Nothing Else Matters by Peri Elizabeth Scott #Contemporary #secondchances #NewRelease #RomanceBooks @evernightpub

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Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Heat Level: 3

Claire and Liam had a good thing going until he walks out of her life. Being dumped without warning is devastating enough, discovering she isn’t pregnant leaves her without even a part of him.

Withdrawing from everyone, she moves to another city and immerses herself in work, the better to forget Liam. Not that it’s working. Claire is a one-woman man, to her despair.

Back stateside after an unexpectedly long deployment, security contractor Liam Cafferty has accepted the truth: walking out on Claire makes him a coward. Thinking it for the best, given his dangerous profession, doesn’t cut it. She should have been given the choice.

With the biggest heart of any woman he’s known, he’s hopeful she might take him back and makes it his new mission to convince her.

Claire must decide what matters: her pride or taking another chance on Liam—and love.

 

Buy Links:

Evernight: https://www.evernightpublishing.com/

Bookstrand: https://www.bookstrand.com/nothing-else-matters-mf

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QMPFB53

Barnes & Noble: https://tinyurl.com/y33va2hf

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/nothing-else-matters-15

 

Nothing Else Matters

 

Excerpt:

The streets were full of people as she used her phone to arrange an Uber. Small groups with youthful faces, couples, and the occasional single individual moved along, their destinations unknown but likely the restaurants that crowded downtown, or maybe a club later on after dusk fell. The camaraderie left her cold, and with some desperation to escape, she scanned the curb for her lift.

Maybe she was indeed crazy, choosing to cut herself off from everyone, cutting ties with her old life, all to forget Liam. Because, newsflash, it wasn’t working. She was like one of those historical romance novel heroines who languished and withered into old age after losing a beau. Whatever empty spaces that opened up in her head, past all her attempts to fill them, Liam snuck in.

While she waited, she opened her messages, trying to shut out the people and noise around her that were reminders of a different life. There weren’t many on the phone. She had no one local to give the number to, outside of work, sad commentary. She was more like one half of those werewolf or vampire couples who wasted away without their mate.

Joanne’s number came up several times, and there was also a text. Hoping nothing was wrong, she opened it.

Haven’t been able to reach u b/phone and u haven’t responded to vms. Assuming u r busy but u should know Liam is looking for u. Call me!

Suddenly lax fingers nearly let the device slip to the pavement, and she tightened her grip. Rereading the text, she remembered to breathe and swayed on her feet.

“Claire?” His familiar voice, hard on the heels of Jo’s text, was surreal. Had she conjured him?

She resisted the urge to spin wildly and shriek at the top of her lungs. It couldn’t be. She wasn’t prepared. How was this happening?

His SUV was nose-in to the curb, the back end blocking traffic and already, impatient drivers were honking. But her attention was on the tall, broad-shouldered man rounding the hood.

“Claire.”

He hadn’t changed at all. Unless one considered the burnished skin and a leaner look. Her stare took in his appearance in minute detail, and something in her chest lurched his way, even as her feet tried to carry her in the other direction.

Hand shaking, she held it up as if to ward off an advancing horde and shook her head. “Go away!”

About the author:

Peri Elizabeth Scott aka Allyson Young lives in cottage country, Manitoba, Canada where she and her husband pretend to work well together in their seasonal business.

She has always enjoyed the written word, and after reading an erotic romance, quite by mistake, decided to try her hand at penning one. That was followed by a mix of spicy (Ally) and sweet (Peribeth) romances in various genres as well as a post-apocalyptic adventure without a lick of romance by Peribeth.

A bestselling Amazon author, a hybrid, and a coauthor, as of April 2019 she has published eight series and several standalones, with others in the works.

www.perielizabethscott.com

https://www.facebook.com/sweetnspicyauthor/

Took You for Granted by LM Spangler #SecondChances #RomanceBooks #NewRelease @authlmspangler @WildRosePress ‏

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Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Erotic Romance
Release Date: April 15, 2019

 

She lost him seven years ago. Now he’s back in her life… and back in her bed.

April Donovan thought she’d gotten over Grant Carmichael.

He broke her heart, took her feelings for granted, and chose a baseball career over her. She moved on with her life and eventually healed. Seven years later, a chance meeting throws that theory asunder, and several passionate moments rekindle the fire.

