Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Blog Tour: A Dangerous Dance by Davidson King

Title: A Dangerous Dance
Author: Davidson King
Series: Haven Hart Universe #3
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: July 17, 2018
Finally working for a man he can trust has given Bill a new purpose. His boss, Christopher Manos, commands respect and absolute loyalty, and Bill has proven himself worthy of a seat at Christopher’s table. Becoming best friends with Christopher’s husband, Snow, has further proven his allegiance and cements a place for him in the Manos family. When Snow’s life is in danger, Christopher places his full trust in Bill to destroy anything and anyone that poses a threat to his husband. But hunting and wiping out the enemy for the safety of everyone Bill cares about means partnering with the one person he has vowed to never see again.

Mace wears a mask of vain cockiness and uses his model good looks to his full advantage. Known to many as Without a Trace Mace, he’s a deadly assassin well known for wiping out whole families and getting away without a trace. With a dangerous past and an unknown future, Mace uses his veil of conceit to keep others at a distance, rarely trusting anyone. When his boss, Black--the one man he trusts above all others—gives him his next assignment, he learns his newest partner is none other than Bill, the man he’d do anything to avoid.

With the safety of the Manos family on the line at the hands of a brilliant maniac, Bill and Mace begrudgingly put their differences aside to ensure Snow, and his loved ones, are protected from harm.  With their lives in grave danger and the clock ticking towards zero hour, they navigate deathly perilous situations and uncertain outcomes, hoping they survive long enough to keep the Manos family safe.

Bill and Mace’s traitorous hearts draw them closer together no matter how hard they fight the inevitable. With the lives of their loved ones hanging in the balance, they find themselves in the middle of a dangerous dance. But when the music stops, will they both be left standing?

When Bill found himself working for Christopher Manos he not only found a job and position suited for him but he finally found a home and a  family in his friendship with Christopher's husband, Snow.  "Without a Trace Mace" has spent a long time carving out a name for himself in his business of death and he couldn't have done it without the help of his boss Black.  When Snow's life is threatened, Christopher cashes in a favor with Black and now Bill and Mace find themselves once again having to endure each other's company to get the job handed to them done.  When all is said and done, will anyone be left standing? And more imporantly, will Bill and Mace's hearts be left intact?

Let's get it out of the way right now: there will be no spoilers in this review.  As to what I will touch on the plot: HOLY HANNAH BATMAN!!!  If you thought Bill and Mace got on each other's nerves in Hug it Out then you haven't seen anything yet.  The animosity is so thick, well as the cliché goes: you could cut it with a knife.  But, as thick as the tension is the passion is even more intense.

Okay, so that was all you'll get out of me in regards to the plot so onto the characters.  I just knew Bill was going to be special when we met him in Snow Falling but I had no idea just how much I would love him.  Did he burrow deeper into my heart than either Snow or Teddy? Probably not but I wouldn't want to try and measure the difference.  As for Mace, he is a conundrum.  You want to hate him because he is able to detach himself from his work, or at least it appears so, but he too has a soft side(don't let him know I said so😉).  As much as I loved Snow/Christopher and Teddy/Riordan in books 1 & 2, I think that Bill and Mace blossomed the most so far in Haven Hart.  Did they "grow"? No because I think that they have always been passionate people but they finally let someone else in and that is something they spent their lives keeping very limited. 

Now that I've talked about the book let's talk about the author for a minute.  I said in my review for Hug it Out "when their debut novel is as amazing as Snow Falling was, one wonders will their follow-up be The Empire Strikes Back caliber or go the way of Speed 2?  I can safely and honestly say that Hug it Out is a TESB-quality sequel" and I can now say that Davidson King has continued with her amazing storytelling prowess.  I would say that A Dangerous Dance is Return of the Jedi awesomeness but as ROTJ was George Lucas' concluding entry in the original Star Wars saga and Miss King is no where near done with Haven Hart I hesitate to make that comparison but for only that reason.  The emotional and passionate WOW-ness Dance invoked was just as powerful as anything Mr. Lucas brought with ROTJ.  Some might say I'm stretching that comparison a bit, well perhaps but when I reached the final page of Dance, the sense of satisfaction and entertainment is very similar to what I feel every time the heroes are left celebrating in the Ewok village.

Now one final note: A Dangerous Dance like all the entries in Haven Hart Universe are technically a standalone because each one centers around a new pair and their paths but I find it just flows better if you read the series in order.  There are enough secondary characters and plot points that travel throughout to keep it connected.  Will you be lost if you start with Dance? Probably not, but I highly recommend starting from the beginning, trust me you won't be sorry.


“Billy Boy!” Mace said loudly with a clap, making Snow jump.

“Well, if it isn’t fuck face Mace.” Watching Mace’s smile fall and morph into anger made my entire week. If I was going to find any joy in this job, it was going to be repeatedly knocking that pretty boy off his self-made pedestal.

“Let’s put the pissing contest off for a later date.” Black’s gravelly, booming voice was powerful enough to make you snap to attention. But I couldn’t help myself. I shot Mace a wink and joined Snow when he sat on the couch.

“I’ll rip those eyes from your head while you sleep, fucker,” Mace whispered so only Snow and I could hear. I knew Snow was about to go rabid, so I beat him to it.

“You assume I sleep.”

Mace wanted to say something else, but when Christopher slapped a folder on the coffee table between us, it was all business.

Author Bio:
Davidson King, always had a hope that someday her daydreams would become real-life stories. As a child, you would often find her in her own world, thinking up the most insane situations. It may have taken her awhile, but she made her dream come true with her first published work, Snow Falling.

When she’s not writing you can find her blogging away on Diverse Reader, her review and promotional site. She managed to wrangle herself a husband who matched her crazy and they hatched three wonderful children.

If you were to ask her what gave her the courage to finally publish, she’d tell you it was her amazing family and friends. Support is vital in all things and when you’re afraid of your dreams, it will be your cheering section that will lift you up.


A Dangerous Dance #3

Snow Falling #1

Hug it Out #2

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Audiobook Tour: Love in Spades by Charlie Cochet

Title: Love in Spades
Author: Charlie Cochet
Series: Four Kings Security #1
Genre: M/M Romance, Mystery
Narrator: Greg Boudreaux
Audiobook Release Date: June 20, 2018
ebook Release Date: April 24, 2018
Cover Design: Reese Dante
Ex-Special Forces soldier Anston “Ace” Sharpe is fighting a different battle these days—one involving the world of private security across the state of Florida. As part owner of Four Kings Security, Ace and his fellow Kings tackle everything from armed transport and investigations to cyber intelligence and executive protection. Cocky, fearless, and brash, Ace isn’t afraid to take risks.

