Articles for the Month of November 2014

Spotlight on Pelaam

Today’s second Breathless Press spotlight is on author Pelaam and her new release Horse of Bells. Welcome!



A legendary horse, magic, and a man shrouded in mystery. Who can he trust? Caolan risks both his heart and his life to uncover the truth.

When his life is saved by a stranger, Prince Caolan feels an immediate connection to the man, and promises to meet him again. Forced to break that promise to protect his brother Donal, Caolan waits for the day he can return to the forest.

On their trip home, almost a year later, he and Donal are tricked by their step-mother into attempting to steal the legendary Horse of Bells from the infamous Dark Prince Tuathal. Honor-bound to accept the geis she set them, the brothers leave their castle to complete the quest.

During their journey, they meet the enigmatic Traveler. Caolan is confused and troubled by his reaction to the man. Is he a friend, or are his intentions darker and more deadly?


The morning came without further event, and Caolan consigned his fear to simple nervousness regarding his brother’s challenge. They rebuilt the fire and set some water to boil while they washed at the stream. Laughing together, they returned to their camp and stopped abruptly. A stranger sat at their fire, roasting a couple of skinned rabbits as if he had been expected for breakfast.

Caolan stared at him. He felt as if he should know the man, and yet he knew no one with such unruly sandy-brown hair. The newcomer’s beard seemed better maintained; it was but a light coating of slightly redder hair. He couldn’t stop his blush as the man’s gaze locked with his as if he had been caught. They were the same frigid blue-grey the sea had been the day they had left for the Isles—cold, uninviting, and daunting.

“If I were a spy for the dark prince, I would by now be on my way there, laughing at how two young idiots were going to walk straight into the arms of waiting soldiers the minute they set foot in Prince Tuathal’s kingdom. It would probably be the only thing that would save you from his wrath, to know that you sat and openly discussed an attempt to steal the Horse of Bells.”

“Then you are clearly not a spy.” Caolan observed.

“Bravo. You have a modicum of brains to offset your beauty,” the stranger retorted.

The words, cold as the look in the man’s eyes, would normally have made Caolan bristle with anger. However he found himself inexplicably wishing the stranger was less hostile toward him.

“What do you want?” Donal asked. Caolan recognized the brusque, assertive tones as his brother sought to take control of the situation.

“I would travel with you. These are lonely and dangerous parts. I gain company and you gain someone well-versed in the treacherous swampland through which you must pass.” The stranger spoke as if his offer was the most natural thing in the world.

“I cannot believe you would do so out of generosity.” Caolan felt unable to resist the jibe.

“That surprises me not,” the stranger countered. “Perhaps our hearts are alike. For payment…” He paused as if considering what would be suitable, yet Caolan was certain the man already knew exactly what he wanted. “Payment will be my asking the truth of you on your honor at a time of my own choosing.”

Caolan stood and stared with his mouth open but unable to formulate a reply. As if from a distance he heard Donal answer for him.

“It’s agreed.” Donal winked at him, but Caolan was certain there would be no way of telling a falsehood to this man.

“Good. Then let us break our fast. I already know your names. You may call me Traveler,” he said.

With a sinking heart Caolan sat next to Donal and accepted a plate holding a generous piece of roasted rabbit.

While his brother sat and ate his serving with gusto, Caolan’s attention was more focused on the man who now sat with his head bowed. He knew he’d never seen Traveler before, and yet there was a familiarity that made Caolan ill at ease. A niggling feeling, that Traveler was more than he seemed, made Caolan’s stomach twist into knots. Who are you really, and why do you make me feel I should know you?



Pelaam lives in clean, green New Zealand. She is a multi-published author of gay male romance and erotica across time and space. When not writing, she indulges in her other passions of cookery and wine appreciation. She can be found on Facebook, and a full list of her published works are on Lazy Beagle Entertainment.

