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Teaser Thursday- I Should Tell You

My new male/male contemporary romance novel I Should Tell You released Tuesday from Loose Id. On Monday, I posted a contest for a free PDF copy of the novel. 

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It took him a few seconds to register that he’d thought the L word, and he wondered about it, but his brain wasn’t clear enough to figure out anything.

Meanwhile, Hunter had said something, and Mitch had completely missed it. He shook his head. Hunter sighed. “I said, because I don’t know if I’m going to be able to get you out of my mind easily enough to tell you to go fuck yourself. And I’m a little too stubborn to give up on you anyway.”

“I don’ gettit.” Mitch’s words ran together even more now. He needed to sleep. His eyes drifted closed, and he tried to force them open again, but he wasn’t sure if he succeeded, or if he was just seeing outlines through his eyelids. That happened sometimes.

“I know you don’t.” Hunter’s voice was growing more distant. “I’ll explain in the morning. Get some sleep. I’m going to turn off the lights.”

“Wait. No.” This time Mitch did manage to open one eye. “Need li’ on. Mine.”

“You want me to leave the lamp on beside you?” Hunter said. Mitch nodded, and Hunter turned off his own lamp. “Okay. I’m shutting off the other lights though. We don’t need those on, right?”

Mitch nodded again. He just needed a little bit of light to keep the monsters away.

The second Hunter left the bed to switch off the other lights in the room, Mitch’s heart stopped. He was alone. “Stay.”

“I’m not leaving,” Hunter said. “Just shutting off the lights. See?” He killed the light in the bathroom, which left the room illuminated only by the small lamp hanging above Mitch’s nightstand. Then he got back into bed. “I’m right here, Mitch. I’m not leaving you.”

His voice was so gentle it brought tears to Mitch’s eyes. For a moment Mitch was afraid he would break down like a little baby. He couldn’t let that happen. Hunter would consider him weak and whiny, and then he would leave regardless of what he said.

“Hold me.” Mitch wasn’t sure he’d said it out loud. He hoped not. He hadn’t meant to.

But Hunter nodded and moved closer to him. “Solara said you don’t like to be touched.”

“I don’…” Mitch trailed off, trying to wrap his brain around what he was trying to say so he could get the words out. “Know y’ere.” He hoped Hunter would be able to translate the last as know you’re here, because that was as clearly as Mitch could say it.

“You want me to hold you so you know I haven’t left?” He held out one arm. “Come here. Can you sleep if I’m touching you?”

“Dunno.” He wondered how Hunter knew he’d had trouble sleeping in the past with someone else in the same bed. It must have just been part of the magic of Hunter.

“Let’s try,” Hunter said. “Put your head on my chest, and I’ll just keep one arm around you so you can move away if you need to.”

Mitch scooted closer to him. He’d never been able to sleep in the same bed with another person. Sometimes he couldn’t even sleep with someone else in the same room. It was impossible to know what they might do to him.

But Hunter wouldn’t do anything. Mitch couldn’t have said how he knew it, but he had absolutely no doubt. He rested his head on Hunter’s chest, and Hunter’s arm curled around his back. A strong arm. One belonging to the man who would fight all the nightmares. The man who would protect him.

“I’m right here,” Hunter murmured. “You can get up if you need to. I’m not going anywhere.”

The last few words trailed into fog and haze as Mitch gave up fighting the pills. His eyes closed by themselves, and he didn’t know anything more.

He had no nightmares.

Teaser Thursday- Their Home Port

This novel is available from Jupiter Gardens Press.

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“There’s a lot more to this than just driving the boat.” Reesa saw a smaller motorboat off to her side and waved. A little boy on board jumped up and down as he waved back. “It’s fun, though.”

“For you,” Micah said. “You just have to sit there while I steer. So anyway, did I freak you out completely, or just a little bit?”

“You mean with the marriage stuff?” She didn’t even want to think about it. Knowing that they’d keep seeing each other told her enough about the future. She didn’t want to think any farther ahead than that. Bad enough he had clothes and a toothbrush at her apartment, and that had been her idea.

“I wasn’t proposing,” he explained. “Just saying, someday we might end up there. Or we might move in together, or we might just keep things as they are now. Don’t worry so much, honey. I’m not trying to make you make any decisions about the rest of your life. I just mentioned it because it’s something I’ve thought about. Not specifically with you. I mean…shit, I’m screwing this all up, aren’t I?”

“Kind of,” she agreed. Then she decided to cut him some slack. “I do understand what you’re saying. You’re one of those white-picket-fence, two and half kids and a dog sort of people, right?”

He laughed. “Yeah, that kind of sums it up. Growing up, I used to imagine what the right woman would be like. And then I never found her. I’m thirty-two, which isn’t exactly ancient or anything, but most of the people I went to school with are married now. Some are even divorced, which isn’t really what I’d want. The point is, I thought I’d have found someone by now. Honestly, I’d almost given up.”

