Friday, October 30, 2015

Random Paranormal Tales Part 11

Death by Dragon by Madeleine Ribbon
Fell Harwick, half-incubus and witch extraordinaire, knows how he'll die. Ever since he was a child, he's had visions of a dragon tearing him to pieces. Since he's not terribly fond of the idea--and the power-hungry vampire that killed his mother is now after him for his unprecedented healing abilities--he's gone into hiding. But when a pair of shifters get shot in front of his cabin in the woods, he feels obligated to keep them safe.

Jett and Theodore are members of the local resistance, fighting against the same vamp that wants Fell. Theodore is a beautiful, tragic mess, and Jett hates all incubi on principle--something Fell finds out as he tries to take energy to power his healing magic.

Jett and Fell might have been able to work around one paranormal prejudice. Jett even encourages Fell into sex with Theodore when he needs energy. But then Fell discovers that his future killer has been sleeping on his couch.

A Ghost of a Chance by Josh Lanyon
Over a century ago Illusionist David Berkeley committed suicide in his mansion by the sea, thus dooming his restless spirit to wander forever. Or so the local legend goes...

Professor Rhys Davies, a part-time parapsychologist, is writing a book on California hauntings and he believes the crumbling ruins of Berkeley House will make a terrific chapter -- if he can gain access to the house and grounds. The only obstacle is brooding cop and self-appointed caretaker, Sam Devlin. As obstacles go, Devlin is a big one.

But you know what they say. The bigger they are, the harder they fall...

"Ghost of a Chance" first appeared in the 2007 anthology, Scared Stiff, where Josh joined best-selling authors William Maltese, Sarah Black and Laura Baumbach for a quartet of very different stories of m/m supernatural doings that had readers panting (in more ways than one) under the covers.

Another great story by Josh Lanyon and another superb addition to my Halloween library.  Rhys and Sam may seem like complete opposites on the surface but underneath they mesh perfectly.  A Ghost of a Chance offers up a little bit of everything: mystery, paranormal, romance, and of course two equally stubborn men butting heads.


Angel of Darkness by Tyler May
M/M paranormal romance between a blind vampire and his human lover. Because of explicit sexual scenes and adult language this book is intended for readers 18+

After a tragic event in his life, Christian Bowman found sanctuary in reading and developed an obsession with the paranormal and vampires. Now twenty-one, Christian fantasies come to life when he meets Zander, a blind vampire. A fantasy he’s only dreamt about. But will that dream turn into a nightmare when he sees just how dark and dangerous living in a vampire’s world can be? Is their love strong enough to withstand obstacles one could only imagine?

Christian is in love with his Angel of Darkness…..But is there a happily-ever-after in a vampire’s world?

They have a past, but can they have a future?

Romanus by Mary Calmes
Stopping to offer help one sultry summer night, Mason James is unprepared for the change that this simple act of kindness will bring. After giving an old man a ride home, Mason discovers a new, magical, and even dangerous world he cannot hope to understand. But he also finds Luc Toussaint and is intoxicated at first sight... and even the secret Luc protects won't be enough to keep Mason away from the truth of his heritage and their love.

Something Wicked by Robin Moray
Witches always come in threes. For the Mallory clan, those three are Artemis, Bella, and … well, Kevin.

Disappointingly normal, Kevin has spent his life in the shadow of his siblings, one brilliant, the other staggeringly powerful. But when the killing of a witch up on Cairn Hill coincides with the arrival of a handsome stranger in their sleepy home-town, Kevin finds himself going undercover to untangle the mystery behind the murder. He knows better than to get too close to a witch-killer, but as the connection between them deepens, Kevin can't help falling under Peter's spell.

Can Kevin keep his true nature secret? Or will he give it all to a man who can destroy him?

On the trail of a rogue witch, Peter never expected to meet anyone like Kevin Mallory. He can't let himself be distracted by green eyes and strong hands; he has his duty, and his duty is everything. But as tensions wind them both to breaking point, Peter finds it harder and harder to resist what his every instinct tells him to do.

Will Peter deny temptation to do his duty? Or will he risk everything for the one thing he never knew he needed?