After years of working alongside his father, Colton Connolly is ready to take the helm at Connolly Maritime, but his father’s retirement is put on hold when Colton begins receiving death threats. If that isn’t bad enough, his father signs a contract with Four Kings Security to provide Colton with round-the-clock protection, despite his adamant refusal. Colton’s life has been turned upside down, the last thing he needs is a shadow, especially in the form of infuriating, sexy-as-sin Ace Sharpe, who seems to be on a mission to drive Colton mad.

Sparks fly the moment Colton and Ace meet on a sultry night club dance floor. But getting involved with a client, even one as fiery and beautiful as Colton Connolly, is a line Ace is unwilling to cross. Colton might be attracted to Ace, but he’d been burned before. He might be willing to put his life in Ace’s hands, but not his heart.
As the Florida nights heat up, so does their passion, and Ace and Colton are faced with a difficult choice—take the plunge and risk it all, or play it safe and walk away?

If Ace can keep a deadly threat from robbing Colton of a future….

I'm not sure what I can say about the audio version that I didn't say when I read the ebook a couple of months ago.  Listening to the story was just as enjoyable as reading Colton and Ace's journey.  I don't listen to many audiobooks, I have many in my library but I just don't often find the time to listen to them because unlike many I don't find myself able to enjoy them in the car.  As for Greg Boudreaux's voice, I may not have a wide variety of narrator examples to choose from but I can't imagine anyone else bringing life to the characters.

Original ebook Review May 2018:
Colton Connolly is ready to take over running the family business, Connolly Maritime, but he's been receiving disturbing mail and packages.  Colton isn't concerned but his father is and hires Four Kings Security to protect his son.  Anston “Ace” Sharpe and his friends have found a new place in life running Four Kings Security after their military career was over and its given them a new lease on life.  When their new client is Colton Connolly things don't go too smoothly at first but when Ace steps in and does what he does best, Colton has a change of heart.  Will their attraction to each other put lives at risk or only their hearts?

When I saw there was going to be a new series from the author who brought us THIRDS I was pumped.  I have to admit that when I'm that excited about something, I am often a little disappointed afterwards, that it didn't quite live up to my expectations.  WELL!! I needn't have worried because Love in Spades lived up to my expectations and more.  One can't help but compare bodyguard/client romances to The Bodyguard with Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, for me it just seems the natural comparison.  Let me tell you that Charlie Cochet's Love in Spades far surpassed my love of that movie.  Ace and Colton are a perfect pair,  By "perfect" I don't mean that everything is Utopian, because to me that isn't perfect.  Perfect relationship-wise is a meshing of love/hate, arguing/making-up, strengths/weakness, "perfect" is a balanced scale of good and bad.  That is exactly what these boys are, a well balanced duo.

As for the mystery behind the threatening letters/packages, well I think you know what I'm about to say: for those answers you have to read for yourself.  Trust me, you don't want to miss it!  I had some ideas from the very beginning and they evolved as I read the book(which a well written mystery should) so let me just say it was definitely intriguing that kept me hooked from beginning to end.

Four Kings Security is going to be great and I can't wait for more.  They may not be the boys from THIRDS but they are a very close second, I wouldn't want to put money on the difference and if the two series were cars I wouldn't want to put my finger between them.  Just brilliantly written with characters that I loved, even if I wanted to strangle a few of them at times(and not just the bad guys).  As I said, I am on the edge of my seat waiting for more.


Ace’s lips curled into a wicked grin, and he dove under the water. Colton stilled, waiting for Ace to pop, but he didn’t. Jesus, the guy could hold his breath for a long time. It was like he’d vanished. Until something grabbed Colton’s legs. He released a barrage of curses as he was lifted, his arms flailing in an attempt not to lose his balance as Ace came up under him, and Colton ended up on Ace’s shoulders.

“You ass!” Colton hugged Ace’s head to keep himself steady as he sat on the man’s broad shoulders while Ace laughed himself silly. He held on to Colton’s thighs, and started walking. “What are you doing?” Colton squeaked.

“Going for a walk,” Ace said as if it were obvious.

“No, you have something devious planned; I know it.”

Ace chuckled. “Are you doubting me?”

“Absolutely. Remember the pool?”

“In my defense, you were being an ass.”

Colton let out a mock gasp. “Are you using inappropriate language toward your client?”

“I’ll show you inappropriate.” Ace growled deep in his throat, and Colton shivered.

“Ace,” Colton moaned. “Please don’t make that sound while my crotch is pressed against the back of your head.”

Ace stopped moving. Before Colton could ask if he was okay, Ace sank into the water, and disappeared again, leaving Colton standing there wondering what the man was about to do next. One thing was for sure, Ace always kept him on his toes. Hands caressed his legs, and Colton groaned, his eyes closing as Ace slid his hands up Colton’s body until he resurfaced, his arms around Colton and front pressed to Colton’s back. Colton covered Ace’s hands with his and leaned back into him before turning in his arms.

“We should head back,” Ace murmured, his eyes on Colton’s lips.

“You drive me fucking crazy, you know that?” Colton huffed. He slipped his hands beneath the water and cupped Ace through his shorts, making him groan. “How about you stop teasing me, take control of these gorgeous balls, and bury yourself deep inside me.”

Ace cursed under his breath. He opened his mouth to reply, but Colton put his fingers to Ace’s lips and released his hold on him.

“You know where to find me.” Colton turned and swam back to the shore. If Ace was determined to drive him out of his mind with his sensual caresses, lingering looks, and sultry voice, then it was only fair Colton return the favor.

Author Bio:
Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

EMAIL: charlie@charliecochet.com

Love in Spades #1(Audio)

Love in Spades #1(ebook)

Be Still My Heart #2(ebook)

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Release Blitz: Won't Feel a Thing by CF White

Title: Won't Feel a Thing
Author: CF White
Series: St. Cross #1
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: July 31, 2018
Publisher: Pride Publishing
It takes more than a doctor to mend a broken heart.

Ollie Warne is fresh out of nursing school and working his dream job as a pediatric cardiology nurse at St. Cross Children’s Hospital. Wanting to start the year fresh from personal heartache and his track record of falling for the wrong man, Ollie’s New Year’s resolution is to rid himself of emotional baggage and live a life of carefree liaisons.

But before the resolution can even begin, Ollie is called to care for eight-year-old Daisy Monroe, who’s struggling after heart surgery. Her father, Jacob Monroe, never leaves her side, apart from the times her mother comes to visit.

The tempestuous and somewhat estranged relationship of her parents is cause for concern enough, but the father’s brooding nature has Ollie investing far more time than usual in his Room One patient. Striking up a friendship of sneaking takeaways into the ward, card playing until dawn and the occasional breaking up of domestic fights, Ollie finds himself drawn to Jacob and becomes a friendly ear for the man who’s harboring more guilt and past demons than even Ollie, which is saying something.

