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Teaser Thursday- Try the Tofu

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Finally, after some unknown amount of time, the visualization did its job. My pack was safe. I could handle whatever might come to us. Kyle and Jon would accompany me to Pennsylvania, though Jon and his mate Mariko wouldn’t be happy about it. Kyle wasn’t the cause of our problems, and because he existed, I might be able to solve them. He gave me focus and strength and sanity, and I was fortunate to have him in my life.

I opened my eyes and breathed deeply. The smell of spaghetti sauce filled my nose. However long I’d sat there, it had been long enough for Kyle to finish supper.

As I recognized that, Kyle walked into the room carrying two plates, with a bottle of grated cheese balanced carefully on top of one of them. “I didn’t want to move your stuff on the table, so I figured we could eat in here.” He handed one of the plates, the one with the cheese, to me. “Better?”

“Yeah. Thanks for giving me some space.” I sprinkled some cheese on my spaghetti as he sat beside me. “Vegan cheese?”

“No, so I’m not having any. Vegan-friendly sauce, though.” He left a little gap between us and gave me an uncertain look. “Have things really gotten that bad since I moved here? I thought I made your life better.”

“Don’t get all insecure on me.” That was the last thing I needed. He was strong, at least as strong as I was. If he started questioning things, I wasn’t certain how I would cope with it. “More bad things have happened since you moved here than before, but you do make my life better, Kyle. I wouldn’t have been able to cope with everything if you weren’t here. You know that.”

“I’m not being insecure. Those were some pretty loud, pissed-off thoughts you sent my way before you meditated.” He shrugged. “I’m sorry if I’ve had anything to do with things getting worse. But I’m glad to be here for you.”

“You don’t have anything to be sorry for.” I sighed. Sometimes I wished our mate bond wasn’t so strong. On the other hand, it could work to my benefit. I sent my love and desire for him along it, hoping it would counter what he’d picked up earlier.

He smiled. “You don’t have to do that, Tobias. I know how you feel about me. I also know how you feel about your pack and our safety, and I compromise that sometimes. Which is another reason it’s good that Zane told you to bring me to Pennsylvania. If there’s trouble, it’ll follow me there and the rest of the pack will be safe.”

“No, that isn’t why.” This conversation was not going the way I’d hoped. No matter what questions had been in my mind, I didn’t want Kyle to question whether he’d brought problems to my pack or me. “You’re going with me so if there’s trouble, I’ll know you’re safe, idiot. I care about my pack, and I would die to protect them if I had to. I love you, and I would kill for you.”

“I hope it never comes to that,” he said quietly. “Killing people sucks.”

“Yeah.” He knew that all too well. Art had died at Kyle’s hand—well, teeth—and Kyle hadn’t fully recovered from that. It had been his first shift since awakening from his initial change, and it had been his first kill. He hadn’t even hunted yet at that point, because the full moon had still been a couple of weeks away.

That hadn’t stopped him from being ready to kill Saul the last time we’d gone to Pennsylvania. Or from challenging Polly and threatening to kill Roderic when they’d kidnapped Mikey Damone. My Kyle had a bloodthirsty streak in him, in complete opposition to his usual pacifistic, vegan tendencies, and it scared him.

It scared me sometimes too. I knew how it felt to want to kill and to let that desire have control.

Dedications

When an author has a book published, many times they’ll include a dedication at the beginning. This might be to a friend, a family member, fellow authors who were supportive, their editor…any number of people. The point is for them to let not only that person/those people know they’re valued, but to let readers know as well.

I have several books that are dedicated to my husband. He’s the one whose emotional–and often, financial–support has made it possible for me to write and get published. Under my YA pen name, I have books dedicated to my kids and a few of their friends who inspired the stories or asked me to write something specific.

One of my Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat books, Tempeh for Two (the final in the series) is dedicated to my friend Paul, who had read the previous books in the series and for whom I was struggling to come up with a holiday gift. That book was my 2013 holiday gift to him, with the dedication and the inclusion of a character, Paul Drake, who was based on him.

