Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sunday's Safe Word Shelf: Totally Covered by Sean Michael


Summary:
Mal has been Burke and Darby’s sub for many years. As an undercover cop, he needs the release his once a quarter visits give him. Burke and Darby get a lot of out of the visits, too. Both Doms, it’s important for them to share a sub now and then to keep them on an even keel.

All that changes, though, when Mal is shot on the job and needs to stay with Burke and Darby during his recovery. Can his Doms bring Mal out of the funk his last undercover stint has left him in? Or will the three of them finally go their separate ways?


Loved this tale of two Doms caring for Mal, their sub.  It is pretty obvious that Darby and Burke love their boy while they try and balance everyday care for his physical health recovery with the sub-space they know his head and heart crave.  I will admit that I think Totally Covered could have been a bit better had we learned more of what Mal went through while undercover but that probably says more about my love for drama than anything else.  I can also safely say that I look forward to re-reading this novella for years to come.

RATING: 


Burke was surprisingly nervous.

It wasn’t like they hadn’t been friends with Malcolm for over twelve years. It wasn’t like Malcolm hadn’t been to the house hundreds of times in those last twelve years. They’d shared wine, laughter, good food, wild sex. They’d loved on Malcolm, torn him inside out and rebuilt him countless times. They were Malcolm’s ground. They broke him and put him back together so that he could keep doing his job.

Being an undercover cop was stressful.

Malcolm didn’t have family or friends. He had Burke and Darby. And they liked it like that. It meant they could play hard without having to bring someone new into their relationship. Hell, Malcolm was their sub in all but a few practicalities; that he didn’t live with them was the biggest.

All that had changed when Malcolm had been shot two weeks ago. Their lover had been hurt on the job before but never like this, never in a life-threatening manner. Malcolm had stayed with them many times in the past, but this time he was coming to recuperate from a physical hurt, not a mental or emotional one, and Burke found himself nervous.

Darby chuckled. “Babe. Relax. It’s Malcolm.”

“I know, but…”

“But you’re worried he’s going to find out you’re a closet baker?”

Burke threw the pillow he’d been moving from one couch to the other at Dar. “Ass.”

Dar plucked the pillow out of the air and turned to wiggle his butt in Burke’s direction. “I thought I saw you admiring it.”

He rolled his eyes, but couldn’t help laughing, relaxing. Dar knew him so well.

Warm, strong hands landed on his arms, Dar giving him a little shake and looking him in the eye. “Malcolm needs us, just like always. Would you have him turn to anyone else in his time of need?”

Burke’s “No!” was immediate and heartfelt. No, Malcolm was theirs.

Maybe that was the problem—he and Darby knew that, had known it for over a decade. Malcolm, on the other hand… Well, their boy still believed he had a choice, still believed he wasn’t impossibly entwined with them. Burke didn’t know if Malcolm was ready to discover that he was indeed home when he was with his Doms.

The doorbell rang, and Burke growled a little as he headed to let Malcolm in. “I still don’t understand why he didn’t let us pick him up from the hospital.”

“Because he’s still the most stubborn son-of-bitch you’ve ever met—he was shot in the chest and belly, not the head.”

Snorting, Burke flung open the door.

“Hey.” Mal stood there, bag in hand, white as milk and swaying. “I’m here.”

Thank God, they’d seen him every day in the hospital, so they knew that the heavy muscles had become lean, that the short, short black hair was shaggy now. This undercover assignment might have destroyed Mal, even if the bullets hadn’t hit him.

Burke kept his growls inside and bit back his complaints about Mal not letting them come pick him up. Instead, he stepped up and wrapped an arm around Mal’s waist, taking the man’s bag in his other hand. “Welcome home, boy.”

“I…I’ll go look for a new apartment soon, huh? I just can’t face the storage building.”

Burke snorted again and glared at Darby. Say something, damn it.

