Monday, October 8, 2018

Monday's Mysterious Mayhem: Between the Devil and the Pacific Blue by Charlie Cochet

For the last six months, Detective James Ralston has worked the nightshift as security for the Pacific Blue Hotel, and every night at 2 a.m. his rounds lead him to the radio room where the handsome and mysterious Franklin Fairchild sits listening to waltzes as old as the hotel itself. James is drawn to Franklin, but Franklin is a man at the end of his rope, and James has no intention of getting caught up in whatever trouble Franklin is in. A heated encounter late one night sends James down a disturbing path and has him questioning everything around him, including his very sanity.

1st Re-Read Review October 2018:
I don't really have anything I can add to my original review.  Between the Devil and Pacific Blue really does have a little bit of everything: romance, mystery, history, contemporary, paranormal, gangsters, and just the right amount of humor tying it all together.  From Fairchild's desperation to keep James safe to James' humorous inner monologue on whether he's finally cracked up, this novella is a true gem to add to your library.  I can't believe I haven't re-read this one before now but frankly after revisting the Pacific Blue and all her oddities I have a sneaky suspicion this one just might be added to my own annual re-read festival I lose myself in every summer.

Original Review June 2016:
Strange happenings, mystery, romance, a bit of history.  Roll them all together and what do you have? A great read and an amazing story.  Normally, I knock off half a bookmark for novellas just on principle because I prefer long novels but when they are written as well as Between the Devil and the Pacific Blue, I just couldn't.  If you enjoy paranormal, then you definitely need to check this one out, even if you don't normally go the novella/short story route, this is worth the read.


THE PACIFIC Blue Hotel did something to people. Hell if I knew what it was.

With every passing day, it became harder and harder to remember how I ended up here, and I wasn’t the only one with that problem. It was like everyone else in this place sat in the same boat, drifting through a thick fog in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle waiting to be sunk, unaware of when or how they got there.

I’d been working security on the nightshift at the Pacific Blue for the past six months. It felt more like six decades. Plenty around here didn’t make sense to me. The hotel had been built in the late 1800s. That didn’t befuddle me. This was New York City. There were scores of old buildings around still in use. What I often found myself wondering about was why a bunch of old rich guys spent a fortune building a hotel made to resemble the lost city of Atlantis and then named it the Pacific Blue? And why stick it on a street known at the time as Death Avenue? Sure, the West Side Freight Line stopped running back in the early 1940s, but it had killed and mutilated enough people by then to have earned the name. Even the West Side Cowboys assigned to ride in front of the train to warn pedestrians hadn’t stopped people from ending up dead.

Tenth Avenue had come a long way since then. It no longer consisted of crumbling pavement surrounded by factories, warehouses, and meatpacking plants. Now we had towering office buildings and a couple of attractive government buildings that could moonlight as prison blocks. Either way, neither century’s landscape inspired thoughts of the seaside. Then again, most of the hotel guests were permanent residents, some who looked as old and worn as the hotel itself. I suppose those poor souls could easily fool themselves into believing they were surrounded by sandy beaches and rolling blue-green waves. There were few new arrivals at the Pacific Blue, and they didn’t stay long. This wasn’t exactly the Marriott.

Daryl, the night porter, had finished dimming the last of the lights in the main lobby over an hour ago. Inside the Pacific Blue I couldn’t get a phone signal, much less Wi-Fi, so I hadn’t been surprised when I saw Daryl manually turning down the lights. I’d counted maybe half a dozen employees on the nightshift, all of them probably old enough to remember paying ten cents for a quart of milk. By now residents and guests were tangling with the sandman, which meant it was getting to the time of night I enjoyed most. Just me, my thoughts, and the ghosts that came with them.

I checked my watch and glanced past the front desk, down the dimly lit hallway just to the right of the main lobby. The faint glow of lamps and the soft hum of some faraway melody came floating out of the radio room. I stopped in front of the pink-and-gold-veined marble desk and tapped the oxidized bell. It was a miracle the thing still worked. A few seconds later another miracle happened; the manager heard it. An old man who looked as rusty as the bell I just rang came shuffling over.