He wants her again—mind, soul, and…body

BUY LINKS

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2YScOfs

Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/2uSz8YN

Bookstrand: https://bit.ly/2G4U9H6

Books2Read: https://books2read.com/ap/nlvm5x/LM-Spangler

 

EXCERPT

   And in about five minutes, he would be strolling back into her life. Not on a permanent basis, but she would see him again, and a flood of emotions would swallow her in their depths. She’d want him, both with her mind and her heart. She would fight, and she would lose the battle.

     As a settlement agent, her job was to close real estate transactions. Grant was a real estate broker who, along with his brothers, purchased houses, renovated them, and then flipped them for a profit. He had been quite successful and often used her. “April Donovan, it is you. I had wondered if AD stood for you.”

     She motioned toward a visitor’s chair opposite her. “Mr. Carmichael. Please sit down.” No, don’t sit. He stood astute and gorgeous in a charcoal, three-piece suit, with a soft gray dress shirt and burgundy tie. The slim fit complemented his physique. The Grant she remembered had worn jeans and T-shirts. This version was one hundred percent eye candy.

     His head tilted to the side, and his lips formed a thin line. “We have a past. No need for formalities.”

April prayed her pulse wasn’t visibly pounding in her neck. Her eyes bored into his. Damn, he’s still gorgeous. His black hair was trimmed close to his head on the sides and longer and more disheveled on top, suiting his angular face. His jaw was still strong and could probably still take a punch. She had seen it happen before. Her gaze fell to his lips—lips that could make her tremble as they moved over her skin. Heat flooded her core, and she clenched her thighs together.

     She cleared her throat. “That is correct, Mr. Carmichael. We did have a past, but we have nothing now.”

     His brows rose, and a slow, sexy grin turned his lips upward. “Okay. We can play it your way.” He lowered his six-foot, two-inch frame into the vacant seat. “For now.”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

LM Spangler lives in South Central Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter, three dogs, a cat, a rabbit, and some fish. Her son serves his country in the US Navy.

She is a fan of college football and any kind of baseball and likes to watch the Discovery, Velocity, HGTV, DIY, Science, and any channel showing a college football game. She also watches old game shows like $25,000 Pyramid and Match Game.

 

Author Social Media Links:

Facebook- https://facebook.com/lmspangler
Twitter: https://twitter.com/authlmspangler
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorlmspangler/

His Private Dancer (The Jordan Brothers) by Megan Slayer #BDSM #DarkDesire #RomanceBooks #eroticbooks @changelingpress @MeganSlayer

His Private Dancer (The Jordan Brothers 1)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Genres/Themes: BDSM, Contemporary, 2nd Chance Romance, Dark Desires

 

I want what I want, no question — even her.

Dashiell “Dash” Jordan runs the city of Shaker with an iron fist. Whatever he wants, he gets — except the woman he craves, who hasn’t been available. He’s waited long enough, and nothing will stop him, not even her bastard ex-husband or her con artist father. But once Dash sets his sights on her, will she allow herself to be owned, or will she walk away a second time?

Christy Lane never loved anyone the way she did Dash. She knew the danger of being with him, but she didn’t care. Then Dash left her. She tried to put her life back together, but that life included marriage to a perpetual cheater, being thrown out of her father’s church, and working in the only job she can get — stripping. Then Dash reappears. The memories of their life together rush back — the scenes, the passion and craving. She doesn’t want to be a plaything, but he’s offering her the world. Will she allow him to own her or end their second chance before she’s hurt again?

Get it Today!

 

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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Megan Slayer

“Did you see this?” Tate Moore strolled into the office. “Dash?” He threw the newspaper on Dash’s desk. “I have found you a wife.”

Dashiell Jordan moved his tablet out of the way and accepted the newspaper. He needed a lot of things in his life, but not a wife — at least not a random woman to be his wife. He wanted his high-school sweetheart.

“Sir, you need to see her.” Tate pointed to one of the photos. “I bet she’d be a good wife.”

He turned the paper around and scanned the images. None of the women was his girl. He wasn’t even sure which one Tate meant and didn’t care. He knew where his woman was and when the time was right, he’d bring her home. “Why would you pick this one?” The woman was pretty enough, but not right. Her hair was too dark, her eyes were brown, and the smile didn’t match the one he remembered. Besides, she was way too young. “No, thanks.”

