Saturday, August 12, 2017

Saturday's Series Spotlight: The Dark Horse by Josh Lanyon

The Dark Horse #1
Love is a dark horse—and Sean Fairchild is in for the ride of his life.

Paul Hammond is dead. That’s what tough and sexy LAPD Detective Daniel Moran tells his lover, Hollywood actor Sean Fairchild—and Sean wants to believe him, but what about those threatening postcards in Hammond’s handwriting? What about the fact that he’s seeing Hammond everywhere he goes? Yes, Sean’s had some emotional problems in the past, but that was a long time ago and he’s not imagining things, so why is Dan looking at him that way?

The last thing Sean needs is someone doubting him, especially when he’s competing for the coveted leading role in the screen adaptation of The Charioteer. But then again, as ex-lover and manager Steve points out, what does Sean really know about his new boyfriend?

Dan is a dark horse—and maybe Sean is betting too much on this relationship. It's not just Sean’s career at stake, or his relationship, or even his sanity—-it’s his life.

(This novella was previously published through Loose Id Publishing)

The White Knight #2
Actor Sean Fairchild has a not-so-secret admirer: a psycho stalker who thinks taking out the sexy, shy young actor will leave the world a better place. His manager insists Sean needs protection, and Sean’s beginning to think he’s right.

It’s a Hollywood cliché: the hot and handsome bodyguard. But in the case of LAPD Detective Daniel Moran, it’s all true. Dan is everything Sean ever wanted in a leading man, but Dan’s kind of an old-fashioned guy. It’s his job to keep Sean safe and in one piece -- happy is someone else’s problem.

As tension mounts, Sean can’t help turning to Dan, while Dan is finding it harder and harder to say no. Their only chance of a happy ending is if Dan can keep Sean alive -- but what happens when he uncovers the secrets Sean is trying hard to conceal?

(This novella was previously published through Loose Id Publishing)

Dark Horse, White Knight: Two Novellas
Collected in print for the first time. The Dark Horse and its sequel/prequel, The White Knight.

1st Duology Re-Read Review 2017:
I'll be honest, even though I remembered the whos, whats, whys, and hows of The Dark Horse duology I did forget just how much I loved Sean and Dan.  Okay, forget is not really the right word because you don't really forget lovely, heartwarming characters such as Sean and Dan but the duo had kind of settled to the bottom of my heart where I hold fictional characters close.  If you are asking me to balance which of the two stories I loved more I would say that The Dark Horse tips the scale but by just a bit.

In a time where prequels and sequels are commonplace in Hollywood, I found the way Josh Lanyon meshes both into one book in The White Knight to be well written and most interesting.  We get to see into how Dan came to be Sean's protector that I loved in Horse but we also get to see how they are both still reeling some from what happened in book one.  What I found most intriguing in Knight was although the story is told from Sean's POV we also get to hear a bit how Dan was effected by the stalker case in Horse.  Writer's don't always show us how the protector feels so even though it's not done in great length or detail I really appreciated the effort put in Dan's pain being shown.

There's passion, heart, friendship, love, mystery, drama, angst, and a little humor all wrapped into The Dark Horse duology so there's a little something for everyone and considering by word count/pages these two are novellas that means they are packed tight with what I like to call "the uumph factor" from cover to cover. I may not add this duology to my annual re-read list but this certainly won't be the last time I revisit Sean and Dan's story.

Original Duology Review 2014:
Sean captures your heart with his sincerity and his hometown wholesomeness. Dan certainly captures your attention with his take charge bodyguard yet heartfelt attitude. The mystery keeps you guessing throughout both books as it is interwoven wonderfully with Sean and Dan's romance and their professional lives. The supporting characters only heighten the mystery as well as strengthen Sean and Dan's characters both individually and as a couple. I would definitely not turn down another story featuring these two lovebirds.


The Dark Horse #1
The post card was nestled between Variety and the Edison bill.

Just an ordinary picture postcard. White font proclaimed MALIBU! across the Mai Tai-colored sunset. I turned the card over and there was the spidery black writing I had thought I would never see again.

Miss me?

No signature. No signature needed. I looked at the postmark. Pacific Coast Highway. Yesterday's date.

I stared for a long time while Dan's deep voice receded into the cries of the gulls overhead and the pound of the waves on the beach a few yards away until those too faded to a kind of white noise.

