Title: Tall, Dark, and Deported
Author: Bru Baker
Release date: April 1, 2017
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 236 pages
Tags: Gay; M/M; Dreamspun Desires
Crossing the border into love.
Snap decisions and misguided ideas bring Portuguese national Mateus Fontes and businessman Crawford Hargrave together at the Canadian border crossing.
Mateus is caught in a catch-22. With his almost-expired tourist visa, entrance to Canada is denied, but the US won’t let him back in either. Crawford thinks he’s solved things when he tells the border agent they’re engaged, and it works—except now they have to actually get married before either of them can get back into the United States. But Crawford has been burned by marriage once, and he’s determined not to make that mistake again.
Neither of them expects real feelings to bloom out of their fake marriage, but they do. And the two of them have to learn how to be honest with each other to make things work, which is especially hard when their entire marriage is based on lies.
Attachments: [cover] [headshot]
Hi, I’m Bru Baker. Thanks for joining me on the Kimi-chan Experience today as I wrap up my blog tour for Tall, Dark, and Deported. I’ve had a blast talking about the book, and as always I’m a little sad to be finishing up. If you missed any of the posts (especially the three video readings I did!) you can find links to all of them on my website, http://www.bru-baker.com.
I’ll be at the L.A. Times Festival of Books on April 22-23 at the Dreamspinner Press booth, and I’ll be signing copies of Tall, Dark, and Deported that weekend. Last year I had a book signing at Romantic Times and thought that was a huge event, but the Festival of Books is exponentially larger. I’m torn between quaking in my boots at the sheer size of the event (I’m told average attendance for the weekend is about 150,000 people) and vibrating with excitement. Admission is free, so if you’re in the LA area come on by and say hello!
All through the tour I’ve talked about how much I love the tropes and fluff of the Dreamspun Desires series, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I jumped at the chance to write a Dreamspun Beyond, the new paranormal line Dreamspinner Press is introducing later this year. While Adrian and Tate aren’t quite as sweet as their counterparts in Tall, Dark, and Deported, they’ll get their shot at a fluffy romance in Camp H.O.W.L.
Here’s a sneak peek at the book’s blurb:
Adrian was born into a family of werewolves, so he has no reason to think he won’t have his “werewolf puberty” right in line with everyone else his age. But he doesn’t, and the doctors are stumped. It seems he’s human. That is, until almost eight years later, when he finds himself starting his Turn halfway across the country from his Pack, scared and alone.
Tate walked away from his crazy Pack more than ten years ago, and he’s done everything he can to cut ties. He’s even changed his name to distance himself from his father, who is not only the Alpha of the Pack but also a polygamist. Werewolves believe in moonmates, a rare bond between two werewolves who are the perfect complement for each other. Tate’s father has claimed five, which is part of the reason Tate is stalwartly against the idea that moonmates exist.
Tate works for Camp H.O.W.L., a facility where Adrian ends up because he needs to learn how to control his shift. All the other campers are nineteen, which doesn’t exactly make for a comforting environment for 27-year-old Adrian. The fact that he and Tate are moonmates further complicates things, especially since Tate is so dead-set against it.
As Adrian learns to control his wolf, Tate has to learn how to come to terms with his past and move forward—preferably with Adrian. A moonmate is a wolf’s missing piece, and Tate is missing a lot of pieces. But don’t worry, Adrian is up to the challenge.
— Camp H.O.W.L., release date late 2017
Bru Baker spent fifteen years writing for newspapers before making the jump to fiction. She now balances her time between writing and working at a Midwestern library in the reference department. Most evenings you can find her curled up with a mug of tea, some fuzzy socks, and a book or her laptop. Whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s, there’s no denying that Bru is happiest when she’s engrossed in a story. She and her husband have two children, which means a lot of her books get written from the sidelines of various sports practices.
Visit Bru online at http://www.bru-baker.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
Thank you so much for hosting a stop on the Leap of Faith blog tour and for giving me the chance to talk a little about my FireWorks boys, Joel Weston and Kieran Ross, and the town I built for them. FireWorks Security, the firm Joel’s father Joseph and uncle Dale have founded, has its base in Lissand, a seaside town in Connecticut. Which – for those of us not living in that part of the world – is entirely fictional.
I was born and grew up inland, but I studied at the coast and ever since I’ve wanted to set a story in a seaside town. Not necessarily the beach variety that heaves in the summer and goes dead in the winter months, but a place where the sea is an ever present backdrop, as unremarkable as trees in a wood but with undeniable influence.