“Sir, you’re too picky.” Tate folded his arms. “I get it. You want the right woman, but you’re lonely and I’m tired of women who claim they’ve been with you… they come around and insist they’re your girlfriend. They think they should live here.”

“At the club?” Dash laughed. No one outside of his circle of close associates knew where he lived. He brought lovers to the hotel. Never to his home.

“Remember Sasha? She keeps stopping here. She thinks you’re together,” Tate said.

“I never slept with her.” He’d given the woman money and a place to stay because he’d felt sorry for her, but he hadn’t been attracted to Sasha.

“But she is telling everyone within earshot that she’s your girl. She says she’s a kept woman,” Tate said. “You have to set the record straight.”

“Jesus.” Being notorious meant he drew a certain type of people into his orbit, but this was too much. “Pay her tab, get her a ride, and make sure she gets home.” He couldn’t push too hard — not in this instance. Sasha struck him as the type to use the courts to get what she wanted — money. If he danced around her a little more, she might get the message. If not, he had other ways of getting rid of her.

“Is that it?”

He glared at Tate. “Yes.”

“Yes, sir.” Tate left the office.

God damn it. He hated how he’d been turned into a commodity. Sasha and the others didn’t love him. They loved the money and status he brought. They wanted the relative fame of being associated with him. They’d never be able to handle the danger or stress of his life. They’d want him to settle down and create a family. Not going to happen.

He sighed. The woman he wanted wasn’t far away, and once the paperwork went through, he’d have her in his arms. He longed to kiss her — not stolen kisses or hidden embraces. Not playing games in the dark or under the threat of being caught, but having her on his arm for a night out. Once he had her, he’d never let Christy go. He’d found her, but refused to demand her to become his woman.

His phone rang, jolting him from his thoughts. He read the identification screen. Clint, his brother. He tapped the button to retrieve the call and set the phone to speaker.

“Yes?”

“I hear you’re looking at buying the building on the north side of the Copa Room,” Clint said. “The Sandborn building?”

“Yes, I want to expand.” He turned the paper over without really looking at it, then flattened the page. He noticed the photos of exotic dancers in an advertisement for one of the clubs. The girls weren’t his type of woman, but he appreciated beauty. Maybe this week she’d be one of the featured dancers.

“Well, they want two hundred thousand, but because it’s vacant, we can talk them down,” Clint said. “A hundred-fifty thousand is more reasonable.”

“Why, if you know what to do and can get the price down, aren’t you negotiating? Clint, I’m one of your only clients.” None of the dancers caught his fancy, but he kept looking. He’d found proof Christy was stripping in one of the clubs, but hadn’t come across her yet. “Well? You should be in the business with me. We should be a team.”

“Because I don’t want to live with the danger. I like being legitimate,” Clint said. “But I’m already negotiating. They’re coming down on the price, so stay tuned.”

“Danger isn’t the only thing I live with.” He doubted Clint got death threats or was shot at on a regular basis. He turned the page of the paper. A slew of ads for strip clubs decorated the space. He looked over the images of the dancers for the one he wanted. There she was, right where he’d expected her to be — Chastity Lane at the X-Caliber Club. Time to visit. “Do you know the X-Caliber Club?”

“Dash.” Clint groaned. “You didn’t hear a word I said, did you? And no, I don’t. I’ve never been to a strip club. Father made sure my handlers didn’t take me to one. Why?”

“I heard nothing past a hundred-fifty thousand. If you can get the deal going, do it,” Dash said. “I’ve gone to a couple clubs, but not the X-Caliber.” He remembered how his father sheltered Dash’s oldest brother. Their father wanted Clint to stay clean and be the face of the family. Good for public relations, but bad because the family had never left the nightclub business. Clint had a head for real estate, but not running the string of entertainment hotspots.

“Who is she?” Clint asked. “I know it’s a chick.”

“Would you believe me if I said I found Christy?”

 

Pre-Order Took You for Granted by LM Spangler #99cents #preorder #RomanceBooks @AuthLMSpangler @WildRosePress

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Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Length: 8,197 words

AVAILABLE: Monday, April 15th

She lost him seven years ago. Now he’s back in her life…and back in her bed.

