Category Archives: Book Tours

The Stark Divide (Liminal Sky Book 1) by J. Scott Coatsworth Blog Tour with Excerpt

 

Some stories are epic.

The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.

Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.

From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.
Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.

Book One of Liminal Sky

Excerpt:

“DRESSLER, SCHEMATIC,” Colin McAvery, ship’s captain and a third of the crew, called out to the ship-mind.

A three-dimensional image of the ship appeared above the smooth console. Her five living arms, reaching out from her central core, were lit with a golden glow, and the mechanical bits of instrumentation shone in red. In real life, she was almost two hundred meters from tip to tip.

Between those arms stretched her solar wings, a ghostly green film like the sails of the Flying Dutchman.

“You’re a pretty thing,” he said softly. He loved these ships, their delicate beauty as they floated through the starry void.

“Thank you, Captain.” The ship-mind sounded happy with the compliment—his imagination running wild. Minds didn’t have real emotions, though they sometimes approximated them.

He cross-checked the heading to be sure they remained on course to deliver their payload, the man-sized seed that was being dragged on a tether behind the ship. Humanity’s ticket to the stars at a time when life on Earth was getting rapidly worse.

All of space was spread out before him, seen through the clear expanse of plasform set into the ship’s living walls. His own face, trimmed blond hair, and deep brown eyes, stared back at him, superimposed over the vivid starscape.

At thirty, Colin was in the prime of his career. He was a starship captain, and yet sometimes he felt like little more than a bus driver. After this run… well, he’d have to see what other opportunities might be awaiting him. Maybe the doc was right, and this was the start of a whole new chapter for mankind. They might need a guy like him.

The walls of the bridge emitted a faint but healthy golden glow, providing light for his work at the curved mechanical console that filled half the room. He traced out the T-Line to their destination. “Dressler, we’re looking a little wobbly.” Colin frowned. Some irregularity in the course was common—the ship was constantly adjusting its trajectory—but she usually corrected it before he noticed.

“Affirmative, Captain.” The ship-mind’s miniature chosen likeness appeared above the touch board. She was all professional today, dressed in a standard AmSplor uniform, dark hair pulled back in a bun, and about a third life-sized.

The image was nothing more than a projection of the ship-mind, a fairy tale, but Colin appreciated the effort she took to humanize her appearance. Artificial mind or not, he always treated minds with respect.

“There’s a blockage in arm four. I’ve sent out a scout to correct it.”

The Dressler was well into slowdown now, her pre-arrival phase as she bled off her speed, and they expected to reach 43 Ariadne in another fifteen hours.

Pity no one had yet cracked the whole hyperspace thing. Colin chuckled. Asimov would be disappointed. “Dressler, show me Earth, please.”

A small blue dot appeared in the middle of his screen.

“Dressler, three dimensions, a bit larger, please.” The beautiful blue-green world spun before him in all its glory.

Appearances could be deceiving. Even with scrubbers working tirelessly night and day to clean the excess carbon dioxide from the air, the home world was still running dangerously warm.

He watched the image in front of him as the East Coast of the North American Union spun slowly into view. Florida was a sliver of its former self, and where New York City’s lights had once shone, there was now only blue. If it had been night, Fargo, the capital of the Northern States, would have outshone most of the other cities below. The floods that had wiped out many of the world’s coastal cities had also knocked down Earth’s population, which was only now reaching the levels it had seen in the early twenty-first century.

All those new souls had been born into a warm, arid world.

We did it to ourselves. Colin, who had known nothing besides the hot planet he called home, wondered what it had been like those many years before the Heat.

Buy Links Etc:

DSP Publications (paperback): https://www.dsppublications.com/books/the-stark-divide-by-j-scott-coatsworth-416-b

DSP Publications (eBook): https://www.dsppublications.com/books/the-stark-divide-by-j-scott-coatsworth-415-b

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Stark-Divide-Liminal-Sky-Book-ebook/dp/B074G2NJP6/

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-stark-divide-j-scott-coatsworth/1126901106?ean=9781635338324

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-stark-divide

iBooks: https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-stark-divide/id1266474103?mt=11&at=1l3vtqV

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35834187-the-stark-divide

QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/book/the-stark-divide/

Author Bio:

Scott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Enticed into fantasy and sci fi by his mom at the tender age of nine, he devoured her Science Fiction Book Club library. But as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were in the books he was reading.

He decided that it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at his local bookstore. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He loves to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

Starting in 2014, Scott has published more than 15 works, including two novels and a number of novellas and short stories.

