Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday's Film Adaption: Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp


Summary:
This bestseller was the basis for the blockbuster film "Die Hard" starring Bruce Willis.

High atop a Los Angeles skyscraper, an office Christmas party turns into a deadly cage-match between a lone New York City cop and a gang of international terrorists. Every action fan knows it could only be the explosive big-screen blockbuster Die Hard. But before Bruce Willis blew away audiences as unstoppable hero John McClane, author Roderick Thorp knocked out thriller readers with the bestseller that started it all.

A dozen heavily armed terrorists have taken hostages, issued demands, and promised bloodshed all according to plan. But they haven't counted on a death-defying, one-man cavalry with no shoes, no backup, and no intention of going down easily. As hot-headed cops swarm outside, and cold-blooded killers wield machine guns and rocket launchers inside, the stage is set for the ultimate showdown between anti-hero and uber-villains. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good fight to the death. Ho ho ho!

Film:
Release Date: July 15, 1988
Release Time: 132 minutes

Cast:
Bruce Willis as John McClane
Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber
Alexander Godunov as Karl
Bonnie Bedelia as Holly Gennaro-McClane, John's estranged wife
Reginald VelJohnson as Sgt. Al Powell
Paul Gleason as Dwayne T. Robinson, the Deputy Chief of Police
De'voreaux White as Argyle
William Atherton as Richard Thornburg
Clarence Gilyard as Theo
Hart Bochner as Harry Ellis
James Shigeta as Joseph Yoshinobu Takagi, Nakatomi's head executive


Trailer

Clips




Author Bio:
Roderick Mayne Thorp, Jr. was an American novelist specializing mainly in crime novels.

As a young college graduate, Thorp worked at a detective agency owned by his father. He would later teach literature and lecture on creative writing at schools and universities in New Jersey and California, and also wrote articles for newspapers and magazines.

Two of his best known novels were adapted into popular films: his 1966 novel The Detective was made into a 1968 film of the same name, starring Frank Sinatra as Detective Joe Leland, and his 1979 sequel to The Detective, Nothing Lasts Forever, was filmed in 1988 as Die Hard, starring Bruce Willis. Though Die Hard was relatively faithful to Nothing Lasts Forever, it was not made as a sequel to the film version of The Detective. Two other Thorp novels, Rainbow Drive and Devlin, were adapted into TV movies.

Thorp died of a heart attack in Oxnard, California.


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Winter Wonderland by Heidi Cullinan

Summary:
Finding Mr. Right can be a snow lot of fun.

Paul Jansen was the only one of his friends who wanted a relationship. Naturally, he’s the last single man standing. No gay man within a fifty-mile radius wants more than casual sex.
No one, that is, except too-young, too-twinky Kyle Parks, who sends him suggestive texts and leaves X-rated snow sculptures on his front porch.

Kyle is tired of being the town’s resident Peter Pan. He’s twenty-five, not ten, and despite his effeminate appearance, he’s nothing but the boss in bed. He’s loved Paul since forever, and this Christmas, since they’re both working on the Winter Wonderland festival, he might finally get his chance for a holiday romance.

But Paul comes with baggage. His ultra-conservative family wants him paired up with a woman, not a man with Logan’s rainbow connection. When their anti-LGBT crusade spills beyond managing Paul’s love life and threatens the holiday festival, Kyle and Paul must fight for everyone’s happily ever after, including their own.

Warning: Contains erotic snow art, toppy twinks, and super-sweet holiday moments. Best savored with a mug of hot chocolate with a dash of spice.


I want to start by saying I loved how on the surface Paul and Kyle are the perfect bear and twink stereotype but underneath the author has tweaked them just enough so that they are anything but society's often preconceived stereotypical bear/twink couple.  Add in the wrapping of local flare and I was in reader heaven.  I have never been to the North Woods of Minnesota but being from Western Wisconsin only minutes from the Minnesota border I enjoyed the local references but even more so I appreciated the respect for the harsh winter weather that is displayed in this series.  There is a fine line between just another snow storm, the need to carry survival gear in the trunk of your car, and enjoying the holiday.  Don't even get me started on Paul's family but the warmness of Kyle's more than makes up for it.  Throw in the carefree friendships, hearts, and love between the three couples, Marcus & Frankie, Arthur & Gabriel, and Paul & Kyle, at the center of this trilogy and you have a beautiful addition to your holiday reading.

RATING: 


Chapter One
A ten-foot-tall snow penis towered over Paul Jansen’s front steps. Again.

He perched on the edge of his sofa, sipping his coffee as he kept the curtain pulled back with his foot so he could assess today’s phallic offering. It was pretty good. It had a bulging vein down the front, but it wasn’t as defined as usual. Big balls, but they’d clearly been joined to the shaft in a hurry. The glans had a nice contour—the snow artist usually took the most time there.

He’d give it a B+. Putting his mug aside, Paul tightened his robe before stepping into his boots. Opening the front door, he squinted into the sleet and wind. Saluted the penis. Snapped a photo for posterity.

Then he took aim with his right foot, braced himself against the doorframe and kicked the sculpture into pieces before reaching inside for his shovel so he could deal with the balls.

