I would like to thank Piper for hosting me today. I’m taking you for a fun behind the scenes look at the making of Twin Flames.
With the re-release of Twin Flames we went through a new round of edits. It gave me a chance to fix some things that had been nagging me. My writing had improved over the last two years and the flaws were glaring (at least to me).
The other thing I loved was having another editor look it over. With her help, we tamed Tristan, toning down his overly dramatic moments.
Twin Flames Fact: My husband helped me to edit Twin Flames and Songs of the Earth. I’m pretty sure he did it out of pity. ^_^
If you read this past Saturday’s blog post, you already know I admitted that I was at an angsty moment when I first penned Clean Break. Now a couple of years later, I cringed when reading certain parts but I wasn’t sure if I should change them. If I did I wasn’t sure how much.
Thankfully my editor took the bull by the horns and we worked to tone down Tristan’s drama queen moments, giving him a more adult reaction to the situation. It works so much better now and I no longer sit and wonder—”OMG, what was I thinking?”—anymore.
I did have to listen to my husband repeat, “I told you so,” a time or twelve. While we edited, he had a few choice words over Tristan’s antics. Don’t tell my husband I revealed this… but he likes Diego from Ruby Red Booty Shorts & A Louisville Slugger. Like really likes. *raises eyebrow* He thinks Diego is bad@ss and has on more than one occasion held up Diego to Tristan just to show how much he thinks Tristan is lacking. You have no idea how many time he suggests I write all my main characters like Diego. I had to tell him to go write his own book. ^_^
Tristan isn’t anything like Diego. He’s a hothead, at times clueless, unsophisticated, says what’s on his mind—even though he shouldn’t, loyal to his marrow, loves with all his being, and when he decides to do something he gives it his all. He’s an individual and he’s allowed to be different. The tweaking of Tristan didn’t change these things about him, only enhanced who he was. I think the changes made his sorrow and pain more gripping, more poignant to read.
Thank you for stopping by today! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway and identify today’s Twin Flames fun fact. Enjoy the excerpt and I’ll see you tomorrow!
A Lycan descendant of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, Tristan is not as extraordinary as his ancestors. He is an average warrior, unremarkable throughout. But this fact does not trouble him because he has found his Twin Flame, the one person destined to be his, who will love him unconditionally, life after life.
Then his Flame betrays him, leaving him shattered and dying. Brokenhearted, Tristan dissolves the sacred bond and leaves. His best friend, Ushna, accompanies him, vowing to guard and protect him, and Tristan slowly comes to realize that love does not require a sacred bond.
But if he hopes to keep the love he chooses, they will first have to survive ancient secrets, lies, mythical creatures, and the return of absent gods…
Available in both paperback and ebook.
Add Twin Flames to your GoodReads TBR
This was new. I raised my hand to wave bye to Randy and the guys as Ushna jerked me out the door. The drive home was tense and quiet, but I waited to see where this would go. The closer we got to the house with nothing said, well, let me just say I was cussing up a storm in my head.As I got out of the truck, Ushna grabbed me by the arm, again. “What in the hell do you think you’re doing?”
He was angry, angrier than I ever remembered seeing him. His lips were pressed into a thin line, his eyes sparked with fire, and the tension came off his body in waves. Only a fool would miss the signs.
“What do you think I’m doing, Ushna?”
“The hell if I know anymore, Tristan. You’re walking around here practically naked, shaking your ass at anyone who will look. Getting groped all over the dance floor by those women―was there a woman who didn’t put her number in your pocket? I’ve never known you to act like a slut before.” Ushna said the last with so much disgust it stung.
And I thought I didn’t have any pride.
I stepped closer to him and looked up into the green eyes that I loved. “I wasn’t shaking my ass just for anyone, Ushna. I was shaking it for you, you fool.”
With both hands, I grabbed his hair, pulled his face down, and kissed him like I’d wanted to kiss him all this past week. I kissed him as if it was the only kiss I’d ever get from him, because I knew now, he didn’t want me, not like I wanted him, so this was the only kiss I was going to get. I made it good. I savored his lips, tasted him, and tried to memorize him.
When I pulled away, I glanced at his round, shocked eyes. I gave him my best crooked smile and a friendly pat on the shoulder, attempting to convey without words that I was sorry and everything would be all right. I didn’t think I could’ve spoken at that moment, so I turned around and sprinted up the steps into the house.
I didn’t go to my bedroom, because I didn’t want to be in the house, so I strode straight out the back door, shedding my clothes as I went. The screen slammed shut right before I submitted to the wolf.
Disappointment and sorrow overwhelmed me, and I needed to run off the emotion as much as I could before returning back to the ranch. I’d known there was a possibility Ushna didn’t see me as anything more than a friend. I’d hoped for more, I’d gambled on it and lost. As I chased stringy jack rabbits, I attempted to convince myself it was okay. I didn’t have to have Ushna in my bed to love him. I’d love him any way he’d let me. So I hunted rabbits and chased a coyote out of my territory. I rolled in the dirt, snagging a burr or two in my fur that took forever to scratch out before I headed home.
Ushna waited for me on the porch. He was leaning against the frame of the back door, his face in shadow, arms crossed over his chest. It was a good thing I’d brought a peace offering; I dropped the rabbit at his feet.
Padding to the door, I hoped he’d open it for me because I really didn’t want to talk to him right now. As far as I was concerned, breakfast was early enough for the discussion. But he didn’t move, making it plain that if I wanted to go in, then I’d have to change back.
Transforming into my human form, I opened my eyes, crouched naked on the porch. I’d never wanted to cover up my body more than I did in that moment. Feeling vulnerable and exposed, Ushna stared as I stood and went to the door. I was determined to get to the relative safety of my room.
“Tristan, I didn’t know… ”
I interrupted him. I really, really didn’t want to have this discussion now, when the pain of his rejection was still so close to the surface. “It’s fine. We’re fine, it’s okay.” I reached for the door knob and Ushna grabbed my hand.
“Damn it, would you stop for a minute,” he growled.
All right then, we would have a chat now. I pulled in a breath and looked up at Ushna. “Okay.”
“I didn’t know you were trying to get my attention. You’ve always shied away from touching me, so I didn’t think you’d ever be interested, I thought there was something about me… ”
“No, Ushna, it wasn’t you. Any touch hurt. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. You have to know I’d do anything for you.” My chest hurt, but I refused to reach up and rub it.
“Is that what this is, you doing something for me?” His voice was low, guttural, his eyes searching my face.
“Goddess, no,” I breathed, taking a step closer to him, my hand still in his as the other reached for his waist. “This is me wanting to love you.”
This time he kissed me. No, he didn’t simply kiss me. He devoured me, and Goddess help me, I let him.
reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances
(the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who
would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote
her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their
reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with
her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.
Hi everyone! We’re the authors of Campus Cravings, a MM bundle releasing 8/25. Thanks so much for hosting us during our release week, or, if you’re a reader, for taking the time to read this! We really appreciate it!
Top Ten Reasons to Check Out Campus Cravings:
1. College is a time of eye-opening exploration and experimentation, and there’s just something about a Cathia University man…
2. All the stories take place at fictional Cathia University—where not even homework or grading stands in the way of true love.
3. What’s better than one hot man? Two! And what’s better than two? Eighteen! (Nine stories, each with two heroes, yay!)
4. The stories are interrelated, so you’ll see characters from stories appear in others, notice many of the same buildings being used etc. That was a lot of fun for us to write and we hope you enjoy that aspect too!
5. Every story is brand new! That’s over 220k words! Four seasons of academic fun—from the first students arriving in Fall, to winter holidays, to March Madness and Spring Flings, to Summer loving—there’s something for every part of the academic year.
6. Unique pairings—whether you like friends-to-lovers, enemies-to-lovers, reunion romances, May-December pairings, first love, or hot-for-teacher flirtations, you are bound to find some of your favorite tropes! And if that’s not enough, there are hot athletes, sophisticated professors, activist heroes, and lots more!
7. Sports galore—soccer, hockey, basketball, equestrian and more! Join the authors and the characters as we root for the Cathia Cougars!
8. Pranks, parties, and plenty of fun—you really want to find out who dyed the fountain red and who’s at Friday’s Frat party!
