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

 

 

The Supernova Affair (Spaceport) by Mikala Ash #scifiromance

The Supernova Affair (Spaceport Multi-Author 24)

Cover Artist: Marteeka Karland

 

Breaking News! The star Hygens will go supernova in less than three days and the population of Jones’s World anxiously await rescue.

Rescue ships are scarce and Peri Barberossa and Fyche, her faithful AI, are the first to make the mercy dash through the cosmos. Fyche is left planet-bound chasing an unexpected lead to Peri’s mother while the award-winning sex reporter unwittingly takes onboard a pair of ruthless terrorists.

Hijacked and taken to Spaceport Adana, Peri, against her better judgment, helps her lover Silas Archimedes stay undercover and find out exactly what the terrorists are up to. The question is can she make it back to Jones’s World in time to save Fyche before the star explodes and vaporizes the planet?

 

Get it TODAY at Changeling Press

Use Discount Code TGIF02-28-2020 for 15% off your entire order!

 

Be sure to check out at the book at Changeling Press to read the super sexy excerpt!

 

About Mikala Ash

Aussie Mikala Ash lives a hectic double life, mild-mannered training & development consultant by day… wild sci-fi and paranormal adventure writer by night. “For me, burning the candle at both ends is not such a terrible problem; I’m having too much fun!”

Mikala at Changeling Press

 

 

Dangerous Obsession (Spaceport) by Marteeka Karland & Shelby Morgen #scifiromance @marteekakarland @shelbymorgen

Dangerous Obsession (Spaceport Multi-Author 30)

Cover Artist: Marteeka Karland

 

When famed negotiator Mikhail Dreslin and his crew head to ‘Port Adana for a little R & R, the last thing he expects is to have an exotic runaway drop into his arms.

Joiandra is neither as harmless nor as innocent as she appears, though she plays the role well. Who and what she is is a mystery Mikhail will have to solve if he wants to keep her, and the longer he holds her the less he wants to ever let her go, but who’s playing whom in this dangerous game?

 

Get it TODAY at Changeling Press

Use Discount Code TGIF02-28-2020 for 15% off your entire order!

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Marteeka Karland & Shelby Morgen

Looking for the perfect vacation paradise?
Be sure to visit Xanadu,
Trilion’s premier Pleasure Dome,
Where your every fantasy comes true.
Xanadu.
Everything you’ve ever wanted… and more.

Beyond the sheltering glass of the Haze’s port windows, the nebula glowed with an eerie quality that made a frisson of fear flutter down Joiandra’s spine. There was something out there… something evil. The constant, quiet din of the everyday workings of the space station did nothing to soothe her frazzled nerves. She couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was hunting her.

Someone. Or something. In fact, she felt a bit like dinner. She should have expected this. No one left Xanadu. No one. Ever. At least, not if you were born into the life. Others would kill to get what she was running from.

Turning back to the bar, Joiandra ordered a Red Rooibos, an old Earth drink. Exotic, but non-alcoholic. She needed to keep her wits. She didn’t want to run. Not again. She’d built something here. Something that was her own. But run she would before she’d go back.

Most people who knew the place wouldn’t have described the Haze as safe, but tonight it was her best refuge. Plenty of witnesses about, in case this was more than just paranoia. Plenty of men. Big, strong men. One of them would surely be willing to defend a helpless woman.

She didn’t like the role, but it was one she knew how to play.

Waiting wasn’t one of her strong suits, but then again, neither was hunting. If push came to shove, she could defend herself, but she’d much rather ply her other trades than kill. The end result was much more pleasant. And profitable. Men with money would pay well for the company of a Trilion pleasure slave. Ironically, now that she’d run she was forced to resort to the very line of work she’d tried so hard to escape.

Joiandra really wanted to believe the small voice telling her to run was overreacting. She was used to men watching her, after all. But the feathers on the back of her neck stood up in a flutter like they’d been hit by a warning breeze.

She scanned the Haze anxiously, trying to be discreet, but needing to identify the source of the threat.

“Can I buy you a drink?” Something with a little more kick than that, his gruff, husky voice implied.

Joiandra turned and looked up — and up. She wasn’t exactly tiny, but this man towered over her. Tall, dark, and handsome was such a cliché. Except when it came bundled in black body armor, with a laser rifle and a belt full of shock grenades. What the fuck was he? Obviously military, but she didn’t see any insignia. Not AP Security, then. Merc, maybe? Everything about him screamed dangerous motherfucker. He could probably break her in half with his bare hands.

