Thursday, January 31, 2019

January Book of the Month: Fire and Agate by Andrew Grey

When Chris Anducci is moved off jail duty and into the sheriff’s office, he doesn’t expect his first assignment to be protecting a witness against a human trafficking ring. Knowing the new sheriff doesn’t abide screwups, Chris reluctantly agrees to work the case.

Pavle Kasun has spent the last four years of his life at the mercy of others. When an opportunity presented itself, he took it, resulting in his rescue. Now the safe houses he’s placed in are being threatened and he needs protection if he is to have any sort of chance at a life.

Chris opens his home to Pavle, but he doesn’t expect Pavle and his story to get under his skin… and stay there. Soon they discover they have more in common than either of them thought. Slowly Pavle comes out of his shell and Chris finds someone who touches his heart. But as the men looking for Pavle close in, they will stop at nothing to get him out of the way. But even if Chris can keep him safe, he might not be able to protect his heart if Pavle moves back home.

Chris Anducci's first assignment once he's moved to the sheriff's department is witness protection in a human trafficking ring.  Having spent the last four years in a virtual prison Pavle Kasun saw an opportunity for freedom and took it, now the safe houses he's associated with are being targeted.  Can Chris protect Pavle till he testifies?  Can they each protect their hearts in the process as well as their lives?

I am going to start out by saying that I think Fire and Agate has been the most heartbreaking story in either Carlisle Deputies or the series it was spinned-off of, Carlisle Cops.  We don't see first hand the pain and suffering Pavle lived prior to getting free but we definitely see the lasting effects it had on him and subsequently those around him.  Unlike most missing persons, Pavle had no one looking for him so there was no one hurting but him, at least at the time but as so often when the media tires of a case or they move to the "next big breaking news" the pain doesn't stop when the cameras do so even though Pavle had no one waiting there are others effected by his pain.  Andrew Grey does an amazing job conveying this and that aspect alone makes this an incredible read but there is so much more to this tale.

Don't get me wrong, yes Agate is heartbreaking but it is also quite possibly the most uplifting and heartwarming entry as well.  Just knowing Pavle survived is uplifting enough but what he goes onto accomplish is enough to turn the tears of pain to happy tears, trust me there will be tears😉. You might think I'm giving away an awful lot but really I'm not spoiling anything because we all know Chris and Pavle's story will be a HEA but as so often it is in fiction, its not the end result but the journey getting there that is the meat-and-potatoes of the story.  And boy is there a feast waiting for you within the covers of this gem, you do not want to miss one single bite laid on the table.

One final note, if you're wondering about reading Carlisle Deputies(or Carlisle Cops for that matter) in order is necessary, its not as each entry is a separate case with separate members of the communities' law enforcement.  However, it is my personal opinion that relationships with secondary characters who were main characters in previous stories flow better in order but it is not a must and you will not be lost one bit.


“CHRIS,” BRIGGS said as he stalked into the locker room like a man on a mission. His gaze was hard and his posture as rigid as a two-by-four. Anger and discontent rolled off him in waves, worse than Chris had ever seen in the month since he had moved from jail duty.

Two years of whining, demanding prisoners who thought being in jail was the worst thing to ever happen to them and thought a jail cell should be like a suite at the Hilton. Those were the ones Chris was pretty sure were never going to see the inside of a cell again if they could help it. And then there were the repeat offenders who thought of the jail as home and a chance at three meals a day. God, he had hated every minute of the constant noise of men and women talking, fighting, yammering on about nothing just to make noise so the reality of the shit they were in didn’t close in around them.

“What can I do for you?” Chris smiled as best he could. Briggs had been instrumental in getting him off jail duty and into the sheriff’s office, so he owed the guy.

“It’s not me. His Majesty wants to see you.” Briggs turned, flashing a beam of damn near hatred out the door.

Not that Chris blamed the guy. When Sheriff Hunter had decided to retire, Briggs had stepped in as acting sheriff at Hunter’s request. The entire department had been pretty happy about it. Briggs was well respected and good at his job. But the county board had other ideas. They did some lame-assed search, and lo and behold, they’d found the current sheriff, a political appointee. That had been a month ago, but Briggs still hadn’t gotten over it.

“Thanks.” He checked that his uniform was perfect, because that was what Sheriff Mario Vitalli liked. He was all about how things looked and appeared. It didn’t seem to matter how things got done as long as he looked good—at least that was the general feeling in the locker room. “I’ll go right away.”

Briggs rolled his eyes. “He’s on a call, so give him five minutes.”

Vitalli liked everyone to wait for him, though he never wanted to wait for anyone or anything. Which would be fine if he were good at his job. He wasn’t particularly—at least Chris didn’t think so.

