Action, Adventure, Techno-Thriller, Suspense, Sci-Fi, Military Thriller,
Date Published: May 2023
Unveiling the latest sensation in the world of Short Form Novels: Phoenix
Rising by Mark T. Wellington!
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About the Author
Mark T. Wellington is a US Air Force Veteran with the Electronic Security
Command who held an SCI/SBI Top Secret clearance—his experience in the
military has given him the tools to tell exciting stories. His expertise in
cyber and electronic warfare, as well as his practices in Krav Maga and
kickboxing, inspired his turbulent and exciting novel, Phoenix Rising.
A citizen of the world, Mark’s passport is a mosaic of global experiences.
He has journeyed from the bustling streets of Istanbul to the steep inclines
of Mount Everest, and from the historic heart of Berlin to the vibrant
culture of Barcelona. Having resided in six different countries, he has
absorbed diverse cultures, engaged with intricate art forms, and navigated
Despite his technological acumen and AI engineering expertise, he is never
one to be confined within the digital realm. His creativity spills over into
his passion for scuba diving, rock climbing, and racing, each providing
unique inspirations for his storytelling. Moreover, his interests in
cooking, gardening, and painting reveal an individual who fully embraces the
blend of art and science, making his work as varied and colorful as his
With his extensive world travels, deep technical expertise, and unbounded
creativity, Mark is a true renaissance man, promising many more exciting
stories to come.
The Kingdom of Moorcondia and the Marshlands have been warring for years. Now a treaty has been negotiated, but it needs to be sealed by a marriage between the ruling families. But the bride has bolted, leaving her brother, Taryn, to fill the role. There is nothing in the law of either country that says a bride has to be female.
Forced to dress in his sister’s gown and marry Soren, Taryn faces his fate with anger, resolve and frightening anticipation. While the Moorcondians are flexible in their sexuality, the Marshers are more prudish, plus Taryn has learned the hard lesson that an attraction to men is unnatural and wrong. His desire for Soren frightens him.
As a prince, Soren knows his duty and executes it without hesitation. As a widower, he looks forward to a new marriage, and his unexpected bride is very fetching. If only he can convince Taryn to put aside his fears and accept the pleasures of the marriage bed.
Taryn struggles to fill the role of a wife in the royal family, even as everyone else tries to adjust to the notion of a male bride. As the days pass, Soren comes to appreciate his bride more, and Taryn tries embrace his new role with enthusiasm instead of resignation. But politics is a treacherous place to navigate, putting their blossoming love in jeopardy.
Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of dubious consent, homophobia and attempted suicide.
“I won’t do it!”
The slap was delivered with less force than typical. Taryn didn’t even try to avoid it. He’d learned long ago that any show of fear only fed his brother’s cruel streak. Nor did he back away as Hobart leaned into his face.
“You will do as you are told.” Flecks of spit flew from Hobart’s mouth, the smell of beer wafting on his breath. Fury showed in his expression, testament to how desperate he must be.
Taryn tried to maintain his resolve over this order being suddenly thrust upon him, even as he knew he had no control over his own fate. “I can’t marry that man.” It was hard to believe he had to even say those words.
“You can and you will. It’s the only way the treaty can go forward. If our sister hadn’t run away to the nunnery, we wouldn’t be in this predicament.” Hobart’s gaze shifted to a spot somewhere in the distance, and his lip curled in a sneer. “She’d already taken her vows by the time I’d caught up to her.” He refocused his attention on Taryn. “A child of the chieftain has been promised to the Moorcondian prince. With Alissa gone, it’s down to you, as you are well past being a child.”
Taryn balled his hands in frustration. “My age is not the issue. He was promised a bride, not another man.”
Hobart huffed. “You do yourself too much credit. Truth be told, you’re more of a girl than Alissa ever was. Prettier, too.” His brother didn’t mean those words to be a compliment, and after years of such taunting, Taryn let them roll off his back.
“Tell that to the prince. You can’t hide my sex from him. He’ll see me for what I am even before he takes that frock off me.” He flung his arm in the direction of the maid who stood awkwardly with what should have been his sister’s wedding gown.
“Those fucking Moorcondians are a decadent lot. Men lie with each other all the time, I hear. The fuckers probably bed their horses, for all I know. And the wiseman has looked at their laws and ours. There is nothing that says a bride has to be female. I imagine the stupid princeling will find plowing your ass just as sweet as Alissa’s dried-up cunt—more so, likely. And I’m sure it’s a dream come true for you,” he added with a look of disgust.
Taryn again ignored the baiting and struggled to contain the tears that threatened to leak out. He was angry and scared in equal measure. The whole idea of his marrying the age-old enemy of his people was intolerable. He couldn’t blame his sister for seeking sanctuary from her fate. He was merely the unlucky victim of her self-preservation. She couldn’t have known what it would mean for him and probably wouldn’t have cared if she had. Their father hadn’t raised them to be generous with each other.