9. Fan favorite m/m romance authors including L.A. Witt, Sara York, Cassandra Carr, Annabeth Albert, Bianca Sommerland, Whitley Gray, Dalton Diaz, Mia Downing, and KyAnn Waters.
10. Only $2.99 for a limited time!
To find out more information about Campus Cravings, including buy links, check out our group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/299579866886134/. Add us to your to-be-read list on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22738703-campus-cravings.
An excerpt from Switching Leads…by Mia Downing
John nodded slowly. “I never realized how you felt about me or my riding. I never believed…” He took a deep breath. “You told me you loved me, and then I found you in bed with Dean, and then the job…” He shrugged and looked away. “I never believed how you felt about me then. And I’ve been pissed for ten years.”
Finn swallowed, his heart hammering. “Now do you believe I felt that way?” He wasn’t going to ask if John believed he loved him still. Baby steps.
John’s gaze flickered from Finn’s eyes to mouth and back up again in a slow perusal that seared Finn’s skin. “Yeah,” he said hoarsely and leaned across the stool between them. His lips brushed Finn’s surprised ones in a gentle kiss.
He’d dreamed about this for so long—John’s acceptance of his apology—but never had it ended like this, with those firm lips sliding across his as if coaxing belief from the inside.
John withdrew and slid from his stool. He spun Finn’s seat a little and eased between Finn’s thighs, the beginning of an erection pressing against Finn’s zipper. Finn’s cock throbbed at the contact, his belly contracting with anticipation.
“I’m sorry,” John whispered, his pupils dilated, eyes hooded as he stared down into Finn’s eyes. His chest rose and fell rapidly against Finn’s.
“For being unprofessional. I’ve never kissed a co-worker before.” John bent and brushed Finn’s mouth in another kiss, this one a little longer with a touch of heat. Finn didn’t dare open his mouth and beg for tongue. In the past, Finn had ruled their sex life, had directed the kisses. The fact that John had switched leads on him was as heady as a bottle of good Bourbon.
“I promise I won’t tell,” Finn murmured when John lifted his lips.
John cupped the back of Finn’s head with his palm. “Good.”
An excerpt from Winning Bracket…by Annabeth Albert
“Hold up. If I filled out a bracket and mine beat yours, you’d do whatever I wanted? Like anything?”
“Sure.” Ollie shrugged, an insolent lift of surprisingly wide shoulders inside a too-big shirt. “I mean not all day. But sure, you want me to be a slave for an hour or something, I can take it.”
Ka-pow. The firecracker exploded, hot want raining down on Edwin, sparking against his skin. Anything. Ollie-as-slave images began to run on repeat in his brain, Ollie getting considerably less clothing with each pass. Edwin could ask for anything, and it would just be a joke to Ollie—a lark to be laughed over later, no more of a big deal than opening up with a can of silly string or shorting his sheets every night for a week.
Oh my god. Would it work? Could he use something like this—a stupid bet on stupid basketball—to exorcise the Ollie demons that had plagued him for years, all without having to admit how he felt about Ollie? Because while Ollie had been busy with the jock-crush-of-the-month plan, Edwin had been hung up on Ollie. For three and a half years. If a stupid bet could shake Edwin free, then it was worth having to learn something about basketball.
“Okay,” he whispered.
“Yay!” Ollie clambered off the bed, springs squeaking as he hit the floor. “You’ll see. This is going to be a great couple of weeks! So what are we going to play for this week? If my bracket does better by Sunday night, you send an email supporting the next watch party and you show up. And if you win…”
“I want a kiss.” The words escaped Edwin before he could call them back, before he could temper them with logic or suppress them with reality.
Hi all! Thanks to Piper for letting me drop by to celebrate the launch of my urban paranormal series, Underground Elves. The series follows the fortunes of a group of fae-like creatures, who are fighting to survive in a world of persecution. Like vampires, my elves need something from humans to flourish—but it isn’t blood, it is sex and love.
Book 1 is out 12th August—a re-release of Catching Kit, the story of a romance between government agent, Denny, and an elf, Kit. Kit, like many elves, has been fading in and out of existence for many centuries as he seeks his one true love. He thinks he’s found that “forever” partner in Denny. However, Denny’s got issues. He has been struggling to find a boyfriend who can accept his complex sexuality, plus he’s got a young daughter from a previous relationship. With a kid to look out for, he isn’t sure he can make sacrifices required to gift his heart to a supernatural being.
As characters, Kit and Denny were fantastic to write. On paper they’re total opposites—they’re an elf and an elf-catcher for starters, and while Kit is outgoing, Denny is reserved and shy. However, they’re both lonely souls who are desperately seeking acceptance and love in a world that doesn’t “get” them. Although Book 2 focusses on the fortunes of another elf, Alfie, and his lover John, Kit and Denny will be recurring characters, so readers can follow their developing relationship. Hopefully, they’ll also be starring in a Christmas or Valentines story sometime soon.
I hope you enjoying spending time with my boys.
Catching Kit – Book 1 in the Underground Elves Series
Denny is a top secret agent on a mission to protect London from Ethereal Beings – elves – who are seen as dangerous mind-reading parasites who prey on human emotions.
Kit is an elf on the run, misunderstood and persecuted by humans. When Denny catches him, he shatters everything Denny’s been taught about elves. He’s gorgeous and funny and claims he’s been searching a long time for a guy like Denny. He shares Denny’s kinks and now he needs Denny’s love to survive.
But if Denny doesn’t take Kit to jail, he’s in big trouble. Dare Denny break the law and gamble his life to save the Ethereal Being in his bed
Please note: This is a revised version of a previously released title.
Kit furrowed his brow, and that strange look glazed his eyes, whispering of memories. Shouting of pain. “I was here in 1941.”
Denny shook him. “You’re telling me you were in London in the Blitz as well as in Shakespearean times? You must think I’m loopy.”
Kit drilled his gaze into him and fluttered his long lashes. “No. I think you’re horribly messy. Apart from your underwear drawer. You keep that neat enough.”
Denny froze. “You’ve been poking around my things?”
“I loved your things. They were beautiful.”
A hot flush spread from the base of Denny’s neck to his brow. The elf had been messing with his most intimate possessions.
His best lingerie.
Yet his humiliation burned out quickly. This elf had cut to the heart of his “disgusting habits,” and didn’t seem bothered at all.
The elf arched a brow, overtly flirtatious. “I hope you don’t mind. I, uh, tried some on.”
“Your lace thong.” Kit dropped his voice to a sexy growl. “I’m wearing it now.”
Kit grabbed Denny’s wrist and pushed Denny’s hand down the back of those scruffy black trousers. Next thing Denny knew, he was grasping one of Kit’s buttocks. Smooth flesh yielded to muscles hard as nutshells beneath. Then Kit steered Denny so his fingertips slid up the elf’s crack. He felt the delicate thread of lace spreading Kit’s arse, slicing down that warm, vulnerable cleft between.
Denny had never sprung into full erection so quickly in his life. He yanked his hand away.
“You had no right to mess with my stuff.” Although that particular thong had always been a bit small for him and didn’t quite suit. It felt hot on Kit. It must look hot on Kit. “Y-you’re going straight back to the safe.” He grasped the elf’s shoulders as if they’d been fused together, acutely aware of Kit’s breathing, hot against his neck. Of the hard line of his hip brushing intimately close to Denny’s groin.
“What are you waiting for?” murmured Kit.
Denny had no idea. The tap dripped, water smacking against metal the only interruption to the buzzing of the light and the relentless pounding of Denny’s blood.
He felt as unsteady as he felt horny. The deeper he scrutinized Kit’s face, the more emotions he seemed to read there. Every trace of mirth on the elf’s lips died, replaced by a firmly set line, a smoldering sincerity. His eyes spoke of joy, hope, desperation.
And raw hunger.
Kit rose onto tiptoes, lifted his chin, and it seemed electricity arced between them. Delicately he brushed Denny’s mouth with his own. The elf tasted of wine, cheese sauce, and something heady and enticing that might have been the spices. Or might just have been Kit. Whatever it was, Denny needed more.
He grabbed Kit by the collar and kissed him hard.