Witches, witch hunters, warlocks, oh my.  I have never read this author before but I will be keeping an eye out for more.  Kevin is hard not to like, you just want to wrap him up in a hug and let him know how much power he really has.  Peter's certainty that all witches are evil will definitely try your patience but we all have lessons to learn, how Peter and Kevin come to terms with the truths makes for a very good story.  I didn't really think I was going to like Artemis too much at first but he proves to be a better brother than I expected.  Throw in the evil warlock and boy is this a great addition to your paranormal reading.

Death by Dragon
I was drinking beer and playing video games in my one-room log cabin thirty minutes outside Des Moines the night reality came crashing down around my ears.

I pretended to be DragonHunter42, the broad-shouldered warrior with watermelon-sized biceps and sharply chiseled abs, instead of Fell Harwick, the pathetically nerdy and scrawny-assed witch.

I didn’t mind being a witch in the real world. I was damned good when it came down to things like magical wards, shields, and healing. Hell, I was one of the only witches who had such impressive healing abilities. I could take care of just about anything. Broken bones, the common cold, poison ivy, or cancer--it didn’t matter. I had yet to come across anything I couldn’t heal. Then again, my witchiness had a little something extra thrown in thanks to my dad, who happened to be an Immortal, though I’d never met the ass.

But the witches in massive online gaming universes were simply unrealistic, so I stayed away from playing them. Besides, the warriors were hotter. Not that I popped a boner over pixels or whatever. Nope. Not me.

The plan for the evening was to level up my latest online RPG character by killing garishly rendered dragons. I’ve always had a bias against anything with scales. It didn’t help that I’d had vividly graphic visions about my eventual death-by-dragon ever since I was a kid. My visions always came true, no matter what I tried to change, so I knew that someday I’d have a dragon ripping my chest open with claws the size of greatswords. I didn’t know when. I didn’t know why. I didn’t know where. But I knew how. That little tidbit of info was enough to make me stay away from all things lizard-like.

As a result, my incredibly handsome avatar, who had wavy brown hair similar to mine and none of my other physical traits, was very good at killing dragons. Really, that’s all I’d been doing since I moved to my isolated little cabin in the woods last year.

I didn’t dare leave the house more than I had to. I’d been avoiding other hybrids, and I’d been doing an excellent job at it. The leader of the local hybrid community, some asshole vamp named Anthony, knew the guy who wanted to make my life a living hell.

Hybrids like me--creatures that could be killed but weren’t human, like vampires, shifters, and witches--were all about their little governments and trying to keep altercations among different factions to a minimum so they didn’t expose themselves to humans and break the laws of Silence. The true supernaturals--immortal creatures like demons, angels, djinn, incubi, and Sasquatch--didn’t typically interact with the humans and wrinkled their noses at the thought of dealing with hybrids, unless the hybrids were stupid enough to break the laws of Silence. Then a select group of Immortals and a few very powerful hybrids, called the Keepers of Silence, came and wiped out the guilty hybrids, the scared-shitless humans, and just about everyone else they determined was involved.

I wanted to stay away from Immortals because their presence in the human realm usually meant the rules of Silence had been broken, and they were there for slaughter. I wanted to stay away from hybrids because they tended to want to use my particular witchy talents for their own gain, and I just wasn’t okay with that.

Unfortunately, an Immortal kept tripping my wards every month or so. Whether or not my mystery watcher would kill me anytime soon was up for debate. He hadn’t tried yet, and he’d had plenty of opportunity over the last eight years. I didn’t think I’d done anything to deserve death, but apparently the Immortals thought it was only a matter of time before I fucked up. Therefore, they must have assigned me a babysitter.

I was doing better hiding from the hybrids. So far.

I had gone to grab another beer before moving on to the next part of the digital dungeon, when my wards got set off en masse. I closed my eyes and reached out with my magic, feeling for the great nets of protection I’d cast over and around my little neck of the woods.

Shit. I’d gone too long since strengthening the magic. The ward to keep shifters out was unraveling like a bad knitting project, and nothing I did could save it. Whoever wanted onto my property felt pretty damned desperate, throwing themselves at my magic with so much force the shock waves vibrated right through my spine. For a moment, I thought it would hold just long enough to convince them to take off, but no. There was a massive lurch in my gut--more attackers trying to get in?--and the last threads dissipated as shifters burst onto my land.