Taryn also had to admit that his brother was probably right about the Moorcondian prince. It was a very different society than his own—decadent, as Hobart had aptly put it. Their prince had ridden in with a colorful retinue and much fanfare. They were nothing like the earthier and frankly poor people of the Marshlands. Taryn couldn’t imagine how he was supposed to fit into such a world. Being the child of a Marsher chieftain mostly meant he had cleaner clothes and more to eat. His presence among the Moorcondians would be like a reed finch flitting around peacocks. If he’d been reviled by his own people, the Moorcondians would undoubtedly treat him with even more contempt.
This is so unfair! Railing against his fate out loud was worse than useless. If he put up any more of a fight, he’d be going to his own wedding with a black eye and split lip. Hobart was being restrained at the moment, likely so that Taryn would be as appealing to his groom as possible. Testing his brother’s patience would only end one way, however. He knew he was powerless in this, as with all other things. He’d learned to survive his family’s brutality, and he could cope with anything these foreigners threw at him. Besides, he’d heard that the opulent Moorcondian palace contained a vast library. If he were lucky, his new husband would give him the freedom to explore it.
That’s more like it. Finding some silver lining in any situation was what kept him sane. He would survive this misery as he had so many others. There was also some deep part of him that dared to be intrigued by the idea of being bedded by the prince, lending credence to Hobart’s taunt, though Taryn had snuffed that spark as soon as he’d become aware of it. Those kinds of thoughts weren’t to be tolerated. He didn’t want sex of any kind. Before Alissa had beat him to it, he’d been considering taking his own vows and living his life at the monastery. Anything would have been more appealing than living under the harsh judgment of his father and brother, plus he would have had time for scholarly pursuits. Now his future would be held by another powerful man—and one he knew nothing about.
There was no hope for it. Squaring his shoulders, he stared his brother down. “Very well. I will don that gown and greet my groom to be. If he rejects me, it won’t be my fault.”
Hobart’s expression turned as nasty as it got. “You’d better hope he doesn’t. The ceremony has already been delayed because you were off wasting the day away. If this treaty fails, I’ll stake you to the execution hill myself and revel in your slow death.”
His brother strode out of the tiny room Taryn had managed to call his own. Then he turned to the poor maid, who obviously wished she were anywhere else. He recognized the woman as the one who had served his sister. No doubt she was already frightened that she would be punished for her mistress’ escape. Certainly the guard who’d let her flee must have known tremendous regret the moment before Hobart had severed the man’s head from his neck. Taryn wouldn’t be the cause of trouble for her.
“Will that even fit me?” The pale green dress was trimmed with lace, luxurious for his people. But Anissa was a voluptuous woman. He lacked the essential shape to wear such a thing.
The maid gave him a shy smile. “I took it in this afternoon.”
So, others in our tribe knew my fate before I did. No surprise there. His father and brother treated him like a piece of furniture—and a useless one at that. It must have enraged them to realize that they needed him to seal the treaty, and bringing him into the discussion would never have occurred to them. He pushed back the hurt and took what little control he could. “I’ll need a quick bath.” He’d spent the day riding, mostly to stay clear of the Moorcondians, but he couldn’t go to his groom smelling like horse.
“Of course, sir. Leave it all to me.”
With his heart still lodged in his throat, and his stomach churning, he was happy for someone else to take command of the situation. The story of my life. I should never have been born to a powerful family.
Samantha Cayto is a Boston-area native who practices as a business lawyer by day while writing erotic romance at night—the steamier the better. She likes to push the envelope when it comes to writing about passion and is delighted other women agree that guy-on-guy sex is the hottest ever.
She lives a typical suburban life with her husband, three kids and four dogs. Her children don’t understand why they can’t read what she writes, but her husband is always willing to lend her a hand—and anything else—when she needs to choreograph a scene.
Enter for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card! Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.
Her fetish cruise vacation started with a bang, literally, but fun quickly turned to terror when death came knocking at her door.
Cammie Sheppard, personal assistant to Sabine Cowan, is a capital-O-organized, type-A workaholic and, according to Sabine, in desperate need of a vacation. Despite the fact that her boss has explicitly forbidden her from touching anything related to work, Cammie has a plan for her forced five-day Dark Matter Kink cruise. One, schmooze and network on behalf of Cowan Enterprises. Two, product-test all the kink goodies available. Three, get laid as much as possible. Even a working girl needs a little release every once in a while, and Cammie has been saving up.
When she meets Zane Roberts, she finds a kindred spirit, so much so that their chemistry ignites, and Cammie checks off number three on her to-do list several times in the first few hours after departure. When she returns to her own cabin later that night, she discovers the body of a man—who is very much deceased—but when she goes to get help and returns with security, the body is gone. No one believes her, except for the mysterious Zane Roberts, who, it turns out, is conducting an investigation of his own.