April Donovan thought she’d gotten over Grant Carmichael. He broke her heart, took her feelings for granted, and chose a baseball career over her. She moved on with her life and eventually healed. Seven years later, a chance meeting throws that theory asunder, and several passionate moments rekindle the fire. He wants her again—mind, soul, and…body.

 

Took You For Granted is available for only .99c at the following e-book retailers!

Amazon- https://amzn.to/2BhCHv4

Bookstrand- https://www.bookstrand.com/took-you-for-granted

Barnes & Noble- https://bit.ly/2MOFS22

 

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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
COPYRIGHT – LM Spangler

“April Donovan, it is you. I had wondered if AD stood for you.”

She motioned toward a visitor’s chair opposite her. “Mr. Carmichael. Please sit down.” No, don’t sit. He stood astute and gorgeous in a charcoal, three-piece suit, with a soft gray dress shirt and burgundy tie. The slim fit complemented his physique. The Grant she remembered had worn jeans and T-shirts. This version was one hundred percent eye candy.

His head tilted to the side, and his lips formed a thin line. “We have a past. No need for formalities.”

April prayed her pulse wasn’t visibly pounding in her neck. Her eyes bored into his. Damn, he’s still gorgeous. His black hair was trimmed close to his head on the sides and longer and more disheveled on top, suiting his angular face. His jaw was still strong and could probably still take a punch. She had seen it happen before. Her gaze fell to his lips—lips that could make her tremble as they moved over her skin. Heat flooded her core, and she clenched her thighs together.

She cleared her throat. “That is correct, Mr. Carmichael. We did have a past, but we have nothing now.”

His brows rose, and a slow, sexy grin turned his lips upward. “Okay. We can play it your way.” He lowered his six-foot, two-inch frame into the vacant seat. “For now.”

Between You and Me by Willa Okati #ContemporaryRomance #GayRomance #SecondChances @changelingpress @willaokati

 

Theirs is a love story that was only waiting
to happen – and a future worth fighting for.

Between You and Me (Between You and Me 1)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Genres/Themes: Contemporary, 2nd Chance Romance, Gay, Silver Fox

Theirs is a love story that was only waiting to happen – and a future worth fighting for.

By Your Side: Seven years ago Matthieu fell in love with a man fifteen years his junior. Roman swore he wanted nothing more than to settle down with Matthieu. Matthieu tried to do the right thing, hoping Roman would forgive and forget him. But Roman’s never been good at taking “no” for an answer — especially when he knows his partner really wants say yes, yes, yes.

Between You and Me: Quiet, reserved Daniel admits to being a “serial monogamist.” He’s holding out for forever. Ian, Daniel’s closest friend, falls in love at least once a week. Somehow, when neither of them were looking, Daniel stole Ian’s heart, and Ian stole Daniel’s. And they’re both smart enough to know that’s something worth fighting for.

In the Key Of: Teague seems set spending the rest of his life alone — until he meets Julian online. Julian’s everything Teague is not: creative, impulsive, enthusiastic — and commitment shy. When a voice on the phone and a face on the screen are no longer enough, can Teague convince Julian to take a chance on him in the real world?

Get it Today at Changeling Press

also available in paperback

 

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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Willa Okati
Excerpt from Between You and Me

Ian never had trouble picking Daniel out of a crowd. He could have done it with his eyes closed and his ears plugged with thick puffs of cotton, and even if someone had taken him and spun him around in circles to make sure he’d lost his bearings. He’d still find Daniel, orienting himself toward the man.

Every time.

He figured later he should have seen there was more to his focus on Daniel than just friendship, but no one ever saw anything clearly in the moment. At least Ian didn’t. He took long walks off short piers and jumped, knowing when he surfaced he could swim to Daniel standing on the shore. He couldn’t do anything else and still be himself.

That was okay. Daniel might keep himself anchored on solid ground, but he’d be there waiting for Ian. Always.

Ian figured he should have paid more attention to what that meant too.

He never thought too hard about it, though. Overthinking wasn’t his forte.

If anyone asked Ian why he did — well, most of the things he did — he never quite knew how to answer the question. How did a guy explain why he was who he was if the person asking couldn’t tell just by looking?