I didn’t have much energy, but I threw what I could spare into the invisibility ward around my log house, making sure it was strong enough to keep all signs of occupation hidden from view. That ward, at least, was almost fully powered and kept certain things--like my cabin, my truck, and myself--from existing in the brain of anyone not attached to the land on a metaphysical level.

Somewhere in the trees, a series of pops went off. It was louder than a string of firecrackers, and I tightened my grip on the neck of the cold bottle. I’d heard gunshots around here before, but only during hunting season and never so close. Somebody on my property had a gun. I took a fortifying swig of my beer and walked to the window.

If I’d been smart and restrengthened the wards earlier in the week, shifters wouldn’t have been able to get onto my land, let alone this close to my cabin, but there they were. Several of the shifters I’d been avoiding all year ran across the clearing and over my rock driveway, chased closely by a dozen idiot humans with guns firing wildly. How they didn’t accidentally hit each other in that hail of bullets was a damned miracle.

Motherfucker. Here was the excuse to kill me the Immortals had been looking for. Someone had broken the Silence. Every one of those humans was going to die as soon as the Immortals got involved.

My ward against vamps flickered and tugged in the pit of my stomach as someone a quarter of a mile away tried to cross onto my land, but that particular net of magic held fast. At least something was going right tonight.

The shifters came my way. Three coyotes and a naked man sprinted hell for leather across my little grassy patch of yard and straight toward my garden.

I had no desire to get in the middle of this--especially if Silence had been broken--but I knew I had to act. There was something about the man on the wrong end of the guns that drew me to him and forced me to take action.

It helped that he was pretty fucking hot, even covered in dirt and blood.

Therefore, I would have to go outside and face twelve angry men with guns. At least my witchy magic could deal with a few stray bullets, even with my low energy. I tried not to think about how I would have to deal with the coyote pack after rescuing some of their own. Not even the fact that the furry bastards would now owe me a favor if they did, indeed, survive made me a happy camper. The pack would know where I lived now. I was going to have to move.

If the Immortals didn’t just firebomb us all to hell first.

Another barrage of shots sounded. Two of the coyotes went crashing to the ground. The naked man, already shot and bleeding, pushed himself in front of the remaining coyote with his arms outspread. The humans pulled their triggers, and I hurled my magic toward their targets. A couple bullets made it before I got my barrier around the human and his fuzzy friend. I winced as he fell onto the pile of gray fur. Shit. If I wanted to keep anybody alive, I had to move.

I picked up my beer bottle and pushed the cabin’s heavy oak door open.

I was on my way to confront reality while in a very grumpy mood.

The horde had trampled the tall grass of the clearing flatter than a pancake. They’d stamped through the garden I’d taken most of the spring to cultivate, if only so I didn’t have to buy groceries as often. They halted right in front of the cabin. I wrapped my invisibility ward tightly around me, crept out the door, and stepped into the fray. Both sides of the slaughter looked too focused on each other to see me anyway.

At least I had the home-field advantage. Never cross witches on our own turf--we’re nearly always unbeatable if we know our shit. And I knew my shit. Well, the parts of it I’d focused on learning when I had a teacher, at least.

I took another sip of beer and released myself from the invisibility ward. The darkness still hid me, and I doubted very much that anyone would notice, even if I started shouting and jumping up and down. They were far too busy shooting, though none of the bullets hit their targets now that I was throwing shields out left and right.

I thought very, very hard about a large ball of light and reached out with the thin, vining tendrils of my power. I drew a deep breath and pushed the light into existence several feet above my head. With this one act, I too was breaking Silence, though it might not count since the humans already knew. Probably. I hoped it wouldn’t get me killed, anyway.

The light flashed brightly above my head. Everyone stopped.

“Hey, idiots!” I hollered through the drifting smoke.” Whatever the hell you think you’re doing right now needs to happen somewhere else!”

The guns turned on me now, and as I stepped forward, I took in the scene before me. The coyote bodies and the blood-covered man lay on the ground in the middle of my garden, all riddled with holes and bleeding profusely. I probed them with my magic. The man and one coyote had faint heartbeats--still alive, though unconscious. The largest coyote had a bullet hole through the forehead and stared up at the tree canopy with luminous, sightless eyes. The last body was practically shredded from all the bullet wounds.