This was the third snow penis he’d dismantled of the season—the very early snow season, as the first squall had come through in late September. After the October tenth storm, they’d had snow cover ever since. The snow penises had started shortly after the blizzard. The first time had him laughing, and he’d left it up for a few hours. But it upset his neighbor on the other side of the duplex. It also made it tricky to get out the front door. So after taking a picture, he’d kicked it down and told his friend Arthur once he got to work, “Very funny, but stop upsetting Mrs. Michealson.”

Arthur had only blinked at him. “What’s funny?” So Paul showed him the picture on his phone, and Arthur laughed. “That’s pretty good! But how’d you do it? The snow is way too fine to pack.”

“I didn’t. You think I’d put a penis on my own front steps?”

Arthur shrugged as if to say, Why not? He squinted at the photo. “Seriously, this is a work of art. It’s almost a sculpture.”

“Well, it’s gone now.” Paul frowned. “I thought for sure you’d put it there.”

“Nope, sorry.” Arthur passed Paul his phone. “Let’s get to work on this bookshelf.”

Paul had put the snow penis out of his head and focused on his job. Logan Design and Repair had only been open for eight months, and while they weren’t about to go bankrupt, they worked like dogs to break even. Paul had gotten his electrician’s license over the summer, and Arthur was working on plumbing. They didn’t do anything big, but they could fuss with a water heater, a fritzing stove, a garbage disposal. Right now they were assembling custom bookshelves for the new pastor’s study at the Lutheran church.

Paul did the books, which often kept him at the shop late. When that happened, dinner usually appeared, delivered by Frankie, Paul’s other best friend’s fiancΓ©. Sometimes it was stew or something homemade, sometimes it was a hot beef sandwich from the cafΓ©. Sometimes he got hauled off to Arthur’s house to have dinner with the whole gang: Frankie and Marcus, Gabriel and Arthur. Hauled off was the only way they got him there, because Paul hated being the fifth wheel.

Though he was equally tired of being alone.

The day the first snow penis showed up they’d tried to get Paul to come to dinner once they were done ribbing him about his secret admirer, but Paul refused to go, opting to eat his dinner from home at the shop as he caught up on some paperwork.

Shortly after he settled in, his mother called.

“Paul. I’m glad I caught you.” The clipped, irritated tone made it clear glad was a figure of speech and nothing more. “I heard about the incident on your porch. I hope you told Arthur it was in poor taste and I won’t have to hear about this happening again.”

Arthur’s name dripped with disdain as it came out of her mouth. “Actually, I have no idea who did it.”

His mother clucked her tongue. “What a scandal. Have you told the police?”

About a snow penis? Paul entertained himself for a minute with the idea of trying to file that report. “It’s only a prank, I’m sure. Probably won’t happen again.”

“I certainly hope not.” She paused, her tone promising she was about to segue into the real reason she’d called. “I wanted to know if you were coming to church this Sunday.”

Oh, hell. Whenever Mary Jansen told her son she wanted to know if he was going to church, it was code for I have someone I want you to meet. And this someone would not, under any circumstances, be male.

Paul fumbled for a lie. “I’m due to go hunting with the guys this weekend.”

“You’ve hardly been to service lately. What will Pastor think?”

“I went a few weeks ago, but I promise I’ll go again soon.”

“Let me know when, and I’ll have your favorites for dinner after.”

His favorites and an eligible young lady. “I will,” Paul said. This was also a lie.

She’d ended their call shortly after that, but the exchange put Paul off finishing his supper and distracted him enough he mostly stared, frowning at the totals on the computer screen until it was just past midnight. Giving up, he headed home.

A new penis blocked his front door.

The second one had been something else. Not quite as tall, but it curved carefully to the right, and it had all the veins detailed like it was going to be used for an anatomy lesson. This one was uncircumcised, and the balls had hair—dried grass fused into the snow.

He took a picture of this one too, sending it to Marcus, Gabriel and Arthur as a group text. Fess up. Which one of you is the artist?

He had his money on Frankie, since he was the stylist, but either they were all practiced liars, or it wasn’t any of them. They all replied laughing, insisting it wasn’t them, dying to know who it actually was.

Paul had no idea.

He wracked his brain, crawling through his most recent hookups, but none of them fit the penis-sculpture bill. None of them lived in Logan, either, and while he did live on the edge of town, whoever was giving his front steps dick was putting in serious effort at weird hours in questionable weather. This had to be somebody local.

Everybody in town ribbed him about his snow sculptures. Some people, usually older women, clucked their tongues and seemed to blame him for disgracing the town, but most people thought it was funny. Someone had snagged a picture of the second one, and it wasn’t uncommon for Paul to stand up from selecting a can from the bottom shelf at the grocery store to find someone grinning and showing him a Facebook photo of his front steps with a penis on it. Not knowing how exactly he was supposed to respond, Paul would chuckle or roll his eyes, basically aw-shucks his way out of the awkward.

His mother, of course, kept urging him to report the “indecency” to the authorities. His elderly neighbor hounded him with fears this meant they were about to see a home invasion. His sister, Sandy, sent him several Facebook messages explaining to him in self-righteous disdain how embarrassing the situation was to the family and how it was Paul’s responsibility to keep it from escalating.

Paul wasn’t sure what there was for him to do. He’d figured the first two for kids distracting themselves from the fact that they were getting full-on blizzards this early in the year. This third one, though, tipped him into annoyance.