Cammie thinks the dead man is connected to Zane’s case, but Zane isn’t convinced. Cammie might be a sub in Zane’s bed, but she’s anything but when she’s got a job to do. Right now, she’s determined to figure out how a dead man ended up in her cabin and stop a murderer from striking again.
Reader advisory: This book contains murder, a head injury, brief anal play and an instance of drugging.
Cammie didn’t do vacations very well, mostly because she loathed stepping away from the love of her life…work. But when the uber-powerful Sabine Cowan insisted on an all-expenses paid kink cruise, what she called “mandatory R and R”, what was a girl supposed to do?
A hardcore type-A like Cammie played to her strengths, so that’s what she did. She packed her bags and made a cruise ‘to-do’ list. One, schmooze and network more Kitty Cat connections—Gentlemen’s Club candidates, Kitty Cat hopefuls and new clients. Two, product test, because, come on…a kink cruise? A girl’s gotta have a little fun at work. Three, get laid…repeatedly. It is a vacation after all…even if it’s forced. It’d been a looong time since she’d found a man to crank her little kink-loving heart.
“This will be your cabin, Miss Sheppard. Your boss really loves you.” Ben, her steward, winked like they were already best friends. He’d been effervescent the entire way to her stateroom, bubbling with energy and peppering her with questions about where she’d traveled from and what she hoped to do on the five-day cruise. It had been impossible not to get caught up in his enthusiasm as he pumped up the various events that had been planned. “Shall I put your bags in the closet?”
A walk-in closet? In a stateroom? “Yes, please. Thank you, Ben.”
Of course, Sabine had spared no expense, so Cammie’s cabin was beyond luxurious. It was larger than her own bedroom at home in New York and big enough for a king-size bed, a lounge-dining area and a restroom that included an actual whirlpool tub. The view was spectacular as well. With floor-to-ceiling windows along one wall, Cammie would be able to see miles of ocean with no obstructed views. She also had a balcony and pictured herself having her morning coffee there while she checked email and knocked a few things off her ‘non-cruise to-do list’, of course.
“Is there anything else I can do for you, Miss Sheppard?” Ben stood at the door, his hands folded in front of him and his face clearly eager to please. His blond hair flopped over one eye, giving him an adorably disheveled look.
“Oh gosh, no. I’m fine.” She dug out some money from her purse then handed it to him. “Thanks for getting me here safe and sound. This ship is so huge. I think it’ll take me five days just to get the hang of where everything is.” Which was a total lie… Cammie had gotten the entire ship mapped out from bow to stern and everything in between before she’d stepped foot on board.
“I’m here if you need me. Just pick up the phone and I’ll answer.” Ben slipped the cash into his pocket with a nod and a grin. “Don’t forget about the sunset mixer on the Sky Deck.”
Cammie rubbed her hands together. “I’ll be there!” A sunset mixer sounded like exactly the type of place she’d find people to network with.
She had an hour to get ready, so she pulled out her sun-and-fun mixer dress—an orange, yellow and pink strapless that hugged her curves just right—then headed into the massive restroom for a dip in the tub. If Sabine wanted her to relax, she could at least make an effort.
It turned out that networking was easier than finding a nonalcoholic cocktail on the Sky Deck. Cammie had been offered no less than four umbrella-adorned drinks by four different scantily clad servers, and each time she’d asked if it was possible to get a soda or even water, she’d only been met with looks of confusion before a mumbled, “Of course! Let me get that for you.” She’d yet to find a cold drink in her hand, but she had met three very eligible men, who had been eagerly listening to what she had to say about the Kitty Cat Gentlemen’s Club. They hadn’t even balked at the fee range she’d hinted at.
“You can sign me up, little lady.” Mr. William Haversmith wore a huge tan cowboy hat on his big head. Everything about the man was larger than life, from his booming laugh and his ridiculously large cowboy boots to his long, curled mustache. “In fact, a pretty little thing like you can do whatever she wants with my assets.” He winked.
“Bill, don’t you know women don’t like to be spoken to like that?” Elm Stone also wore a cowboy hat and towered over Cammie in the same way his friend did, which wasn’t hard, considering Cammie was a whopping five foot three inches. He tried to come off as more gentlemanly, even though Cammie had witnessed him slip his hands over several of the servers’ asses as they passed by.
“I’m sorry. Can’t help myself. You’re a tiny, sexy thing, though. And on a naughty cruise like this to boot! You’re a firecracker, aren’t you? I can see it in your eyes.” He winked again, and Cammie had to wonder if he had a tic or if he really did think she—or any woman, really—was in to his kind of flirting. “And those dimples! So cute! I could just eat you up.” He leaned closer. “You don’t mind if I call you ‘little lady’, do you, sweetheart?”