“Okay.” Chris wanted to say something to Briggs. He really thought a lot of him, but everything that came to mind sounded completely lame, so he kept quiet and showed Briggs the respect he thought he deserved.

“Do you want something?” Briggs asked, taking a step closer.

Chris realized he’d sunk into his thoughts and had been looking at nothing in particular. Briggs must have thought he was staring at him. “No.” Chris turned away and closed his locker. “I’ll see you around.” He left the room and headed up to where the big guy had his office.

The door was closed, so Chris sat in the chair outside to wait. Things had changed a lot in a month. Everyone was quiet around the office. The people who worked near the sheriff all spoke in whispers. Sheriff Vitalli didn’t like noise, and to him, talking meant people weren’t working. Which seemed ridiculous to Chris, because for him, talking in a sheriff’s office meant work was getting done and investigations were being discussed and moving forward.

The door opened and Sheriff Vitalli tilted his head outside.

Chris snapped to his feet, went in, and closed the door. “Good morning.”

“Anducci,” Vitalli said, taking his seat behind the desk. Chris couldn’t miss the file that sat there in front of him, and wondered if he was being sent back to the jail. His stomach clenched. He’d worked hard and diligently to get out of there. “I have an assignment for you.” He pushed the file off to the side as though he had made a decision. Chris wondered if it was good or bad.

“Yes, sir,” he said quietly, hoping to hell he wasn’t on his way back. No matter what, he was going to have to return to his locker for an antacid.

Vitalli shook his head and scoffed. “Everyone seems to think that this office is some kind of protection service.” He sneered.

Chris kept his mouth shut. It was their job to protect the public, which was why they became police officers in the first place. At least why Chris had. Granted, most people would think him idealistic, but so the fuck what.

“Are you listening?”

“Yes,” Chris answered quickly.

“I got a request from a social worker.” Vitalli yanked open a drawer and pulled out a thin file, then tossed it on the desk dramatically. “The cops in Carlisle busted up a whorehouse and found a bunch of aliens working there. In their touchy-feely world, they set about helping them and found they were brought here against their will.” He rolled his eyes. “I’m not buying it, but no one asked me my opinion. Anyway, they say they need help for one person they found. It’s a man, not a woman….” The sheriff paused as if he were expecting some sort of agreement to his ignorance and shortsightedness. He didn’t seem to believe that men could be trafficked as well as women, and Chris wasn’t going to agree with him.

“Human trafficking takes many forms,” Chris said, then cleared his throat when the sheriff frowned deeply. “What would you like me to do?”

Vitalli groaned dramatically. “The Social Services folks found these people safe places to live, but one of them has been found out. Apparently he’s preparing to testify against his captors, and now he’s been getting threats. The feds, DA, and Social Services are all asking for protection for this guy, and it’s falling on me to provide it. So….” He picked up the file and thrust it toward Chris. “It’s you.”

“Me?” He took the file and tucked it under his arm. He wasn’t going to read it while standing in front of the sheriff.

“Can we not let this interfere with your shifts?” he groused, then turned back to his empty desk, grabbing the first piece of paper he could find.

“Is there anything else?”

He didn’t think he was going to get an answer, but then the sheriff lifted his gaze. “Don’t screw this up. It’s an easy job, so just do it and be done.” He turned away, back to his papers. Chris took it as a dismissal and left the office, closing the door behind him.

With a sigh of relief, Chris went to his old metal desk at the back of the station and placed the file on the empty surface. He was usually out on patrol or working with one of the other deputies, so he spent very little time there. No pictures or papers littered the space, just a phone and a few files hanging in one of the drawers. It would be so easy for him to pack up and move on. Part of him, some fear deep inside, wondered how long he would get to stay before being sent back to jail duty.

“What did the sheriff want?” Pierre asked as he approached the desk.

“He gave me an assignment,” Chris said, rather pleased.

Pierre smiled. “It looks like you’re going to stay, then.” Pierre had been the first one to welcome him, handing over a fresh coffee on Chris’s first day. “That’s good.”

“Suppose so, as long as I don’t mess it up.” Chris opened the file and scanned through it. There wasn’t much information, just a name and address for the witness, along with information on how to contact the caseworker. “Kasun, Pavle Kasun…,” he said, and nodded.

“Does that mean anything to you?” Pierre asked.

“Not personally. My mother’s family is Serbian, and this has that sound.” He picked up the phone and called the number for the caseworker. It went to voicemail, so he left a message asking her to call back as soon as she was able.

“What did the sheriff tell you?”

