Sarge (Dixie Reapers MC) by Harley Wylde #contemporaryromance

Sarge (Dixie Reapers MC 14)

Cover Art by Bryan Keller

Katya — I never thought the day would come that my father would sell me to the highest bidder. Oh, he called it marriage, but I knew it was only to advance his rankings in the Bratva. Like I cared about that. But before he ruined my life, I knew I had to get my nephew to safety. My sister had told me of the man who got her pregnant, but not exactly where to find him. With Liliya gone, I needed to get Theo to safety before the shackles on me tightened even more. It never occurred to me the man would be sexy, or so alpha. The bearded beast just made things harder because now I don’t want to leave, and I know if I don’t that hell will come knocking.

Sarge — Never knew I had a son, nor did I know his mother had a sister. Seeing her haul back her fist to take down a Prospect was the hottest thing I’d ever watched, and I knew then and there she’d be mine. No matter how much she protests, I’m not letting her go. She might be worried I’ll get hurt, but let the Bratva come for her. They’re not the Boogeyman, and I’m not scared of them. She’s my fierce kitten, and I’ll do whatever it takes to drive that home to her, even if I have to tie her to the bed and remind her over and over that she belongs with me.

WARNING: This book touches on sensitive issues that may be difficult for some readers. But there is no cheating, no cliffhanger, and a guaranteed happily-ever-after.

 

Available at Changeling Press

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Harley Wylde

Katya — Present Day

The more miles I put between myself and my family, the more the knot in my stomach eased. I glanced in my rearview mirror every ten minutes, maybe less, to check on the precious cargo I carried. My sister’s child, Theo, slept soundly in his car seat. No one would care that Theo went missing, but my absence would be noticed. With Liliya no longer a viable option, my father would try to pawn me off on one of his friends to strengthen the empire. His words, not mine. The moment my sister had returned, pregnant, I’d known it was only a matter of time. I’d end up marrying the same man she’d been slated to wed.

Until my sister had gone missing about six years ago, I’d been left alone to do my own thing, which had been amazing. Then Liliya had vanished into thin air and my father had put more pressure on me to change and adapt to the way a Voronin should behave. Whatever the fuck that meant. I refused to be the dutiful little girl and marry whatever goon my father sold me to, and that was essentially what it would be. I’d thought about seeking asylum from Viktor Petrov. It was no secret that he looked more kindly on women since marrying, but I didn’t know that he would care about my fate. My father was so far down the hierarchy that I was beyond a nobody.

I’d deactivated my GPS on my car, and left my phone at home. I’d grabbed a pay-as-you-go phone so I wouldn’t be without a way to call for help should the need arise, but no one knew the number. I’d added any contacts I might need, but hadn’t used the phone yet. There was no way they could follow me, but it didn’t stop me from checking my mirrors every few miles. I didn’t have much to go on. My sister had told me that Theo’s father was a guy called Sarge, and he was part of some biker gang or club called the Dixie Reapers down in Alabama. I’d not dared to ask around back home, but I’d hit the road heading south, and stopped when I saw a group of bikers a few hours into my trip. I’d asked if they’d heard of the Dixie Reapers, and they’d pointed me in the right direction.

I only hoped they didn’t remember me. If my father sent men in this direction, I didn’t want anyone to recall that I’d been there or the questions I’d asked. The last thing I needed was anyone putting my father’s guys on my trail. They were like damn bloodhounds already. If they caught a whiff of my trail, it would be a miracle if I reached Alabama before they found me, but I had to try. I owed it to my sister to make sure Theo ended up with his father.

I ached from head to toe by the time I pulled up in front of the gates of the Dixie Reapers’ compound. The sun had already risen, and I was so exhausted my eyes hurt. Resting hadn’t been an option, so other than breaks to use the bathroom, take care of Theo, or grabbing a bite to eat, I’d pushed through. There was a guy standing guard who eyed my car with a sneer. Great. Already off on the right foot as usual.

Rolling down the window, I peered up at him, hoping my bloodshot eyes didn’t make me look like someone trying to find their next fix. It was laughable since I’d never even had a drink or smoked a cigarette, much less done drugs. Not to mention the kid in my back seat, although I supposed if I was hooked on meth or something I wouldn’t give a shit if the kid was there or not.

“Whatever you’re looking for, you need to find it elsewhere,” the man said.

“I need to see Sarge.”

He was shaking his head and backing away before I could even explain why. Anger burned hot inside me. I hadn’t driven all this way, risking my life and my nephew’s, for this asshole to not even let me speak to the guy. I threw open my door and got out, stomping toward him in my Doc Martens. My sister had always called them my badass bitch boots.

“Listen here, you little prick, I need to see Sarge, and I’m not leaving until I do,” I said, planting my feet shoulders-width apart and folding my arms over my chest.

He eyed me up and down, then snorted. Yeah, okay, so he was a good foot taller than me. Maybe little hadn’t been the right word. Then again. I eyed his crotch so he’d think that’s what I meant, and with him being such a dick, maybe he really was overcompensating for something.

“You bitch.” He snarled and came after me, but I stood my ground. I saw the fist coming and waited until it was nearly kissing my cheek before I ducked and planted my own against his ribs. Thank you, self-defense classes! I was so grateful I’d been sneaking off to a gym between classes.

“Enough!” another man shouted as he approached from inside the gate. “What the fuck is going on, Prospect? We don’t hit women. Especially little pixie girls who look like they weigh ninety pounds soaking wet.”

“He refuses to let me speak to Sarge,” I said.

His gaze sharpened on me. “Russian?”

I bit my lip. The way he said it made me think maybe I wasn’t welcome here just because of where my family came from. I’d thought I’d learned to control my accent better, but apparently I was wrong. I knew Liliya had learned to mimic accents from anywhere in the world and had probably passed for one of the regulars around here. I wasn’t so lucky.

“Answer me, girl,” he demanded, his voice deep and growly.

“Yes, I’m Russian.” I tilted my chin up.

His lips twitched like he was fighting not to smile, then he glared at the guy he’d called Prospect. “You get the shit job of cleaning the clubhouse bathrooms for the next week, and those damn things better sparkle regardless of what time of day it is. I don’t care if you have to use a fucking toothbrush to get it done. Understood?”

“Yes, sir.” The guy’s jaw tightened and his face flushed. I could tell he was pissed. I’d probably just made another enemy.

“Let her through.” The man looked at me again. “Park in front of the large building right there, and don’t wander off or I can promise you won’t like the consequences.”