As a student, I would come off a nightshift in the local hospital and pick up still-warm bread rolls and a bottle of milk at the station. Then I’d head out to the Wieck for an hour away from people and noise to recharge before I went home or to class. I’d find somewhere to sit along the harbor side, or simply walk along the quay when it was too cold or windy to sit still. Sometimes I’d watch the boats land their early catch, and if I was lucky the tiny smokehouse had flounders or mackerel ready to eat and I’d get an extra-special breakfast.
Weekends were spent lazing in the dunes – we called it revision – before wandering home along the canal, sunburned, windblown and sandblasted. And all through the year the cries of seagulls hung in the air and northerly winds brought the tang of brine on the breeze.
I’m not a water baby, but I loved having the sea on my doorstep – which is why, when I needed a base for my fictitious security firm, I invented an equally fictitious seaside town.
Lissand is a place with a busy past. Once upon a time it was one of the busiest ports on the East Coast. Then trade moved south to larger harbors and Lissand’s fortunes fell. These days, it’s making a comeback. The harbor is home to a small fishing fleet, and the town’s marina has doubled in size in the last four years. And the rows of dilapidated warehouses that stood unused for decades are being renovated, rebuilt and put to better use.
Lissand is once more a city on the up, and many of its citizens seek relaxation and entertainment near the water. Joel, who grew up in the town, is a case in point. When their whole team had a horrid week and needs a chance to relax and regroup he takes them out for dinner in the harbor and a stroll along the pier. It’s nothing conscious on his part. It’s just that when looking out at the sea a lot of everyday problems appear wholly insignificant. It’s soothing.
Unless you walk into the middle of an active police investigation and a yacht blows up right in your face, of course.
I made up Lissand because I had a detailed shopping list for my fictional town. To make sure the story worked I needed a harbor with a pier and a busy marina for Joel and Kieran to get into trouble. The town needed to be big enough to warrant a large hospital with a trauma centre. It needed a long sandy beach for Marius to go running, a historical town centre, and a warehouse district between the old town and the harbor. And finally it needed an upscale residential area a little way out of town in the hills.
A tall ask I’m sure you agree. I wasn’t surprised when I couldn’t find all the critical “ingredients” in one place. So I indulged in a bit of world building and hope you’ll enjoy Lissand, which is not on any map.
“Back! Everyone stand back or I’ll shoot him right here!”
They were passing the entrance to the marina when a hoarse cry ripped through the air. It made Kieran’s hackles rise, and the heartrending scream that followed almost stopped his breath. Then his training kicked in and he raced toward the sounds, dodging people and lampposts on autopilot.
The marina had almost doubled in size during the four years Kieran had been in Lissand. It now attracted all manner of working and leisure boats, and on this sunny afternoon, was just as busy as the pier. And the screams pulled a crowd.
A woman stood by a slipway, arms out toward a small boy who struggled in the hold of an older man.
“Shane! Let him go, Luke, please! Let him go!”
“Stay back or I’ll kill him!”
Kieran skidded to a stop as soon as he had the gunman in sight, Smith & Wesson already in his hand.
Footsteps thudded behind him. Joel.
“No clear shot. Boy’s in the way.”
The man dragged the boy up a gangway toward a moored yacht. He had the boy’s back pressed to his legs, the gun aimed at the boy’s temple.
“Call the police and look after the mother,” Joel told him. “I’ll get on the boat.”
Kieran didn’t like the arrangement. He hated it when he wasn’t close enough to watch Joel’s back, but now wasn’t the time to argue. As long as the man used the boy as a shield, guns were not an option.
Then again, Joel had never needed a gun to be lethal.
Like a ghost he slipped away, blended into the crowd until he reached the stern of the moored yacht. Kieran had a glimpse of his partner reaching for a mooring line.
Then Joel was gone.
Time blurred as Kieran did his half of the job. He called for backup. Called the authorities and identified himself as a member of FireWorks Security. He even kept the crowd at bay, though he gladly relinquished that job the moment Rigby and Hartnett came sweeping in on the heels of the police.
“Can’t leave you two the fuck alone.”
“You said it.” Only a tiny percentage of Kieran’s attention was on the conversation. The majority was focused on the yacht the man had boarded with the boy. “Looks like a domestic that’s gotten out of hand. Attempted kidnapping by the father.” He indicated the scared, teary woman in jeans and an unseasonably short crop top who was being comforted by one of the uniforms. “The boy’s Shane Bicknall, aged six. That’s his mother. And the guy who threatened to kill him is his father, Luke Bicknall.”