The night following the third penis, after the little old lady behind the library checkout desk flashed him a snow-penis photo before she scanned his card, Paul complained to Gabriel, Logan’s librarian and Arthur’s fiancΓ©. “Why just me?” he complained as Gabriel stood with him in the vestibule while Paul put on his coat. “It can’t even be a gay thing. You and Arthur aren’t getting it, and neither is Marcus or Frankie.”

“We’re too far out in the middle of nowhere. If anyone showed up on our lawn, Arthur would meet them with a shotgun.” Gabriel rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “But yes, you’re right, Marcus and Frankie should be fair game in their new house, if it’s a gay thing. Though maybe they’re afraid to target a lawyer who looks like a grizzly bear.”

Paul sighed as he wrapped a scarf around his neck. “I thought about rigging up a video camera to catch them, but I don’t have one. Plus it’s so cold and snowy, it would probably fog over or plain not work.”

Gabriel grimaced at the parking lot, which was a wasteland of snow and drifts. “It’s ridiculous how early the snow came this year. Frankly I’m terrified of January at this rate. Everyone’s worried, talking not about if we’ll lose power, but when and how often. Your snow-penis adventures are almost comic relief.”

“My neighbor doesn’t find them funny.”

Gabriel waved this idea away. “Edna Michealson loves to complain. Every time I run the Bookmobile, I have to mark out a half hour for her stop. Not to discuss books, but to listen to her itemization of the things she’s angry about that day.”

Paul didn’t enjoy listening to his eighty-nine-year-old former fourth-grade teacher lecture him about inappropriate snow organs. “They were cute at first, but enough is enough.”

Gabriel’s lips twisted in a sly grin as he leaned into the wall beside the coat rack. “I’m having fun watching Arthur attempt to replicate them. He’s finally figured out he needs to add water, but he doesn’t have the ratio correct and either ends up with soup or crumbs. Yesterday he managed an obelisk, but it cracked in half when he tried to add a testicle.”

Paul tugged his stocking cap into place, arranging it so the hole from the nail he’d caught it on wasn’t over his ear. “My family is convinced it’s Arthur.”

“I know we’ve been teasing you about it, but maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s a secret admirer.”

Paul snorted. If the snow-penis artist truly was an admirer…well, honestly, Paul wasn’t sure what he thought of that. Why not message him on Grindr and ask to meet for coffee? Anybody whose idea of courtship was c**k-blocking his front door…

Okay. It was a little cool. And even when the balls were glued on and he had to chisel them off the stoop, he laughed.

Paul waved goodbye to Gabriel and went home, stopping at the cafΓ© to grab dinner. Unwrapping his hot beef sandwich, he sat in front of his television with the movies he’d checked out from the library.

It was admittedly too early, but Paul was already on his second round of Christmas movies. Gabriel had built up quite a collection, and there were enough new ones Paul had a lot of ground to cover before the actual holiday.

He loved the Hallmark and Lifetime movies. The first movie, Christmas with Holly, reminded Paul of the year he, Arthur and Marcus had lived together at Arthur’s cabin—that was the Christmas where Marcus and Frankie met, when Frankie got stranded in Logan. That holiday the four of them had become a family.

The second one, Christmas Lodge, wasn’t as good. It was sweet and cute and had that squishy quality Paul favored, where all the problems evaporated and Christmas was amazing. But it had a heavy Christian bent, and Paul couldn’t sink into it the way he wanted. While nobody in the movie was overtly homophobic, Paul knew the movie producers would tell him he didn’t deserve a gooey Christmas miracle because he was gay. He loved, though, the way the heroine found the perfect guy in the perfect place in the mountains. He knew real life wasn’t like that, but he adored sinking into the soft feeling where things did work out, especially at Christmas.

He could use a good Christmas. He could use a perfect guy showing up on his front door with a wreath and a wry smile, ready to move into his life. It hadn’t happened exactly that way for either Marcus or Arthur, but…well, it hadn’t escaped Paul’s notice that the last two years were like they’d taken turns getting Mr. Right for Christmas.

Three years, and three of them. The three bears, Frankie teased them. That made Paul baby bear, he supposed, which was fine. But he’d been trying to find his Goldilocks all year long, and he’d pretty much dated or bedded every gay man in the county and then some. Unless someone else got stranded during a blizzard, he couldn’t see how he’d be getting a happily-every-after for Christmas.

He checked his Grindr in case he could hunt down a different kind of happy ending, but there was only the usual nudge from PrinceCharming1990. Paul had no idea who the guy was, or even where he was—he had his location turned off. Wherever Prince Charming lived, he had some kinky ideas of what he wanted to do with Paul, and he was damn persistent about them.

Tonight PrinceCharming1990 played it coy. Let’s play in the snow.

Paul ignored the request to play in the snow the same as he had all the other not-really-veiled innuendos.

1990. That was probably the guy’s birth year. Paul would turn thirty-eight in February. When Prince Charming had been born, Paul was entering high school. That was just…no. The thought alone made him feel like a child molester. Even if this particular child could curl his toes with some of his sexual suggestions.

Prince Charming wasn’t on a sex app and wasn’t crafting snow organs on his doorstep. Paul put ice penises and Grindr out of his mind and one of the disks from the ten-pack of holiday romancesinto the player.