Was it wrong that gruff tone paired with his words made my thighs clench and my panties dampen? I’d never been with a man before, but this one was almost enough to make me change my mind. I’d decided long ago they were more trouble than they were worth. Besides, I could get myself off so what was the point of letting some guy sweat all over me?

I got back in my car and pulled through the gate, stopping in front of the building. I left the engine running so the car would be comfortable for Theo, then I got out and shut the door. Leaning against it, I waited for the older man to come over and talk to me. As he drew closer, I looked him over. Tall, far taller than me, and broad but not bulky. He was muscular without looking like he went to a gym for hours every day. Then my gaze landed on the leather covering his shoulders. Sarge. Shit. This was the man my sister had slept with?

Sighing, I dropped my gaze. So much for my interest in a man for the first time in my life. Figured it was the guy who broke my sister’s heart. Just another reason to stay single. Men were too much trouble.

“What do you want with me?” Sarge asked.

 

About Harley Wylde

Harley Wylde is the International Bestselling Author of the Dixie Reapers MC, Devil’s Boneyard MC, and Hades Abyss MC series.
When Harleys writing, her motto is the hotter the better — off the charts sex, commanding men, and the women who can’t deny them. If you want men who talk dirty, are sexy as hell, and take what they want, then you’ve come to the right place. She doesn’t shy away from the dangers and nastiness in the world, bringing those realities to the pages of her books, but always gives her characters a happily-ever-after and makes sure the bad guys get what they deserve.
The times Harley isn’t writing, she’s thinking up naughty things to do to her husband, drinking copious amounts of Starbucks, and reading. She loves to read and devours a book a day, sometimes more. She’s also fond of TV shows and movies from the 1980’s, as well as paranormal shows from the 1990’s to today, even though she’d much rather be reading or writing.
You can find out more about Harley or enter her monthly giveaway on her website. Be sure to join her newsletter while you’re there to learn more about discounts, signing events, and other goodies!

Phantom Lure by J. Hali Steele #paranormalromance @JHaliSteele

Phantom Lure (Phantom Lure 4)

Cover Art by Bryan Keller

When Lucifer tossed his favorite lover, Grange Stafford, out of hell, and tortured Heath Terran, it should have ended there. Instead, that was only the beginning — the creation of the Phantom Lures.

Driver: Phantom Lure Grange Stafford, the handsome man who drives the bus on Roman Curt’s route to work, appears in Roman’s unrealized fantasies. What would Roman’s girlfriend think of his wanton desires?

Captain: A Phantom Lure from northern Europe, Captain Gent Finway prefers Nordic weather and icy waters. Now he’s heading south to the Caribbean, captain of a cruise ship on its maiden voyage. His blood turns hot when he touches his new chief officer, Salvatore Martino.

Locomotive: Caught in Satan’s web of deceit, Heath Terran is the reason Phantom Lures exist. Grange sets a scenario in motion with other Lures to free Heath. Full of Lucifer’s power, Grange takes what he wants. In taking Heath, Grange changes Heath and their world forever.

 

Available at Changeling Press

Also in paperback

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 J. Hali Steele
Excerpt from Driver

The city streets teemed with a variety of people ripe for hooking. Providing a relatively safe haven, Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, was a splendid place to exist and Grange Stafford anonymously canvassed the narrow, crowded streets searching for what he considered necessary. Excitement charged every sense as he thought of capturing someone new and educating him in boundless carnal pleasures.

At this moment, his catch was in sight.

The athletic, dark-haired man with a summer tan who boarded his bus thought his stolen looks at Grange went unnoticed, as the petite woman beside him talked on and on about a threesome. They didn’t. Grange caught every peek in his direction through the rearview mirror, even analyzed each glance. What Grange attempted to ascertain was when the handsome, blue-eyed male would come to the realization he’d relinquish his virginity to Grange. Hell, with confusion marauding through the man’s mind, he remained unaware his eyes begged the bus driver to take him. His name, Roman, rolled around in Grange’s head as he envisioned introducing him to the delights of same sex intercourse.

Grange wanted Roman badly.

Careful to mesmerize real bus drivers, steal their vehicles and appropriate designated routes only happened when Grange’s need grew so raw he couldn’t ignore it. Passengers were called catches, and though not every ride ended satisfactorily, he found mass transit riders not nearly as jaded or adventurous as those using other types of transport. Grange appreciated a catch fragrant with a bit of fear and apprehension over new sexual experiences. His favorites were normally couples he initiated into the joys of threesomes. Grange got off on watching a woman see her boyfriend impaled by him, the lovely way her mouth bowed in surprise when his penis sank so deep inside her man, his balls smacking the other’s ass. Performing fellatio on her lover with the same mouth was another turn on. The couple seated right behind him had his cock so damn hard Grange could come if he wanted to. Hold it, wait for the tight-assed man to conclude that until he let Grange have him, the visions he experienced would not dissipate.

Grange had done the necessary thing to make sure Roman’s satisfaction with his girlfriend or anyone else would remain elusive as long as the idea of Grange riding him to an orgasm played through his mind.

The woman, Paula Frame, hadn’t escaped Grange’s attention, neither was she aware participating in a threesome would have never entered her pretty little head without his prodding, though she did possess a wilder side. Her creamy skin glowed this evening as she animatedly stressed her desires to Roman. Not tall, she had shapely legs and a heart-shaped ass begging to be had, and after he took care of her boyfriend, Grange would see to it she got just what she believed she coveted — a menage where she’d be taken and cared for by two big men.

Nearing Race Street, Grange knew Paula’s stop fast approached. She wouldn’t disembark because she’d not only worked herself into a sexual frenzy, she’d pulled Roman in her wake. Shit! The thought of Roman fucking her tonight urged drops of cream to escape his ramrod stiff shaft.

“Twelfth and Arch,” Grange called out. Passengers exited quickly, but Paula remained seated. Pulling from the curb, he continued on his way until he came to Sansom Street, Roman’s stop. As Grange knew they would, Paula and Roman waited until the last rider vanished through the doors before climbing off. When Roman turned to glance at him, Grange smiled. “Enjoy your evening.”

Lips curved tentatively in his direction, and Grange sighed at Roman’s mind settling down. The relief Roman experienced as he came close to accepting his predicament sounded an audible snap in Grange’s head as the man stuttered, “To-tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow,” Grange replied. Tonight he’d go home alone and savor anticipating what he’d denied himself for two days — the longest a Phantom Lure could go without sexual contact and not begin to lose powers. Roman was a man who could provide unbridled sexual fulfillment. A man Grange was sure would embrace losing his virginity.

