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Teaser Thursday- Hummus on Rye

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“I wouldn’t want to put you to any trouble,” Candace said.

That rang a little insincere. She might not have wanted to be trouble, but she definitely wanted to be the center of Tobias’s and Suzannah’s attention. Of their protection. I didn’t call her on it, but I stored it away to mention to Tobias later if he hadn’t picked up on it.

“It won’t be trouble,” Tobias said. “This is your first hunt with our pack, and it would be irresponsible of me not to stay with you. You’ll be fine with us. Kirk and Kyle will be along as well, and maybe a couple of our friends from City Pack.”

“But I don’t know them.”

“You’ll meet them before we shift.” Tobias spoke in a low tone, the way he spoke to me when I had to shift back to human after spending a few hours as a wolf. I hated the shift and needed him to guide me through it even now. I didn’t know if his calming effect was an alpha power or just part of him. Probably the latter, since none of his other alpha powers worked on me.

The tone had the same calming effect on Candace as it did on me. “As long as you trust them, I guess I can.”

“Yes, you can.” Tobias sat on the chair opposite her. “We always hunt in groups, Candace. And it will be good to have other wolves with you in case I have to leave the group to address an issue with another pack member. You’ll have four wolves you know right there with you, and I’ll make sure you’re introduced to anyone else who’s going to hunt with us before the shift.”

She nodded and swallowed hard. “Okay. I’ll try.”

“That’s all I ask.” He smiled at her again. “You’re one of our pack, Candace. That isn’t going to change unless you endanger the pack, and I don’t think you’d do that, would you?”

“Not if I could help it.” She paused and then looked up suddenly as what he’d said hit her. “You talked to my old Alpha. You know why he sent me away.”

“I e-mailed him,” Tobias said. “The Anax didn’t tell me much about you, and you said you were asked to leave the pack only because of the arguing. I needed to know the whole truth.”

“I didn’t lie to you!” She jumped to her feet. “It was because of the arguing. I didn’t go near any humans!”

“Sit down.” This time, Tobias spoke as Alpha. We all felt it. Candace immediately plopped back down in the chair, tears running down her face. “I am not accusing you of anything, Candace. Don’t twist my words. You knew that your former Alpha believed you showed yourself to humans, didn’t you?”

“Yes.” Her voice broke. “But I didn’t!”

“Please only answer what I ask you.” Tobias leaned forward, elbows on his knees. “We were just talking. Now I need to be your Alpha, because you’re upset and frightened and you’re about to lose control, aren’t you?”

“I need to run.” She tensed but didn’t stand. “Please let me run.”

“No. Not by yourself, and not in daylight. You’re safe with us, Candace, and as your Alpha I will keep you safe if you can’t do it yourself. This is how you felt when those humans found you on the bridge, isn’t it?”

“Yes.” She brushed a hand across her eyes.

“Tell me what happened.”

I didn’t know if Candace actually wanted to talk about it, but she couldn’t ignore Tobias’s compulsion. “I didn’t go on the hunt with the others. Two of them had threatened me earlier and I was afraid they’d follow through.”

“Why didn’t you tell your Alpha?” Kirk asked. Tobias glared at him and Kirk shrugged.

“He believed I caused the problems the others had with me,” Candace said. “When I asked him for help he told me that if I stopped causing problems, everything would be okay. But it wasn’t my fault.” She paused. “The ones who threatened me, they’d talked to him. The wolf who—who did things to me. I saw them. Afterward, they said they didn’t know what I was talking about. They didn’t remember seeing him. I think he made them threaten me.”

That sure sounded like something Saul might have done. And I wasn’t a bit surprised to hear that the other weres hadn’t remembered seeing him. Kind of like Tobias didn’t remember fighting him two nights earlier. I think she’s right, Tobias.

The Power of “Yet”

Years ago–not very many years, to be honest–I said “I can’t” a lot.

I can’t write books people will want to read.

I can’t do yoga. (Okay, that one’s true again, because of lack of practice.)

I can’t sing.

And so on.

When I said some of those things to a friend of mine, the same friend who encouraged me to start writing erotic romance, he told me I should add the word “yet.” As in, “I can’t write books people will want to read *yet*.”