“And then you met me?” she said sarcastically.

“And then I met you.” He looked at her solemnly. “I haven’t known you long enough to say you’re ‘the one’ or anything like that.” He made air quotes. “I know that you and I get along better than anyone else I’ve ever dated. And you don’t mind the work schedule, which is a plus. If you aren’t ‘the one,’ you’re pretty darn close.”

“You sound an awful lot like you’re looking for more of a commitment than we’ve already agreed to.” If they hadn’t been out in the middle of the ocean, she would have walked away from him. She didn’t like to be pressured, and even though she doubted he intended it that way, he certainly did seem to be pressuring her. Maybe it had just been way too long since he’d had a serious girlfriend and he’d become overexcited about the idea.

Maybe she was the one with the issues, and she needed to just listen to him and accept that he was only expressing his opinion, not trying to force her into anything. Some women would love hearing a man say he might want to spend the rest of his life with them. They wouldn’t see it as a trap, they’d see it as proof that they deserved something that good.

She was thirty years old and the most serious relationship she’d ever had had been with Kent. And that had only happened because it had seemed like the right time to have a relationship, not because Kent had seemed like the right man to do it with.

“I’m not looking for anything more than you’re willing to give,” Micah assured her. “Look, I know I’m botching this up. We’ve already established I’m awkward with the whole dating thing. I’m not professing undying love for you or anything like that. I’m just saying that I do love you, and I won’t mind if things do wind up with us having a stronger commitment. I also won’t mind if we don’t. I just want to have you around. Okay?”

“You are pretty damn awkward.” Reesa stared out the windshield. “I think I understand. Just realize, I do have issues, even though I look like I have it together. So yeah, I’m going to freak out a little if you start talking moving in and marriage and all that stuff. Doesn’t mean I don’t want it someday. I used to daydream about it too. Too much has happened in my life for me to have a very positive outlook about it right now, though. So how about if we just agree that we love each other, we’re seeing each other, and whatever happens, happens?”

“Yeah, I think that’s what I meant to say,” he said slowly. “You’re much better at this talking thing than I am. Maybe I should hire you to translate me.”

“Except that I’m the one you need to be translated for,” she pointed out.

“I think you understand me very well.” He put his hand on her knee. “You and I seem to think along the same lines sometimes.”

“Yeah, we do.”

For a while, Micah drove the boat around, keeping an eye out for any trouble. All the boaters they passed waved, and some called hellos. Reesa sat back and enjoyed the wind flowing through her hair as the boat continued through the water. Despite the choppy waves, she loved being out, away from land and away from all the crap she’d dealt with. Something about the ocean made it all seem to go away.

Teaser Thursday- A Little Kiss

A Little Kiss was my 2012 Valentine’s story from MLR Press.

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Nothing much ever changed in our town.

Nothing except what I found when I opened the door of my tow truck out in the parking lot. There were chocolate kisses on the driver’s seat again. Third time this week. A pile of them, with red foil wrappers driving home the fact that Valentine’s Day was tomorrow. Or today, actually, since it was past midnight. I didn’t know who the hell kept leaving them, but it was starting to get on my nerves.

Probably I should have locked the truck. That would have kept the candy phantom out. But I’d grown up here in Anglesey, Maine, affectionately known to the natives as East Armpit in honor of the smell from the paper mill the next town over, and no one here ever locked their doors, houses, or cars. No one except the few flatlanders who’d moved here from Massachusetts or wherever because they believed the hype that Maine was the way life should be.

I started to sweep the chocolates out onto the pavement so I could run them over with the truck, then changed my mind. I’d had a couple beers too many inside while I listened to the guys talk about the chicks they planned to hook up with, and a little food in my stomach and sugar in my blood wouldn’t hurt. I dumped the candies into the cup holder and swung up onto my seat.

I turned on the engine but didn’t leave the lot. My boss, Bob Riley, was good enough to let me use the truck as my personal vehicle, since I couldn’t afford a car unless I also wanted to make it my home, and I didn’t want to screw myself out of a good thing by risking a DUI. So I stuffed chocolate into my mouth and waited for the buzz to fade enough that I could drive.

Some of the other guys left the bar and waved at me on the way to their cars and pick-ups. One of them had to have been the candy phantom. The bar sat on the edge of town, and not many people stopped there just for the hell of it. The thing was, I didn’t think any of those guys were gay, which meant none of them would be likely to dump a pile of chocolate in my truck cab. Especially not somewhere they might get caught doing it. If it had been someone from the bar, it had probably been one of the girls, and I didn’t want a female Valentine.

Being the only gay guy in town—as far as I knew—really sucked, and not in a good way. Back in high school it hadn’t been so bad. There wasn’t a hell of a lot to do in East Armpit other than fool around and fuck. If us guys hadn’t been able to get girls to fool around with us, we’d do ourselves or, sometimes, each other. No one cared so much about having their dick sucked by another guy if it was just a substitute for a girl’s mouth.