Spotlight on Carolyn LaRoche

Today’s first Breathless Press spotlight is on author Carolyn LaRoche and her new book Witness Protection. Welcome!



Someone wants Angelina dead…again. Will following her heart put her in danger, or in the arms of the man she’s meant to be with?

As far as the world knows, NYPD detective Angelina Ferrara died in a violent firefight on Chelsea Piers over a year ago. Living in the witness protection program as history teacher Lucy Taylor was supposed to save her life, but being alive and living were two very different things. Until she meets Detective Logan James when he goes undercover in the same private school where she works. Something about the handsome man with the gorgeous blue eyes piques her interest. There’s no doubt he has secrets…but then so does she. When the Ricci crime family discovers she’s still alive, she finds herself on the run with Logan. Her heart led her astray before. Can she trust it to let Logan help her survive?


Her little car had an engine about as powerful as a hamster wheel. There was no way she was going to outrun the truck that was accelerating with lightning speed. On one side of her was a deep ravine, the other the steep slope of a mountain towered high and tree covered. The steering wheel vibrated as she pushed her little car to its limits, sheer adrenaline keeping her focused on the winding road. As she rounded a sharp curve, the back tires spun and fishtailed out from behind her. The tiny car shook violently as Lucy struggled to maintain control. The SUV caught up with her then, ramming into her rear bumper. The car groaned but held on. Lucy spun the wheel to make the next sharp curve, all the while her eyes searched for a way off the dangerous mountain highway. Another crash from behind jolted her car forward with such force Lucy lost her grip on the steering wheel. The car veered right but she managed to straighten it out before hitting the tree line.

“What the hell do you want with me?” she screamed at the truck in her rearview mirror.

The driver responded by slamming into the back of her car again. Metal ground against metal, gravel flew everywhere, and the car careened toward a thick bank of trees to her left. Straightening the car once more, Lucy crushed the gas pedal to the floor and watched as the speedometer climbed quickly. Lucy felt the little rush of excitement she always got in a good pursuit despite the fact that she was the one being pursued.

She whipped around yet another curve, and the SUV caught up with her. Just as she managed to get her little car under control again, the SUV crashed into her back end again with such force Lucy thought her car might shatter there in the middle of the road. The little car veered to the right, aiming straight for the side of the road and the ravine beyond. Lucy tried to regain control but the effort was in vain. She braced herself as the car plowed through thick vegetation, hit something, and started to slide down the steep embankment.

She heard the growl of the SUV’s engine roaring away over the revving of her own engine as the tiny car crashed through the underbrush. The car flew over a log and landed on the slick vegetation covering the incline. The car lost its hold on the ground and rolled its way down the slope, finally landing up against the trunk of a large pine tree where the engine died. Lucy’s head smacked against the steering wheel knocking her near to senseless. Everything fell deathly silent as she fought to remain conscious.

A loud crack broke the silence. As she watched through the broken windshield, the tree in front of her began to wobble. Blood trailed from her forehead into her left eye, blurring her already shaky vision. Rubbing at it with the back of her arm, she used her other hand to desperately claw at the seat belt release.

If she didn’t get out of the car, the tree was going to fall right on top of her.

The giant pine swayed once and then began its descent toward Lucy and her crumpled car. Yanking hard at the jammed seat belt, her head swimming and her stomach churning, Lucy finally freed herself. Just as the tree crushed the roof of her car, like it were nothing more than a tin can, Lucy pulled her body through the opening that used to be the driver’s side window.

Cracking wood and crunching metal stirred up a cacophony of birds and small animals protesting the intrusion in their habitat. Lucy lay on the damp moss and rotting leaves, her heart banging against her chest wall. The sound of her pulse racing in her ears muted the sound of the creaks and groans as the tree settled against what was left of her car. Every inch of her body hurt, but her head ached most of all.