 

About J. Hali Steele

A multi-published author, J. Hali Steele wishes she could grow fur, wings, or fangs, so she can stay warm, fly, or just plain bite the crap out of… Well, since she can’t, she would much rather roam where her fictional big cats live — in the high desert of California. Discovering a new love of contemporary male/male erotica has flipped a switch she can’t turn off, so she hopes eventually it drifts back into her otherworldly realm.

When J. Hali’s not writing, she can be found snuggled in front of the TV with a good book, a cat in her lap, and a cup of coffee.

Growl and roar — it’s okay to let the beast out.

J. Hali at Changeling Press| Twitter

 

 

Inexplicable by Willa Okati #gayromance

Inexplicable (Roanoke River Omegas 2)

Cover Art by Bryan Keller

Deacon’s everything Kit wants. Kit’s everything Deacon needs — three days a month. Alpha and ex-jarhead Deacon’s an over-the-road trucker, always on the move, and he likes it that way. And Omega Kit’s… good with that. He’s not going anywhere. Not seeing anyone else. He’s promised himself he’ll never be like his parents — he won’t tie a man down when he doesn’t want to be tied.

What Kit doesn’t know is that he’s pregnant — until the night their son is born. Now everything’s changing. Babies do what they want, when they want. Just like Deacon.

Only Deacon’s not sure just what he does want… but he’s sure what he’s not willing to give up on, and that’s a future. And a family. His family.

Now all he has to do is convince Kit he’s in this for keeps.

 

Available at Changeling Press

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Willa Okat
i

Deacon came home that night as the sun came up. Oh, not his real home, Kit supposed. Deacon’s only fixed address was the sleeper compartment in his eighteen-wheeler, and had been since the day he’d paid cash down for the truck. But if home was where the heart was, then when he came to Kit, Deacon was coming home.

And then coming, and coming again. And maybe just once more for sweet good measure.

Deacon hadn’t been expected, and that made his arrival all the more perfect. Kit didn’t care that he was dozy and wobbly and warm from a night in bed. Kit’s bed had been too lonely but now that would change because Deacon was here, right here at last. Hair ruffled, stubble on his cheeks and a cocky grin on his lips, Deacon looked like trouble in ragged blue jeans and good leather boots, ready for anything. His Marine Corps tattoo showed where he’d rolled his sleeves up and his eyes gleamed with a taste for playing as hard as he worked.

“Deacon. Deacon.” Not giving a damn about standing on his front stoop in a busy neighborhood just waking up to a new day, and which would have loved a show, Kit leapt at Deacon and wound both arms around his neck.

“Now that’s what I call a hello.” Deacon laughed, low in his throat and pleased, and held Kit up as easily as if he wasn’t a full-grown man with shoulders just as broad as the Alpha’s. He bent his head to nibble at Kit’s neck. “Need something, Omega?”

After all these years as lovers, he could still make Kit blush. Kit hid his face against Deacon’s firm chest and shook his head, not knowing what to say. I need you was obvious. I want you, even more so. I have to have you inside me

Kit peeked up from beneath his lashes, aware of just what that did to Deacon, and glad, because a look like that was all he could manage between breathless shudders of yearning. “I want you inside me,” he said, winding his legs as well as his arms around Deacon. “Come inside.” In all ways, he meant, and he knew Deacon understood him that way.

Deacon bit his lip hard and swore, dark and rough. “You’ll be the death of me.”

“A little death,” Kit promised, twining closer. “Make love to me.”

“Sweetheart, if you think you can stop me now…”

And oh, Kit liked the sound of that. He laughed as Deacon, strong as an ox, wriggled him loose and tossed him over his shoulder. A hearty smack on the ass and they were on their way up the stairs, taking them two at a time. Kit slid his hands down the back of Deacon’s jeans, kneading the fine firm flesh he found there.

Deacon popped his hip again, the sting sweet and sharp. “Not playing fair there, Kit.”

Kit rubbed his cheek against Deacon’s shoulder. “All’s fair.”

“God damn, when you purr like that you make me want to bathe you in cream and lick you clean,” Deacon said as he reached the top of the steps and set Kit lightly on his feet. He gave him a warm look, no less wild than his nature allowed, and tilted his head at the locked door. “Want a good fucking, Kitten? Let me in.”

And didn’t Kit just! He hadn’t seen Deacon in weeks, far longer than they usually went between visits — Deacon’s work had taken him to California for ages, and every time he’d planned to make his way back to the East Coast, another job opened up. Every time they put their plans off, Kit retreated to his bed with a toy or two specifically designed for Omega satisfaction, but they just weren’t the same.

They couldn’t kiss you. They didn’t have hands to run over your skin. They couldn’t whisper wicked things in your ears. They couldn’t…

Who cared? They didn’t matter. Not when he had his favorite Alpha in his arms. Kit hurried to let them both in, and turned quick as a wink to catch Deacon by the belt. He tug-dragged the man to his bed, both of them laughing, shedding clothes as they went — not in any particular order, and when they reached their goal Deacon still had his jeans on, if open, and one sock, and Kit still wore his pajama shirt.

Kit peeled that off with a thrill going through him at the way Deacon stopped to stare hungrily, then fell back onto his bed. He rested on his elbows, his legs splayed slightly apart with one drawn up a little to hide his cock from Deacon’s view. Deacon loved a show, and he loved being the one to draw out a performance. With him — only him — Kit could play that sort of a part.

Deacon, he trusted.

Though Deacon had paused to frown at the bed, taking in the unplugged heating pad pushed to one side and the uncapped bottle of ibuprofen on the nightstand, along with a mostly-empty bottle of water. “You all right, hon?”

Kit shrugged. Part of the reason he hadn’t slept had been a backache that just wouldn’t quit, but he’d spent the previous evening helping baby-sit his friend Jory’s new son, lifting and chasing and picking up after the exhausted new father. “Tweaked a muscle,” he said. “Nothing to worry about.”

“You sure?”

Kit clicked his tongue. A distracted Alpha wouldn’t give him what he wanted, what he needed. He reached out to tickle Deacon’s thigh with his bare toes and get him back on track. “You can’t do much with your jeans on, love. Take those off.”

 

About Willa Okati

Willa Okati is made of many things: imagination, coffee, stray cat hairs, daydreams, more coffee, kitchen experimentation, a passion for winter weather, a little more coffee, and a lifelong love of storytelling. She is definitely one of the quiet ones you have to watch out for.