No. God no.

Then Dan stretched across and took the card from my unresisting hand, and I was abruptly back in the present.

The wooden chair creaked as he leaned back, his long muscular body at ease. His dark brows drew together. Absently, he raked his still-wet hair back. It's not like there was a lot to read. One simple sentence.

Miss me?

A rhetorical question if there ever was one.

Water glistened on Dan's broad sun-browned shoulders, one drop trickling down between his rock-hard pecs, sparkling through the dusting of dark hair across his flat abdomen, and the tiny flicker of irritation I'd felt at his arrogance faded in the wake of lust. After nearly a month of playing Bodyguard to the Stars, I couldn't blame him if he still occasionally reacted like he was getting paid for overtime.

“It's not Hammond,” he said, and tossed the card to the table. It landed face up in a blob of crabapple jelly.

“The writing is the same.”

“Superficially. We'd have to get it analyzed. Anyway, it doesn't matter. Say one of his cards was delayed for a few days, it doesn't change the fact that he's dead.”

“If he is dead.”

His eyes, blue as the surf behind him, met mine levelly. “Sean, he's dead. I saw the car. No one could have survived that crash.”

“Then why wasn't his body recovered?”

“It's somewhere in the aqueduct. I don't know. It must have been swept away or lodged somehow.”

I nodded tightly. It's not like there's high tide in the California Aqueduct.

Dan's large hand slid under my fingers nervously fiddling with a teaspoon. “It's over, chief. Trust me.”

“I do.” It came out more husky than I intended.

He turned my hand palm up, lightly kissing it. The warmth of his lips against my surf-chilled skin made me shiver. I dropped the teaspoon. It hit the edge of my saucer with a silvery chime. He grinned.

You only ever hear about closeted cops, so Dan's relaxed attitude still caught me off guard. He was probably more at ease with his sexuality than half the “civilians” I knew. He sure as hell was more relaxed than me.

I pulled my hand away at the familiar yap-yapping of the four-legged hairball belonging to our nearest neighbor Mrs. Wilgi. Sure enough, a moment later “Mrs. Wiggly” came around the cairn of rocks, armed with her usual binoculars and police whistle.

I caught Dan's eye. His grin was wry. He was getting to read me pretty well.

I said, “Hey, for all I know Mrs. Wiggly has a spy cam concealed in her muu muu.”

He forked another waffle off the plate. “I don't even want to think about what that muu muu conceals.”

I laughed. My glance fell on the jam-stained postcard and I made myself look away. If Dan said it was over, it was over. He was the expert here.

All the same, after a year of being stalked, it wasn't so easy to drop my guard. One week after Paul Hammond lost control of his car during a police chase on Highway 138 and crashed into the California Aqueduct, I still tensed when the phone rang, waiting for that familiar whisper. I still sorted through my mail fast, trying to get it over with in case, like today, something ugly fell out of the mix. I still watched the rear view mirror everywhere I drove, although for the past three weeks Lt. Daniel Moran of L.A.P.D. had been riding shotgun with me-when he didn't insist on doing the actual driving.

I said, talking myself away from my anxiety, “I just don't want to turn up in the National Inquirer as the gay Benifer or something.”

“Dansean?” Dan suggested, playing along.

“I'm the celebrity,” I pointed out. “My name gets top billing. Maybe…Seandan.”

“You can be the top anything you like.” Dan's eyes were very blue. “Just say the word.”

Heat rose in my face.

I mean, how ridiculous was that? You'd think I was a blushing virgin of seventeen, instead of which I was a reasonably experienced twenty-five year old veteran of the Hollywood party scene. True, most seventeen-year olds probably saw more action than me-although things were definitely looking up these days.

Automatically, I returned Mrs. Wilgi's wave as she tromped along the shoreline, her red and yellow dress puffing out and flattening against her ungainly body. The dog, barking hysterically, veered off, galloping towards the deck where we sat, as though he'd just noticed this house on the otherwise empty beach.

“Doesn't that thing have an off button?” I murmured.

Mrs. Wilgi began clapping frantically and calling to the dog.

“Binky! Binky!”

“Speaking of off buttons,” Dan remarked, “I'm supposed to start back at work tomorrow.”


I tried to hide it, but I knew he could see my disappointment.