Carolyn LaRoche Author picture


Carolyn LaRoche grew up in snow country but fled the cold and ice several years ago. She now lives near the beach with her husband, their two boys, two finicky cats, and one old dog. When she is not at the baseball field cheering on big hits and home runs, she is busy teaching science to unwilling teenagers. She is co-author of the book The Crazy Lives of Police Wives and hangs out online at both Carolyn La Roche – Author and The Crazy Lives of Police Wives.

She also writes a blog titled Boys, Badges and Writers Block about the joys and challenges of raising boys and living the law enforcement wife life found at

You can also find her and her books at:

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Teaser Thursday- Knot Intended



He folded his arms and narrowed his eyes with a fury that made Nolie tremble. “You’re boring the hell out of me, you know that?” Joseph snarled. “All those times I watched you walking around your house, you looked like such a sexy bitch. I thought you’d be fun. That’s why I snatched your hot little ass. But you never shut up. Maybe I should gag you so I don’t have to listen anymore.”

Nolie’s chest tightened, and she shook her head. That was the second time Joseph had mentioned gagging her. This time he sounded as if he truly intended to do so.

She wouldn’t be able to tolerate it. The mere thought of having something in her mouth she hadn’t put there herself turned her stomach. She wanted to scream. Joseph knew how she felt about that, and rationally Nolie doubted Joseph would do anything she wouldn’t accept. But her fear wasn’t rational.

She shook. He simply stood, glaring at her, but when Nolie looked more closely at him she saw concern in his eyes. She took a deep breath and swallowed the lump in her throat. This was a game. She would be fine.

Joseph remained still as if waiting for Nolie to speak. She swallowed again and tried to sound convincing as she begged, “No, please don’t gag me. I wouldn’t be able to breathe.” Her voice broke on the last word, and tears came to her eyes.

She blinked them back. If Joseph saw her crying, he would break his character and become the loving husband again. Right then, that was not what Nolie wanted.

He visibly relaxed. “Fine. You not breathing would be a problem. After all, I wouldn’t want you to pass out before I have my fun with you. So if you don’t want to be gagged, keep your mouth shut unless I tell you different. Got it?”

Nolie opened her mouth to answer, then thought better of it and nodded. Joseph wouldn’t gag her, not after promising not to. But he was so into this character she could no longer be entirely certain what he would do. Her predictable husband had become completely unpredictable.

She loved it.

“Good.” Joseph sounded both pleased and disappointed. “Maybe you’ll make it out of this in one piece.” He went to the headboard of the bed and banged his palm against it. “Fuck. Why do hotels always make these things solid? How the hell am I supposed to tie you down if there’s nothing to tie you to?”

Tie me? Nolie bit her lip to keep from blurting out the question. When she’d mentioned being tied as part of the fantasy, she hadn’t expected Joseph to go through with it. Early in their relationship, she’d mentioned a desire to have her hands bound, and Joseph hadn’t seemed interested. Role-play or not, she hadn’t believed he would be any more willing now than then to bind her.

She wanted him to follow through. The image of herself stripped naked, unable to move, filled her mind and tightened her pussy.

She was so turned on she wanted to touch herself, but she didn’t dare. Her “captor” certainly wouldn’t be pleased if she “took matters into her own hands” as Joseph sometimes put it. But knowing if he tied her he would be able to access any part of her body he wanted to use excited the hell out of her.

She moaned and immediately clapped her hand over her mouth.

Trusting Your Partner

Many people who are in relationships have at least some level of trust with their partner. But there are some things that require more trust, and sometimes giving that trust can be scary.

Something as seemingly simple as sharing one’s sexual fantasies can involve more trust than you might think. Some people have fantasies that they would never want to make reality, and they’re afraid of what their partner might think if those fantasies are spoken. And even if someone is willing to share their fantasy and is interested in making it reality, engaging in something new and different involves trust in your partner as well.

In my novella Knot Intended, Nolie has to decide whether she trusts her husband Joseph enough to tell him her darkest fantasy: being kidnapped, tied up, and “forced.” Once she chooses to risk sharing the fantasy, Joseph offers to act it out with her to help spice up their sex life. Allowing her husband to play the role of her “kidnapper” requires even more trust from Nolie, as does remembering, during the roleplay, that Joseph is her husband, loves her, and would never truly hurt her. And because Nolie is able to give Joseph that trust, their sex life and marriage improve.

Trust isn’t always easy to give, but it’s often worth it.


Teaser Thursday- Knot Intended



Joseph pulled the belt back, then swung it to tap lightly against Nolie’s pussy. The contact jolted her but only increased her arousal.

He had to stop torturing her. He couldn’t make her wait any longer. Surely he could see how turned on she was and how much she wanted his hands on her, even if she was supposed to pretend she didn’t want him at all.

Again he let the belt swing against her. A tingle spread through her, centered between her legs. She ached for him and held her breath to keep herself from begging him to do something. Anything at all, as long as it made her come. Goddamn it, when will he give me some relief?

“You want to come, don’t you?” Joseph sounded far too pleased with himself for bringing her to the point where she was flushed and panting. Or maybe Nolie was merely projecting her thoughts to him. His expression didn’t betray anything at all.

She nodded, seeing no point in hiding how badly she wanted relief. Maybe if she was honest with him, he would get her off.

“Ask, bitch.” He slid the belt up her torso and neck, and she tilted her head back. He gazed into her eyes with an unreadable look in his own. “Beg me to let you come.”

“Please,” Nolie said tentatively.

He tapped the belt against his hand and narrowed his eyes. “That’s the best you can do? I said beg!”

Nolie had never begged Joseph for anything in their marriage, but now the words tumbled from her mouth as though on their own. “Please. Oh God, please let me come. I’m so fucking wet and horny right now I can’t stand it. This is the worst torture. Please don’t do this to me anymore. Please let me come!” Wide-eyed, she pressed her lips together, forcing herself to stop.

She needed him far too much. So much she barely managed to keep up the fiction of not wanting him at all.

Release Week! Knot Intended

One of the first erotic romance stories I wrote for publication was a short story called “A Little Tied Up.” It was intended for a roleplaying anthology being put together by a publisher I won’t name, and it was accepted in June 2009. The anthology apparently fell through, and after some questions and wondering what was going on, the publisher released “A Little Tied Up” as a standalone ebook in March 2010.

The story was pretty simple. Nolie and Joseph are a married couple who have been putting their careers ahead of their relationships. Joseph suggests roleplaying as a way to spice things up, and after some initial resistance, Nolie confides that her darkest fantasy is to be kidnapped and “forced.” Joseph is intrigued by the idea, and goes to great lengths to fulfill Nolie’s fantasy. With Joseph as the “kidnapper,” of course.

In August 2013, that publisher went out of business, and rights to “A Little Tied Up” were returned to me. My editor at another publisher asked if she could take a look at it with the possibility of having it reissued. Knowing that it was one of my earliest stories, which meant I’d learned a LOT about writing since then, I chose to rewrite the story first. In the process, I tripled the length of it, from just over 7000 words to over 21,000. I sent it to my editor, who accepted it. But…

Things happened. The new version of the story, which I titled Knot Intended after a friend said that would make a good title for a roleplay story in which the heroine gets tied up, wasn’t published by that publisher, and this summer I asked for it back.

So now, after all that, Knot Intended has found its home with Loose Id, and it releases tomorrow! I hope readers will enjoy Nolie and Joseph’s journey from “career first” to finding the fire in their sex life again. And maybe readers will get some ideas to spice up their own sex lives!


Spotlight on Mia Epsilon

Today’s second Breathless Press spotlight is on author Mia Epsilon and her new book That Night. Welcome!

That Night 600x900


What do you get when you have two best friends who happen to be roommates stewing in sexual tension? A night they will never forget.

Anna and Robin are college roommates and best friends. Even though the chemistry sizzles between them, they have remained platonic for over three years. One night will change everything.

Robin has struggled to repress his feelings for Anna. He seeks out brief and meaningless relationships with the women on campus, who flock to his charm, flashing blue eyes, and bad-boy appearance. But Robin can’t get Anna off his mind or out of his heart.

Anna has watched Robin move from one woman to the next, never settling for any. She keeps up the pretense of friends-only while secretly longing to be the woman to tame him. The combination of college demands, a failed date, and simmering sexual frustration explodes into a night of passionate need. But when it’s over…what happens then?


Why do I keep putting myself through this? Robin Bates paused in the stairwell to tap his head on the wall. What kind of an idiot kept up this charade for so long? He should just tell her. Why couldn’t he just tell her? It was simple, really. He stomped up the last flight of steps and down the hall to their room. All he had to do was say the words and accept the fall out. He opened the door, took a deep breath, and spoke. “Anna, there’s something I need to tell you.”

The small lamp on the bedside table glowed in the semi darkness. Books and crumpled papers lay tossed around her on the tangled sheet and blanket of the bed. Her lap top perched at an angle, half on and half off the pillows. Stats, Robin saw, her least favorite subject and the only one she struggled to master. He had made a promise to help Anna with the latest assignment and had gone on the disaster date from hell instead. His gaze followed the line of her bare legs. She said they weren’t perfect; he said they were. Sure, they didn’t look like they went on forever. Who wanted legs up to a woman’s neck anyway when there were so many other good things in between? Anna’s legs, long, lean, strong, and just a bit golden from their recent holiday trip to visit her folks in Hawaii made his mouth water.

Robin groaned as his gaze trailed higher. She wore the same blue nightshirt he’d seen her wear a thousand times. Thin from numerous washings, all but transparent, it rode high on thighs he’d give his right arm to caress, which made no sense, because without his arm he’d never be able to— Anna whispered something and shifted a bit, her thighs parting slightly. He felt actual pain as the cotton rode a bit higher and all the blood surged to one particular part of his body. Did she have on those cute little smiley face panties? Or did she wear the ones with the little bows? She usually only chose her silk ones for special occasions like parties.

“Jesus, get a grip on yourself.” Robin ran a hand through his hair. “I’ve not perving my best friend while she sleeps. I’m not so desperate. Yet.”



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. She considers Facebook both the boom and bane of her existence. Mia loves to hear from readers and maintains a mostly current blog at and a Facebook page under the name MiaEwrites.

Blog: Authors, Books & Chocolate: The True ABC’s of Life

Facebook: MiaEwrites (Mia Epsilon Author)

Twitter: Mia Epsilon @MiaEpsilon

Breathless Press home page: Mia Epsilon

Good Reads: Mia Epsilon


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Spotlight on J.M. Powers

Today’s first Breathless Press spotlight is on author J.M. Powers and her new book Jewel of Ramstone. Welcome!



A maiden, unable to recall who she is, must battle evil to regain the memory of her past and the hope of a future.

Awaking in the forest, a young maiden recalls naught—including her name. Equally conflicting is her desire to both slap and kiss Sir Galeron, the knight who claims to have protected her while she was unconscious. Much to her chagrin, he dubs her “Ruby of the Forest” due to her red hair, and insists she find refuge at his home of Ramstone. Prickling at his demanding ways, but with no other option, she accepts his offer. And although his kiss flames her attraction even more, Galeron dashes it with a confession. The brute is trothed to another.

Ruby’s journey is filled with laughter and weeping, daydreams and discovered abilities. But never does she feel complete. Her heart longs for a future that her past may destroy. Evil lurks, treading on each tidbit of memory she recovers. Will Ruby ever recall her past? And after an attack in the village that sparks a horrific nightmare, does she even want to?


“Ask me anything. Mayhap I can help.” His deep voice broke the silence.

How was he to help? “Pray tell, how did we come to share the forest?”

“I shall explain.” He bent and picked up a twig, then proceeded to peel the bark off. With each curl he tossed aside, she grew more frustrated.

‘Twas better to allow mistrust. Stand strong. She gasped. Unexpected, the thought rang with such clarity, it seemed someone else had spoken. “Perchance you should be honest. Did you drug me? Spell me?”

He tossed the twig aside. Though his eyes remained on her face, her whole body felt his scrutiny. “‘Twould do you well to hold your tongue.”

“I am beginning to dislike you,” she said, knowing full well the opposite was true. She truly wished her insides would cease…prickling? And her head. Damn, it ached so. Tingles and pain aside, she tried to focus. “Do you intend to explain or not?”

“I seek a means to tell you gently.”

With a slight shrug, she said, “No need for gentleness. You already tossed me about.” She grinned despite the truth in her statement.

He sighed. “It appears you are lost.”

“God’s eyes, knight!” She shook her head. “You must be a great sorcerer to possess such insight.”

“Your tongue shall be your undoing. Best you still it.”

Twice he attempted to stifle her. She clenched her teeth. “Still it?”

Galeron’s jaw twitched and she wondered if he were quelling a smile. “I found you here in the woodlands. I did not hold you captive, drug you, or harm you.” He blinked slowly. “Hold to that.”

She nodded. “Forgive—”

“Nay need. I understand. You now stand a day’s ride from Ramstone. Have you heard of it?”

He pushed off the tree and came to sit beside her, his thigh nearly touching her own. Nearly. It took a moment for her answer. “Nay, I do not recall Ramstone.” The fact she did not recall much of anything choked off the rest of her response.

“Odd,” he said, more to himself than her.

Sighing, she realized how badly her masquerade of bravery was faltering. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw his hand come toward her. Surprised at the urge to lean into his touch, she remained still and allowed him to brush back the wisps of hair from her brow. His hand lowered in a fist, yet his voice was laced with tenderness.

“It pains me that I cannot give you answers.” His gaze strayed from her face, lowering to her neck.

Covering the neckline of her tunic with both hands, she glared at him. “Focus elsewhere.” He sees me as a woman after all. She dashed the thought away. Almost.

“I intend nay disrespect. The bruising on your neck concerns me.” Gently brushing her hand aside, he took a closer look. “Fingerprints.”

It took all she had not to cry out. Who harmed her?

“When we discovered you, there was nay sign of anyone else.”

She glanced around. “We?”

“I sent my men home.”

She blinked. Then blinked again. “Your men.”

“My brother, a healer, assured me your wounds were not serious, so I decided to wait—”

She put up her hand. “Why not leave me under the care of your healer? Or leave me in the nearest village?”

He swallowed hard. “It matters not! Are you always so…so…inquisitive?”

Ah, this man was not used to being questioned. She tried to ease his surly mood. “A shame your men were sent on their way. No one laid witness when I kicked you and bashed your comely face before you so unceremoniously dropped a maiden to the ground.”

He blew a long breath. “You insist on repeating that. Had you dressed appropriately, I would not have thought you a lad.” His chuckle made her grin. “Although you certainly fight like a maiden.”

She swiped her hand through the air. “Carry on.”

“Carry on,” he muttered. “I fear you shall interrupt again.” He looked up through the trees, ignoring her huff. “We still had several days before reaching our destination when we found you. With that in mind, I postponed the journey and sent my men back to Ramstone.”

“I see.” She studied the frayed edge of her tunic. “How long have I been here?”

“I watched over you a single night. How long you were here remains a mystery. I was only gone a short time for I needed to boil meat into a broth to sustain you. Had I known you were a maiden, I never would have left you alone.”

Her head snapped up. “Yet you would a lad? I am not defenseless simply because I am a female.”

Galeron’s eyes hardened. “Aye, ’tis so. I returned to find you brandishing a dagger. I left it in case you awoke and felt unsafe, not to use against me.”

She ran her hands through the leaves and shrugged a silent apology, too stubborn to utter it out loud.

“Fair one?”

Damnation, she hated when he addressed her with those words, and yet it awoke something in her, for he said it with tenderness. She glared at his smiling face. “Why are you calling me that?” To her chagrin, what she’d meant as snide came out as quite curious.

He splayed his hands in question, “Would you prefer I call you lad?” Two furrows appeared on his brow at her silent glare. “Because, you have yet to give your name.”

Disarmed, she swallowed her spiteful attitude. “If I only could.” She locked away her tears, her dismay, and did her best to keep her voice steady. “I hoped you would know…would say it by now. Sir Galeron, I…I recall naught before I saw you standing before me.”

Seeming to battle with her revelation, Galeron’s expression flitted from stunned to confused. Then his gaze bore into her with such tenderness it nearly undid her. “Nay memory?” he finally whispered.

JM Powers Author Pic


J.M. Powers harbors an alter ego of a normal woman named Jeannie. (Her editor is still on the fence about the whole “normal” thing.) Jeannie’s proficient at research, gluten-free cooking, and embarrassing her teenagers by wearing skinny jeans to the grocery store. J.M., the author-ego, plunges so deep into her writing she forgets life outside her creations still goes on. More often than not, J.M. answers with a glassy stare when her family asks what’s for dinner. Despite the craziness between reality and the world of writing, life falls together without broken bones or hearts.



Twitter: @jmpowersauthor

Teaser Thursday- Dancing Away

DancingAway_200 (2)


“Give you time?” If that was what Merit needed, Cole would happily give it to him. He would know there was still a chance for them to be together, and that was all he wanted right now. Everything else could wait.

It just couldn’t wait long. He had to be back in town and at work bright and early Monday morning.

Merit hesitated, and Cole held his breath. Whatever the guy said next would make a hell of a lot of difference in his life.

“Give me time.” Merit nodded. “Yeah. You’re right. Seeing you brought back the shit. It also brought back the way you used to smile at me when you didn’t think anyone would notice. If you can smile at me like that when people are around, this might work.”

“You’re worried because I’m not out.” He should have realized Merit wouldn’t be thrilled about dating someone who was still hiding the truth.

“Guys who are in the closet aren’t always the best for relationships,” Merit said. “Sorry if that makes me sound like a dick. When I’m in a relationship I want to be able to tell people. I at least want to be able to walk down the street with my boyfriend and not have to keep distance between us or act like I have no interest in him. I’m not talking about kissing in public, or even holding hands. Even around here that might cause problems. But I don’t like to hide.”

“Yeah.” Cole frowned. “If I came out to my family, would that make a difference?”

“I don’t want you to do anything for me. If you come out to anyone, it has to be for yourself.” He glanced at his watch. “I have to go to rehearsal pretty soon.”

“What time will you be finished?” Cole didn’t want to end the discussion. Not until they’d reached some kind of decision. Not until he knew whether he’d be going home that weekend to stay or to pack.

He had to be crazy to even think about leaving his entire life for Merit. Except he wouldn’t be doing it for Merit. It would be for himself. He was tired of hiding himself from everyone he knew. Working for his uncle was great. He couldn’t ask for a better situation, and he sure as hell wouldn’t find one in the city. He’d have to start over completely.

That wouldn’t be a bad thing. Maybe it was finally time to let go of home and make his own life instead of living the one everyone expected from him.

“Late. Probably around nine.” Merit studied him. “You want me to say I’ll come back afterward so we can keep talking.”

“Am I that obvious?” Cole kept his tone light, trying to make it sound like a joke.

“Yeah. It’s kind of cute, actually.” Merit grinned. “Not tonight. Tomorrow I have an easier day. Rehearsal’s earlier, and I don’t have as many classes to teach on Thursdays. Give me a call and I’ll come by around eight tomorrow night.”

“I’d really like you to come back tonight.”