The plates on the drainer behind them chinked. Kit parted his lips and slid his tongue into Denny’s mouth, deepening the kiss, apparently relishing the scrub of Denny’s stubble against his. In perfect rhythm, the elf rubbed his groin against Denny’s thigh until Denny felt the ultimate proof that elves were sexual beings. Kit’s raging erection told Denny they were both equally aroused.
And the elf read his every need like a book.
Through Denny’s tight T-shirt, Kit toyed with his nipple, flicking the ring, pressing the cool metal into his sweat-flecked skin. Currents of molten pleasure coursed from Denny’s chest to his cock.
Bio: Kay writes m/m adventures and contemporary paranormal tales, usually set in her native England.
When she isn’t buried in books, she’s stewarding at a medieval house, or shouting at the world to get involved in awesome events celebrating all things historical.
She loves angst-filled romances, in which the heroes suffer a bit (sometimes a lot!) but they always get their happy ever afters.
Want a chance at a $15 All Romance gift card? Be sure to check out the Rafflecopter giveaway to enter!
Join authors Gus Li and Tushmore on their virtual boozy blog crawl as they chat about new releases ‘Wine and Roses’ (Gus Li) and ‘Love on the Rocks’ (Tushmore) both available from Dreamspinner Press this August.
Both authors will answer some quick questions about their romance stories, as well as recommend wines and cocktails of the day 🙂
Please read on for excerpts from both new releases, and be sure to leave a comment on ANY of the Tipsy Blog Tour posts to automatically be entered into the grand prize draw! Your chance to win ebook copies of ‘Wine and Roses’, ‘Love on the Rocks’, plus a whole host of other goodies including signed artwork, wine stoppers, and more!
Cheers from Gus, and Tush ❤
‘Love on the Rocks’ by Tushmore
First Ingredient – What inspired the story?
My friend Piper really wanted me to write Justin’s story after reading the first Bar Tender book, but I needed a spark of plot for it. Piper suggested I set the story in London, where I was bar tending at the time, so that made sense.
Second Ingredient – Who features in the story?
Justin, who was a colourful side character from the first Bar Tender Tale. He’s originally from Brighton, and in his own story he’s relocated to London to share a flat with his cousin, Tara. They work in a Camden pub, and Justin also moonlights as a cabaret performer with his best friend, Tam.
Mix! – What shakes things up?
Justin’s a very loud and vivacious personality. He’s good looking, confident and charming, and he’s used to being direct about what he wants, and getting what he wants. Except when he meets a shy, pretty bar tender in Soho named Yena, Justin doesn’t immediately get what he wants, so he has to replan his strategy to convince Yena to date him. 🙂
Cocktail of the day – Caipirinha
A very refreshing cocktail! I loved making this one as it’s relatively simple to do. All you need is the special Brazilian Cachaça dark rum; it’s strong! First you muddle lime wedges and brown sugar with a bit of crushed ice, mushing it all up at the bottom of a tall glass. Then you pour in more crushed ice, and the Cachaça rum, stir a little, garnish with something on top. We never had mint, so I usually stuck another lime wedge on top. Lime city.
This is also the first drink that Yena mixed for Justin and his friends. 🙂
‘Wine and Roses’ – by Gus Li
First Ingredient – What inspired the story?
Most of the books in the Blessed Epoch series feature action on a pretty grand scale: political intrigue, wars between kingdoms, assassinations, and things like that. Consequently, the characters up until now have been powerful mages, princes, and knights. It occurred to me that not everyone living in this universe can be a wizard, and assassin, or an aristocrat, so I wanted to explore the lives of some “regular” folks—how they live and how the power struggles of the privileged affect them. Also, I’ve always wanted to write a story that takes place on a vineyard and winery.
Second Ingredient –Who features in the story?
Alain Lamont is the owner of Mountain Shadow Winery, a vineyard that’s been in his family for over five hundred years. During a battle, much of the vineyard is destroyed by a magical fire, and Alain is left to raise his niece and nephew while trying to come up with a way to keep the vineyard afloat so it can support the dozens of families living on and depending on it.
Fabrezio Orvina d’Caelus (Breeze to his friends) is a mercenary working for a company called the Roses, and he was hired to fight in the battle. Breeze is separated from the rest of his company and badly injured.
Mix! –What shakes things up?
Breeze and Alain don’t care much for each other at the beginning. Alain is distrustful of soldiers, especially mercenaries. He can’t imagine Breeze is a very good person, and Breeze proves him right at first by swearing, flirting with Alain, and teasing him. Breeze thinks Alain is uptight and can’t imagine how boring it would be to be stuck as a farmer and winemaker. He appreciates Alain helping him while he’s injured (and Alain is cute) but he wants to get back to his mercenary company as soon as possible.
Wine of the Day—Super Tuscans and California Meritage
Yes, Meritage is the name of an important city in the kingdom of Selindria! Thanks to real-life sommelier Beau Schemery for the wine description of the day!
Super Tuscans are blends from the area famous for Chianti. It grew from winemakers’ desire to make wines that weren’t so strictly regulated like Chianti, from a desire to think outside the box. They tend to be bigger, more modern expressions and therefore much like California’s Meritages which are also proprietary blends, many of which have earned international renown and respect. They pair well with big dishes like steak and hearty stews.
Mage Yarroway L’Estrella decided the Battle of the Starlight Bridge when he summoned fire from the heavens. The blaze decimated much of the vineyard that has been in Alain Lamont’s family for nine generations. Mountain Shadow Winery may no longer be able to support Alain’s family or the dozens of others who call it home, but Alain vows not to fail all those depending on him.
Mercenary Fabrezio Orvina d’Caelus, Breeze to his friends, appreciates Alain taking him in when he’s badly wounded after the battle, but he has no intention of living the dull life of a farmer any longer than necessary. Though he likes the vintner, he sees Alain as soft and sheltered, hardly a man who can understand a warrior’s calling.
As they live and work together, Alain realizes Breeze isn’t exactly the amoral opportunist he suspected, and Breeze sees more strength in Alain than he thought possible of a simple winemaker. Life on the estate is richer and less boring than Breeze first imagined. With ingenuity, courage, and cooperation, they may devise a way to revitalize the vineyard and move beyond the pain and loss of their pasts.
Alain looked wan and pale when he came in with Breeze’s breakfast the following morning. The dark crescents under his blue eyes made Breeze wonder if he’d slept at all. He suspected Alain’s restlessness might have been his fault. He hadn’t realized Alain had lost his wife in the fire. What an ass.
Still, Alain offered him a smile as he set a tray bearing some porridge, boiled eggs, a slice of ham, and a bowl of beans on Breeze’s lap. He sat on the edge of the bed as he always did and poured wine. “How are you feeling this morning? Did you sleep well?”
“Better than it looks like you did. Why is that?”
Breeze put down the forkful of bacon-flavored beans he’d been about to shovel into his mouth and took Alain’s hand. At his touch, Alain flinched and tried to pull away, but Breeze held firm, and eventually he relaxed. “Look, Alain. I’m just a sell-sword. I never claimed to be a scholar, but I feel like a stupid ass for not realizing you lost your wife in the fire. I hope that damned mage rots in the rankest pit of the Shades’ Abode. But I’m sorry for being dull-witted, and for letting my tongue wag like the fucking fool I am. I know I hurt you, and I’m sorry.”
When Alain looked at Breeze, tears glittered in his summer-sky eyes but didn’t fall. He shook his head. “No, I’ve never had a wife.”
“But Courtenay and Fenn?”
“My twin sister’s children. My niece and nephew. My brother-in-law, their father, died in the fire. I’m all they have left now. I… I don’t know if I’m good enough to raise them on my own. I love them, but I’m afraid I’ll fail them.”
“What happened to your sister?”
Alain caught the single tear he let fall on his fingertip and looked away to hide his grief. “She died giving birth to Fenn. Six years ago.”
