Articles for the Month of June 2014

Spotlight on Wanda Kay Fittro

The second Breathless Press spotlight of today is author Wanda Kay Fittro with her book Beyond the Horizon, available on the Breathless Press website.. Welcome!

Katie and Josh, both desperately seeking redemption from their past, discover passion in each other’s arms. With danger just around the corner, will love survive?

When Katie Sullivan makes the hasty decision to run away from an abusive relationship, she has no clue what is ahead of her. She only knows it has to be better than her life up until now. Her boyfriend is a powerful drug dealer who will stop at nothing to get her back. She knows too much. Car trouble leaves her stranded in the middle of Kansas, with little money, and a growing fear of failure.

Widower Josh Warner works and lives on an elderly couples’ farm. He juggles the responsibilities of raising his young son and his passion for the rodeo. Unable to let go of his deceased wife’s memory and on the rebound from a misguided affair, he has no desire for another relationship. But, when Katie appears out of nowhere, everything changes.

Against all reason, Katie and Josh find themselves drawn to each other. If the past catches up to them, their newfound passion, and their lives could be in jeopardy. Can their love win against the evil headed their way?

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EXCERPT:

“You know, it’s a nice night for this time of year. Would you like to sit on the front porch for a while? I can meet you out there after I get Chad settled in.”

“I don’t know…”

“Hate to waste a nice night, especially with winter just around the corner, but suit yourself.”

Katie sat alone for a few minutes after he left. What the heck. Why shouldn’t I enjoy an evening on the porch? She went upstairs to get her sweater. Whether Josh showed up or not didn’t matter. She could use the fresh air. Surely it’s worth putting up with him for a little while if he does join her.

In her room, she attempted to check her phone for messages, then remembered it hadn’t worked since she dropped it on the floor. Just as well. Katie felt her neck and shoulders relax a little. At least she wouldn’t have the constant worry of what message Rick would leave next. She really didn’t want to hear his threats or how close he was to finding her. All she wanted was some peace and quiet. Maybe a nice evening on the front porch would be just the ticket.

When she stepped out, Josh stood on the top step looking at the stars. “I love a crisp fall night. It’s like you can see clear across the universe. Look how close the Milky Way seems.” He reached out his hand as if to touch it.

Katie sat on the wooden swing. The rusty chain squeaked as she moved back and forth.

“Do you know a lot about the stars?”

Josh stepped up, leaned on the porch rail, and faced her. He crossed his long legs, placing his hands on each side. A feeling of ease flowed from him.

“A little. Lisa and I used to stargaze at night on the balcony of our apartment. She bought me a book for one of my birthdays that showed all the names and positions of the constellations. I still don’t know where she got it. There aren’t any bookstores for miles around.” He shook his head and turned back around toward the yard.

Katie fell silent. There really wasn’t anything to say. She knew the pain of his loss must run deep.

“The tree frogs and the crickets are really strumming their tunes tonight.” Josh broke the awkward silence between them.

Katie stopped the movement of the swing to listen. “That’s a sound you don’t hear in the city. You don’t see a night sky like this either.”

“I can’t imagine living somewhere without the sights and sounds of nature around. It gives rhythm to a person’s life, you know?”

Katie didn’t know quite how to answer that. His words were so profound and heartfelt it startled her. Maybe there is more to him than rodeos and wheat fields.

“It is beautiful out here,” Katie pulled her sweater around her shoulders tighter. “If I was staying much longer though, I would need a heavier coat. That’s something I didn’t bring with me.”

Josh turned back around to face her. “Looks like you packed in a hurry.”

“Yeah, I wasn’t thinking very far ahead I guess.” Uncomfortable with the turn of the conversation, she changed the subject. “Chad seems to be a really good kid. And smart. He whizzed through his math homework in no time. You should be really proud.”

“I am.”

A shiver ran through her as a crisp breeze blew onto the porch. Josh sat on the swing, took off his jacket, and placed it around her shoulders. He let his arm rest behind her. Katie resisted the urge to protest. His arm felt comfortable and safe…like it belonged there.

BIO:

Wanda Kay Fittro lives in the beautiful Ozark Mountains in Southwest Missouri. Being born and raised in a small town community gave her an appreciation for that lifestyle, and provides the inspiration for her novels. A love affair with books started early on while reading Nancy Drew by flashlight under her bed covers. She won the prestigious Missouri Literary Festival Reader’s Choice award in 2011 for her Civil War short story One, Two, Three.

You can find and follow her at:

http://awritercalledwanda.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/wandakayfittro

https://twitter.com/WandaFittro

 

Spotlight on Mia Epsilon

The first Breathless Press spotlight today is on Mia Epsilon and her new book Wedding Belle Blues, available on the Breathless Press website. Welcome!

What do you do when the woman you love is marrying the wrong man? Sabotage the wedding!

Anna is planning the perfect wedding, but she doesn’t anticipate her future mother-in-law’s offer of help which translates into take over. Her groom-to-be avoids her and insists their growing problems are just “bridal nerves.” Worst of all, her best friend, Robin, begins to act strange. Everyone around her has his or her own agenda. What’s a girl to do when she begins to realize the perfect life she envisioned is all a lie?

