget.

The man’s warm gaze seared into Shaun, like an electric current passing through his body. The probing stare was so intense, so filled with…Jesus, was it need?...that Shaun’s blood suddenly ran hot and he found himself thinking about sex again. And how it would feel to strip off the man’s clothes right here and now, and lick every inch of what he was certain was a hot and delectable body, until the man writhed in pleasure and desperation. Then Shaun would find what he knew would be the perfect fit for himself between the man’s legs, and thrust so deep inside him, the stranger would cry out and beg for mercy, beg for more, all in the same breath. Shaun knew he’d comply, too. Knew he’d give the man everything he wanted, would plough into him until they were both hoarse from their cries, until their bodies shook from need and glorious exhaustion. Until they were both spent and sweaty and covered in each other’s scents…

Holy crap. Shaun swallowed hard and blinked as reality settled back in around him, yanking him out of the vivid daydream.

What had just gotten into him? Just a minute ago he was ready to attack the guy for sneaking up on him, and now he couldn’t think straight because he wanted to fuck him. His skin tingled, his heart thudded, his balls ached.

The weird thing was, he was pretty sure he wasn’t the only one suddenly and powerfully turned on. Shaun got the distinct impression the stranger was fighting the urge to haul Shaun against him do something similar to what Shaun had been thinking. He could practically feel the sexual tension sizzling in the air. Could almost smell the man’s desire…smell his own desire as well, and the heady mix of both together.

“Who are you?” Shaun breathed...

From Afar
He turned from the washstand and scanned the room. The navy velvet coat and brocade waistcoat strewn near the foot of the bed had to belong to Raphael. Aleric didn’t even bother to pick them up. Given the man’s slighter frame, they wouldn’t fit anyway. His trousers alone would have to do for now.

More to give himself something to do than anything, he grabbed the candle and left the bedchamber to have a look around. There was only one other door at the end of the corridor, the room Raphael had planned to use last night.

Not last night. Day.

It would definitely take a bit of doing to rearrange his thinking.

That wasn’t the only thing he’d have to grow accustomed to. That sense of looking for something, that constant itch for something more that had pushed him to be a reckless lad, always searching for adventure in the staid countryside, was absent for the first time in as long as he could remember. But while a part of him embraced the open possibility of his new life, everything was still much too new, too startlingly strange for comfort. Nor did he have any notion of how he would go about this new phase of his life. Where would he spend his days, hiding from the sun? He hadn’t a shilling to his name. His apartments wouldn’t be a viable option for long.

And above all, there would be no going back to how he had been before Raphael had made Aleric like himself.

“It will get easier to accept with time.”

Raphael’s words drifted through his head, a calming balm that soothed the unease. He went down the stairs and opened the door at the end of the short corridor.

A stale scent hit his nose. The candle threw splashes of light and shadow onto the ghostly shapes scattered throughout the room. He made to take a quick step back then realized it was simply furniture draped with white sheets. Well, they had once been white. A light layer of dust covered the peaks and valleys outlining two settees, a few chairs and small round tea tables. As with Raphael’s bedchamber, mirrors and paintings in heavily gilded frames lined the white paneled walls. An intricate plasterwork pattern covered the ceiling edged with elaborate molding.

This had to be the main drawing room of the house. Did Raphael never have use for it? He investigated the other rooms, even going down to the first floor to check the dining room and the ground floor to check the kitchen before returning to the drawing room. Except for the small library with its bookcases spanning from floor to ceiling, every other space resembled the drawing room. As if it hadn’t been inhabited for years. And the ornate, Rocco-influenced décor marked it decades old. It left the house with the eerie impression it had been frozen in time some forty or fifty years ago.

If felt distinctly…lonely. How could Raphael live here? Or perhaps this wasn’t his home. Perhaps he merely borrowed it, its true owners long removed to the country. It certainly didn’t feel like a gentleman’s residence. He could almost sense the echo of an elegant older lady who still insisted on donning a powered white wig.

That brittle sense of loneliness vanished. Warmth filled his chest. The stale air now rich with the scent of—

“Aleric.”

Before he was aware of it, a smile had stolen across his lips. He turned to find Raphael striding into the room.

Perhaps this was his home after all.

A red silk ribbon held back the length of his hair. Pristine white lace cuffs spilled from the sleeves of his amethyst velvet frock coat. Silver satin knee breeches hugged the lean muscles of his thighs, with white stockings covering his calves. And those shoes. Low-heeled with diamond-encrusted buckles. On any other man, the ensemble would look ridiculous. But it somehow fit him.