Saying you can’t do something closes doors. “Can’t” sounds like a permanent thing. If you tell yourself you “can’t” do something, you might decide it isn’t worth trying. It would be a waste of time to work on or learn something you “can’t” do.

But adding “yet” makes it temporary. It means that *right now*, you aren’t able to do something, but in the future you might be. “Yet” contains possibilities.

Saying I couldn’t write books people would want to read was true at that time. But it isn’t anymore. And saying “yet” helped me realize that I could reach a point where people *did* want to read my books.

As I said, I can’t do yoga now. Nor could I do it when I said I couldn’t. But at one time, I worked hard and learned so much that I was certified as a yoga instructor.

Right now, singing is a problem for me. But I’ve learned the power of “yet.” I can’t *yet* sing the way I’d like to, but I will.

What are you doing to encourage yourself about things you can’t do *yet*?

Spending Time

If you’ve followed this blog and read my bio, you know I’m married. My husband is a good man. He supports the family while I stay home and write. He’s my rock when my anxiety or depression take over, and he’s great with my kids.

But for him, being married just kind of means… being married. We don’t really spend any time together. We have no shared activities or hobbies. Other than reading and sex, we don’t have much of anything in common, and we don’t even read the same types of books. This doesn’t bother him at all. He’s perfectly content just knowing I exist in his life.

For me, that’s a problem. I love him, and I like the times that we interact, but sometimes I wish we actually did things together. Date nights. Or dancing (which we did briefly when we were first together, but I was seriously ill at the time and couldn’t keep up with the lessons). Or anything that would involve the two of us actually spending time with each other doing the same thing, and sharing something with each other.

When I’ve expressed that to others, I’ve been told I’m ungrateful. That I should be thankful he’s willing to support my kids and me, and I shouldn’t care that the most time we spend together is in bed.

I am grateful for what he does for us, but to me, a relationship is about more than physical affection and just coexisting in the same space. I think in any relationship, there should definitely be space for each person to be an individual, but there should also be times to be a couple.

At least, that’s my opinion. I’m interested in hearing yours.

Teaser Thursday- With Every Touch

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The cool, soft sheet and pillowcase were unfamiliar to Erich. So was the female body next to him.

Lying on his back, Erich opened his eyes and took a few breaths. The sheet and pillowcase belonged to Sheila, who was curled up on her side facing away from him, her back resting lightly against him.

Morning light came through the edges of the blinds Sheila had closed over the windows. Erich couldn’t see Sheila’s alarm clock on her side of the bed, but it was definitely past six, judging from the light.

He wasn’t good at waking up quickly. His brain was having trouble catching up with the rest of him. His cock had no such difficulty. It was morning-hard, and he was horny.

Sheila’s silhouette beneath the sheet was very appealing. I could wake her. Morning sex is fun even with morning breath. Hell, at least we’d both have it.

Before he could let himself touch her, he rolled over to the edge of the bed and put his feet on the floor. He’d promised Sheila nothing had to happen between them. He was there because she needed comfort, not because she wanted to get laid.

“Where are you going?” Sheila asked softly.

Startled, Erich looked over his shoulder. She was facing him now, the sheet draped over her breasts. Her hair was a mess, and her eyes were slightly puffy.

She looked absolutely fucking gorgeous.

“I just need to use the bathroom.” As soon as he said it, it was true. “I’ll be right back. I’m not leaving until you tell me it’s time to go.”

“Okay.” She gave him a sleepy little smile. “I’ll be here.”

Erich stumbled across the hall to the bathroom, did what he needed to do, and washed his hands. He considered brushing his teeth but didn’t want to use Sheila’s toothbrush. That would have been too intimate. Of course he hadn’t anticipated spending the night, so he had nothing with him except the clothes he wore and his shorts.

When he returned to the bedroom, Sheila still lay under the sheet. Her pajamas were in a small pile on the floor beside the bed.

Her smile this time was less sleepy. “Good morning.”

“Looks like it’s going to be.” He grinned and stripped off his shirt and boxers. His morning wood had deflated in the bathroom, but now his cock returned to full hardness. He knew what she looked like under the sheet.