Ian didn’t think of himself as complicated. C’mon. He saw opportunities and went after them. He leaped before he looked, and by the grace of whatever gods looked after fools and man-children, usually came in for a smooth landing. When he didn’t, he picked up the pieces, stuck them back together, and got a move on before the glue had a chance to dry. He didn’t have a home, living in a series of hotels, and ate a home-cooked meal once, maybe twice a year, and his longest-lasting relationships extended through breakfast the next morning.

And yet — he loved his life. Mostly. Ninety-nine percent of the time. Maybe 95 percent.

Every now and then, though, Ian found himself in a place where he needed to be somewhere that was… else. Not the ends of the earth, the Alaskan Pipeline or the Foreign Legion, nor a bar where everyone knew his name. The place he needed to be: a tiny town with a crumb of California coastline, close enough to shouting distance of San Francisco but far enough away to see the stars at night.

So when he’d known this morning, after waking up alone one time too many, he’d had one cup more than “enough” for now, he’d tossed together a duffel’s worth of odds and ends, including an old Turkish coffee set he’d bought on a whim because Daniel would love it, paid up on his Portland suite through the weekend, and sweet-talked his way into a last-minute ticket on a plane down the coast, and —

And here he was, standing outside a library no bigger than a postage stamp, breathing deep of an intoxicating mix of roasting coffee, clean sea air, and the last sweet kisses of one of the final summer-warm twilights of the year. Content to be, there and then, putting off clattering up the stairs to the library’s second-story main entrance for the sake of saving up anticipation until he couldn’t take it anymore.

Good thing Daniel wouldn’t know he was watching, not with the doors of the café separating them. Ian didn’t often get a chance to stand still and look as much as he wanted, and he was a man who appreciated beauty even when planted in a half-parcel of parking lot, on the outside looking in.

Daniel had no idea he’d come tonight. Ian bet he’d be in for getting his ear chewed off; he laughed at the thought, not minding a bit. Besides, he’d tried to call. More than once. Let the surprise be on his own head; at least — Ian thought — it’d be a pleasant surprise. Meantime, he could take his time to relax, far and away from the race for gold and goal, and enjoy the view.
A good friend? Worth his weight in gold. Daniel? Worth his weight in espresso beans. Ian knew his friend well enough to be positive Daniel would prefer being described as such.

Ian hummed under his breath, content for the moment to stand still and watch his friend work.

Some kind of gorgeous man, that one, his Daniel. Silken-soft hair richer and deeper a hue than dark chocolate, long enough to curl around his neck and over his ears and tumble across his forehead in the humidity of the salt-rich wind off the sea. Startling blue-gray eyes, an inheritance from his father, were the first things that’d caught Ian’s interest way back when. Like the skies before a storm, with a thick fringe of sooty lashes. He wore a simple white shirt and dark gray slacks tonight, sleeves rolled up and two buttons undone, and when he reached over his head to wedge a fat blue book back into place on a shelf, he moved with the sort of grace, wholly unconscious, dancers only wished they could learn.

With all credit to the guy who wrote Fight Club, describing Daniel as beautiful wasn’t the right word, but it was the first word that came to mind. Funny how so few others saw it. Ian never had understood why they didn’t, and he’d given up trying.

Sometimes, when Ian stopped to think, he wondered if it was selfishness that he didn’t mind being one of the lucky few. Daniel deserved someone who’d love him tender and love him true, and at thirty-five, Ian could tell he’d started losing the thin edge of optimism he’d hung on to since his twenties.

He shook the mood, as insubstantial as cobwebs — usually — off, or tried to. Thirty-five wasn’t old. Far from it, and Daniel was the kind of man who’d age well. Ian looked forward to seeing it.

Odd, though… seeing Daniel from this angle struck Ian differently tonight. Almost always muted, the spark that set Daniel apart, something like a flicker of lightning in a cool dusky sky, came through crystal clear.

Some kind of gorgeous man, all right — and such a dork. Ian laughed quietly, fondly, absolutely sure Daniel had no clue he moved ever so slightly to the beat of his different drummer, or electric violinist, as the case might be, and the music fed through the trail of white headphones from pocket to ears.

No one could learn to be the kind of friend Daniel was to Ian. You were born to be that close to one another or not, and how Ian had been lucky enough to stumble across a guy who took him for who he was, charms and flaws and risks and rewards and everything else… eh.