“Yeah, I know. Remember the ‘give me time’ thing we talked about a few minutes ago? This is the time you’re giving me. Till tomorrow night.” He stood. “Think about what you really want from me and with me, and what you’re willing to give in return. And I’ll do the same. When we see each other tomorrow night, we might actually be able to get somewhere. Right now, we’re kind of stuck in a circle, and I have to go to rehearsal.”

“Okay.” Waiting till the next night to find out what was going on would be torture. But they’d laid a lot on the line during this conversation, and they both needed time to process it and decide where to go from there.

Cole knew where he wanted things to go, but he couldn’t make that decision on a whim. He had to think it through more carefully, even if he thought he knew what he wanted.

“Tomorrow,” he said.

“Tomorrow.” For a brief second, Merit rested his hand on Cole’s. That tiny touch sent a shiver through Cole, both promise and desire, and he fought an urge to grab Merit’s arm and not let him leave. Merit gave him a smug grin, as if he knew exactly what was going through Cole’s mind. “It won’t be that long. See you then.”

And once again, Merit walked away. But this time, Cole knew he’d be back.

Musical Interlude

Well, not really. Not yet.

I’ve been on an “I need a hobby” kick for a while now. Writing used to be my hobby, until I started earning money at it; now it’s a career, and isn’t as relaxing as it used to be.

A friend of mine who is an excellent mentor to other authors said that between the writing, my kids, and my relationships, I don’t really need a hobby because I have a lot of things filling my time. She kind of has a point.

But in the evenings, when I’m finished my work for the day, sometimes I get bored if I’m only sitting there watching TV. By that point, I’ve been looking at a computer screen off and on all day, and my eyes ache too badly for me to be able to read a book, which sucks because I used to love reading while watching TV. So I kind of want something I can do during that time, when I’m trying to relax and wind down before bed, but am still a little too revved up brain-wise to be able to just sit there.

Last week, I mentioned to my someone special that I wanted a hobby that wouldn’t involve using much vision, that would help me relax, and that I could do simultaneously with watching TV.

He suggested I learn to play the bass guitar.

Bass Guitar

He’s a guitarist who has played in several bands over the years, and has done some recordings with at least one of those bands, as well as doing some solo stuff. He thinks that, because I can sing mostly on-key, I can learn an instrument. I think he also made the suggestion because music is a huge part of his life, and he wants to share it with me.

I’ve played instruments before. My late grandmother was a piano teacher who gave me lessons for a couple of years, until I rebelled. I learned to read music from her, but also did pretty well playing by ear. From ages 10-13, I played the flute in my school band. I’ve also had a wee bit of vocal training; I was in my high school chorus, where the teacher actually worked with us on proper breathing, inflection, etc., and a decade or so ago while singing in my church choir, I was given voice lessons by the organist, who was also a professional vocal coach. So performing music, whether singing or instrumental, isn’t something I’m entirely unfamiliar with.

But I’m not sure about the whole bass guitar thing. I’ve gotten myself into the “I won’t be able to learn” mindset, which sucks. The same day my guy and I had that conversation, we talked about how someone can do anything they set their mind to–as long as they don’t believe they can’t. But I’m believing I can’t for reasons like “I won’t be able to remember the fingerings” and “I can’t play when my 16-year-old’s home because she’ll be able to hear it even without an amp and she won’t be able to tolerate the noise” and “hubby’s going to complain about having the bass in the living room”…many, many reasons.

I’d like to get over all of that and give it a try. My guy has a bass guitar he isn’t using that he’s offered to let me borrow indefinitely–and it’s even my favorite color, royal blue. He said he’d show me how to get started, though that’s good and bad because I’m more embarrassed to try in front of him, given his guitar skills, than I am to noodle around at home, but I trust him enough and know his musical skill well enough to know he would be able to teach me.

So it’s something I’m thinking long and hard about, and hoping to overcome being my own obstacle so I can give it a go.