He’d been looking forward to this DVD set ever since Gabriel had ordered it for him, and he’d saved it for last in his current checkout binge only because the other two were due the next day. He had every intention of watching at least two of the ten movies, but he’d gotten up too early, and he fell asleep five minutes into the first one. One minute the first movie was starting, and then he opened his eyes and found himself staring at the silent home-menu screen.

Listening to the scritch, scritch, scritch of something on his front porch.

Paul sat up slowly, blinking at the door. It sounded like a raccoon. Or a bear.

Swish, swish, swish. Scritch, scritch, scritch.

Scrape. Shuffle. Scrape.

That wasn’t a bear. That was somebody on his front porch.

That was somebody assembling a snow penis on his front porch.

He scooted to the edge of the couch, checking the urge to rush to the door. If he made too much noise, whoever it was might run off. If he tiptoed to the door, he could pull it open and catch them by surprise. Halfway to the door, though, it occurred to him he should maybe have a weapon. Nothing lethal, but…well, if it wasn’t a couple of kids, he should be ready.

He didn’t have a baseball bat, though. He had his hunting rifles in the closet, but those were hardly appropriate. He also didn’t have a lot of time. A peek through the curtain revealed the penis was nearly assembled.

One guy. Not a kid, and not a bruiser. All Paul could make out was a dark-colored parka and a knit hat with earflaps. The pants were different. Kind of like the things they wore in hospitals. What did you call them? Scrubs. Something about them rang a bell, but he couldn’t figure out why.

In the end, he went without a weapon. Whoever this was, Paul could take him, though he doubted it would come to that. Drawing a deep breath, he steeled himself for God only knew what and put his hand on the doorknob.

He managed to flip the light switch after he yanked, which meant as the dim bulb illuminated the porch steps, he got a good look not only at a seriously articulated frenulum but the face of a bright, blue-eyed young man, cheeks pink from cold.

Paul stared. “Kyle? Kyle Parks?”

Kyle’s lips closed, pressing into a thin line. Then, bold as you please, he lifted an eyebrow, and his sly smile made Paul shiver in a way that had nothing to do with cold.

Blowing Paul a kiss, Kyle stepped off the porch and into the night, leaving Paul to stare at the snow penis, which he saw now came with a piece of printed card stock hanging by yarn cemented into the sculpture.

The card read, Let’s play in the snow.

Paul lifted his gaze to the intricately crafted penis, seven feet tall, flared glans gleaming like an icy jewel in the porch light. He thought about Kyle Parks, the nice night nurse standing out here on his porch, carving the penis, shaping all those veins.

Sending him all those PrinceCharming1990 Grindr texts.

Kyle. Little Kyle. Offering to lick his…

Paul shut his eyes, but he still saw the wicked smile from Kyle mixed in with PrinceCharming1990’s naughty suggestions.

Letting his breath out in a ragged huff, he opened his eyes and yanked the card off the penis. He kicked the sculpture over, not taking a photo, not lingering to watch it crumble in his haste to get inside and flip off the light.

But he lay in bed for hours, staring up at the ceiling, so far from sleep he wasn’t sure he’d ever get there again.

That couldn’t have happened. Of all the people who might have mounted a snow penis on his porch…

Let’s play in the snow.

To his shame, Paul got a little hard.

He buried his face in his pillow, groaning into the stuffing. He couldn’t act on this. He needed to block PrinceCharming1990 right now.

He didn’t, though. He lay in bed until the wee hours of the morning, the cheesy Christmas movies mingling with Kyle Parks’s wicked smile, until they tangled together and he dreamed of sweet Kyle standing outside a picturesque log cabin, smiling and welcoming Paul home.

Flanked by an army of well-endowed snow penises.

Everyone in Logan thought they knew who Kyle Parks was. Everyone in Logan was wrong.

The problem of growing up in a town of less than one thousand was people couldn’t seem to let go of your youth. They remembered Kyle selling Boy Scout popcorn or sitting in their Sunday school class or wetting his pants in their backyard when he wasn’t quite potty-trained, and somehow all those memories meant they couldn’t accept he wasn’t that kid anymore. In their heads, he was still the leggy little boy with a bad haircut. And everybody, everybody still talked about how he’d had such a habit of tottering around in his mother’s makeup and heels. Shouldn’t that have been our first clue? Except even there he wasn’t a gay man. He was a gay kid.

It didn’t help, Kyle knew, that he looked like a kid. Not only did he get carded everywhere he went, but more often than not people argued with him. You can’t be twenty-five. Out of town they talked about his baby face, but in Logan the people who’d known him since he was little insisted he still was little. The general consensus was he might, possibly, be almost twenty, but that was as far as they’d go. The State of Minnesota’s decree on his license that he’d been born in 1990 had to be a mistake. Someday Kyle supposed he’d be grateful for his youthful looks, but right now, he’d give anything for a few gray hairs. Or the ability to grow more than peach fuzz for a beard. Or a hometown where people were willing to believe he wasn’t Peter Pan.

As he drove away from Paul Jansen’s duplex, heart beating too fast, memory of Paul’s shocked, slightly horrified face burned into his brain, Kyle hated his youthful appearance more than he ever had.