“On the boat.”
Kieran listened out for sounds of a fight, for shouts, maybe gunshots. He wasn’t expecting an explosion. One moment the yacht was there. Then the whole side of the marina was on fire.
Before he knew he’d moved, Kieran was in the water. He didn’t much care about the man toting the gun, but Joel and the little boy were somewhere in this inferno of burning oil and unrecognizable debris that had been a boat only minutes earlier.
Kieran had to find them.
The wait is over Honor and Pride, Guarding The Gods: Book 2 by Ann Lister
Download for FREE with KindleUnlimited
Amazon UK http://amzn.to/2o78wS5
Universal link http://viewBook.at/HonorAndPride
* * * Since the topic of college hazing could be a trigger for some, please consider this a warning as this may not be a book you’d be comfortable reading. * * *
Fizzbo is used to taking care of people. He’s the one in charge of the personal and professional security needs for both world-famous rock bands, Ivory Tower and Black Ice. Having their backs is what he does best, and he takes pride in that, both on and off the job. When he’s called into action to save the man he loves, all of his skills are put to the test. Suddenly, he isn’t so sure his training will be enough, but saving Kensey is personal, and he’s willing do anything to keep him safe.
Author: Mia Kerick
Release Date: March 1st 2017
Genre: Adult, Gay Romance, LGBT
From bestselling author Mia Kerick comes a New Adult Gay Romance that will keep you up reading all night!
Matthew North waited ten years to heal from the devastating wounds inflicted by the man who abducted and abused him as a child. Living reclusively on a tropical island—with no company but his four cats—he merely avoids the lingering pain.
Wearing twisted ropes of mutilated skin on his back, Matt struggles with a profound hindrance—the scars that deaden his soul. However, on the night he meets lively Vedie Wilson, a local restaurant busboy who expresses his gender by wearing lipgloss and eyeliner along with his three-day beard, things change.
Gradually, Vedie and Mateo unite in friendship. Through a series of awkward encounters, the pair learns each other’s secrets. Vedie learns that an angelic face can front for a scarred soul. Matthew learns that the line between one’s masculine and feminine sides is blurred. Can they embrace the painful stories behind each other’s scars if they’re to find everlasting love? Or will surrendered love come to be yet another blemish on their souls?
Find Scarred on Goodreads
Seeing this kid cry slices easily through my thick skin and I don’t like it one bit. There’s a heart somewhere under all of the armor I wear, and I like to keep it under wraps. But what’s most fucked-up about this situation is that less than two hours ago we were complete strangers not exactly enjoying a friendly interaction.
When he came to my table, he’d asked, “Yo, what you drinkin’, man?” I guess I must have looked at him cross-eyed because I didn’t recognize him as a regular worker at The Only Tiki Hut on Placida Island. And I should know; I’ve eaten dinner here several nights a week for the past decade. He got right on my case. “What’s your friggin’ problem? I asked you real nice, seein’ as it’s my job and shit!”
It was as if he’d read my mind when he sized up my expression, which made me shiver because nobody knows what I’m thinking, and I like it that way. “Just water,” I’d told him and then I stared out over the beach, craning my neck like I was watching for somebody even though there’s never been anybody for me to watch for.
He hadn’t liked being ignored, so he’d started to play the smart-ass, a part that he’s very good at. “Sorry, big dawg, the lady’s a no-show. You gonna have to fill your bed with somebody new tonight, looks like.” He actually waggled his eyebrows.
“Guess today’s not my lucky day, because I’m planning to sleep alone,” I told him and meant it.
“It can be your lucky day if you play your cards right, my man.” He let go of the tray with one hand, dropped his palm onto my shoulder, and squeezed. “You ain’t gotta be lonely tonight if you don’t—what the fuck, man!”
I’d already jumped to my feet and practically stomped on the guy. “Hands off, asshole.”
“I get it, big dawg, so chill.” The kid pulled back his hand and released a long sigh, like he knew he’d broken one of his own rules by grabbing me. “I’ll get my dumbass hand offa your badass shoulder, if you sit your ass back down on that chair.” And after another sigh, he said, “Not gonna push the issue, man. Just offerin’ you some company on a long, hot, lonely night.”