I’d acted too late for both of them. The little fact that those coyotes were also people intruded into my thoughts. My stomach turned, and the sharp nausea jostled my memory. I’d have to check my journals to make sure, but I was pretty certain I’d seen this before. Not that the vision had done me any good.

I tried to push the bodies from my mind. I couldn’t do anything for the dead.

I could do something for the living, though. Healing the others was going to hurt like a bitch and possibly cost me my life once the Immortals got involved. Maybe that dragon I’d been dreaming about was a shifter working for the Keepers of the Silence. That’d make sense.

Still, unless the two living shifters had been the ones to break Silence and show the humans what they were, they were innocent. If I could get them healthy, they’d live. And I didn’t think they’d broken Silence, or the naked man would be in his shifter form.

I took another drink--mostly as a play for time, since my stomach was already as shaky as a bicycle on a gravel road--and surveyed the men with the guns. I knew one of them from the city. He was a carefully closeted mechanic at a cheap little garage who had tried to pick me up when my truck had broken down a few months ago. Hell, he was the last guy I’d taken energy from when I let him kiss me behind the tire display.

I caught his eye and raised an eyebrow. He paled and backed up a step, as if I’d out him right then and there.

The crack of a gun sounded. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised as a bullet flew in my general direction, but the projectile caught me embarrassingly off guard. I jumped a mile and almost spilled my beer as my metaphysical shielding forced it to a halt. While the men stared dumbly at me and my blinding light, I manipulated my invisibility ward into concealing the two still-living creatures lying in the shadows of my strawberry patch. To the humans, their bodies would have disappeared from the blood-covered ground.

None of the gun-toting men noticed the vanishing act. All eyes remained focused on me.

“Why in the flaming pits of hell do you idiots seem to think that my land is the best place for a furry massacre?” I folded my arms over my chest. “I’m fairly sure there are ‘no hunting’ and ‘no trespassing’ signs along the perimeter, for all the good they’ve done.”

“Who are you?” A short man with a barrel chest and a bald head took a step forward, gun still pointed quite steadily at my head.

“Unless you have some sort of temporal distortion happening, I think I asked my question first,” I said.

“You don’t have the gun, boy.” He looked me up and down, sneering.

“Did you just miss the part where I stopped the bullet with my mind?” I didn’t feel like smiling, but I dazzled the group with the biggest grin I could. There were two half-dead creatures counting on me to pull off the performance of my life. “In any case, don’t aim for the beer. That’s rude and a potential waste of perfectly good alcohol.” I hefted the bottle in the air to emphasize my point.

I’d never really thought about how sudden movements and jumpy men with guns didn’t mix until a dozen shots fired straight at me.

I got a spectacularly perverse satisfaction in watching the bullets halt a few feet from my body. I was lucky that little shielding trick didn’t take up much energy. I was nearly drained from the camouflaging stunt, and I’d need what little I had for healing when this confrontation finally ended.

The men stared at me with a wide array of gaping fish faces. The bullets hit the ground with dull thuds. I was going to have to pick metal out of my garden for days.

If I was still alive to deal with it, anyway.

“What geniuses you all are. Want to revisit round one of questioning again?”

“What are you?” the man asked, this time in a voice vastly less arrogant and quite a bit more frightened than the last time he spoke.

“I am a man who happens to take offense at having a slaughter happen right outside my front door. You have now taken my peace from me. And you killed my buzz.” I leveled a flat gaze at the man and made myself not blink for quite some time. “Should I call the cops?”

“We’re the police,” one of the men said from the perimeter, and I switched my gaze to him in an instant.

“You?” I let my disbelief shine like neon lights. “You crazy dog-killing fuckers have badges, do you?”

“They’re a bastardization of nature,” the man said, but he wouldn’t look at me.

“Werewolves,” another whispered.

“Right. You,” I gestured at the crowd with my bottle, “all of you, need to go in for a mental examination. Take your bodies and get off my lawn,” I said, pointing down at the two coyotes still visible. After a couple of seconds of silence that would have done a corpse proud, chaos erupted.

“Where the hell did the man go?”

“I shot the little fucker dead. I know it.”

“This way--they had to have gone this way.”

