Conceivable by Willa Okati #mpreg #paranormalromance

Conceivable (Roanoke River Omegas 1)

Cover Art by Bryan Keller

 

Omega Jory’s in love with his best friend, Alpha Darius, and Darius has no idea. Darius’s in love with Jory, and Jory has no idea. But when Jory asks Darius to father his baby, everything’s about to explode. Jory’s body burns with the need to conceive. He’s so hot to be bred he’s insatiable, demanding everything Darius can give — and more. And the more Darius gives, the more Darius wants.

But it’s not all fun and games. Jory’s body wants all the sex it can take, but it isn’t cooperating with conception. And the fluctuating hormones are making Jory a little crazy. Darius’s got to figure out how to save the day and to tell his best friend he wants to be more than friends, for keeps.

What do you do with a drunken sailor? Take him home, build a nest, and get him pregnant… if you can.

 

Get it TODAY at Changeling Press

or pre-order for February 28th at retailers

  

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Willa Okati

What did you do with a drunken sailor?

Why, anything you wanted, that’s what. You could tie him up tight with a crimson ribbon, dip him in a pool of melted butter, run him through a room of screaming fire alarms, and when he got done with all that, then you could tuck him in bed with an Alpha’s lover. And every last bit of it sounded fine when sung at the top of three dozen-odd throats at Happy Hour on a Friday evening in MacInnes’s pub.

Better still when Darius could raise his mostly empty glass and swing it in time with the song. Best of all when tucked into a booth with his best friend beside him, warm as toast and smelling faintly of Omega and largely of burnt-sugar whiskey.

As weeknights went, this was a good one.

The last lines of the chorus were still echoing off the ceiling when someone who fancied himself a soloist stood on top of a table and started belting out a boozy version of “Danny Boy.” He got a few catcalls and the occasional coaster tossed at him, but he had a decent deep tenor and most of the rowdies settled down to listen. Darius included.

Still laughing, still warm, he slid back into the booth he shared with Jory and kicked his legs forward to tangle their feet together. Best friends — closer than blood since they’d met in another bar on weekend passes five years back — they’d always been in each other’s space ever since. Didn’t bother them any that Darius was an Alpha and Jory an Omega. Darius was Navy and Jory part of the Peace Corps, sure, but the military kept everyone on hormone suppressants to cut down on hanky-panky in the ranks, so what did it matter?

“Another round?” Darius asked when their impromptu soloist paused to drown his own thirst.

Redheaded and usually fair as cream, Jory’s cheeks were cherry pink tonight from the two whiskies and a pint of Guinness he’d already downed, but he gave Darius a blazing grin and raised his empty glass. “You’re on. And I mean it, you’re on. Last round was mine.”

Was it? Darius shrugged, not bothered either way. They always took turns. He halfway stood to wave at their waiter — a friendly Beta who could pull pints fast as lightning strikes — then thumped back down in a comfortable slouch. Jory, still grinning, made him laugh. Made him content. Being around him made something inside Darius feel… satisfied. Good.

“So,” he said, after tipping back his empty glass in search of just a few more drops. “You were saying, about the kids, before that racket started up?” Jory had gone into teaching kindergarten after getting out of the Reserves, and taken to it like a duck to water.

“That they’re adorable. Today I had to teach one of them not to lick the drinking fountain because that wasn’t how it worked. Also? ‘Racket’ my hindquarters, you love it.” Jory’s smile shone smile softer, warmer, teasing. “As if you weren’t singing along.”

Darius bent his head, only a little sheepish and only for half a second. He came up with a glint in his eye and clinked his glass against Jory’s. “Shut up.”

Jory clinked back. He knew this game. “You shut up.”

“Bite me.”

“Needs ketchup.”

“Kiss my ass.”

Jory laughed. “Bend over!”

Their pert, pretty little Beta waiter — what was his name, Adam? — rolled his eyes as he swung by their table with two full glasses. “Drown yourself in these, would you?” He softened his words with a gentle love tap on the back of Darius’s dark head and a rustle through Jory’s auburn tangle. “Drink up, boys, order some more, and leave a good tip. I’ve got bills to pay!”