“That this Pavle is a witness who was in a safe house until he was found out. I suspect he’s been moved, and they want me to try to help keep him safe until the FBI and DA can talk to him and he can testify against the traffickers.” It shouldn’t be too difficult a job as long as they could keep his location a secret.

“Then do what you can for him.” Pierre glanced at the sheriff’s office, choosing his words carefully. “He doesn’t think too much of others… who are different. Anyone who is different from him.”

“I see.” Chris knew Pierre had a partner, Jordan, who worked at the courthouse, and there were other gay men in the department. Apparently they were worried about this particular sheriff. Sheriff Hunter hadn’t been prejudiced; either that or he hadn’t cared as long as the job got done. Chris supposed that was probably the best kind of person to occupy the office. Someone who looked at accomplishments and results.

“No, you don’t. Be careful, and do this to the best of your ability.” Pierre clapped Chris on the shoulder. “Because this could be your one and only chance with this man. He doesn’t seem to abide anything that makes him look bad in any way.” Pierre held his gaze, and Chris nodded. They were both thinking of Graves, who the new sheriff had already demoted and relegated to patrolling country roads for speeding and crap just because one of his arrests fell through on procedural grounds.

“I know.” Chris had started reviewing the file again when his phone rang. He smiled at Pierre, who left his desk, and Chris answered the call.

“Hello, this is Marie Foster returning your call. Is this in regards to Pavle?” She sounded tired, like she hadn’t slept or had a break in weeks.

“Yes. I was hoping I could meet you and we could discuss what you believe is required, and then I’d like to meet him. I need to assess the situation so I can develop a plan to help keep him safe.”

“Excellent. If you’d like to come to my office on Pitt Street, we can go see him from there.” She gave him the address. “And please don’t come in an official car. We don’t want to draw attention to where he is. This is the third safe house we’ve housed him at, and we keep getting indications that he’s been found. We don’t know how, and I don’t want to take any chances.”

“Then I’ll change into civilian clothes as well before I come see you.”

“Thank you. I’ll see you in about half an hour, then.”

After hanging up, Chris left his desk, picking up the file to take it with him. He returned to the locker area, changed out of his uniform, and let dispatch know that he was going to be out on an assignment from the sheriff. Then he took his own car and drove the five minutes to the office.

The building embodied small and utilitarian at its worst—nothing at all of any personality in the place—and Marie’s office was equally drab and stuck in the eighties. When he entered, she stood to offer her hand. Then he sat in an olive-green office chair that creaked under his weight.

Marie was a big woman with a ready smile and bright, expressive eyes that bristled with intelligence and care. She dressed professionally casual, wearing a dark blue and white blouse with jeans. Her office was as neat and organized as any he’d seen. Two phones rested in holders on her desk, which also held a computer and a few pictures.

“Why don’t you tell me what’s going on so I can try to help?” Chris asked, needing to get some background.

She nodded. “We discovered the house about three weeks ago, and the Carlisle Police raided the place. They discovered people inside, including two wanted sex offenders, who are still in custody in the county prison, and Pavle, who was cowering in the corner of a closet. It took them an hour to get him to come out. Once they called me, I was able to explain enough to him that he understood those people were there to help him.”

“Did you work with him?”

“Yes. I found him a safe house that was a group home with five other individuals. It was… not good. He cowered when any men came near him and basically stayed in a corner, watching everyone, for days. Either that or he went to his room and hid. I think his poor mind was simply overloaded. Then someone tried to set fire to the home and damaged it enough that everyone had to be relocated. That was hard, but then they reported people watching the next house two days after Pavle moved in.” She swallowed and leaned back in her chair.

“Do you think someone is feeding his captors information?” Chris asked.

“Honestly? Yes,” she said, and he nodded. “We have a system that tracks each person in our safe houses. Pavle has been anonymized, but someone is using the information to try to find him, which is a violation of a number of state and federal laws.” Marie leaned forward, her demeanor turning more serious. “We can’t protect him anymore, and the longer he stays in the safe house, the more he and the others there with him are in danger.” She humphed softly. “At the moment he’s being housed in a home for women because we didn’t want to put him with men right now. And that’s causing some problems for the women, though I think those are dissipating.” She was clearly coming to the end of her resources. “I guess what I’m asking you is if you’d be willing to take Pavle to live with you. That way I can remove him from the system, at least as far as the information about where he’s staying. Get him off the grid for a while.”

That hadn’t been something Chris had thought about doing, and the request surprised him. His instinct was to say no. His own home was his sanctuary, and he liked to keep it that way. Growing up, he’d moved many times—military family. Luckily, when his dad had been close to retirement, he’d been able to get posted to the Carlisle Barracks, near family. Chris’s home here was like his castle because it was the first one he’d had that was his and no one else’s.