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About the Author
Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—one in law school, another in dance school, a third in school at Mia’s alma mater, Boston College, and her lone son still in high school. (Mia is a major fan of the learning process!) She writes LGBTQ romance when not editing National Honor Society essays, offering opinions on college and law school applications, helping to create dance bios, and reviewing English papers. Her husband of twenty-three years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about this, as it is a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships. She has a great affinity for the tortured hero. There is, at minimum, one of these in each book. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with tales of said tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to CoolDudes Publishing, Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press, and Evernight Publishing for providing her with alternate places to stash her stories.
A social liberal, Mia cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.
Reblogged with the permission of the PRG:
WELCOME TO YOUR BRAND NEW HOME FOR THE PARANORMAL ROMANCE GUILD!
We here at The PRG are so excited to provide for you a brand new website where we can all
gather together to celebrate our mutual love for books. Here, you will find some old features that
have been reworked with WordPress and some brand new ones. As you may have noticed,
among all the bells and whistles here – is a website that is streamlined, easier to navigate, and
user-friendly for all.
Along with the website change, there will be some new and exciting things we are going to
promote that bring reader and writer together in the coming year and beyond.
Work in Progress Contests for skilled authors and new authors alike, we’ll be at book
conventions, and like always – we’ll have a book giveaway planned through the year.
BUT, THAT’S NOT ALL!
We here at The Paranormal Romance Guild are seeking to expand our enterprise. Not only do we
wish to grow as an organization, our constant endeavor is to support the artists who work so hard
to produce the books that we all love.
As we’ve diversified to review all works of fiction, we are really working to expand our
membership base as we understand that the relationship between reader and writer is symbiotic.
What good is a story if you’ve got no one to tell it to? And as Amazon has the market in a
constant state of upheaval, and as small presses appear and disappear seemingly overnight, it’s
becoming harder and harder for authors to sustain themselves in the tumult.
We want to serve as a stabilizing force for authors. We here at the PRG are going to dig and
brainstorm ways to make this a reality. We are after all a guild.
So, authors, readers, reviewers, and friends, watch this space in the coming year for more things
we’re going to be sending your way to bring The PRG family even closer together.
The Paranormal Romance Guild
Cover Reveal, Honor And Pride (Guarding The Gods: book two) by Bestselling Author Ann Lister
Honor And Pride,Guarding The Gods: book two by Bestselling Author Ann Lister RELEASING SOON!
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Ann Lister is a native New Englander currently living on the island of Martha’s Vineyard with her husband. She has pulled details from her years living in the New England area and uses many local settings and landmarks in her novels.
After graduating art school, marrying, and raising two daughters, she established her own video production company. Her nearly two decades working in video production included work within the music industry and won her a coveted Telly Award. Her ‘behind-the-scenes’ exposure to the music world and her love of rock music is the inspiration for her erotic rock star romances.
The Rock Gods series gave her Bestselling Author status on Amazon. Beyond The Music, Book 7 in the series, hit #1 in the Gay Erotica genre during the Pre-Order and held that spot for several weeks. This last book in The Rock Gods series launches the spin-off series, Guarding The Gods, which releases in early Summer of 2016.
Connect with Ann here:
Madison Worthington ran his hand over the lapel of his new suit and eyed his reflection critically. The cut was perfect, the dark gray material held a faint sheen under his mirror lights as it emphasized his tight butt and slender waist. Madison patted the trim ends of his golden blond hair where they fell artfully over his face. He kept it short for neatness purposes but he purposefully gave the men in his life something to hold onto on top. He leaned forward and peered at his reflected skin. Eyeliner was expertly applied to bring out a pop in his bright blue eyes. He just needed a spot of lip gloss and he’d be ready to go.
“You’re going to knock ‘em dead tonight,” he said with a smile at his reflection, pushing back familiar negative thoughts about never finding the one meant for him. If only Damien…. Madison stamped the floor with his elegantly booted foot, shutting down that line of thinking. His days with Damien were well over and his Alpha was happy with Scott. Mate, I need to find my mate, he thought, but he shoved that idea away as well. I have a good life, he told himself firmly, I have all I need.
My name is Lisa Oliver. After spending years writing non-fiction books, the lure of fiction and the men in my head finally had me sitting down and writing The Reluctant Wolf, an M/M paranormal erotic romance in November 2013. Since that time I have written twenty odd books including the Cloverleah Pack series, the Bound and Bonded series, Alpha and Omega series, and the Stockton Wolves series. I have also written a vampire/wolf shifter novel - The Power of The Bite. All of my books are M/M (or M/M/M) come with a guaranteed HEA and absolutely no cheating. I strongly believe in the power of love - and all of my books are based on the true mate trope. However, for me, insta-lust does not equal insta-love and all of my books tell of the journey my main characters need to go through to reach that state of being in love with someone special. All of my books can be read as standalone, but in cases like the Cloverleah series you get a good idea of the back stories of secondary characters by reading the books in order. I love to hear from all of my readers so please feel free to catch up with me on Facebook, Twitter or through my blog.