“Good thing I have a steady job,” Darius remarked as Adam sped away. He’d left the Navy a year after Jory mustered out and would have settled where his best friend did regardless, but he thanked his lucky stars Jory had picked Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. Made finding work on the water easy, and Darius had settled into a good hands-on position at the lake. Solid work that left him aching with sore muscles every day, but satisfied down to the bottom of his soul. “Or I wouldn’t be able to afford taking my best friend out for booze-ups at fancy joints like this.”

Jory wrinkled his nose. “Speaking of kids, how are the new hires you were talking about?”

“Eh, there’s a few bright stars,” Darius said with a shrug. “Some better than others. Time will tell. But they do already know how to use the water fountains. Probably.”

“They’re not as cute as a baker’s dozen of toddlers, though.”

Darius waggled one hand to and fro. “They probably think so, especially when they’re out looking to score some tail, but nope.”

Jory nodded in satisfaction, making him a pleasure to look at. Darius had always liked his friend’s face, not exactly handsome but friendly and open but with fine, well-shaped bones. Very dissimilar to himself, with his tall leanness, his longer features and darker complexion. His general attitude was sharper-edged, more serious. But whenever Darius got too stuck in his head, Jory pried him out, and whenever Jory’s warm heart got a little too bruised, Darius was there to pick him up and settle him down.

What he’d do without Jory in his life, Darius didn’t know. And he didn’t want to know.

Darius downed his drink and wiped the Guinness foam away with a sigh of satisfaction. “So did the kid wrap his head around how water fountains worked, in the end?”

“Hmm?”

Darius cocked his head. “I said…”

But Jory’s attention had drifted. He did that sometimes — wandered off in thought and lost himself in daydreams. Darius didn’t worry about it, as he always came back, but every now and again it was interesting to try and track what’d caught Jory’s fancy. He let his gaze go slightly out of focus, turned toward Jory’s line of sight, and…

Ah. There it was. Courting couples. Of which there were plenty, no matter where you went, but especially in MacInnes’s when the beer was flowing and the whiskey bit back. Darius followed Jory’s regard, jumping from pair to pair.

First an Omega couple — interesting, you didn’t see that too often — in their, hmm, mid sixties? Yes, and comfortable with each other in a way that said they’d been an odd couple for decades. Nice. From there, a couple of Betas who were plainly just friends, but with a few saucy benefits like the hands tucked in each others’ back pockets. A thirtyish Omega buying a jar of spicy brined pickles for a laughing Alpha who rode him piggyback and kissed his ear, and a widower Darius knew who always drank one Long Island iced tea with a picture of his mate on the table with him.

Humanity, in all its infinite variety.

And then, something Darius knew Jory would zero in on as special. An Alpha with an Omega on his arm, the two of them so in love it almost rang from the rooftop and echoed in everyone’s ears. Total hearts in their eyes, and eyes only for each other. Young, maybe on the uphill climb to twenty-five, but the Alpha had a toddler on one hip and the Omega’s stomach was proudly curved, maybe six months gone with a second cub. He rested one hand on the swell, an unconscious gesture but one that spoke of pleasure and pride. His Alpha glanced down and wrapped his free arm around the Omega’s shoulders, giving him a cuddle.

Darius shook his head, but with a lopsided smile. The whole effect was so sweet it’d give a man diabetes, but he wouldn’t complain too much about it. He glanced at Jory to see that Jory had noticed him in turn. “Busted?”

“Nosy,” Jory said, giving his shin a gentle nudge under the table.

“Look who’s talking.”

“But that’s all right,” Jory continued, undaunted. “You can buy the next round. Again.”

Darius snorted. “Anyone ever tell you you’re not a cheap date?”

“Every now and again.” Jory checked his watch. “Actually, make it a cup of coffee instead. It’s getting late, and I need to sober up.”

“Why? We’ve walked home three sheets to the wind before.”

“I have my reasons,” Jory said without further explanation, leaving Darius to wonder what he meant by that. It seemed to be something that made him a little nervous. He pushed his glass back and forth in the circle of condensation it’d left on the table, but didn’t drop any handy clues. “Did you see the couple with one in arms and one on the way?”

Darius nodded. Of course he had. Ah. Two plus two came together. “Is that the water fountain kid?”