He wanted to just take her but held back. The night before, she had told him sex was the last thing she needed. Maybe she felt better after a sound sleep, but he wanted to make sure she was all right. “How are you feeling this morning?”

“Horny,” she purred. “Come here.”

If she wanted him, he wasn’t about to argue. She was too sexy. But he had made a promise.

He sat on the edge of the bed. “Are you sure?”

“Completely.” She frowned. “Are you seriously going to just sit there with a naked woman beside you? Touch me, Erich. Kiss me. Fuck me.”

The Story Behind With Every Touch

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In spring 2013, a lot of things were changing in my personal life. Mostly good changes, but still, change sometimes messes with getting things done. I was struggling to continue writing, and I felt like I was treading water with stale plots and characters, just trying to make them fresh somehow so I could keep my backlist going and bring out new releases.

I finally reached a point, though, where I had to stop. My brain was frazzled, and the ideas just weren’t there. For a couple of months, I didn’t write anything at all.

Then I had to start again, because I owed a book to a publisher. I couldn’t think of a single idea, so I went into a chat room I belong to and asked for suggestions. A guy I know–who happens to be a plumber–said, “You should write about a good-hearted plumber with incredible hands.”

We took the conversation private, and with his feedback, I brainstormed the story. A plumber and a TV reporter meet, have sexytimes, and then unexpectedly fall in love. When I started writing the story, the words, for the first time in months, just plain flowed. Everything came together.

The publisher to whom I owed the book accepted it, but then many things happened and the book never reached the editing stage. I asked for a contract cancellation, which was granted, and took the book to Loose Id instead. And tomorrow, it will be available for sale! Check it out on the Loose Id website.

Teaser Thursday- Veggie Burgers to Go

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After Saul, only four names remained on Zane’s list. Of course, he didn’t call the names of the guests. We weren’t important enough.

“We have much business to conduct today,” Zane said. “We will meet for approximately two hours each session, with breaks between for food and any other needs. Alphas, remember that our cardinal rule is respect. Each other, yourselves, and me. Those of you who have accompanied your alphas to this meeting, please remain silent unless asked to speak.”

A few minutes of bureaucratic procedural stuff followed. I zoned out. I dealt with enough of that kind of thing at work, since my boss seemed to think he should run meetings according to some old rulebook or something. Besides, if I wouldn’t be allowed to speak, there wasn’t much point in my knowing how the meeting would be conducted.

There was some discussion among the alphas about the bureaucratic stuff. Then they actually started the business part of the meeting. “To begin, we have a new pack to formally recognize,” Zane said. “Tobias Rogan, Alpha of the Boston North Pack, please stand.”

Tobias did. There was a little grumbling in the peanut gallery. Apparently the decision to recognize our pack as legitimate didn’t meet with everyone’s approval. None of the alphas made a sound, but I had the feeling that was mostly because Zane had told them not to.

“Tobias Rogan, for over a century the Boston North Pack has existed as a subset of the City Pack,” Zane said. “You have been indulged with the allowance of attending these meetings as alpha; however, officially you have not until this point been alpha of your own pack. As Arkhon of the Northeast Region, I now confer upon your pack official status, and confer upon you the official title of Alpha of the Boston North Pack, pending the approval of the majority of your peers.”

Of course it couldn’t be as easy as Zane just saying it was so. Even though he had the power to do just that, evidently he ran the region the same way Tobias ran our pack. As a modified democracy. Zane doubtless would have final say, but he preferred to put things to a vote.

I just hoped that wouldn’t bite us on the ass.

“Thank you, Arkhon.” Tobias bowed his head. “I am honored to have my pack thus considered, and I await the word of my peers.”

Both Zane’s words and Tobias’s were clearly part of some ceremony. As Zane had said when he’d greeted us, a lot of things in the shifter world seemed to be ceremonial. I didn’t know if knowledge of the right words came with being an alpha or if they had to rehearse, though I hadn’t heard Tobias practicing any lines. And I’d certainly spent enough time around him lately.