“Evening, Raphael. You’re turned out quite smartly tonight.” Odd, to feel so comfortable around him. His presence so familiar, like Aleric had known him forever.

“Did you find my note?”

Aleric nodded.

“My apologies for my absence. A few errands required my attention and I thought it best to see to them before you awoke.” A hint of worry slipped into his features, drawing his brows together the slightest bit. “Last night you asked if there were others like us in London. I have made arrangements for us to pay a call. An introduction to the clan.” Before Aleric could open his mouth to voice his question, Raphael added, “I’ll explain on the ride there. The carriage will arrive shortly. Before we can leave you need to change into something more appropriate.”

“Despite the lure of purple velvet, I highly doubt any of your clothes will fit me.” He flicked his fingers to his trousers. “Everything else I had on last night is unfit to wear.”

“Not to worry. I stopped by your apartments.”

Did you now? The stiff bristle of irritation dug sharp and hard into his spine. “I don’t recall handing over the key.”

“Your bedchamber window wasn’t locked,” Raphael called over his shoulder as he strode from the room.

“My apartments are on the third floor,” Aleric pointed out, following Raphael up the stairs.

“And easily accessible from the rooftop.” Raphael opened the door to the other bedchamber. “This room is yours for as long as you wish to stay.”

“Thank you,” Aleric said, taken aback by the man’s generosity. At least he needn’t worry about finding himself without a roof over his head anymore. Though he would have preferred to remain in Raphael’s room than to have his own. “And thank you…for last night.” When I behaved like a complete and utter fool.

Raphael tipped his head, the edges of his lips lifting in an understanding smile.

Thankful Raphael did not elaborate on the subject, Aleric turned and set the candle on the dresser beside a full decanter of brandy on a silver tray complete with an empty glass. The fire in the grate looked warm, but it must have been newly built for the heat had yet to take the chill from the room. Under the cool air was a hint of the same stale scent that permeated the other rooms in the townhouse, except Raphael’s bedchamber and the small library. He had the impression someone had recently removed the white sheets from the furniture. The bed appeared freshly made. The gold-patterned coverlet straightened, the white pillows fluffed.

“It is your home, correct?” Aleric asked.

“Pardon?”

“The townhouse. It’s yours?”

“Yes.”

“Have you always lived here?”

“No. I grew up in the country.” Raphael prodded the fire with an iron poker, nudging the flames to full life. “The townhouse was my grandmother’s. She left it to me when I was a boy. The house lay dormant for years before I had a need for it.”

“Was that when you cut ties with your family?”

“I had no need to cut ties. My parents had passed away a couple years before. But I didn’t think it wise to continue to reside in their home—curious neighbors and all—so I relocated to London.” He rested the poker against the marble fireplace surround and indicated a narrow door along one wall. “You’ll find a change of clothes in there. If you have need of anything, you have only to ask.”

Aleric wanted to know so much more about Raphael—what was his life like before he’d been turned, did he miss it or had he embraced his new life?—but the way in which he changed the subject indicated he preferred not to discuss his past. So he made do with another “Thank you.”

“How do you feel?” The heavy regard in the man’s eyes begged an honest answer and not merely a polite, conversational response.

“Damned fantastic. But I’m thirsty.” Those last three words popped out of his mouth without conscious thought. But he had spoken the truth. He was parched. Not hunger, but thirst. Sharper and more acute than after a long summer’s day spent under the hot sun.

Raphael pushed up one lace-edged sleeve, held out his wrist to Aleric. “Here. Drink.”

“Ah…I-I don’t think I should…” Even though uncertainty waged within, his feet moved, taking him closer to Raphael, to that beautifully bared wrist.

“I had more than enough last night. Take what you need.”

“We can drink from each other?”

The hesitation before Raphael nodded did not inspire confidence. In one swift movement speaking of practiced ease, Raphael brought his wrist up to his mouth, slashed his fangs across his own skin.

An all too familiar sweet, slightly metallic scent wafted from the wound, surrounding Aleric. He flared his nostrils, drinking in the delicious scent. He vaguely registered the prick on his gums as his fangs descended. All his attention had focused on Raphael’s wrist, the blood pooling over the wound, the strong pulse in his vein.