Jory’s smile blossomed, warm and pleased. “It is. He’s adorable, huh? He wants to name his baby brother Mr. Ed.”

A swallow of beer almost went down the wrong way. Darius coughed. “He wants to what, now? How does he know Mr. Ed? I don’t even remember where I heard of Mr. Ed.”

“No telling.” Jory laughed too. “His parents are just hoping he’ll come around to plain old ‘Corey’ when he’s born.”

He fell quiet again, but Darius could tell he was still watching the couple. Darius had to admit they made entertaining viewing. The baby must have been awake, inside. The Omega patted his belly, trying to soothe him, and the Alpha tracked his movements with one palm, fascination written across his face. Little judo master, Darius thought the Alpha said at one point. He winced in imagined empathy, and — the strangest thing — a flicker of jealousy.

Jealousy? Darius frowned down at the remnants of his Guinness. He’d been a bachelor since he presented as Alpha, and hadn’t really minded. When he needed company or he went into rut he knew where to find what he needed. Aside from that, it didn’t seem so important. He had Jory, and they kept each other busy. Besides, Jory had decided to stay on military-grade suppressants when he went civilian to keep himself level and lower the risk of getting pregnant by accident, so it’d never been an issue. But now, Darius wondered.

No. He knew. He’d seen that look on Omega faces before, and it surprised him to see it on Jory’s, but then again it wasn’t a shock. It looked… natural. Nice. Darius tapped the back of Jory’s hand with one finger. “I see. You’ve been thinking about it.”

Jory, still captivated by the scene, raised his shoulder a fraction of an inch. “On and off.” He shook his head and focused, looking back at Darius. “No, that’s a lie of omission. I have been thinking about it. I can’t stop thinking about it. I want that, and I can’t stop wanting it.”

“A baby?”

“Enough that I stopped taking my suppressants,” Jory said, simple and clear. He settled his hands around his glass. “Three days ago. You know suppressants. They start working fast, and they stop just as fast. Should be gone by the weekend.”

Darius blinked. Jory really meant business, then. The thought fascinated him in a way that surprised Darius. The mental image of Jory as round and curved and full as that Omega gave him a jolt like electricity applied deep down inside, something that sparked too much heat to ignore.

He stamped that down carefully, tightly, and securely. Darius had never been immune to Jory’s charms. He’d had dreams, fantasies. Wishes. Desires. But he’d refused to let himself take one single step past plain and simple friendship. Nothing that’d start them down the road to a messy breakup. He’d seen it happen before — too many times — when friends hooked up. Hell, he’d encouraged Jory to date other people. He’d been glad that Jory was living with Alpha Whateverhisnamewas when he moved into town so the question of sharing an apartment couldn’t come up.

Darius realized he was staring. To cover his reaction, he cleared his throat and hurried on. “Fertile. No kidding. Who’re you going to get to be the father?”

“That’s the thing,” Jory said, his gaze fixed calmly on Darius. “I was hoping it would be you.”

 

More from Willa Okati at Changeling Press …

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.

 

 

Release Blitz: Tricks and Bids by Jacqueline Grey #contemporaryromance #LGBTQ

Title: Tricks and Bids

Series: Suit of Harte’s, Book One

Author: Jacqueline Grey

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 17, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 20300

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, BDSM, romance, contemporary, gay, sex industry, prostitution

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Synopsis

When Michael Nole propositions Dillon Spade outside a BDSM club one evening, all he is looking for is a potential client and a little kink. He gets much more than he bargained for. As a prostitute, Michael enjoys sex but keeps an emotional distance between himself and the men he sleeps with. His priority is to keep himself safe, but after a night in Dillon’s bed, he finds the line between enjoyment and occupation blurring.

Dillon hasn’t taken another man home since his previous lover passed away six years ago, but there is something about Michael that calls to his inner Dominant in a way he cannot resist. His instincts want to claim the boy even as he reminds himself that he is only paying Michael for temporary company.

Their relationship may have started as a business transaction, but it’s difficult to remain professional when breaking all the rules.

Excerpt

Tricks and Bids
Jacqueline Grey © 2020
All Rights Reserved

“Hey. Wanna play?”

Dillon glanced up to find a young man leaning against the hood of his car. At Dillon’s pointed look, he took a step back, so he no longer touched the automobile.

“What gave you the impression I want company?”

“You obviously didn’t find what you were looking for in there” came the reply with a nod back at Harte, the BDSM club Dillon had just exited. “If you had, you wouldn’t be leaving this early.”

“And you think you’re what I want?”

The boy shrugged.

Dillon peered at him. He appeared to be in his midtwenties, fit and tight in the way Dillon remembered being before he’d hit thirty-three. He was shorter than Dillon with dark-brown hair long enough to grip: two things Dillon liked in a submissive. There was something familiar about him as well. If Dillon wasn’t mistaken, he’d seen him heading into a nearby motel a few times and never with the same “date.”

“Are you a prostitute?” Dillon asked.

The blunt question evoked an expression of surprise, but it rapidly morphed into a smooth smile. “‘Prostitute’ sounds like a job. It’s more of a hobby.”

“One you get paid for.”

“It’s a good hobby.”

Dillon cracked a smile. “How much do you charge?”

“Depends on what you want to do.”

That was reasonable enough, and if he’d been waiting outside Harte, he must know to expect kink and charge for it accordingly. “Are you clean?”

“Yes, and condoms are necessary and at your expense.”

“Expense? That sounds like a job term to me,” Dillon teased.

He considered his options. The boy was right. He hadn’t found what he was searching for in the club, and he held no illusions he ever would. Even after six years, he couldn’t help comparing every submissive he came across to the lover he’d lost. Harte called him a stubborn old goat, but the thought of building a relationship from scratch exhausted him. It was so hard to find someone whose rhythms and tastes fit with his own. Granted, the club was designed for negotiation and mutually desired play, but that was for the scenes that took place there. What about the rest of the time?

Dillon didn’t want a casual play partner. That did nothing more for him than scratch an itch that would return in no time. He wanted someone he could build a life with. He wasn’t going to find that with a prostitute, but something about the stranger brought forth yearnings Dillon hadn’t felt in years. He could take the boy home with him, indulge in what he wanted in his own territory and under his own rules. It would be a purchased illusion, but it beat going home alone and sleeping in an empty bed.

“Come on,” he said, pulling his car door open and unlocking the other side. “We’ll talk details when we get to my place.”

“Your place? Don’t you mean a hotel?”

“My place,” repeated Dillon. “I don’t do quick fucks.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Grey currently lives on an island on the east coast of the United States. She spends her time outside her day job juggling her many interests which include reading, writing and drinking tea. She loves M/M romance, usually focusing on stories that include BDSM themes to one degree or another.

Jacqueline has always been driven by characters. She loves a good plot, but it’s the characters that pull her into a story. She loves romance and believes everyone has a right to be happy. She enjoys seeing her characters find that happiness for themselves.

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Cover Reveal: Without You by Marley Valentine

Title: Without You
Author: Marley Valentine
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: March 12, 2020
Cover Design: PopKitty Design
Photographer: Wander Aguiar
Models: Jacob Cooley & Luke Schaeffer

 

“Tragedy brought us together, but something stronger made me want to stay.”

 

Julian was the boy next door. My brother’s best friend, he fit with my family in ways I never could. While he and Rhett went on to play house, I left the only life I knew, desperate for a fresh start.
Until everything changed.
Heartache came along, and the aftermath of my brother’s death was here to stay. I was now face to face with Julian more than I ever wanted to be.
Being around him brought up all my insecurities, forced me to deal with hard truths, and conjured up feelings I had no business entertaining. He wasn’t the man I thought I knew. He was complex and layered, and inherently beautiful in all the ways I’d never noticed.
Not on another person.
Not on another man.
Not until him.

 

Marley Valentine comes from the future. Living in Sydney, Australia with her family. When she’s not busy writing her own stories, she spends most of her time immersed in the words of her favourite authors.

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If You Really Go Demon by Sean Michael #BDSM #darkfantasy #LGBT @seanmichael09

If You Really Go Demon (Once You Go Demon 2)

Published by Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller

 

Griff has been living with a terrible secret for centuries. He’s a high demon, but he has wild needs and desires to be a pleasure demon — to submit to another. Such things are forbidden in hell, but he finally breaks down and confesses his desires to his best friend Savilry, risking not just their friendship but his own safety.

He could never have dreamed Savilry’s response, and Griff will never be the same again.

 

Get it TODAY at Changeling Press

or pre-order for February 14th at online retailers

  

 

For a super sexy, melt-your-ereader-it’s-so-hot sneak peek, be sure to check out the book on Changeling Press… CLICK HERE (excerpt only recommended for those 18+)

 

ABOUT SEAN MICHAEL

Writing under S. Michael for Het Ménage and Sean for signature M/M titles, Sean Michael leads a classic double life.

Often referred to as “Space Cowboy” and “Gangsta of Love” while still striving for the moniker of “Maurice,” Sean Michael spends days surfing, smutting, organizing an immense gourd collection and fantasizing about one day retiring on a small secluded island peopled entirely by horseshoe crabs.

While collecting vast amounts of vintage gay pulp novels and mood rings, Sean whiles away the hours between dropping the f-bomb and perusing the Kama Sutra by channeling the long lost spirit of John Wayne and singing along with the soundtrack to “Chicago.”

A long-time writer of complicated haiku, currently Sean is attempting to learn the advanced arts of plate spinning and soap carving sex toys.

Barring any of that? Sean’ll stick with writing stories, thanks, and rubbing pretty bodies together to see if they spark.

You can write to Sean at seanmichaelwrites@gmail.com, or visit his websites including Cafe Risque http://caferisque.blogspot.com. For Sean Michael’s M/M works, see www.seanmichaelwrites.com. For Sean’s adventures into the HET world as S. Michael, see www.seanmichaelwrites.com/smichaelbooks.html.

 

 

Feathers, Fur & Dreams by Kate Steele #NewRelease #paranormalromance @Kate27Steele

Feathers, Fur & Dreams

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller

Six couples meet their destinies at the hands of fate… with a little magic thrown in for good luck.

Middle Man — Empath, servant, sex toy. Gen fills all these roles, but not the one he longs for most… lover.

To the Highest Bidder — Ben’s best friend Becca presents him with a very unusual gift: lunch with Mitch DeSantis, star of the wildly popular show Case Files. Ben’s a huge fan, but in person Mitch is a complete ass. Ben leaves hoping never to see DeSantis again. Fate has other plans.

Dream of Me — Ever turn a nightmare into a dream come true?

The Pet Promise — Kail has just spent the last year as the master’s pet… complete with four legs and a tail. But Kail’s fallen in love, and he’s determined to stay with Master Nerrin… even if it means keeping the puppy ears for the rest of his life.

Why Did the Chicken? — What happens when Cupid passes the task of matchmaker over to a mischievous shape-shifting imp? Chaos. Pure chaos.

What the Cat Dragged In — What could possibly bring an owl shifter and a cat shifter together? For Kyle and Bryan, lust is the catalyst that gets them off to a hot but rocky start. What comes as a surprise to both of them is that lust can so quickly become something much, much more…

Publisher’s Note: The stories in Feathers, Fur & Dreams have been previously released in ebook format.

 

Get it TODAY at Changeling Press

or pre-order for January 31st at retailers

  

*also available inpaperback*

 

Praise for Middle Man 

“Gen is a man most will identify with…. Ms. Steele is able to bring his anguish, determination, and devotion to life and help us share in his struggles and eventually his happiness. Those who enjoy romance with a futuristic twist will enjoy Middle Man.”

— NeNe, Fallen Angel Reviews

 

Praise for Dream of Me

“Kate Steele delivers a wonderfully written mini-masterpiece. Everything flows smoothly and the characters come alive in your head.”

4 Stars! — Kimberley Spinney, eCataRomance Sensual Reviews

 

Praise for Why Did The Chicken? 

“Kate Steele never fails to surprise me with her ability to write very different types of books, while still retaining her writing style and voice. Incredibly heartfelt at times, hilarious in others, Why Did The Chicken? is a fantastic Halloween treat.”