“I’m gonna start my rounds, Leslie.”

Leslie gave me a nod and shuffled back to finish his nap. I liked the old guy, even if he did forget most of the conversations we had. Not that I minded. The old boy’s weary gray eyes had a way of lighting up whenever he spoke about “the good old days,” back when he’d been a lad of seven, walking into the arms of the Pacific Blue for the first time. What a grand gal she must’ve been then. Her decorative moldings of swirling foliage free of cobwebs and her patterned walls of pink and turquoise hues fresh, vibrant, and untouched by growth and decay. Now she was like a shimmering Hollywood starlet who hadn’t managed to make the transition to talking pictures. With each passing day, she faded away a little more.

Walking down the deserted hall, I stopped just short of the stone archway and listened. It was a waltz, one of those sweeping, haunting ones that carried memories of a distant past. The kind whose imprint lingered well after its final note had faded, much like the man in the gray three-piece suit settled on the salmon-colored armchair listening to it. His eyes were closed, long lashes resting on fair cheeks, a smooth angular face with a strong jaw and a good mouth. He was tall, slender, handsome. The kind of guy who only stopped in dumps like this on his way to something better. Except Franklin Fairchild had gotten lost along the way. His hair was black and neatly styled, his eyes dark and bright as a midnight sky. How did I know about his eyes? I’d seen them every night for the last six months.

“Mr. Ralston,” Fairchild greeted quietly, his nice lips lifting slightly on one side. His eyes were still closed, but once they opened, they’d be intense and haunting, kind of like that waltz. “Your lurking is distracting.” He opened those impressive eyes and turned his head slightly, his gaze capturing mine and holding on. “Much about you distracts me.”

The way his voice subtly dipped in pitch had me taking an interest in the faded blue-green carpet at my feet. “I didn’t mean to disturb you, Mr. Fairchild. I was just doing my rounds.”

Fairchild gave a soft laugh that crawled under my skin and made itself at home. He had a nice voice. Lulling, quiet, and in no hurry to get to where it was going, much like Fairchild himself.

“Funny how your rounds lead you here every night at 2:00 a.m. Worried I’ll skip out on the bill?”

He was teasing me, but it somehow fell flat. My guess was insomnia wasn’t the only thing keeping Fairchild up at this hour. “Not really,” I replied with a shrug, and that was the God’s honest truth. Though if he did try, I didn’t think I’d be too upset about it. That alone should’ve been my warning to stay away from him.

“Just worried, then?”

Franklin Fairchild had been here six months, arriving the same night I started my first shift. He only left his room late in the evening after everyone had gone to bed, and then all he did was come downstairs to listen to the radio. As far as I knew, he took all his meals in his room, didn’t talk to anyone, didn’t have visitors, and didn’t interact with another soul other than to say the cursory “thank you” when necessary. I seemed to be the exception to the rule. It made me feel kind of responsible. I didn’t much care for that.

“You seem like a smart guy, Mr. Fairchild. I’d hate to see those smarts splattered all over the pavement.” He was right. I was worried. The Pacific Blue had a habit of drawing in folks looking to uphold the old Death Avenue moniker.

Franklin’s big dark eyes widened, and his cheeks went rosy in hue. It was a good look for him. Obviously he didn’t think so, because those nice full lips frowned at me.

“I see” was all he said. He turned his gaze back to the radio, which was now playing a lovely little melody about “The Day You Came Along.”

How apropos.

“Sorry if I offended you.” I realized then how much that sounded like an apology. Aside the fact that it was about as common an occurrence with me as a government tax break, I had no clue what the hell I was apologizing for. I wasn’t the one possibly thinking about taking a swan dive off an eighth-floor balcony, passing my misery on to some poor bastard who didn’t know when to leave well enough alone. Well, that was just great.