Why tempt fate trying to figure out the whys and hows? He’d just be glad as hell and leave it there. Like always.

Ian tapped the toe of his shoe on the pavement, considering Daniel’s movements through the window.

Y’know what? Ian questioned himself. Anticipation is one thing. Delayed gratification is another. Neither stands much of a chance when I weigh them against a chance in a million to take Daniel off guard.

Decision: made. Ian hit speed-dial one more time for the fun of it, and then he hit the stairs, taking them two at a time, excited by the electric sparks that flickered to life in his veins.

Yes. This was what he’d come for.

 

A Year and a Day by Willa Okati #GayRomance #NewRelease #PNR @changelingpress @willaokati

 

Three stories of heartbreak, passion, and magic in the mountains of Appalachia.

 

A Year and A Day (A Year and A Day 1)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Genres/Themes: Paranormal, Gay, Second Chance

 

A Year and a Day: Nothing is going to stand in Slate’s way when it comes to getting his lover Ash back. He plans on using unfamiliar magics to call Ash back to his side — but magic always comes at a cost.

Unspoken: Once a famous vocalist, Ian has become mute for reasons no doctor can explain. At a low point, Ian encounters a strange man in his garden — a wandering musician, like the bards of old times. Andy teaches Ian love itself is one of the greatest forms of expression.

The Letter: It’s been hard, but Luke and Brandon have decided to part so Luke can follow his New York dreams. The lovers question that decision when they discover a chest of letters in their attic containing details of their relationship down to the last moment — except these letters were written in 1948. Should they reconsider their choices? The answer is in the final letter…

 

Get it at Changeling Press

also available in paperback

 

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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2018 Willa Okati
Excerpt from A Year and a Day

Six o’clock in the morning, and the sun was just beginning to glow over the horizon. Faint whispers of red and pink light crept through Slate’s bedroom window, painting stained-glass pictures on his ceiling. He lay awake on top of the covers, staring at them. “You know, there’s folk who say they see the face of the Virgin Mary in a squash,” he said out loud, to himself. “Wonder if I look hard enough, I’ll see my lover’s face in the sunlight?”

He snorted. Fool’s dreams. A year since Ash had died, and he still woke up every morning expecting to see that tousled dark head lying on the pillow next to his. Every night, he dreamed of the two of them in that same bed, arms and legs tangled around each other, limbs straining as they made love. Slate let his eyes flutter half-shut, imagining he could feel Ash’s strong young hands skating over his skin, laughing about measuring him by spans. He licked his lips, fancying he might be able to taste the salt.

No. Nothing. Just his own flavor, that of a man who’d brushed and swished before falling on top of his bed sometime around three a.m. Sterile, minty, lonely as hell. He’d trade any number of fresh morning breaths for one kiss from Ash, breaking apart to laugh about who ate what the night before.

No more kisses from Ash, anymore. No more anything.

The sunlight grew stronger, stretching across Slate’s ceiling. In times past, he’d have had a rooster out back, lord of the coops, standing on top of the henhouse and letting out a mighty crow. There were those who said that was an old wives’ tale, but they hadn’t met the ugly old beast he and Ash owned.

He’d sold that critter not long after… after… Well, mornings were hard enough to face. Almost as bad as the nights. Daylight meant another night without sleep, meant another day to get through without his lover.

Turning on his side, he stretched one arm across the smooth expanse of made-up covers beside him, not mussed in the least. Blankets tucked in smoothly, pillow plump and fat. Ash’s side of the bed. A year to the day, and he wasn’t able to bear sleeping in the middle, or even crossing sides of the bed. He had tried, once. Lain in Ash’s place, hoping he’d have a good dream.

Hadn’t worked. He’d seen that day in the barn over and over inside his mind, so crystal clear in his thoughts as if it were happening all over again. Ash, gasping for air. Ash, falling. Himself, down on the hard-packed dirt, Brown Sugar getting all agitated and kicking her stall. Finally remembering to call 911.

