Inexplicable by Willa Okati #gayromance

Inexplicable (Roanoke River Omegas 2)

Cover Art by Bryan Keller

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

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

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

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

 

Available at Changeling Press

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Willa Okat
i

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deacon, he trusted.

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

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

“You sure?”

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

 

About Willa Okati

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

Willa at Changeling Press| Willa’s Facebook Group

 

New Release Blitz: Hearts of Destiny by Kay Doherty #shifters #GayRomance

Title: Hearts of Destiny

Series: Chevalier, Book Four

Author: Kay Doherty

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: March 30, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 40700{

Genre: Paranormal, LGBTQIA+, MM romance, gay, pack dynamics, feud, wolf shifters, dragon shifters, multispecies shifters, bonded mates

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Synopsis

Ean and Matthias have known they’re mates for a while, but Matthias has been unwilling to claim Ean. He believes his past and age-old secrets are too big for Ean to overcome, so instead keeps Ean away by irritating him.

Depressed and no longer able to be near the dragon-shifter, Ean leaves the pack house and, after a night of heavy drinking, makes a life-changing decision that pushes Matthias into action.

As the blood moon draws nearer, the Chevalier Pack is called before a tribunal of paranormal leaders to assess the Alpha’s rumored mysterious abilities. Matthias decides to share his secrets with a little help from Colby. And to top everything off, they face another attack by the McBane Pack, which the Chevalier decide will be the last.

Excerpt

Hearts of Destiny
Kay Doherty © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
Duray Horde Vault

After adjusting the stack of scrolls tucked beneath his arm, Matthias opened the door to the vaults and headed down the stairs. He had no idea what was contained in the newest additions to the horde library, but Sadie had insisted he take them, look through them, and archive them appropriately. The sheer number of scrolls he was carrying guaranteed weeks of sequestered reading, and he was looking forward to it. Matthias often disappeared for days within the vault stacks, and no one cared. He was moody and antisocial at the best of times and preferred his own company to that of other dragons.

At the back of the library, he dropped the scrolls unceremoniously on top of the desk he’d claimed as his, decades ago. Since no one came down to the vaults, no one had challenged his claim. As far as the horde was concerned, the vaults were Matthias’s domain. The soft thump of little feet echoed in the cavernous space, dulled slightly by the papers and leather-bound tomes that filled the shelving. Matthias knew who those steps belonged to, and his disposition lightened a bit. Sadie’s son had a thirst for knowledge that Matthias admired, even if it did mean his quiet sanctuary was invaded on a regular basis by the child.

“Hi, Matthias.”

“What are you doing down here, Luca?”

The fledgling hefted a book that was nearly a third his size, and Matthias recognized it as an old human-written story about a witch. He wasn’t sure it was an appropriate choice for a fledgling of just eight years to read, but he’d learned early on that Luca was not an ordinary little dragon. There was something special about him: something that reminded Matthias of the child he’d raised centuries before.

“Nothing in that book is factual,” Matthias told the boy.

“That’s good, because the witch ate the kids.” Luca winced before turning around and disappearing into the shelving.

“Don’t make me come behind you and straighten up,” Matthias ordered, his voice carrying through the room despite him not raising it the slightest bit.

Twenty entirely-too-quiet minutes passed before Matthias rose from his chair to go check on Luca. He found the book the boy had brought back exactly where it should be, but Luca wasn’t there. Returning to the main aisle, Matthias glanced down each row as he passed until he finally found Luca sitting on the floor with his back against the stone wall with a book opened across his little legs.

“This isn’t a row you’re allowed to be in,” Matthias said, shocking the little boy who was clearly immersed in what he was reading.

Matthias squatted in front of him, closed the book, and willed the panic he felt explode in his chest to not show on his face as he pulled the book from Luca’s grasp. He stood and placed the tome well above the boy’s head. Luca was entirely too curious for his own good.

“But I liked that story,” Luca complained. “It had a dragon married to a wolf, and I didn’t know that could happen, and I want to see what happens next.”

Matthias swallowed thickly. Luca thought he was reading a fictional story, but Matthias knew all too well that the Chevalier family had been real, and he’d be damned if he put the idea of interspecies matings into the head of the horde matriarch’s son. Pushing the memory of his own interspecies mating to the back of his mind—because what did it matter anymore?—he looked down at the fledgling.

He steered the boy into a more appropriate area of the vaults to be explored and then returned to the tome he’d confiscated. Pulling it off the shelf, Matthias thumbed through page after page of his own historical account of the Chevalier, removed the most informative and thereby damaging chapters, and then replaced it on the shelf. Luca was only going to get older, taller, and more curious with age. Matthias wouldn’t risk him finding the book again.

Later that night, after darkness had fallen and the compound had grown silent with slumber, Matthias burned one of the last firsthand accounts of the Chevalier—his own. Why he’d thought it was a good idea to put that horror down on paper, he’d never understand. Youthful folly. All that was left to do was locate and obtain Alietta’s journal, the final remaining written history of the family and subsequent events Matthias had yet to destroy. For now, he was content knowing the only memory of the Chevalier that existed in the Duray Horde was now locked safely away inside his head; a place no amount of childhood curiosity could penetrate.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Kay Doherty is an omnisexual/polysexual who lives in Colorado with her poly-family, Mike, Keri, and Tigz. Her house is overrun with cats and dogs. Family is important to her so there are daily texts, frequent visits to her parents, and constant banter with her brothers. She happily suffers a severe addiction to coffee and Mexican food. She loves to read and write and can easily become consumed by it for hours, much to the dismay of Mike and Keri (Tigz is an enabler). On occasion she can be convinced to venture out into the world of the living despite being annoyed by the sun shining in her face.

Website |Twitter | Pinterest

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A Pack of His Own (Duet) on sale for $0.99 by Emily Carrington #LGBTQ #paranormalromance

IMG_0659

On SALE $0.99

📚📚🐺🐺Two excerpts from A Pack of His Own volume 1:📚📚🐺🐺

 

Excerpt from Hunter’s Claim: 

A strong, well-remembered hand closed around Charlie’s automatically outstretched right. Then the man before Charlie pushed that hand aside and grasped Charlie’s left, white cane and all.

Charlie laughed as lean, muscular arms pulled him close and tightened around his back. It wasLuis. His nose had been right.

“I was planning to see you here,” Luis whispered in Spanish, his voice richer than the thrum of the best-played bass. “But I didn’t think it would be so soon.”

Charlie drank in Luis’s scent, relishing how Luis held him. Then he pulled back slightly, though he was still safe in Luis’s embrace. “It’s good to see you.” That was an understatement, and he was hard-pressed not to resume the kisses he’d run from in March. He had no right to such a warm welcome, and for a breath his heart lodged in his throat.

Then another smell — a stench compared to Luis’s heady aroma — invaded the library, and Charlie stepped away completely. He held up one finger. “Un momento.”

Luis retreated several paces, and Charlie blinked at the psychic vampire’s discretion. Luis hadn’t possessed anything close to circumspection or respect for duty when they’d worked together in Tampa.

Charlie went to the library doors, meaning to close them, but the werewolf he’d smelled stood before him. He made the conscious switch to English, realizing he must be overwhelmed by Luis’s presence if the change needed to be willed rather than instinctive. Or maybe I’m intoxicated again. As he’d been when he and Luis had tumbled into bed for a single, blissful hour. Maybe it wasn’t the Lady Lavender drinks that got me drunk in March. It could’ve been Luis.

 

Excerpt from Tracker’s Fate:

Jeremy frowned as he put the first of the pans under the running water and squirted soap in. It would do no good to attempt inviting more information through silence; Ethan was an old hat at keeping things to himself. “What is a haint anyway? Besides a chicken-fried Southern ghost?”

“The words ghost, zombie, half-vampire, and weird distant cousin of the wendigo can all apply to haints.” Ethan slapped his palm down on the lid of one plastic container, producing a hollow click that strangely resembled the noise a handgun made when cocked.

Jeremy decided that probably had to do with the acoustics in the huge kitchen. “That is not helpful,” he answered in a dry tone he hoped would make Ethan laugh.

The SearchLight tracker snickered; the tension in the room dropped. “Thankfully we went in with our eyes a little open to the possibilities, or…” Another lid clicked into place.

Jeremy scented the air, searching out Luis Delgado’s unique aroma. He thought the psychic vampire was outside. Perhaps with Charlie. “Did this haint bite you or stab you?”

“Bite. I fell on her from above before she could claim another victim. But she twisted under me like a snake. I saw her eyes just before she showed her fangs. As we were told, she was starving.” Ethan approached the sink with slow, dragging steps. “I had to kill her.”

Jeremy considered the tense line of Ethan’s shoulders. SearchLight trackers were, by definition, spies, stalkers, information gatherers, and more than occasional executioners. Not a single one had been pressed into service. “Do you regret becoming a tracker?” he asked as he squirted soap into the hot water. He began dumping dishes into the mix almost indiscriminately, ninety percent of his attention being for Ethan. I could almost be attracted to this quiet-speaking werewolf with so much fire in his soul. Almost, however, was the operative word. Ethan could laugh as well as any other wolf, but his reticence sometimes annoyed Jeremy.

The two of us would not make a good match, Jeremy told his lonely heart.

Ethan opened and closed a nearby drawer, his movements gentle and slow. “I used to love it.” He flipped a towel over his shoulder. “Did your run help?”

Jeremy scowled. “You’re an ass.” He faced Ethan, forgetting the dishes. “How long, exactly, were you going to wait before telling me you’ve decided to follow my every movement?”

Ethan nodded toward the faucet. “Maybe you should turn that off.”

Snarling, Jeremy did so. “Well?” he demanded, his anger increasing when he saw Ethan wasn’t flinching. Not that I’m trying to scare him, but he’s a less dominant wolf. He should cower before me. Jeremy cursed, hating himself for wanting Ethan submissive to his will. He whirled back to the sink and plunged his hands into the nearly scalding water. He seized a pan and a sponge and tried to take out his building fury on something inanimate. “You are a tracker, but that doesn’t give you the right to spy on me.”

“Luis and I returned from Albion half an hour before dinner. Neither of us was in a position to hunt you.”

Jeremy thudded the still soapy but degreased pan into the second sink for Ethan to rinse. “Then how do you know I was running?”

“You smell of Queen Anne’s lace, a mix of wild grasses, and the exhaustion that comes from changing too quickly and too often from your human guise to that of the wolf.” Ethan rinsed off the pan and set it in the drainer. He did this with exquisite care. “Please don’t accuse me of treating a pack member like a rogue haint.”

Available at Amazon

 

 

And Call Me (Duet) by Willa Okati #gayromance

And Call Me (Duet)

Cover Art by Bryan Keller

 

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

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

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

 

Get it at Changeling Press

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Willa Okati

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

Sometimes love just happened.

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That you’re a glutton for punishment?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Really?” Eli nudged Diana under the table.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Beg pardon?”

“She means Zane,” Holly said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“True.”

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

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

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

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

Eli gave up. For the moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No strawberries?” Taye asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eli scowled and said nothing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About Willa Okati

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

Willa at Changeling Press | Instagram | Facebook Group

 

SPOTLIGHT: My Past, Your Future by Gabbi Grey #GayRomance

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My Past, Your Future

By Gabbi Grey

 

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Gabbi is offering a $5 Amazon GC and 2 ebooks of My Past, Your Future during the giveaway. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember you may enter every day for your chance to win so be sure to follow along on the tour with us. You may find the tour locations here http://bit.ly/2OYUyh4

 

About My Past, Your Future:

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Callum MacLaren, a professor from Scotland, visits Willow Springs, Vermont during the Winter Solstice to study and explore the rich history of St. Joseph’s Cemetery. His encounter with a sexy soldier in a tattered Civil War uniform is a captivating puzzle, and the more he learns, the deeper his attraction.

A hundred and fifty years ago, Elijah Freeman was killed during the Second Battle of Fort Wagner and woke up in Willow Springs, the only home he’d known. Alone, he roams the town, unable to leave or interact with a single soul until an intriguing Scot addresses him. Even stranger, the man can see him, hear him, and touch him–a sizzling caress that leaves Elijah aching for more.

But will Elijah return to his ghostly form when the magic of the solstice fades, or is Callum’s love enough to keep him in the land of the living?

 

Genre: M/M Paranormal Erotic Romance

 

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Excerpt My Past, Your Future:

 

“I’m not sure I have many answers.” And Elijah wasn’t. He’d figured a few things out over the years, but much of it was contradictory and nonsensical. Still, he relaxed a little, no longer on edge.

“Well, let’s start with you being able to touch people and them able to touch you.” As if experimentally, he placed his hand on Elijah’s. “You’re cold. Are you always cold, or is it the weather?”

Elijah cleared his throat. This was the first human touch he’d had in years, and it affected him more than he’d ever imagined. Not that he’d spent a lot of time wondering because he’d assumed it’d never happen. Should he have tried earlier, or was it, as he suspected, only this man?

Please don’t let go of my hand.

Cautiously, he curled his fingers, holding on tighter.

Callum reciprocated.

“As for temperature. I don’t understand. I don’t feel cold now, and I don’t feel hot in the summer. And summers around here can be brutal, despite how far north we are.”

Callum nodded. “Edinburgh, where I’m from, can get warm in the summer. But we’re closer to the northern point of the country, so it’s temperate as opposed to oppressive.”

His thumb caressed the juncture where Elijah’s thumb met his finger, and little zings shot through him. Like the sound he associated with the electric lights when they turned on at dusk. Of course, the whole concept of electricity was beyond him.

 

About the Author:

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I live surrounded by trees, raccoons, deer, and other woodland creatures, on a mountain in beautiful British Columbia where my fur baby chin poo keeps me safe from nasty bears.

Working for the government by day, I spend my nights writing contemporary, gay, sweet, and dark erotic BDSM romances…and while I firmly believe in happy endings, I also believe in making my characters suffer before finding their true love.

 

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Release Blitz: Chaser by Rick R. Reed #gayromance #instalove

Title: Chaser

Series: Chaser, Book One

Author: Rick R. Reed

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 24, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 67500

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, Insta-love, family illness, separation, perceived cheating, physical fitness, narcissistic character, betrayal

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Synopsis

Caden DeSarro is what they call a chubby chaser. He likes his guys with a few extra pounds on them. So when he meets Kevin Dodge in a bar bathroom, he can’t help but stare. As far as Caden is concerned, Kevin is physically perfect: a stocky bearded blond. But Caden gets tongue-tied and misses his chance.

When Caden runs into Kevin one night on the el train, he figures it’s fate offering him a second shot. Caden manages to get invited back to Kevin’s place for a one-night stand that turns into the kind of relationship he’s dreamed about.

But the course of true love never runs smoothly—Kevin and Caden’s romance is no exception. When Caden returns from a few weeks away on business, Kevin surprises him with a new and “improved” body—one that fits Caden’s shallow friend Bobby’s ideal, but not Caden’s. Caden doesn’t know what to do, and his hesitation is just the opportunity Bobby was looking for.

Excerpt

Chaser
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

“I like fat men.”

“You like big butts?”

“I cannot lie.”

Caden and his therapist laughed together over the song reference, both old enough to remember Sir Mix-A-Lot’s 1992 rap hit “Baby Got Back.” Camille D’Amico reined in her laughter abruptly, pushing her tortoiseshell glasses back up on her nose and fussing with her frizzy halo of brown hair. She adopted a serious expression. “So you’re attracted to heavier men. Is that a problem?”

“Not really a problem, I guess. It’s just that I wonder why. I mean, look at me.”

Caden stood up, turned around slowly, and sat back down in the comfortable overstuffed chair facing Camille. He knew what he was displaying—a very trim, tight five-foot-eleven frame upon which not even an ounce of fat rested. In the dictionary, if one looked up the word “lean,” there was Caden’s picture, the perfect illustration. He rubbed his hands over his black buzz cut and then brought one hand down to the stubble of his just-coming-in beard. Not only was he very fit, he was a very handsome thirty-year-old man.

“What?” Camille asked. “You think you’re too good for a guy with a few extra pounds on his frame? Think you’re slumming if you take a walk on the fat side?”

Caden shook his head and put up his palms in self-defense. “No, no, that’s not it at all. I don’t think I’m better, not by any stretch. I’m just wondering why, lately especially, I’ve been drawn to heavier men.”

“Is this something new for you?”

“Not really, but it’s only something I’ve been acting on in the past few months. I have this friend, Bobby, who I usually go out with and he’s, well, he can be kind of superficial…” Caden’s voice trailed off as he thought of his gorgeous friend, who looked a lot like the porn star, Dawson, with a trim build, cut abs, closely shorn auburn hair, and luminous gray eyes. The difference between Bobby and Dawson was that Bobby was much choosier than Dawson, although perhaps no less promiscuous—no mean feat when one considered one of Dawson’s films was entitled Dawson’s 50-Load Weekend. Anyway, this session was supposed to be about Caden, not Bobby. “And he always gives me a hard time about wanting to meet, as I said, heavier men.”

“And this Bobby’s opinion is important to you?”

“He’s my best friend.”

“Important enough that you would alter going after what you really want for him?”

Camille’s question stopped him short. He’d never really thought of it that way. Why did it matter what Bobby thought? So what if he didn’t approve of the bearded redhead he met online and invited over last week? And what business was it of Bobby’s if he liked to peruse the profiles at footballplayerbuild.com?

Obviously, it bothered him enough to bring it up here today with Camille, whom he had been seeing for the past three weeks. His visits to her were his thirtieth birthday present to himself. He hoped to figure out why, at age thirty, he had yet to find a relationship that lasted more than three dates.

He had begun wondering if there was something intrinsically wrong with him. He was a good catch—at least that’s what his mother told him—but on paper, he did look good. No one could argue with that. He was handsome, having inherited his mother’s Sicilian olive complexion, black hair, and eyes that ranged from amber to green. His nose was strong, patrician, some might say (his mom again, anyway). He wasn’t a bodybuilder, but years of running four to six miles four to six days a week, along with summertime lakefront bike rides, had given him a good, solid build.

And it wasn’t just in the looks department where he thought he had a lot to offer. He had a good head on his shoulders. That he got from his late father, who had been a fully tenured professor of English literature at Northwestern University in Evanston before passing away unexpectedly one morning in the bathroom of a heart attack. That same head on his shoulders had given him, if not a stellar job, a solidly respectable and reliable one as a copywriter at a medical association in downtown Chicago. He had been there since graduating from Northwestern nine years ago, starting out as an editorial assistant on one of their trade journals.

So why did he feel the need to try to apply the same standards Bobby applied to his own dates, standards that could be summed up by Bobby with the initials FG, which stood for “fucking gorgeous”? If a man was not FG, so Bobby’s rationale went, he was not worth fucking.

Sometimes Caden wondered why he had Bobby as a best friend. But he could be hilarious at times, and he could be a lot of fun. Caden on his own in a bar was a wallflower, but with Bobby, some of his charm and charisma, the devil-may-care attitude, rubbed off on Caden.

Plus, going out with Bobby usually meant he would hook up with one of Bobby’s FG prospects’ fucking gorgeous friends. Because, as Bobby always said, “The hot ones travel in packs.”

Caden shook his head and looked at the therapist, who was sitting patiently, waiting. “What did you ask me again?”

“I asked you if Bobby’s opinion was more important to you than getting what you want.” Camille cocked her head.

“No, no, of course not.” He answered too quickly.

“You know,” Camille said, “I’m like what’s in your own head. There’s no need in here to try and come up with what you think is the right answer. No need to censor yourself. Do I need to remind you there’s no judgment here?”

“No.”

“So, I won’t ask you about Bobby’s opinion again, but I do want you to think about your answer.”

“Why?”

“Because you brought up your attraction to heavy men for a reason.” Camille shrugged. “It doesn’t matter so much what the reason is, so much as it matters what you think about it. Look, people are attracted to other people for all sorts of reasons, and there’s no right or wrong way to be attracted. Take my mother—please!” Camille laughed. “Ever since my father passed away a few years ago, she’s been all about younger men. And I am not talking forties and fifties here. I’m talking about much younger, your age, Caden, and even in their twenties. Mom’s sixty, but she’s a knockout.”

“Cougar?” Caden asked.

“Use that word around her and you might get your eyes scratched out. Anyway, my point is that it’s what she likes, and even though I did question it at first, especially when she was having me meet guys who were younger than I was, it wasn’t my call to make. Attraction is subjective—totally.”

“You’re right.”

Camille laughed. “I’m not looking for affirmation. I just want to understand why you chose to bring up this particular attraction with your therapist.”

And Caden realized he’d like to know the reason himself. If he could only get a handle on it, a love handle, if you will. He shook his head, censoring his inner Kathy Griffin.

The therapy session failed to illuminate the rationale for Caden’s attraction, and he left Camille’s office with homework not on why he was attracted to heavy guys, but why he felt that mattered.

It didn’t matter, did it?

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at http://www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his beloved husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

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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.