4 Angels! — Cat N., Fallen Angel Reviews

 

 

More from Kate Steele at Changeling Press …

Kate’s love of books started from the moment she read those fateful words: run, Spot, run! It took her awhile to discover that she didn’t have to just read and imagine, but that she could also write stories and so here she is writing romance and loving it. Like chocolate – her ultimate favorite food, with pizza running a close second – writing became addictive. Whether it’s paranormal, contemporary or science fiction about werewolves, otherworldly creatures or the average Joe, she can’t get enough.

As for the everyday details, Kate lives in a turn of the century house located in the midst of Indiana farm country, and is kept company by family, along with demanding dogs, contrary cats and a pair of occasionally sweet, and definitely noisy, lovebirds. When not writing, she reads, is an enthusiastic grower of iris, and a fanatic fan of Japanese manga and anime.

 

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.

 

 

Hero Interview: Brian Harrison from the Vasquez Inc. series #bookcharacters #romancebooks

 

Everyone please give a warm welcome to Brian Harrison from the Vasquez Inc series, including the latest installment A Shot at Perfect by Lou Sylvre. He’s graciously agreed to answer a few questions for us. Are you as excited as I am to find out more about Brian? *rubs hands together* Then let’s get to it!

Brian, thank you for joining us today!

Thanks for having me! It’s not often I get to speak to readers myself, so it’s a rare opportunity.

If there was one thing in your life you could change, what would it be?

Well, hmm. I don’t know if I should say this, because I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but I think I’d like to leave Los Angeles. I mean, Luki Vasquez—my boss—has been really good to me, and he offered me this position, managing the LA office of his security firm, Vasquez Inc. It’s good pay, we have an apartment to live in without having to shell out LA’s sky-high rents, and it’s never too cold out. But LA’s been crazy ever since we got here—Jackie and I—last year. We’ve been the target of some bad criminal stuff, and Jackie’s had a couple of accidents—bad enough to change our lives. Thing is, though, even saying I want to leave this city—I wouldn’t. Not yet. Not until we get the bad guys, as Luki would say. And first we have to find them.

Do you have any regrets when it comes to Jackie Vasquez?

Good question. You know, in a way I regret that he was out on his own in this city’s traffic, riding a bicycle, when he had his first accident. And I sort of regret not keeping closer tabs on him—I didn’t even know where he was when the second one happened. Shit, even before that, I regret leaving him alone so much of the time in London before we moved here—he almost got killed by a psychopath. But in reality, I can’t regret those things because they weren’t really under my control. I’m a Dom, but not the sort that wants to be a 24/7 Master, and Jackie’s not that kind of sub. We’re D/s mostly when we’re in the playroom. He doesn’t want someone taking control of his life, and I guess I wouldn’t do that if he did want it. So I guess I took the long way around to get to this answer, but my real regret? I lost myself for a while after Jackie got hurt. I didn’t give Jackie what he needed, because I couldn’t get over my own fears. That made it more of a battle to get through the tough times—worse for both of us, but I especially regret the way it hurt him. He deserves better.

And then, hell,, I also regret putting my marriage proposal in a fortune cookie. Word of advice—never do that.

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a cop. I went through a time in my late teens when I really waffled about that—cops get a lot of bad press, and a lot of the time they deserve it. Abuse of power and such. But then I realized that’s all the more reason the world needs good cops, fair and honest cops who are really looking out for people, helping to keep them safe. So yeah, that’s what I wanted to do. And I did—twice. What I do now—private security—isn’t so different, but I’m pretty sure being a cop again is still in my future. We’ll see.

What is your favorite memory?

Oh! Wow. Did not expect this question. I have to say my favorite memory is pretty recent, and of course it involves Jackie. He’s… beautiful, you know. Not just his looks, but the way he carries himself, his sense of humor, and he’s brilliant. He’s also a stubborn, devil boy who likes to push buttons now and then, but even that’s wonderful when I look at the whole package. Uh… Sorry, got a little sidetracked there. So my favorite memory… well, this is my favorite moment from my favorite memory… but why don’t I just let Lou show you. She wrote about it (she doesn’t respect our privacy at all) in A Shot of J&B.