Darby chuckled and took the bag from him. “We’re not going to kick you out, Mal. You don’t need to stress anything. Now, is Burke taking you to bed? Or will you lie down on the man-eating couch and visit and doze there?”

“Couch, please. I don’t ever want to see another bed again.”

“I’ll take your bag to our bedroom.” Darby kissed Mal’s cheek and disappeared down the hall.

Burke led Mal over to their huge, cushiony, comfy couch and carefully laid him down. “What do you need?”

Mal opened his mouth, then closed it again.

Burke sat next to Mal and carefully folded him into a hug. “Baby. You’re home now. You’re safe.”

“I know.”

But Mal didn’t believe it. Not yet. Burke could see that. Mal would, though. He and Darby would make it happen.

Darby came back, sitting on the other side of Mal. “Where are your meds, baby?”

“There’s a huge Ziploc bag in my stuff. All the instructions and pills and gauze and shit.”

Burke had never known someone hurt so badly that the hospital made them go stay with a caretaker.

“I’ll get them. When did you have your last pill?” Darby was a psychiatrist, and while he rarely practiced anymore—some well-timed investments had ensured they were both set for life—it did make him the doctor in the house.

“They gave me everything at noon.”

“Okay, I’ll figure out what you need and when, and we’ll make sure you get it.” Dar stroked Mal’s head. “Now, how are you really feeling?”

“I’m fine. Tired, a little.”

“What do you want to eat?” Their Dar was such a nurturer.

“I don’t. I’m sorry. I just want to sit here.”

“You’ll have to eat something eventually—I’m sure most of your pills demand it.” Darby kissed Mal again and went back down the hall. Probably to find Mal’s meds and make him food.

“You want a movie or something?” Burke asked.

“I don’t know, Key. I don’t know.” Mal looked nearly panicked.

“Hey.” He cupped Mal’s cheek, waiting until the green eyes met his. “Dar and me, we’ve got you.”

“I should go home. I… Key, I just…” The thin lips squeezed tight, sealing off the flow of words. “I’m cool.”

“No, you are not, Mal. The doctors said you needed care. Hell, I’m no doctor, and I can see that you need.” His words started coming out growly, and he just couldn’t help it. “You know you can accept our help willingly. It doesn’t have to be a fight.”

“I know. I just. I just need to sit here and try to remember how to breathe.”

“You know how to breathe, boy.” This was familiar territory for them. He dropped his voice and took long, slow breaths. “It’s just in…and…out… Follow me, boy.”

Mal took a few breaths, following him, chest rising and falling. Then he leapt up from the sofa, moving away from Burke. “I can’t. I can’t. Oh, God.”

Burke stood as well, moving to intercept Mal. “Baby, you have to relax.”

“I-I-I have to.” Mal was panting, pale, sweat pouring off him.

Burke slipped completely into Dom mode. “You have to tell me what’s wrong, boy.”

Darby came back, huge baggie of pills and shit in hand. “Mal? Why are you standing up?”

“Because he’s stressing and forgetting how to be a good boy.” Burke grabbed Mal’s hand. “Come back to the couch.”

Mal’s palms were wet, fingers shaking. “I can’t breathe.”

Burke dropped his mouth over Mal’s, forcing the man to breathe with him. Mal whimpered, shaking for him, against him. He refused to back down; just because Mal was hurt physically didn’t mean Burke was going to back down.

He wasn’t worried so much about the physical. He was afraid time with that motherfucker had broken Mal’s soul.

He bit at Mal’s lower lip, making sure he had their boy’s full attention. Slowly, carefully he began to walk Mal back to the sofa. Their lover needed rest.

Dar helped him get Mal back on the couch, settled and propped up as comfortably as possible among the pillows. “Now. You’re going to take it easy. You’re going to let us pamper you. And you’re going to get well.” Dar waited until Mal looked up at him before continuing. “The instructions say to wear the waterproof bandages in the shower for the next few days, cover the stitches. You have antibiotics, muscle relaxants, stool softeners, pain pills, anti-anxiety pills… You’re a walking pharmacy.”