He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own lives.

Author Links:

Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Facebook (personal): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Facebook (author page): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor/

Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/jscoatsworth/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth

QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ

Giveaway: Prophesy (The King & Alpha # 1) A.E. Via

💫Giveaway💫

 

Author A.E. Via

Title: Prophesy

Series: The King & Alpha Series

Book One
M/M PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Edited by:
Tina Adamski
Cover Artist – Jay Aheer
PAGE COUNT – 293
Release Date: September 23, 2017

Synopsis
An Enemies to Lovers
Shifter, Vampire True Mates story.

Justice Volkov is the youngest Alpha Zenith to ever lead the wolf shifters. Following in his father’s large paw prints was a responsibility he met head on. Now at age thirty-three, he is alpha of the alphas. As a direct descendant of the original Siberian pack, his wolf is bigger and stronger than Justice, himself is sometimes able to control.

His wolf howled long and hard but Justice kept it inside. It felt like a bass drum beating against his rib cage. The harsh breaths, angry snarls and the determined pacing inside him was overtaking him.

Justice takes his role of leadership and his legacy very seriously. He has little time for romance, not to mention a true mate. His packs are his priority. With a human government trying to regulate them, an uprising of rogue shifters, and a violent team of scientists trying to experiment on them, Justice has his hands way too full.

Chadwick ‘Wick’ Bentley is not enthusiastic when the captain of his escort tells him he has to leave his comfortable London home and go back to the States. As the Vampire King, he has no choice but to get his species back in line before they cause anymore chaos. At over one-hundred years old, Wick is no one to trifle with, but his smooth, charismatic manner makes him quite unique, despite the negative reputation vampires have. Wick has had nothing but time up to this point. He doesn’t feel the need to make issues pressing. Nothing is urgent in his life. Until he meets Justice. His beloved.

“Natural enemies can’t be mates.” Or so Justice thought. He knows his skepticism and rejection is hurting his mate, so while he fights their connection, Wick gets help from a source very close to Justice to help him win his beloved’s heart. Wick is a force all on his own, but when he’s blessed with a special gift from the Mother herself, not even Justice’s powerful wolf can prevent the prophesy from being fulfilled.

This story DOES NOT contain/mention MPREG.
No multiple pairings. No cliffhangers. It ends with a very HFN.

Warning: This book is MM paranormal: If you DO NOT like hot, alpha men shifting into large wolves, or vampires feeding from their mates, this may not be your read.

💫AUTHOR BIO:💫

A.E. Via has been a best-selling author in the beautiful gay romance genre for four years now, but she’s no stranger to MM. She’s been an avid reader of gay lit for over fifteen years before she picked up her laptop to place her own kiss on this genre. She’s also the founder and owner of Via Star Wings Books, having published a couple great new up and coming MM authors.
A.E. has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Virginia Wesleyan College that she used to start her own paralegal firm after she graduated in 2008. She spent five years preparing and filing bankruptcy petitions for struggling blue collar workers who couldn’t afford to file with a lawyer. It was a rewarding and satisfying career… but another path called to me. Writing.
A.E.’s writing embodies everything from hopelessly romantic to adventure, to scandalous. Her stories often include intriguing edges and twists that take readers to new, thought-provoking depths.
Now that she’s gotten over her 10 books published hump, she’s kind of known now for her hardcore, play rough and love hard, bad boy, alphas. However, I do like to push myself to step out of my comfort zone, exploring with different tropes, but I won’t push myself into a whole other genre. I’m head over heels for gay romance and I have tons of more hot stories to tell.
Be sure to visit Adrienne on her social media pages and subscribe to her newsletter to never miss another release date! Go to A.E. Via’s official website http://authoraevia.com for more detailed information on how to contact her, follow her, or a sneak peak on upcoming work, free reads, VSWB submissions, and where she’ll appear next.