Did she mind? Hell yes! But she’d never say that out loud. Working in an industry that catered to men, she’d become used to the ways that men behaved and the condescending things they often said. “Of course not, Mr. Haversmith.” She grinned, making sure her dimples popped for him. “I’m just going to charge you more for your membership.”
The men all laughed in their hearty way, not believing for one second that she would, in fact, give them the elevated price she reserved for special men like him. She laughed too, but hers—if a person listened closely—was edged with a ‘fuck you’.
“Well, you’ve got my contact information. Be sure to put it to good use, honey.” He didn’t wink again, thank goodness, but he did waggle his eyebrows like he was sending some kind of secret message.
Cammie laughed again then waved him off. “If you’ll excuse me, gentlemen, I’m going to search out a drink. I’m absolutely parched!” She didn’t stick around for another suggestive comment, but the men’s laughter and what could only be described as catcalls did follow her as she moved through the crowd.
“Oh, there you are!” A tall redhead wearing a super-flattering, black skin-hugging leather dress rushed to her on four-inch stilettos with a frosty glass in hand. “Soda water for you. I added a lime just in case you wanted a bit of flavor.”
“Thank you!” The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Cammie really was dying of thirst.
“Soda water, huh?”
She turned toward the gravelly voice like a puppet on a string. “Yeah, I’m not in to alcohol.”
“Smart. Don’t want to get too drunk then end up tied down and at some Dom’s mercy.” The guy standing next to her checked all Cammie’s eye-candy boxes. He was tall and wide, barrel-chested, thick-armed and, like her, appeared to enjoy food. “That’s why I’m only sipping my beer.”
“Bound and at the mercy of a Dom is exactly how I want to end up.” A bold statement, sure, but Cammie had a to-do list, and this guy might be her way to check off one of those bullet points.
“Zane,” he said, one eyebrow raised.
Amused or intrigued? It was hard to tell. He tilted his pint glass toward hers.
“Cammie.” She turned herself toward him so she could take in his full size then clinked her glass with his. She liked men with meat on them. They complemented her curves and were usually hefty enough to hoist her into the positions she loved. “You here alone?”
His eyes crinkled and a grin tugged his lips. “Are you hitting on me?”
“Not yet.” Cammie grinned back.
“Oh…dimples, how very—”
“If you say cute, I’m leaving.” Cammie took a sip from her glass, watching him over the jutting lime. Her body heat had to be wafting off her with the way her pussy quivered and wept. Zane was exactly the kind of guy she could have some fun with.
“Enticing.” He gave her a spicy once-over, trailing a hot-as-hell gaze down, lingering over her double Ds to the curve of her extra-wide hips, then back up again. “Yes, I’m here alone.”
“I’m not looking for love.” Cammie would never be accused of beating around the bush, especially not when it came to sex.
Angela Addams is an author of many naughty things. She believes that the written word is an amazing tool for crafting the most erotic of scenarios and likes telling stories about normal people getting down and dirty and falling in love. Enthralled by the paranormal at an early age, Angela also spends a lot of her time thinking up new story ideas that involve supernatural creatures in everyday situations.
She is an avid tattoo collector, a total book hoarder, and loves anything covered in chocolate…except for bugs.
She lives in Ontario, Canada in an old, creaky house, with her husband, children and four moody cats.
When Landry Carran buys an antique mirror from a pop-up flea market, he doesn’t expect it to set him on a treasure hunt originating in the Second World War. He can’t resist tracking down the clues even knowing that every step brings him closer to danger.
Landry’s partner and Dom, Detective Gage Roskam, has his own problems handling a money laundering case that twists and turns as much as Landry’s treasure trail.
As a decades-old mystery collides with modern-day crime, Landry and Roskam must juggle work, friendships and their relationship to solve both puzzles. It’ll be a miracle if nothing gets broken along the way.
Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of physical assault, gunshots and expressions of homophobia. There are references to non-nurturing parenting, addiction and attempted abduction.
“Moving apartments involves way too much physical exertion.” Landry Carran launched two garbage bags full of bed linen into the spare bedroom before continuing to the kitchen to survey the chaos. “I’m exhausted and I have bruises in unmentionable places. Why aren’t cardboard boxes spherical? Corners are evil.”
“You’re moving one floor down in the same building.” Gage Roskam, Landry’s boyfriend, poked his head around the door. “And you have half of Seattle PD’s finest helping out, so quit whining or I’ll spank you in full view of all of them.”
“That’d scare the uniform pants off ’em. Something I wouldn’t mind seeing one little bit.” Landry contemplated the idea of a bunch of semi-naked cops with delight.
“Not so much. I’ve heard at least three different people say you need a spanking today. None of them seemed bothered about when or where it happened.”
“You’re a brat.”
“I just want boxes marked ‘kitchen’ to go in the kitchen. Do they not teach reading at the police academy?”
“Not so’s you’d notice.”
“I never knew I had so much stuff,” Landry muttered. “It’s like living in one of those anxiety dreams where you know you have to finish something but it’s never-ending.” He shuddered.