They walked out after all the guests who weren’t staying left, Jackie leading him by the hand through an oak-covered trail with moonlight shining toward them from the open sky of the river. They settled in, opened their bottle of wine, and shared it along with good-natured silence, quiet words from time to time, and a loose embrace. Brian’s arm and larger form sheltered Jackie from a cool breeze off the river, and it added up to more than a friendly hug, but less than sex.

With about two-thirds of the wine gone, Brian set it aside and stood, then reached a hand down to help Jackie to his feet. He was about to suggest they walk back to the house before the family feared they’d fallen in, but facing Jackie, he saw a look in his eyes he couldn’t quite interpret. He seemed neither to plead nor demand, not even to expect, but something in his direct gaze, his slightly open lips, the tilt of his head — they added up to a question, and though Brian’s mind didn’t seem to know the language, his lips and body did.

He leaned in and grazed his lips across Jackie’s once, twice. When he straightened, Jackie’s eyes narrowed slightly, Jackie’s breath rushed out quickly and hitched, Jackie’s fingers fidgeted against his palms — all signs of distress. Brian took a half step back, not letting go of Jackie’s eyes, and held both his hands out between them, palm up.

“Give me your hands,” he said.

Jackie placed elegant fingers in Brian’s broad, strong palms, and when Brian closed them in a tight grip, the younger man’s entire being seemed to relax. Brian

pulled Jackie’s hands toward him and around his back, holding them there as he stepped forward until there was no space between them at all.

Do you have a favorite movie or song? Do you know Jackie’s favorite movie or song?

Well, it’s a little embarrassing, but my favorite movie is Hot Fuzz. (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0425112/)

Jackie’s a little more of a romantic than me—also more out there in his tastes. (Don’t tell him I said that.) I don’t know his favorite movie, but a wild guess, it’s something like Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar. (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114682/) I do know his favorite song—or at least one of them, and it’s kind of a sad commentary. I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing this with you, but if you know anything about his history, you’ll understand why he… sort of feels the lyrics. The song is one Shawn Mendes sings, “In My Blood”.

What was it like the first time you kissed Jackie?

Huh. I have to laugh a little. You maybe expect me to say it was like, fireworks or starry skies or hearts and cupids and symphonic strains. It wasn’t. It was sweet. It was refreshing. It was like waking up to something bright and surprising and intriguing in the best way. But you know what? All I could think of to say was, “Thank you, Jackie. That was lovely.”

What was your first impression of Jackie?

You see, we met when he was just a kid—sixteen. I met him at his uncles’ wedding in Hawaii. I knew right from the start there was something special about him. He was all natural grace and unusual beauty, and I felt like there was some unidentifiable kind of connection between us. But even though I was only in my early twenties, at that age I couldn’t think of him as a potential partner. I wouldn’t allow myself to, but really it was more than that. I couldn’t think of him that way, but I also couldn’t get him off my mind, couldn’t shake the idea we were more-or-less fated to meet. I didn’t see him again for six years, but when I did I felt exactly the same.

Does Jackie have a pet? Do you get along?

Actually my cat, a rescue named Marley, loves Jackie more than he loves me. Also, we have a dog named Soldier. I rescued him, too, but right now he’s living in Washington State with Luki and Sonny—lots of room to run for him there, none where we live in LA. Truth is, he likes Jackie better than me, too. Or maybe that’s not it. Maybe they both just take me for granted, and on the other hand they know Jackie’s something special.

Do you like to read? What’s your favorite book?

I’ve always liked to read fiction, but I don’t do it a whole lot any more—a matter of time and business. When I was a kid I read lots of books about pirates, of all things. More recently I read those books Lou Sylvre (our author) wrote about Luki and Sonny—the Vasquez and James series. Fun! Because you know, Luki’s such a badass, but reading those books I found out all about his insecurities and soft spots. (Oh, don’t let him find out I said that, okay?)

Hey, thanks again for interviewing me. Made me think about stuff, and it’s been kind of fun. I like the idea of readers getting to know me a little bit. I’m afraid Lou isn’t always real nice to me in the books… sometimes she makes me look a little… well, never mind.

And there you have it folks, straight from Brian’s mouth… Now you know more about our hero from A Shot at Perfect by Lou Sylvre. If you’d like to purchase a copy, you’ll find the buy links below.

 

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Get the latest Vasquez Inc book HERE