He said, his tone very casual, “Were you planning to stay out at the beach for a few days or should I drop some things off at the house?”

“The House” being my place in the Hollywood Hills. My place and now, maybe, Dan's place too. It was still so new this relationship, so unexpected. We were both tentative, feeling our way along. Trying not to take too much for granted. Or spoil it by not taking enough for granted.

I said, going for the same off-hand note, “I was thinking of staying out until next weekend. What do you think? Malibu too far to drive every evening?”

“Not if I'm waking up next to you every morning.”

My heart skipped a beat. How the hell could he say this stuff and not sound corny?

Practice, I guess. Dan was ten years older than me-and they had been an active ten years.
I said, “That can be arranged.”

We'd been sleeping together for one week, starting with the night Dan had returned home to tell me Hammond had crashed into the aqueduct. But the attraction had been immediate. My manager, Steve Kreiger, kept saying what a great screenplay it would make. Gay cop falls for the gay actor he's assigned to protect from a crazed stalker. And it was true: for once real life was every bit as satisfying as the movies. Dan was a decorated officer frequently held up as the poster boy for the new and improved (read “sensitive and diverse”) L.A.P.D. It didn't hurt that he was articulate, smart, and old-fashioned movie star handsome. A straight arrow in every way but one-and that one way got him assigned to my bodyguard detail.

So now we were finding out what happened after the screen faded to black and the final credits rolled.

Mrs. Wiggly was blowing her police whistle like a crime was in progress. The fur ball ignored her, standing at the foot of the stairs leading to the deck where Dan and I sat having breakfast, barking shrilly, plumy tail waving frantically.

I tossed a sausage link, just missing its indignant nose. Both Dan and the mutt disapproved of this, the mutt vocally, Dan silently. I was getting to know him well enough to know his silences. I smiled at him and he shook his head a little.

“I'm trying to win him over,” I said.

“I don't think he appreciates your cooking the way I do.”

“I guess not.”

I was going to miss our early morning swims followed by these lazy breakfasts. I was going to miss having Dan around all day. Hopefully I'd be going back to work myself before long. But what happened if the next film I got required a location shoot? Dan and I were way too new to survive extended long distance. I knew, without asking, that he would not be willing to hang up his career in law enforcement to keep me company in New Zealand or Romania for twelve weeks. And I was at a place in my own career where I had to pick my projects carefully.

He pushed his chair back and said, “I think I'll have a quick shower and drive into town. I want to pick up a few things.”

“Okay.” My gaze wandered back to the postcard.

“Want to help me try out my new back-scrubber?”

I laughed. He made it so easy. I rose, dismissing the card, but as I followed Dan indoors, I couldn't help wondering if Paul Hammond hadn't sent that card, who had?

* * * * *

“Gotta admit, I had my doubts about you when I saw the pink bubble bath.” Dan squirted pastel gel into the ramie mitt and slid it over my shoulders. Scented steam rose from the granite floor of the large shower stall.

“Mm. That feels good.” I bent my head and he smoothed the mitt down the nape of my neck. “It's not bubble bath. It's shampoo slash shower gel. There's a difference.”

“You'd know. I've never seen so many grooming aids in one bathroom.” The rough cotton felt good on my wet skin and Dan applied just the right amount of pressure. I relaxed-only recognizing at that moment how wound up I'd been.

“Tools of the trade,” I informed him. “I'm a commodity. I'm in business and I am my product.”

“That attitude and a pair of tight jeans will get you arrested on Hollywood Boulevard.”

“Attitude is everything,” I quoted sententiously.

He pulled me back against his own wet hard body. I arched my neck for his kiss and his mouth closed on mine, warm and male and with a hint of the tart-sweetness of crabapple. Our tongues slid together, twined. My heart started that heavy slow beat that matched the throb in my groin.

“You are so beautiful...”

“I bet you say that to all th-“ His hands slid over my slick body, flicking my nipples and I moaned into his mouth, words failing me. If felt so good. Everything he did felt good. He never made a wrong move; that was the advantage of having so much experience. Of course that kind of expertise was a little intimidating sometimes.

Putting my hands over his, I held them against my chest. He palmed the nipples, back and forth, just the right amount of teasing abrasion.

I turned to face him; wrapped my arms around him.