One tantalizing crimson drop slid down to the back of his upturned hand, clung to his skin for the briefest of seconds, poised to drop…

Aleric grabbed Raphael’s arm. The instant blood touched Aleric’s tongue, something lurched inside him. A raw, primitive need coupled with a sense of absolute completion.

Liquid flowed into his mouth and down his throat. Heat pooled in his stomach, warming him from the inside out. So sweet. So satisfying. Each swallow demanded another and another.

A low moan filled his ears. Raphael. Suckling greedily, Aleric glanced up. Raphael’s head had tilted back, his long lashes resting on his cheekbones, his lips parted. Swaying on his feet, he grabbed Aleric’s shoulder, fingers digging into the muscle and tendons.

Even above the almost overpowering scent of blood, he could detect Raphael’s arousal. Male musk and the hint of pre-come carried on the heat pouring off the man. His own body reacted instantly.

Author Bios:
Kiernan Kelly
Kiernan Kelly lives in the wilds of the alligator-infested U.S. Southeast, slathered in SPF 45, drinking colorful, tropical hi-octane concoctions served by thong-clad cabana boys.

All right, the truth is that she spends her time locked in the dark recesses of her office, writing gay erotic romance while chained to a temperamental Macintosh, drinking coffee, and dreaming of thong-clad cabana boys.

Mercy Celeste
Mercy Celeste is the pen name and super hero persona of mild mannered MJ Colbert....which is bull, I'm not mild mannered. I was, in fact, raised in a barn--or several. We even had grain silos. My motto growing up, anything a boy can do, I'm right behind him doing it just as well or better. I've broken too many bones to begin to count. Scraped, skinned or scarred pretty much everything that can be scraped, skinned or scarred. How I'm still walking and talking is a miracle.

So about the writing, well, I don't really consider myself to be a writer. I'm a storyteller, and when I have a story to tell, it won't rest until it's twisted me up and purged itself. The result is at times comical or tragic, depending on the people who live in my head and what they have to say. Most days that's not a lot of anything. Others I can't shut them up. They especially love when I'm driving, oh, yeah, a drive across town is a lesson in how not to get myself killed or be pulled over for reckless driving. And those are the good days.

Welcome to my crazy world, if it's boring now, wait five minutes, and don't blink. Things have a tendency to get interesting around me.

KC Burns
KC Burn has been writing for as long as she can remember and is a sucker for happy endings (of all kinds). After moving from Toronto to Florida for her husband to take a dream job, she discovered a love of gay romance and fulfilled a dream of her own--getting published. After a few years of editing web content by day, and neglecting her supportive, understanding hubby and needy cat at night to write stories about men loving men, she was uprooted yet again and now resides in California. Writing is always fun and rewarding, but writing about her guys is the most fun she's had in a long time, and she hopes you'll enjoy them as much as she does.

ML Rhodes
I'm an opinionated chick with a decent sense of humor and a vocabulary that's way too smutty for someone who grew up as a "good" girl. I write books for a living...more specifically, gay male romance stories. I'm passionate about gay romance! I love sweet, steamy, emotional stories about gay men meeting, falling in love, and finding happily-ever-afters. I love to read them and I love to write them! So I do...write them. Because there's nothing better than having a job you love! I live in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with my husband, two sons, three cats, two dogs, and numerous fish.

If you'd like to know more about me and my books, swing by my website when you have a few minutes!

Ava March
Ava March is an author of sexy, emotionally intense M/M historical erotic romances. She loves writing in the Regency time period, where proper decorum is of the utmost importance, but where anything can happen behind closed doors. With over fifteen works to her credit, her books have been finalists in the Rainbow Awards and More Than Magic contest, and deemed ‘must-haves’ for Historical M/M romance by RT Book Reviews readers. Visit her website to find out more about her books or to sign-up for her newsletter.


Kiernan Kelly
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Mercy Celeste
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ML Rhodes
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Ava March
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EMAIL: ava@avamarch.com



A Weapon of Opportunity
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Under a Cresent Moon

North on Drummond
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Into the Woods
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From Afar
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Jackson's Destiny by CA Harms

Title: Jackson's Destiny
Author: CA Harms
Series: Sawyer Brothers #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 20 2015
Summary:
Shaken to his core, the loss was excruciating…

Jackson Sawyer was strong, confident, cocky, and arrogant, but when he loved, he loved hard.