Breeze didn’t know what to say, so he squeezed Alain’s hand a little tighter, and Alain squeezed back. What he really wanted to know was how Alain had remained unmarried. Breeze freely admitted he was a handsome man, with his rose-and-honey coloring and those expressive eyes. And lips—pink, firm, and full without looking pillowy or slack. Add to that his estate, and he could have his pick of the buxom country girls. If he wanted help with the children, why not take a wife? Could he be…. Damn, out of nowhere, Breeze really wanted to know whose body Alain imagined when he slid into bed and slipped his hand into his trousers. He could see it: Alain’s teeth denting his lower lip, red rushing all the way to the tips of his ears—
And he was a fucking pig for thinking about that while Alain struggled not to break down. Besides, it was none of his damned business who or what the vintner fucked, if anyone. Hopefully, in another month or so, he’d be long gone. On to better things. Still, he didn’t like seeing Alain suffering. “I’m sorry.” What a platitude. Breeze just wasn’t used to men who needed comforting.
Alain nodded. “Thank you. You should finish your breakfast so I can change your dressings. Best to get it over with.”
After a few more bites of food, Breeze asked, “Do you have a bathtub? I’m as rank as a whore’s underpants, and I’d kill for a proper wash.” He set his fork on his plate and scratched his chin. “And a shave.”
He didn’t know why that made Alain smile, but seeing it pleased him. “Why do you want to shave off your whiskers?”
“That’s just how it’s done in Espero. Men shave every day. The heat, I suppose. I’m just not used to these whiskers. Why, do you like them?”
Alain tensed visibly, and Breeze felt like horse’s ass. Again. He was making this a habit. Why had he said that?
“I don’t care about them one way or another. I just wondered. Most men in Selindria don’t shave their whiskers.”
“You do,” Breeze observed.
Alain touched his soft-looking cheek with the fingers of his splinted hand. The way Alain worked and took care of him, Breeze found it easy to forget about the other man’s injury. Truth be told, he bore it like a warrior. “Mine comes in all patchy. I can’t grow a proper beard, just little scraps here and there. I look like a fool when I don’t shave.”
Breeze wondered if the hair grew in little golden swaths down the center of his chest, his soft belly, between his legs. Bleeding Shades, he had to drive off the pictures in his head. They’d make an Elvaran street slag blush. “So, could I trouble you for a bath? I’m sure you’ve had your fill of my stink.”
“You’ll have to come down the stairs, to the kitchen. We have an indoor well and a tub in a room just beyond it. I can help you, if you think you can make it.”
“I think I can. I feel heartier than I have since I woke up.” And if Alain looked beneath Breeze’s sheets, he’d see plenty of proof. Probably best to get rid of that before Alain helped him bathe. He struggled to focus on his breakfast and think about anything else. Luckily, Alain helped distract him.
“So, I guessed you were from Espero. I haven’t met many people from the island. How long have you been away?”
“About seven years.”
“You must have been quite young when you left home,” Alain said.
“Yes, I’d just come of age.”
“Why did you leave?”
“Wanted to see the world, I suppose. Don’t you?”
Alain laughed. “No! I have everything I need right here. This land has been in my family for nine generations—almost five hundred years. Since my ancestors accepted this property from the valen of Lockhaven, it’s taken care of us. I love this place. I can’t imagine leaving. Espero wasn’t like that for you?”
“No.” Silence fell between them as Breeze finished his breakfast. He didn’t want to talk about Espero, and it wasn’t anything Alain would be able to comprehend. “You don’t want more for yourself? Something grander? Adventure and glory for your name?” What young man didn’t?
“No. I have no one to prove anything to. I love tending the grapes and the land. The goddesses have blessed us, and I’m thankful. My heart is here.”
Sounds frightfully dull, Breeze thought, if comfortable. “No aspirations at all?”
“Maybe just… someone to share it with. But that won’t happen.” Alain seemed ready say more, but stopped himself and paused before rushing to quantify his statement. “Not anytime soon, at least. I have too much to do to get the vineyard back to where it can support us. Buildings need repaired, and over half of the vines will have to be replanted. I can only pray we’ll be able to harvest enough come Berris’s Moon to produce enough wine to sell next year. What we have to take to market this summer will barely get us by. Too many of the cellars caved in when the support beams burned. Luckily, last year was good, and we’ll fetch a good price for what’s left. And we have the ice wine. I’m sorry. You probably don’t care about any of this.”
To Breeze’s surprise, he found he did, a little, and he caught himself imagining ways to help the vineyard thrive. Not that he knew a thing about it. “What is ice wine?”
“We leave the grapes on the vine until the frost, let them freeze before harvesting. The water in them turns to ice, and it concentrates their sweetness. We press them while they’re still frozen, and it produces the most exquisite wine, as golden as the sunlight, sweet as honey, and with a taste of the mountains and the winter. It can be sold for exorbitant prices; the nobles here in the north adore it. Ice wine is risky, though. First off, if the frost comes too late, we chance letting the grapes rot on the vine and losing an entire crop. Secondly, the frozen grapes produce much less juice than they would if we picked them normally, so of course they produce less wine.”
“That seems the thing to do, then. You might end up with less wine, but you’ll make more gold in the long run, won’t you?”
Alain wiggled his fingers in Breeze’s hand like he wanted to tap them on something as he considered. “Possibly. Not all the grapes will work, though. And there’s a good chance the goddesses and seasons won’t cooperate. We usually only risk a small portion of the grapes for the ice wine, those we can afford to lose. If we made them all into ice wine, we would do quite well, but if we lost them to rot, we’d be doomed.”
“Octavian always tells me destiny smiles on the bold man and ignores the timid.”
“You speak highly of him,” Alain said.
“He’s a good man, as I explained. Shrewd, though. Sharp as a dagger. And, I suppose, he was good to me. Gave me a chance.”
Alain looked at him intently, batting his long golden lashes, so Breeze continued. “He could have turned me away. I wasn’t much of a warrior when I went to join the Roses. But I told him my story, and he told me his, and it turned out they weren’t so different. He gave me a place to belong. Saw some worth in me that no one else ever had. I owe him a great deal.”
“You didn’t feel like you belonged in Espero?”
“No.” Dammit, he didn’t want to talk about this. He pulled loose of Alain’s hand and took a long drink of wine to avoid speaking.
“I just wanted a different life from the one laid out for me there. Same as Octavian. I wanted to make it on my own like he did. He’s not much older than us, you know.”
“He sounds like a remarkable man.” Alain looked like he wanted to say something else, but he busied himself with stacking Breeze’s empty dishes onto the tray. “I suppose we should see to your bath.”
Alain left the tray on the floor next to the bed and helped Breeze to stand. He arranged Breeze’s arm over his shoulders, and Breeze caught his own scent. Goddesses, he really reeked, and he felt suddenly self-conscious.
The trip down the stairs and through the cheery kitchen hurt less than Breeze expected, but by the time they reached the small, whitewashed room at the end of the long corridor, the side of his left thigh trembled and threatened to cramp. Alain helped him to sit on a wooden chair while he filled three metal pails from the pump and suspended them over a raised pit of coals in the corner of the room. Then he picked up a pair of shears. “Oh no. I have to take your bandages off, and you didn’t take your elixir.”
Breeze laughed. “I can hardly wash and shave myself if I’m fast asleep. Or were you planning to do it?”
Alain colored. Goddesses, that was alluring, and Breeze wondered how far the dusky-rose color spread down his neck. Even his lips darkened when he spoke. “I have done it, you know. Bathed you.”
“I know. Thank you. I was only teasing. I did not mean to upset you.”
“I’m not upset. I just don’t like doing this. I know it’s necessary to the healing, but I don’t like seeing you… seeing anyone suffering. I should go back to your room and fetch the tonic.”
“I’d rather do without it,” Breeze said. “I’ve had enough of feeling fuzzy.”
“You really should—”
“Alain, I will be fine. This isn’t the first time I’ve been injured.” He didn’t add that it was by far the worst, or that he wanted to experience what was about to happen without the haze of the elixir.
“I’ll at least go the kitchen and get you more wine to dull the pain.”
He returned with an open bottle, and Breeze drank. Goddesses, this would spoil him. This tasted like wine from Espero, bright and bold with notes of bitter cherry, currant, the black stone Pherara had pulled from the sea to form the island, leather, and tarberry. He almost moaned as it slid down his throat to warm his belly. “Amazing. You made this?”
“It takes a great many people,” Alain said as he emptied the buckets into the round wooden tub.
“But according to your instructions,” Breeze pressed.