Willa at Changeling Press| Willa’s Facebook Group

 

Lionsblood by Marteeka Karland #paranormalromance #futuristic @marteekakarland

Lionsblood (Box Set) (Lionsblood 5)

Cover Art by Marteeka Karland

In Earth’s brutal, future frozen, humans are no longer at the top of food chain. Paranormals roam the frozen wastes, laying claim to whatever they can defend. Humans are tolerated by some, but not all of the new species.

The most vicious of the new races are the Lionsblood. No one dares defy a Lionsblood. These predators take what they want and never look back. These men are as protective as they are dangerous — especially when it comes to their chosen mates.

Lionsblood (Box Set) contains the previously released novellas LionsbloodLionsmateLionsbane, and Lionsheart.

 

Get it Today at Changeling Press

Use code TGIF03-27-2020 for 15% off your entire order!

Also available in Paperback

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Marteeka Karland
Excerpt from Snowbound: Lionsblood

“What?” The familiar masculine growl of her long time friend Klark almost made Marie sob with relief when he answered on the third chime.

“Klark, I’m so sorry to call this late.” She had probably awakened him from his nightly hibernation. Most lionsblood were already deeply asleep by two hours past nightfall. It protected them from the bitter cold that blanketed the northern hemisphere of Earth at night. Not that the temperature was much better during the day. Given the fact that he’d answered at all, he probably hadn’t settled down yet for the night.

“Don’t worry about it. What’s wrong?” He knew her too well. Unless she missed her guess, Klark wouldn’t let her gloss anything over. He’d make her tell him everything before the night was out.

“Nothing’s wrong, I just need a ride home.”

There was a long pause.

“Where are you?”

She took a deep breath. This was the hard part. “Shiffley’s Bar.”

Again, there was silence.

“Do you have the gem I gave you?”

Marie blinked several times, the question catching her off guard. “Yes.” She didn’t dare tell him she’d made it into a necklace she never took off.

“Go to Shiff. Show him the stone. He’ll put you in a safe room. Do not leave that room.”

The link went dead, and Marie cringed. They’d been friends too long for her to hope he’d let this drop. He might not question her tonight, but there would be a grilling, and Klark never stopped until he had all the information he wanted. Not only that, but given Klark’s temper, things didn’t bode well for her tonight.

She did as he instructed and was shown to a tiny room. She sat down on the bed. The one window was laser-proof and tinted, but she could still see the perpetual drifts of snow that blanketed the landscape outside. Shiff, the vampire lionsblood hybrid, kept the room as a haven for humans caught out in the violent night. Not only were the preternaturals and immortals deadly to humans, but the night turned the Earth into a frozen wasteland in excess of 100 degrees below zero in the summer, and 150 below in the winter. The only things keeping humans alive were the underground farms and the few above ground “safe rooms” the hybrids built for their “pets.” This safe room was impenetrable, and impossible to leave unless Shiff allowed it.

When the heavy titanium door burst open, only to slam shut so hard her insides shook, naturally she nearly jumped out of her skin. What a time for him to choose to remind her of the strength of a lionsblood. In this world, the lionsblood were at the top of the food chain.

“Jesus Holy God!” She was at once relieved to see Klark standing there, but her relief was short lived. He looked livid.

About Marteeka Karland

Erotic romance author by night, emergency room tech/clerk by day, Marteeka Karland works really hard to drive everyone in her life completely and totally nuts. She has been creating stories from her warped imagination since she was in the third grade. Her love of writing blossomed throughout her teenage years until it developed into the totally unorthodox and irreverent style her English teachers tried so hard to rid her of.

Marteeka at Changeling Press | Website

 

The Case of the Deadly Game – Part 2 by Stephanie Burke #murdermystery #interracialromance @Flashycat

The Case of the Deadly Game Part 2 (Mai-Fly Mysteries 5)

Cover Art by Bryan Keller

Time is running out, and Mai swears Fate, that fickle b*tch, is laughing at her.

Accused of murder, and hunted by a vindictive British agent who’s out for blood, how will Mai solve the crime, save the day, and beat the Deadly Game so she can finally have her fairytale ending?

 

Get it at Changeling Press

Use code TGIF03-27-2020 for 15% off your entire order!

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Stephanie Burke

A shower and a nap did wonders for Mai’s disposition, and she had a wide grin on her face as she walked beside Ptris, who looked rather smug himself.

Sex between the two of them just kept getting better. She’d like to say that something felt missing, that fucking Ptris needed the extra oomph from having her Ry-Ry there, but even though she missed her lover, pined for him, her experiences with Ptris left her shaking, sore, and blessedly satisfied.

She sighed softly as Trouble, the Black Shuck, bounded toward her, leaving Lu-Lu’s side as he happily took his place beside her.

“So,” Lu-Lu drawled, “Got it all out of your system?”

“Fuck you,” Mai drawled back, burying her hand in Trouble’s ruff and smiling at the little moan of pleasure the hell hound released.

“That’s Ptris’ job,” Lu-Lu returned, just as happy as she tugged Austin to her side while they moved across the empty lobby toward the pair. “And it looks like he does it well.”

“Like it’s his main job and favorite hobby all rolled into one,” Mai admitted without shame, trying to pull a reaction out of her Dryad. Instead of flushing or showing any embarrassment, Ptris nodded and crossed his hands behind his back, though a purple vine eased its way from his hair to grip the hand that wasn’t petting Trouble.

“Well, when you get that old you manage to discover some pretty tricks, right, Austin?” She giggled as her lover smiled tenderly back at her.

“More than a few,” he admitted, shooting a look at Ptris that conveyed smugness and some kind of sexual brotherhood. “And I never mind sharing them with the ones I love.”

“Love me less,” Mai teased. “I don’t even want to think about your sex life. It would send me running for the hills.”

“We don’t have to think about your sex life, Mai-Mai.” Lu-Lu rolled her eyes. “We hear it every time you decide to get frisky.” Then she leered at Ptris. “I can hear you do great work.”

“As my Queen demands and requires,” he answered, his stoic expression finally breaking as he shot a grin at Mai. The Dryad radiated contentment and happiness for a bright shining moment before it was once again, hidden by the calm facade that slammed down over his face.

“Your Queen is satisfied,” Mai confirmed before turning to look at the rest of her Court. “So, we need to find out what’s going on in Lightwater. And I know the perfect place to snoop.”

“Back to Jon-Ton’s?” Lu-Lu asked, tilting her head just a little as she looked around the empty lobby. “‘Cause it’s not like anything is happening around here.”

“There were a few guests,” Mai noted. “Did they all just leave? And where are the staff?”

“The staff is in mourning,” Austin spoke softly, his gaze trailing over the hotel decor that seemed to be warring with each other. “Most of them knew Elias Humphries and are taking his death hard. He must have been using some of his Brownie power inadvertently because this place suddenly feels a lot colder without his presence.”

“I thought Brownies just kept the place neat and tidy while looking after their homes and the people who reside within them.” Mai gave the space a look herself and had to agree with Austin. The place seemed to be lacking something, the charm it had exhibited even when the place looked like a war between Tradition and Modernization. “This is kind of creepy.”

“Brownies often do more than just cook and clean when allowed. In the States, their power is heavily restricted and they aren’t allowed to exert the full force of their powers. Brownies keep diseases and sickness at bay. They imbue all that enter into their homes with a sense of well- being and peace that can be hard to find outside the safety of their own family. They keep depression at bay and have the ability to absorb what humans often call negative emotions, leaving those who enter into their sphere of influence content and feeling lighter. Some of that warmth is missing from the hotel and people can now see the flaws here. Consider this. Imagine that his influence was a thin veil that masked all the issues that surround this place. Now with him gone, more and more you can feel and see the troubles that his hotel was going through.”

“And so can the other guests.” Mai nodded in understanding. “With the death of an apparently beloved figure, it only makes sense that they would feel the negativity of this whole situation and flee. I don’t blame them.” Mai shuddered. Now that she was looking for it, she could feel a bit of coldness in the hotel. It was like the life had been drained away from it.

“So we aren’t going to learn anything here.” Austin broke the silence that had dropped for a few moments after Mai spoke. “We have to go where actual people are gathering.”

“And that would be Jon-Ton’s,” Lu-Lu added. “I’m all for gossip and pastry. We left before I really got a chance to sample the wares in the case.”

“You think with your stomach,” Austin poked at her appetite.

“And you think with your dick, lover,” Lu-Lu sassed right back. “But you don’t see me complaining.”

“Oh, that wasn’t a complaint.” Austin laughed. “It was me pointing out the obvious. We all have our crosses to bear, so our partners had just better sit back and enjoy the ride.”

“Aren’t they sweet?” Mai remarked, looking up at Ptris with a grin on her lips. “That could be us but you won’t smile at me.”

“I smile when appropriate,” Ptris countered. “Like when you are naked and swearing, screaming in my face for more as you ride me hard. I smile then.”

Mai ignored the blush she could feel heating her cheeks as she turned toward the front doors of McDowel’s. “So, who’s for pastry?” she asked, ignoring the snorts of laughter from her friends. “I’m suddenly starving.”

“And your man won’t go to the kitchen and make you a sandwich?” Lu-Lu joked. “Aww, you poor baby. Let’s get you fed. Great sex makes everyone hungry.” She leered at Austin, who leered back while Mai-Mai rolled her eyes at all of them.

“Why do I hang out with you people?” she asked, moving toward the door, Ptris at her side.

“Because we make you laugh?” Lu-Lu all but skipped to her side. “Admit it. You love us. You wouldn’t know what to do without us.”

“That… that’s true,” Mai admitted, a sudden seriousness taking over her mood. “I would have never made it this far without you all.”

“You are our Queen.” Austin spoke softly, opening the doors for them to pass through. “There is nothing we wouldn’t do to help you succeed and become reunited with your Prince.”

The others nodded in agreement. The vine around her wrist squeezed tightly for just a moment before she was released and the tender purple extension of her lover slid back into his hair.

“So let’s work with that.” Mai relaxed, surrounded by her Court. “Let’s go make some magic.”

 

About Stephanie Burke

Stephanie is a USA Today Best Selling, multi published, multi award-winning author, Master Costumer, handicapped, wife and mother of two.

From sex-shifting, shape-shifting dragons to undersea worlds, sexually confused elemental Fey and homo-erotic mysteries, all the way to pastel-challenged urban sprites, Stephanie has done it all, and hopes to do more.

Stephanie is an orator on her favorite subjects of writing and world-building, a sometime teacher when you feed her enough tea and donuts, an anime nut, a costumer, and a frequent guest of various sci-fi and writing cons where she can be found leading panel discussions or researching varied legends and theories to improve her writing skills.

Stephanie is known for her love of the outrageous, strong female characters, believable worlds, male characters filled with depth, and multi-cultural stories that make the reader sit up and take notice.

Stephanie at Changeling Press | Blog

 

 

Master of Honor by Angela Knight #urbanfantasy #vampires @AngelaKnight

Master of Honor (Merlin's Legacy 5)

Cover Art by Angela Knight

A month ago, Cheryl Parker thought she was an ordinary woman — a nurse, a mother, a woman whose lover had walked out. Now she’s gained incredible power thanks to an alien spirit who has made her immortal. She looks twenty again. And her ex is back.

It’s not unusual to discover an old lover kept secrets, but some are harder to believe than others. Ulf’s secret is that he’s an immortal vampire Knight of the Round Table. The good news is, he still loves Cheryl. The bad news is, he thinks the creature inhabiting her is a potential threat to humanity. The worst news is, there is a threat — and it could well kill them all.

Ulf wants nothing more than to be with Cheryl again. The problem is her magic resembles that of a dragon who tried to set a small town ablaze. And she knows more about the creature than she’s saying.

Even as passion rekindles between them, Cheryl and Ulf must overcome years of lies and mistrust. Otherwise they’re doomed — and so is everyone else. Because the creature stalking them is something worse than a dragon. Much, much worse.

Get it at Changeling Press

Use code TGIF03-27-2020 for 15% off your entire order!

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Angela Knight

Brandon Sanders was five years old. The odds were high he’d never see six.

Cheryl Parker stood at the foot of his hospital bed, watching the machines tracking his heartbeat, respiration, and blood oxygen. Eyelashes as thick and black as crow feathers stood out against his bloodless cheeks beneath the thick bandaging encircling his head. The tube of a ventilator distorted his mouth, the machine hissing as it breathed for him. She wondered whether his eyes were his mom’s soft brown or the blue-gray of his dad’s.

Jenny Sanders had said her son had played Hulk to his brother’s Iron Man all morning, running around the house, laughing and giggling. Until he’d raced out the front door into the yard, his brother hot on his heels…

Right into the path of his father’s practice tee shot. The golf ball slammed into Brandon’s temple in precisely the wrong spot, fracturing the thin bone and embedding fragments in his brain.

One frantic ambulance trip to Mecklenburg Memorial later, a neurosurgeon had removed a chunk of the boy’s skull to allow room for the swelling that would otherwise damage his brain. The doctor had tucked the square of bone beneath the skin of Brandon’s abdomen until it could be reattached once the danger was past. He’d cleaned out the skull fragments and closed, and the prayers had begun.

So far, they’d gone unanswered.

The ventricles of the child’s brain were filling with blood, a sign of encroaching brain death. More surgery was needed to repair the bleed, but it was too deep in the brain. Dr. Deepak Anand feared he couldn’t even get to the blood vessel without killing the child. Anand had spent all afternoon calling hospitals around the country, trying to find a neurosurgeon with the skill to risk operating. After one look at Brandon’s CT scans, they’d all turned him down.

The neurologist had scheduled a proof-of-life electroencephalogram for later tonight to see if Brandon was brain dead. If so, his parents would have to decide whether to take him off life support. Based on his declining vitals, nobody thought he had a prayer of passing the EEG.

Brandon had one chance, and one chance only. Cheryl.

She wasn’t a doctor, much less a neurosurgeon. Yes, she’d been a nurse for almost forty years, fifteen of them as a nursing supervisor. She’d treated thousands of sick and dying people, and she’d fought like hell for every one of them. Too often, there’d been nothing she could do. She’d been only human.

Cheryl wasn’t sure what she’d become last month, but “only human” no longer applied. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have to cast spells to make her twenties-looking face appear its true fifty-nine. Mirrors were still freaking her out. She’d glimpse herself and think, Who is that kid and what is she doing in my house?

So yeah, she had power. But this was brain damage that scared neurosurgeons who thought they were gods. Can I pull this off?

The answering silence in her head seemed to tick.

At last Gaia’s voice whispered through her mind like the sigh of leaves in a cold wind, inhuman and distant. If we do nothing, the Sight tells me his parents will be planning his funeral tomorrow.

Shit. She remembered the look on his father’s face. That stunned I’ve-killed-my-boy expression had made her worry Stephen Sanders would try to self-medicate with a bullet. Where would that leave his wife and eldest child?

Cheryl had never faced anything like this with her son Adam, but she could imagine how she’d feel. Paul would have been devastated…

Not Paul, she reminded herself. His name is Ulf. He lied about that like he lied about everything else. Despite the bitterness in that thought, there was longing in the next. Will he show up again tonight?

After twenty-eight years without a word, Ulf had dropped by half a dozen times in the last month. Probably making sure she hadn’t gone evil and started eating the neighbors.

Who the hell cares? she told herself impatiently. Healing this kid is what matters.

Besides, she’d violated her own code of magical ethics to create the opportunity. First she’d had to put a spell on Brandon’s parents to send them down to the cafeteria for dinner. Otherwise they wouldn’t have left for more than a few minutes. They’d be gone for the next hour. Then she’d compelled the medical staff to ignore anything odd going on in Brandon’s room. She’d laid a third spell on the equipment, making sure everything would maintain the same readings the machines were recording now. Otherwise, changes to Brandon’s heartbeat and respiration might raise questions later she wouldn’t want to answer.

Damn, she hated using her power to fuck with people’s heads. This was the same kind of shit witches had done to her. Guess I’ll just have to live with being a hypocrite. Gaia, can we pull this off in the time we have?

About Angela Knight

New York Times best-selling author Angela Knight’s first book was written in pencil and illustrated in crayon; she was nine years old at the time. A few years later, she read The Wolf and the Dove and fell in love with romance. In addition to her fiction work, Angela’s publishing career includes a stint as a comic book writer and ten years as a newspaper reporter. Several of her stories have won South Carolina Press Association awards. Angela lives in South Carolina with her husband, Michael, a detective with the Spartanburg PD.

Angela at Changeling Press | Website

 

 

And Call Me (Duet) by Willa Okati #gayromance

And Call Me (Duet)

Cover Art by Bryan Keller

 

Need a prescription for love? Take two, and call me in the morning.

And Call Me in the Morning: Eli and Zane. Yes, they spend a lot of time together. That doesn’t mean they’re a real couple. When teased about it one too many times by their colleagues, Zane challenges Eli to set the record straight with a kiss to prove there’s absolutely no chemistry between them. Neither expected a spark to ignite between them. More than a spark. Truth be told, Eli’s not so sure they can set the record straight after all.

And Call Me in the Evening: Eli’s still not great at wearing his heart on his sleeve and Zane’s still got trust issues, but they manage just fine. It’s all good. Right? Yes and no. Eli’s ex-wife Marybeth has come back to town, bringing a heaping helping of hassle with her. There’s something to be said for setting the story straight, it’s true. Eli knows he and Zane have a good thing going even if keeping it that way is the hardest — and best — part.

 

Get it at Changeling Press

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Willa Okati

Falling in love with his closest friend had never been something Eli planned to do with his life. Wasn’t as if he could have stopped it, though.

Sometimes love just happened.

Even if it took him a while to figure that out.

* * *

“There you are.” Zane laid down the heavy, ivory-colored menu he’d been idly flipping through as Eli approached, making his way through the maze of tables at their regular bistro. “I almost thought you weren’t going to make it.”

Eli sat with a thump, running his hand through his dark brown hair, cut short but still quite capable of standing on end. He grimaced when he discovered he’d forgotten his stethoscope, still wound around his neck.

“Long night?” Zane asked, already waving their server over with the universal “coffee here” gesture.

Eli relaxed and let Zane take care of him. Some days, a man truly appreciated a friend who’d have his back when he needed a rock to shore up against. “Long, long night. Three-car pileup at an intersection. I didn’t want to leave before everyone was stable.”

“That’s my boy.” Zane shifted out of the way to let their server pour Eli’s cup. She was a pretty thing, well packed into her curves — curves that she offered not so subtly for display.

Zane ignored them. He’d taken Eli’s face in his hands and begun to assess him for signs of exhaustion. The guy had good hands, firm and dry and dexterous. They felt nice and cool against Eli’s skin. He let Eli go with a light slap to the cheek. “Your eyes look like burned holes in a blanket. You should go home and get some rest.”

“Like I’d miss a chance at a fine, elegant brunch?” Eli rolled his eyes.

“Heaven forbid.” Zane gave good deadpan. “Jeez. This is the kind of place I fear running into my family.” How moneyed Zane’s family was, Eli didn’t know. Coming from an ivory tower was a sore spot for Zane, who much preferred the life he’d chosen in a grittier world.

Eli segued to spare Zane any discomfort. What were friends for, right? “You were on last night too. How’d you manage to get away in time for a shower and a sharp morning suit?”

“Questions, questions.” The corners of Zane’s eyes crinkled when he smiled. “Unlike some of us, I leave when my shift’s done.”

“Since when? You’re as much of a workaholic as I am, if not more. A hospitalist’s work is never done, especially at Immaculate Grace. What was I thinking when I chose that as a career, anyway?”

“That you’re a glutton for punishment?”

“True enough.” Eli drank deeply of his coffee, almost moaning in appreciation. The influx of better-than-decent caffeine stimulated his brain. “Before I forget, I got those concert tickets you begged me for. Two, even.” He patted his dark brown shirt pocket. Plain clothes for a plain man, built tough to last, Chicago born and bred for forty-three years.

Unlike Zane, who looked as fresh as a daisy in a casual white linen jacket, pale violet button-down, and pressed slacks. Pretty as a picture, coming across as maybe five years younger than his forty-one. Zane brightened and made a grab. “Good seats?”

“I’m told they’re the best. Ah-ah-ah.” Eli tapped his pocket again. “I also got advance tickets for a Cubs game when the season starts. Fair is fair. I try not to fall asleep during the chorale or chamber music or whatever you want to call it, and you endure beer, umpire heckling, and giant foam fingers.”

“Done and done. You drive a hard bargain.” Zane clinked coffee cups with Eli. He hadn’t looked away once, but Eli liked that about Zane. When he gave you his full attention, nothing else seemed to matter to him. All part of the Zane package, and it made him the best doctor Eli had known. “I –” He stopped, interrupted by the chiming of his pager. When he checked the number, he grimaced. “Damn. Sorry, I’ve got to take this. Keep that warm for me.”

“What did I tell you? Workaholic. Hey! Do not let them talk you into coming back to the hospital today.”

Zane waved backward at Eli as he walked off. Eli watched him go, amused.

A different server, young and male, approached with the coffeepot. Eli suspected the waitress had gotten fed up with flirting and traded off. Fine by him. This kid had a good eye for refills. He held his cup up. “Keep it coming, but we’re not ordering yet. Still waiting for two.”

And they’d better hurry, if they know what’s good for them.

Eli wasn’t a huge fan of this bistro. Without Zane there to provide a buffer, the place was too rich for his blood. Made him feel like any second someone with a pedigree was going to jump out from behind a column and ask him what a working-class stiff like him thought he was doing here.

“Of course, sir. I’m sorry if I’m being rude,” the waiter said, deftly pouring. “If I could ask — you two make such a handsome couple. How long have you been together?”

Not this again. Eli didn’t even have to ask what the kid meant. Wasn’t the first time he and Zane had been mistaken for a couple, and he’d bet his hard-earned MD it wouldn’t be the last. “Sorry to burst your bubble, but we’re not.”

The waiter’s coffeepot slipped. “You’re not — oh. Oh my God, I’m so sorry.”

“No problem.” Eli waved him off before the kid could apologize again. He’d almost gotten used to the assumption. Whatever people saw in Zane and him, he had no idea. Felt like being on the shooting range sometimes, as many assumptions made about them as they had to dodge. Once corrected, strangers were mostly good about apologizing and moving on.

Friends of theirs, on the other hand, were not so accommodating.

“We made it!” Diana and Holly — also doctors, both familiar faces at Immaculate Heart — swarmed the table in a cloud of perfume and joie de vivre. With them, more hesitantly, came a fresh-faced kid Eli vaguely recognized as an intern. The ladies dove into the fresh baguettes and cherry jam their new waiter discreetly slid onto the table before exiting at speed, stage left.

Eli stayed well back from the carnage. Friends they might be, but Holly and Diana — well, it was best to stay on your toes around them. “Who’s the boy toy?”

Holly, a pale, Nordic-type blonde, swatted Eli’s arm. “Be nice. Taye’s been at work for almost twenty-four hours. He deserved a break, so we brought him along to give him a treat.”

Eli didn’t doubt she spoke the truth. The intern was gray with exhaustion and had bags under his eyes big enough to carry the US mail. For all that, he wasn’t bad-looking. If you noticed male attributes, that was. A well-shaped face and a kind mouth, reddish gold hair cut short and sleek. Eli could tell he was probably handsome given the way Diana eyed him with impressively dirty intent.

“Really?” Eli nudged Diana under the table.

Diana, forty-two and unashamed, attractive in a gamine sort of way, wrinkled her nose at Eli. A damned fine cardiologist and an innovator in her field, she had the sense of humor of a collegiate and saw no point in growing old gracefully. She nudged back, and ouch, she was wearing pointy-toed shoes. “Bah humbug.”

Taye watched them with big eyes. “Is there something going on here that I should know about?”

“Not a thing,” Diana said. Butter wouldn’t have melted between her cherry red lips. She stole Eli’s coffee and sipped demurely.

Holly petted Taye’s hair. “It’s all right, Taye. No one here’s going to bite.”

Taye cracked a grin. “Right. It’s just — three doctors and me. All of you have been in medicine since I was in grade school. I’m a little nervous.”

“Shows what you know,” Eli said, jumping back into the conversation. “I just finished my residency last year.” He shrugged. “My midlife crisis came early. What can I say?”

“Seriously? But you seem so… I mean, you’re… The way you take charge, I’d thought you were an old pro.”

“Thank you. It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. And before you ask, I’m forty-three.” Eli took his cup back from Diana, only to find it empty. “Wench.”

She smirked at Eli. “And don’t you forget it. So where’s your wife?”

“Right now, specifically?” Eli checked his watch, a gift from Zane when he’d been hired on as an attending. “Hell if I know. Either in Nepal with Paolo or in Paris with Neo. I lost track.” Either way, she was doing adventurous things with a man who isn’t married to his job. He couldn’t blame Marybeth. Cops made terrible husbands. When he’d decided to switch to medicine, that’d been the last straw, and he wished her well with… whoever was on the menu this week. “Enough about me.” They knew damn well he didn’t like to talk about personal business in public.

Holly and Diana exchanged glances, the secretly amused and utterly female method of communication Eli had never learned to interpret, God help him.

“Good for her. I was talking about your other wife,” Diana said around a bite of ruby jam and baguette.

“Beg pardon?”

“She means Zane,” Holly said.

That, in Eli’s opinion, was taking it too far, especially in front of a colleague Eli didn’t know. “Enough, the both of you.”

Holly ignored him serenely and put her chin in her hands. “Come to think of it, this might be the first time I’ve seen you without him in weeks.”

Eli could feel Taye watching them, fascinated. “My private life is not up for scrutiny, but for the last time, Zane and I are not together. How many times do I have to say this, and to how many people?”

“Wait, what?” Looked like Taye had forgotten his nerves. He turned to Diana instead of Eli. “Zane is Dr. Novia, right? They’re not…”

No,” Eli said, annoyed. A flicker of motion in his peripheral vision filled him with relief. “Zane, for the love of God, would you get behind me on this?”

Diana and Holly dissolved into giggles. Zane shrugged, untroubled as ever, and took his seat. He tucked his pager away. “What are we being ridiculed for today?”

“Same old, same old,” Eli said. He passed Zane the bread and jam. “Apparently we want to jump each other’s bones.”

“An oldie, but a goodie.” Zane lifted his chin at Taye. “What are you looking at, junior?”

Taye coughed. “Nothing. Sorry.” He retreated behind a mouthful of fresh-from-the-oven baguette.

Eli had to admire Zane at work. They could have used a laser stare like Zane’s on the force back in the day. He’d have had perps pissing their pants with nothing more than a look.

Zane turned it on Diana. “Look at you, Mrs. Robinson.”

Diana possessed not the smallest trace of shame. “You wish you had my cojones.”

“True.”

Their byplay didn’t stop Holly. Nothing did, as far as Eli could tell. Hell, her husband egged her on; Eli held it in private opinion that the pair of them enjoyed more kink than a Slinky. She folded her hands beneath her chin and gave Zane her best you-can-trust-me psychotherapist face. “It just seems obvious to everyone but the pair of you.”

“It’s true,” Diana said. She started to pick through the packages of fake and real sugar, searching for Splenda. “You go to the symphony together. Ball games. Brunch, for God’s sake. And when was the last time you went out with a woman, the pair of us aside?”

Eli opened his mouth, closed it, and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “So it’s been a while. I don’t have time for playing the field when I’m trying to get ahead with my career.”

“But you have time to spend with Zane,” Holly said sweetly.

Eli gave up. For the moment.

Diana didn’t. “Take, for example, the way you two are sitting. Shoulder to shoulder.”

“The table is crowded,” Eli protested. “Four-person table, five people jammed in. You’re plastered against Taye.”

Diana smiled like a cat who’d just gotten her first taste of the cream and said nothing.

Fine, that hadn’t helped. Frustrated, Eli looked to Zane for support. No luck; Zane was busy waving for more coffee all around.

Eli wasn’t an idiot. When he examined Zane through objective eyes, he could see the appeal. Zane looked closer to thirty than forty, excepting the smile lines and small sprinkling of silver in his hair, and it was a trim, fit thirty with a body he kept in tip-top shape with rigorous exercise.

Not that Eli had anything to be ashamed of on that count, either. Zane’s enthusiasm for biking and boxing had chivied Eli out of the threat of middle-aged spread and back into better shape than he’d been on the force. Handsome, fit, successful.

So yes, he noticed these things. Didn’t everybody? And so they spent most of their time together. Mankind wasn’t made to be alone. Big deal.

Zane’s beeper shrilled. He rolled his eyes to the heavens. “I’m going to take this in my car. If the waiter comes around, order for me, but no meat. As soon as we’re done here I’m going back to Immaculate Grace and carving myself a filet of intern. Not you,” he said as an aside to Taye. “You’re doing great. Keep up the good work. Eli, tell them I want the usual, okay?”

Eli didn’t let Diana or Holly ask. “Yes, I know his usual. Belgian waffle with cinnamon sugar and whipped cream, the real stuff, and a fruit salad. No strawberries.” He swatted Zane’s hip as Zane scooted behind him and away. “Don’t worry; I’ve got it covered.”

“No strawberries?” Taye asked.

“He’s allergic,” Eli said. Medicine fell outside the personal-business umbrella, and Zane considered nothing taboo anyway. Still grated Eli’s nerves a bit to answer. “I’ve never seen how allergic, but he carries an EpiPen. No sense taking chances.”

Hoping the subject would be dropped, knowing there was no way he’d get that lucky, Eli studied the menu until he could no longer ignore the women clicking their tongues at him. Approximately thirty seconds. “What?”

The women exchanged Highly Significant Looks. “Doth the gentleman protest too much?” Diana asked.

“He doth,” Holly agreed. “Let me ask you a question, Eli.”

“Since I’m well aware that I can’t stop you, please, proceed.” Eli crossed his arms and waited for it.

“How much time did you spend with your ex-wife before she took off for — where was it again?” She shushed him before he could answer. “It’s Austria with Pieter, by the way. I actually know this, and you don’t. Now tell me: how much time do you spend with Zane?”

Eli scowled and said nothing.

Holly pounced. “You see? I’ll bet you can even tell me where Zane was night before last.”

There was no way he would win here, was there? “My place,” Eli admitted. “Takeout and Die Hard. What’s your point?”

“I think their point is that you’re all but married,” Taye said. Apparently he’d chosen sides. Good to know. For that, he would pay. “Look, I know a few things about what it’s like to love your own gender. It’s strange as hell at first.”

Diana’s face fell in a way that would have been heartbreaking if it hadn’t been ever so satisfying instead. “You’re –”

Taye blushed but kept his chin up. “Yes.”

“No disrespect to you personally intended, Taye, but can I just say ha?” Eli pointed at Holly and Diana in turn. “Your gaydar needs a tune-up.”

Diana didn’t take defeat graciously. She narrowed her eyes at Taye. “Prove it.”

“Hey.” Eli straightened. “Nobody around here has to prove anything. Diana, leave him alone.”

Taye’s color heightened. “I can fight my own battles, thanks.”

Eli held up his hands in mock surrender. “Suit yourself, tough guy.”

 

About Willa Okati

Willa Okati is made of many things: imagination, coffee, stray cat hairs, daydreams, more coffee, kitchen experimentation, a passion for winter weather, a little more coffee, and a lifelong love of storytelling. She is definitely one of the quiet ones you have to watch out for.

Willa at Changeling Press | Instagram | Facebook Group