“Are you one of those hoarder types? I think full disclosure should have occurred before I agreed to move in with you, if that’s the case.” Gage shoved another box of kitchenware onto the already crowded counter.
“You’ve been living with me for almost six months. You invaded my closet, kept your toothbrush in my bathroom and installed a gun safe in the bedroom. You discovered my rubber ducky fetish, stole an entire box of peanut butter cups and left your huge-ass boots where I’d trip over them. Just because you kept paying rent on your place does not mean we weren’t living together.”
Gage shrugged. “Your rubber fetish is a lot broader than ducks.” His blue eyes twinkled.
“That’s where you’re going with this?” Landry pouted. “Stop grinning.”
“Come here.” Gage crooked his finger.
“Nope.” Landry folded his arms. “Not gonna.”
Gage blinked. “Right now, Landry.”
“Hmm, let me think. There’s that new latex hood with the built-in penis gag—that has possibilities. Chastity for the next week—always fun—or removal of coffee privileges.”
Landry decided the three steps into Gage’s arms were his best option. He rested his cheek on Gage’s chest. “So mean.”
“And you love it.”
“Not admitting to anything that might prejudice my defense. Ooh, you’re so warm and you smell good.”
“How can that be when I’ve been carting boxes and furniture all day?”
“Don’t know, don’t care, but it’s true and that T-shirt shows off your muscles so well. Very distracting. You reduce my productivity.” Landry stroked a firm bicep.
“Oh no. You are not prepping the ground for blaming me when you can’t find your favorite mug this evening, or if some random object goes missing. Your productivity would increase if you spent less time drinking coffee and more time hauling shit. Less gossiping with Sancha needs to go on that list, too.”
“I don’t know what you mean.” Landry made his eyes big and wide and projected innocent vibes.
“My box of toys is in our bedroom. I have several paddles you haven’t met yet. Tonight, you’ll pick one then count while I apply it to your ass.” Landry gulped and his cock jerked. Gage snuck his hand down the front of Landry’s pants to give his shaft a squeeze. “Someone wants that spanking real bad.”
“This says different.” Gage played a little more. “You’re leaking.”
“Unhand me, you brute.”
“Have you been watching old British films again?”
“Maybe.” Landry shoved his groin into Gage’s palm.
“Madre de dios, put that boy down!” Sancha Hernandez, Gage’s partner, shouted from the hallway. “Or at least wait until I have a better view. There’s unpacking to do, and I was promised beer and pizza for helping out. I’ve seen no evidence of either and as I am a detective, I’d know.”
Landry whimpered as Gage gave him a final squeeze before removing his hand from Landry’s pants. “Later, brat.” Gage grabbed his cell from the counter. “I’ll order the pies before we have a mutiny on our hands. You sort the drinks. I’m not unpacking anything else tonight. The bed’s made. I have a toothbrush. I’m set.”
“I can’t believe you’re leaving me all alone for three whole days,” Sancha moaned, joining them. “Who’s gonna buy my coffee and fill in my paperwork?” Landry sniggered. “I can’t believe the captain signed off on your vacation time. Do you have blackmail material on him I don’t know about?”
“Pretty sure you’ll survive by enlisting some other naïve sucker,” Gage muttered before putting in his pizza order.
“Junior detectives are meant to make themselves useful. I’m giving them valuable life experiences and don’t forget my garlic prawns,” Sancha prompted him.
“And that right there is why I’m glad I don’t have to share a car with you tomorrow,” Gage said. “There aren’t enough air fresheners in the world.”
Sancha shrugged. “Lightweight. How are you doing, Landry, sweetie? I hope you haven’t been carrying anything too heavy. Moving is hard work, and you need to stay hydrated. Why don’t you grab a soda then come sit with me?”
“That sounds so cool. I am a little achy.” Landry directed his pout at Sancha.
“I’ll be on the couch.” She smiled at Landry, scowled at Gage then left the kitchen.
“Why doesn’t she care if I’ve been overdoing it?” Gage complained. “I’m the one she spends every day with.”
“Duh. Because you have muscles on your muscles whereas I’m a delicate flower.”
“Who shifts furniture around all day in an antique store.”
“Details. This much cuteness needs to be protected.” Landry swept a hand down his body.
“Yes, I’m still here. Sorry. Someone delusional was interrupting me.” Gage finished ordering food while Landry got himself a soda. He turned from the fridge to find Gage looming over him. “You give me a crick in the neck when you do that.” Landry tilted his head back. “I need a stool or a box or something.”
“I think my partner loves you more than me.” Gage twisted his fingers through Landry’s hair.
“I’m a lovable person. Of course I’m Sancha’s favorite. She loves me best because I am way cuter and far more adorable than you. You have this whole broody, menacing thing going on.” Landry grinned. “Which is a huge turn on for me, gotta say.”