Unfortunately, I have other books that are dedicated to people who are no longer in my life. One of those is Dawn Over Dayfield, which releases March 1 from DSP Publications. A little over a year ago, my then-boyfriend (I’m polyamorous, for those who don’t know; I’m married but sometimes also am involved with others, and my husband is on board with it) and I were talking about a story I wanted to write. He and I came up with the town of Dayfield, inspired partly by towns in which he’d lived growing up. He helped me with historical research about aspects I wanted to include in the story, and he cheered me on as I wrote it and beta read it before I sent it to the publisher.

He broke up with me in August, and I’ve only spoken to him a couple of times since, most recently in October. Which means the release of Dawn Over Dayfield is going to be a little bittersweet. Instead of being able to celebrate with him as I’d hoped, I’ll be sitting here wondering if he even remembers it’s being released. The book is dedicated to him, by the nickname I gave him when we were seeing each other, but he’s probably not going to know it.

Even so, he contributed a lot to the writing of the book, and I don’t regret the dedication. Maybe someday, he’ll see it.

Teaser Thursday- Veggie Burgers to Go

This was a scene I wrote for the novel Veggie Burgers to Go before I wrote the actual novel.

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A really random idea came to me, and I blurted it out before I could stop myself. “What if we had a child?”

“Werewolves have some magic, but not that much,” he said in a teasing tone.

I swatted his leg. “I’m serious. We could adopt, maybe. Or even have a surrogate mother.” One of my former lover Jerry’s friends had done that with his partner. They’d become the parents of a baby girl carried by one of the partner’s cousins.

“Kyle.” Tobias took my hand and brought it to his cheek. “I love you, and if we had children it would be wonderful. But you may have noticed that there are no children in the pack?”

“Yeah.” The fact hadn’t really registered on me until now. In our pack, we had only the eleven adults. I wasn’t very familiar with any other packs, but I didn’t recall seeing any kids hanging around during the times I’d visited City Pack territory.

“Female shifters can’t bear children.” Tobias lay beside me, still holding my hand against his face. “They can become pregnant. If anything, I think shifters are more fertile than regular humans. But the fetus can’t survive the shifting.” He paused and swallowed hard. “Except once, that I know of. One of the women in my first pack became pregnant and managed to carry the child almost to term.”

He shuddered, which gave me a pretty big clue that things hadn’t been quite right with that baby. “What happened?”

“The baby—it looked like it had been crushed. I don’t know how else to describe it.” He closed his eyes, then shook his head and opened them again. “Everything was shaped wrong. It couldn’t even suck, because its mouth wasn’t formed correctly. The doctors told Sheila and her mate that even if the baby survived, it would never have any kind of life. For a few days, they kept it on IV feedings, then Sheila and her mate decided to end the feedings. They didn’t want their child to suffer. It died the day the IV came out.”

I didn’t even want to think about what the child might have looked like. The revulsion on Tobias’s face was enough for me. The way he’d told his story irked me, though. “Was the baby a boy or girl?”

“Boy. Why?”

“You kept saying ‘it.’ Whatever the child looked like, and whether he survived or not, he was still a living being.” I didn’t know why Tobias’s use of “it” bothered me so much. Referring to a baby with a pronoun generally reserved for things just seemed wrong.

“You’re right,” he said quietly. “He. They named him Joshua. Joshua only lived four days. He was born four weeks early. That’s the only case I know where a shifter’s baby has survived long enough to be born at all. Usually pregnant females miscarry during or immediately after their first shift.”

“That’s awful.” It explained why there didn’t seem to be any children among the packs. I could only imagine how hard it was for the women to know they would never have children. “I didn’t mean we should use a werewolf as a surrogate. I meant a human woman.”

“You don’t understand.” He looked into my eyes, and his brown eyes were wet. “There are no shifter babies. Males have impregnated human females before, and the babies have lived and grown up. They’re always human. I don’t know why. I guess whatever causes us to be shifters isn’t carried in the genes.”