“Alphas of the Northeast Region.” Zane turned his attention from Tobias to look at each of the other alphas in turn. “The Boston North Pack has run under its own leadership for many years, since before City Pack existed. Rather than subsuming the smaller pack, when City Pack arrived its alpha reached an agreement with Boston North’s to allow coexistence. Throughout the changes of alpha which have occurred in both packs, that agreement has remained intact. As Arkhon and as wolf, I believe it is now time to formally acknowledge this pact and grant Tobias Rogan and his pack official status among you. Who agrees?”

The “yeas” which rang through the room sounded like they came from most of the alphas present, judging from the volume. I couldn’t help grinning. I’d been worried, but apparently I had nothing to worry about.

“And those who disagree?” Zane said.

Several of the alphas said, “Nay.” Their voices were nowhere near as loud as the agreements had been.

“Then it is agreed,” Zane declared. “The Boston North Pack hereby is recognized as autonomous and legitimate by the alphas of the Northeast Region. Tobias Rogan hereby is officially instated as Alpha of the Boston North Pack.”

“You can’t be serious!”

I recognized the voice, and wasn’t a bit surprised to hear it. Saul.

“Saul Hughes, Alpha of the Erie Pack, rise and state your complaint,” Zane said. “And remember that we respect each other in this room.”

Saul stood. He was broad-shouldered, with a dull brown crewcut that stood out against the long hair worn by almost all of the other alphas. With his back to me, I couldn’t tell much more about him than that. Not that I wanted to know any more about him.

“I apologize for my outburst, Arkhon.” Saul’s apology sounded anything but sincere. “I am concerned about placing a new pack under the rule of an alpha as weak as Tobias.”

A hand went up, and Zane nodded at its owner, whom I couldn’t see until he stood. It was Chal. “The Boston North Pack is not new,” he said. “It has existed longer than my own pack, as the Arkhon just stated. Tobias has been its alpha for over three decades, and he has ruled well, as I can attest since his territory is nearly within my own. He has shown no sign of weakness.”

“He claims a man as his mate.” Disgust pretty much dripped from Saul’s words.

“And that is weakness?” Zane raised an eyebrow.

“I believe so,” Saul said. “I don’t believe anyone who engages in such behavior is fit to govern a pack, and I will not stand for it occurring now.”

“So much for respecting each other,” I muttered to Suzannah, forgetting about the hyper-hearing.

“Silence among the guests,” Zane said, the ring of compulsion in his tone. I discovered that his compulsion had no more effect on me than Tobias’s usually did, but I shut up anyway.

“You have no choice but to stand for it, Saul.” Tobias’s expression and voice gave no indication that Saul’s comments bothered him. “The alphas have voted and have accepted my pack and me. It is done.”

“It is done,” Zane agreed.

“No fucking queer is going to run a pack.”

Teaser Thursday- Salad on the Side

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The day had turned very warm, so having the car’s top down came as a welcome relief. Tobias drove carefully through East Boston to the highway, then took the ramp onto the Mass Pike and headed west. At least, that was what the sign told me.

We didn’t talk as he drove. At highway speeds, the wind noise prevented conversation. The lack of chatter didn’t bother me, though. I was here, in one hell of a sweet car, with the man my heart had decided to fall for without consulting my brain. We were headed for some unknown destination, just the two of us.

Nothing else mattered.

It took a long time to leave the city completely behind us. Boston’s suburbs and the surrounding area spread over quite a distance from my perspective. After a while, though, nothing lined the highway except trees and occasional glimpses of buildings.

He left the highway via a seemingly random off-ramp, leading to another highway heading south toward Rhode Island. I had no idea how much time had passed and I didn’t really care. The dashboard clock was clearly visible, but I chose not to look at it. The freedom of being alone with Tobias like this, alone even though cars whizzed by us and people stared and even waved, wiped any worries about real life right out of my mind.

A sign for Cape Cod led us to another off-ramp, which Tobias took. “We just made a hell of a circle,” he said when he slowed for a stop sign at the end of the ramp. “I could have just driven straight here without going through all that.”

“Then why didn’t you?”

He smiled and patted my leg. “Because then I wouldn’t have been with you as long.” He turned onto the road. “I’m going to take you somewhere I used to go with my family when I was a kid. I’ve never brought anyone else to see it, but I want to bring you. The only thing is; it’s going to be a while before we get there, and it includes a ferry ride. You up for it or do you need to go home for something?”