In his head, making the snow sculptures combined with Grindr taunts had been the perfect flirtation. It was true, he couldn’t get Paul to give him so much as a second glance in person, but he’d assumed that was the whole you’re too young thing again. Possibly the I only date big, hairy bears thing, though he’d seen Paul with a few svelte men. Kyle had already tried to alter his own type—for a week he ate nothing but fatty food and drank whole milk, but he ended up losing weight because he got sick from all the junk. In the end, he’d reasoned all he had to do was get Paul to see him as a fun, sexual object. And available. And willing. Ergo, Grindr. Except Paul had at best nibbled on his lures.

The first snow penis had been a lark, but he’d gotten more mileage out of that than a pile of dirty direct messages, so he figured what the hell—lather, rinse, repeat. If he’d thought Paul would catch him in the act, he would have dressed for the occasion, or worn something he could have undressed in more quickly. Though from the look on Paul’s face, it wouldn’t have mattered. Dammit.

The drive between Paul’s house and his own home was brief, but no one else was awake at this ungodly hour, so Kyle was able to continue scowling to himself as he put away his coat and pulled material out of the refrigerator to make a sandwich. In deference to his shitty mood, he added an Angry Orchard cider. Putting the whole business on a tray, he shuffled around the corner to his room.

As he ate, he wondered, not for the first time, if it would help if he got his own place. It was possible Paul would reject him at any age and in any locale—which hurt—but…well, Kyle was willing to try anything.

He finished off his sandwich quickly but nursed his cider as he poked around the Internet, turning the volume down as he indulged in some shameless porn-clip surfing. Since he was cranky, he didn’t go for his favorites but instead fed his bad mood by searching for his kink in free two-to-six-minute teasers.

Because even in his porn he was “too young”. He’d bet his ass none of the guys in the bear-twink sections were twenty-five, and Christ, if he was dumb enough to go to the daddy-kink section, he got alarmingly young boys and men who reminded him of his grandfather. Which, he wasn’t casting any stones. But could a guy get a thin, handsome young man with a cute, cuddly bear who was either his own age or only a little bit older?

He knew better than to hope he’d stumble on the twink doing the bear. Oh, those videos existed, and you can bet your ass he had them bookmarked. But when he was in a mood like this…well, he didn’t know why all he wanted to do was drive home how impossible he was, but it’s what he reached for. In case he had some idea his problem was because he lived in a teeny-tiny town in the middle of nowhere. No way. He was a freak in every direction. Long, narrow feet. Skinny body and long legs. Baby face. Feminine mannerisms. Nellie bottom tattooed on his forehead against his will.

He had a nice haircut, and an excellent dye job, since Frankie Blackburn had moved to town and opened up a hair salon. Other than that, everything was miserable, and he might as well have a second cider.

He didn’t, because at this point it was six in the morning, and his mother was almost up. It didn’t matter how many times he told her it was different to drink in the morning when you’d been up all damn night, she still clucked and fussed. Which he supposed was another argument to move into his own place.

I’ll scan the ads tomorrow, he told himself as he climbed under his covers and drifted off to sleep.

His dreams were a fu**ed-up mash of porn, Paul and work. Which got weird when his brief foray into medical porn clips inspired dreams of Kyle giving a naked Paul a prostate exam in a nursing home bed. Had he been awake, he’d have shut his imagination down, but as it was, he woke hard and came in the shower with the very pretty image of naked Paul Jansen on all fours, begging for Kyle’s c**k.

His mother was in the kitchen as he came out, cooking pork chops for lunch, and she smiled and murmured, “Good morning,” to Kyle as he emerged. A country station played in the background, and Daryl Parks sat at the table, reading the paper. Kyle’s brothers sat across from each other, scanning through mobile phones. At the smaller table by the sliding door, three of Kyle’s nieces and nephews fought over who had more chicken nuggets and tried to spill each other’s milk.

Kyle peeked around the corner to the dining room and the TV room beyond before frowning at his mother. “Where’s Linda Kay?”

“I don’t know.” Jane Parks’s tone was heavy singsong, her eyes wide as she nodded toward the cupboard.

Kyle made a big show of scratching his chin and frowning. “Oh, no. Do you think she moved out?”

“It’s difficult to say.” Jane’s voice played along, but she returned her focus to lunch preparations.

“That would be a shame. It snowed again last night, and I was going to make a new fort. A big one.” He sighed dramatically. “I suppose I’ll just make a small one for the kids.”

The door to the pantry opened as two hundred pounds of beaming, gleeful woman emerged. Linda Kay enveloped Kyle first in a wide smile with her tongue protruding past her lips before wrapping arms around him and squeezing him. “I got you, little brother.”

Kyle hugged her back as best he could, and his smile, if not as beautiful and pure as hers, was heartfelt. “You got me all right. Does this mean you’ll make a snow fort with me?”

Linda Kay squinted her eyes shut tight and shook her head hard enough to flap her brown hair into his face. “No. I want to make a dragon. Breathing fire.”

“A fire-breathing dragon?” Kyle repeated, his brain already running ahead of him with the possibilities.

“That fire will be made out of snow, not the propane tank,” Jane remarked dryly from the stove.

Damn. Kyle grimaced at Linda Kay. “Our mother is no fun.”