“We could raise a human child,” I argued.

He shook his head. “It wouldn’t be safe, Kyle. Remember what I told you when we first got together?”

I remembered all too well. He’d tried to talk me out of becoming his lover because other packs might see it as a sign of weakness on his part, and because they might harm me to get to him.

The same thing they might do if we had a child.

“We could keep him or her safe somehow. Have guards or something.” I had no idea why it had suddenly become so important to me to have a child with Tobias, but something inside me wanted it so desperately I was almost in tears.

“And what if one of the pack accidentally attacked him or her in shifted form?” Tobias said. “God, Kyle, what if you or I did? There’s no way to keep a child safe among a pack of werewolves. The males who have children either leave the pack to stay with the children’s mothers, or leave the mothers to stay with the pack. The kids don’t live with the pack. Ever.”

I pulled my hand free of his and turned away from him. Kids had never been high on my priority list. I’d even laughed at Jerry’s friends when they’d had their daughter. I tolerated children, but I hadn’t been a big fan of them.

Now, after spending the day playing with my nieces and nephew, I wanted a child. I wanted to build a family with the man I loved. The impulse made no sense to me at all, but I desperately wanted it.

And it would never happen.

Teaser Thursday- The Pink, It Burns

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While the morning crowd slowly thinned, Dyer drank his latte and let his mind go blank. After a while, Myles came over again and sat down on the other side of the table. “Hanging in there?”

“Yeah, not that I have much choice.” Dyer shrugged. “Not what I expected when I walked in here today, that’s for sure. What’s with all the balloons, anyway? That’s what started the whole thing. The little girl hit me with a balloon.”

“It’s Valentine’s Day.” Myles raised an eyebrow. “Did you miss the memo? All pink and hearts and flowers and stuff? You must have noticed.”

“I hate Valentine’s Day.” Dyer traced the lid of his cup with one finger. “Never have liked it, so I usually try to ignore it. I spaced on today’s date. That explains all the pink.”

“Yeah. The pink, it burns.” Myles grinned. “Not my favorite holiday either, especially this year.”

“What makes this year different?” Dyer leaned his elbows on the table and studied Myles.

He’d seen the guy every morning for months. At first, Myles’s multicolored shaggy hair and pierced ears, eyebrow, and lips had turned Dyer off completely, but the look had grown on him. And Myles had gorgeous eyes. A mix of green and brown, with thick lashes half the women Dyer knew probably would have killed for.

Kind eyes which crinkled at the corners now as Myles said, “After what you’ve dealt with this morning, you want to hear me whine?”

“I can use the distraction.” Dyer shrugged again. “I have to go to the police station later and do a report or something. Right now, I don’t even want to think about what happened. My brain’s only going to get stuck on all the bad things. Ella’s safe now, but that isn’t going to stop the worst case reel from rolling in my head.”

“Ella was the little girl?” Myles asked.

Dyer nodded. “I heard her father say her name. Had they ever been in here before?”

“Not that I’ve seen. I think I would have remembered that guy. He had creepy eyes.” Myles smirked. “Yeah, that’s a really detailed description. You did something really awesome, you know?”

“You helped,” Dyer said. “You and your fake incompetence. Anyway, please tell me why Valentine’s Day sucks for you this year, because I really need something else to think about.”

Myles hesitated then nodded. “Okay, so my whine for the day. I was in a relationship for four years. A guy I met my junior year of college. He was a grad student a few years older, and I thought he was the most awesome person I’d ever met. Great conversation, great sex.”

“Okay.” Dyer didn’t know what else to say.

“Sorry,” Myles said. “Should I shut up?”

“No, go on.” Every weekday for months he’d said hello to Myles and made small talk, and he still knew nothing about the guy. After the way Myles had backed him up that morning, keeping Ella’s father and the little girl in the store, Dyer owed him at least a little time.