That really shouldn’t have turned her on. But at the moment, dangerous might be just what she needed. Because he wasn’t the warning bell she’d been receiving. Which really worried her. If there was something else out there more dangerous than this man, she really didn’t want to meet him. It. At least not tonight. Tonight, she wanted safe, and tall, dark, and dangerous might be exactly what she needed.

She started to ask his name, then thought better of it. She didn’t want to know. She wasn’t looking for commitments. Just a night she could call her own. “I hear the Haze offers real Jamaican Rum if you know who to ask.”

His handsome face split into a slow grin, and her pussy clenched a little. The man really was handsome. If you overlooked all that deadly weaponry.

“I think I can manage that.” He nodded at the bartender, who set down the glass he was polishing and went beneath the bar for her request.

“Just leave the bottle.”

Small talk wasn’t necessary. Not when rum was involved. Her merc seemed to convey everything he wanted with the smoldering look in his eyes. Sex. And plenty of it.

“Make it to go,” she told the bartender, her gaze never leaving Mr. Dangerous. “Do you have a room?”

 

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.

Website | Marteeka at Changeling Press | Facebook

 

About Shelby Morgen

Shelby Morgen loves writing offbeat tales that defy as many rules as possible.

She likes chocolate with her peanut butter, suspense with her romance, and kink with her sex, and she’s always had a hard time keeping science fiction, fantasy and paranormal from mixing with her kink.

Shelby shares her belief in electronic publishing with her longtime friend and partner, Bill, her husband of nearly four decades.

Shelby at Changeling Press |Twitter

 

 

 

Backup Plan (Spaceport) by Shelby Morgen #scifiromance

Backup Plan (Spaceport Multi-Author 32)

Cover Art by Renee George

 

When Dr. Ruth Balise ran out of funding for her research, she had no idea the twisted path her work would take. Her psychiatric profile adjustment was supposed to be more humane — a way to render violent sociopaths and the criminally insane harmless to themselves and others.

But in a black-market society where medical miracles are for sale to the highest bidder, a death sentence is far too wasteful. Why settle for just one replacement body part, when you can own the whole thing? Prisoners are maintained in semi-stasis, their memories wiped, the cost of their physical care sponsored by aging aristocrats, hosts for future replacement organs.

After all, they’re just bodies — empty shells. Pod fuck-bunnies, their monitors call them, living in an endless loop of sex, drugged with their own endorphins into a constant state of euphoria, their bodies maintained in prime health. They’re not supposed to wake up — ever — and they’re certainly not supposed to escape.

Now Ruth is one of them, and only Panama Red, the space pirate turned bodyguard who’s out to rescue Ruth, can save her. But will he still be willing to trust her with his heart, once he knows she engineered this hell?

 

Get it TODAY at Changeling Press

or pre-order for February 28th at retailers

   

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Shelby Morgen

I’m coming! I wanted to scream. Those were the right words, that much I was sure of, but I knew better. No one screamed here. I held it all inside. Even as the orgasm ripped through me I wondered — somewhat cynically, I’ll admit — was it possible to get bored with sex?

I’d never had thoughts like these. Not until… hell, I realized I’d had no concept of time. That is, I did now, but before…

Something was happening to me. Something was changing.

No, not something. Me. I was changing. My mind was… waking up. The faceless body before me writhed, screaming soundlessly, and the final release tore through me, bathing me in the flood of pleasure that had always before brought these churning thoughts to a tumultuous end.

Release. Blissful sleep. The fulfillment of a promise…

Ha. Make that hard work. Hot, sweaty sex. A partner well pleasured. Then sleep. Then on to the next rotation.

The harder, heavier body of the other… whatever it was… groaned, wrapping itself around me, almost smothering with its weight and heat. I’d never minded before. That was the reward for a job well done. Release. Euphoria. Malaised contentment.

So why was I awake? Why was I fighting the urge to push the other off me?

I opened my… my eyes, yes. I opened my eyes and fought to focus, rapidly learning how to adjust for the closeness of the body before me. Saw the mouth. The mouth I had kissed. The lips I had bitten, now bruised and swollen from our passion. The contented smile. The…

Blankness.

Revulsion swept through me, stronger than any orgasm. The thing might as well have been an inflatable doll. No sign of intelligence. No sign of anything at all. It was — he was — just a mouth. And a cock.

Or maybe I’d had it right the first time. It.

And what made me any different? Other than my lack of a cock? Until two rotations ago, I’d been little more. A mouth and a cunt.