Linda Kay got a wicked look in her eye as she leaned in and whispered loudly in Kyle’s ear, “I’ll sneak it out of the garage.”

“You will not, Linda Kay.”

When Linda Kay pouted, Kyle kissed her cheek. “We’ll find a way to make it cool. Let me get something to eat and a cup of coffee, and it’s on.”

Linda Kay followed Kyle around the kitchen as he made himself a pod of decaf in the Keurig, and when he leaned on his mother’s left shoulder to peer at his breakfast/lunch, his sister took up a similar position on the right side.

Jane sighed. “You two. Can’t you wait ten more minutes?”

“We’re hungry.” Linda tried to pinch off a corner of a pork chop only to laugh as Jane swatted her away.

This was because after twenty-five years as Kyle’s twin, she knew the drill. While she made her feint, Kyle stole a piece of bacon from the plate by the stove. He took a bite before surreptitiously passing Linda Kay the rest behind Jane’s back. As his sister scuttled off with a wicked chuckle, Kyle leaned on the counter and sipped his coffee while he chatted with his mother.

“Do you work tonight?” she asked him. “I know the schedule has been a mess lately, and I’ve lost track of your rotation.”

He nodded. “The late-late shift. Eleven-to-seven. But tomorrow I have off, because I’m day shifts over the weekend.”

Jane clucked in disapproval. “It’s not healthy for you to work such irregular hours. It’s bad enough with all those overnights.”

“Somebody has to work them. Though, there’s good news.” He grinned as he set his coffee aside. “I hear Dolorianne is thinking of retiring.”

Jane nearly dropped her spatula in joy. “Oh—does that mean you could take her shift? The regular days-only one?”

Kyle rolled his eyes. “God, I wish. No, this would mean I could have the three-to-eleven one if I wanted it.”

She frowned. “But, Kyle, you can’t possibly go back to school with those hours.”

Not this again. “Mom, I don’t want to be a registered nurse. I’m fine with being an LPN.”

“But you’d have so many more career opportunities as an RN, and you’d make more money.”

Kyle didn’t want to have this argument for the eightieth time, so he changed the subject. “How was your circle meeting yesterday?”

She brightened. “Oh—it was wonderful. The Ruth Circle and the Hope Circle met at the church, and the library board came over too, even Mr. Higgins. The fundraiser is on for sure.”

“So more sleigh rides with Santa and dancing after?”

“No, this year there will be more. A craft fair, an ice-skating rink, and all the local businesses will have open houses. And.” She elbowed him and waggled her eyebrows. “I told them you’d make snow sculptures.”

“Mom.”

“Don’t complain. You love doing it, and Linda Kay will get such a kick out of helping.”

“They’re something special I do with her.” And until I got caught, on Paul’s front steps. Kyle glowered into his coffee. “Am I going to get paid, at least?”

She swatted him hard enough to make him yelp. “Kyle David Parks! Of course you won’t get paid. All the funds go to the library.” She aimed a wooden spoon at his nose. “And when you stop by to talk to Gabriel Higgins about what kind of sculptures, don’t you dare bring up money.”

Kyle held up his hands in self-defense. “I swear I won’t.”

Mollified, she added some cheese to the eggs she fixed for Kyle because she insisted people needed eggs for breakfast, whenever it happened. “It’s going to be something special. There will be charter buses from the Cities and Duluth, a Santa village and reindeer. They even have a theme this time. Winter Wonderland.”

That wasn’t a theme so much as a cute, generic title, but Kyle wasn’t going to argue. “Sounds great. I’ll stop by the library tomorrow, see if Linda Kay wants to go along.”

“If it snows the way it’s supposed to, that will work out nicely. She has designs on going to Eveleth to see Kenny, and she’ll be upset if the weather cancels her plans.”

“Okay.” Kyle pushed off the counter to get plates and glasses for the table, but his mother caught the edge of his T-shirt and held him in place.

“I also heard at the meeting there was another sculpture on Paul Jansen’s front porch this morning.”

Kyle grimaced, his black mood returning with a vengeance. “Yeah, well, it’ll be the last one.”

“I should hope so. He’s too old for you.”

“He’s thirty-seven, not seventy. Besides, our age difference is only three years more than the one between you and Dad.”

Jane pursed her lips and became focused on over-seasoning Kyle’s eggs. “I don’t understand why you can’t date someone your age, is all I’m saying.”

“Because the men my age are idiots. Also, there are five of them on my team in the whole county.” He pushed his toe into the loose section of a floor tile. “It doesn’t matter. He’s not interested. Nobody’s interested.”

She hesitated. “I bet there are more gay men your age in Duluth.” When Kyle gave her a hurt look, she kissed his cheek. “Don’t pout. I’m not telling you to move out. I’m trying to help you be happy.”

“I want to be happy here. If I move out, it will be to an apartment downtown.”

Linda Kay stuck her head around the corner where she’d been eavesdropping, her face a picture of betrayal. “You can’t move out!”

“I’m not moving out.” Kyle pulled out a stack of plates and passed them to her. “I’m setting the table, and you’re helping.”

She grumbled, but she helped all the same. When they sat down to eat, she leaned in close and whispered, “How did the snow penis go?”

He shook his head. “Busted. And he didn’t like it.”

Linda Kay flipped her wrist in a dramatic throwaway gesture. “Please. No taste.”