As they scrambled around to find traces of their lost prey, I wrapped the invisible wards around myself once again and pulled myself into obscurity. Only one of the men--the supposed cop--looked around for me before taking off, though he didn’t seem all that surprised to find me missing.

Somebody had been leaking secrets, and hell was going to descend upon us all as a result.

A Ghost of a Chance
Like the philosophers say, the line between genius and stupidity is a fine one.

Actually, it wasn’t the philosophers, it was Nigel in Spinal Tap, but the point is still a valid one. Which is why what seemed like a perfectly good idea at the time—namely, prying off the screen and crawling through the open window of Oliver de la Motte’s front parlor —turned out to be a really bad decision.

It’s not like I hadn’t tried to use the key Oliver sent. I’d tried for about two minutes, turning the damn thing every possible way — not easy in the dark of three a.m., and not pleasant either with that clammy sea breeze on the back of my neck — and rustling the overgrown shrubs. Not that I’m the nervous type or I wouldn’t hunt ghosts for a living — well, for a hobby. No one hunts ghosts for a living.

When I couldn’t get the key to work I jumped off the porch and walked around the side of the house till I found an open window. Pulling out my pocket knife, I pried loose the screen, hoisted myself up and climbed through…

And that’s when all hell broke loose.

Something rushed out of the darkness and tackled me around the waist, hurling me to the hardwood floor. The very hard wood floor. My tailbone, elbows and skull all connected painfully. My glasses went flying.

“Christ!” I yelped, trying to get away.

“Guess again,” growled a deep voice.


Definitely human. And male. Definitely male. I was wrestling six feet or so of hard, lean male. Naked hard, lean male. Definitely not Oliver who is sixty-something and built like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. And no one else was supposed to be here. Was my assailant a burglar? A naked burglar? The guy had muscles like rocks — speaking of which: I brought my knee up hard.

His breath went out in an infuriated whoosh. His weight rolled off me. I rolled over and tried to crawl away, but the rug beneath me bunched up and slid my way. A small table crashed down just missing my head, and I heard glass smash on the floor.

“You little son of a bitch,” said the burglar who was probably not a burglar, looming over me.

I tried to scoot away, but a knee jammed into my spine pinning me flat. He grabbed my right arm and yanked it back so hard I thought he’d dislocated it. The pain was unreal. I stopped fighting.

For a minute there was nothing but the ragged sound of our breathing in the darkness. Then he reached past me and turned on the table lamp.
I had a blurred view of a forest of scratched claw-foot furniture, miles of parquet floors and a herd of dust bunnies. I could make out my glasses a few feet away beneath a wide ottoman.

“I don’t understand what’s happening here,” I got out.

“What part do you not understand?” he inquired grimly.

“Who are you?”

It must not have been the question he expected. “Who the hell are you?” He didn’t ease up on my spine, but there was something in his tone…a hint of doubt beneath the hostility.

“Rhys Davies. I’m a - a friend of Oliver’s.”

He made a disgusted sound. “Yeah, you and every other cheap hustler in the greater metropolitan area—”

“Cheap hustler!” I’m sorry to say that came out sounding way too much like a squeak. The squeak factor was partly due to the fact that with every shallow breath I inhaled his hot-off-the-sheets scent. He’d had a shower before bed, and that sleepy soapy skin smell was even more alarming than the fear he was going to crack my vertebrae.

“Oh, sorry,” he said, not sounding sorry at all. “Cheap is the wrong word. These things are never cheap.”

“Things?” I repeated. “I’m not…you’ve got this all wrong.”

“Is that right?” He seemed unimpressed.

I requested with an effort, “Could you ease up on my arm?”

He let go of my arm. It flopped weakly down. I flexed my fingers, surprised that they still seemed to work.

“What are you doing here?” he asked. “Oliver’s out of town for the next month.”

“I could ask you the same question.”

“Yeah, but I asked first.” He patted me down with brisk, impersonal efficiency. “If you’re not one of Oliver’s boy toys, what are you? Reporter? You’re not a burglar, that’s for sure.”

And neither, obviously, was he. So who the hell was he?

“I told you who I am,” I bit out. “I’m a friend of Oliver’s. He invited me to stay.”