“So we were together for four years.” Myles leaned back in his chair and crossed his legs. “He worked at the university. Still a grad student, but he was a TA and had a work study job or something. I don’t even know.”

“He didn’t tell you?” In spite of himself, Dyer was getting interested in Myles’s story.

Myles shook his head. “I was trying to find work. You graduate with a degree in history, oddly enough there aren’t a whole lot of jobs. Proving my parents right, which is why I work here. Anyway, so come to find out my so-called lover was banging a couple of students on the side. I found out about it when I went to surprise him at work on our anniversary back in October.”

“Oh, damn, that must have sucked.”

“Yeah, sucking is exactly what they were doing.” Myles snorted. “So instant break-up, followed by me moving in with my cousin and her boyfriend because they were the only family members still speaking to me after I came out.”

“Not a fun time.” Again Dyer wasn’t completely sure how to respond.

He didn’t mind, though. Listening to Myles’s “whining” was having the desired effect of pushing away the stress and fear of that morning’s events.

Giving an Apology

Over the weekend, my kids (ages 17 and 20, so not exactly kids anymore if you want to be technical) had a conflict that left both of them feeling hurt and angry. This post is essentially what I told the 20-year-old as they were trying to get over the situation.

Apologizing to someone doesn’t always mean you’ve done something wrong. It doesn’t mean you *think* you’ve done something wrong, or that you agree with their perspective.

Sometimes an apology is best translated as “I know I did something that hurt you (or made you angry, or upset you, or whatever), and I regret making you feel that way.”

In the particular conflict in my household, the 20-year-old had said they would do something with the 17-year-old.  The 20-year-old woke up feeling ill and with a fairly high fever, so wasn’t up to doing what they’d said they would do. The 17-year-old was angry and disappointed about this, with the result that she didn’t speak to the 20-year-old much of the rest of the day. The 20-year-old was having a hard time with it, so I asked if they’d apologized to their sister.

“No,” they said. “Why should I apologize? I can’t help being sick.”

That was when I explained my thoughts on apologizing. They wouldn’t be telling their sister they were sorry for being sick. They wouldn’t be agreeing with their sister’s reaction. They would just be acknowledging that they recognize how their sister feels and regret causing her to feel that way. I told them, “Don’t even make an excuse or try to explain. Just say ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t go with you’ and leave her alone.”

They didn’t seem to like the idea, because to them, apology means “I was wrong and you were right.” But they gave it a try anyway. As I told them, when there’s a conflict, someone has to be the first to say they’re sorry, or nothing gets resolved. Fortunately, this got resolved.

Teaser Thursday- Vengeance Is Sweet

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Finally Norris beckoned me to the table. I sat down, and she glared at Ghast until he got up and walked away. “So tell me what happened,” she said.

“Starting with what?” I didn’t want to go into the whole leaving the apartment too late thing if she only wanted to know about the part after I’d discovered someone had taken Keeley from school.

“Starting with why someone else picked up the little girl,” she replied.

Ah. “I’m still learning the transit system. I’m new around here. I didn’t realize I’d be running late, and something held up one of the trains. I showed up at Keeley’s school about ten or fifteen minutes late and the secretary said Alex—Mr. Ruiz—had picked her up already. He’d told her I’d called to say I’d be late.”

She jotted something down on a small notepad. “Why didn’t you call him?”

“I tried. He was in a meeting.” I’d said that before. I knew I had. Keeley had a point about people not listening. “I didn’t have the phone numbers for the school or for his receptionist, as I think you heard. When he didn’t answer his phone, I could only go on to the school and hope for the best. Unfortunately, I found the worst.”

“A bit melodramatic, don’t you think?” She put down her pen. “Who do you think you’re kidding?”

“I don’t know what you mean.” I shivered under her penetrating look. She hadn’t figured out the truth about me, had she? Even a child who recognized angels and other demons didn’t know I wasn’t human. This woman didn’t have any way of knowing what I was. I hoped.