Smoothing the mitt over my ass, Dan gave one cheek a playful squeeze before sweeping the mitt up my spine. My dick came up like a divining rod, nudging his already hard thickness. Heart pounding, I pressed against him, wanting more, wanting closer. I was surprised the shower drops didn't sizzle on my skin; I was so hot for him. Dan shook off the mitt and his hands closed on my ass, urging me closer. I groaned, feeling for his cock.

“Yeah, Sean, just like that,” he muttered.

His fingers slid down the crevice between my butt cheeks, intimate and familiar, finding the mouth of the secret passage. He delicately circled my opening, then slipped the tip of one finger inside: a sweet and slow piercing. I caught my breath.

Just a fingertip, like the press of a button-I button I badly wanted him to push. That weird clawing ache started in my belly. I made a sound in the back of my throat-even I wasn't sure what I meant.

Dan's kiss gentled. He kissed the underside of my jaw, his finger simply holding its place, like a book he meant to read later.

Let go, I instructed myself, impatiently. What the hell is the hold up? You want him. He wants you. Act, if you have to.Act like…a porn star.

I found his mouth, kissed him back hard, surging up against him. I could feel his surprise. His mouth covered mine hungrily, he pushed his finger into me deeply; I started, my foot slipping out from under me in the sudsy warm water.

He steadied me, both hands on my arms, smiling. “Easy, chief.”

“Yeah.” I laughed, but after a week of this I wasn't fooling anybody, including myself. “I'm just not sure about that yet,” I said, feeling like a fool. I still felt the memory of his finger in my body-an erotic fingerprint.

“I know.” He sounded easy and a little amused.

“I mean, I want to,” I said. “I'm just…” Why did I have to say anything? The last thing I wanted was for this to turn into an issue. Why couldn't I just have let it happen, naturally, spontaneously?

“We don't have to rush it.”

Was six days rushing it? Probably not. His dick poked into my belly like an elbow in the ribs reminding me that he had places to go and things to do and so far this morning he wasn't getting anything but talk.

Porn star, remember? Act. It's what you're good at.

“Let me tell you a little secret,” I said and slid to my knees taking the head of his cock into my mouth.

“Oh my God,” Dan said, closing his eyes. His fingers brushed my cheek. “What you do to me.”

Yeah, this I knew how to do, sucking him with soft wet heat and then hard. I murmured encouragingly-not really an act, come to think of it-and tugged with my lips. Sweet and soft. Tight and hard.

Dan's breathing went slow and deep, fingers fluttered over my ears, the base of my skull, urging me closer, but not forcing-never forcing.

The water sluiced over his shoulders and rained down on me. I tasted shower gel and clean skin and the salty taste of pre-cum. His swollen cock throbbed between my lips-he pushed deeper into my mouth. I relaxed my throat muscles and took even more of him. A muscle in Dan's cheek jumped. He looked down at me and his eyes seemed dazed.

I made soft sounds, inciting him to riot.

Groaning, Dan braced his hands on the granite tiles. His legs trembled.

I backed off a little, laved the cleft in the head of his cock with my tongue, took him back in and sucked hard.

“I'm going to come,” he warned huskily.

His cock jumped and he began to come. Hard.

Not a problem for me. I liked this part. I swallowed enough to show I cared, then buried my head in his belly, nuzzling his genitals. He twitched and shivered. Petted my wet head, stroking the hair back from my face.

I smiled, watching him. After a few moments he shook his head like a wet dog and gave a shaky laugh.

“You are one crazy guy.”


“Hey, you.” He reached up and turned off the tap, drawing me to my feet. Energized. And how the hell that worked, I had yet to figure out.

There were dents in my knees from the granite floor and my legs felt wobbly with my own need. He pulled me against his long strong body, one hand cupping my balls. I rested my head on his shoulder breathing in the scent of his clean wet skin. The hair on his chest tickled my nose. Just the feel of those steely fingers handling me...

I guided his hand to where I needed it to be. He wrapped his fingers around my cock

“I like that little sound you make,” he whispered.

The bedroom phone rang.

“What the hell!” I opened my eyes.

“The machine will get it.”

I nodded absently, listening. Dan's heart was settling back into its normal rhythm. The phone rang again. Dan's hand slowed. I rested my hand on his, urging him on. He tightened up a bit and I caught my breath. Big brown capable hands. Good for all kinds of things: gripping a gun or shaking cocktails or…driving me to total distraction.