The growing attraction makes it hard for Ollie to keep his distance, though he has to—not only do the ethics of his profession demand it, but Ollie is still somewhat involved with another man. One who has a huge stake in Ollie’s life, both personal and professional.

Ollie is risking more than just his job by getting involved with a patient’s father—much more even than the success of his New Year’s resolution, something that was supposed to ensure that, this time, he won’t feel a thing.

Chapter One
New Year’s Resolutions
“You want my opinion?”


“My honest opinion?”

“Yes,” Ollie repeated. “Please.”

“Brutal honest opinion?”


“Even if you don’t like it?”

“Even if I never want to talk to you again.” Ollie took a sharp slurp through the straw of his smoothie and winced, his glasses tipping to the end of his nose. “Until tonight, anyway.”

“Then leave well alone.”

Ollie sighed. He sucked up another mouthful of his daily fruit and veg intake, flicked back his blond hair that had lost its vigor after a twelve-hour night shift and glanced away from Taya’s wide brown eyes. The eyes that signified she meant every damn word. Bitch.

“Told you.”

Taya freed her dark, waist-length hair from its curled bun and stroked it over one shoulder. She wrapped the band around her slender dark-skinned wrist then sipped her dainty cup of pink hot chocolate. The blue edges of her lips, caused by the freezing weather, were subsiding back to their usual reddish tinge with each guzzle of the pink cream and rainbow of chocolate candies scattered over her ridiculous sickly concoction. She hadn’t even offered a spoonful to him. Twelve hours straight on night shift clearly meant she needed the sugar all to herself.

“He’s not worth your time, your worry or your respect.” She clanged the cup down onto the glass surface of the table, pulled her winter trench coat over the scrubs she hadn’t bothered to change out of and reached for her packet of menthol slims.

“Neither are they.” Ollie pointed to the cigarettes.

Taya glared across the table. She unhooked the top of the packet, took one of the white sticks between her teeth and lit it with her pink lighter. Blowing the smoke into the freezing cold air, she waved her hand.

“We all have our vices, Oliver.”

Ollie stuck his middle finger up. He slapped it back down and shoved it into his jacket pocket. It was freezing, and Taya had to bloody sit outside the corner coffee shop in order to smoke her way out of the trying night shift. She was right. Everyone needed their vices, especially with what he and Taya did for a living. He sighed.

“I think he needs patience.”

“He’s got plenty of those.” Taya pointed her two fingers clutching the death stick at Ollie.

“Har fricking har. Patience with a c.”

“He’s a c all right.” Taya took another drag. At Ollie’s glare, she sighed and rested her elbow on the tabletop. “What? He is.”

“I think you may be the only female in the entire hospital who doesn’t like him.” Ollie slurped the dregs of his raspberry-ripple smoothie and shivered. He should have gone for a hot drink, but it was hard enough to sleep during the day as it was. Caffeine would only make it infinitely more difficult.

“That’s because I know him,” Taya replied.

“Urgh. Not you, too?”

“Ew.” Taya grimaced around her cigarette. “No, thank you.”

Ollie leaned back in the chair. He waved a hand to waft away the smoke drifting into his face. To give her some credit, Taya was trying to blow it out of the side of her mouth to avoid him, but the icy-cold January breeze from the earlier sleet downpour blew it straight back. Ollie zipped up his puffer jacket, folded his arms and jiggled on the cold metal chair.

“You nearly done?” He nodded to the half-full cup of violently pink chocolate.

Taya blew another puff of smoke into the air, stubbed out the remains of her cigarette and downed the rest of her drink, leaving a foam mustache on her top lip. She licked it away. “Yeah. Home to bed, miss the snowfall, back at eight. You?”

They scraped back their chairs and Ollie tucked a five-pound note under the ashtray for the servers. Anyone willing to come outside and serve drinks in this weather should most definitely get tips, even if his measly nurse’s wages would no doubt be far less than those of the coffee baristas working this part of London.

“I should go see my dad,” he replied.

Taya linked her arm in with his, curling her slender fingers around his quilted sleeve. Checking both ways along the crossroads lined by independent boutiques, high-class restaurants, unconventional cafés and health-food shops, she steered him across, narrowly missing a black cab speeding over the mini-roundabout. The glass-enclosed bus stop’s bench overflowed with waiting passengers, so he stood, waiting, his freezing toes within his inappropriate-for-the-weather slip-on loafers numbing with each passing second, and checked the time on the electric board for when the next bus was due.

“How’s he doing?” Taya asked.

“Good days and bad days.” Ollie sighed. “Keeps calling me Tilly.”

Taya tried to hold in the chuckle but failed miserably. Ollie didn’t mind so much. A good sense of humor was always best in these situations, not to mention their line of work. He pulled Taya in closer. It was fricking freezing and snowflakes fell from the overcast sky. How would he get back to work later that night? London came to a standstill if even one flake hit any mode of public transport. Him living in the other end of the city—the cheap end—would make it all the more difficult to travel across town. On occasions when there wasn’t a downfall, he would have cycled in. But that was out of the question with the ice on the roads. And the fact that he hadn’t woken up in his own bed last night. Ollie shuddered at the memory.

“Right.” Ollie bounced to keep warm while awaiting the number 252. “It’s January. So that means New Year’s resolutions. What’s yours?”

“Quit smoking.”

“Good luck.” Ollie meant it.

Taya stuck out her tongue.

“Well, we both know mine—”

“Which you broke last night.” Taya was a bitch like that.

“I don’t believe New Year’s resolutions should start until the second week of January.” Ollie rubbed his hands together, digging Taya’s arm into his side, and wondered why he hadn’t thought to bring gloves. Ah, yes, he hadn’t had any where he’d been before his shift started. He wasn’t allowed to leave any trace of his existence there.

“Riiight,” Taya said. “So that means from today, you’ll be steering clear of arsehole men?”

“Sadly, no. Unfortunately, I will no doubt encounter many of them in my time without realizing until it’s too late.”

“Amen.” Taya saluted.

Ollie wasn’t sure what the salute was about. But he wasn’t particularly religious, so maybe that was how it was done in church these days? Or temples, considering Taya’s family were Hindu.

“So, what is your resolution, then?”

“No baggage,” Ollie replied.


“Yep,” Ollie confirmed.

The gleaming new red Routemaster bus edged along the narrow High Street, bumping over the speed mounds meant to slow the traffic down, which Ollie thought ridiculous as the morning rush-hour pileup tended to last all day in central London. The streets were filled with scuttling people carrying takeout coffee cups, cyclists braving the ice, and the occasional honking of a taxi horn. This time of the morning, most people were trying to get to work and not home from it like Ollie and Taya. He was never quite sure who was keener to reach their destinations.

“I don’t mind a complete arsehole—”

“Obviously.” Taya cut Ollie off with a raise of her smoothed-out eyebrows. That new rainbow hot chocolate had clearly contained one too many e-numbers and sent her loopy. That and the long night shift. Not that she hadn’t been a little bit loopy to begin with.

“Ha ha.” Ollie pushed her forehead. “Like, I can handle a dickhead—”

“We all know.”

“Jesus Christ,” Ollie muttered. “No more white hot chocolate with pink dye for you, okay?”

“Sorry.” Taya pressed her lips together. She rose up on her tiptoes to check on the bus’s progress but needn’t have worried, as it had traveled all of a millimeter since the start of their conversation. At this rate, Ollie might get home in time to have a shower and come straight back.

“What I mean is—”

“You don’t want a man who can’t commit because of circumstance,” Taya finished for him.

Ollie was capable of finishing his own sentences, but Taya was getting warm from flapping her lips, so he allowed it. “Exactly. I’m married to my job. I love my job. Therefore, I should have the occasional fling and become the arsehole myself.” He pointed a finger at Taya. “Don’t fricking say it.”

Taya shrugged and mimed zipping her lips up.

“What do we nurses say daily?”

“‘No, you can’t have McDonald’s’?”

“Not that one.”

“‘You’re going to feel a little prick’?”

Ollie sniggered. “Not that one either.”

“Oh, I know. It’s ‘Of course I’ll change your TV channel for you—it’s not like I have anything better to do with my time.’”

“No! I mean the big one—‘You won’t feel a thing.’”

Taya nodded. “So?”

“So, my resolution is to no longer feel a thing.”

“Good luck.” Taya smiled. Bitch.

The bus pulled up and Ollie jogged on the spot, waiting for the doors to open. They hissed to the side, and even though he and Taya were standing correctly at the hop-on part of the Routemaster with the exit farther along the double decker, a tall man with floppy dark hair jumped straight off and bashed Ollie’s arm as he rushed up the High Street, heading toward the gleaming glass frontage of St. Cross Children’s Hospital.

“Ouch.” Ollie pouted and rubbed his arm.

“Ha!” Taya jumped the step onto the bus.


Amusement shimmered across Taya’s face as she bleeped her Oyster card onto the yellow reader. “You just felt something.”

“Oh, bog off.”

* * * * * * *

Ollie jangled the keys in the lock of his third-floor flat and burst in out of the freezing cold. He slammed the door, wriggled free of his coat and slipped out of his comfortable loafers. Rubbing his numbed hands together, he hurried up the corridor and decided to forgo the shower in favor of sinking under his fluffy down duvet instead.

He stripped out of his jumper and jeans, threw his glasses onto the bedside table and collapsed onto the bed. Grabbing the side of the duvet, he wrapped it around his shivering body, rolled onto his front and made a human sausage roll out of himself. He shut his eyes. Of course, that would be when his house phone decided to ring. He wasn’t going to answer it. That time of the morning, it’d only be personal-injury-claim chasers or some double-glazing salesman. The answer phone clicked on and Ollie’s recorded voice wafted down the hallway into his bedroom.

“Hey, you’ve reached Ollie,” it sang out. “I’m way too busy and important to come to the phone right now, and if you’re not with me then you’re missing out! So leave a message, and I’ll decide whether to call you back. Oh, and if it’s PPI, I’ve claimed four times and turns out I’m still not owed anything. Oh, and I haven’t had an accident in the last three years. Oh, and I’d simply luuurrvve to take your survey on local facilities I use in my leisure time, if I had any. Much love—bleeeeep.”

Ollie chuckled. Until the caller’s voice boomed down the phone.


It seemed like a question, especially with the pause. Ollie held his breath.


Ollie hoped he’d either hang up or get to the point before Ollie passed out from asphyxiation. And considering he was naked, wrapped in a duvet, he could just see the local paper headlines misconstruing his accidental death as some sort of sex game gone wrong.

“Right. You’re not there. Or ignoring me.”

Bright man, this one.

“You left your watch here.”

Ollie scrambled to get his arm out from under the duvet and checked his wrist. Bollocks. He shut his eyes.

“I’ve had to throw it out.”

Ollie shoved a hand over his mouth, adding to his suffocating possibilities, and ignored the sinking feeling in his gut.

“I’ll get you a new one.”

Ollie shook his head and sank farther into the duvet to cover his face.

“Don’t call me back. I’ll see you later.”

The answer phone bleeped, indicating the end of the message and signifying the beginning of Ollie’s New Year’s resolution.

The one where he wouldn’t feel a thing.

Author Bio:
Brought up in a relatively small town in Hertfordshire, C F White managed to do what most other residents try to do and fail—leave.

Studying at a West London university, she realised there was a whole city out there waiting to be discovered, so, much like Dick Whittington before her, she never made it back home and still endlessly searches for the streets paved with gold, slowly coming to the realisation they’re mostly paved with chewing gum. And the odd bit of graffiti. And those little circles of yellow spray paint where the council point out the pot holes to someone who is supposedly meant to fix them instead of staring at them vacantly whilst holding a polystyrene cup of watered-down coffee.

She eventually moved West to East along that vast District Line and settled for pie and mash, cockles and winkles and a bit of Knees Up Mother Brown to live in the East End of London; securing a job and creating a life, a home and a family.

Having worked in Higher Education for most of her career, a life-altering experience brought pen back to paper after she’d written stories as a child but never had the confidence to show them to the world. Having embarked on this writing malarkey, CF White cannot stop. So strap in, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride...


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Monday, July 30, 2018

Monday's Musical Melody: The Music of Love by Sandine Tomas

Title: The Music of Love
Author: Sandine Tomas
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: June 19, 2018
Cover Design: Bree Archer
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

💡💸💡Use Code MoL40 for 40% Discount @ Dreamspinner💡💸💡

Sometimes the music of love skips a beat….

Paralegal by day, musician by night, Julian has an expiration date stamped on his forehead when it comes to love. No relationship has made it past a year, so Julian avoids romance like the plague and concentrates on his music instead.

Which works fine until gorgeous, smart, and funny Zachary joins Julian’s firm. One look at the man and Julian knows he’s dangerous. No matter what, he can’t fall for Zachary. He has to spare Zachary the pain of dumping Julian at the one-year mark. His brilliant plan? Ask a straight friend to pose as his significant other to keep Zachary away. Not surprisingly, his scheme does little to dampen the attraction—on either side.

When Zachary gives Julian a second chance despite his deception, Julian thinks his curse might be broken. But then he’s faced with the impossible choice between a life with Zachary and living his dream of touring with the band….

Chapter 1
THE FIRST time Julian met Zachary, he was hungover. Julian was. Not Zachary. Zachary stood at Julian’s door, holding a box of legal files, beaming like the sun itself.

Julian had been hungover before, but this was different. Well, okay, it was the same, just… a whole lot worse. He felt like poop on whole wheat. No, worse than that. Like microwaved poop on stale sourdough. Road-kill skunk lined his mouth, and he wrinkled his nose, refusing to experience what he smelled like. Julian’s brain was booting up slowly. The man on his front step kept staring. More than that, his gold, brown, blue—whatever-the-fuck-color eyes—looked Julian over with a raised brow.

Retreating from the bright light pouring through the doorway, Julian ran a hand raggedly through his hair. Something crusty embedded under his nail and he lowered his hand in disgust. Julian grabbed the doorframe as the world spun, and he struggled to focus on the box in the man’s hands with the law firm’s imprint on the side. Must be a messenger. Although why he was standing at the door to Julian’s apartment at fuck all too early on a Sunday to drop off files was beyond him.

He took a step back and mumbled, “Okay. Bring ’em in.”

The man walked up the last two stairs with a lively step. Julian rubbed the inches of crud covering his eyes.

Oh. The guy was as tall as an oak tree. Built like one too. Julian took in the wide shoulders, thick biceps, muscled torso narrowing down to slim hips. And miles of legs swishing past him.

Instinctively, Julian pulled his T-shirt down straighter. He wished he could surreptitiously poke his nose under his arm to see how horrid he smelled, but there likely wasn’t a smooth way to do that. Instead, he closed his eyes with a sigh. Maybe if he didn’t see the other man, the other man wouldn’t see him?

A very loud thump made his eardrums vibrate. The messenger had placed the box on his kitchen counter. Why couldn’t absurdly toned strangers deliver things on days Julian was part of the human race? Another boom pulsated throughout the room. Was the guy practicing marching?

That’s when Julian noticed that the messenger had pushed the counter stool out of the way to make room for the large box. Note to self: buy those felt pads to put under the chair feet so they skim across the hardwood. Gliding was a lovely sound.

“This okay?” Julian flinched at the sudden deep voice. It sounded way too loud and was competing with the jackhammer currently crushing his skull. Dark, floppy, too long bangs framed a chiseled gold-bronze face. Julian fought a grimace and nodded that the placement of the box was fine.

The returning smile was even shinier than the one he’d gotten at the door.

And, fuck. Dimples.

After walking toward the admittedly quite lovely human tree in his living room, Julian opened the box to see what the hell couldn’t wait until tomorrow. The Peterson case. Dammit, he should have guessed this was Brian Fowler’s prized class action suit. The senior partner was obsessed with winning, and days of the week meant nothing in pursuit of his goal.

As Julian inhaled, his own intake of air roared like a wind machine to his poor ears. A pad with scribbled notes sat atop the stacks of paperwork, and he poked at it, dreading how many hours of his precious Sunday he’d have to give up.

Being a paralegal was causing a serious crimp in Julian’s real life. Yeah, the goddamn sixty hours a week he gave the bastards didn’t leave a whole lot of time for his music.

Same old bitch. Day job and eating or writing songs and starving…. Food and shelter coming out on top for a while now. So let’s face it, Julian. This. Is your real life.

“I’m Zachary Fierro.” The beanstalk held out a hand, startling Julian away from his inner monologue. “Brian Fowler wants us to work together on this case.”

Fuck. What? The messenger was assigned to the firm’s largest case?

“I thought… you were just delivering the files? You’re a messenger?”

Zachary tilted his head, looking Julian over lazily before smirking bemusedly. “Yes. I am delivering files, but I’m not a messenger.” He spoke slowly, like he wanted to ensure he was understood. Worse, like he was very aware of Julian’s mentally compromised state. “I’m Brian’s new paralegal.”


When did that happen? Julian was Brian’s paralegal. Well, most of the time because the other senior partners would also pull him into their cases. Truth was, Julian wasn’t even really certified as a paralegal. His incredible organization skills, elephant-scale memory and, oddly, the way you think, made the senior lawyers appreciate him. Whatever. It didn’t really matter to Julian; it was just a job. It wasn’t like his music. His songs were his life.

Yes, the law firm job was necessary to pay the bills. So what did it mean that Brian had hired this new guy? Now he had to worry about keeping a job he didn’t even really want but had to have. Zachary coughed, the sound bouncing around the living room until Julian’s head felt like it was crushed between two stones.

Fuck, my life sucks so very much right now.

Zachary chose that moment to smile again, showing off straight white teeth. Julian ran his tongue across his own furry-feeling teeth and fought nausea at the taste again. Crap, he was such a muddled mess. Imagine the impression he was making. No, best not to think on that at all. It would lead down a very bad rabbit hole of mind-crushing despair. Best to find out if the tall guy was replacing him at Harrison, Kim, and Fowler. Get the bad news over with.

But before Julian could ask anything further, Zachary took a short step toward Julian and extended his hand. “We were never introduced. I started last week. Zachary Fierro.”

Julian blinked. Hadn’t Zachary already said his name? It took yet another few seconds of standing stock-still, fighting back the queasiness, and realizing that when someone put their hand out, it usually meant something.

Christ, could I get any more pathetic? He shook Zachary’s hand, saying lamely, “Julian Wallace.”

“Julian,” Zachary said slowly, like he was twirling Julian’s name around his tongue.

Zachary’s grip was firm, but not obnoxiously so. And given how huge his hand was, Julian had no doubt crushing was not beyond his ability.

Zachary flexed his hand, and Julian realized he’d forgotten to let go of Zachary’s palm, but then thought maybe it was just not to fall flat on his face because, really, his legs were starting to get wobbly all over again.

“You look like you could use an aspirin. Or four. Rough night?”

“I guess. Don’t remember all that—” Something hit his slipper. Fuck. Was that dried vomit on his T-shirt? Christ, he was an abysmal disaster. Looking down he confirmed that, yes, he was wearing pajama bottoms. Although, they, too, were… well, it was too vile to contemplate. This wasn’t his usual style. Not that he had a particular style of pajamas. Although he did own one lovely pair in dove-gray silk. But no. He was digressing again. If he ever spoke with Gabe again, he was going to tear him a new one for getting him in this state.

Brief interlude of semicoherency passing, Julian wondered what he was supposed to do with the handsome coworker standing in his living room.

“Dude, maybe you should go grab a shower. I can get us some breakfast in the interim?”

“I stink.”

Zachary laughed at the profoundness of Julian’s statement. “Yeah. You really do.”

Was this funny? Ugh. Had Zachary mentioned food? Nononono. Food evil. Coffee good.

“I’ll get us some coffee too.”

Mind reading? Julian was open-minded about superpowers. After all, there were more things between heaven and earth than you can sneeze at or whatever it was Shakespeare penned.

“Dude, you asked for coffee. Aloud. I’m not reading your mind. You really need a shower. Go. I’ll be back.”

“Back where?”


“What what?”

Zachary’s lips curved. “Never mind, Julian. Get yourself together. I’ll see you soon.”

The tree disappeared out the door with a small head shake.

JULIAN DOWNED three aspirin on the way into the shower. The second the water touched his discombobulated body, he started to feel slightly less amphibian. By the time he’d finished lathering and rinsing his hair, he’d worked up the evolutionary scale all the way to small mammal.

He remembered tequila. And his best friend, Gabe, vaguely. Nick had been there as well. They’d been playing music. Shit. He really hoped he hadn’t gotten vomit on his guitar. He might have to off himself if he did that and then hide the body because he’d be too ashamed to let anyone attend the funeral.

It took two scrubbings, but eventually whatever had plastered to his skin peeled off. He brushed his teeth again because it seemed like a good idea. Mouthwash came next, and after swishing his tongue around his mouth and sensing only minty coolness, he arrived back to nearly human on the food chain—if you didn’t count the electric drill in his skull. An improvement from jackhammer, but still a pretty effective reminder of his idiocy.

Slipping on sweats and an old but mercifully clean T-shirt, he eyed his disheveled bed with revulsion. It was rank, with regurgitated bits of yesterday’s meal making his stomach heave dangerously. Thankfully, the blanket seemed uncontaminated, and he shoved it to the floor. He pulled off the sheets and scrunched them up tight. Holding the bundle up by the tips of his fingers, he threw his clothes from last night into the pile. Weren’t worth washing. Too gross. He popped into the kitchen for a garbage bag, tied the mess up, then dumped everything into the garbage can outside.

Donning thick plastic gloves, Julian got down to work, quickly wiping down the bathroom with his favorite homemade cleaning mixture of water and vinegar, then tackled the few speckles of brown on his white grout with an old toothbrush despite his having gone over it the day before during his weekly Saturday bathroom scouring. You couldn’t keep it gleaming without concerted effort.

The doorbell rang, and Julian stopped halfway through fluffing the pillows on his newly made bed.

Now what? Sundays were made for newspapers and coffee. Which he hadn’t even had a chance to make yet!

Oh shit, he’d forgotten—Zachary stood holding another box of legal files upon which he balanced a large paper bag and two cardboard cups. A curious head tilt met Julian’s openmouthed stare. He was struggling to form a coherent sentence when his nose took over.


Grin widening, Zachary replied, “Guess you could still use some, eh?” He walked in, put the file box on the kitchen counter next to its twin, then held out a lidded coffee cup. “Didn’t know how you took it—got creamers and sugar in the bag.”

“Black,” Julian said, grabbing it from Zachary’s hands.

Zachary did the slow glance thing again. “You clean up good.”

Julian’s face warmed. If his brain was totally operational, he might think that was a flirt.

Coffee. It would all make sense postcaffeination. A long, slow sip later he heard some sort of moaning noise coming out of him. Didn’t care. Fuck, he needed this.

Two more swallows later, he looked up as Zachary pulled his own cup away from his mouth, smirk in place. “Don’t think I ever pleased anyone as much without touching them.” Then as if realizing what he’d said, Zachary looked down bashfully.

Okay. That was definitely a flirt, albeit a little awkward. His nose started twitching again. Now that his own stench wasn’t in the way, he realized the living room smelled good, like coffee and… whatever scent Zachary was wearing. Alarm bells rang because Julian definitely should not be noticing Zachary’s scent. He shook his head in a manner he hoped didn’t look like a dog coming out of the rain and uttered, “I, um, more files?”

Zachary nodded. “There’s more in my car.”


“They finally sent the email records. Brian wants us to categorize, sort, and give him anything pertinent.”

“Five years’ worth?” Julian asked, not quite comprehending Zachary’s perkiness at this request.

“Yeah. I was hoping you could help me bring up the rest. Now that you seem able to stand, that is.” A twitch lifted Zachary’s cheek.

Julian nodded but then noticed the bag Zachary had placed on the counter, and it stole his thoughts away from emails. Was it from his favorite bakery? Zachary saw where he was staring.

“I didn’t know what you liked, so I bought one of each.” He held the bag open for Julian to peer inside.

Wow. The sweet smell of still warm muffins assaulted him, and his mouth watered. He caught Zachary looking at him. The light had shifted in the room, and Zachary’s eyes appeared darker now yet still a soft shade. Teddy-bear brown. Okay, Julian was officially losing it. Lingering hangover insanity. What else could explain this? Stop staring, he told himself.

Except it appeared his words weren’t as silent as Julian had imagined. “I’m sorry,” Zachary said earnestly.


“I didn’t mean—” He yanked open a cupboard, pulled out some paper plates for the muffins, and handed one to Zachary. Nabbing an oversized cranberry muffin for himself, he plopped onto the sofa, normal decorum abandoned on account of yesterday’s tequila insanity. Zachary followed hesitantly, perched as primly as his large stature allowed.

Julian took a bite, remembering to swallow before speaking. “I’m sorry, dude. I’m not running on all cylinders yet today. You weren’t staring. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Zachary laughed, but it sounded uncharacteristically nervous. Which was nuts because he didn’t know Zachary and couldn’t possibly know what characteristic meant for him. “I tend to do that sometimes. You’re not the only one to tell me to stop it.”

“You stare at people?”

Zachary broke eye contact. “Sometimes.”

Julian sensed embarrassment. There wasn’t anything to say to that. “Thanks for breakfast,” he blurted, finally remembering his manners. “What do I owe you?”

“Nothing. It’s on me. You can get it next time.” With the change in subject, the dimples reappeared. “So, how long have you been with Harrison, Kim, and Fowler?”

“Almost a year. Work’s tedious, but the pay is steady. Was a great gig till they assigned me to the Peterson case. Brian’s the youngest person ever to become senior partner. Guy’s a machine. Never stops.”

Zachary chuckled. “Yeah, I hear you. But I love his enthusiasm. All the folks I’ve met so far, for that matter, are just so dedicated. ’S what makes them good, y’know?”

“I prefer their enthusiasm Monday through Friday and not Sunday morning.” He stopped and turned a puzzled glance toward Zachary, something about the way he’d slurred “you know” making his heart ache in familiarity. “Texas?”

“San Antonio,” Zachary confirmed, voice rising in surprise. “Why?”

“Dallas born and bred. Family’s still there.”

“Mine’s still in Texas too, man. I couldn’t hear it in you. Usually I can. How long have you been in DC?”

“A year. Lived in Los Angeles before that. And Portland before that. And Idaho before that. But that was a mistake.”


“Long story. Not even a funny story. Just long. How about yourself?”

“I’m boring compared to you. I lived at home, and now I live here.”

“What brought you here?”