“Why don’t you take me to meet him and then we can see what we need to do,” Chris said, purposely vague and noncommittal. Surely Marie couldn’t blame him for not giving an answer until he met Pavle.

“I’ll do that. But there are some things you need to know first.” She floundered, seeming to be trying to figure out where to start. “We haven’t gotten the full story from him about how he got here. There is a language barrier that’s hard for us to breach. He does speak some English, mostly what he taught himself from listening to his captors and the few people he’s been around for the last four years.”

Chris gaped. How in the hell could someone live that way for such a long time? “Oh my God.”

“Yes. We believe he was brought in through New Jersey during the Super Bowl in 2014. Newark is a huge human trafficking point of entry. Anyway, we aren’t sure how long he’s been in Carlisle or how many owners he’s had over the years.”

Her words sent a spike through Chris’s heart. How in the hell could people do that to someone else? Chris had most definitely seen human beings at their lowest, and just when he thought he’d seen it all… wham… it got worse.

“Okay. So he’s been traumatized and most likely gaslighted for years,” he said, and Marie nodded. “So in his mind, this is all his fault, and everything that has happened to him is because of something he did.”

“You got it. Years of fear and guilt conditioning. Those are the greatest weapons they have. Though, deep down, there is some steel in his back. There has to be for him to have survived this long.” She gathered her purse and phone, as well as a spring jacket. The early May weather this year had been up and down. “This is the address.” She handed it to him on a small sheet of notepaper, and Chris memorized it and dropped it into the shredder in the corner of the office. That earned him a smile.

“I’ll meet you there. I’m in the blue Edge,” he explained as he left the office with Marie behind him.

Inside the car, he took a few minutes to breathe. Things like this shouldn’t affect him. He saw bad things every day. But this story got under his skin, and he needed a few minutes to get his professional distance back into place. Once his anger and indignation wore down a little, he pulled out of the lot and drove to the east side of town. He parked on the street and waited for Marie before approaching the house with her.

Marie stopped at the base of the walk. “I know you’re a cop, but try not to walk like one. You’re standing tall and strong. I know in your job you have to project strength, but here that’s not a benefit. Every one of these people have been abused or hurt at the hands of a man, so they are going to be intimidated.”

Chris slumped a little and lowered his gaze slightly. “Better?”

“Try smiling and not being so serious.”

Chris chuckled, and Marie must have approved because she turned, continued forward, and knocked on the door.

The house was deadly silent. Three women sat in chairs, looking up at him as though he were the devil incarnate, fear radiating off each and every one of them. He nodded to each lady and gave them all a small smile.

“This is Deputy Chris,” Marie said.

“What he want?” one of the ladies asked. She had big brown eyes, and her lips curled in a sneer.

“Letty, that’s enough,” Marie said gently, but with a firm undertone. “He’s here to help Pavle.”

A woman bustled into the room, and Marie introduced her as the housemother, Annette.

“His room is down the hall. He rarely leaves it, even to eat,” Annette explained, never raising her voice much above a whisper. “Follow me.” She turned to lead him down the hallway to the last room. Annette knocked, spoke softly, and opened the door.

The curtains were drawn, the room dark, even though it was the middle of the day. A single light burned next to a twin bed that had been made to within an inch of its life, with corners sharp enough to make any drill sergeant proud. The room, however, was empty.

“Pavle, sweetheart. It’s Annette,” she said gently and waited.

Slowly a figure, curled up and small, made an appearance from around the side of the dresser. The first thing Chris noticed were the biggest, brownest eyes he had ever seen, filled with the pain of years of hurt. They blinked, and then Pavle stepped farther into the light. Even standing, he looked half hunched over.

“This is Deputy Chris. He’s here because he’s going to help keep you safe.”

Pavle raised his head slightly, his black hair, long and uneven, falling to the sides of his face.

“Hello,” Chris said, mimicking the soft tone the others had used. “I’m Chris. They told me you needed help, so I’m going to protect you so no one hurts you anymore.” In that moment, he made up his mind to do whatever was needed to help this man, and if that meant moving him into his home to protect him, so be it.

“I’d like it if you went with Deputy Chris. He is a good man and will not hurt you,” Marie explained slowly and gently.

Chris didn’t expect Pavle to believe her or to agree to come. “It’s okay if you don’t want to,” Chris said, crouching down so he was at the same level as Pavle. “This is your choice.”

“Choice?” Pavle asked in a raspy voice that tore at Chris’s insides, looking at him and then back to Marie.

“Yes. You can choose to stay here or go with Deputy Chris. We want you to be safe, but we aren’t sure how well we can protect you here. If you go with Deputy Chris, he will protect you. Keep you safe.”