Blog Post on Julian’s Playlist
[Guest post by Jendi Reiter, author of Two Natures (Saddle Road Press, 2016) ]
Though I need total quiet and solitude when I finally sit down with my notebook, the rest of the time I may binge on music, and to a lesser extent TV and movies, to stay immersed in my characters’ world. Some CDs I had on constant repeat during the years I worked on Two Natures included 50 Best Loved Hymns by St. John Choir (only the first disc, for some reason); Queen: Greatest Hits III; Vic Latino’s Thrive Mix 2; Grammy Nominees 2007; Ta-Dah by Scissor Sisters; and Le Fou Chantant (“The Singing Fool”) by Charles Trenet. As you can see already, my main character, fashion photographer Julian Selkirk, is a mix of sentimental piety and hard-partying sensuality, with a touch of camp.
When the book came out, I created a YouTube playlist which you can find here on Pinterest. Here’s the story behind a few of those picks.
Petra, “Don’t Let Your Heart Be Hardened”
I got a lot of pushback from my then faith community when I started writing positively and explicitly about gay couples. This warm and peaceful song by a popular Christian band helped me remember that God is love, desite the people who speak hatefully in God’s name.
Liquid Sky, “Fashion Show”
This avant-garde electronica track was popular in gay nightclubs in the mid-1990s, when the book is set.
Johnny Cash, “Sunday Morning Coming Down”
Like the Man in Black, Julian is a Southern boy who drinks too much, and regrets his lost innocence even though he knows that being an outsider is what makes him an artist.
Charles Trenet, “Que reste-t-il de nos amours?”
Old-fashioned French songs remind Julian of his Memère (grandmother) in Savannah, who gave him his first camera and offered the family a safe haven from his abusive father.
Barbra Streisand, “Places That Belong to You”
Julian’s boyfriend Phil may be a tough working-class weightlifter, but he has a soft spot for “The Prince of Tides”, from which this theme song is taken.
Opera Trance, “Spente Le Stelle”
Julian’s mentor and sometime lover, Richard Molineux, is a cryptic, pretentious magazine editor who introduces him to the fine arts. One of their first scenes together takes place at a fashion show set to opera-techno music.
Marlene Dietrich, “Lili Marlene”
The music and poetry of World War I gain new significance for Julian and his friends as they confront another slaughter of “doomed youth”, the AIDS crisis.
Death Cab for Cutie, “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”
Losing a loved one is more heartbreaking when “religious” people have convinced you that Heaven has turned on the no-vacancy sign.
Eurythmics, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”
Julian is wild for 80s music. This song features in a pivotal scene near the end of the novel when he makes an unsettling discovery about his lover’s kinks.
What songs would you add? Read the book and let me know!
Title: Two Natures
Author: Jendi Reiter
Release Date: September 15th 2016
Genre: LGBT fiction, MM Romance
Two Natures is the coming-of-age story of Julian Selkirk, a fashion photographer in New York City in the early 1990s. His faith in Jesus helped him survive his childhood in the Atlanta suburbs with an abusive alcoholic father, but the church’s condemnation of his sexual orientation has left him alienated and ashamed.
Yearning for new ideals to anchor him after his loss of faith, Julian seeks his identity through love affairs with three very different men: tough but childish Phil Shanahan, a personal trainer who takes a dangerous shortcut to success; enigmatic, cosmopolitan Richard Molineux, the fashion magazine editor who gives him his first big break; and Peter Edelman, an earnest left-wing activist with a secret life.
Amid the devastation of the AIDS epidemic and the racial tensions of New York politics, Julian learns to see beyond surface attractions and short-term desires, and to use his art to serve his community.
**Kindle Price $0.99 from February 20th – March 17th ** (normally $9.99)
2016 Rainbow Awards: First Prize, Best Gay Contemporary General Fiction; First Runner-Up, Debut Gay Book
Named one of QSPirit’s Top LGBTQ Christian Books of 2016
The storm hit when we were about an hour south of the campgrounds. Sheets of rain covered the Chevy’s windshield. We crawled along, following the fuzzy glow of the taillights in front of us. Peter searched the AM band for a local station that could give us traffic and weather. I refrained from saying that we could see both of those by looking out the window. There’s the difference between us: he likes to know that he can’t do anything about a situation, while I just assume it.