“Law school. Georgetown U.”

Whoa. Top school. Dude must be crazy smart. Well, it explained his snappy attitude over having to work on a Sunday. Great, now aside from overzealous Brian and the rest of the partners, Julian would have to deal with this huge, overgrown puppy getting high over a bunch of stupid emails. Couldn’t he have been paired up with a schlub just doing a job like himself?

Zachary frowned. “You seem disappointed.”

“What? No. That’s great. It’s a great school. Good—good for you.” Dammit, was he always this fucking transparent with everyone? No wonder his only friends were semi-alcoholics.

“Is it the legal profession in general, then, that you have issue with?”

“No. Lawyers are great, make this town run and keep me fed. Can’t complain.”

A soft spring breeze ruffled the curtains, and the shadows painted a pinkish swatch across the apartment’s white walls. The sunlight filtering into the room turned Zachary’s eyes golden. It was neat how they matched his complexion now.

Zachary pulled his hair back with a quick swipe. Nervous habit, maybe. Or he could have felt warm. It was getting hotter. The gesture was futile, as Zachary’s long bangs just fell forward again and framed his angular cheekbones. He had a really nice face.

“We should go get the rest of the boxes.”

The words broke through Julian’s fog. Christ. He’d been staring. Ogling. This wasn’t… no way. The last fucking thing he needed was to fall for someone. Nononono.

The accompanying headshake clearly gave Julian away because Zachary asked innocently, “You don’t want to get them now?”

He was so screwed.

GABE EYED him doubtfully. “Nobody is as tall as a tree. Are we talking basketball player?”

“I don’t know. No. I guess not that tall—doesn’t matter. You’re missing the point.”

After Zachary had finally left Sunday evening, Julian immediately begged Gabe to come over, needing to talk this through. Because the staring. Hadn’t stopped.

“You sorted emails through a hangover. I feel for you, dude, I do. That’s no way to fight a headache. But it’s not the end of the world either.”

Gabe rose to grab a beer from the fridge and rummaged in the upper kitchen cabinets for a snack. There wasn’t much. Eventually he settled on Cap’n Crunch cereal and plopped back down on the sofa, popping handfuls into his mouth straight from the box.

“I stared.”

“Excuse me?” Gabe sputtered, spraying cereal bits.

“I stared. You know it always starts that way. And I smelled him.”

Gabe twisted his face in disgust. “Too much sharing, dude.”

“No. I didn’t mean it like that…. We didn’t. See, it’s happening. It always starts this way. I’m getting incoherent. Soon I’ll make no fucking sense at all, and then—you gotta save me, man.”

“Save you?”

“You can’t let me fall for him.”

“And how am I supposed to do that?” Gabe stopped eating cereal long enough to pull a band off his wrist and tie his long hair back. He regarded Julian with sympathetic humor, lips twitching.

“I….” Julian had no idea. All he knew for certain was that this—crush, flirtation, all-consuming volcanic-level desire—had all the makings of an epic romance. Only it would not end well. And he really didn’t feel like moving. Again.

“Julie, you’re tying yourself in knots for no reason. How do you even know he’s into you? Maybe he’s straight.”

Julian merely stared at his friend.

“Oh, right. The ‘gaydar’ thing.”

“It works. I’m almost always right.”


Julian moaned. Gabe meant well, but he wasn’t helping solve the problem.

“Just screw around and lose his number. Doesn’t have to turn into anything with musical swells.”

“Gabe. You’re forgetting something. This isn’t just a bar pickup. I work with the guy. If we…. Not that we are. No way. But if…. I’d have to see him. Every day.”

It played like a film in his mind. The initial whisper of a kiss. A fantastic first date with a fine meal, steak or maybe perfectly cooked burgers shared in a wood-drenched pub. Delightful conversation and time passing in that way that was at once a blink and all of eternity. Months of dating bliss. And then. Boom. Sorry, Julian, it’s not you, it’s me. How would he stand it? He’d have to quit the firm and move away. Dammit, he was tired of starting over. What if Gabe didn’t come along next time? He’d followed Julian three times already. And Gabe and Nick, their band, The Last Cowboys, were doing well here playing the bars. Shit.

Zachary was trouble. Smart and funny and gorgeous. Lethal. Julian absolutely couldn’t fall for him.

Gabe was looking at him oddly. Like he was reading his mind. Could everyone read his mind?

“Make yourself unwantable.”

“Not sure if that’s possible.” Gabe raised one eyebrow at that. Julian scoffed. “No. I don’t mean I’m God’s gift to men or anything. It’s just that this morning, I looked like death, warmed over, dumped in hell, and regurgitated. And Zachary still showed, um, interest.”

Letting out a hearty chuckle, Gabe said, “Your boy doesn’t sound too picky.” He slapped Julian’s knee. “Maybe if he thought you were unavailable, he’d back off.”

Could work. Zachary had that Texas honorable thing going on, was part of the charm. He wouldn’t go after Julian if he thought Julian was taken. Julian was suddenly certain of that.

But there was no one. Other than the occasional one-nighter, Julian had avoided any real relationship since moving here from Los Angeles. Because his LA entanglement had worked out so well.

“How would I make him believe I’m seeing someone when there’s no one….” Julian locked eyes with Gabe. His gaze lingered a long while, growing from puzzling to begging.

“No. No fucking way.”

“Gabe. Please. We wouldn’t have to do anything. Maybe just hold hands or something.”

“You’re out of your fucking mind. I do girls, remember? Different team.”

“I like it here, Gabe. I want to stay. Write my songs. Have you sing my songs. I don’t want—it always goes to hell if I get romantically involved with someone. You know that. How many times have you picked up what was left of me? I’m not cut out for these things. I get too close and then….”

Gabe took a long swig of his beer. “This is ridiculous. You’ve known this guy one day. So you stared at him. Big fucking deal.”

“He stared back.”

Gabe snorted. “Yeah. No kidding. What gay guy wouldn’t stare at you? Fuck. Half the straight guys do too. You’re freak-of-nature pretty, Jules. It don’t mean nothin’. You’re letting your imagination go wild. Calm down. Play it cool around him. Like you’re not interested. He’ll back off.”

Julian tried to absorb Gabe’s words. It sounded simple, but it wasn’t. Not for Julian. Some people went their whole lives never connecting with anyone. That wasn’t Julian’s problem. He attached easily, fell hard and fast and deep. Same way every time, with the same disastrous results. They said they loved him back. Until they didn’t.

“Okay. But if I need you, would you at least consider it?”

“You really want me to play gay for you?”

Julian nodded. Gabe was his best friend. Had been forever. And yeah, this was the craziest thing he’d ever asked of him. But it was self-preservation at its purest.

“Fuck,” Gabe drawled. And Julian knew that at least he had a way out of ruin if his instinct about Zachary proved true.

