SPOTLIGHT: Embracing the Demon by AJ Graham #PNR #DarkFantasy #LGBTQ

Love is always a gamble, but when you bargain with a demon the deck’s stacked in his favor.

Demon’s Bargain (Embracing the Demon 1): Ella is desperate. A vicious dragon stalks her people. The only man strong enough to defeat it is Vaz, the half-demon outcast — banished long ago for his tainted blood. Ella soon learns just how potent a demon’s touch can be.

Living with a Demon (Embracing the Demon 2): When Nate answered a personals ad, he wasn’t looking for romance. But now he knows Pierce is the man for him… even when he finds out Pierce is something more than human.

Playing Games (Embracing the Demon 3): Nate adores his demon lover, Pierce. But lately, Pierce has been distant and preoccupied, and it’s driving Nate crazy. Awakening Pierce’s possessive instincts is a dangerous game to play… but to Nate, the danger just makes it more tempting.

Escaping Darkside (Embracing the Demon 4): After he’s killed in a hit and run accident, Christian wakes up in Darkside — the demon-infested world between life and death. If he can reach door back to Earth, Christian will have a second chance at life. But going back will mean leaving Seth behind forever… and Christian is falling in love with his demon.

Get the ebook from Changeling Press or the paperback from Amazon


Copyright ©2023 AJ Graham
Excerpt from Escaping Darkside

Christian woke face down on the ground, head throbbing. A smell like garbage and sewer water filled his nose, and hard, gritty pavement pressed against his cheek. He opened his eyes to find himself lying in a narrow alley between two brick buildings, next to a row of overflowing trashcans.

Christian stood, staggered, and leaned against the nearby wall. What had happened? Had he been mugged? A wave of dizziness washed over him, and he swayed. He must have hit his head. Maybe that was why he couldn’t remember anything. When the world finally stopped spinning, he began to walk.

Run-down, brick buildings lined the narrow street, and fragments of broken glass glittered on the pavement. It looked like one of the bad parts of Chicago, but it wasn’t a neighborhood he recognized.

He heard a low, faint moan, like distant wind, and froze. The back of his neck prickled and he slowly turned.

Four red-cloaked figures stood in the street, motionless. Hoods covered their heads and shadow hid their faces. Goose bumps rose on Christian’s flesh. “Um… hello.”

No reply. One figure stretched out an arm and curled a long, bony finger in beckoning.

Christian swallowed, hard. His heart rose into his throat as fear slammed into his gut like a fist. He took a shaky step backward, then turned and ran, feet pounding the pavement, breath coming in frantic gulps. He looked over his shoulder and saw them following — not running, but floating several inches above the road, their red cloaks billowing behind them.

What the hell was going on?

He kept running, but he could sense the things getting closer, closing in on him. An icy hand curled around his arm, the fingers brittle and thin, yet strong as iron. Cold filled his chest, as if that skeletal hand had reached into his body to grip his heart. He looked into the darkness beneath the thing’s hood and saw the glint of eyes. A weird clicking, chattering noise drifted from that darkness.

Christian twisted away. “Let me go!” He yanked his arm free. His skin still burned where the thing had touched him.

He ran, ignoring the throbbing stitch in his side and the burn in his lungs. There was nothing left in his mind but the desperate need to get away. He ran until his legs gave out, and he sank to his hands and knees, gulping air, each breath like nettles scraping his raw lungs. He looked over his shoulder, shaking. The red-cloaked figures were nowhere in sight. Somehow, he’d lost them.

He crawled to the side of the street and hid behind a Dumpster, hugging his knees to his chest. He looked down at his arm, where the thing had grabbed him. Its grip had left ugly, black burn marks on his skin, and the marks writhed like something alive. Just looking at them made him nauseous. He pulled his sleeve over the burn, hiding it, then leaned back against the brick wall and closed his eyes. His muscles felt like overcooked noodles, but somehow, he managed to drag himself to his feet and resume walking.

Ahead, a row of motorcycles stood next to a low, windowless building with black cement walls. Even from a distance, Christian could hear the pulse of a bass-beat. A dance club?

Whatever it was, he needed to get inside. He ran toward the building, flung open the door, and entered. A blast of warm air and sound hit him. After the eerie silence of the street, the sudden din of music and voices was overwhelming. The club was dimly lit, smoky, and packed. Music thumped in his ears. Christian squeezed through the crush of bodies, his gaze darting back and forth. Sweaty shirts surrounded him wherever he turned.

“Ow! Watch where you’re going!”

“Sorry. I –” Christian looked up and his jaw dropped. The thing staring down at him had the body of a weightlifter, but from the neck up, it resembled a cross between a bull and a lion, with curved black horns, a shaggy mane, and sharp fangs. “What are you staring at?” growled a deep, rough voice.

“S-sorry,” Christian stammered and backed away.

Had he stumbled into some sort of costume party? No, that hadn’t been a mask. He’d seen its mouth move.

He stepped on something that felt like a rope and heard a snarl. He looked down to see a long, furry tail pull away, and something with three horns and four eyes glared at him. Christian stumbled backward.

Breathing hard, he made his way through the crowd. He spotted a silver-haired girl in black leather. Relieved to see someone relatively normal-looking, Christian grabbed her arm. She looked at him. Her eyes were huge, almond-shaped, and completely black, without whites or irises. “Excuse me, Miss, I’m sorry, but could you tell me…”

She opened her mouth, revealing inch-long fangs where her canine teeth should have been, and hissed like a cat. He backed off. His head swiveled back and forth. Everywhere he looked was a creature out of a nightmare. There stood a man with a wriggling mass of tentacles where his mouth should have been. Across from him loomed another man with the head of a hawk and four feathery arms.

A hand grabbed his arm and twisted him around. He found himself staring up into a face that was almost human, except it was black — not brown, but licorice black — and topped by a pair of small, spiral horns protruding from crimson hair. The man dragged Christian through the crowd, out the door, into the cool night. He shoved his face into Christian’s, eyes narrowed. “What are you doing here? You’re not from Darkside.”

“I don’t even know how I got here. What is this place?”

His lip curled in an unpleasant expression that was half-grin, half-sneer, revealing tiny, sharp fangs. “You’re from Earth, huh?”

“Earth? You mean we’re not on Earth?”

“Oh boy, are you in for a rude awakening.” Sharp claws dug into the meat of Christian’s arm, making him squirm. “There’s bound to be a fat reward on your head. The Council doesn’t like it when souls slip through their grasp.”

Breathing hard, Christian tried to pry the sausage-thick, dark fingers from his arm. “Let go!”