The phone rang a third time and then the answering machine picked up.

“Dude!” the tinny voice of Steve Kreiger, my manager, drifted from the other room. For an eerie minute it was like he stood in the doorway watching us; I could picture him scraping the lank red hair out of those mournful Bassett-hound brown eyes. “You there? T.J. Hooker got you handcuffed to the bed or what?”

“Damn! I've got to take it.” I popped open the shower door and abandoned that sweet steamy warmth, sprinting for the bed and the overnight stand beyond. I heard the shower door close behind me.

I bounced on the white duvet and stretched, grabbing the phone off the receiver. Reached across to pick up the phone. “Hey.”

“Hey. So you are still alive.”

“Yep. Alive and--uh--kicking.” I sucked in my breath as two hard hands wrapped in a plush bath sheet closed around my waist. Dan toweled me down with hard efficiency, blotting shoulders and ribs and butt through the folds of the oversized towel. He rubbed my head briskly. I put the phone against my ear listening through the fluffy cotton.

“I got a copy of the Charioteer script. I was planning to drop it by this afternoon,” Steve said.

“Roll over,” Dan ordered quietly.

I rolled over, the Naturlatex mattress molding to the contours of my body. The duvet felt damp beneath my back. I stared into Dan's blue eyes.

He smoothed the towel over my chest, sliding down to my groin. My dwindling erection made a pup tent of white towel.

I closed my eyes and expelled a shaky breath as Dan's fingers wrapped around my dick once more. “Uh…great.” And it was great. I'd been hounding Steve to get me a look at the script for weeks. You wouldn't think that the screen adaptation of a minor gay classic would require security clearances on the level of the Pentagon-especially given the typical indie film production budget.

Dan's hand slid up the length of my cock. Slowly slid down. I gritted my teeth to keep from moaning.

From a long, long way away Steve said, “Yeah. But there's a problem. Lenny Norman is directing and he doesn't want you.”

I sat up, dislodging Dan's hand. “You're kidding!”


“I've never even worked with him. Why doesn't he want me?”

“For one thing he thinks you're too good looking for the part of Laurie.

I glanced across at the reflection of myself in the mirror hanging over the bureau dresser: tall, skinny, brown eyes, brown hair. “I'm not that good looking,” I protested.

“I agree. I don't think you're so good looking. In fact, I think you're butt ugly. This is his opinion.”

I gnawed my lip, ignoring these witticisms. “That's it? He doesn't want me because of my looks?”

Steve said, a little more serious now, “That, and he thinks you're not gay enough.”

“What? What the hell does that mean?”

“Hey, I'm just telling you what was said.”

“But what does that even mean? I'm gay. I'm out. What more does he want?” Dan's hand closed around the nape of my neck, his fingers knowledgably prodding the muscles knotting up. I felt a spark of annoyance; I could practically hear him telling me to take a deep breath, relax. I didn't feel like relaxing. This was business. This was my career.

“It's not like we had an in-depth discussion. I think it's a political thing with him. He feels like you're walking a line with straight audiences, that you're not openly gay. 'You play it too straight,' that's what he said.”

“Well, so does Laurie! So does Ralph. I mean, it's historical drama. It's World War Two. Nobody was out. What's this idiot planning to do, portray them as a couple of flaming queens?”

“Chill, dude. Don't kill the messenger. I'm just letting you know what you're up against. He went ahead and fedexed me a copy of the script, so you're not totally out of the running.”
I was silent. Dan scraped the back of my neck with his fingernails and I shivered involuntarily. Never mind the P-Spot. Apparently I had an N-Spot….

I made myself focus.

“Do they have someone else in mind?”

“For Laurie, no. For Ralph I think they're looking at Peter Grady.”

I swore. The last film I'd done with Peter Grady had earned us the title of “The Gay Spencer and Hepburn” in the queer press. I loved working with the guy; we had major league screen chemistry-one more reason I so wanted to do this project.

Steve soothed, “You haven't even read it yet. Maybe you won't like the adaptation. Maybe you won't want to do the film. Let's not worry about it anymore till you've seen the script. Okay?”


“I'll see you around two.”

“See you.” I hung up and flung myself back against the mountain of pillows.
“So who's the bastard with the bad taste not to want you?” Dan inquired. He was sitting on the edge of the bed, putting his watch on, so apparently we had lost our window of opportunity.