“GREAT WORK, guys! This is fantastic. We’re gonna bury those bastards.” Brian pressed his lips together, edges rising like a jackal’s. He rose from the desk chair of his spacious office to pace the length of it, his reflection moving like a stalking twin within the dark open expanse of the window. The offices were emptying out as the evening grew late. Julian and Zachary had spent the last several hours in Brian’s office, poring over the emails they’d flagged for the Peterson Pharmaceutical class action case, showcasing those that were especially damaging to the other side. The sun had long set, and the streetlamps created gilded swaths across the side of the office building. The light changed Zachary’s eyes to highlight the blue in his irises, the pupils disappearing in their depths in a captivating manner.

Julian forced his attention back to his boss. He knew Brian would like the emails they’d uncovered. All of him ached from the late nights they’d spent reviewing the discovery paperwork. Hadn’t left him time for anything else. He rubbed his neck, working out the stiffness till he heard a disturbing pop. Man, he needed to sleep for a month.

“Fucking great!” Brian cried. “We’re gonna crucify them.” Julian considered Brian—a lean, African-American man with cut-glass cheekbones, broad shoulders, and a disarming smile, Brian was about as tall as Zachary, not quite, but about. Zachary sat on the opposite chair from Julian. In an office typically dominated by a highly successful, good-looking man, Zachary stood out like a candle in the black of night.

He just lit up the damn room.

Their eyes met, and Zachary’s lips quirked up in a small smirk at Brian’s naked killer instincts. Look away. Look away. Look away. Zachary’s skin had this warm golden tone that bespoke his Hispanic heritage, and there were these faint moles on his face that….

“…schedule the depositions starting next week.” Brian stopped his pacing and rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Peterson Pharmaceutical’s got that big-gun firm on their side. Probably isn’t a big pharma they don’t represent. So, I don’t want to give them the home court advantage when we depose their employees. Our offices just aren’t going to impress—let’s book a suite at the Ritz. Neutral ground. And of course, record everything. Julian? You got that?”

Crap, he’d been staring at Zachary. Again. Dammit. “Um—”

“Yeah. We’ll take care of it.” Zachary rescued him.

Julian mouthed a quick thanks, but Zachary’s attention was still on Brian.

“Set the suite up as a command center for the duration. We’ll need transcripts after each interview. Zach, I’ll need you for brief prep. Jules, I want you on research. They’re lying. Those people got sick after taking that drug, and we’ve got the start of evidence that they knew more than they were letting on. Now let’s prove it. I’m shifting some projects around so Kat is at your disposal as well. Jack too, if you need him. Harrison really wants these guys. So let’s get to work.” Brian glanced at his watch. “Damn. I’m late for an appointment.” He looked at the two of them. “You don’t mind cleaning up on your own?”

Julian could only agree amicably as Brian walked out with a quick thanks, and Julian was left with a desk full of sorted emails, some with bright red flags, and six-foot-four inches of pure attraction. He shook his head slightly. He was stronger than this. He’d turned down lots of pretty faces. This was just another one.

Maybe Gabe was right. Maybe Zachary wasn’t even into him at all and this was just a silly one-way crush that would lead to nothing.

“So, looks like we’ll be joined at the hip for a while.”

You know, it wasn’t the words. Anybody could say that and it could come out whining, could sound matter-of-fact, maybe even bored. However, Zachary said it like he just found out Santa Claus was real.

His eyes locked back on Julian, moving slowly over his body, doing that not-sure-where-to-land-first thing, and Julian felt the heat first in his face and then considerably lower. “Um. Yeah. Looks like.”

“Hey. Don’t look so sad. Could be fun.”

Julian’s mouth instinctively twisted. “Working 24-7. Sure. Loads.”

Zachary’s voice deepened, smooth like honey pouring into tea. “Hey, what’s wrong?”

Releasing a soft sigh, Julian admitted, “I haven’t been able to get to anything except work and now, well, it’ll just be impossible. It’s frustrating because I was right in the middle of working something out.”

“Working something out?” Zachary questioned.

“Yeah, a song.”

Zachary crossed one leg over the other and rested his elbow on his thigh, leaning his cheek against his hand. “Tell me about your song.”

Julian’s facial muscles relaxed as his lips curved up involuntarily. “It was soft. Remember the rain about three weeks ago? Well. No. You probably don’t because who would remember a random rain shower from weeks ago. But. It fell real soft that Saturday, and I was walking. That’s when I saw it.”


“What what?”

“What did you see?” Zachary studied him intently, peering into Julian as if he was made of glass. Before Julian could reply, Zachary inexplicably already knew the answer. “You see music.”

Julian blinked in surprise. “Yeah. It’s… how I work.” He ducked his head and colored slightly. “Know it sounds odd.”

“So you’re a songwriter. And you’re a musician too?”

“I play guitar. Sometimes I perform with my friends.”

Zachary startled at that. “Yeah?”

“I… um… I sing my songs.”

Lighting up like a Christmas tree was the only expression Julian had for what was happening to Zachary’s face. “Wow. I—you think maybe I could come hear you one day?”


Zachary almost fell into it but caught himself in time, lips twitching. “I’d love to come see you perform. Let me know next time, please?” Zachary’s gaze didn’t waver, twinkling like a lily pond on a moonlit night. “I want to hear what the rain showed you.”

Internal alarms sounded like a cat’s paws against glass. This was exactly how it started: Julian’s stupid unrestricted sharing. Then the other person seemed like he cared. And that led to the caring back and the mind-blowing sex, and it was all unbearably good. Until whatever it was about Julian kicked in that made the other person want to stomp on his heart until it lay pulverized on the ground.

He was so very royally screwed.

Author Bio:
Sandine Tomas grew up an unapologetic bookworm, making friends with characters from the ancient past to the farthest reaches of the universe. Her career as a marketing writer has given her insight into the divergence between what a person thinks they want and what they truly need. Relationships are at the heart of her writing, and she enjoys creating characters who become so real that their stories beg to be told. Writing allows her to explore people and ideas from all sides, spinning a notion around like a gem until its facets glisten.

Twisting the old adage about writing what you know into writing what you feel, Sandine doesn’t shy away from raw emotions, turbulent circumstances, and above all, deep passions, fueled by humor, honesty, and trust. She enjoys instilling her characters with the flaws, courage, and idiosyncrasies that brings them to life.

Sandine lives in New York with her husband, two daughters and a Golden Retriever puppy named Noodle. An unabashed TV and film enthusiast, she happily binge watches her favorites until her eyes glaze over. Her other guilty pleasures include attending fandom conventions, sleeping in on weekends, and recharging solo by holing up with a caramel macchiato and an amazing book.

If you’d like to chat, reach out to her here or on Twitter or Facebook.


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