“You show up at her school late, which opens the way for someone else to take the kid.” She ticked this off on one finger. “Then you conveniently figure out they’ve brought her here.” Another finger. “And you run in and, without noticing a fight that caused about two thousand dollars’ worth of damage, just happen to find the kid hiding in a pile of beanbags. Have you always wanted to be a hero?”

Now I understood. She thought I’d either lied about what had happened or had staged it to gain attention. Although her assumption irked me, it was probably for the best. At least she wouldn’t attempt to find the perpetrator and wind up running afoul of one of Hell’s higher-ups.

I didn’t like being falsely accused, though. “I showed up at the school late because of the trains,” I repeated. “I’m sure if you check with the subway people, they’ll tell you about the delay. The secretary said the person who took Keeley told her to tell me I’d know where they’d gone. Alex had asked me to bring Keeley here, so I figured maybe they’d come here for some reason.”

“Why would a kidnapper take a child somewhere people would be likely to look for her?”

“If I knew that, I’d be a kidnapper, not a babysitter,” I snapped. “Look. I know you’re under pressure to figure all this out. All I can tell you is what happened. If you don’t believe me, that’s your choice. I’ve done nothing wrong. In fact, I’d like you to stop and think about what might have happened to Keeley if I hadn’t found her when I did.”

“Nothing, if you’re the one who set it up,” she countered.

“Excuse me.” Ghast approached the table. “If you’re charging Omara with something, please get on with it. If you aren’t, she has a dinner engagement, and I have other business to attend to.”

“She doesn’t leave until I say so.”

Something in her tone made me take a closer look. The Officer Norris we’d seen outside had been quiet, almost shy. Probably a first-year officer or something. Now, though, she seemed completely authoritative and confident.

The change had occurred after I’d persuaded her to get permission to bring Keeley inside while we waited for Alex. Norris had been out of sight for several minutes. Longer than it should have taken to get a yes or no answer.

We’d assumed Tertarch and his buddies had gone away. Maybe they hadn’t. Maybe we just hadn’t been able to see them.

Release Day! Vengeance Is Sweet

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It’s here! Today is the official release day of Vengeance Is Sweet, my reissue of an urban fantasy novel previously published under my Jo Ramsey pen name. This is a Kindle exclusive, so only available on Amazon.com…and it’s a 98,000 word novel for only $2.99.

The novel was available as a Jo Ramsey title for about two years, until I requested that the publisher give me back the publishing rights to it. One of the problems I had with it was that it didn’t fit Jo Ramsey. Under that name, I write young adult fiction. Vengeance Is Sweet is not YA; it’s adult urban fantasy with romantic elements. The only thing that, to the publisher (and I did agree at the time), made it not a Karenna Colcroft title was the absence of any sexual or erotic content.

But when I saw the sales numbers under that name, I started thinking we had made a mistake by branding it as Jo Ramsey, so when I got the rights back I chose to try to correct that mistake. I also did some fairly major revising of part of the story, including cutting about 10,000 words.

I really enjoyed writing the novel to begin with, and revising it was a lot of fun too. I’d forgotten how salty and sassy Omara, my vengeance demon main character, can be. The story has humor, action, a wiseass demon, and other elements that I hope readers who missed it the first time around will really enjoy.

 

Teaser Thursday- When I See You Smile

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Kieran paced back and forth from the door to the window in his top-floor hotel suite. He should have crashed the moment they’d walked into the room. Actually, he should have ripped off their clothes, shoved Deacon onto the bed, cuffed him, and fucked the guy stupid.

He would have done exactly that if the meeting had gone the way it was supposed to. When a record exec showed up, they were supposed to tell Kieran how amazing he was and remind him he needed to start work on another album. Even though his current one had released only six months earlier and he’d been touring almost nonstop ever since, they wanted more. It bugged the shit out of him. It was time for a break, not another visit to the studio.

Thomas Garrison, smart man that he was, hadn’t argued a bit when Kieran said he was due a break. Not that it would be a complete break anyway. He had interviews scheduled and was already working on some new material for the next album. But at least he would have a few weeks away from studios and tour venues to recuperate from the past six months of insanity.