His weight shifted off my back, and he ran his hands along the outside of my legs — then the inside. He seemed to know what he was doing, but it was invasive to say the least. “Ever hear of knocking?”

“I didn’t know there was anyone to hear me knock. I tried my key — the key Oliver sent. It didn’t work.”

“Your key?” He felt over my crotch with what felt like unnecessary familiarity. And in a tone I didn’t like, he said, “I see.”

“Hey! Then what’s with the Braille!” I recoiled as much as you can with two hundred plus pounds of beef pinning you to the floor.

He hesitated, but only an instant, before pulling my wallet out of my back pocket. He thumbed through it, taking his time.

“Rice Davies,” he said.

“It’s pronounced Reece,” I retorted, muffledly. “Like in Reese’s Pieces.”

Now why had I said that?

Amusement threaded his voice as he continued, “Ten forty-five Oakmont Street in West Hollywood. You’re a long way from home, Reece.”

Yes, apparently I had turned left after The Outer Limits. “Can I get up?”


He stepped out of range as I sat up, wincing. I looked up — a long way up. He was a big blur, I had an impression of dark hair, big shoulders narrowing to more darkness, and miles of long brown legs.

“Can I get my glasses?”

The blur stepped away, bent, retrieved my glasses and handed them to me.

I moved onto the settee and put them on. My hands were a little unsteady. I haven’t been in many fights. Not that academia isn’t a jungle, but generally we don’t end up brawling on the floor.

The man now sitting on the giant ottoman across from me came into sharp focus. He was not entirely naked after all. He wore cotton boxers with little red and blue boating flags, thin cotton very white against the deep brown of his tanned skin.

He stared back at me with equal curiosity.

His black hair was unruly — which could have been the result of an impromptu wrestling match. His eyes were very green in his tanned face. His features were too harsh to be good-looking. He looked…mean. But he wasn’t quite as burly as he’d seemed in the dark. About six feet of strong bones and hard muscle.

“You’re Oliver’s nephew,” I guessed, rubbing my wrenched shoulder. “The cop.”

Something changed in his expression, shuttered.

“Bright boy. That’s right. Sam Devlin.”

I didn’t know what to say. This was an unwelcome development, to say the least.

“I didn’t know you were staying here.”

He cocked a dark brow. “I didn’t know I needed your permission.”

“It’s just…I’m here to work.”

“What did you have in mind?” he asked dryly.

I remembered the leisurely way he’d groped me earlier and felt an uncharacteristic heat in my face.

“I teach a course in paranormal studies at UCLA,” I said. “I’m working on a book about ghost hunting along the California coast. Oliver invited me to stay here for a few days while I researched Berkeley House.”

I’m guessing most people never saw that particular expression on Sam Devlin’s face. After a moment he closed his jaw sharply. He studied me with narrowed green eyes.

“Well, well,” he said mildly. “A ghost buster.”

I hate that term. I hate that movie. Well, okay, there are funny bits: Rick Moranis as Louis Tully is a scream — but really. Not good for the image.

“Parapsychology is a science,” I said firmly.

“Yeah, weird science.” He considered me without pleasure. “This oughta be cozy,” he said finally. Planting his hands on his muscular thighs, he pushed up to his feet. “Okay, Mr. Pieces. I can’t see anyone making up a story that dumb. Help yourself to one of the bedrooms. I’m upstairs on the left. There are clean sheets and towels in the cupboard at the end of the hall.”

I stopped massaging my shoulder, gazing up at him doubtfully. “That’s it? You’re going to bed?”

“Did you have other plans, Professor?”

That was going to get old fast. I said a little sarcastically, “I thought you’d demand to see my teaching credential at the least.”

He said through a yawn, “Is that what they call it these days? I think it can wait ‘til morning.” Heading for the hallway, he tossed over his shoulder, “Impressive though it may be.”

I was treated to a final glimpse of his long brown legs vanishing up the staircase.

Of all the things I thought I would see on my drive home from the fire station, a naked old man stumbling down the middle of the road was the absolute last. Normally my response would have been immediate: I would have been out of my truck and over to him without even turning off my ancient Dodge Ram pickup. But I was tired—I had just come off double shifts—and so was not thinking as clearly as usual. I veered slowly around him, and he was framed in my rearview mirror before I realized what I was doing.