Links

Amazon Link: https://goo.gl/mFSN4E
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/738758
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35839947-prophesy

Author Official Website: http://authoraevia.com
A.E. Newsletter Signup: https://goo.gl/4hfuMh
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/aeviaauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorAEVia

EXCERPT:

The wolves walked cautiously around the vampires of Wick’s Escort, their lips pulled back and a snarl of spittle escaping when the vampires did absolutely nothing in retaliation – like the young wolves were itching for a fight. Justice took everything in, including the bitter scents of fury and aggression. The wolves’ posturing, and their obvious misplaced hostility against the vampires, was a harsh slap of reality in Justice’s face. His own damn shifters were the cause of all this. The display the vampires were putting on clearly showed they had much more control over their behavior than his shifters. It was time for Justice to act. Everyone was waiting for him. The shifters were not from the Humboldt Pack, so Alpha Mikel would not intervene. It was all on Justice, but after the mental anguish he’d suffered the last couple days, he didn’t think he had the energy to pull on his wolf and use his authority. He was wrong. When the larger wolf in front passed Wick and let out a sharp, vicious bark at him. Issuing a clear challenge… Justice realized he’d been grossly mistaken.
It all happened so fast, yet it felt like slow motion.
Justice stepped off with his right foot and bounded a good eight feet in the air, shifting in mid-leap and landing on four large paws. Justice shook out his animal’s thick white and gray fur, his wolf beyond anxious to be let out in the presence of its mate. Justice turned his large head to the darkening sky and howled to the pack and all neighboring packs within miles. The rest of the Humboldt pack emerged from their cabins and the perimeter of dense trees. Some were in wolf form and some human. Whichever their form, they were all staring at the vampires, not the defiant wolves that were currently being kept in a tight line by Alek and Mac, while the impressive Alpha Zenith made his entrance.
Justice finished stretching his massive body – his wolf having been confined for two days – then turned his icy blue eyes on his mate. Justice stood tall and dominant, his tail high in the air. Wick didn’t try to hide his excitement or shield his arousal at seeing his wolf. Justice’s sense of smell was already sensitive but in this form the smell of his mate was driving him crazy. It was so amazing and distinct from anything else around him. His wolf ached to go to Wick and push his body against him so he at least carried his scent. His animal already struggled with his mate not wearing his mark.
“You’re beautiful, Beloved.”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Prophesy (The King & Alpha #1) A.E. Via

💫REVIEWED BY: Patricia Nelson💫

TITLE: Prophesy

SERIES: The King & Alpha Series Book 1

AUTHOR: A.E. Via

PUBLISHER: Via Star Wings Books

RELEASE DATE: September 23, 2017

An Enemies to Lovers
Shifter, Vampire True Mates story.

BLURB: Justice Volkov is the youngest Alpha Zenith to ever lead the wolf shifters. Following in his father’s large paw prints was a responsibility he met head on. Now at age thirty-three, he is alpha of the alphas. As a direct descendant of the original Siberian pack, his wolf is bigger and stronger than Justice himself is sometimes able to control.

His wolf howled long and hard but Justice kept it inside. It felt like a bass drum beating against his rib cage. The harsh breaths, angry snarls, and the determined pacing inside him was overtaking him.

Justice takes his role of leadership and his legacy very seriously. He has little time for romance, not to mention a true mate. His packs are his priority. With a human government trying to regulate them, an uprising of rogue shifters, and a violent team of scientists trying to experiment on them, Justice has his hands way too full.

Chadwick ‘Wick’ Bentley is not enthusiastic when the captain of his escort tells him he has to leabe his comfortable London home and go back to the States. As the Vampire King, he has no choice but to get his species back in line before they cause any more chaos. At over one hundred years old, Wick is no one to trifle with, but his smooth, charismatic manner makes him quite unique, despite the negative reputation vampires have. Wick has had nothing but time up to this point. He doesn’t feel the need to make issues pressing. Nothing is urgent in his life. Until he meets Justice. His beloved.

“Natural enemies can’t be mates.” Or so Justice thought. He knows his skepticism and rejection is hurting his mate, so while he fights their connection, Wick gets help from a source very close to Justice to help him win his beloved’s heart. Wick is a force all on his own, but when he’s blessed with a special gift from the Mother herself, not even Justice’s powerful wolf can prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled.

REVIEW: This fascinating, and fantastic book is A.E. Via’s first foray into the shifter/paranormal genre. I personally think she’s done a absolutely awesome job of it. Her world building is vivid, pulling you in from the very beginning. The characters are complex, three dimensional, and totally engaging. I couldn’t help but hold my breath, watching as Wick and Justice shakily navigated the minefield of ploys, plots, betrayals, ingrained prejudice, years of war, and their own doubts, insecurities, and inner demons, hoping that they would get the HEA ending they so richly deserved. I absolutely loved this enthralling beginning to an intriguing new series, and can’t wait to see what happens next.

RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

BUY LINKS:

Amazon

Via Star Wings Publishing

 

 

 

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Promises 3 (Bounty Hunters) A.E. Via


💫💫Reviewed by Kiwi💫💫

 

TITLE: Promises 3

SERIES: Bounty Hunters

AUTHOR: A.E. Via

PUBLISHER: Via Star Wings

RELEASE DATE: July 1, 2017

 

BLURB: A bounty hunter’s partners to lovers’ story. The hunt is on… and he’s the prey.

Bradford (Ford) King was sure he had the rest of his life mapped out. Though he was no longer a SEAL Lieutenant, his brother was home safe and he had a job that still allowed him to satisfy his hunger for hunting bad guys. Life was simple, no distractions or complications – at age forty-six – that’s all Ford wanted. What he didn’t want was his work partner, sniper/watchman, Dana, giving him s**t all the time.

Dana Cadby had grown up labeled a roughneck from the wrong side of the tracks. He’d fought, scrounged, and survived despite a father that constantly told him he couldn’t. Dana pulled himself up by his own boot straps and made a name for himself in the marksman community. He’d been Duke’s bounty watchman for five years. It was his job to ensure their safety, watch their backs. At thirty-three, he was trusted, well respected by his peers, his bosses, his friends… so why couldn’t he earn the same respect from his partner?

Dana knew he was bisexual before he graduated high school. He also knew he was attracted to the huge, 6’3”, SEAL from the moment he and his brother came to join their team. It wasn’t easy for him to tamp down his immediate reaction to Ford’s thick muscles, full beard, and dark eyes. Still, Dana exhibited nothing but professionalism towards him, not wanting to make his ‘straight’ partner uncomfortable. So why did Ford constantly give him hell?

After Dana took back his ex-girlfriend, he’d noticed an intensification in Ford’s bad attitude. One that turned aggressive and downright antagonistic, and Dana was damned if he’d just lay down and take it. He was gonna make that man respect him if it was the last thing he did.

When Duke sends Dana and Ford out to track down their most dangerous bounty yet, they both embrace the fact that they make one hell of a team… but they fight tooth and nail against the powerful intimacy brewing between them.
Beware: If Ford and Dana connect completely, god help the fugitive who’s in the sights of the hunter and his watchman.

This story is a part of a series but can stand alone. It does not end on a cliffhanger and has a HEA.

 

REVIEW: This is the third book in this fantastic series by this author. And when I tell you that it’s amazing, I mean it. This book continues with Dana and Ford’s story. This story, as with all this author’s work was such a pleasure to read. It was also a pleasant surprise because I wasn’t expecting this pairing.

Dana is the youngest on the team and in my opinion, the most vulnerable, emotionally speaking of course. I loved Dana’s character. His personality was an interesting juxtaposition of vulnerability and strength. He was shy yet…not. He was confident yet insecure.

Ford was a gruff and tough former Navy Seal. He’s loyal and fiercely protective of his younger brother. He’s also stubborn. Well, both men are stubborn. So much so that I wanted to reach in and Gibbs smack both of them at the backs of their heads to knock some sense into both of them. I especially wanted to snap Dana’s girlfriend like a twig. The ole bony, salad eating wench that she was.

You know a book is good when the characters make you yell at your reading device. I was yelling at, smacking and positively howling at my iPad, these characters are just that vivid.

I love her writing style. You’re not going to get any pretty lavender words or flowery dialogue from the men in her books. I also love the fact that her characters are men of a particular age and everyday working men. What I also appreciate is the fact that she’s not afraid to use the word bisexual. These men are BISEXUAL. Not ‘gay for you’, ‘out for you’ or any of the other tropes that  erases the bisexual identity. 

I can’t express how excellent this book is. I equate reading this author’s work to mama cooking in the kitchen and when she’s finished, you end up with the most delicious meal. Yes, she has truly put her foot in the pot with this book.

This book, heck, this series is definitely highly recommended.

 

RATING: 🌟🌟AMAZING🌟🌟

 

BUY LINKS:

Amazon (Promises 3) 

Amazon (Promises series)

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Promo & Giveaway:Promises #3 (Bounty Hunters) A.E. Via

 

💫💫💫PROMO & GIVEAWAY  💫💫💫

 

 Author A.E. Via
Title: Promises Part 3
M/M GAY CONTEMPORARY/ACTION
Edited by: Tina Adamski
Cover Artist – Jay Aheer
PAGE COUNT – 222
Release Date: June 30, 2017

Synopsis

A bounty hunter’s partners to lovers’ story.
The hunt is on… and he’s the prey.