The Sawyer family was faced with a tragedy that rocked their foundation. Jackson, however, was hit the hardest. He’s the one who can't seem to rise above the grief.

It has overtaken him…

Until he finds Bailey Whitmore. She also has a darkness she just can't shake. Yet she hides it well—tucking her sadness away, and shadowing it with a spunky attitude.

But those demons have a way of showing up when you least expect it…

Love is intense.

Loss is inevitable.

Pain and anger are unavoidable.

Will they find the strength to rebuild their tainted hearts together?

Or will it go against…Jackson’s Destiny?


“Damn,” he groaned as he pushed farther inside. His head tipped back as he thrust forward, taking that last inch. I felt so full, so consumed by Jackson. That realization overwhelmed me and left me feeling so raw. I closed my eyes tightly, concentrating on the pleasure alone, willing away the emotions it brought on.

“Eyes,” Jackson demanded. “I need your eyes on me.”

I looked at him as he lowered his body over mine, placing his arms under my shoulders, keeping himself extended above me. “When I’m inside you, I need your eyes on me,” he whispered. “I wanna know what you’re feeling, know you’re with me completely.”

“I’m with you,” I assured him as I wrapped my legs around his waist and pulled him against me.

He lowered his lips to mine as he began to thrust inside of me. Our bodies moved in perfect rhythm as his tongue in my mouth mimicked the motion of his cock inside me. I could feel myself building to a climax once more, and I knew Jackson could feel it too as he lifted his head and looked at me. My eyes fluttered shut from the intense orgasm cresting inside me.

“Eyes on me, baby,” he commanded.

I didn’t hesitate to obey, and our eyes locked on one another. “When you hit that peak, I need to see you.” Jackson lowered his hand to where we were joined and began rubbing his thumb over my clit, applying just enough pressure. I moaned as I began to fall over the edge.

“Yes.” I bit down on my lip and focused on his lust-filled eyes.

“Beautiful,” he whispered. And in that moment, I did feel beautiful. Jackson made me feel a whole lot of things I hadn’t before. He gave me everything I had been missing but had never demand because I didn’t think I was worthy of happiness. And now that I’d sampled what being his was like, I knew nothing would ever compare.





Author Bio:
C.A. Harms is like any other addicted reader. She enjoys happy endings and HEA love stories. She hasn't always been a lover of Romance and had once been addicted to a good Mystery. Just recently she has taken on a new liking and now is a full blown Romance novel addict.

She lives in Illinois and enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. You will always find her with her kindle or paperback in hand as it is her favorite pass time.


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Jackson's Destiny #2

Ryan's Love #1

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Death of the Spirit by Rick Chiantaretto

Title: Death of the Spirit
Author: Rick Chiantaretto
Series: Crossing Death #2
Genre: Dark Fantasy/Occult
Release Date: March 13, 2015
Summary:
I have no idea who I am anymore.

In Los Angeles, I would have given anything to go home to Orenda, my world where magic was alive and nature spoke to me. Now that I'm back I feel out of place, burdened with responsibility. The human part of me misses the simplicity of Earth, the mage part begs for connection with magic, and the demon part? I don't want to admit that exists.

As the darkness inside me grows, I’ll learn to sacrifice for the greater good, as my people have always done. In order to save my family (both mage and human alike), I must face my nightmare, embrace the demon, and descend into the shadowy world of my enemy—the Hell of the Damned.

Once there, I will have nothing left to fear but myself: Edmund Gavel, human, mage, demon... maybe monster.



Death of the Body #1
Summary:
I grew up in a world of magic. By the time I was ten I understood nature, talked to the trees, and listened to the wind. When the kingdom of men conquered my town, I was murdered by one of my own—the betrayer of my kind. But I didn't stay dead.

I woke to find myself in a strange new world called Los Angeles. The only keys to the life I remembered were my father’s ring, my unique abilities, and the onslaught of demons that seemed hell-bent on finding me. Now I must find out who I really am, protect my friends, and get back to my beloved hometown of Orenda.

Author Bio:
I've often been accused of having done more in my life than the average person my age but if I were completely honest, I'd have to tell you my secret: I'm really 392. So after all this time, I'm a pretty crappy writer.I have two books published and a bunch half written (when you have eternity, where's the reason to rush?). I've been favorably reviewed by horror greats like Nancy Kilpatrick, and my how-to-write-horror articles have been quoted in scholarly (aka community college freshmen's) papers.I enjoy the occasional Bloody Mary, although a Bloody Kathy or Susan will suffice.Mostly, I just try to keep a low profile so people don't figure out who I REALLY am. 