Grinning, Kyle leaned over and kissed her hair. “I love you, Linda Kay.”

“That’s because I’m awesome.” She stole a piece of his bacon and winked in her delightfully clumsy way. “We’ll give our snow dragon a big penis.”

“Mom would have a fit.”

She gave him a please, don’t be stupid look. “So we hide it, obviously.”

She held up her hand for a high-five. Kyle gave her one, then ate his eggs, his black mood getting buried under plans for an elaborate, ice-breathing dragon with a hidden dong.




Author Bio:
Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren't enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn't writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her family. Heidi also volunteers frequently for her state's LGBT rights group, One Iowa, and is proud to be from the first midwestern state to legalize same-sex marriage.


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Winter Wonderland #3
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Let It Snow #1
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Sleigh Ride #2
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Africa's "Big Five" Wild Animals by Anna Othitis

Title: Africa's Big Five Wild Animals
Author: Anna Othitis
Series: My First Travel Books #4
Genre: Children
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Summary:
Welcome to Angelic Airlines! Are you ready to take to the skies? Children come join us this time on a wild adventure with Captain Frankie on Angelic Airlines as we travel across the world to learn about, visit and see Africa's Big "5" Wildlife Animals. Captain Frankie is waiting for you to book your ticket, safely stow your bags, and open your eyes to these amazing animals in the savannahs of Africa. Most of these beautiful animals are about to become Extinct. We have to save our Wildlife animals, this earth belongs to them as well. My First Travel Books. This is another one of Anna Othitis’s trip with Captain Frankie. Originally from Zimbabwe, Africa, her travels have taken her a far across the world.


“Welcome aboard Angelic Airlines. This is your Captain Frankie, and I will be flying you to Africa’s Wildlife National Parks, the biggest being the Serengeti. We will visit, discover and learn about Africa’s “Big Five” Wild Animals.

Stow your bags overhead, take your seats and fasten your seat belts for our take off on a smooth flight together on this wondrous journey through Africa’s sunsets and sunrises—such colorful and flaming skies.

Into the plains and wilderness we go!

It is a lovely sunny day today and I hope you enjoy your flight.

Make yourselves comfortable, we have lots of healthy drinks and meals for you.

Oh, and children, do not forget to put on your safari clothes and special safari hats.”




Author Bio:
Anna Othitis lived and was raised in the beautiful land and country of Zimbabwe, Africa (home will always be home. She left all of her life long memories, endless charity work and good people behind vowing that she will continue supporting the needy children in her land Zimbabwe, Africa and beyond. After traveling long and short distances from the East coast to the West coast twice she and her family eventually found their sense of belonging and final settling destination in New Jersey, USA.

Her husband George, sons Johnny, Elia and Frankie encouraged her to write her first children's book titled "My First Travel Book", inspired by Frankie (Captain Frankie), who is graduating from his Masters degree in Aeronautical Science and beginning his career as a professional pilot. Anna's favorite saying is "Be Bold Be Brave".

She was inspired to write her children's books with a vision to link up the children Africa and of the world on Angelic Airlines to so many beautiful places of interest and popularity on our wonderful planet Earth with all its beautiful some natural and some man made creations and resources. One of the beautiful natural wonders featured in her books is in her birth land of Zimbabwe "The Mighty Victoria Falls" All of her books educate our children and widen their scope of interest in the amazing surroundings, creations and nature to appreciate and look after our environment for many generations still to come.


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Africa's Big Five Wild Animals
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My First Travel Book
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The Seven Natural Wonders of the Earth
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The Seven Wonders of the World
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Seeking Justice by Rivi Jacks

Title: Seeking Justice
Author: Rivi Jacks
Genre: Erotic Romance
Release Date: May 8, 2015
Summary:
Young investigative reporter, Cait Shaw, is not happy about her new assignment; investigating what she deems to be a “seedy” part of Chicago’s more questionable businesses. But her editor seems to have a personal vendetta against the elusive Mr. Justice, leaving Cait with little say in the matter.

Cait is especially shocked and conflicted by her attraction to the irresistible charms of Liam Justice. Liam is like no man she has ever known and she is totally captivated and unprepared for the sinfully erotic, passionate affair they enter into.

As her world is turned upside down, Cait must cope with her growing affection for Liam and his shadowed past.