Mal winked at Darby. “It’s what happens when you take three bullets.”

Burke pressed his lips together, trying not to growl at the flip attitude. He knew Mal was just trying to deal, but their lover had almost been killed, and he couldn’t find any humor in that.

“Yeah, and the rumor is you weren’t in great shape before that.” Burke met Darby’s eyes. They’d talked to Luis. Mal’s partner had said he’d never seen anyone so strung out who was still doing their job.

To his surprise, Mal didn’t make a snappy comeback—proof their lover wasn’t himself. Mal just closed his eyes for a few seconds, then they popped back open.

Burke mouthed, “rope,” at Dar, who nodded and disappeared again. He stroked Mal’s cheek, looked into his lover’s eyes. “I’m going to help you relax, boy.”

“Just give me my pills?”

“Nope. You need to eat to take most of them. Ah, here’s Dar now.” He took the red rope from his lover. “I’m going to tie you, Mal. Bind your legs together. Bind your arms to your torso.” That way, Mal would have to be still, wouldn’t be able to get up. And Mal wouldn’t have to worry about trying to sit and stay.

“I don’t know.” Mal shook his head. “I can’t. I’m not ready for a scene.”

This wasn’t a scene. This was a safe place. This would always be Mal’s safe place.

“This isn’t a scene, baby.” He kissed the side of Mal’s mouth and with Dar’s help, worked the rope gently around Mal’s torso and arms. He didn’t do it tightly; this was more for Mal’s mind than his body.

“I just want a pill. They help.” Mal’s fingers opened and closed.

Burke took a second piece of rope and tied Mal’s right hand, looping the rope around his fingers. Then he did the same to Mal’s other hand before binding Mal’s ankles together.

“I’ll get you a strawberry milk shake, Mal. You get down a bit of that, and you can take your pills.” Dar patted Mal’s shoulder and went to the kitchen.

Mal looked at him. “I need you to let me go.”

Burke knew better. The ropes weren’t for more than show, more than a way to help Mal relax; they weren’t hurting Mal. Hell, Mal could get out of them without too much effort, even.

He stroked Mal’s hair back off his face. “We can wash this later.” Mal would feel better if he wasn’t mired in hospital funk.

“I want it gone. All of it. As soon as I can.”

“Why?” Burke thought Mal looked good with a little more hair.

“It’s heavy. It smells. It’s tangled all the time.”

“Well, if you wash and brush it now and then… I know these are foreign things,” he teased.

Mal almost chuckled for him. Almost. Burke took it as a victory.

“Oh, here’s Dar with your strawberry smoothie. I know it’s your favorite.”

“Milkshake. He makes me milkshakes.”

“Smoothies, milkshake.” Burke shrugged. It was all the same thing to him, really. “So you have something in your stomach when you take your pills.”

“I’d like that.”

Dar held the straw up to Mal’s mouth. “Suck, baby.” The words were familiar, but they usually meant something else…

Mal took a drink, and it broke Burke’s heart, to see how much effort that took. Dar cajoled him into several more mouthfuls before feeding him the pills. Mal began to fade, his blinking becoming more and more slow.

Dar sat on the other side of Mal, and together, they pet, murmured, and encouraged Mal to fall asleep. When Mal’s eyes finally closed, Burke looked over at his lover.

Dar blew out a breath and relaxed back against the cushions. “We have quite the task in front of us, babe.”

“Good thing we’re stubborn.”

Dar chuckled, nodding. “The only person I know who is possibly more stubborn than you is Mal.”

Burke snorted. “The only person I know who is more stubborn than me is you.”

“Then we’ll do just fine.” Dar winked at him.

He hoped so. Mal looked so fucking tired.

“Lover.” Dar waited until he looked up and met those dark blue eyes. “We’re going to get him through this.”