Firemen. Paramedics. His friend Marianne and her lover Zillah trying to draw him aside, and when he wouldn’t go, being muscled back by two big, strong men in yellow suits. Sinking down on a bale of feed and feeling their soft, womanly hands on his back, his shoulders, trying their damnedest to soothe. He hadn’t paid them a bit of mind. Everything in him had been focused on Ash, lying so still… so still…

Someone in a uniform had come to talk to him after a spell. He could still remember the man’s words, letter-perfect. “I’m sorry, Mr. Kincaid. Slate. He’s young, but best as we can tell he had a heart attack before he fell. It does happen to some men this young. Do you know if he had any congenital heart defects?”

Slate had shaken his head, baffled. “No… not Ash… he was fine. Never said a word about anything wrong with him.”

“He might not have,” the uniform allowed. “The fall did break his neck, though. There’ll have to be an autopsy –”

There Slate had lunged up from where he sat, raging at the man telling him this news in a voice schooled to be soft and sympathetic. Liar. He hadn’t felt a damn thing. “You’re not cuttin’ him up.”

Marianne and Zillah had managed to drag Slate back into a sitting position, and they’d held him there. Strong for women, they were. “I’m sorry for your loss,” was all the uniform had said, before he went back to the scene of the… where Ash lay, cooling off in the dirt.

Slate hadn’t cried then. He still hadn’t, one year later. His eyes burned with the need to, but no matter how many times his lady friends offered their shoulder, he hadn’t been able to coax out a single drop.

Grieve, they’d told him. You have to mourn him, Slate. Otherwise you’ll never be able to let go.

Damn them. He didn’t want to let go. And as long as he had reminders, he wouldn’t have to.

Rolling over again, he reached out to touch the leaves of a pretty plant on his bedside table. Glossy green leaves shaped like hearts, bell-like flowers. Foxglove. Digitalis. “You did have a heart problem,” he whispered. “And you didn’t tell me. I think I might just hate you a bit for that, Ash. Always had to be messin’ around with your herbal medicaments. So sure you had it under control.” His hand tightened into a fist. “Didn’t you know you can’t fix something like this without goin’ under the knife? Did you really think your herbs and your potions would fix it all? Damn you, lover. Why didn’t you tell me?”

But as when he’d asked those questions, every single morning as he rose out of his bed, there were no answers. There wouldn’t be, either. Dead men didn’t talk.
No matter how much one might want them to.

Ash’s radio kicked on as the time ticked over to six-fifteen. Dimly, Slate knew he should have been getting up, too, but damned if he could find the energy to rise. Still fondling a leaf of the foxglove between his fingers, he listened to good old Patsy Cline singing about how she was crazy, crazy for feeling so blue. He thought — not crazy at all. It’s hell to be by yourself when you were promised forever.

He closed his eyes and remembered a certain morning when Ash had been the first to wake. Slate had still been asleep, drowsing past the sunlight’s first peek into the sky. Normally he was the one to rise earliest, but not this time. He remembered Ash’s warm arms sliding across him, the man molding himself to Slate’s side. They’d been playing Elvis that morning. “Love me tender,” Ash had sung into Slate’s ear, following it up with a nip to the lobe, then soothing the sting with the tip of his tongue. “Love me true…”

“And I do,” Slate had said. “Come here and give me a kiss.”

Ash had folded gladly into his arms. They were young and horny; it hadn’t been long before they’d been writhing against one another, hard cocks bumping together. He’d come just from the feeling of his lover on top of him, so desperate for him that neither of them had been able to wait.

Now, he woke in the same clothes he’d laid down in, on top of the covers instead of beneath them. Woke, if he’d slept at all, which to be frank, he hadn’t. Is this grief? he wondered. Is this mourning? The women push, push, pushed at him. But he had to deal with things in his own time, at his own pace.

Besides, he had some secret, certain plans they didn’t know about…

 

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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.

You can reach Willa at willaokati@gmail.com.

Join Willa on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/willa.okati.

 

 

Shooting Stars by Shelby Morgen #NewRelease #holidaystories #ContemporaryRomance @changelingpress

 

We’re like shooting stars speeding through the night sky –
when we collide we set the night on fire…

 

Shooting Stars (Christmas Spirits 7)

 

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Angela Knight
Genres/Themes: Contemporary, Action Adventure, Christmas, Second Chances

 

“Why do we do this?”

“Because we’re so good together.”

“For a few days. A few weeks, even. But then it ends. Again. Badly. Always does. We’re like shooting stars. Speeding through the night sky until they collide. A shower of sparks and we’re gone again.”