“INS?” Pavle asked.

“No. He is good man. Caring. He will help you.” Marie seemed to have infinite patience.

Pavle blinked, standing still, then nodded and walked to Chris. It seemed as though he either didn’t understand or thought he didn’t have a choice, even though he was being given one. Chris held out his hands, palms up, to show that he wasn’t going to hit him. When Pavle looked at him with those huge eyes and the face of an angel, he looked much younger than the twenty-four listed in his file. Maybe that was his previous owner’s fetish. Still, after all he’d been through, Pavle’s handsomeness and light shone through, with soft features and an almost delicate frame.

“I’ll gather his few things,” Annette said.

Marie extended her hand to take Pavle’s gently. He went with her in silence. She led him out of the house, and once they were in the sun, Chris got a better look at him. Pavle was pale, probably from years of being inside. Chris reminded himself to ask Marie about any past injuries. He suspected that Pavle had been treated very badly in the past and he needed to know if he was okay physically.

“Thank you for doing this,” Marie said once she had opened the door to Chris’s car and gotten Pavle settled in the passenger seat. He sat without moving or looking to either side. “You have to keep him safe. He is the main witness against the man who held him for nearly two years. We need to get that man and then trace back to the people who sold Pavle to him. We’re pulling each thread to see what we can unravel.”

“Okay. I will do my best, I promise you.”

“I’ll follow you to your house and help Pavle get settled.”

As Marie got to her car, Pavle reacted for the first time.

“She’s just riding separately. She will be back in a few minutes.”

Chris drove the short distance to his house and pulled into the garage. He didn’t want Pavle to be seen, and yet he also didn’t want him to feel like a prisoner again by being hidden. He got out and waited, hoping Pavle would get out on his own. After a few moments, Pavle opened the door and climbed out of the car. Chris opened the door to the yard and motioned for Pavle to go ahead of him.

Marie came through behind him, and Chris closed the garage doors and joined the two of them in the yard. Pavle looked around, saying nothing. Chris wished he would say something… anything. He was way too quiet, and that worried Chris because he had no idea what he was thinking, and damn it all, those eyes still held buckets of fear.

“It’s okay. This is where you are going to stay.” Marie gently coaxed Pavle toward the house, and he shuffled along, looking at the yard. Hopefully he liked what he saw. Chris had spent too many hours working out stress for the garden to be unappreciated.

Chris opened the back door, went inside, and turned on lights, letting Marie bring Pavle into the kitchen, motioning toward the living room. Maybe this was the biggest mistake of his life. He wasn’t equipped to handle someone as fragile and frightened as Pavle. Chris had no clue what he needed or even how to get through to him.

“I sold?” Pavle finally asked, barely above a whisper.

Chris caught Marie’s gaze, and his heart twisted in his chest. God, this was going to wrench his guts six ways from Sunday.

“No. This is where you are going to live. You are not going to be sold to anyone anymore. Deputy Chris is here to help you and nothing more.” She patted his hand and took Pavle through to the other room.

Chris got three glasses of water and put some cookies on a plate. He needed some sugar if he was going to get through this in one piece.

Marie and Pavle were talking softly on the sofa when Chris handed each of them a glass and offered them cookies. Marie took one, and Pavle stared at the plate as though it were a foreign object. Finally, he took one and ate a small bite before shoving the whole thing in his mouth, chewing and swallowing like he hadn’t eaten in days. Then he drank the entire glass of water.

Chris offered him another, and Pavle took it in disbelief, ate it quickly, and then rested his hands in his lap.

“Why don’t I take you upstairs and show you your room?” Chris offered. He led Pavle and Marie upstairs and into the bright guest room, with cream walls and a deep green coverlet on the bed. The furniture was white and rather plain, but functional. He’d found the set at a secondhand store and painted it himself to clean it up. “You can put your clothes in here,” Chris told Pavle, who shrugged and looked down at what he was wearing.

“I have his things in the car. There isn’t much right now,” Marie explained.

“That’s okay. I can take him to get everything he needs.” Chris needed to do some shopping tomorrow anyway and figured he could take Pavle with him. He would need to disguise Pavle somehow. “I have something he can wear tonight if he needs to, and then we’ll shop tomorrow.”

“Thank you,” Marie said with a sigh. “Are you going to be okay?” she asked Pavle, who nodded.

Chris showed her downstairs, while Pavle stayed behind, and got Pavle’s things from her car.

“I’ll stop by whenever I can. He’s going to need care and plenty of help.”

“Of course. Is he seeing a counselor?” Chris asked.