God, Burke loved that confidence. Dar was always there when he needed the man to be. He nodded. They would get through it.

Between him and Dar, they would bring Mal back to the land of the living.

Author Bio:
Often referred to as "Space Cowboy" and "Gangsta of Love" while still striving for the moniker of "Maurice," Sean Michael spends his days surfing, smutting, organizing his immense gourd collection and fantasizing about one day retiring on a small secluded island peopled entirely by horseshoe crabs. While collecting vast amounts of vintage gay pulp novels and mood rings, Sean whiles away the hours between dropping the f-bomb and persuing the kama sutra by channeling the long lost spirit of John Wayne and singing along with the soundtrack to "Chicago."

A long-time writer of complicated haiku, currently Sean is attempting to learn the advanced arts of plate spinning and soap carving sex toys.

Barring any of that? He'll stick with writing his stories, thanks, and rubbing pretty bodies together to see if they spark.

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Sale Blitz: Liberty by Kim Iverson Headlee

Title:  Liberty
Author:  Kim Iverson Headlee 
Genre:  Historical Romance, Ancient Rome
Release Date: December 16, 2014

🌟 Currently 99cents March 3-7 🌟
Summary:
How hard would you fight for a chance at impossible love?

“Epic.” ~ Drue’s Random Chatter Reviews.

From the critically acclaimed, award-winning pen of Kim Iverson Headlee comes the thrilling, poignant tale of love across a vast social divide.

WINNER, 2015 BooksGoSocial Best Book.

Betrayed by her father and sold as payment of a Roman tax debt to fight in Londinium's arena, gladiatrix-slave Rhyddes feels like a wild beast in a gilded cage. Celtic warrior blood flows in her veins, but Roman masters own her body. She clings to her vow that no man shall claim her soul, though Marcus Calpurnius Aquila, son of the Roman governor, makes her yearn for a love she believes impossible.

Groomed to follow in his father’s footsteps and trapped in a politically advantageous betrothal, Aquila prefers the purity of combat on the amphitheater sands to the sinister intrigues of imperial politics, and the raw power and athletic grace of the flame-haired Libertas to the adoring deference of Rome's noblewomen.

When a plot to overthrow Caesar ensnares them as pawns in the dark design, Aquila must choose between the Celtic slave who has won his heart and the empire to which they both owe allegiance. Trusting no man and knowing the opposite of obedience is death, the only liberty offered to any slave, Rhyddes must embrace her arena name, Libertas—and the love of a man willing to sacrifice everything to forge a future with her.


Marcus Calpurnius Aquila sprawled on his belly across the cushioned and linen-draped marble massage table, his head, arms, shins, and feet jutting over the table’s padded edges. As the male slave worked eucalyptus-scented unguent into the aching muscles, Marcus could feel the tensions of combat seep away.

Too bad the man couldn’t work out the knots in Marcus’s relationship with his father, Sextus Calpurnius Agricola, governor of Britannia province.

Citing “official business” yet again, Agricola had declined to witness Marcus’s gladiatorial bout in Londinium’s amphitheater this afternoon. His opponent had fought well, causing Marcus in his scanty armor to work up a sweat that, judging by the reverberating high-pitched cheers, had all the women swooning with delight.

Never mind that Marcus, who fought under his cognomen, Aquila, the Eagle, remained a perennial favorite with the crowd. Agricola never missed an opportunity to point out that his arena exhibitions—and the resulting private liaisons with adoring female spectators—flirted with the precipice of social acceptability and could damage Marcus’s political aspirations.





Author Bio:
Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, Great Pyrenees goat guards, and assorted wildlife. People and creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins—the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-twentieth century—seem to be sticking around for a while yet. She has been an award-winning novelist since 1999 (Dawnflight first edition, Sonnet Books, Simon & Schuster) and has been studying the Arthurian Legends for nigh on half a century.

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