“Why would I need to go home?” I pointed out. “I live alone, my boss is probably ready to kill me, and so are a few shifters I know. Take me wherever you want.”

“Oh, I’d love to take you a few places.” His emphasis made the double entendre all too clear and my body responded accordingly. Maybe if I was discreet enough about it, I could suck him off while we drove…

He flicked the side of my head with his thumb and forefinger. “Alphas know what their pack is thinking. And I’m much, much closer with you than I am with the rest of the pack. Stop that before you get me all hot and bothered.”

“Failing to see that as a problem.” I put my hand on his thigh as close to his crotch as possible without being completely indecent. After all, we were in a convertible. “Does this place you’re taking me to have any secluded spots? Outdoor sex has always been a fantasy of mine.”

He laughed. “Unfortunately, not secluded enough for what you have in mind. I think you’ll really like the place, though, once we get there. Just bear with me, because it’s going to be a long drive.”

“And the idea of spending more time with you is so reprehensible.”

He swatted my hand. “Stop giving me a hard-on and let me drive.”

I took my hand off him, though I was very reluctant about doing so, and watched the road. Being this close to him and not being allowed to touch him constituted the worst kind of torture as far as I was concerned.

Being tormented like that was actually kind of fun.

Love Doesn’t Always Mean Yes

When you’re in a relationship, there are sometimes certain expectations. But being in a relationship doesn’t always mean doing what your partner wants. Especially when it comes to sex.

The old “Not tonight, dear, I have a headache” thing is made fun of, but sometimes women–and men–feel like the only way they can get out of having sex with their partner is faking sick. In my opinion, it shouldn’t be that way. Just because you’ve given someone your heart doesn’t mean you always have to give them your body. But unfortunately, not everyone agrees.

In our society, there was once a perception that women were the property of men. First of their fathers, then their husbands. And that meant a man could do anything he wanted with his wife, and she couldn’t say no. In general, we’ve moved past that idea, but some people still believe it. Even when they don’t, sometimes people believe being in a relationship means giving in to your partner regardless of how you feel or what you want.

Being in a relationship doesn’t mean giving up your free will. To me, love means respect, and that includes respecting each other’s right to say no, whether it’s “No, I won’t pick you up after work” or “No, I won’t have sex with you.” It also means respecting yourself enough not to do something your partner wants if you aren’t on board with it.

Relationships take communication and cooperation, and that sometimes includes speaking up when you want to say no. And having that “no” accepted.

Teaser Thursday- Knot Intended

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NOTE: This story is about a married couple who *roleplay* the wife being kidnapped and forced. Joseph is her husband, playing the ROLE of a kidnapper. Everything occurring in the story and in the following scene is completely consensual.

 

No matter what happened for the rest of the evening, having Joseph look at her as if she were the most important thing in the universe would be worth it.

It would be even better when he finally did something to get her off. Waiting for his next move was sheer torture. She wanted to beg for him to touch her, kiss her, anything at all to give her some relief from the craving and need that left her skin tingling and her pussy tight and ready.

Tormenting her was almost certainly what Joseph intended. He was trying to get her to tell him she wanted him. That was why he had barely touched her so far. He knew the signs of her arousal. He couldn’t have missed how turned on she was. And he didn’t want to give her what she desired unless she begged. But a captive wouldn’t ask for her kidnapper’s hands and cock, so Nolie held back.

Finally he walked over to her and stood so close she could reach the bulge in his pants. “Looking a little anxious there, slut. Is there a problem?”

Nolie shook her head. She refused to reply. He’d ordered her not to ask for anything else. In this game, she should have been pleading with him to get away from her, regardless of what she really wanted.

“You aren’t waiting for me to do this, are you?” He cupped her breasts in his hands and massaged her nipples with his thumbs as he bent and brushed his lips against the spot below her earlobe that always drove her wild. Before Nolie could stop herself, she moaned. Joseph chuckled and squeezed her breast so hard it took her breath away.

He gave her a smug grin. “Oh, so you do like that, don’t you, slut?”