Up ahead, flashing lights and a row of orange cones marked a lane closed off by a wreck we couldn’t make out. Peter was all for pulling off the highway and finding a shortcut via the local roads. Phil’s presence made me less adventurous. We had to get this right. If he’d been awake to vote, though, he would have sided with Indiana Jones, so I resigned myself to studying the map for the shortest possible detour. “Hey, did you know there’s a city in New York called Sodom?”
“Is it anywhere near Coxsackie?”
We bounced along winding roads through tired towns that blended together in the rain: another white clapboard with a sagging porch, another vintage Pepsi sign over a liquor-store marquee (“happy 21st birthday Amanda!”), more black and white cows grazing around a metal silo. I never went in for that Depression-documentary stuff. People who wear overalls deserve their privacy.
After half an hour we seemed to have outrun the rain, but finding our way back to the highway was another story. We stopped for coffee and pie in a diner with turquoise vinyl siding, where the waitress gave us directions to the campsite. I could have sworn one of the truckers at the lunch counter was cruising me. If I hadn’t been with my boys, I might have gone for him, and probably gotten myself murdered. It’s not a good idea to die luridly if no one knows you’re a celebrity. I doubted whether the local Walgreen’s carried Femme NY.
We crested the hill leading into the campgrounds as a yellow-gray sunset was filtering through the pines. Peter surveyed the scene and frowned. “Guys, I don’t think this is it.”
“Nah, I saw the sign, just like the waitress told us — Deer Mountain Nature Preserve,” Phil said.
“But it’s not how I remember it, from when we used to come here — I thought there was a lake, and this little bunkhouse with showers.”
“Maybe we’re on the other end.”
“Does it really matter?” I asked impatiently. “Nature is nature, right?”
“And why is it called a nature preserve? Maybe we’re not even allowed in here,” Peter fretted.
“Cool, we’ll be, like, anarchist squatters,” Phil said. Thus outvoted, Peter pulled the Chevy into a broad clearing with a view of the mountains, where we would pitch our tents. He’d brought two,
in case Phil and I wanted some privacy. The ground was damp and spongy under a fragrant carpet of pine needles. I sprayed a mist of bug repellent all around us. In the forest, you think it’s quiet, but it really isn’t, once you let go of expecting to hear human voices. Phil had brought a battery-operated radio that played staticky doo-wop oldies (the only station we could find out there) while I built a campfire.
The sky slowly turned from purple-gray to black. We drank Cokes because Peter didn’t like mixing beer and weed, and cooked hot dogs on sticks over the sputtering fire. Phil tried to get away without eating anything with his evening pills. “I thought you always had an appetite for this,” I said, waggling a plump hot dog in front of his face. We ate that one from both ends and met in the middle, and Peter sang the Italian-restaurant song from “Lady and the Tramp”, and I laughed so hard the soda came out of my nose.
The radio was off. If we strained our eyes, we could see faint stars that vanished into the cloud cover when we looked directly at them. “I want to try and find the lake,” Peter said.
“It’s too cold to swim,” I said. “We should have come sooner.”
“I just want you guys to see it.”
A nearly-full moon had risen, cresting and sinking in the swells of clouds that drifted across its light. That and our flashlights helped us find a marked trail. There was no reason to think that it led to any lake, but we were buzzed and lucky to be there, and why not hope our luck would hold?
Phil slapped at the mosquitos that were drawn to our flashlight beams. “So there, suckers — my blood is toxic.”
“Must you think about that every minute?” I said.
“I got a right.”
Peter slowed down to put his arm around my shoulders as we trudged uphill on the winding trail. My tense breathing eased and I began to enjoy the trek in spite of myself. The spindly pines swayed above us in the wind. Our slow progress through the dark was hypnotic. Peter hummed a tune under his breath and we joined in intermittently to stay focused. I heard Phil cough a couple of times but he didn’t stop walking or look back at us, so I couldn’t do anything.
The trail ended at the edge of a rocky outcropping overlooking a valley. Silver light flashed below us, a fast-moving stream tumbling over glistening rocks. To our left, a thicker, darker gray cloudbank was building up, edged with moonglow.