“Yes, I suppose.”
“You, my friend, are an artist.”
“Thank you, but that’s hardly the best we have to offer. Just table wine, really.”
“Your bath is ready. I should take your dressings off. Drink some more.”
Breeze didn’t need to be told twice. After a few long pulls, he carefully rolled the loose brown trousers the children had given him to his ankles and lifted his feet out. Aside from the linen strips, he was completely naked. Not that he was shy—at Rosecairn, the men swam together in the summer and helped each other on and off with their armor. Besides, Alain had seen him, so he didn’t bother covering himself. When Alain turned and saw him sitting with his legs open, everything on display, he blushed almost as burgundy as the wine and tossed Breeze a towel.
Breeze chuckled but draped it across his sensitive bits. “I’m sure you’ve seen it.”
“I have seen it,” Alain said a little shortly, “not that I was trying to look, or staring at it, or something. I kept it covered up when I could!”
“I never meant to imply otherwise, friend.” Alain did not like being teased. Breeze was used to the back and forth jibes between the warriors at Rosecairn, and sometimes they grew quite vicious, but he didn’t want to make Alain uncomfortable. “You know me. Not used to the company of civilized men. I apologize.”
Twenty-six-year-old barman and cabaret entertainer Justin has recently moved to London for a fresh start. Charismatic and flirty, Justin is naturally the center of attention wherever he goes. There’s only one problem: the object of Justin’s affections, a handsome, enigmatic bartender named Yena, isn’t won over by Justin’s charm. In fact, he flat out turns Justin down.
Stripping off his showmanship frills and charms, Justin aims for a different approach: reveal himself for who he is. Underneath his public face Justin is an honest young man who wants someone special to share his time with… and laugh at his awful jokes.
Justin can only hope the real him is irresistible to the man he loves.
Arm in arm, the trio weaved their way down the small, decorative alleys of Soho. When they arrived at the third venue of the evening, a smiling doorman greeted them and held open the door. The bar inside wasn’t anything like the previous tiki-themed palace. Though the interior was bathed in ambient gold and blue lighting, there were no frills about it—one large room full of tables, brimming with patrons, and interspersed by big, sturdy pillars. The bar itself was long and straight along the right-hand wall, and it was currently drowning in customers.
Justin looked around in dismay at how busy it was. “It’s busy,” he whined. “By the time we get to the bar, I’ll be fucking sober.”
“Cocktails are two for one,” Tam told him.
“Ooh, sounds good,” Tara said, striding for the bar. “Come on.”
“Yeah, but…” Justin’s words trailed off as he caught sight of a bartender—tall, blond, and gorgeous, and flashing a brilliant smile at the customers he served. “Holy fuck,” Justin whispered. “Dibs on that one.”
Tam followed his line of sight. “The blond? That’s Eric.”
“Oh?” Justin turned to Tam and eyed his friend with a smile. “How do you know?”
Tam smirked but tried to hide it. “Not the way you’re thinking, dirty boy. I happen to know someone who shagged him.”
“Apparently,” Tam hissed in his ear, “he’s bloody good.”
“Yeah, I bet.” Justin grabbed Tam’s arm and pulled him to the bar. “Onward!”
Even though the bar was packed, Justin was willing to wait. And wait. The music was loud and pop-centric, so he amused himself by singing along to the songs and trying to catch glimpses of the hot bartender over people’s heads and shoulders.
Tara’s head popped into view a little farther along the bar, and she waved a hand to them, indicating she had a good spot. Tam and Justin edged their way through, relieved to find Tara had snatched them a couple of barstools.
As they waited their turn, they took advantage of their front row view of the bartenders. The space behind the bar was quite big, and currently one woman and two men were working. The tall blond that Justin had spotted earlier was the clear front runner in the looks department, but all of them could’ve easily stepped out of a high end fashion shoot. They wore dark trousers and matching fitted black shirts, open low at the collar. The bar’s name, Foxy’s, was printed in bright pink on the left breast pocket.
Eventually, realization hit Tara. “Is this a gay bar?”
Tam shrugged. “It’s not flaming, but it’s gay friendly. The bar staff are all gay.”
“You could’ve said.” She rolled her eyes. “There’s me trying to smile at the men. No wonder they don’t look at me twice.”
“Join the club,” Justin said sidelong. “I’ve been trying to get that blond’s attention for, like, half an hour now. This is ridiculous.”
“Patience, Justin.” Tam’s attention was drawn to the end of the bar. “Hel-lo.” He craned his neck as he watched a new barman enter the scene, carrying a tall tower of stacked glasses. “I like him.”
Justin and Tara also craned around to see, eyeing the new barman. The colored lights and people sticking their heads in the way made it hard for Justin to get a good look.
A bartender stopped in front of them, and Justin was thrilled to see it was Mr. Tall, Blond, and Gorgeous, who flashed them a dazzling smile. “I know you guys have been waiting ages,” he said, his voice a rich baritone. “I promise I’ll do you next.” He winked, though Justin wasn’t sure if the wink was directed at himself or at Tam, and then flitted away.
“Mmm. Hot.” Tara smiled, as Tam raised his eyebrows in agreement.
“Mm, honey,” Justin muttered. “He can do me any time.” His gaze followed the blond hottie as he worked behind the bar, watching his precise movements as he mixed drinks and chatted with his customers, making it all look effortless.
Very flirty, Justin decided. Bet he’s dynamite in bed.
Justin’s neck muscles started to protest at craning so far around to watch this prized specimen of man. Just then, another bartender appeared in front of him, drawing his attention.
“Are you waiting?” he asked in a voice so quiet Justin barely heard him above the music.
Flashing him a cursory glance, Justin’s attention went back to the blond barman further along the bar before his sozzled brain digested who stood in front of him: Brunet. Long hair.
Slowly, Justin looked back. The man standing before him was definitely cute, with a mop of dark, curly hair and even darker eyes.
Tam jumped in. “Yes, can we order cocktails?”
The bartender turned to Tam with a smile. “Sure. What do you want?”
“Three Caipirinhas, please.”
“No problem. I just need to get some crushed ice.” The bartender flitted off.
“Wait,” Justin began, “can we—” Tam stuck a boot out, aiming at Justin’s leg. “Ow.”
Tam flashed him a look. “Dibs,” he said firmly.
“Huh?” Justin wanted to argue. “But—”
“What do you mean but?” Tam chuckled. “You called dibs on the other one.”
“Boys, boys.” Tara laid a hand on their arms. “I know no one in their right mind could possibly resist either of you, but let’s be chill about it, okay?”
Tam sniffed in mock indignation, while Justin grinned. “I can feel another bet coming on.”
This time Tam snorted. “Mm-hmm. Well, you’d better hope that whoever you end up pulling doesn’t mind your spicy breath, darling.”
“What?” Justin was alarmed and raised a hand to breathe into it. The brunet bartender returned, and Justin quickly dropped his hand, forcing a smile.
Tam watched with a predatory gaze as the bartender placed three rocks glasses on the bar and started mixing their drinks. Tara leaned over the bar to watch, focused on the drinks. “May I have extra lime in mine, please?”
The bartender smiled at her. “Of course you can.”
“Thank you, hon. Sorry to be a pain. We’re bartenders too.”
“Oh, yeah? All of you?” He flicked his eyes up, and they locked with Justin’s momentarily.
Justin tasted victory already and tried for his best smile. “I am! I’m supposed to be learning new cocktails.”
“Whereas I work in fashion,” Tam added, vying for attention. “But Justin and I dance together.”
“Oh, right?” Again, the barman’s eyes locked with Justin’s.
He’s interested. Justin picked up on the vibes and found he was interested in return. Score! He studied the barman closer as he mixed the drinks. He had a nice mouth, with full lips that were just asking to be kissed; his curly hair was cute, and he had dark brows to match. There was something about him that hinted at the exotic, if only that he wasn’t the usual short-haired, styled blond that was prevalent in gay bars.
He was very attractive. Definitely.
“What sort of dancing?” he asked, having taken the bait Tam offered.
“Anything.” Tam winked at him. “We do it together.”
Justin smiled and nodded along, though he noted the bartender’s smile seemed more strained than flirty.