Kieran hadn’t had a problem with being told he should start on a new album. His problem was with being told what the album should include.

“I don’t do fucking covers,” he said to the floor lamp he was walking past. “I’m Kieran goddamn West. I write my own songs. I’ve been writing my own motherfucking songs since I was in goddamn elementary school. And this asswipe thinks I’m going to do a cover?”

“If you keep ranting, is it going to change anything?” Reclined on the king-sized bed, Deke yawned and stretched, showing his abs to full advantage. He was completely nude. It didn’t distract Kieran a bit, despite how eager he’d been to plunge into Deke’s sweet, tight ass only hours earlier. “It’s one song, Kieran. One. Everyone knows Kieran West writes his own songs, but this one means something to the company.”

“It means something to Thomas Garrison, the egotistical bastard. If he wants someone to sing a love song to some girl he crushed on in high school, he can damn well do it himself.” It wasn’t bad enough the exec had asked Kieran to do a cover song on his next album. The song had to be one from the 1980s, a decade Kieran barely remembered since he’d been born in 1980. Which made him older than most of his fans realized, and older than he wanted to admit, but barely old enough to recall the damn song.

The song had come out late in the decade, and Kieran did remember hearing it on the radio at friends’ houses. It wasn’t a country song, so Grandma hadn’t played it and Kieran hadn’t been a huge fan of it. “‘When I See You Smile,’” he muttered. “One of my buddies made a tape that just had that song over and over, trying to impress a girl he liked.”

“Did it work?” Deke asked.

“Hell, no. We were freaking fourth-graders. She couldn’t have cared less.” He groaned and went back to pacing, then stopped in front of the window, which he hadn’t bothered to pull the curtains over. “They want me to do a cover.”

“Yes, they do, and saying it over and over isn’t going to change it.” Deke rolled off the bed and went to Kieran. If Deke realized half the city might be able to see his naked cock and balls, he apparently didn’t care. He rested his hand on Kieran’s shoulder, and almost instantly Kieran relaxed. Deke always had that effect on him. “It’s one song, Kieran. One song on an album that won’t even be out for another year, probably. You aren’t even ready to start recording, right?”

“Right.” He took a deep breath and turned to close the curtains. “Are you into exhibitionism or something?”

“Only for you, babe.” Deacon grinned. “Are you actually going to pay attention to the naked man in your hotel room now?”

“Fuck, yeah.” He ran his hand through his shoulder-length, choppy-layered hair, still sweaty from his time on stage. He hadn’t grabbed a shower yet, even thought that was usually the first thing he did when he reached his room. He’d been too pissed off about Garrison’s request. “I probably smell like shit.”

“You smell like sweat.” Deke nuzzled Kieran’s neck, and Kieran sighed and melted into the other man’s arms. Deke touched his tongue to Kieran’s skin. “Taste like it, too. It’s good. It’s you.”

Deke knew all the right spots to get him going, and he kept nuzzling and kissing them until Kieran was hard as a fucking rock. The damn cover song didn’t matter a bit now. He was here with his man, his hot, naked man, and he’d been neglecting him.

Looking Forward to 2016

Last week I looked back at what my 2015 was like. It wasn’t the best year for me, especially in terms of my romance writing career.

This year, I don’t have goals that are as structured as what I’ve had in the past, because this is a year of rebuilding, or maybe destroying and building something new. I haven’t entirely decided yet. I don’t do resolutions for a new year. When I try, I end up not sticking to them, and that makes me feel kind of cruddy. Instead I do goals and hopes, and these are a few for me for 2016.

Obviously the big thing is my writing career. Karenna Colcroft has not had a new release in 10 months, give or take. People are not really buying the books I have available, at least according to my royalty statements. Those are things that need to change.