Bradford (Ford) King was sure he had the rest of his life mapped out. Though he was no longer a SEAL Lieutenant, his brother was home safe and he had a job that still allowed him to satisfy his hunger for hunting bad guys. Life was simple, no distractions or complications – at age forty-six – that’s all Ford wanted. What he didn’t want was his work partner, sniper/watchman, Dana, giving him s**t all the time.

Dana Cadby had grown up labeled a roughneck from the wrong side of the tracks. He’d fought, scrounged, and survived despite a father that constantly told him he couldn’t. Dana pulled himself up by his own boot straps and made a name for himself in the marksman community. He’d been Duke’s bounty watchman for five years. It was his job to ensure their safety, watch their backs. At thirty-three, he was trusted, well respected by his peers, his bosses, his friends… so why couldn’t he earn the same respect from his partner?

Dana knew he was bisexual before he graduated high school. He also knew he was attracted to the huge, 6’3”, SEAL from the moment he and his brother came to join their team. It wasn’t easy for him to tamp down his immediate reaction to Ford’s thick muscles, full beard, and dark eyes. Still, Dana exhibited nothing but professionalism towards him, not wanting to make his ‘straight’ partner uncomfortable.

After Dana took back his ex-girlfriend, he’d noticed an intensification in Ford’s bad attitude. One that turned aggressive and downright antagonistic, and Dana was damned if he’d just lay down and take it. He was gonna make that man respect him if it was the last thing he did.

When Duke sends Dana and Ford out to track down their most dangerous bounty yet, they both embrace the fact that they make one hell of a team… but they fight tooth and nail against the powerful intimacy brewing between them.
Beware: When Ford and Dana connect, no fugitive can hide from the hunter and his watchman.

This story is a part of a series but can stand alone. It does not end on a cliffhanger and has a HEA.
Disclaimer: This book is about MM romance, albeit there is a very brief MF scene.

AUTHOR BIO:

A.E. Via is an author in the beautiful gay romance genre and also founder and owner of Via Star Wings Books. Her writing embodies everything from hopelessly romantic to adventure, to scandalous. Her stories often include intriguing edges and twists that take readers to new, thought-provoking depths.
When she’s not clicking away at her laptop, she devotes herself to her family—a husband and four children.
Adrienne has tons of more stories to tell, so be sure to visit her site to learn more! Go to A.E. Via’s official website http://authoraevia.com for more detailed information on how to contact her, follow her, or a sneak peak on upcoming work, free reads, VSWB submissions, and where she’ll appear next.

Links

Amazon: https://goo.gl/KQ32Uz
Kobo: https://goo.gl/qXPIzK
Smashwords: https://goo.gl/tSpzyz
Goodreads: https://goo.gl/AbfTzJ

Author Official Website: http://authoraevia.com
A.E. Amazon Author Page: https://goo.gl/AVpOeJ
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/aeviaauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorAEVia

Excerpt

Dana

Dana had the waitress quickly take his best friend’s plate, in hopes it would appear he was eating alone. Dana didn’t turn around, instead using the mirror behind the bar to see that one of the men stayed outside, one sat down in the waiting area by the front door, three went to the bar, while the other two approached him.
Dana kept his composure even as the leader took Sway’s seat, the other one making his big body comfortable on the other stool. “Have we met?” Dana said drily.
The man simply looked at Dana with a “Don’t bullshit me” expression and waved over the waitress. She looked uncomfortable when she stood next to the table, her smile long gone, like she knew something wasn’t right. Sway’s charming presence was missing, replaced with ugly hoodlums.
“Hey, sweetheart. I’ll have a double of your best whisky.” The man ordered in a rough voice, his sinister smile making an unwanted appearance. Beady green eyes surveyed the shot glasses on the table and the three or four empty beer mugs. The thug looked up at Dana with a skeptical expression. “Did you drink all this yourself or am I really interrupting?”
“Nope. Just a night alone. I might have a slight drinking problem,” Dana answered, hoping the waitress caught on.
“Sad.” The guy sneered. “Make it a triple, beautiful. And put it on his tab.”
The server looked at Dana but he didn’t contradict, just nodded his head once. He didn’t want her at the table longer than she needed to be. “Sorry to interrupt your sad party for one, but I’m here to deliver a message.”
“Figured as much.” Dana looked unaffected. “May I ask who you are, or can I just call you errand boy?”
A flash of anger shone in the man’s eyes before he curved just the edges of his mouth. “I’d be careful if I were you. My name is Mack and my leniency only extends so far. Now, John said don’t hurt you… yet. Just to relay the message, so I’m going to try to do that, but don’t think I won’t drag your ass out of this cheap restaurant and pound you into the fucking concrete. We usually don’t like to make a public spectacle of ourselves, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’re safe just because there are others around.”
“We wouldn’t want that, now would we, Mack?” Dana said the man’s name like it tasted disgusting… it did. “So, what’s the message?”
“The Grossmans know Duke has been hired to bring them in. From my boss man to yours. Tell Duke to drop the case.” Mack held up his hand like Dana had opened his mouth to say something, but he hadn’t moved. “We don’t want to hurt you guys. My bosses know of Duke’s reputation. He always gets his man… some say he’s practically indestructible, but does he really want to test that myth? I doubt it. Our beef isn’t with you. All you guys gotta do is stay out of our way and big John is willing to generously compensate Duke.”
Dana could feel the heat of a powerful glare on him. He had to fight the urge to rub the back of his neck where the hair stood up. A feeling of bravery and brotherhood washed over him as he looked up into the eyes of Bradford King across the room, tucked behind the server’s station. The eye contact was brief but there. The alarms on their watches were silent but alerted the entire team to his location. They were used in emergencies, military ops team watches, which Ford was able to get through one of his many contacts. It didn’t typically take long for one of them to reach the other. But it felt amazing that Ford had gotten to him first, and in only six minutes.
“Stay out of the way of what?” Dana asked like he could care less.
“Our business,” Mack snarled.
The waitress brought his triple and Mack had it in his mouth and down his throat before she even left. Dana asked her for the check so Mack couldn’t order another and prolong this bullshit meeting.
“You got it?” Mack bit out.
“You didn’t say much, but the little that you did say… yeah, I got it.” Dana shrugged. Mack looked pissed but he smiled and stood, his silent goon next to him doing the same.
“Let us know.” Mack moved to Dana’s side of the table and slammed a card down in front of him. It was white card stock with ten digits on it. No name, no email, or other identifiers. “You got forty-eight hours.”
“That’s sure generous of you.”
Mack bent closer, inches from Dana’s face, and out of the corner of his eye Dana saw Ford push off the wall, ready to strike. Dana gave him a subtle signal letting him know he had this.
“You talk a good game, bounty hunter, but y’all are severely outnumbered and you know it. Your boss knows it. Do the right thing. No one wants this to get ugly. Take the money and walk.” Mack actually sounded like he wanted nothing but peace. Dana knew those kinds of men. Played you to make you trust them, then they stabbed you in the back… literally.
As they filed out the door and back into their vehicles, Ford finally came to the table. “You good?” were his only words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

🌟🌟Giveaway🌟🌟

 

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Tall, Dark and Deported Guest Post with Excerpt by Bru Baker

 

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
Blurb
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.
Buy links:

Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play

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

Bio:

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.

Leap of Faith Blog Tour Guest Post and Excerpt by Jackie Keswick

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.

Excerpt: 

Marina

“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.”
“Where’s Weston?”
“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.
Fast.

Buy:

Amazon

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Release Blitz: Home and Pride by Ann Lister

Release Blitz

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The wait is over Honor and Pride, Guarding The Gods: Book 2 by Ann Lister

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Universal link http://viewBook.at/HonorAndPride

Description

* * * 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.

Scarred by Mia Kerick Blog Tour with Excerpt and #Giveaway

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Title: Scarred
Author: Mia Kerick
Release Date: March 1st 2017
Genre: Adult, Gay Romance, LGBT

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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?

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Cool Dudes Publishing

Find Scarred on Goodreads

EXCERPT

Matt

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.”

GIVEAWAY: Win a $25 Amazon Giftcard

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About the Author

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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.

Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

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Two Natures by Jendi Reiter Blog Tour with Guest Post, Excerpt, & Giveaway

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”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lP_XNlt8Opk

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”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwOHKKJxrgA

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”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgcNoP4Wudw
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?”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWAxaHuwg30

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”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVlC3TRL1Tw

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”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWJsCOC-yvE

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”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5M7kyr1jYks

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”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDHY1D0tKRA

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)”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeMFqkcPYcg

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!
##

 

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Title: Two Natures
Author: Jendi Reiter
Release Date: September 15th 2016
Genre: LGBT fiction, MM Romance

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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.

Goodreads

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | Saddle Road Press

**Kindle Price $0.99 from February 20th – March 17th ** (normally $9.99)

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Honors:
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

EXCERPT

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

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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.

Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter

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