“Yes. But they are having some language issues. I’m working on it. I’d like to find one who understands Serbian so they can talk in his native language, but it’s very difficult in this area. But I’m not giving up. I’ll let you know when his next appointment is.” She left through the back gate, and Chris locked it from the inside and went back into the house. He brought Pavle’s things up to his room and set them on the bed next to him.

“Are you hungry?” Chris asked. When Pavle finally nodded, Chris motioned, and they left the room. He didn’t know what to make for dinner, but decided on pasta. He got Pavle seated in the kitchen and started cooking. It wasn’t fancy, and the sauce was from a jar, but when he put the plate and a glass of water in front of Pavle, the surprised expression and then the way he shoveled the food into his mouth, his arm nearly a blur, told him a great deal about Pavle’s treatment. Chris got his attention and ate slowly. “I’m not going to take your food.”

Pavle nodded and ate a little more leisurely, but his body was rigid the entire time, as if he expected Chris to take away his plate at any moment.

Once Pavle had eaten everything, Chris got him a little more and showed Pavle what he had to drink. Pavle pointed, and Chris poured him some juice. Pavle sniffed the glass and sipped before downing the liquid like it was a huge shot.

“I am not going to take your food or drink. You can have all you want.” He poured Pavle some more grape juice and set it in front of him before clearing the dishes. Pavle stared at the glass like it held some deep meaning and then sighed dramatically and drank it.

Once Chris had cleaned up, he motioned for Pavle to follow him through to the living room. Chris put on the television and sat in the chair. Pavle sat in the other one, alternately watching the television and then him. It was a little unnerving, but Chris sat still and tried to relax, hoping Pavle would do the same.

At bedtime, he turned off the television and led Pavle up the stairs, turning out the lights. “It’s time to go to bed.” He showed Pavle the bathroom and the towels that were his to use. He also found a new toothbrush and some extra toiletries for him, placing them on the bathroom counter. He tried to think of anything he was forgetting. “Is there anything else you need?”

Pavle shook his head and went to his room, and when Chris came in to bring him some pajamas, Pavle stood in the center of the room, naked, his hands behind his back, head bent down.

Carlisle Deputies

Saturday Series Spotlight: Carlisle Cops
Part 1  /  Part 2  /  Part 3

Author Bio:
Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and now writes full time.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.


Fire & Agate #3

Carlisle Deputies Series

Carlisle Cops Series

Release Blitz: The Other Book by Roe Horvat

Title: The Other Book
Author: Roe Horvat
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: January 30, 2019

It was supposed to be just sex... Famous last words.

Tyler doesn't overthink pleasure and avoids complications. He knows it might be stupid to get involved with his closeted boss, but the temptation is too great. At first, the cold and beautiful Joel Sandstrom seems to loathe Tyler's guts.

Except one late night at the office, his reasons become clear...and his control breaks.

Every time they touch, Joel's stony face comes alive, harsh lines smooth out, and for a minute, he looks serene. Happy, even. Just sex - dirty, intense, spectacular sex.

During their covert encounters, Tyler discovers the power he has over the lonesome man, and it's a heady feeling. What if he could set Joel free and give him peace of mind? When Tyler realizes how much Joel needs him, he doesn't regret breaking his own rules.

Gay erotic romance. Contains explicit scenes and sexual interactions between more than two partners. For adult readers only.

Thursday was a long day.

I messaged Christoffer to say I wouldn’t be able to make it this weekend because my boss was a slave-driving ass.

At least it’s a good-looking ass, Christoffer replied.

Tina knocked on my booth at half past eleven.

“Tyler? Joel says he wants you in the conference room at one for the meeting with Mercury.”

I scowled, my mood getting worse by the second. “He could have emailed me, messaged me, or come down here to tell me himself. You’re not his secretary.”

Tina rolled her eyes. “Calm down, Avenger. I bumped into Joel in the kitchen. He mentioned you might need to be there. I told him I’d let you know.”

It took a me a while, but in the end, I had to admit I had no comeback to something so…normal. Damn it. He didn’t even give me valid reasons to hate on him.

“I’ll be there,” I mumbled, turning back to my screen.

“He’s a good guy, Tyler. Cut him some slack,” Tina said.

“Me?” I pivoted on my chair to face her. Joel was the one being a jerk. And he was the boss! How was I supposed to cut him slack?

“You know what I mean,” Tina threw over her shoulder, walking away toward her desk.

“What?” I called after her, but she didn’t reply.

Two hours later, I parked my butt in the conference room, opposite Joel. He was looking at his laptop screen intently, not acknowledging me. He never talked to me unless he absolutely had to.

“Nice tie. Matches the ice in your chest,” I commented.

“They will be here in three minutes. Please behave,” Joel said evenly, still not lifting his gaze from the laptop.