I slammed on the brakes, jolting awake, having been half-asleep behind the wheel. What the hell was I doing? I couldn’t drive around a staggering grandfather and leave him all alone on the two-lane road. Firemen didn’t do that. We helped people, even ran into burning buildings to get them out. We didn’t leave people behind.

It was so late, or early depending on how you looked at it, but either way the old man should have been home in bed. Putting on the hazard lights, I grabbed one of the two thick wool blankets I kept stashed behind my seat for not-quite-this-sort of occasion and got out of my truck. Firemen carried all sorts of emergency items in their vehicles just to be on the safe side, and I was no exception. As I jogged back toward the old man, I grew more and more worried the closer I got. He looked really confused.


He was looking around like he was trying to get his bearings, and when my voice reached him, he turned fast and snarled at me, eyes wide, hands curled into claws, baring his teeth. It was strange, and I took a step back but raised my hands to try and soothe him. When he lunged forward, I took several more steps back as he growled, swiping toward my face, trying to reach me.

“Please, sir,” I said, lowering my voice, making it soothing. “Let me help you. I wanna help you.”

His eyes were huge, the pupils completely dilated, and he was panting with his mouth open. He looked feverish and he was trembling, even though in the warm, sticky summer air, he should not have been cold.

I held up the blanket. “Sir, please, lemme help you… I really wanna help you.”

He closed his eyes tight for a moment, and when he opened them, I was struck by the milky blue eyes studying my face. I smiled at him with my brown ones, hoping that they conveyed the warmth everyone always said they did. After several long moments, he bowed his head as though accepting his fate. It was almost as if he thought I was going to hurt him instead of help him.

Slowly, gently, I put the blanket around his shoulders, stepped closer, and wrapped it around him so he was draped underneath it, covered up. I smiled wide and noticed his answering shiver. I gently rubbed his upper arms and stared into his face.

He opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came out.

“How ’bout some water?” I suggested, leaning close to him, easing my arm around his back, prodding him forward, back toward my truck.

As we walked slowly together back the way I had come, he withdrew his left arm from the blanket and curled it around my shoulders. Only then did I notice that he was bigger than me, taller, and when he leaned a little more heavily, I struggled for a moment before I found my stride again. I was used to carrying people, so I just had to find my balance.

After I got him tucked in on his side of the truck and ran around the front to the driver’s side, I explained that I was going to take him to the hospital.

He shook his head no.

“Sir,” I began, pulling a bottle of water from the small cooler I kept beside the blankets stashed behind the seat of my truck. “You need to be seen by a doctor to make sure––”

“No.” He shook his head. “Home.” He pointed down the road.

But I didn’t think he was in any shape to be making decisions. He looked so out of it. I made my voice soft, soothing, coaxing. “I think you––”

“No,” he cut me off the second time, again gesturing ahead of us at the pavement.

I pointed down the road and only then realized that I was nowhere near where I was supposed to be. I must have taken a wrong turn.

“Shit,” I groaned. I had to be on the other side of the mountain. Not that Wyndam, Kentucky was a big place. I just had to double back and go down the road, and I would be close to Winchester, which was just half an hour or so out of Lexington, but still… it was late, I was exhausted, and now I was playing taxi for a clearly impaired old man. It was possible that he had dementia or Alzheimer’s and had no idea where in the world home was.

“Home.” He pointed again down the dark two-lane road.

“Okay,” I sighed heavily as I put the Ram into drive.

After awhile, the old man starting speaking softly in French, which I recognized from high school but couldn’t remember enough of to answer him back. The words I did get were “friend” and “good.” When he reached out to pat my thigh, I smiled over at him.


I glanced back at him before turning again to the road. I didn’t want to hit any furry creatures skittering across the pavement. “Pardon me?”

“You… fear me?”

“Uh no,” I said, grinning, “not so much.”

He banged the dashboard hard with his fist, and when I looked back at him, his pupils were dilated again, and he was growling.

“Calm down,” I soothed him, reaching out to pat his shoulder, wanting him relaxed, not flinging himself at me while I was driving. I did not need to end up in a ditch because I swerved off the side of the road. “Please, sir.”

After a moment, his shoulders slumped, and he closed his eyes.

“That’s it, just breathe,” I coaxed, rubbing circles on his shoulder.

When he opened his eyes, they were pale and milky once more.

“There you are.” I smiled, and he nodded slowly, reaching out for my hand.

Old people, dogs, kids, they all loved me. It would have been nice if hot men did, too, but you couldn’t have everything.

“Romanus,” he said softly.

“Is that your name?”

He shook his head, put a hand over his heart. “Fabron Chaloner.”

“I’m Mason James.” I smiled wider. “Mace, okay?”

He nodded, squeezed my hand. “Romanus.”

I must have reminded him of someone else, but that was okay. “How far down this road, Monsieur Chaloner?” I asked, my eyes on the road.

When he didn’t answer, I turned back to look at him.


“Sorry, Fabron,” I repeated his name.

He pointed at a turn in the road, and I saw what looked like runes carved into a sign before I took the left down a dirt road. It snaked deep through a heavily wooded area, the brush so deep that it scraped along the sides and roof of the truck. After a second I realized how stupid I was being and slowed down to a crawl. I was afraid that if someone was coming down the same road to the street while I was coming up that I would be in a head-on collision. Putting the truck’s high-beams on, I stopped every few minutes just to listen. When there was nothing but the buzz of insects, I went forward again. After what seemed like forever, I came to a clearing, and the first thing I saw under the moonlight was a huge bonfire. There were several cars parked in front of the huge Tidewater-style home, the kind with the porch that basically wrapped around the house both on the first and second floors. Seeing all the people milling about, it looked as though Fabron had wandered off from some kind of gathering.

Parking, I darted around to the passenger side of my truck and started to help him out. I immediately noticed that he was snarling again, his eyes jet black from the pupils being huge and his teeth were bared.

“Should I growl back?” I chuckled as I reached in to help him out.

He didn’t calm, but neither did he lunge at me as he’d done before. Instead he continued to softly snarl, almost like purring, as I moved his legs, easing him to a standing position before leaning him against the truck. As soon as I slammed the door behind me to guide the old man to the house, I noticed that we had drawn a few spectators.

“Hi,” I greeted the gathered crowd. “Can someone tell me if this gentleman belongs here?”

No one said a word; everyone was just staring at me with wide eyes. What the hell?

Author Bios:
Madeleine Ribbon
Madeleine debuted in M/M romance in June of 2012 and plans to keep going as long as she can. She doesn't function unless coffee is involved (preferably laced with copious amounts of chocolate syrup) and she attempts to blow up the kitchen by trying new recipes when she wants to procrastinate. When she has spare time and adequate peer pressure, she is willing to try just about anything once. She lives near Baltimore with no TV, an understanding husband, and one seriously demented cat.

Josh Lanyon
A distinct voice in gay fiction, multi-award-winning author JOSH LANYON has been writing gay mystery, adventure and romance for over a decade. In addition to numerous short stories, novellas, and novels, Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English series, including The Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USABookNews awards for GLBT Fiction. Josh is an Eppie Award winner and a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist.

Tyler May
Tyler May was born and raised in the great state of Michigan, and still happily resides there. She is a stay at home mom to her three beautiful children. Tyler's passion for reading came later in life when she found a love in romance novels, more specifically the male/male genre. After drawing inspiration from some wonderful authors and encouragement from friends and family; she penned her first full length novel: Angel of Darkness. Tyler draws inspiration from the simple things in life and will never take that for granted. Since Tyler is a LBGT author, she has three hopes when a reader picks up her book(s): She hopes that her books will teach tolerance and equality. She hopes to convey the truth behind the infamous saying, "love is love." She hopes that the book is more than a story―that's it a journey with an important message. Tyler's favorite quote and something she always has tucked in the back of her mind as she writes her fictions: "Everything you can imagine is real."―Picasso.

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

Robin Moray
Robin Moray writes supernatural and paranormal romance (amongst other things) in a rickety house on the Adelaide flatlands, occasionally visited by other people's cats and birds that belong to nobody but themselves.

Anything you've heard about the author is quite probably true.

Madeleine Ribbon

Josh Lanyon

Tyler May


Mary Calmes

Robin Moray


Death by Dragon

A Ghost of a Chance

Angel of Darkness

Something Wicked

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