“Oh.” I grimaced. “Lenny Norman. He's directing that film I told you about. The adaptation of The Charioteer. He doesn't want me. He thinks I'm too good looking.”

“The guy must be blind.”

It barely registered. “It's that goddamned People magazine article. 'People's 50 Most Beautiful People.' I was number 49 or something.” I brooded over this for a moment. “And he thinks I'm not gay enough.”

Dan's brows rose. “You seemed gay enough to me five minutes ago.”

I grinned reluctantly. “Maybe you could vouch for me.”

He got off the bed, the squeak of floorboards giving voice to my inner protest. “I'd have preferred to do something else for you, but now I'm running late.”

I shot him a quick look. He sounded regretful, not annoyed; his smile was rueful. “Sorry,” I said. “I kind of had to take that call.”

“Yeah, I know.”

I had the uncomfortable feeling that he did. Well, hell. I was out of practice at having relationships. Actually, who was I kidding? I'd never had a real relationship. Not like this. Not living together 24/7 with a for-richer-for-poorer-in-sickness-and-in-health option. The closest I'd come was when Steve and I roomed together for about a year after college. That was when Steve had still been trying to make it as a comic. Before he'd decided that managing my career would be easier and more lucrative than having his own.

I watched Dan move around the room, dressing. Casual wear: khakis and a black t-shirt. Not the beautifully tailored suits and expensive ties he wore on duty. You couldn't afford suits like that on a cop's salary, but Dan supplemented his salary by working as a consultant for the film industry-which was the other reason he had snagged the bodyguard gig with me.

I tried to think what I would do all day. Now that I didn't have to worry about being taken out by a potentially homicidal fan I'd have to find a new hobby.

Maybe I'd go for another swim after I worked out in the weight room. No problem going by myself now. Just like a big boy. Maybe I'd see if I had a copy of Renault's The Charioteer here at the beach house and reread it. Or no, maybe that would interfere with my reading the script. Maybe I'd just put on some music and catch some rays. Sunshine was supposed to be good for depression-not that I was depressed. Exactly.

“What time will you be back?”

“About five.” Dan slid the leather badge-wallet in his back pocket, double-checked the fit of his khakis in the bureau mirror. “You want me to bring something home for dinner?”

Home. That was kind of nice. I gave his question the careful deliberation it deserved. “I'll cook. Could you pick up some scallops?”

“I'll do that, chief.” He bent down over the bed and gave me a quick hard kiss. “Have a good day. And don't worry about anything.”

I answered with one of Steve's favorite lines. “What, me worry?”

“You're right,” said Dan. “That's my job.”

The White Knight #2
The first time I saw Lt. Daniel Moran was in his office at LAPD's Operations -- West Bureau on Venice Boulevard. I didn't pay much attention at the time, but I remember now that the building was crowded and busy, and the office was small and neat as a military barrack. There were a couple of photographs on the wall of Lt. Moran shaking hands with higher-ranking police officials or celebrities. In every picture, Moran was the person you noticed.

When you're shy, people often mistake it for being stuck-up, and I knew Lt. Moran probably thought I was stuck-up, because I let Steve do all the talking while I slouched in my chair and stared mostly at the tidy blotter on the lieutenant's desk and the stack of outgoing mail. He was not a guy who wasted time, and I knew he thought we were wasting his.

I thought we were probably wasting his time too -- plus, after that first shocked meeting of eyes, I had trouble holding Moran's gaze. And I sure as hell didn't know what to say. I already felt stupid and incompetent for getting myself into this situation, and he was so good-looking. I mean really good-looking. Like the hero in the kind of movies they don't make anymore, like the knight in an N.C. Wyeth illustration. He was taller than me -- and I'm six feet. He was lean and broad-shouldered, his hair was dark and unruly, his eyes were blue as the Pacific Ocean. He wore tailored slacks, a crisp white shirt, sleeves rolled to reveal muscular, tanned forearms, and a navy tie with diagonal red stripes. He did not wear a wedding ring.

I was thinking about that when his gaze moved from Steve's face to mine and our eyes locked. Hot color rushed up under my skin. The corner of his mouth quirked a little -- not a smile exactly -- and he tuned back into Steve. I stared at the celebrity pictures on his walls. All of them were of people a lot more famous than me, but that was how he'd got landed with this gig. When he wasn't serving and protecting, he was a technical consultant to the studios. That, and he was, apparently, openly gay: as in the official poster boy for the new and improved -- read: sexually, racially diverse -- LAPD.

“There's a security system,” Steve said, “but Sean forgets to turn it on.”

And when I did remember to turn it on, I forgot to turn it off and had a habit of triggering it when I opened the back doors to the deck.

Moran's eyes flicked back to me. This time he didn't even quirk his mouth. He was polite, but he obviously thought I was a fucking idiot -- and a double fucking idiot for not immediately calling the cops, for waiting nearly a year before getting the professionals in. Although, being a professional, he didn't say that in so many words.

He looked at the letters Steven had brought. Exhibit A, just in case the cops thought this was some kind of publicity stunt. “How many letters all together?”

Steve, who had done most of the talking while Lt. Moran listened and observed -- and probably caught me stealing looks at him -- said now, “We're not exactly sure. Sean threw them away at first. I'm not sure he ever accurately kept track.”

“How many letters, Sean?” Moran asked me, and I blinked. I'd been so used to being referred to as though I weren't present, it caught me off guard.

“Over two hundred letters and postcards,” I said.

Steve sucked in a sharp breath at that, but Moran didn't blink.

“And the tone of these letters is...?”

Steve said, “It's changed. At first they were friendly. Creepy but friendly. Dude kept asking for a job or money or gifts.”

“What kind of gifts?”

“He asked for an espresso machine and a BMW. We ignored those. We ignored everything. But he got more aggressive. The tone of the mail changed and he started approaching Sean in public. Then he started threatening him.”

“What kind of threats?”

Steve gave me a quick, uncomfortable look like he'd rather I didn't hear this, which was a little pointless given that Hammond had shouted right to my face he wanted me dead.

“He's threatened to make Sean pay, that kind of thing.”

Moran said patiently, “What kind of thing?”

“He's threatened to kill him.”

Something altered in Moran's posture, as though he were loosening his shoulders, readying for a fight. “Okay. In that case we can arrest him on making criminal threats and stalking. I see he's already violated the three-year restraining order you had slapped on him.”

“Yeah, see the problem is it's more complicated than that. He's disappeared,” Steve said a little impatiently. “We hired a PI to get all the information on him we could, and he's dropped out of sight. If it was just a matter of picking him up, we'd have hired a couple of bodyguards and let you get on with it.”

I started, “I don't want --”

We'd been over it a couple of times and Steve interrupted. “You don't want bodyguards. I know. You do want to live, though, and that's why we're here now. We should have been here nine months ago.”

He was right. I had no answer to that. Moran said, “Sean, just out of curiosity, why didn't you come to us when this started?”

Because it was embarrassing. Embarrassing to have it happen at all, and embarrassing not to be able to handle this on my own, to have to run for help, to have people poking and prying into my private life. Because I'd hoped if I ignored it, it would go away on its own.

I said, haltingly, like I didn't speak English very often, “I didn't want to get too aggressive in case it made it worse. It could have been a onetime thing. Sometimes it is.”

The blue eyes rested meditatively on my face and then Moran asked, “This has happened before?”

Steve said easily, “Not this. Last year two teenaged girls were caught trying to break into his house. It wasn't a big deal. And occasionally he comes home to find someone camped out on his deck wanting an autograph.”

I could see that Lt. Dan Moran thought this actually was a big deal.

Steve said, “So…how long do you think it will take?” He didn't check his watch, but it was clear he was thinking we were on a timetable, and I had to bite back what was probably an inappropriate laugh.

I glanced at Moran and he was watching me, and he smiled. It was a nice smile, reassuring -- and like he knew exactly what I was thinking. He said, “That depends partly on Mr. Hammond, but we'll try to make this as painless as possible.”

I said, “Thank you.” Practically the first words I'd offered of my own volition, and he said -- his eyes grave and blue as they met mine, “It'll be okay, Sean.”

It wasn't, though.

Author Bio:
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.