“You don’t like it when I behave,” I told him, leaning back.

His eyes flashed to me for an instant, and his lip twitched. Otherwise, expression Number One: immaculate control and contained rage. “Tyler, can you act professionally for ninety minutes?” he hissed.

That was it. How come I was suddenly the unprofessional one?

“How’s your throat today, Joel? Sore?” I asked loudly just as the door creaked open.

Joel sucked in a breath and clenched his jaw. Red stain crept up his neck, but he stood gracefully and offered his hand to the forty-something woman who entered the room. A tall young man in a lovely dark-blue suit followed her. He had high cheekbones and porcelain skin, and he blushed fiercely when he saw me. Nice. I made sure to smile at him when we shook hands. His eyelids fluttered. Matt, who held the door for the Mercury people, gave us a tight greeting and closed it.

We sat, and my attention shifted from the young beauty back to my boss. Joel’s stare became glacial. I smirked. This was going to be fun.

It wasn’t fun. At all. Their requirements were unspecific, their expectations exaggerated, and the pretty boy was a pretentious jerk. I suffered through the hour and a half trying not to let them know they had only wasted my time.

Joel accompanied the Mercury people to the hall and shook hands with both. I tried to slip past them back to my soundproof sanctuary, intent on closing myself in there for the rest of the day. I hated client meetings with a passion—even when they involved pretty young things. But Joel called after me, ruining my escape.

“Tyler? Can you wait in the conference room? It will only take a minute.”

I let out my frustration by making the face of a backstabbed warrior, and slowly turned around.

Back in the conference room, I sat down on the same chair, which was still warm from my butt. Hopefully, Joel would only want to go through the details of the meeting and then I could go hide again.

He stepped inside and closed the door.

“I have a request,” he began slowly. He stayed by the door, as far from me as possible.

I leaned forward and supported my chin in my palm, waiting.

“I can’t let the situation get out of hand,” Joel continued, suspiciously vague. “I have some serious private matters going on right now. I hope you will understand and help me to…handle this gracefully. I can’t afford any added complications.”

Oh, it was that kind of a request!

“Joel, I told you, I won’t out you. I’m not a complete shit,” I said with disgust. What the hell did he think of me?

Joel flashed me a disturbed look. “No, I know that. I only need us to…stop being personal.”

“You mean you won’t suck my dick anymore, boss?”

He had the grace to wince, yet he didn’t reply.

Author Bio:
Queer fiction author Roe Horvat was born in the post-communist wasteland of former Czechoslovakia. Equipped with a dark sense of sarcasm, Roe traveled Europe and finally settled in Sweden. He came out as transgender in 2017 and has been fabulous since. He loves Jane Austen, Douglas Adams, bad action movies, stand-up comedy, pale ale, and daiquiri, with equal passion. When not hiding in the studio doing graphics, he can be found trolling cafés in Gothenburg, writing, and people-watching.


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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Release Blitz: Bad Deal by Ember-Raine Winters & Faith Ryan

Title: Bad Deal
Authors: Ember-Raine Winters & Faith Ryan
Series: Belikov Crime Family #1
Genre: M/M Romance, Mafia, Dark Erotica, MC Romance
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Cover Artist: Always Inked

He’s a Russian devil and he owns me.

JR Richards 

What’s worse than wanting the one person you can never have? How about finally getting them. Don’t get me wrong the sex was great, but everything that came after? Yeah, it’s like they say, be careful what you wish for.

Ruslan Belikov

My brother made a deal that didn’t go as planned. Now I have to get back what’s ours and pretty boy Jacoby is the tool to make that happen. I’ll torture and use him until I get what I want, then I’ll toss him aside like the rest.

A motorcycle club and a Mafia family shouldn’t make deals. Someone’s bound to lose. Family, friends and hearts, nothing’s safe in a world fueled by drugs, money and sex.

WARNING: Ruslan Belikov and Jacoby Richards may not be for everyone. They are two dominant men thrown into an impossible situation. Some readers may find their story makes them uncomfortable. If you don't like dark and dirty mafia bosses who use torture and sex to get their way turn back now. You have been warned.

I follow behind them quietly as Demitri shoves him toward the bathroom. I notice Jacoby wince as Demitri squeezes his shoulder. I file that information away for later when the fun really begins. As I enter the bathroom, I remove my suit jacket folding it over the counter and rolling my sleeves up to my elbows.