In 2016, I plan to release three books as self-published projects. Two are previously-published, one a paranormal-with-romantic-elements about a vengeance demon (which releases a week from today!) and one male/male romance about a ninja vampire who teaches mixed martial arts in present-day Boston. The third book has never been published, and is another paranormal about a woman who terms herself a “bookstore psychic”, whose powers and abilities bring her to solve a murder from 20 years earlier–and almost get murdered herself.

I have one publisher release scheduled for March 2016, which is Dawn Over Dayfield, a novel I’ve been mentioning a lot since last January or so, which I believe was when I submitted it. Or maybe when I wrote it… I can’t remember. All I know for sure is a whole lot has changed in my personal life since that novel was written. And my publisher, DSP Publications, has already done a stellar job of getting word out about the book, including scoring me an interview for the International Thriller Writers newsletter! (For those who don’t know, Dawn Over Dayfield is a suspense novel with romantic elements.)

I really love Dayfield, both the novel and the town my ex-boyfriend and I created for it, and I’d toyed with the idea of a sequel. I thought it wouldn’t be possible, but this past week I sat down to brainstorm something else and suddenly knew what would happen in the sequel to DOD. So that’s something I’m planning to write in 2016.

And speaking of planning to write…I have not been mentally able to write any type of romance in over a year. It isn’t writer’s block; it has other roots that I won’t get into. But it’s been over a year, and I think that’s time to have healed sufficiently from the incidents that sparked the issue to try again. I have someone close to me who’s willing to be my support system while I try to get back to it, so I’m planning to write at least 1-2 new erotic romances in 2016.

I’m hoping to get Karenna Colcroft back on track this year. More books. More income (because while I write for the love of writing, being able to pay bills is kinda important). More variety. More enjoyment.

Teaser Thursday- Chance Met

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They walked away. Despite the cold, Crawford stood there watching them walk up the street alongside Burger King. He could have walked with them. Bremen Street was the next one, and though his apartment was further down the street, it still would have been a reasonable route for him to take. But he didn’t want to push his luck.

He’d already learned more about Trey than he’d expected. The guy was gay, given that Mikey had mentioned Trey having a boyfriend in the past. He knew about and accepted his son’s abilities but was cautious about letting others find out. It might have been solely because he was worried about the general public’s reaction, or there might have been another reason. The fear in Mikey’s eyes when he’d realized he’d given himself away implied the latter. If anyone had tried to hurt the boy because of something he couldn’t help, Crawford would—

Do absolutely nothing, because whatever had happened was probably over. And he couldn’t be the knight in psychic armor for the little boy, anyway. It was Trey’s responsibility to protect his son. Crawford would help as much as the pair would allow, but it wasn’t up to him to do it all.

He shivered. Thinking about Trey and Mikey had distracted him from the cold temporarily, but now the wind cut through his jacket. He was an idiot for just standing here. It was time to go home. To his empty apartment, where he would spend the rest of the evening watching TV and surfing online until he was tired enough to go to bed. Yeah, my life is fascinating.

He’d gone through the same routine for years now, with occasional breaks to assist Joel with evening workshops and seminars and to spend time with the few people he’d allowed into his life. Something which hadn’t happened for far too long.

He headed home, walking fast to try to warm up. His life had become one enormous rut, consisting of work and distractions and very few people. He kept telling himself he needed to change that, but he’d become so stuck he hadn’t even tried.

Now things were improving. All because a little boy had wanted hot chocolate.

He stuck his hand in his pocket to touch his phone. He had Trey’s number. Trey wanted to see him again. The mention of a dinner without Mikey had sounded a whole lot like Trey was asking him on a date, something Crawford had no objection to at all.

He would take things slowly. It wouldn’t help anything if he became too excited about the idea of having a friend. Or a boyfriend, as the case may be. He wasn’t quite sure what Trey had in mind, and it would make sense to let Trey have the lead on how things developed between them. Trey had his son to consider, and he probably wouldn’t want to get into anything too fast. But if he was able to spend any time with the other man at all, Crawford would be happy.