Cunt. Somehow I knew the word was coarse, crude. Beneath me. And I liked the sound of it. Forbidden fruit. I smiled, placed my hands on the cock’s shoulders, and pushed. Hard.

Arms tightened around me, clamping down like steel bands. “You’re awake!”

“Let go of me.”

“Keep your voice down. Don’t move. Shut your eyes. And smile!”

All right. He. A lunatic, but gods, he had gorgeous eyes. The color of precious minerals, deep cobalt, flecked with gold. Still. “Get the blyat off me.”

“Hush! You just had the best sex of your life. Smile!”

“Arrogant prick!”

“Do you want to get us killed? We’re not supposed to be awake, damn it.” He smothered my reply with his mouth, giving my rapidly emerging vocabulary time to catch up.

Killed. Past tense of kill.

Death.

Dead.

I understood the concept well enough to quit fighting. I tore his words apart like my guide to the mystery they were. We’re not supposed… Soooo. Wherever we were, whoever we were — both concepts seemed new, yet familiar — there were rules. We’d — I’d — been asleep, at least on some level. Now I was awake.

Awake was bad.

 

More from Shelby Morgen at Changeling Press …

Shelby Morgen loves writing offbeat tales that defy as many rules as possible.

She likes chocolate with her peanut butter, suspense with her romance, and kink with her sex, and she’s always had a hard time keeping science fiction, fantasy and paranormal from mixing with her kink.

Shelby shares her belief in electronic publishing with her longtime friend and partner, Bill, her husband of nearly four decades.

 

Trucker (Bones MC) by Marteeka Karland #contemporaryromance

Trucker (Bones MC 6)

Cover Art by Marteeka Karland

Helen — I’ve made some bad choices in my life. The worst was falling for a man who kidnapped me and held me hostage. He wants my baby. Why, I have no idea, but there’s no way he’s getting it without a fight. Once this is over, assuming I’m still alive, I’m going to need some serious help.

Trucker — The small redhead blows me away at first sight. And not only because of the knife sticking out of her very pregnant belly. She’s fierce as a tiger. Brave as any member of Bones. I know I have to protect her, no matter what kind of trouble she’s in. Once she’s healed, I know she’s going to be mine. I just have to convince her of it. Until then, I’ll protect her, and her kid, with my very life. Once the asshole who did this is dead, then I’ll prove to her why I’m the best choice to be her man.

WARNING: These men play for keeps, and they don’t tolerate men who hurt women and children. They protect their own to the death, and God help anyone who gets in their way. Don’t expect the warm and fuzzies, but you can always expect a HEA and a steamy good time.

 

Get it Today at Changeling Press

or pre-order for February 28th at retailers

   

 

 

Excerpt

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Marteeka Karland

“Trucker! You pussy! Where’s the fuckin’ cage?”

Trucker rolled his eyes and sighed. “Right where you fuckin’ left it, you bastard!” He had no idea who was calling out, but it didn’t much matter to Trucker. It was all pretty much the same every time a member of the club needed a vehicle other than their own bike. He’d long ago given up being really angry. Besides, it was all part of the camaraderie.

“Ain’t you in charge of all the vehicles around here?”

“Yep. Ain’t no Goddamned babysitter though. And I ain’t your Goddamned housekeeper! You take somethin’, you can damned well put it back where you found it.”

“Fucker!”

Trucker continued working on the bike in his shop, a grin tugging at his lips. The men of Bones could act like kids sometimes. It was all part of the fun. They’d had several close calls recently, and the whole of Bones needed to have a little fun.

That was the beauty of Bones. They’d started out as an MC club of men. Now, they were becoming a family complete with wives and children. Trucker was gratified to see Cain and Torpedo encouraging the change. Oh, they still sometimes skirted the edge of legality and wouldn’t hesitate to do what had to be done to protect their own people, but now they did more toward protecting their community. Their reputation was mostly enough to keep out the rabble who thought they’d just run roughshod through Somerset. The ones who weren’t as afraid as they should be soon learned to be.

Thirty minutes later, Torpedo, their vice-president, came into his shop. “Seriously, Trucker. Where’s the fuckin’ RV?”

Trucker didn’t look up from his task. “In the barn where I intend to service it when I get done servicing the bikes in here.”

“Not that RV, the other one.”

He looked up. “The ‘80 Winnebago?”

“Yeah. Couple of the prospects wanted to go huntin’. I told them they could take that one. Figured if they trashed it, you wouldn’t have to kill them over it.”