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Death of the Spirit #2
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Death of the Body #1(Currently Free)
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Thigh High by Bonnie Edwards

Title: Thigh High
Author: Bonnie Edwards
Genre: Erotic Romance
Release Dates: September 4, 2015
Cover Design: Eva Natsumi

Summary:
In this erotically charged novella Kat Hardee becomes involved in the bet of her lifetime…

Being young, divorced, broke and in college, has made Kat leery of putting herself in the path of the next great guy. But she’s crushed on her neighbor, Taye Connors, since he moved in and would love nothing more than to catch his eye.

But her man-hungry girlfriend has also suddenly set her sights on him.

Rather than lose her chance with quiet, nerdy Taye, Kat accepts the challenge to get him naked. This weekend!

To save him from her predatory friend, shy and skittish Kat must seduce the one and only man she’s interested in.

Taye Connors wants to make up for lost time with his sweet next-door neighbor.  He’s a man who takes his time and wants nothing more than a real and loving relationship. In fact, he insists on it.

But when innocent Kat turns into a vixen who sells sex toys wearing too-hot-handle thigh high stockings, he has to wonder what he’s in for: A sex kitten or his one true soulmate.

After a series of missteps and miscommunication, Kat and Taye come to terms with who they really are and what they want for themselves and each other.

#1
“These come in various colors,” she said, holding up the ropes, “but I’m partial to black.” She threaded one of the ropes over her hand and up her arm past her elbow. The material opened up into the mesh he was familiar with.

“Me too,” he said around a thundering heart. “Although white’s nice, too. Virginal.”

“Is that what you’d like Taye? A virgin?” She pulled the fishnet down her arm again, slowly, like a stripper removing a long silk glove.

The image was hot, the real woman in front of him hotter.

“Because I could do that for you,” her voice went husky and offered exactly what he’d come over here to get. “Be virginal, I mean.”

#2
Taye climbed out of his SUV and headed to the door of his town house, briefcase in hand. He bent and picked up a package left on his front step. Wrapped in cozy brown cords, he had a great butt, even from this distance, and Kat found several ways a day to see it. From her back upstairs window she’d watch him put out bird seed. Through his tiny kitchen window she’d catch glimpses of him making dinner.

“He’s not a nerd,” Kat said in his defense. “I’m willing to bet under that tweed jacket is a lot of man.”

“You think?” Celia assessed him with her man-hungry eyes.

Kat shifted. A second mistake. Taye’s physique was not up for discussion, not with Celia. She was a shark when it came to getting what she wanted.

1. What is the biggest influence/interest that brought you to this genre?
I always wrote sexy love scenes! Even before erotic romance came into popular culture, I was being rejected by publishers for writing too much sex. (They said it was great, but there was just too much of it...still makes me laugh)

2. When writing a book, what is your favorite part of the creative process(outline, plot, character names, editing, etc)?
The beginning of the first draft. There’s so much to be discovered in the writing. It’s an unwritten map to a satisfying conclusion...kind of adventurous in a way.

3. When reading a book, what genre do you find most interesting/intriguing? 
I like to be taken away from the 6 o’clock news with a really strong, well­written historical romance.
Men in kilts? Yessss.... Women struggling with their roles in the Regency period?

YESSS!

4. If you could co­author with any author, past or present, who would you choose?
I couldn’t co­author...too much control given away. I write what I write, my way.

5. Have you always wanted to write or did it come to you ʺlater in lifeʺ?
Always, but I didn’t realize it. Even my Etch­a­Sketch was used to make words, never pictures. Writing is so intrinsic to my nature that it’s always just been there.

Author Bio:
Multi-published author Bonnie Edwards lives with her husband and pets on the rainy coast of British Columbia. She believes life should be lived with joy. That joy shows up in her earthy, irreverent love stories. Bonnie uses long hikes to bounce ideas off her husband and her standard poodle, who almost always agrees with her.

She has written novels, novellas and short stories for Carina Press, Harlequin, Kensington Books and Robinson (UK) although now she publishes her work herself.

Sometimes her stories have a paranormal twist, likes curses and ghosts, other times not. But they’re always entertaining and guarantee a happy ending.


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