I see Jacoby shiver as Demitri blasts the cold water on him not bothering to let him remove his underwear. “Leave us.” I bark. Demitri jumps as if I’ve startled him, but does as told and scurries from the bathroom shutting the door firmly behind him. Jacoby’s eyes watch me as I move closer. I’m not sure if it’s fear or something else in his eyes as he glares at me. There was no heat behind it. “You like this, don’t you?” I wave a hand over my body. Jacoby nods. Good, no point in lying to me when I could see it written all over his face. My cock is painfully hard and I decide it’s time for some relief. “On your knees.” My thick accent becomes even thicker the more aroused I become. When he does nothing but drop to his knees and await my instructions, my hands go to my belt unbuckling it and pulling the leather slowly from my slacks. His breath catches in his throat when I pull myself out stroking once, twice before stepping forward and grabbing a fistful of his hair.

“Open,” I growl shoving myself down his throat. He gags and his eyes water as I start my punishing pace. Both my hands are in his hair pulling it roughly as I piston my hips. It only takes him a second to acclimate and stop gagging. I push harder and move faster. The feel of absolute control feels like heaven and has me coming like a river down his throat. This kid is the perfect submissive. Too bad I can’t keep him. As soon as I find my drugs, I’ll have to get rid of him. The thought has me pausing momentarily. No matter, I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

Once my cock is sated, I close up my pants and walk out of the bathroom without a word. Demitri gives me an odd look as I exit the room and make my way down the hall. “Hang him up by the hook for the night, Demitri.” I never turn as I give the order. I hear Demitri’s grunt of understanding and continue to my apartment above the club.

Ember-Raine Winters
Ember-Raine Winters lives in sunny California with her two beautiful kids and a wolf. Also known as Apache her pure white Siberian Husky. She loves writing romance and reading just about anything she can get her hands on. And, football! She loves watching football and going to games. It’s one of her favorite ways to unwind. She dislikes the super-hot temperatures in her city and exercise. She hates to exercise but somehow her sister still gets her to do it every day. She also thinks it’s completely awkward talking about herself in third person. Ember loves connecting with readers so don’t be afraid to stalk her and drop her a line on social media.

Faith Ryan
Faith Ryan is wife to a handsome bearded man and mother to three, yes three, teenage girls. She lives in a small town in Ohio and is an avid reader of romance and frequently finishes several books in one day. A co-worker once told her that people who read romance are considered smarter than others, Faith totally agrees and thinks this doubly applies to romance authors. Everyone needs a little bit (or a lot) of romance in their life!

Ember-Raine Winters

Faith Ryan

Brought to you by: GAY BOOK PROMOS

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Release Blitz: Rat Park by Marina Vivancos

Title: Rat Park
Author: Marina Vivancos
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: January 28, 2019
Cover Design: Natasha Snow

Dominic has lived with an empty ache inside him for as long as he could remember. Maybe it started when he was six, hiding beneath his blankets as the wild animal noises of one of mom’s parties echoed in his head. Maybe it began the first time an adult plied him with drinks just to watch him stumble about.

Or, maybe, it was that he couldn’t even imagine what being loved should feel like.

Drugs washed all that away. It didn’t cure the ache, but it made him forget it for a while. Anything was better than being conscious. Than being himself. But life had another hard lesson for him: With drugs, the only way is down.

Dominic hits rock bottom when he’s twenty-three. Turns out, rock bottom looks a lot like the bars of a jail cell. With little left but his own thoughts, Dominic has to decide: Is this what I want for the rest of my life?

The world has never been kind to Dominic, but when he meets the Romeros, he wonders if that is about to change. Officer Catalina Romero seems to see something in Dominic that he is sure isn’t there. The more she pulls him towards her family, however, the harder it is not to go.

All his resistance disappears under the force that is Flor Romero. Spitfire, stubborn Flor—even at sixteen, he refuses to be taken lightly. As he grows older, putting a stop to what Flor obviously wants to happen between them is harder than Dominic would ever want to admit.

Dominic knows that he has too many demons to let anybody get too close. But life doesn’t prepare him for Flor, who just might be ready to fight tooth and nail for a place in Dominic’s life—and his heart.

The question is, will Dominic’s past keep him from his future?

Author Bio:
When Marina was a child she couldn’t sleep. Night after dissolving night she just couldn’t sleep. Nothing much worked – until she started making up stories in her head. Suddenly, the transition into unconsciousness was a smooth dive into calm waters.

Marina is currently in a period of sleepless upheaval, and she hopes writing down the stories in her head will cast the same spell it did decades ago.

Marina hopes to write in a variety of romance sub-genres, from contemporary to supernatural to sci-fi. Her style, however, tends to focus on character-centred stories that explore different facets of the human experience, such as mental health. She also enjoys writing explicit, drawn-out sex scenes, so expect those to be a prominent feature of her stories.

Marina tends to keep to herself unless prompted, so don’t be shy in approaching her!


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