“You do, huh?”
“I should go talk to Sancha…”
“You should stay right here while I remind you who you belong to.”
Landry drew breath to speak but his words were cut off as Gage captured his lips in a demanding kiss. Every submissive gene in Landry’s body responded to Gage’s dominance. He moaned into the kiss, knees wobbling. Every tug Gage gave his hair sent a miniature bolt of lightning to Landry’s cock. When they finally parted, he took a step back, dazed.
“Now you may go and talk to Sancha.”
“Oh I may, may I?” Landry hesitated, wondering if he might get kissed into silence if he talked back. “You don’t get to tell me who I can and can’t talk to.” Gage gave him one of his patented ‘don’t mess with me’ looks. “Okay, sometimes you do. Not all the time, ‘cause I’m a grown-up and I make decisions for myself. Like when we have cookies, and I have to choose between chocolate chip and ginger. I can do that.”
“No you can’t. You always take both.”
“Bad example.” Landry scuffed the toe of his sneaker on the floor.
“I know you’re all grown up, sweetheart, and you’re quite capable of making decisions. Mr. Lao wouldn’t trust you with Treasure Trove if you weren’t. But you’re mine and that gives me a say in your life. Sometimes you need a nudge in the right direction is all.”
“And that’s your job?”
“Along with watching out for you, tying you up, fucking you into the mattress, protecting you from predatory British art thieves…”
“You had to go there.”
Gage smirked. “Go keep Sancha company. I’ll go wait for the pizza guy and let the others know food is on the way. I think pretty much everything that needs to be, has been moved.”
“Bring them all in here, yeah? There’s a cooler full of beer behind the couch—unless Sancha has already found it, in which case it may be half-full by now.” Landry ambled through to the sitting room, which had a similar layout to the one in his old apartment except for an extra nook for a dining table. He threw himself onto the couch where Sancha was glugging down a bottle of Dubbel Entendre, which Landry had sourced from Sound Brewery in Poulsbo.
“You found the cooler then.” Landry leaned into Sancha’s side.
“I can scent beer from a mile away, you poor innocent lamb. Of course I found it and damn, this beer is good. Just what I needed. Love the name of this stuff too.”
“I couldn’t resist it, it’s such a cool name.” He cracked open his soda. “Thanks for helping out today, I really appreciate it. I know you don’t get much free time, and you must have had better things to do than helping me and Gage move.”
“How many times have you guys helped us out? Besides, it was this or taking the kids to soccer practice. My loving husband saw fit to remind me that I tend to get over-excited around the coach who I happen to think would have a much more lucrative career as an underwear model. Honestly, he’s wasted on a bunch of kids.”
“Leering in front of children is not a good plan.” Landry slurped his drink.
“Sad but true. However, we’re not here to talk about my perversions.”
“We’re not here to talk about mine, either,” Landry cautioned. “Because that would take way too long.”
Sancha gave an unladylike snort. “Ain’t that the truth? Also, Gage might object. So, tell me what Mr. Lao is up to and why you get to move into his apartment. Gage is hopeless at filling me in. I need to get the details from you. Mr. Lao isn’t ill or anything, is he? I kinda like the old guy.”
“He’s fine. More than fine. He’s moving in with his girlfriend.”
“He’s… Run that by me again.”
“He has a girlfriend called Maisie. He met her at his seniors bowling club—that’s bowling on grass by the way, not bowling on an alley, and now they’re moving in together in some gated community in the ’burbs, complete with health club, tennis courts and on-site restaurant. He’s stepping back from the store, to spend more time with her—semi-retirement, I suppose you could call it. I get to be the store manager and one of the perks is to move into Mr. Lao’s old apartment, which as you can see has more square footage than mine. The kitchen is bigger and there’s a spare bedroom, which is great because I can hide all Gage’s junk in there.”
“Congratulations! Manager, huh? Does that mean you get a humongous raise?”
“I wish. I agreed to a percentage of the profits on everything I sell on top of my puny salary, plus this place which, despite the lingering scent of incense, is quite a perk. Mr. Lao will still be doing most of the buying while I get to park my butt in the store. He loves traveling around finding great deals and bartering with his pals in the trade. Oh, I also get to look for an assistant. A new me.”
“And Gage is moving in with you. That’s so sweet.”
“I dare you to use the word sweet in front of him. It’s practical. He saves a bundle on rent, and I get to jump his bones any time I want. We were as good as living together already, anyway.”
“More like he gets to keep a closer eye on you.”
“Exactly,” Gage said, joining them. “Because someone has a habit of getting into strife when I’m not watching him.” He dropped a pile of pizza boxes on the coffee table and the room was soon swarming with all the people who’d been helping out with the move. The noise level and banter grew as the pizza mountain shrank and the beers from the cooler were drunk. Landry laughed at all the jokes Gage’s colleagues made about him, noticing that they were a lot more cautious about teasing Sancha. When he mentioned it, she laughed.