“I dance too,” Tara said, unaware of Tam’s double entendre. “I teach tap.”
Tam shot her a look of annoyance, but the bartender seemed amused. “Tap is awesome.” He smiled at her, and Justin decided he had a very pretty smile.
A taller man materialized at the brunet’s side; the blond barman had returned. He flashed another dazzling smile with perfect white teeth. “Yena beat me to it,” he said, leaning on the bar. “Sorry I took so long, guys.”
Tam seized his chance to lean in, touching the blond’s arm. “Oh, no trouble. But thank you so much.”
“My pleasure.” The blond’s perma-smile turned knowing. “I’m Eric,” he said, offering his hand.
Tam’s hand shot out to grasp his. “I’m Tam. And this is Tara and Justin.”
Eric shook Tam’s hand, then moved along the bar, shaking Tara’s next. He nudged his colleague aside, heedless to the fact he was still trying to mix the drinks, in a bid to reach Justin.
Justin noted Eric’s pushiness, and something about it annoyed him, but he took Eric’s hand anyway. “Justin.”
Eric looked into his eyes as he groped his hand. His touch was warm and confident, sending electric pulses up Justin’s arm. From one touch, Justin knew instinctively that if he were to go to bed with Eric, they’d have a struggle for dominance.
Which could be fun.
“Great to meet you.” Eric’s blue eyes danced with intent. “Stick around,” he added, apparently to Justin. “It’ll calm down later on. I can make you a drink then.” With that, he extracted himself and flitted away, leaving his colleague to continue serving.
The brunet got on with mixing the drinks, placing three beautifully crafted cocktails in front of them. It wasn’t Justin’s round, but he produced his wallet, mostly as an excuse to command the barman’s attention. He took longer than necessary to find the correct money, instead putting all his concentration into flirting. “What was your name?” he asked with a smile. He’d heard Eric say it, but being an unusual name it hadn’t stuck in Justin’s memory.
Dark eyes fixed on his, though the playfulness in them had disappeared. “Yena,” he said quietly.
Justin still couldn’t get it. “Pardon?”
“Yena,” he said again, an edge to his voice.
“That’s a nice name,” Tara said.
Still unsure, Justin asked, “How’d you spell that?”
Yena looked at him, this time in disbelief. “Y-E-N-A,” he said flatly. “Look”—he glanced along the bar—“I’ve got to serve someone else, can you…?”
He didn’t say hurry up, but Justin heard it clearly. He felt slightly deflated at being rushed. “Oh, sure. Sorry.” He handed over a note, which Yena whipped out of his hand before he had a chance to say anything else. As he marched off to the till, Justin glanced at Tam, frowning at him in confusion.
Tam shrugged in answer. Either he didn’t know why Yena was cross, or he didn’t care.
When Yena returned with the change, Justin decided to lay on the charm. “Keep it.” He smiled warmly. “Put it towards tips.”
Yena looked surprised. “But there’s over five quid here.”
Justin waved it away. “Please.”
“All right.” Yena glanced at him, unsure. “Thanks.”
Yena turned away, and that was that.
“—come.” Justin snorted. “Well.”
Tara was already sipping her drink, oblivious to Justin’s troubles. “Mm, these are good.”
“You bet.” Tam raised his drink, catching Justin’s eye. “Cheers, dears.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Justin picked up his glass to down a large amount. Cocktails always made things better. He scanned along the bar, looking for Yena.
What’d happened? Had Eric’s interruption annoyed Yena somehow? Or was it something else? Justin couldn’t work it out.
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People occasionally ask: What is the process like when you publish a book? The question is simple but if you ask twenty authors, you’ll get thirty different answers. Until Serenity my answer was boring: I submit, they edit, and publish. It wasn’t very complicated or drawn out. My drafts tend to be rather clean and I love editing, so I embrace the opportunity to change my work for the better. It takes about six months to go from submission to published, I would tell people.
That changed with a little 5k flash fiction I gave the working title Sugar On The Asphalt.
Stealing Serenity started life as a very short piece of hot bondage fic with no plot and hardly any character. Bottom Drawer Publications was seeking a collection of very short fiction to piece together in an anthology. I didn’t have time to write one, I was supposed to be editing another book. So I wrote it in one afternoon despite my packed schedule and I sent it off without much fanfair.
I hoped they would accept it (of course I did) but my head was full of another story and I didn’t give the submission much thought.
Almost two months later I received the strangest acceptance letter I’ve seen to date. Yes, we love your story (woo!) but we don’t have enough submissions for an anthology and would you mind terribly expanding this to at least 15k words?
I’d never tried to inflate a story before, and this was a big request. From 5k to 15? That meant I needed to find a plot. And real characters. And maybe some belivable conflict. I said yes and after several conversations with the lovely ladies at Bottom Drawer, we hatched a plan.
It took me a few months to go from 5 to 15k, but in the end I produced what is likely to be remembered as the worst draft of a story I’ve ever written. All the characters changed, only two of the original scenes made it into the new version, all of a sudden I had a thief main character and I’d done no research to prepare for that.
My developmental edit was brutal. There were notes on every paragraph. Almost every line! There was more red-ink than salvageable work. And lets not even get started on the pacing. But I got two important things out of it: a plot and a pair of strong main characters I was quickly growing to love.
The next stage involved research. I had to learn everything about shibari (japanese rope bindng) and professional thieving. I needed to know how auction houses worked, what kind of laws surrounded charity busniesses, and backstory! I had no backstory leading up to my plot at all.
So I did what I should have done from the very start, I opened a new file and I outlined my story. I started months before chapter one and managed to work things out through the climax. My ending got a bit fuzzy though. I didn’t like what I’d drafted but nothing better was springing to mind. I decided to leave it blank and see what I came up with when I got there.
The re-draft took even longer this time. Chunks of dialogue and exposition were useable this time, but the scenes swapped order, some of them didn’t make the transition well, and a few were scrapped entirely. The story expanded further, from 15k to 25k!
I received a second developmental edit, something I’d never had to go through before. Serenity needed it though. She was a frankenstein of two different drafts with thousands of new words and after months of working on it I was too close to the story to remember what version was true. The second round of edits was merciful, mostly a series of continuity checks that I gladly changed.
Turnaround for line-edits happened in under a week, a good thing since marketing for a July 5th release date was already underway at that point.
In the end, from first draft to publication, Serenity took a year and a half. Ninteen months of work.
My little flash fiction is all grown up and you can get it today from Bottom Drawer Publications.
All about Stealing Serenity
Quiz and Giveaway (http://www.tamiveldura.com/2014/07/stealing-serenity-quiz-and-giveaway.html)
All about Tami
Tumblr: tamiveldura (http://tamiveldura.tumblr.com/)
Twitter: @tamiveldura (https://twitter.com/tamiveldura)
Goodreads: Tami (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5205605.Tami_Veldura)
A big thank you to Piper for having me on the blog today! I wanted to talk a bit about blending genres. I see it all time when I’m looking at publisher calls for submissions. The more an author blends genres into the story the better. I love it. To write a vampire BDSM dystopia would be awesome but there are some who would rather read a single genre. Adding BDSM to a shifter story may not be their cup of tea because they feel it takes some of the realism out of the BDSM. I totally get it because I don’t like mixing shifters with sports themes. Sometimes, adding one genre overshadows the other genre.
If you’ve read Alpha Trine, you know that I blend Sci-fi with mythology elements. What I had used of mythology didn’t fall into fantasy, but when I was writing Striker I agonized over adding the Mar’Sani triplets. Over the years, I’ve heard some science fiction enthusiast insinuate that adding fantasy elements to a sci-fi story removes it from the science fiction genre. They believe the addition of fantasy elements cheapens a sci-fi story because both cannot co-exist. One is factual and the other is not.
So I’m sitting there staring at the screen wondering if I could write the scene without bringing the triplets into play, the GyrFalconi navigator, Axis, was throwing a fit that I was even considering leaving the triplets. His hissy fit was distracting, to the point that I couldn’t think. I traded emails with a friend. Tossed the idea about some more. I took a walk with my husband and spilled all of my worries. Would readers still consider the story science fiction if I added the fantasy elements that I wanted. Would it make the story less or add to it as I had planned? It was such a small element for a tiny part of the story.