Trucker snorted but went back to work. “You know better. They take it out, they bring it back like they found it. With everything clean. Including the fuckin’ toilet.”

“Not a problem. Except, we can’t find it.”

“It’s in the other bay in the barn. Serviced it for Cheetah a couple weeks ago. She always puts things back where they belong. Must be the absence of the Y chromosome.”

“Cheetah?”

Trucker paused, looking up at Torpedo. “Yeah. Said she needed it. Didn’t see no reason not to let her have it. Didn’t think she was gonna be out this long, but ain’t none of my business. And I know I saw her just a few days ago.”

“Hmm. Well, it’s gone.”

Trucker shrugged. “Give her a call. See what she’s got goin’ on. She called first dibs though. Ain’t tellin’ her she’s got to come back, and neither are you or any of the others.”

“Hey. I had no intention. She may not be a patched member, but she’s done good by the club and ExFil.”

“Text her. Make sure she actually has it. I’d hate to have to start the fuckin’ day with a killin’ if that fucker Pig took it.”

“I thought Stunner took care of that little fuck?”

“He did. Boy seems to have responded to brute force more than all the fuckin’ talkin’ and smacks upside the head in the world.”

“Good thing Mama was able to patch him up. I was worried about the fucker for a while there.”

Trucker shrugged. “He’d been asking for it for a while. Guess him mouthin’ off to little Suzie wasn’t the worst thing he did, but maybe it will be the last.”

“Boy can’t even look at Stunner without shivering.” Torpedo laughed. “It’s funny as shit.”

“He got what he deserved. I just hope he learns from it.”

“Sent a text. Though, I don’t remember seeing Cheetah today. She’s probably got the thing parked at some community event. Wasn’t there a fun run today? She usually makes hot chocolate and coffee, or lemonade and iced tea for things like that.”

“Good point.” Trucker took out his phone and sent off a quick text to Cheetah behind Torpedo’s before shoving it back in his pocket. She might ignore one text for a few minutes, but not two.

“Bikes look good?” Torpedo nodded to the line of six bikes Trucker was servicing.

“Yep. Routine stuff.” Trucker pointed to Torpedo’s bike. “You could go a little easier on the brakes.”

Torpedo grinned at him. “Now, what fun would that be?”

“No fun if you end up on the pavement.”

“True that.”

Torpedo turned to go, but Trucker called to him. “Let me know when you find Cheetah and my RV.” He didn’t have to wait long. Trucker actually heard the old Winnebago long before he saw the thing.

Picking up a rag to wipe off the wrench he was using, Trucker walked outside his workshop into the brisk, February air. Off in the distance, screaming up the long driveway to the clubhouse, was the missing RV.

“What the everlasting fuck? Torpedo!”

“I see it, Trucker.” Torpedo was just outside the building talking with Bohannon, Sword, and Viper.

“Is that Cheetah?”

“Don’t know. Comin’ in hot though.”

“Look out!”

The Winnebago made a sharp turn and slid to a halt next to the clubhouse in the parking lot. Several men jumped out of the way. A few seconds later, the door to the back flew open. Cheetah stumbled out.

“We need Mama! Help!”

The men headed for the RV. Bohannon yelled for Luna, his woman, to go for Mama and Pops. Trucker ran for the RV along with the others. Something made him… uncomfortable. There was a tingle between his shoulder blades that always meant there was something wrong. What it could possibly be, Trucker couldn’t imagine. Not in their home territory. Cheetah had brought the RV into their clubhouse, so he doubted she’d brought danger to their door.

An ear-piercing shriek came from inside the Winnebago. A woman? The men looked at each other before Bohannon, who was closest, shoved Cheetah out of the way and entered the vehicle. Trucker was right behind him. What he saw froze his blood.

There was a table that folded down into a bed across from the stove and counter. On that bed lay a very pregnant woman who had been stabbed in the abdomen. He knew she’d been stabbed because the knife handle was still sticking out. The blade appeared to have been stabilized, probably by Cheetah, but the wound was steadily and persistently dripping blood onto the thin mattress and down to the floor.

Sweat beaded the young woman’s face, strands of dark auburn hair sticking to her forehead and cheeks. Her expression was one of pain, fear, and grief. Her gaze locked with Trucker’s, sea-green eyes sparkling like diamonds with her tears. “Help me. Please.” Her voice was tremulous. Her lips quivered as tears coursed from her eyes down her temples.

“What the fuck happened here?” Bohannon demanded as he checked the small area for anyone else.

“What’s it look like?” Cheetah bit out. “She’s been fucking stabbed! Get her to Mama!”