Robin has two great loves in his life: his best friend Anna and his motorcycle. Not one to make a scene, he supports Anna in her plan to marry the wrong man and regrets she can’t accept his dare devil lifestyle. But when push comes to shove, he’s more than willing to make the necessary sacrifice and prove he is the man she needs.

As the wedding date draws near and plans shift into high gear, Robin and Anna grow closer and not just as friends. Each must decide what the perfect life truly means while trying to negotiate the maze of wedding plans, secrets, and hidden motives. Will someone be left singing the blues?

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EXCERPT:

“Chasing you would be a wasted effort.” Robin waved the half eaten slice before he set the crust back in the box.

Anna slammed the lid on his hand. “What do you mean? I’m not worth the chase?”

“Hey, starving teacher here.” He knocked on the inside of the box and glared at her. “And don’t be ridiculous. Of course you’re worth a chase, but even I can recognize a no win situation regardless if I can’t fully give up on it or you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” He was hiding something, besides his hand in the box. “Robin?”

The liquid blue fire in his eyes singed her as he spoke. “I didn’t give the let’s-forget-this-ever-happened-and-just-be-friends speech. I didn’t stay too afraid to see where our relationship might have gone. No win situation.”

Stunned, she gaped at him. “I thought…but you never said…I mean, we’d…”

He just stared at her, face unmoving, his chest rising and falling as his breaths increased. He was, she realized, getting angrier by the second.

She swallowed and tried to find words, any words, to defuse the tension. “I couldn’t bear to think of losing you as my friend. We did the best thing for us.””We did the best thing for you.”

“But you…you agreed with me. You said you didn’t want to risk our friendship either.”

“What the hell could I say?” He shot to his feet, knocking the pizza box to the floor. “You didn’t give me a choice. Either be your friend, only your friend, or leave your life.”

“I never said we couldn’t be friends or you had to leave my life.” She whispered the words. Yet it had been close. The next morning, after one incredible night, she’d told him: Robin, we can’t let this happen again. I love you, as a friend. I don’t want to risk our friendship on meaningless sex. Let’s just put it behind us and stay the way we were before it happened. That’s all I can give you. Please? He’d agreed.

He paced in front of her. “Maybe it’s not the correct time to bring all this up, but it needs to be said. The only reason I agreed was because it was what you wanted. The only reason. Because you asked.”

No. This couldn’t be happening, Robin saying everything she’d wanted to hear before she started dating Doug, before she’d accepted the ring. So Anna shied away from it, as she had then. “Tell me why you said ‘Doug invited Kassie instead of you’ in your shocked tone.”

“Even now you won’t face it.” He muttered a curse which shocked her with the anger behind it. “Will you? You won’t admit maybe we could have—”

“I faced it the morning after. I’m not an idiot, Robin. When you date a woman, it’s like your skydiving adventures. You have a thrill, anything goes, and it’s awesome and you’re on the high of it all. Then you land and it’s over. You never talk to the woman again, let alone have a friendship with her. I didn’t want our friendship to be over. I still don’t. I can’t give more than I am. I can’t.”

“Why, Anna?” He stopped right in front of her, hands on his hips balled into fists. “Why can’t you give more? Because of Doug Dufuss?”

“No. Because I can’t just have sex with you and then watch you leave!”

 

BIO:

Mia Epsilon lives with her enduring soul mate hubby in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, USA. She’s an avid reader of almost anything, but particularly romance. She also is a never-miss-an-episode viewer of Doctor Who and Sherlock, and happily suffers coffee and chocolate addictions. She can most often be found at her computer, spinning new stories, or in a quiet padded nook with her e-reader. Mia loves to hear from readers and maintains a mostly current blog at miaepsilon.blogspot.com and a Facebook page under the name MiaEwrites.

 

Teaser Thursday- With My Heart

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We’ll be okay. If Cole told himself that enough times, he would believe it. He loved Merit, and seeing Merit willing to please him at the cost of not enjoying it himself hurt. He didn’t want Merit to ever give anything up for him, not pleasure, not his career. Nothing. He wanted to be part of Merit’s life, not take anything away from him.

No matter how much he wished he could simply get over knowing Merit had fucked someone else, it was proving more difficult than he’d expected. He couldn’t forget it. Then again, he had only found out a little while ago, and it was too much to get past it immediately. But that didn’t mean he didn’t want to. He wanted to get back to him and Merit, and put everyone else out of his mind.

He was glad he knew Merit well enough to have recognized Merit’s tension and reluctance when Cole had tried to penetrate him. Merit wouldn’t have stopped him, and Cole didn’t want to fuck just for the sake of fucking. He wanted to bring Merit to the edge the way Merit had done to him in the living room. They should both enjoy being together, and if one of them didn’t, it wasn’t worth it.

He wished for things to be good between them again, and that meant he had to work for it. Which meant trying to let go of what had happened during their brief stint of seeing other people. It had only been a couple of days. One date apiece. He could live with it.

Merit was looking at him with confusion and some concern, and Cole didn’t like seeing the expression in his lover’s eyes. My lover. That was what Merit was to him. Something he should have known all along.

“Don’t think you have to make anything up to me,” he said. “That isn’t what this is about. I love you and we’re together, and that’s how it should be.”