Mostly with the other guys, we’d just used hands or mouths. No actual sex, because that would have been gay. I’d had one exception in my life. My ass cherry’d been popped by my best friend Gabe one night after high school graduation when we’d gotten shitfaced and his girlfriend had walked out on him. He and I’d both understood it was just because he wanted a place to stick his dick, not because he was into fucking other guys. At least that was what he said.

For me, that kind of thing hadn’t been a substitute. The girls I’d screwed around with were the substitutes for the guys I really wanted to fuck.

Now we were all in our twenties and the high school fooling around stuff was over. I went out drinking with the guys some nights, and they all either went home to their wives or picked up a girl at the bar, depending on their marital status. I went home by myself. When I wanted to get laid, I headed to one of the cities. Augusta or Bangor, or even to Portland if I felt adventurous and had the time to stay over in a hotel for the night since I didn’t want to drive two hours home after getting drunk and taking a cock up the ass. The rest of the time, I was alone.

Being alone sucked ass. And not in a good way.

Teaser Thursday- Colder Weather

VERY unedited excerpt from a hetero contemporary romance I abandoned years ago. 

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After a while, the white lines on the highway tended to blur together. That was always Craig’s signal that it was nearly time to pull off the road for his mandatory eight-hour break. He’d been driving for ten hours since his last stop, and that meant he didn’t have much choice about stopping again.

But he was only forty miles from home, and it seemed stupid to stop when he was so close. Not that he had anyone waiting for him when he came off the road. All he had was a little one-bedroom apartment over an old woman’s garage. His landlady never cared if he was there or not, as long as the rent was paid on time. Craig didn’t spend much time there anyway. It was just a place for him to sleep on weekends. He only took weekends off because his boss made him. The road was what mattered to him.

Sometimes not having anyone waiting for him at home depressed him. But it hadn’t seemed worth it to look for anyone, not since he’d lost his wife five years earlier. She’d only been twenty-five, four years younger than he was, and they’d been together since she was sixteen. He didn’t think he’d ever love anyone else as much as he had Meg. At least being on the road gave him time to think about her. There were times he even imagined she was sitting in the passenger seat, just like she’d said she wanted to do when he’d first brought up learning to drive big rigs.

Ahead of him, a grey SUV swerved as if about to change lanes, then swerved the other way. “Great,” Craig muttered. “Drunk driver at five in the afternoon. Some people just can’t wait to get the party started.”

The other vehicle swerved a few more times and nearly sideswiped a small black hatchback traveling in the far right lane. The car veered to the right to avoid the SUV and, as Craig watched from the cab of his rig, skidded through the breakdown lane and into the ditch alongside the road. The SUV kept going as if the driver hadn’t noticed anything.

Craig steered into the breakdown lane and brought his rig to a stop. The driver of the car probably wasn’t hurt, but he wanted to make sure. He shifted into parking gear and picked up his CB mic. “Break for any state trooper near northbound mile marker seventy-eight. Gray SUV just ran a car off the road. Checking now to find out if the driver’s all right.”

“State police here,” a male voice came back. “Who are you?”

“I’m in a Jacksonian rig,” Craig replied. “Getting out now to check on the driver. I didn’t catch a license plate on that SUV, but they’ve been driving erratically for a couple miles now.”

“We’ll take care of it. If the driver you’re checking on is injured, don’t move him.”

“Wasn’t planning on it. Out.” Craig hooked the mic back to the radio. The trooper must have thought he was an idiot. Of course he knew enough not to move an injured person until help arrived.

He climbed down from the truck cab and hurried into the ditch. The car was tilted nearly halfway onto its side. The driver was stirring, probably trying to get out. They wouldn’t have much luck, given how the car had ended up. Gravity would keep the driver’s side door closed, and the passenger side door was against the ground.

He went closer and saw that the driver was a woman. Younger than him, and looking pretty terrified. Craig carefully made his way up to the car. A slight smell of gas filled the air, as if the car had sprung a leak somewhere along the line.

The driver rolled down the window. “Can you help me get out?”

Her voice reminded Craig of Meg. He steeled himself against the pain the memory was sure to bring and forced a smile. “I can try,” he said. “Are you hurt?”

She shook her head. “I don’t think so. Had the wind knocked out of me when I landed, but I think I’m okay now. I just can’t get the door open, and I smell gas. You don’t think it’s going to catch fire, do you?”

“I think you’re going to be fine.” He took hold of the door handle and pulled. The door resisted opening. He pulled harder, and the door opened. “I’ll hold it. You get out.”

The driver scrambled out of the car, and Craig let the door slam shut. The woman looked at him with teary green eyes. Her red hair was tied back in a wavy ponytail, and the scrubs she wore were slightly wrinkled. “Thank you,” she said.