Trucker couldn’t seem to move. He was caught in some kind of web as he continued to stare into the young woman’s eyes. He couldn’t register much other than the brilliant green of her eyes and the red blood staining her clothing around the knife.

“Get her inside,” Bohannon ordered. “Luna’s gettin’ Mama, but she can’t do anything out here. Not enough room.”

When Bohannon moved to the girl, Trucker shouldered his way in front of his brother, carefully scooping her up into his arms. Her hands were covered in blood, one shaking horribly where it fluttered close to the knife. He could tell she wanted it out but knew better than to just yank.

“Easy,” he said, as he turned sideways to get them out of the small door. With his size and her advanced pregnancy, they barely fit, and he had to be careful not to jar her too much with that knife stuck in her abdomen. “Just relax if you can. We’ll get you taken care of.”

“No police,” she gasped.

Trucker looked up sharply at Cheetah as he got them in firm ground, out of the RV. She just shook her head before falling into step behind them. Later. He’d deal with that later. Getting the girl to Mama was the main concern at the moment.

“They call me Trucker,” he said as he strode up to the clubhouse in long, confident strides. “What’s your name, little miss?”

“Helen.”

More from Marteeka Karland at Changeling Press …

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.

 

 

A Shot at Perfect by Lou Sylvre #NewRelease #GayRomance @Sylvre

A Shot at Perfect (Vasquez Inc. 4)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller

After a crash left him with new mental and physical scars, Jackie Vasquez has finally regained his focus, flair, and bright outlook. Though he’s letting Brian Harrison’s marriage proposal simmer, it’s not for lack of love. He’s set his sights on putting his life right first — a new job and a fresh start at graduate school. But Los Angeles — the city of devil winds — has new trauma in store for him. Another accident leaves him with the stump of a leg and defeated spirits, adrift despite Brian’s devoted attentions.

While Brian copes with his own emotional trauma, he hopes to break through Jackie’s apathy, but work at Vasquez Security takes more and more of his time and attention. Specifically “the Espen case,” which his boss — Luki Vasquez — has forbidden him to pursue. Help comes on all fronts from friends and family for both Brian and Jackie, but even as it does, danger mounts from outside. Can the two men find their way back to love as well as passion and fulfillment in their D/s roles? Can they survive the confrontation with danger that seems to loom closer and darker every time LA’s hot winds blow?

 

Get it TODAY at Changeling Press

or pre-order for January 31st at retailers

  

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Lou Sylvre

The morning after their stellar session, when Brian got out of bed, he discovered Jackie was already up. The fortune cookie was no longer on the night table. Brian walked out into the open front rooms of the apartment looking for his boy, eager to kiss Jackie soundly and get his answer to the marriage proposal.

Jackie had left three of four diagonally cut pieces of cinnamon-toast on a plate, two strips of bacon in a pan, and half a pot of coffee still keeping warm, but he was nowhere to be seen. Brian poured himself a cup of hot coffee and grabbed both bacon strips with his fingers. He sat down in his usual spot at the table, wondering if he should feel disappointed, worried, or perhaps unconcerned. Jackie had certainly demonstrated his feelings for Brian the previous night.

But the question Where the hell is he? kept popping up in his mind as he devoured the bacon and chased it down with coffee. Then, as he helped himself to Jackie’s toast leavings, the question evolved into Why the hell would he leave without a word?

Followed closely by Why hasn’t he answered about marrying me?

Shit. “No” would be better than silence…

Wait. No, it wouldn’t. But shit…

After he polished off the toast and talked himself out of putting a shot of J&B in his second cup of coffee, he remembered that phones and text messaging existed. Hopeful, he swallowed most of the coffee down and went to the bedroom to fetch his phone. Aha! A text awaited, and it was from none other…

— Good morning, Bri. I’ll be home soon. Before I forget. What happened to that broken drawer in the playroom? —

It took Brian a number of seconds before he could even make sense of the question, so far was it from what he’d expected — and desperately hoped — to see, but eventually he put it together. Annoyed, but glad Jackie had at least not forgotten him entirely, he texted back.

— It had a lock, no key, and I couldn’t pick it. I broke it. Where are you? —

Brian waited, sitting on the unmade bed in his skivvies, only vaguely aware of Marley head-bumping his arm hoping for a good scratch and not even noticing the sun blazing through the window and baking his left shoulder. He didn’t get an answer. He sighed very deeply, well aware of how piteous it sounded, and then he moaned, “Dammit, Jackie.” Sure the devil boy would be his undoing someday, he gritted his teeth, resolving not to worry until something clearly indicated he should.

He picked up his phone to send another text, but before he could do so, he got a mixed media message. As often proved to be the case with images, it had taken a long time to get to him, having been sent even before the text he’d already responded to. It was a selfie. Jackie looking very fine and dressed for success, wearing a blazer the same color as his eyes and a tie… one of Brian’s, he believed.

He texted back: You look good. Why are you wearing a tie?

He waited. No answer.

He waited some more. No answer.

He started to wait some more, said “Fuck it” out loud, and sent a final text. What did your fortune cookie say? And wherever you are, be careful.

Brian dressed, walked down to the office, and had already situated himself at his desk and powered up his PC when a reply came.

I love you, Brian.

Brian didn’t reply. He was already tired from the strange interaction. He just gathered up his things and, sighing again, turned his attention to work.

More and more he found he accomplished the tasks of management easily. He whipped through the morning’s e-mails before Livvy showed up, made a pot of coffee, assigned Lonny to manage a personal security situation for Korean corporate officers in Los Angeles for a wedding, and reviewed the latest financial reports with Ahmad. After a break, during which he tried unsuccessfully to reach Jackie by phone and then spent fifteen minutes crocheting with Livvy while she talked about her nephew’s latest musical triumphs, he worked on a plan he’d been putting together to point VSI-LA in a profitable direction over the next couple of years.

LA was rife with security companies, a good number of them with high level capabilities. It was why Luki had never concentrated his energies here — a big market with an even bigger pool of competition, and as successful and respected as Vasquez Security was, it remained a small- to- medium-sized fish in the large pond. That made it difficult to compete with the likes of Security Group International, and SGI’s office in LA was more than triple the size of Brian’s little group.

But he thought the office could do better than it had. The key was targeting the right niche. He’d researched, and he’d found two of the least monopolized areas to be security for transient high level corporate officials — like the Koreans in town this week — and event security for small to medium-sized posh gatherings. VSI was set up well to grow in those market areas, and his report included the necessary facts and figures for Luki to make a decision as to whether to invest in the additional personnel, training, equipment, and advertising to accomplish it.

Now he set his mind to propose one additional area of investment, one he wasn’t at all sure Luki would approve. For one thing, it involved privately dealing with things that technically should be the domain of law enforcement agencies. For another, it involved putting someone in the middle of very dangerous situations — negotiating with kidnappers and dealing with blackmailers — and nobody on staff at present in Los Angeles was qualified. But Brian knew Luki had done that type of work, and he had other agents in Chicago who could do it. Luki could do the training, and Brian really wanted to be trained and to do the work. He wasn’t sure why he wanted to do something so patently risky, except that he hadn’t studied what he’d studied and gone on staff with the London Metropolitan Police in order to spend all his time at a desk.

Whatever the reason, his brain got ridiculously excited at the idea. He’d need a partner, and he thought Amy might be a good choice. If not, they could hire someone. With Luki’s connections in the business, Brian had no doubt they’d pick up jobs if word got out VSI-LA was equipped to deal with them.

Interestingly, he’d found a file indicating Espen had been looking into the same field of operations a few weeks before his disappearance, but he hadn’t compiled any reports except a list of other security companies that offered the same services.

As that thought passed casually through his thoughts, a realization jolted him — as if lightning had struck and revealed Espen’s secrets. Two entries in the notebook had been different than all the others. Both had the letters RL, a date, and what was surely an amount of money. Only one had been crossed out.

Espen was a gambler, possibly an addict. Espen had been deep in debt to someone represented by the initials RL. He’d paid RL once, but not the second time. Around the same time, he’d compiled that list.

It clicked. He hadn’t been thinking of the business, he’d gone looking for help with a blackmailer.

 

More from Lou Sylvre at Changeling Press …

Lou Sylvre loves romance with all its ups and downs, and likes to conjure it into books. The sweethearts on her pages are men who end up loving each other — and usually saving each other from unspeakable danger. It’s all pretty crazy and very, very sexy. As if you’d want to know more, she’ll happily tell you that she is a proudly bisexual woman — a mother, grandmother, lover of languages, and cat-herder — of mixed cultural heritage. She works closely with lead cat and writing assistant, the (male) Queen of Budapest, Boudreau St. Clair. She lives in the rainy part of the Pacific Northwest, and hearing from a reader infallibly brightens the dreary weather. Find her through her links listed here, or drop her a line at lou.sylvre@gmail.com.