The Dark Horse #1

The White Knight #2

Dark Horse, White Knight: Two Novellas

Cinnamon Eyes by Nell Iris

Title: Cinnamon Eyes
Author: Nell Iris
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: August 12, 2017
Publisher: JMS Books
Cory’s had a rough year struggling with severe depression. He’s desperate to rebuild his shattered life and break away from his demanding family. When his therapist encourages him to do something for himself, he knows exactly what he needs. I want to see Asher again. The best friend Corey ever had who, at fifteen, held Cory’s heart in his hands without knowing it.

Asher’s had a troubled relationship with his father since he came out. Now that Pops is sick, he’s fighting for his right to help or even find out about his father’s health. Then there’s the complication of an ex-boyfriend unwilling to let go.

When Cory and Asher meet again after sixteen years, Cory’s feelings are as strong as ever. But does Asher feel the same?

When the song ended, I opened my eyes and clapped with the others. He didn't look up or say anything, just started strumming another slow song on the strings. Judging by the cheers from the room, it was a popular one.

And then he lifted his head, opened his eyes, and started singing.

I gasped.

It was him. Asher.

Both my hands flew to my face and covered my mouth.

Sixteen years later and I still would have recognized him anywhere. The hair was as unruly as ever, and just as rock 'n' roll as his voice. The jawline so sharp he could probably cut glass with it. And the nose was still a little too big for his face.

I couldn't see his green eyes from here, but I remembered them vividly. The pale color of a leaf newly broken out of its bud in spring, was such a stark contrast to his black eyelashes and olive complexion and had always hypnotized me with their beauty.

When he started singing, his voice pulled me out of my initial shock.

Two best friends
Like no one had ever seen before
Always together
happy and troublesome and wild
Sharing scraped knees
and high flying dreams
Carefree as the clouds in the sky
The boy with laughing cinnamon eyes
And I

The words struck a chord inside me. They reminded me of our friendship, all the way down to the scraped knees. Had he written this song? Had our friendship inspired him?

Then one day
he shimmered with a different light
Just one look at him
made my heart ache, stutter and want
I felt the same
pouring from his soul
A longing for more between us
The boy with loving cinnamon eyes
And I

He sang with such emotion, and the pronouns he used didn't escape me. Asher was singing to a man, and my stomach made a hopeful jump.

Our story
didn't have a fairytale ending
He had to leave me
and all I could do was to cry
But with no choice
I had to let go
We hugged and were saying goodbye
The boy with grieving cinnamon eyes
And I

I swallowed. I didn't understand. That sounded just like ... I shut down that thought immediately. It couldn't be.

It's been years
and my life has never been the same
I'm often wond'ring
what could have been if he'd stayed
Maybe one day
I'll see him again
In dreams we were never apart
My boy with the sweet cinnamon eyes
And I
My boy with loving cinnamon eyes
And I

After the last chord rang out, the bar was deadly silent for a heartbeat, and then everyone started cheering and clapping and whistling.

Everyone except me.

I folded my arms on the table in front of me and collapsed with my forehead on top of them and my face hidden in the dark space between.

Had I heard what I thought I'd just heard?

Was that song ... about us?

Had he had feelings for me too, back then?

The thought made me shake, and I grabbed my elbows and squeezed to keep myself from flying apart. I took a deep breath and didn't let it out until my lungs screamed and burned in protest. I repeated the process several times until my teeth had stopped chattering and my heart had slowed its furious pace.

I was still hiding when someone cleared their throat in my vicinity.

"Excuse me? Benji said you wanted to talk to me? Are, uh, are you all right?"

His voice was as deep when he spoke as when he sang, and it sent a shiver down my spine, completely different from the previous desperate shaking. I took a deep breath and raised my head. Forcing myself to face him.

At first, he didn't seem to recognize me. He searched my face for clues, but it only took a few moments for the spark of realization to light up his eyes.

"Cory?" His voice was gravellier than ever. "Cory, is that you?" 

Author Bio:
Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bona fide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along but let’s face it, she’s not Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, poetry, wine, and Sudoku, and absolutely adores elephants!

Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.

Nell is a 40-something bisexual Swedish woman, married to the love of her life, and a proud mama of a grown daughter. She left the Scandinavian cold and darkness for warmer and sunnier Malaysia a few years ago, where she spends her days writing, surfing the Internet, enjoying the heat, and eating good food. One day she decided to chase her life long dream of being a writer, sat down in front of her laptop, and wrote a story about two men falling in love.

Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, and wants to write diverse and different characters.


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