Fairchild stood, his slender frame rising from the chair with all the ease and grace of a dancer. He was about my height and size, without the added bulk. There was the slightest bit of crookedness to his nose, one noticeable only to someone who’d suffered from his fair share of broken noses. What I didn’t understand was how a refined guy like Fairchild ended up with a broken nose. I was pretty good at sizing people up, finding their angle. It was my job. Six months, and all I knew about the man before me was what my gut told me. And that was that Franklin Fairchild was a man at the end of his rope.

“Good night, Mr. Ralston.”

Fairchild swept past me, the faint smell of aftershave, soap, and something else caressing me on its way out. The room wasn’t the only thing left cold and empty from his departure. I looked down at the armchair he’d vacated to find a gray jacket draped neatly over the side. I picked it up and sprinted from the room, catching him before he reached the elevator.

“Hey! Wait!” I held the jacket out to him. “You forgot this.”

“Thank you.”

He smiled and reached out to take it. His fingers grazed mine, and the spark it caused gave me a start. I couldn’t say whether it was my running across the carpet or if it was something else, but it was enough to make me drop the suit jacket like an idiot. I swiped it off the floor, doing my best to remain aloof. He didn’t seem to notice.

“Clumsy me,” he purred.

“No problem.” I felt a little tremor go through me when his fingers brushed over my hand again. His gaze held mine long enough to tell me all I needed to know but briefly enough not to share it with anyone else. Then he turned and disappeared inside the elevator the porter held open for him and Daryl, who gingerly stepped in after him. He stood so close to Franklin I thought he was going to step on the man’s toes. Maybe it was time for Daryl to get himself a new pair of bifocals.

Walking off toward the main lobby, I gave myself a nice little speech. I couldn’t take Franklin up on his offer, no matter how long it had been since I had a guy in my bed. Good-looking men weren’t exactly throwing themselves at my feet these days. Then again, when had they ever? There’d been a time when I was getting my kicks and didn’t much care who I was getting them from. Those late-night rendezvous inside deserted toilet stalls no longer held the appeal they once had.

What did Franklin Fairchild want with me anyway? Maybe what he wanted wasn’t so different from what I wanted. Pants around the ankles, grunting, groping, giving it, and getting it good until our knees felt wobbly, and then “Thanks a bunch, pal.” We would each go on our merry way, and that was that. Except it wasn’t, because he was a guest, and I was the help.

There was also the possibility that Fairchild had gotten a little bit too deep under my skin over the last few months, and letting him go on his merry way might not be as easy as it sounded. I was past believing in happily ever after. Jesus, I was working a second job as security for a run-down hotel because the few hours a week I worked cold cases wasn’t enough to pay the rent and all the therapy bills. I’d tried to be all I could be, until an IED nearly killed me and partially blinded me in one eye. Again I wondered how the hell I’d gotten here. And this time I wasn’t thinking of just the hotel. There were times when I felt like a stranger in my own home.

“You’re a laugh a minute, James,” I muttered to myself as I made my rounds. It was the late hour messing with my head. Not that I would have been asleep at this hour anyway, hence using the time to make some extra cash. There wasn’t a whole lot to secure around here either, which made my job that much easier, and my license to carry a concealed weapon unnecessary. I doubted the chipped, gaudy ceramic seashell ashtray would fetch much at the pawnshop.

I got on with the rest of my rounds and came to the conclusion that if I didn’t shake off the lingering feel of Fairchild’s slender fingers, I would be a goner. Not to mention it was going to be one hell of a long night. Lucky for me, a drunk stumbled into the lobby, taking up a good deal of my time. I listened to the poor bastard’s war stories, not bothering to mention I had plenty of my own. I escorted him out, handed him a few bucks, and told him to get himself a couple of hot meals and some coffee. When I punched out at the end of my shift, I decided the best thing to do would be to stay away from Franklin Fairchild.

The next night I managed to hold on to my conviction for a whole hour. I was real proud of myself too. My body was no better at heeding the warning. As I neared the radio room, the sweeping melody of one of Franklin’s waltzes made my pulse flutter. I stepped into the archway and pretended his subtle smile didn’t send my heart racing or give me butterflies in my stomach. Damn. He was something else.

“Mr. Ralston,” Franklin said softly. He wore the same gray three-piece suit I’d seen him in every night since we met. His eyes were closed, and he sat in the same chair he always did. I didn’t delude myself into thinking his nightly routine had anything to do with me, so I put it down to him being a creature of habit.

“Good evening, Mr. Fairchild.” Maybe tonight I’d string enough words together to form some kind of conversation. Preferably one where I didn’t end up insulting him.

Fairchild stood and walked toward me, or rather the doorway I was blocking. Guess he wasn’t in the mood to chat. Not that he ever was. I stood still as he swept by, then caught his arm before he could leave.

“Hold on.”

Fairchild arched an eyebrow at me, and instead of letting go, I pulled him closer. He allowed it. His midnight eyes searched for something in my gaze before he turned his face away.

“Every night you sit in this room until I arrive, and every night you say just enough to get me riled up before you leave. I’m getting whiplash from your signals here, Fairchild.”

“Please.” Fairchild’s eyes grew glassy, but he put a finger to my lips before I could open my mouth to speak. “I have to go.” He moved his hand to my cheek, and I leaned into the touch. His thumb caressed my skin, a familiar scent I couldn’t place filling my nostrils. “Let me go.”

I did as Fairchild asked, even though I felt sick doing it. My reaction surprised me. I didn’t want him to walk away, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why. He leaned in, and my breath hitched as he planted a tender kiss on my cheek. His lips lingered against my skin, and I took advantage, turning my face ever so slightly so I could brush my lips over the corner of his mouth. He smiled and pulled away.

“Until tomorrow night, Mr. Ralston.”

I swallowed hard and watched him walk away, aware of the hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach. Was the guy messing with me? If he was, why was I letting him? Maybe it was time to get some answers.

At 2:00 a.m. the next evening, I made my way to the radio room. The moment I heard some perky pop tune playing instead of a waltz, I knew something was wrong. I stopped in front of the archway and felt an odd sensation in my chest. I didn’t like it. The salmon-pink armchair was empty. So was the rest of the room. I turned off the radio and sat down in what I had dumbly come to consider his spot. It had been a long time since I’d bothered feeling any kind of way about anything, and now it was coming at me from all directions. Damn it all.

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.



Blog Tour: His Instant Family by Rheland Richmond

Title: His Instant Family
Author: Rheland Richmond
Series: Stories of Us #2
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: October 4, 2018
Cover Design: Jay Aheer at Simply Defined Art
Shy and awkward Teo Wright, a brilliant young author, has met the man of his dreams in much older Michael, a widower, and father of three. The man has fired up his fantasies and refuses to let go. Discovering they are both single sets them on the road to forever.

“I want to wake up to this every morning.”

Dr. Michael Ashworth has been focused on his work for too many years and although now he is one of the best doctors in his field, it has been to the detriment of his family. But when Teo comes into his life, Michael knows the young man is his future. Teo has made him feel alive and whole again. However, Michael’s in-laws are not thrilled to find the ‘straight’ son-in-law they have known and loved for many years, is in fact bisexual.

Dating a man is not the only issue threatening the life he and Teo are building together. Michael’s teenage son is also not a fan of his father having a boyfriend that is so much younger.

A rebellious teenager and bigoted relatives are hurdles Michael and Teo must overcome before they can find their forever, but nothing good ever comes easy… especially when there are kids to consider.

Michael wasn't sure what just happened, but thankfully years of galas and fundraisers had given him a world-class poker face. Unless he was losing his mind... he was apparently attracted to the husband of one of his patients. He knew that was exactly what it was. He knew that feeling. That spark of attraction and that sense of potential. He had only ever really felt that once before, with Sierra. His late wife.

That flash, and those tingles of fierce attraction that made goose bumps pop out all over your skin. But that wasn't... couldn't be possible? He wasn't gay. Not that he had any problem with being gay, far from it, but he just had never been attracted to a man before. Sure, in college, he'd noticed some guys were attractive, but he'd been married to his wife, Sierra, for eleven years before she passed away. Damn it, here came the crushing guilt. He couldn't even think of her without the guilt and regret overshadowing everything.

He hadn't thought about anyone in that way since he’d met her. He did not want to think of anybody in that way, either. He'd not had that feeling since forever ago. And, truthfully, he was shaken to the core. He’d been seeing Mrs. Preston since she transferred into his practice. But, this was the first time he was meeting Mr. Preston. Michael put on his most blank look to conceal what he was feeling. He couldn't very well tell the expectant parents they were having a daughter while imagining what the father looked like under his clothes.

Matteo was a beautiful man, and those were the only words to describe him. With the slightly too long dark locks, and the stormy gray eyes that made him even more striking to look at. With his coloring, they just stood out in contrast. He was shorter than Michael. All-around leaner too, with a body he would describe as fit without being overly muscled. Maybe he just needed to get laid. It had been almost a year, maybe longer, since he had ended his liaison with Addison. She was a lovely woman. Stunning in fact, but she'd started making comments like, “Where is this going?” and, “Why haven't I met your children?” Immediately he had known that it was time to end things.

He just knew that she could never compete with Sierra. It was unfair, and he shouldn't even be comparing them. He knew this, but he couldn't stop. Once she'd mentioned meeting his kids, he'd known their time together was up. He ended things so fast he may have left blazing skid marks while leaving her apartment, like the DeLorean in Back to the Future. It was unfortunate, honestly, because she would have made a lovely wife, just not for him.

Focus, Michael. Finish this appointment and leave this room as quickly as possible without being impolite or unprofessional.

Author Bio:
Since she was a little girl, Rheland Richmond entertained herself with any book she could get her hands on. She has written as long as she can remember, and now she finally gets to share some of those stories with other people.

She loves a good happily ever after. Because she believes love and light should touch everything. She is an obsessive reader and would never have considered writing if it wasn’t for all the authors that inspired her and the thousands of books she has devoured along the way.

When she’s not reading she’s caught up in all her guilty pleasure TV Shows. Or catching up with her sibs wherever they are in the world, which usually involves long distance calling. She’s an introvert that will take a night in before anything else.

Made in Nigeria and Raised in the UK she’s an interesting mix of both cultures and appreciates both equally.

His Instant Family #2


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Book Blast: A Pride Anthem by Rob Browatzke

Title: A Pride Anthem
Author: Rob Browatzke
Genre: M/M Romance, Paranormal
Release Date: May 10, 2018
Cover Artist: Alex Bischoff
Three spirits. One night. One last chance.

Jake is dead. Ben knows that. But when Ben wakes up to see Jake standing over him, he is forced to face his feelings not only about Jake's death, but about the direction of his life. In a big gay Christmas Carol style night, Ben is visited by more spirits, and Pride will never be the same.

“So what if I do?” Ben screamed, even as Ben-on-the-couch cried. “So what if I want to leave? No one will care.”

The clock struck nine and the office faded away, to be replaced by... the office again. Ben sat up on the couch. Had he been sleeping? Dreaming? Regardless, it was true. He had known for a long time that none of it – bar or community or Jake – none of it really mattered.

“And that's where I come in,” said the smooth-bodied blond muscle hunk in glittery gold booty shorts that suddenly appeared at the foot of the couch. “I'm the Ghost of Pride Present, but that's a bit of a mouthful.” Ben couldn't help but glance down, at what was also a mouthful. A very impressive mouthful. The ghost saw, and smirked. “You can call me Marc.”

“I'm done,” Ben said. “This whole nocturnal spiritual journey is over.”

“It's just beginning,” Marc said.

“It ends now. If I don't go, you can't make me.”

“Oh, that's her rule, not mine.” Marc reached down with a meaty hand and yanked Ben off the couch. “Besides, there’s not a gay man alive or dead who doesn’t want to come with me. Happy Pride!” Marc said, and he kissed Ben on the cheek.

Author Bio:
Rob Browatzke is a writer from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, proud teller of stories and thrower of parties.


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