The answer from both of them—after listening to me go on and on forever—was, “It’s your story. Do whatever the hell you want.” It’s sort of awesome that my husband and my friends don’t beat around the bush. (On a side note, if I was angst-ing over such a small issue, can you image the bigger ones?? ^_^ )
I did add the Mar’Sani triplets, the feared and revered Chimera assassins. No they don’t play a huge part in Striker, but they have the potential to be bigger characters in a future volume. Plus Axis is really happy about it. I’m considering writing a free short for just him, IF I find the time.
I hope you enjoyed this peek into the Valespia-verse and found it to be informative, insightful, and fun. Thank you for stopping by and reading!
BLURB: The peaceful respite for which Zeus and his intended, Dargon and Alpha, had been hoping is shattered when Zeus is unexpectedly drawn to the Waters of Poseidon and told that the safety they’ve been promised is a trap. But the Fal’Amoric aren’t the only important cargo on the Oethra 7, and countless others are depending on the success of their mission. If Zeus hopes to break the silent siege on Valespia and protect those most precious to him, he will need not just powerful allies but the fortitude to survive overwhelming odds.
The view of the night sky alleviated his momentary doubt and confirmed where he was drifting. A blanket of midnight blue covered the heavens, bedecked with the brilliant points of stars shining like precious jewels. The primary moon sat fat and heavy with a red sliver of the secondary moon peeking out the side, reminding people that two moons hung in the Atlaintician sky. The pale white glow of the primary caused the waters to appear slick and black. Zeus awakened floating on the warm Waters of Poseidon. He did not know how he came to be there but instinct, or possibly his deep need for home, identified where he was; the waters surrounding him soothed his longing.
He searched for his sister, Shaneva. Only she brought him to the Waters of Poseidon. As one who was born with the Longing, the waters became her home when she turned fifteen summers. Strangely, the waters appeared empty of people. Both times he had been called here other souls floated nearby, not close enough to disturb them but silhouettes drifting in the distance nonetheless.
“Shaneva sleeps this night.”
Treading water, he turned toward the masculine voice. Not an arm’s length away swam a male unlike any Mar’Sani Zeus had ever seen. Zeus had never met a being as visually intriguing. Something nagged at him. He had never seen the male before, but the voice stirred old memories he wished to forget, haunting his darkest dreams. Since none had met with harm while dreaming of Poseidon’s waters, Zeus momentarily put aside his anxiety and studied the being before him.
The Mar’Sani’s body was covered in a combination of yellow, leathery skin and prominent green scales rimmed with a vibrant blue-green. The scale’s pattern resembled sharp tipped stripes flowing down his neck, arms, and what Zeus could see of his back. Stunning large green reptilian eyes stared at Zeus from between long thick eyelashes. Zeus decided the face of the being appeared much like his own, with a small nose and wide full mouth. When the male smiled, his teeth were sharp but did not resemble the needle-like ones of Zeus’s family. A thick ridge above the brow supported a spiked crest which rose a couple of centimeters tall in the front, increasing in size to as much as six centimeters at the back of his crown. A deep red membrane made an arching bridge between each spike, giving the strange impression of a royal coronet.
“Why am I here? Shaneva only brings me here when I’m injured.” Zeus’s frowned in thought. “There is nothing wrong with me.”
The male grinned. “As I am well aware. You found your life partners and soon will be a father. Congratulations, brother.”
Warm affection blossomed in his chest at the thought of Dargon and Alpha. Zeus’s fingertips skirted the edge of the dark green dot on his forehead that proclaimed him a part of an Alpha Trine and allowed him to communicate with Alpha, Dargon’s symbiote.
“You called me brother.” He searched the face before him, looking for but not seeing anything familiar. The voice though; the sound niggled at his memory and yet he could not place the countenance.
“All in good time.” The male flashed his sharp teeth, humor lighting his green eyes. “I did bring you here for a reason. You need to warn our brothers they are heading into a trap. The space over Valespia is no longer safe.”
“What do you mean? What waits there?” Zeus asked in alarm. How did he know where they were heading? Zeus should be suspicious of anyone other than the crew of The Gorgon or the Oethra 7 knowing their destination. And yet, the sense of familiarity, the knowing that came from his gut caused him to want to trust his male because—brother—did he dare to hope?
The male continued, unaware of Zeus’s inner turmoil. “What indeed. V’Saar are slipping through the defense grid near the Milky Way and they have partnered with one of the four Terren companies.”
The V’Saar, commonly called bugs, voraciously consumed all in their path, and should be trapped behind a grid built by the Ancients because the. A long ago treaty reinforced an uneasy truce between the Ancients and the V’Saar queen, Isolt. The Valespian Pact brought together the peoples of the galaxies on this side of the grid, requiring a triad of galactic emperors to power the grid keeping the V’Saar from overrunning the galaxies and destroying more innocent lives. But the galactic royals were old, causing the grid to weaken in places as their power waned. The control of the grid should have passed to the crown princes, allowing the next generation’s youth and vitality to renew the shields, but the third crown prince, the Bespoken, had disappeared.
Zeus moved to float on his back as he turned the information over, the sky lightening with the colors of the coming dawn. For some reason he trusted the male next to him, who seemed more than simply a strange Mar’Sani. If what he said was true then the V’Saar had gained allies and Valespia lay under siege.
The male rested in the water next to him. “The V’Saar destroy or enslave all races they encounter. Why then have they not overrun the human’s solar system? You and our brothers will need to puzzle out the answer. What I do know is you need to seek the Feteine’s help. If you decline to do so … no, you must. With their assistance, you can survive what will occur when you reach Valespian space.”
Zeus turned to the male and stared hard, his heart squeezed with sudden recognition. He now recalled where he had heard the voice before. Many years ago, when he had been thirteen summers, Shaneva brought him for the first time to the Waters of Poseidon in an attempted to save him as he suffered at the hands of Chtichlians. After being attacked and seriously injured, his father had insisted on repairing his blindness. But the Chtichlians used the procedure to steal something far more precious to him than his sight. Shaneva had not been alone. A male had accompanied her. Certain of his identification, Zeus slid his fingers through Canry’s slightly webbed ones, careful of the wickedly sharp claws.
Zeus’s hesitancy to trust the information given to him slipped away. “Is there anything else I should do?”
Canry drew in a shuddering breath. “You believe me?”
“Of course, you are our brother.” Zeus shook with barely controlled elation. He could not wait to tell his brothers and parents.
The sun kissed the edge of the ocean, washing the sky with brilliant shades of red and orange. “A storm is coming.” Zeus glanced at Canry who echoed his words.
“You are more sensitive than you know, Zeus. If you must fight on land, find a pool of water. It can be as small as the size of my palm. Submerge your fingers and call my name. I will come to your aid. Promise me you will.” It was less a question than a demand.
He moved to tread water once again. “What do you see?” Zeus suspected Canry was touched by Poseidon. He may have more information that would help Zeus on this quest to seek out the Feteine, or provide assistance on how to navigate Valespian space safely.
Attached is the blog tour schedule. Striker’s release date is Wednesday, June 4th at Less Than Three Press (http://www.lessthanthreepress.com/books/index.php?main_page=product_bookx_info&cPath=95&products_id=616)
The giveaway ends at midnight, June 7th. Enter at Rafflecopter for a chance at a Kindle Fire HD or a paperback copy of Striker!
June 1st – Hearts On Fire Reviews (http://heartsonfirereviews.com/) Striker: The next leg of the journey, Atlainticia, the Ancients, and Alpha
June 2nd – Ethan Stone (http://www.ethanjstone.com/) The Makings of a Warrior
June 3rd – Prism Book Alliance (http://www.prismbookalliance.com/) Antiheroes
June 4th – GGR Reviews (http://www.ggr-review.com/) You Sunk My Battle Ship!
June 5th – Piper Vaughn (https://pipervaughn.wordpress.com/) Mixing Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Is It Still Sci-Fi?
June 6th – Read The Rainbow (http://readtherainbow.weebly.com/) Building Valespia-Verse, What Readers Don’t See
June 7th – Allison Cassatta (http://allisoncassatta.blogspot.com/) Fal’Amorics, The Galaxies Best Kept Secret.
Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.
Web site: http://www.lexiander.com/index.html
Hi, all! K-Lee Klein is stopping by today to share an excerpt from her upcoming release, Tabby’s Pride. Check it out! And be sure to follow the rest of her blog tour and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!
TABBY’S PRIDE – Lion’s Pride 1
Available: May 18 from Amber Quill Press
Genres: Gay / M/M / Romance / Paranormal / Shapeshifter / The Arts / Series
Heat Level: 3
Length: Extended Novella (34k words)
Levi is ready to do anything to make his rock star—and hopefully, personal—dreams come true.
Levi Tabberton has dreamed of being a rock star ever since his brother’s best friend, Alexander, showed him his guitar when he was young. But becoming a member of his boyhood crush’s band, Lion’s Pride, is even more important.
Growing up, Levi emulated Alexander Morrison and, years later, his feelings remain unchanged when he auditions for the band. Xan is laid-back, caring, gorgeous, and takes Levi under his wing—paw. But Levi’s guilt and insecurity hold him back from letting Xan see the real him.
Levi needs to prove himself worthy of the band and deserving of Xan’s attention, but the lengths he’s gone to have left him reeling with anxiety and exhaustion. Levi’s not sure how much longer he can pull off the charade he’s been acting out to reach his goals and to keep Xan’s affections.
Has he made the right choice or will his dreams fade in a catastrophe of lies and uncertainty?
The venue for the charity show wasn’t big, but it was far larger than any of the ones Levi had played before. It was scary and important, and his heart raced like a runaway train. He kept to himself, clutching his guitar like it was his last possession in the world.
The other guys huddled together just before they were due on stage, encouraging Levi to join their circle of three. He stood with Xan on one side and Kevin on the other, reveling in the warmth and companionship of being part of something special. It was a feeling of inclusion that sent tingles up his spine and unbelievable calm to the nerves that had been wreaking havoc on his body.
When they were finally announced, Xan dragged Levi into his arms for a powerful embrace. “Knock ’em dead, babe. You’re gonna be awesome.” He kissed the side of Levi’s head, whispering against his ear before he released him, “See you on the other side.”
Levi was the first to take the stage, head held high as his knees wobbled and threatened to toss him to the floor. The crowd reacted in a positive way despite the others taking their sweet time following behind him. He was thankful for the bright lights and the tiny monitor tucked in his ear, both enabling him to slip inside his head before he threw-up on his shoes.
Lion’s Pride kicked ass, and Levi soared to new heights of jubilation and self-confidence. His solos rocked the house, his vocals were spot on even if he did say so himself, and Xan’s half-naked body had stayed in his peripheral vision for the whole night.
No one had been more surprised with his sudden shifting than Levi—especially after Xan’s kind assurance that he didn’t have to do it for the first show if he wasn’t ready. But the excitement of the crowd, the glowing accolades in the form of clapping and hooting and cheering were so exhilarating, were so validating, and exactly what he’d always dreamed of. The band had moved to the back of the stage, huddling just beyond the viewing of the audience, high-fiving each other for an amazing show while the audience screamed for an encore.
Levi’s fatal error began with glowing awe and overpowering love as he watched Xan strip off the rest of his clothes, the happiest smile slapped on his face as he laughed and celebrated. He handed his things to Marv, winking before he flashed Levi a wide grin. The golden gaze swallowed Levi’s heart as Xan splayed his hand over his chest then tapped his fist over his own heart. He mouthed, “All yours,” and Levi was doomed.
It was like some sappy old-fashioned love story his mom had made him sit through when he was young, as she wept and smiled beside him. It was crappy romantic drivel and it was all Xan. Then before Levi had a chance to question or even reply in any way, Xan was shifting and changing. He fell to his knees, the sounds of popping and grinding only partially disguised by his groans and whimpers, and those of Kevin and Don. His body lengthened, muscles elongating, twisting, squirming under the pale skin that quickly turned to coarse white fur.
Levi struggled for breath when three larger-than-life lions stared back at him—majestic, regal, beautiful but distinctive in their own ways. Kevin was light gold, his mane even paler than his body, smaller in stature than the others but with his head held high just as he always did in his human form. He even seemed to retain the sarcastic smirk that was his trademark.
Don was more golden brown, his color darkening from mid-body to his hind legs and tail with the same chestnut as his mane. He was bigger, too, tall and wide, and Levi could clearly make out the rustling and repositioning of muscles beneath his fur as he completed his change.
But Xan…Xan was a white lion, a beautiful creature that still retained the deep emerald of his human eyes, gold now rimming the vibrant green like the setting of a beautiful gem. Levi had seen him in his lion form before, had seen them all, but close up he could barely breathe. When Xan stepped toward him, his gaze never leaving Levi’s, it was a struggle to just stay standing.
Unfortunately, in the end, standing hadn’t been the problem because with one of nudge of Xan’s warm lion nose against his palm, Levi’s cat ignored every fiber of resistance and sent him sprawling to the floor in a whoosh of biting pain and waving nausea. His clothes were suddenly too big, forming a puddle beneath his tiny feet as he yowled out the steely pain that accompanied his shift.
For barely a moment, his vision blurred and reddened, quickly resolving itself as he briskly shook his head. When he could focus and function again, Xan was the first thing he saw. He looked up into stunning turquoise eyes, beautiful in their wideness, but heartbreaking in their confusion. Xan moved a little closer, his scent surrounding Levi—musky but sweet, wild but familiar, intimate and possessive in its intensity.
Seconds felt like minutes, then minutes like hours as Levi stood fearfully still, all four paws glued to the floor. Movement behind Xan startled Levi, and he was certain he’d jumped and hissed. Kevin and Don joined Xan, a fortified line of defense beside their leader—then Levi ran.
The Tabby’s Pride blog tour runs from May 12-20 and there are three prizes up for grabs—2 ebook copies of Tabby and a $10.00 gift card from Amazon. You can enter by clicking the Rafflecopter and also earn extra entries by commenting on this post. Thanks for stopping by.
Rafflecopter link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/dba3d42/
K-lee Klein has lived in one part of Western Canada or another for her entire life. She’s a doting mother of three now-grown kids, and has had characters and plots running around her head for as long as she can remember. Her days consist of fighting off an abundance of fabulous gay men, large and small, bouncing off the walls of her skull, competing for their turns to tell their stories.
Among her favorite sub-genres to read and write are rock stars, cowboys, shifters, and opposites-attract relationships. But to be honest, she’s open to almost anything if it involves messing around in the heads of her characters. She’s also big on series—because she has a hard time letting her characters go—and is usually working on a handful of stories in various stages of completion all at the same time. You can find her books on her website kleeklein.com
Link to main blog tour post:
Hey, y’all! My good friend, Terry, had a new release this week. Today he’s here to talk about Iron Will and “Making It All Up.” So without further ado…
The fun thing about building a completely made-up world is you can do whatever the hell you want, and that includes the language(s), too.
Now, in this particular world of Iron Will, they do not worship gods and so have no concept of either heaven or hell. Thus, religion-related swearing and phrases wouldn’t make much sense. “What the hell,” “Jesus (Christ),” “Goddamn,” are all expressions that would not sit well, with the reader, and with myself.
Being a world dominated by science and technology, the engineers working day and night with such things as gears, engines, wires and all other manners of tools, developed their own slang. It didn’t take long for it to spread to non-Corporate folk.
“Gears,” “Grease,” “Uncross your wires,” “Still your gears,” “Shut your engines,” “You’re rusting my gears,” are all common sayings in the world of Iron Will.
Having grown up not only in the midst of a Corporate town, but in the very middle of Corporate life, Gael has picked up such idioms and phrases and it was a lot of fun to come up with them.
Iron Will was released from Less Than Three Press on April 9. If you want to win an eBook copy, follow this link (http://terrymilienauthor.weebly.com/1/post/2014/04/release-day.html) to know how to enter the giveaway!
Thanks for tuning in.
Gael has never believed in “Steel Giants” and magic; they’re just stories told to captivate children and remind everyone of the power of the Corporation. Those beliefs fall prey to doubt, however, when he abruptly finds himself enemy number one and being hunted down by those who are supposed to protect…
Buy it here.