I reached out to pull Phil closer to me so we were all holding each other. Maybe it was the whisper of the stream we heard, or maybe it was too far away and we only heard the trees tossing in the wind. Warm from the climb, I spread my top-layer sweatshirt on the ground for Phil and me to sit on. We leaned against each other and kissed, while Peter sat cross-legged on Phil’s other side, holding his hand.
“Got your camera?” Phil whispered. “Like you ever don’t.”
“Too dark…besides, right now…let’s just be here.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean.”
Oh, those blue eyes. I saw you, Phil, I was inside you, closer than sex, clearer than words. And you in me. I hope, I believe. In the end, you trust it or you don’t, the ground under your feet, the air in your lungs, and something surrounding you that’s more than particles of heat and scent and skin.
The distant sky rumbled. A small flock of dark birds swooped and scattered into the valley. Phil sneezed. I took off my other sweatshirt and wrapped it around him. He didn’t object. Peter stretched out on the ground, propping his chin in his hands, and looked down at the stream with a sigh. “I guess this is as far as we’re going to get.”
“It’s all right,” Phil said. “I’m happy here.”
“Good, ’cause we’re going to leave you here,” I deadpanned.
He slugged my arm. “Hey, you promised me an ice floe.”
“What’s the big deal about the lake?” I asked, since Peter was still acting glum.
“It’s where he lost his virginity,” Phil teased.
Peter rolled over and swatted at him. “Ah, screw you.”
“Is it?” I pressed him.
“For your information, I lost my virginity in the back of a comic-book store in Brooklyn Heights. And I bet I was ahead of either of you guys, too.”
I wolf-whistled. Phil said, “I moved in with Ted, that was my first boyfriend, when I was sixteen, but we’d been doing it since the year before. He worked construction, like me, and the first time, we were fixing up this old lady’s attic and we all of a sudden got all over each other, and when she complained about the noise we told her she had squirrels.” Peter and I laughed. Phil looked expectantly at me.
“Define virginity,” I stalled.
“Fucking or being fucked. Messing around doesn’t count.”
“So how old were you?” I asked Peter.
He hesitated. “Thirteen.”
Phil made a face, like he didn’t believe this, but I didn’t think Peter was kidding. “Who the hell would do you at thirteen?” I blurted out.
Peter looked away. “Hey, I wasn’t totally hideous,” he muttered.
“No, I meant — ” Too frustrated for words, I touched my hand to his cheek. “I’m sure you were as delicious then as you are now, but I’m feeling this primitive Southern urge to punch that guy in the face.”
“It wasn’t so bad. I mean, it was good. I liked him.”
I stayed where I was, touching him. He wrapped his fingers around mine.
“Who…who was he?” I didn’t want to know, but I had to.
“Uh, a friend of my dad’s. I worked in his store the summer after the last time we came here — after my real mom found out about Ada.” He gestured impatiently at the view. “Only it’s not here, we’re somewhere else.”
“Wherever you go, there you are,” Phil volunteered.
“Oh, profound,” I said.
This time the dull boom of thunder sounded closer. The wind had picked up, whipping the branches around. “Oh crap, we’d better get back,” Peter said.
“Not until Julian tells us about his first time.” Phil slid his hand down my leg. I felt a flash of desire and wondered about the mechanics of safe sex in a sleeping bag.
“It was you,” I said, almost inaudibly.
Phil glanced up from nuzzling my neck. “Naw…I thought you’d been with lots of guys,” he said, just as softly.
“Yeah, but we said blowjobs didn’t count, only real sex.” I kissed his ear, trying to revive the tender mood of a moment ago.
Rain began to patter lightly on the leaves. “Guys, come on,” Peter urged, standing up.
Phil hung onto my thigh, keeping me on the ground. “What about the first time you were on the bottom, was that me too?”
“Let’s talk about this later, please?”
“Who was it?”
“I don’t know, okay?” I burst out, pushing him off me. “He was just some guy in Central Park.”
Phil caught up to me as I followed Peter’s bobbing flashlight beam along the narrow path downhill. “Here’s your jacket,” he said gruffly, draping the grass-stained sweatshirt over my shoulders. He didn’t take his arm away afterward, pretending to need my support as he dodged the humped tree roots underfoot.
Superimposed on the path before me, there returned my one memory of that man’s lined and wistful face, the pure gratitude in his eyes when he held me for a few seconds after fucking me under the arcade by Bethesda Fountain. I hadn’t expected it and it hurt quite a bit, though there was a thrill in it too, the way he invaded the center of me, opening what had always been closed.
The downward-sloping trail was slippery with wet leaves. Distracted by my thoughts, I stumbled and fell, skidding on my ass into a clump of bushes. The sky chose that moment to flush its cosmic toilet. Water poured down hard. I swore as the prickly bushes snagged my clothes. Phil tried to help me out but got entangled himself, like two fools in a fairy tale glued to the golden goose.
“I’m sorry,” he shouted over the noise of the storm. His face was smudged and wet. “Jule, I know…I know you didn’t want…to be with me, like this.”
“Phil. I love you.” Words I’d never said before. I warmed his rain-chilled lips with mine. His arms were the most solid thing in the world. How could they vanish, how to conceive of a time when all of us would become unreal?
Doubling back with the flashlight, Peter found us still clenched in our silent embrace. Since he was the only one who’d thought to bring gloves, he had little trouble pushing aside the thorny branches. We found our way back to the campsite in silence.
“Oh, crap crap crap!” Peter exclaimed when we saw the fallen tree limbs crushing his tent. He did this little stomping dance of frustration that would have been funny if we’d been watching it from someplace dry. He glanced back and forth from us to the other tent, which had stayed upright. “Okay, I guess I’m sleeping in the Chevy.”
Phil and I exchanged a look of agreement. I was just desperate to get him inside. He wasn’t hiding his shivering very well. “No, there’s room for you,” Phil said.
Inside the tent, we stripped down to our T-shirts and underwear, leaving our wet clothes in a heap by the door flap. Peter had found some spare blankets in the van to supplement the two sleeping bags, which were barely enough to cover the three of us when we zipped them together to make a sort of comforter.
I thought Phil should go in the middle. “Nah, night sweats,” he said, nudging me to change places with him. His eyes were saying more than that. So I lay against Peter’s chest, with his arms around me, and Phil, on my other side, reaching over to hold Peter’s hand where it rested at my waist. Phil tucked his head into the curve of my neck, the way we always liked to sleep. I felt his heartbeat, steady and strong, and heard the faint wheeze of his breath growing more regular
as he drifted off. Peter’s body, too, relaxed without easing his hold on us. I was just thinking about kissing him goodnight — on the cheek, would it be so wrong? — when he pressed his face to mine. Silent softness of mouths and tongues, a few minutes standing in for all the time gone and time to come, until the three of us were sleeping in the incomparable warmth we made together.
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About the Author
Jendi Reiter’s books are guided by her belief that people take precedence over ideologies. In exploring themes of queer family life, spiritual integration, and healing from adverse childhood experiences, her goal is to create understanding that leads to social change. Two Natures is her first novel; a sequel is in the works. Her four published poetry books include Bullies in Love (Little Red Tree, 2015) and the award-winning chapbook Barbie at 50 (Cervena Barva Press, 2010). She is the co-founder and editor of WinningWriters.com, an online resource site for creative writers.
For the past few years Yarroway L’Estrella has lived in exile, gathering arcane power. But that power comes at a price, and he carries the scars to prove it. Now he must do his duty: his uncle, the king, needs him to escort Prince Gareth to his wedding, a union that will create an alliance between the two strongest countries in the known world. But Yarrow isn’t the prince’s only guard. A whole company of knights is assigned to the mission, and Yarrow’s not sure he trusts their leader.
Knight Duncan Purefroy isn’t sure he trusts Yarrow either, but after a bizarre occurrence during their travels, they have no choice but to work together-especially since the incident also reveals a disturbing secret, one that might threaten the entire kingdom.
The precarious alliance is strained further when a third member joins the cause for reasons of his own-reasons that may not be in the best interests of the prince or the kingdom. With enemies at every turn, no one left to trust, and the dark power within Yarrow pulling dangerously away from his control, the fragile bond the three of them have built may be all that stands between them and destruction.
REVIEW: August Li has built a world of magic, mayhem, and myths. Notthing is as it seems, and no one is who they seem to be. Yarrow, Duncan, and Sasha are three wildly different people, each with their own quirks, goals, and inner demons. I found it utterly fascinating watching the three of them gradually becoming closer despite their initial dislike of each other. If the actual journey wasn’t challenging enough, Yarrow, Duncan, and Sasha have to navigate the mindfield of power plays, hidden agendas, schemes, plots, betrayal, doublecrosses, and enemies attacking at any time. I was hooked fromm the very first page, and just could not put it down waiting to see what would happen next. The sex between the three men was hot enough to almost set my ereader on fire. The ending almost broke my heart, but left me wanting to grab the next book in this fantastic series.
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