“But it’s glorious while it lasts.” He kissed my neck, just below my ear, and I shivered in his arms. “And one of these days we’re going to find a way to make it work.”

“Liar,” I shot back. But it was Christmas. And I wanted to believe…

 

Get it at Changeling Press

 

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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2018 Shelby Morgen

The cross-country flight to Brasilia International Airport had taken less time than the trek down the mountainside, but it was still after 9:00 pm when we checked into the Windsor Plaza Brasilia Hotel. But it was Brazil. And apparently we had reservations. Or I did. I had to sign a form adding Mika to my room. The hotel restaurant was still open, and the concierge assured us room service was always available. “Which is a good thing,” I told Mika. “I’ve missed hot running water. I want a shower.”

Mika sniffed and wriggled his nose. “I can’t argue with that.”

I swatted at him, but he ducked behind the bellhop, who kept his gaze trained on the elevator, and managed to conceal any hint of surprise at our road weary condition behind a smile that earned him a large tip.

My long-sleeve shirt and jeans and socks — all intended to help make me look less like mosquito bait — made their way into the trash the moment the door closed behind the bellhop. This was Brazil. I was confident the concierge could have a new wardrobe sent up for me as easily as dinner and coffee.

Hot running water was one of the few things I’d truly missed in the last four months we’d spent in the Andes. The hotel’s amenities included scented soaps and shampoo that might turn me back into a human given enough time and scrubbing. I just stood under the spray for several minutes, soaking in the return to civilization.

Despite the data I’d lost, the trip hadn’t been a total loss. Mika was right. I had backed up most of my data — satellite Internet was a glorious thing — and I’d pocketed not only my thumb drive but the wallet-size external hard drive as well. And what I’d learned could not be erased from my head. Including the truths about myself and what I wanted, needed from life. And Mika was one of those things. I leaned into the spray, almost asleep from the sheer relief as the steam penetrated my knotted muscles.

“Mind if I join you?”

Mika’s voice was almost a surprise — I hadn’t heard him cross the tile floor, and I’d already steamed up the large bathroom enough to not notice the temperature change when he slid the glass door open. “You’re always welcome.” I’d expected him, after all. Had allowed myself to admit that despite the rocky road behind us — and likely ahead of us — there would always be a place for Mika in my heart.

“You look like you could use some help.”

Mika didn’t ask what I wanted. He always knew. He could read my body like a flight plan. He started with the shampoo, running his fingers through the short strands of my hair until the water washed clear, then did it again, massaging my scalp, and then again. The soap was a more leisurely trip, exploring every crevice and crease where dirt could hide, scrubbing with the soap bar wrapped in the washcloth, then, once he was satisfied that the worst of the grime was gone, kneading and massaging my knotted muscles. “You’re a mess,” he muttered, working at the knots next to my spine that refused to let go.

“This was easier a decade ago,” I agreed. “When did canvas cots and wooden chairs get so damn hard?”

“We all grow up eventually, Silvi. Our bodies do, even if our minds think we’re still teenagers.”

“Not you. You’re always the same. And you’re always there to rescue me. Even from myself.”

“Not still mad at me?”

“Usually.” I turned to pull him under the spray, running my fingers through hair that was only slightly shorter than my own, then stretching up to press a kiss to his mouth. His lips opened against mine, and his tongue swept through to taste and to touch, exploring and stroking and pulling the wildness from me.

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Shelby must be insane. What else would have led her to start an online publishing company? Shelby shares her belief in electronic publishing with her long-time friend and business partner, Bill, her husband of 30 plus years. Perhaps the insanity is contagious.

Shelby loves writing off-beat tales that defy as many rules as possible. She likes chocolate with her peanut butter, suspense with her romance, and kink with her sex. She’s always had a hard time keeping science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal from mixing with her kink. Fortunately for Shelby, electronic publishing has opened many new doors for cross-genre authors and artists.

Visit Shelby’s website www.ShelbyMorgen.com for her latest releases. For a head’s up on new stuff, you’re welcome to join her Yahoo! group, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ShelbyMorgen/join. Email Shelby at ShelbyMorgen@yahoo.com or blog with Shelby at http://shelby-morgen.blogspot.com.