“Oh no. You’re not getting away so easily.”


AJ Graham has a passion for cold weather, unusual beers, and anything otherworldly.  Dragons, demons, shapeshifters and psychics have always populated their imagination, but sometimes the real world can be just as fascinating and mysterious.  And no matter the genre, AJ has always loved stories about soulmates connecting.  Whether it’s instant, explosive passion or a slow burn, the power of two (or more) minds and bodies coming together to form a greater whole is always a story worth telling.  AJ lives in the Chicago suburbs with their husband.

RELEASE BLITZ: An Echo of Gods by Tallie Rose #LGBTQ #Fantasy @GoindiMarketing @ninestarpress

Title: An Echo of Gods

Series: Briar Constance, Book Two

Author: Tallie Rose

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 03/07/2023

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 87200

Genre: Fantasy, Fantasy, family-drama, gods, blood magic, lesbian, bisexual, nonbinary, witches, fae, murder, death, prime minister

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The Gods are back.

Briar knew it wouldn’t be easy dealing with Eliana, but she thought the other Gods might help her. This is their problem, after all. But they don’t want to answer her call, and when they do, it’s always the same answer—blood, sacrifice, loss. All the things Briar doesn’t want to hear.

Still, with Bastianna and her group of Believers breathing down her neck, Briar has to figure out some way to banish the errant Goddess. She just hopes she can do it without losing everyone she loves.


An Echo of Gods
Tallie Rose © 2023
All Rights Reserved

Sunlight caught on the handle of Briar’s drugstore dagger, casting her room in hues of pink and silver, like a grotesque disco ball. She’d had the knife for years, an impulse purchase at the register. It was cheap, its handle made of resin mixed with glitter and delicate flowers, hardly the right choice to call on another God, but using a kitchen knife seemed even worse.

She sighed—and nearly choked on the heady fumes wafting from the marble bowl beside her. Soren had handed her the satchel the day before, saying he picked up the herbs from some overseas religious order and they would help clear her mind. Ten minutes in and Briar was pretty sure she was just burning drugs.

Fingers close to trembling, she picked up the knife and pressed the blade into the crook of her arm until it bit into her skin. Blood pooled and dripped, sizzling against the smoldering herbs. Words, ancient and harsh, spilled from Briar’s mouth and her body tensed. The dagger tumbled from her fingers and clattered against the floor.

She closed her eyes against the smoke, continuing to chant. Her power built until it was pressing on every inch of her skin, demanding to leave. She did not need to open her eyes to know she was glowing once again.

Now, she just needed someone to listen, to give her direction. The Gods had not answered their pleas in the weeks since the attack. They were lost, stuck watching the news every night, unable to help.

“Please,” she murmured into the empty space of her room.

The blood dripping down her arm ceased flowing and her skin stitched itself together. The air in the room grew brisk and an unfamiliar scent hit her nose. Mulled apples, fresh tilled earth, evergreen, and sandy beaches. Somehow it was not unpleasant. She opened her eyes.

The Deity was a vision of the highest order. Buds bloomed in the air around them, swirling and protecting them from Briar’s full gaze. The scene changed: autumn leaves, then summer rains that turned to snow and ice.

Briar’s green eyes locked on to those of molten silver. Their face was a work of art, golden skin, full sensual lips, and high cheekbones. All of it was crowned by flowing coppery-red hair. They smiled and Briar’s gaze dropped. The robe they wore was sheer, doing nothing to hide the swell of their chest or the strength of their arms.

The Deity opened their arms wide, a welcoming gesture, and Briar cleared her throat, feeling anything but pious.

Their nostrils flared and their eyes widened ever so slightly. The falling leaves turned green, and they chuckled and dropped their arms, one hand resting on a hip Briar had just been admiring. “Bold.”

Briar shrugged.

The Deity laughed again, and the buds of roses bloomed in their eyes. Their body changed, hair shortening, legs lengthening, but they didn’t seem to notice. “You requested an audience?”

Blinking to clear the haze from her mind, Briar nodded, enchanted by the beauty before her. “What’s your name?”

“Oh.” Their eyes flicked toward the ceiling as if it was a question they had to think about. “I haven’t spoken to a human in so long. Nilaja. Do you mind?”

Briar had no idea what they were asking but nodded. She’d give almost anything to them if they would help her find something she could use to send Eliana back to their realm, or even better, end her entirely.

With each passing day Eliana’s death seemed a better option. Tensions had grown between witches and fae; fights were breaking out, shootings and murders. The sudden uptick in violence had not gone unnoticed by the general population but no one knew what was causing it. And if anyone had suspicions they only whispered them, the footage of the dead Beishan president too raw in everyone’s minds.

Nilaja dipped a finger into the bowl of herbs and stepped out of the mist as though it was nothing, leaving behind the changing of seasons that had engulfed them. Briar’s breath caught in her chest, and the freshly healed cut on her arm twinged.

The experience of talking to the Gods was something she would never get enough of. Her life had been spent searching for them, and now she had the truth. But could she tempt one to help her? She hoped this God in particular would be the answer she was spending all her days searching for.

As though it was ordinary, Nilaja sat on the ground across from Briar, pulling their legs beside them, their robes fanned out around their body. They waved a hand over the marble bowl and the smoke disappeared. “That is quite vile and wholly unnecessary. It is blood the universe calls for, no drugs required.”

“I’m friends with idiots but I try to indulge them.”

Nilaja chuckled again, the sound like the crackle after lightning. They pressed their hands against the floor, eyes shuddering shut. Briar didn’t know what to feel looking at them. They were the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen, and power radiated off them. She knew she should be afraid but she was intrigued by them, by how casually they interacted with her.

Power danced in Nilaja’s eyes as they slowly opened them, burning silver like flashes of lightning. “So, Briar Constance, why am I here?”

“We need help with Eliana.”

Nilaja tilted their head and coppery leaves fell from their hair, disappearing when they touched the ground. “You have already spoken to Ivian. You know how she was contained before.”

“There has to be another answer, something that doesn’t involve sacrifice. It’s barbaric. That’s not how the world is now.” She and Soren had gone over it so many times, they’d talked until their conversations were nearly scripted, but there had to be something else. The world, the universe, could not be so cruel.

“Oh, sweets.” Nilaja reached out and brushed their thumb across Briar’s exposed knee.

Her whole body went rigid, every nerve on fire with the power blasting through her. It was pure magic, sharp and hot and intoxicating. She swallowed to keep from crying out, from grabbing them and demanding more, more, more.

Unaware or unmoved by the struggle inside Briar, the Deity continued, “The universe does not care how far you have progressed. It will always be old, cold, and uncaring. You want to stop Eliana, you will do it as your ancestor Cordelia did, by blood and tears. Eliana is too far ingrained in this world for the echo of our powers still left in this place to pull her out. She is a horror, and you will become one if you wish to destroy her.”

Despair pooled in Briar’s stomach.

“Oh, don’t look like that.” Wilted flowers piled in their lap, their petals crumbling to dust. “Maybe there is another way. What would I know, tucked away for eternity? There is much knowledge out there, things you have not dreamed of. I will hope you find another answer, but it is not one I know. We have no knowledge that we are hiding from you.” They stood and the air seemed to go with them.

Briar stood as well, the reverberation of their shattering power still clanging through her. She had so many questions she wanted to ask them. Could all Gods change their form? Did they watch the humans? And was there please, please, another answer? “Can I summon you again?”

Nilaja paused, a feline grin pulling their lips upward. “Why?” They took a step closer, and Briar’s body urged her both to move forward and to run, far, far away from the Deity she had summoned, one whose name she had never heard.

Struggling for words, Briar gave in to her desire, her head still swimming with whatever Soren had given her. Her body ached with each movement, spent from the power but craving more. She stopped a breath away from them. “I don’t know.”

Nilaja pulled at the bottom of one of Briar’s curls. “Well, isn’t that fun. See you soon.” They winked and were gone.

Briar fell backward onto her bed. What in Ortus’s fiery hell had just happened?


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Tallie Rose lives in Charleston, SC with two kids, five cats, two goldfish, and one dog. She spends her spare time thrifting, watching bad TV, and reading books.

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RELEASE BLITZ: A City of Hopes Unrealized by Howard Leonard #LGBTQ #friendstolovers #interracial @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: A City of Hopes Unrealized

Series: Seattle City Limits, Book One

Author: Howard Leonard

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 02/28/2023

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 57000

Genre: Contemporary, Bartender, Established Couple, Friends to Lovers, Humorous, Interracial, Over 40, Therapist, UST

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After ending a relationship that began in an era before social media, Alan finds that good friends, a thriving medical practice, and an abundance of dates with a vast array of intriguing men in progressive Seattle aren’t enough to surmount the shortcomings of his own insight.

From endearing Justin to cultured Bradley, to his fantasy man, Marley, Alan frustrates his friends and therapist by being better at ambivalence than connection. The characters in A City of Hopes Unrealized represent people we all know and, although uncomfortable, may even remind us of ourselves as we try to navigate circumstances we would never choose and might never even envision.


A City of Hopes Unrealized
Howard Leonard © 2023
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Green Plaid

If you’ve not yet picked up on it, I’m Alan. I feel like an Alan. Alan is not a very sexy name, but apparently an adequate one. Being single at fifty, I’m rounding down, I didn’t count on my sex appeal to win me a man. To my immense surprise, I was wrong. Who knew a balding, moderately hairy, average height, not too out of shape, older than middle-aged, Jewish professional man would be a “type”? I’m a type. And seemingly a popular one at that. I first hit my stride on this one particular Friday night. This is about my stride.

The story doesn’t begin where most of the plot picks up. It begins at the Boardroom, a man’s bar and dance hall with a hint of a backroom at the urinals. This is Seattle, a city of gay bars without backrooms. Nearing midnight on a Friday, the Boardroom exploded with men. Paying the inflated cover and walking in, I heard the thumping of my heart drowning out the thumping of the music, at least in my own ears. I ordered my standard rum and Coke, a process which took long enough to add to the mystique of the Boardroom by providing a sense of privilege for being able to hand over a ransom-worthy sum of money. Accompanied by fear, I made my way to the lower-level dance floor. Late enough to be packed, dancing meant moving up and down from one’s heels to one’s toes over and over, forcing me to try to not spill my overpriced drink, as the drink and I were being unavoidably knocked around by the beer-drinking crowd. This was a crowd where Friday meant ecstasy as assuredly as Monday would mean missing work to nurse a hangover.

I began my night by standing off to the side of the dance floor, feeling simultaneously unseen and conspicuous, fighting to dismiss that shy little boy from Massachusetts. The moment was one of those where a night pivots one way or another, in this case, toward the dance floor or toward the exit. I expected to be as surprised as anyone as to which way my pounding heart would direct my feet.

Then I saw him, Mr. Green Plaid. I’ll forever picture and fantasize about his shirt. His shirt had green-and-white checks with thin black lines that were illuminated when the disco laser hit him directly. The shirt must have cost him twice what it sold for when new. I imagined that Mr. Green Plaid had found this exact right outfit only hours before in one of Capitol Hill’s seriously overpriced men’s vintage clothing stores.

Green Plaid had the confidence to know his clothes would be the perfect calling card for his night out. His shirt, tucked into tight jeans, cemented in me a fetish that would forever drive my attraction to both the collegiate boy next door and the Wrangler Man. As soon as I saw him, I lost myself in a fantasy of Green Plaid as a twin, one the cute boy next door, and the other a hot Montana cowboy. Then, knocked out of my fantasy by a stumbling patron, I was jarred into an unplanned urgent decision which would soon tell me what direction my thumping heart and conflicted brain would carry my feet.

I did not head for the exit. I continued watching Mr. Green Plaid for several minutes, long enough to hurriedly and self-consciously guzzle my drink. I made my way to the bar, in almost a panic-driven mode, afraid he’d disappear, but much more afraid to be there without a second rum and Coke.

The gamble proved worth it. I got another drink and miraculously found that my previous spot on the side of the dance floor had reopened. Even better, Mr. Green Plaid had left the dance floor and coincidentally stood close by and was himself focused on the dance floor. Over the next twenty minutes, I concocted his life story in my head. More importantly, the man he had been dancing with, and now stood at his side, and with whom he shared an occasional word, likely drowned out by the music, was clearly not Mr. GP’s boyfriend. Their disconnect suggested that this man might be Mr. Green Plaid’s backup plan for the night. In my head, I was certain that GP must be single, at the Boardroom alone, and a bit short on courage, which caused him to stand beside his plan B to avoid the risk of approaching any man who might carry that plan A mystique.

My second drink now history, I surreptitiously moved closer to him with alcohol enhanced chutzpah and self-consciousness. Before my feet were firmly planted, the crowd pushed a man into me, which pushed me into Mr. GP’s left shoulder. We bumped, thanks to my compromised balance. What luck! GP glanced over and didn’t exactly smile, but he also didn’t dismiss me. I knew I had but a few seconds to commit myself to saying something, or the awkwardness would become overwhelming and an embarrassing admission of my inadequacy. So without having the time to indulge my anxieties further, I touched his left shoulder with my right hand. When he leaned in, I asked him to dance. Green Plaid answered by grabbing my right hand, and he led me onto the dance floor.

I fell in love! Mr. Green Plaid hadn’t rejected me. In fact, Mr. GP danced with me without even looking over my shoulder for someone better. Maybe I had become his new plan B, as there would be no convincing me I’d be anyone’s plan A. Yet even as plan B, this was the first moment I considered I might just be a type someone could perhaps possibly desire. At that moment I felt desired.

I’d like to tell you what happened after we left the dance floor, but there’s not much to tell. Even though my latest love and I hardly spoke given the loud music had destroyed any possibility of being heard, his expression reinforced my new beginning. My journey suddenly moved into second gear, and I had a first taste of confidence in my not yet fully drunken state. Shockingly, I might actually have the power to navigate the new and up-to-now terrifying terrain of dating. Perhaps dating could even be fun. I found myself walking home with an unfamiliar and unpracticed resolve, even though I walked home alone. I had a good evening and a new fetish. I had hope.


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Howard Leonard earned his PhD in Clinical Psychology in 1981. Dr. Leonard and his partner moved to Seattle, Washington, in 1983, where he began a private practice which he maintained for thirty-five years. He chose Seattle in part due to his belief the region would allow two men to legally create a family through the use of surrogacy, something largely unchallenged by gay men in the eighties. He has two daughters, now adults, and one grandchild. Howard and his husband, Robert, live in Palm Springs, California. Writing has become an important part of his life since retiring from clinical practice. A City of Hopes Unrealized is the first novel in the “Seattle City Limits” series. Find Howard on Facebook.


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COVER REVEAL: Let it Rein by D.P. Denman #coverreveal #LGBTQ2Books #MMRomanceBooks @DPDenman @RRBookTours1

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We are so thrilled to share the cover for the next book in D.P. Denman’s Blue Series, Let it Rein!

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Let it Rein: A Blue Series Story

Expected Publication Date: March 17th, 2023

Genre: MM Romance

The riskiest games are played from the heart.

According to the tabloids, Kasper Rein is a player on the prowl. Sturdy and sexy, with a voice of pure seduction, he’s seldom alone. The fans love him. Men and women want him. The paparazzi stalks him. He’s living a rock star’s dream — until someone wants him out of the spotlight.

The new man in Kasper’s life wants more than his fame. Mat wants his heart. He’s willing to battle his own trust issues for a chance at real love, but someone else wants Kasper out of the way. Cryptic threats and attempts on his life leave Kasper with a charred house, too many visits from the paramedics, and no answers. Kasper must uncover the person behind the violence before it’s too late — and they’re closer than he thinks.

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About the Author

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Award-winning author DP Denman writes addictive, character-driven MM romance from a soggy, moss-covered neighborhood in the Pacific Northwest. Her stories are dramatic and intense, guaranteed to pull you in and hold you hostage to the last word.

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RELEASE BLITZ: Haint Off the Chain by J. Hali Steele #erotica #LGBTQ #giveaway @GoIndiMarketing @jhalisteele

Title: Haint Off the Chain

Series: Haints Misbehaving 4

Author: J Hali Steele

Publisher: Changeling Press LLC

Release Date: February 24

Heat Level: 5 – Erotica

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 40 pages

Genre: Erotica, Dark Fantasy, Dark Desire, Gay, Magic Sorcery and Witchcraft

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Warning: This is a Razor’s Edge Monster Erotica Story. Expect limited plot and character development, and lots of paranormal heat. If you’re looking for a lengthy plot driven erotic romance, this is not@ it!

Web Webster’s plan to own the muscle car he’s a passenger in is sidetracked when the driver wrecks the vehicle. Needing a new ID, Web barely has time to inhabit the body beside him. Web’s savior manages the accident with authorities and offers to put Web up at his place. Lying in the man’s bed, Web has one thought. If he’s not gay — he will be for me!

Casper Wainright is known for his penchant for fast, shiny cars. When a classic beauty rams a tree on his property, he helps the occupant escape before extinguishing the flames. The stranger needs a place to convalesce. Something about the stranger entices Cas, who decides one room in his house has a bed that has been empty far too long. Little does Cas know what evil he’s invited into his life.

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Meet the Author

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

J. Hali Steele wishes she could grow fur, wings, or fangs, so she can stay warm, fly, or just plain bite the crap out of… Well, she can’t do those things but she wishes she could!

J. Hali’s a multi-published Amazon bestselling author of Romance in Paranormal, Fantasy, and Contemporary worlds which include ReligErotica and LGBTQ stories where humans, vampyres, shapeshifters and angels collide — and they collide a lot! When J. Hali’s not writing or reading, she can be found snuggled in front of the TV with a cat in her lap, and a cup of coffee.

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RELEASE BLITZ: Rhyme of Longing by Emily Carrington #LGBTQ #PNR @CarringtonEmily @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Rhyme of Longing

Series: Jack and Gil #1

Author: Emikly Carrington

Publisher: Changeling Press LLC

Release Date: February 17, 2022

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 169 pages

Genre: Romance, Action Adventure, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Suspense, Urban Fantasy, Elves, Dragons & Magical Creatures, Gay, Multicultural & Interracial, Shapeshifters

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Gilbert Sullivan hates his name, but refuses to go by Gil because of a rhyme he fears is a prophecy. When he meets Jack Sowerby, the new head of SearchLight, he’s terrified the rhyme will come true and he’ll lose his place as Crown Prince of the basilisks, but his attraction to Jack won’t let him stay away.

Jack, born human, is, above all things, practical. Still, when he meets Prince Gilbert, his need for the prince blossoms and he’s unable to resist — at least until he’s forcibly changed into a magical creature. He’s terrified of the new world he’s entering. When Gilbert tries to fight the rhyme, will their shattered relationship ever be restored?


All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2023 Emily Carrington

Jack wanted so badly to be done with this night that he felt uncomfortable in his skin. That was not the proper way to begin thinking about his sixty-eighth birthday, his five-year anniversary as the head of SearchLight Academy. This was a party for both those things but no one said “no” to Agent Weinberg.

Not necessarily the most powerful magical being in the world, she was still the head of the entire organization. Even though she held the nominal title of “head of Public Relations,” SearchLight’s whole reason for existing was to protect the relationship between magical and nonmagical peoples. Which was, of course, officially, no relationship at all. SearchLight was a secret and must remain so.

The influence she held would make most magical creatures bow in submission. Jack, being merely human, was suitably impressed. And although as yet not cowed, he was too fond of his life to waste it needlessly. Not that Agent Weinberg had killed anyone. Recently.

Jack took a deep breath in through his nose as the limousine pulled up to the curb. He’d been commanded to take this limo and the implicit service of a driver, and although he hadn’t enjoyed it particularly, he was glad that he hadn’t needed to find a place to park in downtown Washington, DC. So, unsure if he was supposed to tip the driver but wanting to show his appreciation, he stepped around to the driver’s side after the car was parked at the curb and offered the person behind the wheel, whom, his telepathic sense, told him wasn’t human, ten dollars.

“Would you be trying to bribe me to take you home, Agent Sowerby?”

Jack saw the humor in the green eyes turned up to his and smiled. “Never in life,” he told the Irish-sounding sprite or Faery or leprechaun. Damn, sometimes he wished for a werewolf’s sense of smell so he’d know the magical creatures around him at once.

“You’re a good man, Agent Sowerby. Don’t let her bully you now.” And with that, he winked and rolled up his window. Jack stepped around the car to the sidewalk and watched the limo drive away.

“Hey there.” The voice was soft, lightly accented, and full of a syrupy, sarcastic undertone that put Jack’s hackles up. He turned more slowly than he could have, wanting to appear older and so less threatening. He gazed at the three people facing him and saw they were all armed.

He was aware of others watching from the doorway of the restaurant but knew they wouldn’t intercede unless it became obvious he couldn’t handle himself. That was one thing about Agent Weinberg he didn’t like much. She believed in the “sink or swim” philosophy.

The woman who’d spoken was smiling in a particularly condescending way. “Got a handout for me?” She twirled the knife in her right hand as she reached out with her left for the ten spot Jack still held.

Jack offered it, keeping a good distance from her, forcing her to step forward to take the bill. He was aware of the other two moving to flank him. He disliked using his telepathic sense against what he considered to be defenseless people, magical or mundane, and yet he wouldn’t risk his own life to preserve theirs. “I suggest you take this and be on your way,” he said softly, putting a slight psychic push into the words. He blanketed the area with his calming presence, lacking the ability to focus on more than two people at once. Both of the men who’d been flanking him stopped. One of them shook his head but the other was definitely under Jack’s control.

“Back off,” Jack said and watched the woman lower her knife a little.

She snatched at the bill and her knife hand flicked upward.

Jack dropped the ten spot and caught her wrist. The knife’s blade skidded across the waterproof material of his trench coat. He forced her to drop the knife as he said, “Go away.”

The man under his control turned and fled. But the other lunged at Jack. Yanking the woman close, Jack used her as a shield. The other man’s blade slid between her ribs. He swore, stumbling back, and lost his grip on his knife. As he turned to flee, Jack lowered the woman to the ground. He shouted, “Someone call nine-one-one.”

Someone joined him out on the sidewalk. It wasn’t Agent Weinberg. It wasn’t a SearchLight agent he knew. There was regal bearing in the other’s posture as he crouched beside Jack. “Let me heal her.”

Jack didn’t protest, although he did skate his telepathic sense outward to determine if this was a magical creature. The fact that he’d said “heal” rather than “help” argued for him not being human. He came into contact with an impenetrable psychic wall and winced as his telepathic sense bounced off. Well, there weren’t all that many humans who could resist even his most casual reach. Ergo, this was a magical creature.

Jack nodded and said, “Go ahead.” He retreated inside his own head and as he pulled out his cell phone, unwilling to trust to others to call for help, he watched the broad-shouldered male beside him spit into his hand and press the palm against the wound even as he pulled the knife free.

Dragon, Jack thought. Dragons could heal with their saliva or a blood exchange. But this wasn’t a dragon Jack knew.


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Meet the Author

Emily Carrington is a multipublished author of male/male and transgender erotica. Seeking a world made of equality, she created SearchLight to live out her dreams. But even SearchLight has its problems, and Emily is looking forward to working all of these out with a host of characters from dragons and genies to psychic vampires.

Fantasy creatures not your thing? Emily has also created a contemporary romance world, called Sticks and Stones, where she explores being “different” in a small town.

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TEASER TUESDAY: Galactic Treasure by Theodora Marie Adams #LGBTQ #SciFiRomance @RABTBookTours

Sci-Fi Romance, LGBTQ, Alien Encounters, Multiple Partners

Date Published: February 17, 2023

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Connor Masterson has finally managed to take some time off and go to Earth Con. For three days and nights, he’s going to get his geek on without worrying about work or the latest edition of his science fiction manga. He never expected to find two men who embody all his dreams and fantasies there and certainly not right after signing in. 

Neither Valvik nor Zaraheed are looking forward to their current
assignment: go to the Earth Con located in Austin, Texas and track down any
and all rumors on the Ark scrolls, an ancient collection needed for the
betterment of their dying people. Neither warrior expects to be drawn to a
human, especially the same one.

The two men are determined to stay as low key as possible while searching
for the scrolls, but that might be hard to do when an intergalactic killer
wants the scrolls for himself.




Copyright ©2023 Theodora Marie Adams


“I truly cannot believe you have somehow convinced me to participate
in this harebrained scheme of yours,” Valvik growled through clenched
teeth as he looked around the lobby. It was filled with people clustered in
groups. Some were talking loudly, others were whispering as though fearful
someone other than their neighbor would hear their innermost secrets. There
were humans dressed in their favorite character’s attire, aliens, human and
alien scientists, intergalactic explorers and military men and women, and
everything in between represented in the lobby of the center housing this
weekend’s Earth Con.

Valvik pulled at the hem of his simple white T-shirt. He felt ridiculously
underdressed seeing as more than a quarter of the people there were dressed
to the nines in their costumes and regalia, particularly those with an
intergalactic military background. “I should have worn my
uniform,” he snarled.

“This is an important assignment given to us by General Tsubotai
himself.” Zaraheed turned slightly and looked over his shoulder at
Valvik. His handsome face was a mask of displeasure. One dark eyebrow
arched. “We are attempting to fit in. We are already conspicuous
enough,” he whispered harshly, glancing around at the many eyes
watching them in curiosity.

At six feet eight, Valvik felt Zaraheed should be accustomed to being
stared at on Earth. They’d been dealing with the looks the whole cursed
assignment. Not that Valvik himself was much less physically impressive at
six feet five inches.

Valvik stifled the urge to roll his eyes. It was a very human reaction, and
really he was going to have to stop watching all their television, no matter
how entertaining it was. “Humans are short. We look like giants
compared to them. Second, we stand out because we are wearing regular
clothing, or are you too blind to see everyone else is wearing their native
ensembles? We are meant to be as discreet as possible.”

“By dressing as humans, we actually stand out more,” he grumbled.
He glanced around the lobby again and blinked. “Isn’t that a
Pulloxian?” Valvik asked, and jerked his chin toward the being in

The being wore no disguise, at least none that Valvik could recognize. The
male, and Valvik could tell its gender from the marks on his fur and their
placement, was not trying to hide his large droopy eyes, medium green skin
with black splotches, or his four-fingered, claw-tipped hands. To a human,
the Pulloxian looked like a two-legged basset hound with slightly smaller
ears and green fur. He was as conspicuous as one could get.

Zaraheed followed his gaze. He sighed and his broad shoulders slumped
slightly. His amber eyes searched the group gathered around the Pulloxian.
“Maybe you are right, as that one does seem to be basking in their
attention,” he admitted after a moment of contemplation.

“True.” Valvik continued moving through the crowd so he could
reach the check-in table that stood right in the middle front of the lobby.
His superior hearing was able to capture bits and pieces of the conversation
flowing around him. It seemed the Pulloxian was going to be a “shoe
in” for best costume.

“Still, General Tsubotai was clear about what he expected of

“I read the mission parameters. There is no need to remind me. I would
just like to point out that if we were allowed to wear our uniforms we would
not be unarmed.”

Zaraheed snorted. “You expect me to believe you are unarmed at the
moment. Do not play me for a fool, Valvik the Glorious. You are probably
carrying no less than five blades on your person.”

Valvik allowed a small smile to settle across his mouth. “I am not as
armed as I would like, and that is the truth. I am sure you feel the same,
Zaraheed the Valiant,” he retorted, looking his compatriot up and

Zaraheed’s dark hair was bound into a single plait. The tail end of his
sable hair swung just between the strong muscles of his back. A few strands
had pulled free from the braid and framed the sides of Zaraheed’s sharply
planed handsome face. His most startling and mesmerizing feature was his
eyes. They shifted colors depending on his emotion, going from the lightest
sunset orange to the darkest color of a flame. Valvik had never seen such
eyes before. He doubted he’d ever see another pair again.

Zaraheed caught Valvik staring. His gaze tightened. “What?” he

Valvik shook his head. “Nothing. Forgive me. It seems I was lost in my
thoughts,” he admitted as he waved a consoling hand through the

Valvik was still trying to get accustomed to Zaraheed’s dark complexion. As
far as he knew all the members of the House of the Gallant had light hair
and eyes. Valvik’s house, Disciplined, had similar coloring. Valvik had pale
blond hair and lavender eyes.

His dark hair and lightly tanned skin made Zaraheed an outsider, just as
his gorgeous eyes did.

He’d heard rumors that Zaraheed was only half Tolkian. Valvik had done his
best to ignore them as he wasn’t much for gossip but he couldn’t help
wondering about the source of Zaraheed’s mesmerizing features.

This was the second mission the two were working together so it wasn’t that
he’d never seen Zaraheed or noticed his unusual coloring, but there was
something about seeing him in the lobby, wearing the preferred dress of the
North American human male: white short-sleeve shirt and dark denim jeans,
waiting in line for them to sign in for the Earth Convention that made
Valvik all the more aware of his rich coloring.

The clothing should have made him appear as pale and washed out as it did
Valvik, but Zaraheed looked magnificent. A small tendril of desire curled in
his gut when he first walked into the convention center and spotted the
Valiant warrior.

“I hope they are here,” Zaraheed murmured, breaking him out of
his thoughts.

Valvik grimaced, thinking on his words. It would be a shame if the scrolls
they were searching for weren’t on Earth. He personally thought it was
ridiculous that the scrolls their whole legion had searched a thousand years
and several galaxies for was supposedly on Earth and at a science fiction
gathering. He laughed long and hard, until his stomach muscles protested,
when his commanding officer relayed the information, thinking it was a

Three standard months later and Valvik was in Austin, Texas, waiting in
line for the Earth Convention.

Personally, Valvik didn’t think there was a chance in all the known solar
systems of the Ark scrolls being at the convention, but he went where his
commanding officer sent him. Even if it was the stupidest mission ever.
“If it is… I’m not entirely sure what I will do, but I know it will
include lots and lots of blood,” he muttered. And intoxicants. He would
need barrels and barrels of wine to drink away the insult.

Zaraheed stilled. Valvik turned to look at his compatriot in question.
Zaraheed shook his head as though confused, then, eyes bright, laughed. The
booming sound caught the attention of the people waiting around them and
they watched, mesmerized.

Valvik knew how they felt…



About the Author

Theodora is an avid traveler who discovered Japanese manga and anime in her
youth, closely followed by yaoi. She’s been in love with pretty boys who
love equally attractive men since then. Theodora can usually be found in a
local coffee shop drinking black tea and typing furiously.


Follow the Publisher on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter: @changelingpress


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NEW: Enslaved by Eva DeMoan #erotica #darkerotica #monsters

I knew going home late at night wasn’t safe, but I never expected I’d get abducted and taken to another realm. Stripped naked. Locked in a cage. My humiliation was complete, or so I thought. 

Until a fallen angel buys me… Oh, and his friend. 

Being shared wouldn’t be so bad, except I have to remember — I’m only a slave. I have no say in what happens to me. I’m a possession, and nothing more. 

*Enslaved is a monster erotica story with very little plot or character development. If you’re looking for an erotic romance, this isn’t it! But if you want lots of sex then you’ve come to the right place. Contains MFM, MF, and MM sex scenes, as well as voyeurism. 


or preorder at Amazon for March 1st

RELEASE BLITZ: Hot Blood by A.E. Lister #BDSM #kink #LGBTQ @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Hot Blood

Series: The Braided Crop Ranch, Book Four

Author: AE Lister

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 02/07/2023

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 50300

Genre: Contemporary, BDSM, pony play, kink, photographer, hurt/comfort, grief, public sex, voyeurism

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Oliver Lambert has taken his photography skills and run with them. By the time he’s thirty, he’s made a name for himself and now has jobs whenever he needs them. He likes to be behind the camera, watching the world through a safe lens, protected from actually engaging with it.

An unexpected referral takes him somewhere he never expected—a kinky fetish ranch in the Muskokas, where men pay to play pony and trainers teach them how to behave.

Adam Marsland needs a visual record of the Braided Crop Ranch and it’s been a while since the website photographs were updated. When he’s given Oliver’s name, he immediately hires the man to come for the summer session to immerse himself in the ranch and its activities.

Oliver is out of his depth, but the challenge of photographing the beautiful men at the BCR is something he can focus on. Safe behind the lens of his camera, Oliver finds the ranch to be seductive and shocking. He can’t help admitting a fascination for the people who make the Braided Crop Ranch what it is.

But just because he knows how to take a great photo doesn’t mean he’s prepared for everything he encounters, especially when it comes to a recalcitrant ponyboy named Puck.

Contains: voyeurism, second-hand embarrassment, awkward conversations, a very introverted photographer, and several surprising developments, along with all the regular kink and pony play elements.

*Note: The timeline of Hotblood is prior to the events in Stable Hand but should be read either as the fourth book in the series or as a standalone.


Hot Blood
AE Lister © 2023
All Rights Reserved

Editing digital photos to make fruits and vegetables appear perfectly ripe, juicy, and seductive was not where I thought my life would end up.

When I’d chosen photography as the focus of my fine arts degree at the University of Waterloo in Southern Ontario, I had imagined somewhat more exciting subject matter. But most of my assignments these days involved long hours spent hunched on my elbows in the dirt, taking alluring shots of farm produce.

On my very fancy and expensive computer monitor, a ray of morning sunlight bounced off the red skin of a plump tomato. I’d tried several filters and a range of exposures to get it just right, but something wasn’t working.

I clicked on another set of tools and looked for a different approach. While I perused the list, my phone pinged from where it lay on the desk.

I glanced at the screen to see a text from an unknown number:

Mr. Lambert, is it OK if I give you a call in a few moments? My name is Adam Marsland. I was given your name and contact info by Jaden Stevenson. I’m looking for a photographer.

Since referrals had gotten me to where I was in my life at the moment—a recognized purveyor of outstanding photographic interpretations of reality—I texted Mr. Marsland back immediately.

Of course. Give me five minutes.

I input Adam Marsland as a contact and stood from my chair. My neck cracked when I stretched it to the side, and again when I repeated the motion in the other direction. I was only thirty years old, but sitting in one position for too long was bad for anyone. I reached my arms up and over my head, feeling the pull in my muscles.

Moving into the kitchen of my small condo on Toronto’s East Side, I grabbed a tumbler, pressed the button on my fridge for cold water, and watched the stream of liquid splash into the glass. It would be fortuitous if Mr. Marsland could offer me a contract for some images. I was booked up until mid-June but, after that, things looked a bit sparse.

I carried my drink to the living room window and gazed out on the city. Living on the fifteenth floor afforded me the luxury of a stunning view, even if the square footage was small. At least the finishes and upgrades in this unit were of the highest quality and done according to the latest trends. I’d been able to furnish the tiny apartment with quality pieces, like the Eames chair and a tan leather love seat from West Elm, since I didn’t need many.

When my ringtone sounded, I walked back to my desk, put the glass down, and pressed the answer button, remaining on my feet since I’d been sitting for the past hour and a half.

“Mr. Marsland,” I said.

“Mr. Lambert. Good afternoon. How are you today?”

“Fine, thanks. What can I do for you?” I asked, taking a sip from my glass.

Mr. Marsland cleared his throat, and I heard the click of a pen. “I’m hoping you can come to my ranch and take some photos for me. You come highly recommended.”

I smiled, because it was always nice to hear that. “Thanks. Jaden mentioned me?”

“Yes. He thinks you’d be perfect for what we need.”

“I’m pretty booked up at the moment. What time frame are we looking at?”

“I’d need you to spend part of the summer here, if you’re available, and interested. You’ll be compensated well and we can put you in a room at the main house during your stay.”


“I do have most of the summer free at the moment. Are you talking three weeks? Six?”

Papers rustled on Mr. Marsland’s end. “Six weeks. From mid-July to the end of August.”

I walked back to my computer and put the glass down beside it. “And I’d be photographing horses? Riders? The landscape, too, I suppose?”

There was a pause, and he laughed. “We’re not that kind of ranch, Mr. Lambert.”

I narrowed my eyes at the red tomato that had tortured me with its saucy round form all morning. Mr. Marsland’s comment intrigued me.

“Call me Oliver. And what exactly do you mean?”

“The name of my…business…is the Braided Crop Ranch. We’re really a club, of sorts, with a resort hotel on the premises.”

Hmm. “Oh. And you offer riding as part of the resort experience?”

Mr. Marsland laughed. “No. No riding. Only ponies.”

“I’m sorry. I’m a bit confused about—”

“We’re a fetish ranch, Oliver. Pony play. Human ponies. In leather harnesses and other…accoutrements.”

I blinked quickly, my eyes flitting from the tomato to the glass of water on my desk as my mouth went dry.

“Oh. I see.”

Holy… That was not where I thought this conversation was going. A fetish ranch? My mind conjured up bizarre images of people in horse costumes. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.

Adam laughed again. “Look, why don’t I text you the link to our website, where we have some older images, and you can call me back if you’re interested. And just text me a ‘No, thanks’ if you’re not.”

That…made sense. My mind reeled from the information but also honed in razor-sharp on the fact that this would be a very different assignment from anything I’d done in the past.

“All right. That sounds fine.”

“I hope to hear from you within the next hour. But if I don’t, no harm, no foul. What we’d be looking for are updated, artistic images for the website and our brochures—maybe a selection of shots to sell in our gift shop. Have a look, and if you think you can work with us, call me back. At any rate, it was great to speak with you, Oliver.”

“Same, Mr. Marsland.”

“Adam. Please.”

“Okay. Thanks, Adam. I’ve got your text, so I’ll have a look.”

“Excellent. Hope to speak to you soon.”

I closed the call and clicked the link in the text from Adam. My browser opened, and a “Welcome” page loaded.

The Braided Crop Ranch scrolled in elegant but readable script overtop an idyllic scene of what looked like a regular farmhouse and barns in a woodland setting. Then a warning window popped up, informing me I had to be eighteen or older to enter the site.

Hmm. Well, I was thirty, so I clicked it.

Welcome to the Braided Crop Ranch.

A fetish farm for pony play enthusiasts…


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

AE Lister/Elizabeth Lister is a Canadian non-binary author with a vivid imagination and a head full of unique and interesting characters. They have published many other books, one of which (Beyond the Edge) received an Honorable Mention from the National Leather Association–International for excellence in SM/Leather/Fetish writing.

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SPOTLIGHT: Illuminated (Vampire Tales 1) by Alexa Piper #vampires #LGBTQ @prowlingpiper @changelingpress

Ethan is a photographer who loves the interplay of light and shadow in his work and what it reveals. While working on his latest project, he finds himself at an abandoned church after nightfall. Lured by the prospect of capturing something unique with his camera, he ventures inside.

What Ethan discovers in that forgotten place is not what he expected. Instead of sights unseen for decades, Ethan finds a man — bleeding, hurt, and in need of help.

What Ethan doesn’t know is that he isn’t freeing an ordinary man, but an ancient vampire.

Through a haze of blood and violence, Ethan will have to come to terms with a situation nothing could have ever prepared him for. Auris drinks blood and deals death with ease, but Ethan soon discovers that the vampire is not just a monster. Auris is more, so much more. As if it were illuminated with a camera flash, Ethan can almost see himself and Auris have a shared future. Yet, those who tried destroying Auris once will stop at nothing to do so again.

Content Warnings: Illuminated (Vampire Tales 1) contains scenes of violence, murder, kidnapping, and torture that may be triggers for some readers.

Now Available at Changeling Press


All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2023 Alexa Piper

I felt the cold fingers of the changing season reach across the café’s outdoor terrace and right up my spine. The warm fall day drew to a close with the trees all along the coast colored in vermilion and gold, and darkness rolled in with the tide, the sky above pretty as pulped roses.

“Need another?” said the very attentive server. Her eyes were ocean blue, and her golden earrings caught the fading light slanting in from across the water. She wore a surgical mask like most of the staff in the region I’d come across, even though they were no longer mandatory. “You seem to inhale them. You know that might cost you sleep, right?”

I smiled back at her and finished the last of my latte. “I always inhale great coffee, but this will have to be my last. I like to work at night.”

True enough, even if I had captured mostly sunlight and shadows, leaves and people today, not my normal fare. The touristy charm of the place had simply lured me in. That all the cafés I found here had great service, view, and coffee didn’t help me regain my work attitude.

She looked me up and down, no doubt taking in my slightly over shoulder-length caramel brown hair, the piercing blue eyes most people liked to comment on, and — last but not least — my pseudo-geeky Schrödinger’s Cat tee.

“My mother would tell you that a good boy like yourself should be in bed at night. What do you do?”

I laughed and tugged a strand of my hair back behind my ear. “I’m a photographer, and I like editing when it’s dark out. Just a night owl thing. Could I get the check, please?” This was beginning to feel more and more like a vacation, even though I was working. I wanted abandoned places for my next exhibition, and if you didn’t mind a bit of driving, this area had plenty.

“Wow, an artist. You’re the first in Brightam this season, or at least my first. Be right back.” She winked at me.

I nodded, and she took my empty glass and walked away.

My bag sat on the chair to my right. I dug for my notebook and phone. My slightly battered but trusty notebook contained my longhand list of places I wanted to go see. I unwound the elastic that held the notebook closed and checked the list I’d bookmarked with an old receipt for a bagel and coffee against a map on my phone to see if I could still get something done today. If I didn’t, this really would be a vacation day, and I was firmly not on vacation. Besides, I was sure some lowlight photos might add a creepy aspect to my work people often told me was there to begin with, even if I never saw it.

The seventh item on my list was a church that had been abandoned for decades, complete with a garden of headstones surrounding it, and it was only a thirty-minute detour from my way back to Cromere where I had booked my hotel for the month. I had my external flash in the car. Going to the church and getting photos of headstones and a dilapidated building in the background in the almost dark would be perfect.

“Here you go,” the server said and dropped the check on the table. “I put my number on there in case you’re staying in town and want to do something later. Together.”

I had seen that coming about two lattes ago, and I did consider it. Yet, the church actually sounded interesting, more interesting than vacation sex when I wasn’t even on vacation.

“I’m afraid I have to get some work done, actually.” I indicated my notebook before putting the receipt back to mark my spot and packing everything back into my bag. “But thanks for the offer. Maybe another time,” I said and tipped her generously.

She shrugged. “Keep the number. In case you change your mind.”

I did and smiled at her over my shoulder when I left the café.

Over the ocean, the pinks were surrendering to indigo and teal. Night’s breath was icy on the breeze.

* * *

I pulled on my jacket and left the car back at the mouth of the path that led to the church. It was a short walk of not even ten minutes, and I was glad that I also kept a flashlight in the trunk, because even with an almost full moon above, it was dark out here.

The trees grew tall on all sides, branches eating at the dusky sky. Insect noises and the sound of me walking were the only things I could hear, and there was something wonderfully peaceful about that.

I hadn’t lied to the server, I was a night owl and always had been, but I lived in the city, and night in the city was never really dark nor silent. Being out here was a different experience and refreshing in its way.

The church came up ahead of me like a looming scarecrow, raggedy and weather-beaten, but its former function clear even in its current condition. It was slightly uphill, which helped with that perception, but there was something… I had the overwhelming sense that the church had been waiting for me. That was nonsense. Buildings didn’t wait or want. They just were and aged and crumbled, but the fact this place did make me feel like the church was a living being boded well for the photos. I snapped a couple, looking up toward the church.

The church itself was really just a small building that might have held a congregation of maybe two hundred. From what I had read, there had been an abandoned mining town nearby, and the church had been left behind when the ore ran out. The bodies already in the earth had been left as well, a strange sort of exchange for the ore, iron paid for with bone.

When I reached the cemetery grounds, my flashlight licked against dark headstones that were leaning this way and that in time’s pull. With the dark church behind them, all this needed to be a perfect set for a horror movie was some fog and maybe a wolf howling. I chuckled. This was wonderful.

I decided that I would just walk around a bit so I could get a feel for the place, take some shots as I did so to begin with. I turned the flashlight off, put it in my camera bag, and started. The strobing light of my camera flash threw odd shadows that lingered on my retinas. I made my way toward the church doors in a slow half circle, not really planning anything, just going by instinct. Then, with a shot of a cracked church window, I saw that the door to the building was open, just enough to draw a hard shadow in the light of my camera flash.

I stopped and turned my flashlight back on, aiming it at the door. I took another picture even if the flashlight would mess up the lighting. I wasn’t sure why, because I was pretty good about not wasting shots. Some instinct maybe, or a random muscle jerk.

“Oh, opportunity, you call me,” I whispered, running the flashlight up the door, which was indeed open.


Alexa (she/her) has a lot of characters living in her head and wanting their stories told. Many of these people get snarky and won’t stop complaining if Alexa is too slow writing them, which means that for this author, sleep is a luxury. Consequently, Alexa is a coffee addict, but she is sure she has it under control (six cups of coffee are normal in a morning, right? Right!?)

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