Nolie couldn’t answer. She was sure any words she tried to speak would come out as another moan. After waiting so long, she was so aroused she felt as if she might come from only his hands on her breasts.

Joseph didn’t seem to expect a response. He cupped both hands around her breasts more gently and thumbed her hard nipples. Gasping, Nolie tensed. Joseph released her and stepped back. “You want your tits played with, huh? Even by a stranger? Even by someone who brought you here against your will?”

Nolie pressed her lips together and focused her gaze on the floor. He was her captor. If she admitted she liked what he was doing, he might be pissed off enough to stop. Of course, Joseph probably knew exactly what she was feeling, but he would pretend not to, and Nolie had to keep up the fiction as well. Even if it was so difficult she wanted to scream.

She shook her head then reconsidered and nodded. There was no correct answer to his questions, and not answering at all might be worse.

Joseph sneered. “No, you don’t like it, or yes, you do? Or you don’t have a fucking clue? Sweet, innocent little slut, you can’t admit you want this, can you?”

He squeezed her breasts again. This time Nolie managed to stifle her gasp. Joseph looked disappointed but said only, “Nice tits. I wonder what you’d do if I tried to suck on them. These nipples of yours are pretty much begging for it.”

Nolie smiled at the thought of nipples begging and immediately set her expression back to as close to neutral as she could. Smiling wasn’t a good thing.

 

Teaser Thursday- Stepping Stone Not Doormat

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Mitch nodded. “You need good things. Just don’t let him take advantage of you.” He bit his lip. “Yeah, I’m one to talk about taking advantage of you. I’m sorry, Sol. For every time I shit all over you trying to help me.”

Solara blinked. She had no clue what had brought that out of Mitch, and it took her a moment to respond. She rested her hand on his shoulder. “Boo, you didn’t take advantage of me. Not even a little. You took what I offered, nothing more.”

“I kept screwing up, though.” He looked at her with watery eyes. “You kept trying, and I kept screwing up.”

“Mitch…” Solara couldn’t even begin to figure out what to say. She looked at Hunter, hoping he would help out.

“In therapy, he’s been working on deciding who he should apologize to,” Hunter said. “You know, the whole twelve-step thing. He said you did the most for him, which means you’re the one he took the most from.”

“I see.” Solara was all too familiar with the concept of making amends. Not that Mitch had to make amends to her, as far as she was concerned. “Mitch, baby, you didn’t do anything wrong by me. Not ever. Sometimes I wanted to shake some sense into that skinny little body of yours, but you don’t owe me any apologies, okay?”

Mitch nodded again. “I guess.”

“Boo, I am a stepping stone, not a doormat.” Tears came to Solara’s eyes, and she blinked rapidly. She was not about to get emotional in public. Mitch was doing enough of that for both of them. “I gave you what you needed to make a good life, and I haven’t regretted it yet. Don’t be down on yourself, okay? I accept your apology if you feel you need to give it, and I forgive you for whatever you think you need my forgiveness for.”

“You really don’t think I did anything wrong, do you?”

Solara considered her answer. Mitch was strong enough to hear truth now, and if he was going to truly recover, he had to know how his actions had affected others.

“I think you did some wrong things,” she said slowly. “Not to me, though.”

“Okay.” Mitch pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes for a few seconds, then smiled. “Okay. I know you wouldn’t lie.”

Solara’s curiosity got the better of her. “Why are you bringing this up right this second?”

“Because I know what I did, and I want to make sure no one else does it to you.” Mitch tilted his head. “And because if you’re a recovering addict, you probably did some of the same things as me. You forgave me. And Hunter forgave me for what he saw before I went into rehab. If you guys can both forgive me, Navon should have forgiven you. And he should definitely tell you now that he does.”

It took a moment for Mitch’s words to sink in. Sometimes the boy was just plain astonishing. Solara grinned. “You’re pretty smart for a young guy, boo.”

“I have hidden depths.” Mitch looked proud of himself. “We have to go see Hunter’s mom. See you tonight, okay?”

“Absolutely.” Solara hugged him, then Hunter. “Drive safely.”

The two of them walked over to Hunter’s car on the far side of the parking lot. Bemused, Solara watched them get into the car and drive away.