“That’s how it is.” Merit gave him a faint smile. “Relationships are work, and I don’t know if we’re totally certain how to work on it. I think we need to try harder.”

“Yeah.” Cole wasn’t even sure how to begin doing so, but he was willing to make the effort.

“I’m going to spend less time with the parties and stuff.” Merit paused. “I can’t do anything about rehearsals and performances.”

“You shouldn’t have to change anything solely to make me happy,” Cole said. “I would appreciate more time with you. I feel whiny saying so, which is what started the whole problem in the first place. I wanted more time and wasn’t willing to say it.”

“But now I know, and I’d like it too.” Merit hesitated. “Erin’s moving in with Stefan.”

“You told me.” Cole paused, remembering the conversation. Erin was moving in with her boyfriend, and Merit had essentially asked him about moving in together, though Cole didn’t remember now whether it had actually been put in those words. “I can’t talk about that right now, Merit. I will, okay? I just need to think more first.”

“Yeah. Thinking is good sometimes.” Merit’s smile now appeared more genuine, and Cole relaxed. They really would be okay.

Merit took his hand. “Sometimes too much thinking is bad, though, and I’m pretty sure that’s what we’re doing. Make love to me, Cole. Don’t fuck me, don’t prove I’m yours, don’t try to erase what happened. Just make love to me, and let’s shut off the thinking for a while and be together.”

Love. That was definitely what Cole felt, and he wanted to be as close to Merit as they had been before. Physically, emotionally, every way he knew of. Maybe he was being sappy, but it didn’t matter. “Gladly.”

A Thank You Letter

There are a lot of people in my life, both personal and writing, to whom I’m thankful.

There are three who I particularly want to thank, and I want to do so publicly because they deserve to have other people know how awesome they are.

So… Steve, Mike, and Paul, thank you.

What's In A Word?

Thank you for being my biggest cheerleaders in my writing career.

Thank you for assuring me that *you* know one day I’m going to be a big name, even if I don’t believe it.

Thank you for all the times I’ve cried on your shoulders because I’m discouraged, and you’ve just listened and told me it will be okay.

Thank you for reading some of my books and telling me they’re really good; Steve and Paul, given how much you guys read, that definitely means a lot.

Thank you for adding “yet” every time I say I’m not earning as much as I wish I were.

Thank you for constantly reminding me that I’m reaching people, and that’s why I started writing in the first place.

Thank you for just being in my life. I’m not great with words that aren’t in stories, but please just know how much you mean to me.

Thank you.

 

Special Guest Maryn Blackburn

Welcoming fellow Loose Id author Maryn Blackburn today. Thanks for stopping by!

Thanks for having me, Karenna. (My mom would be so pleased I remembered my manners.) I’m Maryn Blackburn, author of Brick by Brick, a ménage à trois novel published by Loose Id. Here’s what it’s about:

Natalie and her husband James, who runs a Tucson masonry firm, are happy enough despite business being in a continued slump. After nearly a decade, their sex life has less spark than it once did. They’ve idly talked about a threesome, although they cannot imagine who (or how) they could ask. It’s a spicy fantasy until the night they attend a party where handsome actor Gage Strickland needs another guy to rescue him from his adoring fans, all of them women.

After two bottles of first-rate wine, their fantasy becomes a reality, but not the one Natalie imagined. She is not the object of two adoring men, one of them faceless and conveniently disappearing when the loving’s done. Instead, the other man is the gorgeous Gage, he’s the one in the middle–and what does that make James?

Because she loves her husband, she accepts his new reality. Their intimacy is refreshed, their needs like newlyweds’ as the days pass waiting for Gage’s call, until they can only conclude he never will. They were a one-night stand.

Gage does return, seeking not just sex but a relationship, although he has no idea how they work. He has his reasons for choosing sex with strangers in the past, since they’ve been eager to do what Gage wants for the bragging rights. Now he’s inclined to leave at the first sign of trouble rather than working through it.

Tripped up by Gage, the ménage stumbles often but continues. Natalie soon fears her James prefers Gage over her. There’s one thing Gage won’t do in the bedroom, but is her willingness enough to hold onto her husband? Or will Gage sabotage the whole thing before they reach that point?

I hope I haven’t told too much, but it’s probably like telling you Dorothy makes it back from Oz. You know how it’s going to play out, just not the details. Like Mom said, the adventure is in the journey, not the destination.

Oh, and the one question which will come up? Yes, Gage is based on a real actor, although it doesn’t matter who. But know this: A book that starts out as the worst sort of fan fiction, imagining your life intersecting with an actor’s and what might happen next, can become something richly complete and entirely free of him and yourself. I actually prefer Gage to the man he’s based on, since I got to mold him. The actor refuses to let me do the same for him, as if he had the right to control his own life. Imagine that!

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Interview with the Characters:

 

Interviewer: What is it that drew you all toward a threesome?

 

Natalie: Have you seen Gage? My god, the man’s handsome. I remember feeling aroused the first time I saw him, although at the time James was the only one I I thought would benefit.

James: That would have been great, but what happened was better. Who doesn’t get a rush from something new? Plus Natalie’s right. Gage has the kind of bone structure the camera loves, and he takes care of himself. So at first it was just animal attraction.

Gage: Shut up, both of you. Polished rock in a fancy box.

 

Interviewer: Oh, you’re modest, then?

 

Gage: No, I’m kind of vain, but I know physical attraction only goes so far. If you’re a handsome son of a bitch who’s selfish or mean, any relationship is doomed. Well, unless you’re happy with a door mat glad to have the mud off your shoes. None of the outside matters. It’s who you are inside.

James: “It’s who you are inside”–and I’ve been inside. Very nice.

Natalie: James!

James: Relax. They know already. That’s part of why they want to read about it.

Natalie: Looks are for the early part, before you have more to go on. The two men I’ve been in love with? I don’t even see them as they really look, which is a shame. The fact that I love them makes them attractive to me. I’m going to want these two when they’re losing their hair and sporting beer bellies, I imagine.

Gage: Yeah? Not that I plan to get fat or lose my hair, but who does?

James: I do. I couldn’t believe how a few weeks off equals a few pounds on. I should be laying brick for the exercise alone.

Natalie: Or giving up beer.

Gage: Like that’s going to happen.

 

Interviewer: What are some of the challenges of a three-way relationship?

 

James: People don’t get it, or they don’t approve. With strangers, you try not to care. Fuck ‘em, right? But you can’t adopt that attitude with family. My twin brother was a total dick at first. And the people you work with look at you funny, although since I own the business, they don’t say anything. They may have to accept it, but they don’t have to like it.

Gage: I really worried my career would take a hit. What if they only sent my agent scripts with a bisexual or gay character? But so far, both the industry and my fans seem to be all right with it. And the press gave me fifteen minutes of the spotlight then moved on to somebody else. There’s no shortage of celebrities doing shocking things, huh?

Natalie: Being in a committed relationship probably helps everyone get over it. People approve of love.

James: It’s pretty hard to come down on the other side of that. It’s like opposing good health.

 

Interviewer: So being in love means it’s been smooth sailing, for the most part?

 

Natalie: Hardly. Three people means three times the problems. Jealousy, that was a big one for me. This new guy’s handsome and rich and not the same old thing. Just try to compete with that.

Gage: I didn’t even know it was a competition, much less that she thought I was ahead.

James: I never stopped loving you, Nat. You know that.

Natalie: Well, now I do. At the time, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to share you.

 

Interviewer: And now you do?

 

Natalie: And now I can.

James: I’m not the linchpin here. Nobody is. We all share ourselves with the other two.

Gage: Don’t ask me to share the dinosaur mug. That’s mine and Natalie’s.

 

Interviewer: There’s an inside joke here?

 

Gage: Yes. Can I?

Natalie: Go ahead.

James: I don’t know what either one of you is talking about.

Gage: So listen and you will. There’s this cup, with a dinosaur attached to the bottom, inside. It’s cute.

James: Oh, that. It’s juvenile.

Gage: Which is why you never use it. So Natalie’s always the last one who used it, and that’s why I like to choose it. Which is also juvenile.

Natalie: But sweet. It really is. Why don’t you say things like that, James?

James: I don’t have to. I love you, and I buy you waffles.

 

Interviewer: Another inside joke?

 

James: Yeah, but it won’t be funny to anybody else. Let it go.

Natalie: Good idea, but maybe we should go out to breakfast.

Gage: Fruit plate for me. My agent says I’m getting fat.

James: He’s wrong.

 

Interviewer: Your images on the cover suggest you’re all in great shape. Any workout or diet tips?

 

James: Lay brick for six to ten hours a day, five days a week, sometimes six, and eat whatever you want. Also, I was sucking it in a little.

Natalie: Keep your curves covered in dark clothes and hide between two guys who are buff?

Gage: Oh, stop. Natalie’s body is how women are supposed to be shaped, as round and full as a great wine. Look, she’s blushing. My tip is eat less than you want and put yourself in the hands of the most sadistic personal trainer you can find a couple months before filming starts.

Natalie: And get yourself an agent who knows you’re a pro who will be in shape when it’s needed?

Gage: Yeah, that, when your contract is up.

 

Interviewer: So, back to the threesome. What smaller problems does a ménage present?

 

Natalie: Even with a big bed, somebody’s in the middle and can’t control how much of the covers is on them. Usually it’s me.

James: Poor Natalie, suffering so much. Here’s one: It’s hard to agree on what you’re going to do, whether it’s a movie or what to make for dinner. Pleasing three is way harder than two. We’ve given up on trying to pick the restaurant. Gage does that.

Gage: I’m still trying to strong-arm them into letting me set up a vacation. They don’t have passports, which puts a crimp in it. Small problems? There’s never enough coffee for three. I always need to make another pot, but then we waste it. Half-pots never come out right.

James: You suffer nearly as much as Nat with her covers.

Natalie: Tragic. I’m really aware–we all are–how trivial our problems are. I don’t want us to seem all smug fussing over the blankets and coffee and vacations when people face real crises every day with courage and grace. We know we’re so very lucky.

Gage: See why we love her?

James: How could I not?

 

EXCERPT from Brick by Brick:

“You’re an actor too?” Gage sat straighter, his expression freshly attentive.

I rarely saw James flush with pride, not even when customers gushed about his artistic masonry. “Just TV ads.” He drank. “None lately.” He lifted himself from the recliner with a little groan, then added another log to the fire and prodded it to life.

“They still show his cotton ads,” I said. “Putting on a T-shirt. Taking a pair of jeans off the clothesline and smelling them, and the camera goes back and you can see there must be hundreds of pairs. Flopping onto this big bed and the sheets puff up around him. My sister thought that one was dirty, the expression on his face.”

Gage was a good audience, listening more than talking, laughing a lot when I blurted whatever was in my head without thinking first. Time glided past rapidly. Gage moved to refill my glass; I wasn’t sure that was such a good idea. I asked James with my eyes if I was doing all right.

“Go ahead, Nat,” he said. I knew that lazy smile. He wasn’t drunk, just uninhibited, loose to the nth degree. Some of our best sex included that look—and some of James’s best TV ads did too. “It’s a party, isn’t it?”

“Yeah.” Gage filled my glass halfway before the bottle emptied. “A good party.”

“With only three, I think we have to call it an intimate gathering,” James said.

Gage’s smile dazzled. “Do I open the next one?”

What the hell. “If you like your gatherings really intimate,” I said.

“I think she wants you to stay,” James said, laughing. “Open it, already.”

The cork squeaked out. “See if you taste layers of fruit.” Gage sounded a little buzzed too.

James sipped, rolling the wine in his mouth with a frown of concentration.

“Taste it? Blackberries and raspberries? Kind of voluptuous and round. God, listen to me, one bottle and I turn into a pompous wine asshole. Anyway, it’s really ripe and full-bodied. Like Natalie.” He held his glass up, admiring the color.

Or toasting me? No. Ridiculous.

James raised his glass as well. “She’s something in that dress, isn’t she?” At Gage’s nod, he added, “You ought to see her out of it.”

 

Teaser Thursday- Beginner’s Luck

This is from one of my earliest published books, which is now out of print. 

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With a yawn, Kyla sat up and looked at the clock radio on her bureau. Six o’clock. Bizarre dreams, with monsters and bad guy car chases and vampires, had filled her mind all night, and had awakened her several times. Every time she’d woken up, she’d looked at the clock and closed her eyes again. But every time she’d dozed off, the damn dreams had come back.

Lying there tossing and turning hadn’t helped. She’d been so convinced she wouldn’t be able to get any more sleep that it had become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Other than the brief spells of dozing, she’d been awake since two a.m. But she’d forced herself to stay in bed. No one got up early on Sundays.

Alec sure didn’t. A ripping snore filled the room. If he hadn’t been so gorgeous, that snoring would have made her kick him out of bed.

Six o’clock seemed a reasonable time to get out of bed, though. She got up and picked up the clothes she’d set out the night before, then went into the bathroom for a quick shower. After dressing in her T-shirt and jeans, she headed downstairs. Ah, sweet silence. Time to just be still and let herself relax.

The old copper kettle she’d inherited from her grandmother rattled musically as Kyla filled it with water for her instant coffee. She needed all the caffeine she could get. Once she set the kettle on the open flame of the gas stove, she went to the living room and turned on the computer. Alec hadn’t awakened yet. She could look for… those items without giggling and blushing in front of him.

After a few minutes, the kettle hissed in the kitchen. Thank goodness. Caffeine time. Kyla went back to the kitchen, where she poured water into the mug and topped it off with some chocolate soy milk. The hot aroma tickled her nose and brought her to full consciousness as she carried the cup back to her computer.

She browsed to her favorite search engine and typed in “butt plug.” Immediately, way too many results appeared. Her heart and breathing sped up as she stared in shock at the screen. Porn movies, explanations of butt plugs  and how to use them, and of course sites which sold the things. Lots of sites. Lots of brands.

Too much to think about. She had no clue where to even start. Frustrated, she closed the browser window. Maybe she should wait for Alec after all.

One of the urban fantasy novels Alec always brought with him lay on the coffee table. Kyla took her mug to the couch and opened the book. Vampires and homicidal werewolves. It sounded good to her. Monsters didn’t scare her nearly as much as butt plugs.

The story drew her in. For a few hours, she lost herself in a world of shape-shifters and undead beings, until footsteps on the stairs made her jump. The book had taken so much of her attention, she hadn’t noticed the time.

He entered the living room. “Good book?” he asked cheerfully.

“I like it.” Smiling though her stomach had twisted into a knot, Kyla set it beside her and stood to give him a hug. “Did you sleep well?”

“Very well,” he assured her. His lips pressed against hers. “You?”

“Not so well,” she admitted. “Weird dreams, and then I woke up too early. I might take a nap later.” She yawned. “Or maybe now.”

“Now that I’m not there to toss and turn and keep you awake?” he teased.

She frowned at the guilt his words brought up in her. “It wasn’t you,” she said apologetically. “Like I said, I had really weird dreams. I can’t even really remember them, just that they were bizarre.”

“Honey, I was teasing about keeping you awake,” Alec said gently. “As for the dreams, I hate when that happens.” He brushed her hair back from her face. “I’m sorry you didn’t sleep well. Why don’t you go take a nap, and when you get up we’ll see what we can find online?”

“Um…” Yeah. Online. She’d hoped he had forgotten about that.

“Unless you’ve changed your mind,” he said quickly. “You aren’t just agreeing to anal because you think I want it, are you? Because it’s fine with me either way, whether we do or we don’t. The idea just excites me, you know?” His voice took on a lower pitch, not quite a growl. “It sounds like such a dirty, nasty thing to do. Nasty in a good way, that is.”

“I don’t know if dirty and nasty can be a good thing.” Kyla rested her head against his chest and breathed in his just-got-up scent. His love surrounded and calmed her. She had nothing to fear. The mean old butt plug monsters couldn’t get her.

Relationship Balance

When you’re in a romantic relationship with someone, you should be able to feel happy about it. To know that you’re loved by them as much as you love them. To feel good about yourself when you’re with them, and to know they want you to feel good.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.

Sometimes one person thinks they’re in a relationship while the other might think it’s just a friendship, with or without “benefits.” Sometimes one person enjoys and needs physical contact, like hugging and hand-holding, in public, while the other isn’t comfortable with that.

Sometimes one person wants to be happy and make the other person happy, and the other sees that as “smothering” or “clinging,” and because of it tromps over the first person. Makes them feel lucky to get a smile occasionally and makes them wonder what they’re doing wrong the rest of the time.

To me, that isn’t love. It’s pain and manipulation, and it makes the person on the receiving end feel like crap, which is pretty much the opposite of the way love is supposed to feel.

-Wounded Heart-

Everyone deserves to be happy and to be treated well in a relationship. Sadly, it doesn’t always work that way. But if you’re in a relationship where you feel “less than,” or where you have to work your ass off to make the other person happy while they do nothing for you, you’re out of balance and not getting what you deserve.

Note that I’m not talking necessarily about abusive relationships. That’s a whole other topic. Someone can be a jackass and hurt someone else emotionally without completely crossing the abuse line. But that doesn’t make it any better, and it’s something no one has to accept.

I encourage everyone to believe in their right to happiness, and to surround themselves with people–including a partner–who makes them happy to be who they are.

 

Spotlight on Faberge Nostromo

And the second of today’s Breathless Press spotlights is on Faberge Nostromo’s new book The Song in the Silver, available on the Breathless Press website. Welcome!

A vampire’s bite.

A werewolf’s love.

Burned by silver and called by its song, he walks the night forever, protecting those he loves.

His mortal life stolen by a vampire, his undead life saved by a werewolf, William walks now in darkness. Scarred by her silver on the night he was turned, he secretly protected Mary until the day she died.

And now the fading song of their daughter’s life has called him back to the glen.

Will tonight be the night he can reveal to her the eternal love that has kept her safe, and that will now protect her son?

The Song in the Silver 200x300

 

He sat on the side of the hill, beneath the wind-stunted oak, and looked down on the thin stream of smoke drifting from the croft into the star-littered sky. A faint wisp of the Northern Lights swept like a wraith across the inky black. The wind flicked his raven-black hair from his face and stung his eyes.

She was in there. The time was coming. The conflict in his heart hoped that it might not be tonight, but that if it was, it would be before the dawn broke over the hills opposite.

The howl of a wolf echoed across the valley. He recognized Aatu’s cry. She had been here always, before him. She’d been here all the time he’d been far away, far from the pain. She would still be here after he left.

A bird splashed in the dark reeds along the side of the beck at the cry, protecting her young from the night, just as he’d protected the woman in the croft when he could. And when his presence had threatened her, he’d left to take the threat far away.

He wrapped his cloak tight around him, though he didn’t need it against the cold. He felt neither cold nor warmth—only loss.

He touched the deerskin pouch that hung from the leather thong around his neck. The soft vibrations of the uisge, the life force, from the silver cross inside were fainter now. One pattern of vibrations, one of the harmonies within the song, was fading. The pattern had lived with him for nearly a century. It was what had brought him back, the realization that one part of the song was coming to an end.

The journey had been long and hard. The dark highways of his existence had made it so, but he had come. And he would leave again. After he had had one last moment with her, to tell her. So that she would, at the end, know. Just as he had with her mother.

faberge nostromo author pic

Faberge Nostromo’s career has been one in the true sense of the phrase “move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way.” After being expelled from school, he finally arrived, through blind luck and belligerence, at a stage in life where he can genuinely claim to be a writer and musician. Whatever you do, do not encourage him.

Spotlight on H.K. Sterling

It’s another two-spotlight Friday with guests from Breathless Press. First up is H.K. Sterling’s new book A Taste for Danger, available on the Breathless Press website. Thanks for stopping by!

Still licking his wounds over blowing it with the love of his life, Detective Jack Heart finds himself in over his head with corporate politics, treachery, and vipers of the female variety.  Under pressure to solve the case, Jack’s taste for danger will place him and those he loves on a collision course with disaster.

Still licking his wounds over blowing it with Carolyn Woods, the love of his life, Jack Heart drinks to excess daily. His apartment is in shambles, he’s isolated himself from all his friends, and he stumbles to the couch every night to sleep off an alcoholic stupor. All that changes when he receives a phone call with a job offer from a man he barely knew.

Suddenly, Jack must track down an embezzler inside a swanky corporation riff with politics, game-playing, and treachery. The deeper Jack goes, the more dirt he finds. Can this out-of-place detective survive and still crack the case? Not to mention some women he works with have plans for him—plans that are way more than he bargained for.

One thing is certain: Jack’s taste for danger will take him to the edge of disaster.

Young handsome athlete

 

 

As he gathered his jacket up to go, another visitor stopped by. At the door stood Cheryl Wong. Hola. Habla usted español u otros idiomas?” Cheryl was a petite woman with pale skin and dark hair that hung loosely around her shoulders. Attractive, now that he saw her up close.

Jack stared at her, perplexed.

She came in and closed the door. Then she took a seat at his desk. She seemed comfortable, like she had done this before. “Sorry,” she said now in English. That’s just my way with new people. I like to find out if there are any other bilinguals here and Spanish is the most common.”

“Ah,” said Jack. “Well, I speak a little football and baseball, but that’s about it.”

Cheryl laughed. She was prettier when she smiled. But then most women were.

“You are on your way out?” she asked. “I was wondering if you could do me a favor? My car is in the shop and I took the subway here this morning, but I don’t want to take it back after dark. Would you be able to give me a lift home?”

Jack was nothing if not gallant. “Sure, I could do that.”

Then she threw a twist in. “You know, there’s a bar on the way. We could stop and have a drink.”

Jack studied her. What was she up to? He’d have to go through with it to figure her out.

“If you’re up to it,” she added.

“Okay, sure. But I can’t stay too late.”

“You have a wife or partner?”

Blunt, this one. “No, I just have some work I have to get to.”

“Your first day, and they’re already piling it on? That hardly seems fair.” She pouted her lips in sympathy.

What was that song? Maneater? He had a feeling it was an apt description of Cheryl Wong.

Jack made sure to get his parking pass from the secretary for tomorrow. He wasn’t made of money, and today was gonna cost him twenty bucks. Cheryl followed him out, and they took the elevator down together. Jack thought this little get-together might be a good chance to interview her. What was she head of again? He couldn’t remember. He’d have to ask her. His instincts told him to wait until the bar.

Jack made sure to put his briefcase in the trunk. Cheryl brought a satchel with her and sat up front. She directed him out. Apparently she lived not too far away from him, although in the city, even a block of traffic could turn a short drive into an hour. Stuck in rush hour, Cheryl made small-talk.

“So you dined with the big cheese today?” She opened.

“Word gets around fast.”

“Yes, anytime someone from HQ comes, everyone knows it. Knows to be on their toes.”

“I see.”

“What they can’t figure out is whether to be on their toes around you.”

Now he got it. She was on a scouting mission for the office. He wondered if they drew straws. “I’m just a nobody,” he said.

“I doubt that,” said Cheryl, “or the Deputy VP wouldn’t have taken such an interest in you. So what are you here to do?”

She said it smiling and casual, but underneath he could feel the shark in her.

“I’m not allowed to discuss the details,” he said.

“Oh my,” said Cheryl and raised her hands as if she was being held up. “Never mind. I don’t want to get you in trouble.”

“Thanks,” he said, then stayed quiet. She didn’t try to pry anymore. He wondered if she would after a few drinks. Wait. That was his plan. Who was playing who here?

The bar she chose was a nice one, and after parking, they were seated in a booth at the back almost immediately. A rowdier crowd held court around the bar, but they sat away from the noise.

They each ordered appetizers and a drink. Jack stuck with beer. He didn’t want to get liquored up. Cheryl ordered a fruity drink. Then the sparring commenced.

Cheryl started first. “So what did you do, Mr. Jack, before you came to work with us?”

For some reason Jack didn’t want to say he was a detective. “Freelancer,” he answered. “What did you say you were in charge of again? I’ve met so many people today I can’t keep anything straight.”

“Government Contracts,” she answered.

“Oh that’s right.” Now he remembered.

“And what did you do as a freelancer?”

“Oh you know,” he said, putting her off, “found things that were lost, protected possessions, that sort of thing. Before that I was a cop.”

Cheryl’s expression remained impassive. “A policeman. That sounds exciting.” Cheryl took the toothpick in her drink and began to eat the fruit on it. Only the way she was doing it… Could she be? Nah… Jack thought to himself as she sucked on a cherry. Well I did wear a suit today. And shaved.

“It wasn’t that exciting,” he said. “Just worked a regular beat. Got shot up one too many times and retired.”

“Oh,” here she went with the pouty lips again, “do you have scars?”

“A few.” He could picture some of his friends falling all over themselves by now. “How do you like working for Devonshire? How long have you been there?”

“I like it ok. It’s a job, you know? I’ve been there five years. Most people have worked there longer.”

“So people must like it.”

“Yeah. Good salary and benefits. People stick around.”

“What about Jerry Wilson? He didn’t stick around.”

Cheryl laughed and twirled the stick with pineapple on it around in her hand. “What is this, the third degree?” she asked, still half-laughing.

“No, sorry. I just heard he was my predecessor and wondered what happened. I like this job; I want to make sure I don’t make any mistakes.” Jack figured that sounded good enough.

Cheryl looked thoughtful. “Jerry was here for about six months, I think. I always got the feeling he didn’t leave on his own accord, if you know what I mean.”

“Ah.”

“But I don’t know any more about it. If you really want to know, ask Cindy. She knows everything. But it’s probably confidential.”

“Yeah.”

Cheryl looked him in the eyes and sucked down the pineapple. Their appetizers were done, and they had each downed about two drinks. Then she surprised him. “Hey, you want to get out of here?”

Their eyes met and held each other’s gaze. Jack stared, dumfounded. After that comment, well…I’m game if you are. He arched an eyebrow. “Sure,” he said, “my place or yours?” Jack’s experience with women had usually been that they felt more comfortable in their own homes. Cheryl surprised him again.

“Yours is fine. Is it close?”

“Pretty close, yeah.” He thought of his dump of an apartment. He hadn’t cleaned it in forever. There were probably old pizza boxes and bourbon bottles around.

Cheryl wrapped her coat around her.

Oh well. What the hell. A month had gone by since his last blonde spree. If Cheryl was okay with it, then he would be too. “I have to warn you,” he said. “I live in a pigsty.”

Cheryl laughed again. “All bachelors do.”

“Okay then,” said Jack as they walked out into the night. “Away we go.”

HK Sterling Author Pic

 

H.K. Sterling is an author with Breathless Press known for stories with imagination, intelligence, a kick, and twist endings. She likes to focus her writing on romantic suspense, science-fiction, shorts, and anything that is spicy and unexpected. Sometimes her books may even go dark. H.K. lives in Virginia with her husband who graciously puts up with her passion for writing. H.K. currently has a Short Spy Romance out called Eyes Only, a Mystery/Thriller titled A Taste For Killing, and two short stories in the Breathless Press Anthology, My Bloody Valentine. H.K.’s books are suitable for 18+.

Catch up with H.K. Sterling on the following media:

Amazon Author Page

Twitter: @HKSterling

Facebook

Email: HK.Sterling@aol.com

HK Sterling “Undercover Blog”

Goodreads

Teaser Thursday- Shiny Objects

Since I blogged about jealousy on Monday, I decided to share an excerpt from my MFM novel Shiny Objects that has to do with jealousy. The novel was released in August 2011 by Passion in Print Press.

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Corin glanced over his shoulder at Elena. She sat at the table picking at a fingernail, one of her most obvious nervous habits. What really happened at that guy’s place? He didn’t want to ask. That might make her think he didn’t trust her. He had absolute trust in her and their relationship. He just didn’t know whether he trusted Niko.

“Do you want some chicken?” he asked.

“Yeah, that would be good.” She smiled. “I’m so lucky to have a man who cooks.”

“Yes, you are.” He added some adobo spice to the chicken breasts and flipped them over.

He hadn’t actually intended to make a meal. When he’d wandered out to the kitchen, he’d been looking for a snack to keep his stomach quiet while he played his game. He hadn’t realized how much time had passed since Elena had left for her friend’s place until he’d glanced at the clock on the microwave.

She was gone a long time. Long enough for something to–

He broke off the thought and flipped the chicken again. Nothing had happened between Elena and Niko. Nothing would. Elena had given him her word that she and Niko just wanted to resume their friendship, and she always kept her word.

The night they’d met, they’d fallen for each other so instantly that he had no doubt they were meant for each other. She would no more cheat on him than he would on her.

Why am I even thinking this way?

Jealousy wasn’t like him. He’d never had a problem with the women he dated being friends with other guys. Elena had plenty of friends of both genders from the chat room, and he’d never minded her spending time with them.

Something about the way she’d looked at Niko at Laurie’s party, though, told him there was more there than just friendship. More even than just sex.

With a loud sigh, he took the frying pan off the burner and set it on a pot holder on the counter. “Is something wrong?” Elena asked.

“No, not at all.” He turned with a smile, and she gave him a hesitant smile in return. “Just thinking how nice it must be for you to reconnect with an old friend.”

“Niko’s a good person.” She leaned back and crossed her legs. “I’m glad he’s part of the chat group again. We used to talk about pretty much everything, and it was always fun debating with him. You’re great with stuff like that, but–”She frowned. “Sorry.”

“For what? I’m not always around for you to talk to.” He folded some sheets of paper towel on the counter beside the frying pan and scooped the chicken onto them to drain the oil. “Look, everything went okay there, right? He didn’t try anything?”

“No, no, of course not.” She sounded offended. “Do you think I’d have been gone so long if he had? I wouldn’t take that from anyone, not even Niko. You’re the only man I want.”

“Good.” He walked over to her and kissed her on top of her head. “You’re the only woman I want. I think I’d end up with shiny object syndrome if I tried to juggle two women.”

She laughed. “Shiny object syndrome, huh? And now I have a mental image of you literally juggling me and someone else. You just dropped her.”

“Good, because I don’t want to drop you. Do you want anything with your chicken?” He went back to the counter. If she could joke with him, she wasn’t too upset or worried. She’d probably just thought he would be upset with her for being gone so long.

By now, she should know me better than that. He didn’t get jealous. He refused to.