     I head down the hallway past the kitchen to the supply room. The door is stuck, and I give it a bump with my hip reaching around the doorframe for the light switch. The door closes softly behind me as I take a moment looking around for the cocktail napkins. The light in here is dim, but I finally spot the container. Pulling the sliding library ladder along the shelf rail, I climb carefully in my heels until I’m level with the box I want, delving inside to pull out a couple of the napkin packs. As I step down a rung, hands close around my waist startling me, and I step back off the ladder. With a little shriek, I fall into strong arms. I know surprise is registering on my face, but the angry eyes of Liam Justice, glaring down into my own, puzzles me.
     “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
     I push against his chest. “Put me down!”
     Oh, this is too embarrassing. Not the fact that I feel a fool for falling into his arms or the obvious fact that he’s not happy about it, but because I’m suddenly panting. My chest feels tight, my lungs compressed, and I’m struggling for every breath I take. My lips part as desire coils low in my belly. His eyes flick to my mouth, and then back to my eyes with intent, slowly letting my legs slide down the length of his body. Standing in front of him, my heels bring me closer to his mouth, which plays havoc with my equilibrium. I sway slightly. Snaking his arm around my waist, he anchors me to his front as his other arm reaches up to the back of my head, his hand grabbing a fistful of  hair, pulling my head back. An involuntary gasp escapes at his sudden move, and I grasp his broad shoulders, fingers curling into the fabric of his shirt.
     “Are you trying to break your fucking neck?” His voice is soft, his breath fanning across my face. I struggle for a deep breath, his scent infusing every cell of my body. This man could make a serious dent in the cologne industry if he bottled his mind-numbing scent. His lashes cast shadows on his cheekbones as my eyes move across his face down to his lips.
     “No.” I breathe, looking back up to his incredibly blue eyes. I hope he never lets me go—
     He leans over me slightly, pressing me against his arm causing my back to bow. There’s some kind of pulsating, vibrating energy passing back and forth between us. I can feel it, and I wonder if he does.
     I lick my dry lips. “You... startled me.”
     Before I can take another breath, his mouth comes crashing down on mine, his tongue sweeping in to quickly stroke mine. His mouth is hot, and he tastes incredible. With a mind of their own my hands move from his shoulders to delve into his thick, soft hair as he presses his rock hard erection into my lower belly. His mouth moves over mine sucking my bottom lip between his teeth where he bites down gently. He keeps me anchored against his front, and I moan softly when I feel his hand slide up under the skirt of my dress, stroking my thigh, moving up to my hip. His hand is unbelievably warm as his fingers splay around my hip and dig into my bare bottom.
     “Your skin is so soft,” he murmurs as his lips move along my jaw to take my tender earlobe between his teeth, biting down. I whimper at the slight pain.
     “Shhh.”
     I jerk and almost yelp, grabbing hold of his upper arms when his hand moves from my hip and cups me between my legs. He looks up to meet my eyes. Before I have a chance to decipher his wicked grin he’s twisting the fabric of my thong in his hand, his fingers shredding the delicate fabric as he rips it from my body. I do yelp at the burning sensation where the elastic bites into my skin.
     “Caitlyn you need to keep quiet,” he breathes as he bends me back further, placing his mouth in the hollow of my throat, his hand once again cupping my sex. I squeak at the contact and feel his smile against my skin.
     “You’re already hot and wet for me.” He raises his head to look into my face. “I do like that, sugar. I like that very much.”

Author Bio:
Rivi Jacks has a lifelong love of books, and she is a true believer in holding onto a good love story. One reason her attic and barn are full of the books she has collected through the years.

She lives in the Missouri Ozarks on a farm with her husband, and when not writing or reading, she likes to take long walks down country roads, cook, fish, and spend time with family and friends.

Rivi has published two books, and she is currently working on the second book of the Sweetwater series.


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Eve of All Hallows by Natalie-Nicole Bates

Title: Eve of All Hallows
Author: Natalie-Nicole Bates
Genre: Paranormal Romance Novella
Release Dates: October 17, 2015(Publisher) December 17, 2015(Amazon)
Summary:
As Jamie travels the world in search of fulfillment, she arrives in Majorca the day before Halloween. Almost immediately, she realizes all is not what it seems. There are no tourists, and everyone is just a bit -- different. She meets a local tattooist named Carlito, a native of Peru. The attraction is instantaneous and intense. He makes her an unbelievable offer. But whether it means heaven or horror, she is not sure. When the Eve of All Hallows meets All Saints Day only Fate can decide the outcome.


I think I will enjoy my time here.

Very much.

I’m taking in that magnificent view while I swirl a glass of red wine. Sometimes a girl gets lucky. It’s well past midnight now, but I can’t sleep. Beyond the beauty of my surroundings, of the warmth on my skin this late in the year, is the sound of the sea. I am truly alone in my own little nirvana. No one knows where I am, and I don’t care.

There’s a flash of movement from the corner of my eye. Maybe I’m not as alone as I thought. My heart flutters a little. Then I see him walking the beach towards the water, under the great moon above. My magnificent view just got even more spectacular. He’s fully naked.

My attention is riveted now as I sip my wine. I can’t see a lot of detail in the darkness, but I can see he is tall, with long hair. Nicely built, and if my eyes don’t deceive me, well-endowed as well. Now, this is a very interesting development.

I watch as he enters the water, and I shiver just a little as if my own skin was touched by the cool waters. He disappears momentarily beneath the dark sea, and emerges, throwing back his long hair. I know I should look away, I should respect his privacy, but I cannot. I am a voyeur in my own little world.

I’m not really sure how much time I spend watching him. Perhaps only a few minutes, maybe even an hour. He emerges from the waves, a mere silhouette now in the moonlight. He stops and looks straight to me. My first reaction is to want to drop to the floor. But my mind tells me he cannot see me in the darkness.

So, if he cannot see me, why does he stare in my direction?


Author Bio:
Natalie-Nicole Bates is a book reviewer and author.

Her passions in life include books and hockey along with Victorian and Edwardian era photography and antique poison bottles. Natalie contributes her uncharacteristic love of hockey to being born in Russia.

She currently resides in the UK where she is working on her next book and adding to her collection of 19th century post-mortem photos.


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