“They wouldn’t dare. The last time one of them tried to play a trick on me at the precinct, I accidentally stapled his hand.”
Landry looked to Gage for confirmation. He nodded. “She did. Not sure it was accidental, though.”
“No comment!” Sancha proclaimed.
“Your aim is spot on, and you know it!”
“And on that note, I think it’s time that me and this crowd of reprobates cleared out of here and left you two lovebirds alone.”
Landry fought back a yawn. “You don’t have to go yet.”
“It’s been a long, hard day and you’re going to be really busy with setting up this place until the store reopens on Monday. Take the peace and quiet while you can and besides, Gage is needy. You have to keep stroking his…ego.” She snorted with laughter before levering herself off the couch. She gave Gage a kiss on the nose then began ushering everyone out of the apartment.
“Give me a minute,” Gage said. “I need to make sure they’ve really gone.”
Landry giggled. He curled into the corner of the couch and nibbled on a leftover slice of pizza. A wave of fatigue washed over him. He’d been so excited about the move, he’d been up since dawn and hadn’t slept much the previous night. Snuggling in bed with Gage sounded like a fine way to end the day, even if the bed was still surrounded by boxes.
By the time Gage returned, Landry was half-asleep.
“You have drool coming out of your mouth.” Gage’s graveled tones pulled Landry from his doze. He rubbed at his mouth with the back of his hand. “So this is how it’s going to be. One day living together, and you’re already letting yourself go.”
“If I had the energy, I’d swat you for that remark,” Landry muttered, yawning.
“You look like you’re about to go into hibernation.”
“That’s not a bad idea. Did you know there’s a Twitter account that follows a bunch of bears in Alaska and people get to vote on which of them is the fattest before they hibernate. These guys are chonks, let me tell you. They get to eat whatever the hell they like, pile on the weight then snooze away the cold months and when they wake up, they’re all skinny. Mind you, I’m not that fond of salmon. I don’t think bears eat pizza.”
Gage gaped. “I worry about you.”
“I know you do. Makes me all gooey inside thinking about it.”
“Sometimes I wonder how you survived before you met me.”
“I managed just fine.” Landry squeaked as Gage scooped him into his arms.
“That’s not what your brothers tell me.”
“You are way too close to those Viking wannabes and you shouldn’t believe a word they say about what I did or didn’t get up to as a child. They lie.”
“They have photographic evidence.”
“Image editing software is a thing, you know. It’s all fake, whatever they say.” Landry pouted as Gage hauled him into the bedroom. Gage dropped him, and he landed on the bed in a sprawl.
“Get your clothes off, brat.” Gage’s feral expression sent shivers down Landry’s spine. He scrambled out of his clothes with indecent haste, full of renewed energy. “Sure you’re not too tired for this?” Gage removed his T-shirt far too slowly for Landry.
“Don’t tease me, Gage! And no, I’m not too tired. Raring to go.” Landry licked his lips at the sight of Gage’s chest. “Your bare skin has magical energy powers.”
“Hands and knees.” In his rush to get into the position Gage wanted, Landry got too close to the edge of the bed. Gage caught him as he toppled off the side. “Don’t want you bruising your backside before I get to it.” He manhandled Landry back onto the bed.
“My hero.” Landry batted his lashes. He got onto his hands and knees, wiggling his ass in blatant provocation. His cock, hard and aching, bounced. He was hot, feverish with anticipation and when the smack of leather against skin sounded in his ears, he jumped.
“Just testing it against my palm.”
Landry twisted, trying to get a look at what ‘it’ was. The paddle Gage held was rectangular with a tapered end, the handle a snug fit in Gage’s hand. “Oh…”
“I was going to let you choose but decided you were too tired to think straight. This is double-layered leather, hand stitched and reinforced with a metal plate.”
“I don’t need the technical specification, Gage.”
“Feeling especially Dommy are you…Sir?” With a happy sigh, Landry rested his head on his folded arms, widened his legs and wiggled his butt a bit more.
“I should gag you.” The paddle connected with Landry’s backside with a thwack. He moaned. “But then I wouldn’t get to hear the noises you make.” Gage delivered a further four blows before dropping the paddle on the bed. Landry forced himself to take slow, even breaths while heat, edged with pain, blossomed across his skin. He was desperate to come and on the edge of begging Gage to fuck him. When Gage stroked Landry’s sore skin, he whimpered.
“So pink and pretty. You want me in you, don’t you? You want me to stuff you full.” Landry couldn’t summon enough coherence to respond, and when Gage pushed a cool, lubed finger into his ass, Landry sobbed. “So needy. Sucking me in.”
Landry worked Gage’s finger with his inner muscles, muttering nonsense words under his breath. Gage added a second finger, then a third in quick succession, stretching Landry’s channel enough that it burned. “Pl…pl…platypus!” Landry refused to beg. Gage enjoyed it far too much.
“Is that a new safe word?” Gage withdrew his fingers.
“No!” Landry wailed. “Put them back!”
Gage flicked Landry’s balls. “What’s the plural of platypus?”
“I. Don’t. Care.”
“I should get my phone and check or perhaps we could find the box with the dictionary in.”
Landry sobbed. “I hate you.”
“No you don’t.” When the blunt head of Gage’s cock made contact with his pucker, Landry sucked in his breath. “Relax.” Gage moved at a leisurely pace.
“I’ve seen pregnant hippos move faster than you.” Landry yelped as Gage reached around his body to pinch a nipple.
“That spanking wasn’t punishment enough, was it?” Gage pushed home, then stilled. “I need to think of better disincentives.”
“That’s a hellishly big word considering what you’re supposed to be doing,” Landry muttered, trying in vain to push back onto Gage’s cock.
“Quiet, brat, or tomorrow you’ll be unpacking with a vibrating plug stuck up your rear.” Gage took hold of Landry’s hips and pounded his ass with unbridled enthusiasm. All Landry could do was brace himself and take it, and that suited him just fine. Now Gage was doing exactly what Landry wanted him to, Landry could relax and enjoy the rush of pleasure, the surge of orgasm, as it flooded through him. When Gage came, he dug his fingers into Landry’s hips, yanking him back so that he was as deeply impaled as it was possible to be. He could have come untouched, but it was Gage’s firm grip on his cock that tipped him over the edge. Landry cried out, spilling into Gage’s hand in a series of uncoordinated jerks before collapsing face down on the bed. For a while, Gage let his weight rest along the length of Landry’s body. Landry loved being held down, loved being rendered helpless by a bigger, stronger man. Gage knew it and took full advantage, sinking his teeth into Landry’s shoulder.
“Wanna mark me, huh?” Gage didn’t bother confirming or denying. He sucked at Landry’s skin. “What do you call a hickey surrounded by teeth marks?” Landry wondered.
“I call it mine.”
Landry gave a happy sigh. “No one will see it under my shirt.”
“I’ll know it’s there and that’s all that matters. Tomorrow, your ass will ache, your shoulder will ache and every twinge will make you think of me.”
“I have other things in my head apart from you, you know.”
“In that case…” Gage rolled to one side then flipped Landry onto his back. He hooked Landry’s legs over his arms, bending him back. “I’d better fuck you again because those other things need to take second place to me.”
“You talk a good game, Sir, but there’s no way you’re hard again yet.”
“I don’t recall saying what I was going to fuck you with, and by the way, you doubting my powers of recuperation focuses my mind even more on how best to punish you.”
“I should be quiet now.”
“No, by all means carry on. That hole you’re standing in can still get deeper.” Gage groped beneath the covers and extracted a sizable dildo.
“You are a virile, masterful Dominant, Sir. I can think up some more positive adjectives, but I need a minute. You’re distracting me with that…thing.”
Gage grinned. “Nice try. You need more lube?”
“No? Wait, if I say yes does that buy me some time?”
“What do you think?” Gage touched the tip of the toy to Landry’s hole then pushed.
Lucinda lives in a small village in the English countryside, surrounded by rolling hills, cows and sheep. She started writing to fill time between jobs and is now firmly and unashamedly addicted.
She loves the English weather, especially the rain, and adores a thunderstorm. She loves good food, warm company and a crackling fire. She’s fascinated by the psychology of relationships, especially between men, and her stories contain some subtle (and some not so subtle) leanings towards BDSM.
Friends to the End C.L. Colyer
Published by: The Wild Rose Press
Publication date: September 27th 2021
Genres: Action, Adventure, Middle-Grade, Supernatural
Zach doesn’t believe in ghosts…but he should.
Twelve-year-old Zach is convinced he’ll never be happy without his best friend Jeremy by his side. But both of their lives changed with a bang five months ago, and as far as Zach’s concerned, it’s his fault Jeremy will never see his twelfth birthday.
When Zach moves with his family to a Chicago suburb, he quickly becomes friends with a group of thrill-seeking kids trying to find a disappearing haunted house. But Zach’s not worried. He doesn’t believe in ghosts, so he follows them into a wild, dangerous encounter that becomes a battle to decide what’s real and what’s not.
Professional network technician by day, novelist by night, Cherie lives a quiet life in the Chicago suburbs with her charming husband. She has four amazing sons who she loves dearly. Cherie magically weaves together stories with a paranormal twist. She’s the author of the Embrace series (Embrace, Hold Tight, and Entwined), Challenging Destiny, Damned When I Didn’t, and Friends to the End. She waltzes into the adult novel world with this enchanting holiday romance, Merry Little Wishing Spritz.
She happily visits schools, libraries, and book clubs, and is a member of SCBWI (Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators).