SOULMATE #FirstChapter #Excerpt!

It’s that time again: if you’re not sure you want to try something, you read a sample first, right? So here is a first chapter excerpt for my bestselling new release, SOULMATE!

Buy links: EvernightAmazonGoogle PlayBookStrandKoboSmashwordsNOOKiBooks

  

Gay Romance, Paranormal, Erotic Romance, Suspense, May/Dec
Word Count: 53,500
Heat Level: 3
Published By: Evernight Publishing

****

Guy Keaton doesn’t want a hookup or a soulmate or anything in between. When he lost his wife to cancer, he knew he’d be alone for the rest of his life. He has a grown son, and his woodshop, and in a world where those born with powerful gifts are few and far between, that’s all that really matters.

Theo Fraser’s empathic gift is rare and strong. He isn’t looking for love, but when he meets Guy, everything changes, because he knows that when you find your soulmate, you hold on tight and don’t let go. The only problem is that Guy thinks he’s straight, and Theo doesn’t know if he can convince a man already set in his ways to change his mind.

Will Guy be able to give up his grief and accept Theo’s love? And what happens when a terrible betrayal forces them to fight to keep each other alive?

****

First Chapter Excerpt:

“It’s been three years since Mom died, Dad,” Guy Keaton’s son said.His voicesounded smaller over the phone than in real life, but his exasperation came through loud and clear. “You need to get out there again. Maybe go on a date or two. You know people like us live longer than ordinary humans. You may be forty-five, but for a WoodCrafter, you’re still young. I’m a Healer, and I can tell that you’re as healthy as a horse.”

Guy frowned, feeling the beginning of a headache creep up from his spine as he paced his shop. The afternoon sunlight lit the bench where he’d just placed his latest creation: an acoustic guitar. It still needed a lot of work. He stared at it while he tried to figure out what to say to his son. The swirls of the flame maple front picked up the light quite nicely, and he sighed, wishing he wasn’t having this conversation again. “Jonathan, I’m fine just the way things are. Seriously. I don’t know why you keep nagging me about dating. I’m good with my woodworking and hanging out with you once a week or so. I don’t need to start dating. I loved your mother, and I have no intention of replacing her with anyone.”

“Mom made me promise I wouldn’t let you hibernate alone forever,” Jonathan said impatiently. “She also told me you’d be impossible over this, and she was right.” He let out a gusty sigh, then continued. “I know it sucked, the cancer. Her dying so young. Believe me, I get it. She was my mom, and I couldn’t save her. I miss her, too, but, Dad, you hardly leave the house. It’s not healthy. I’m not sure having your woodshop attached to where you live is a good thing.” He paused a moment, then continued. “And who knows? Maybe you’ll find a soulmate out there.”

I don’t want a soulmate,I want my wife back, Guy thought as a familiar surge of grief welled up and lodged in his esophagus, nearly choking him. For a moment he couldn’t talk. He remembered Pamela’s dark red hair. Her startling blue eyes. He’d loved teasing her about how much time she spent fooling with her makeup when the truth was, she didn’t need any at all. She was beautiful to him even after the cancer had robbed her of everything: her hair, her sparkle. Even her skin lost its glow, but she was still his wife. His high school sweetheart. He’d loved her for her kindness and her intelligence, not because of how she’d looked. She wasn’t his fated soulmate, and she didn’t have any Craft power, but it didn’t matter. How many people found their perfect match, anyway? It happened so rarely it was almost mythical. He’d fallen for Pamela in middle school, and had never bothered wishing after some impossible soulmate that only one percent of the already rare Crafted population ever found. He loved Pamela. They were supposed to live happily ever after together, not happily for half of a life.

“Dad? You there?”

Guy cleared his throat. “Yeah, I’m here.” He heard the hoarseness in his voice and knew he had to do better. “Look, I’m about to head out. Are we still getting together for pizza on Friday night?”

“You’re trying to get out of this conversation,” his son said.

Guilty as charged,Guy thought, but he couldn’t let his son think that he didn’t want to talk to him. “No, really. I’m going—” He thought frantically for a split second, trying to figure out what he could tell his son that wouldn’t be a lie. His gaze landed on his shop’s bulletin board where he let customers and friends post advertisements and business cards. A flyer for a local outdoor trail caught his eye. “—hiking,” he said, seizing on the idea. He could use a break from his latest project. The surface of the guitar’s neck had cracked when he’d tried to screw in the pegs, and now he had to take it apart and re-varnish the entire piece. He could use a bit of cardio to work off his frustration. “I was about to head out to the Blue Mountain trails when you called.”

“Hiking? Hmm.” His son sounded suspicious.

“I used to go hiking all the time,” Guy pointed out, praying his son would buy the excuse.

“You haven’t gone since…” Jonathan trailed off.

Guy smiled grimly. He hadn’t gone since Jonathan’s mother had died, true. She hadn’t liked hiking, so it had been one of the few things they didn’t do together, but he’d been going out to the woods since he was a teenager. Glancing at the flyer again, he realized he missed being in the forest. It made sense. As one of the few people born with a Craft talent, he’d been blessed with an affinity to wood. He was a WoodCrafter. He probably shouldn’t have cut himself off from living trees for so long. “It’s just a quick hike. I miss going out into nature. And I need to work off some energy today because I messed up the varnish on my latest guitar.”

“Well. That’s good, I guess,” Jonathan said slowly, obviously working through what Guy had told him. “You shouldn’t be obsessing over cracked varnish, anyway. You’re a WoodCrafter. You could just smooth over the problem spot with a little bit of energy.” His son sounded cheerier. “You have more than enough Crafting skill to fix something like that, and you should keep in practice, anyway. Not many of us have the ability to actually use what we’re born with, you know.”

“And you know I don’t like to do that. Feels like cheating,” Guy replied, bemused. His son was repeating his own lessons back at him. He shook his head. He didn’t know why he’d been born with the ability to handle woods, but it wasn’t something he’d chosen. No one did. Not everyone was born with the capability to manipulate natural materials, and of those who were, only some had enough power to actually use the ability. Most people with Craft could sense the energy, but didn’t have the capacity to do anything with it, and no one knew why.

“Look, it’s not like this talent is particularly useful in the modern world. There isn’t that much of a demand for Crafted wooden objects,” Guy told his son.

“Are you kidding?” Jonathan asked incredulously. “You could be creating soulmate rings and pulling in money hand over fist. I’m not sure anyone is making them anymore.”

“Only bonded WoodCrafters can make those rings, and I don’t have a soulmate. I know I’ve explained that to you that before.” Guy scowled. “So, no. I can’t. And it’s not like there are a lot of soulmated pairs to sell them to, anyway.” The thought of making soulmate rings when his own wife had died… Ugh. Not now, and probably not ever, he thought, recoiling from the very idea of it. He’d never be able to handle the pain of meeting and dealing with soulmate couples. He didn’t care if there was a shortage of the rings. He deserved to live out the rest of his life in peace, if not happily, and he had no desire to date or meet his so-called perfect match. The love of his life was gone, and she was never coming back.

“What good is having power if you don’t use it?” his son asked, clearly sensing his father’s disquiet. “Your Craft power is cool. Sometimes I wish I’d inherited your abilities.”

Guy exhaled slowly. They’d been over this before. “I like to work with wood the old-fashioned way. I know I have both an affinity and the power for WoodCraft, but I like working with my hands. And you have your own power, Jonathan. Not everyone can sense illness the way you do. You’re a fantastic veterinarian. A Healer. That’s rare, too.”

His son made an unintelligible sound. “Fine, fine. I can tell you don’t want to talk about it anymore. So, about hiking. Maybe we could go together sometime. Next weekend?”

Guy nodded, happy to get off the topic of soulmates and power and most especially dating. “Yes, that would be great.” He and his son used to go hiking all the time. When had they stopped? He thought a moment. When Pamela first got sick. Has it really been five years since we’ve been out in the woods together? Wow,he thought, dismayed. His son deserved more of his time. Jonathan was the only family he had left.

“I can do next Sunday afternoon, maybe around four,” Jonathan said, sounding distracted. “Hang on, let me put it on my calendar.”

“That would be nice. I’d really love to get out with you. I miss it,” Guy said. There, that wasn’t a lie at all. He smiled to himself. Maybe Jonathan was right. He didneed to get out, but he certainly didn’t need to try dating. Doing some hiking with his son and getting in a little extra exercise wouldn’t hurt. He was in great shape thanks to his woodworking. The bigger pieces he put together, like tables and cabinets, often needed a lot of muscle, but more active pursuits wouldn’t be bad for him. Might help me be more creative, too. Exercise is good for the mind and the body, everyone says,he mused.

“Hey, Dad, I have to go. They’re bringing in an injured dog, and they need my Craft. I’ll see you Friday, okay?”

Guy nodded, even though he knew his son couldn’t see him. “Yeah, Friday for pizza, and then next Sunday. Four o’clock.”

“Yup, great. Bye, Dad. Love you.”

“Love you, too,” Guy replied, but then he realized the connection was already dead. He smiled wryly. His son was a busy man. Most of the people born as Healers were human doctors, so a veterinarian with that particular power was in high demand. People loved their pets. He rolled his shoulders, wincing as his spine cracked. He wasn’t getting any younger. People with Craft lived a little longer than regular humans, and people who found their soulmates lived even longer than that, but he was no longer sure an extended lifespan was all it was cracked up to be. He’d much rather have Pamela back than go on through the next sixty or so years alone.

“Stop it,” he said aloud, standing up and stretching. “You’re only forty-five, and you have a son, and a successful business.” He hated self-pity, and he’d been falling into the habit too often in the past few years. He grimaced as he racked his tools and set the guitar aside, out of the sunlight. Maybe he’d trail run instead of hike. If nothing else, working his body to exhaustion would help him sleep tonight.

****

“Stupid,” Guy muttered, wiping the sweat off his face. He’d run two miles, and then pooped out. “I am an idiot.” The sun glittered down through the trees and the birds were singing, but to him, the sounds of the late spring day felt like taunts. He’d let himself get way too out of shape for running, but now he was in the middle of the trail loop and there was no way out but forward. “One step at a time,” he said, snorting. He’d at least managed not to get a blister, but it had been a close thing. He’d already taken his trail runners off twice to cool a hot spot on his heel. He kept walking, watching for roots and rocks as his overheated body cooled. At the back of his mind, he sensed the trees murmuring to each other with his Craft, and he had to smile. He’d missed this. Working with wood helped, but living, breathing trees had a language all their own. Why had he stayed away from the woods for so long?

“Sir, please wait a moment,” a man said, startling him as he headed around a sharp curve.

Guy looked up just before he walked into a black-clad man standing in the middle of the trail. “What?”

“Delegate Fraser is almost done filming,” the man replied, blocking his way. “You can pass in a moment.”

Delegate? What is a Craft Councilmember doing out in the woods?Guy frowned, looking past the black-clad man. Just beyond them stood a younger man talking to a camera. A woman held a microphone boom next to the cameraman, and another woman stood to the side. She watched, occasionally tapping at her tablet computer. Two more black-clad men stood on the other side of the trail, blocking access from that direction. “What’s going on?” Guy asked, confused. Sure, this was a popular public trail, but it wasn’t like there were so many Council Delegates that it was easy to stumble over one in the middle of the woods. The Council mostly mediated disputes between Crafters and handled public relations with the larger non-gifted population.

“Sir, please stand back,” the man said, not answering Guy’s question.

The woman with the tablet looked over, then made her way around the camera. “Delegate Fraser is recording a public service announcement promoting outdoor activity,” she said, smiling. She nodded to the man in black, and he backed up a bit, turning to watch the trail. She held out her hand. “Hello, I’m Rose Tremaine, Delegate Fraser’s assistant. Do you come here often?”

That guy looks like a bodyguard. Strange. I’ve never heard of a Council Delegate needing protection, except maybe the Council Head.Guy absently shook the woman’s hand, noting her short dark hair and brown eyes. Her light brown skin looked smooth as butter, and he wondered what was wrong with him that he felt not even the slightest bit of attraction to her. Even when he’d been married he’d noticed beautiful women, but lately he hadn’t felt anything. “Guy Keaton. And no, I don’t come here often anymore, but I used to. It’s been a few years.” He looked past her. Something about the Delegate still talking to the camera intrigued him. “He’s a bit young for a Delegate, isn’t he?”

Rose smiled. “He’s thirty, so, yeah. He’s young, but not that young.” She glanced over her shoulder at the Delegate. “And he’s the smartest guy I’ve ever met.”

Guy raised an eyebrow, sensing that she meant more than she was saying out loud. “Is he gifted, then?” He felt himself flush. Of course the man had Craft power. He couldn’t serve on the Council if he didn’t. “I meant, does he have a Craft specialty?” Only the strongest of them specialized in something. His WoodCrafting and his son’s Healing abilities were unusually strong, but then, the power did tend to run in families.

Her mouth twisted slightly, and Guy knew she was amused by his stumbling. “He’s an Empath, and he has a lot of Craft power, yes, if that’s what you mean.” She lifted a shoulder. “But he’s gifted in other ways, too. He truly believes in serving his constituents. You know how rare that is.”

Guy nodded. Historically, people who were born with empathy as their Craft sometimes went into politics, but not many could handle the burden of being around people all the time. The Empaths who’d served on the Council in the past were always bonded with a soulmate, and their partner helped them handle the pressure of their situation. Empathy was both a gift and a curse, so much so that he hadn’t heard of anyone with that particular gift becoming a Delegate for at least fifty years. He didn’t envy the guy.

“Theo’s a good guy,” Rose said, turning back to look at her boss.

“Interesting,” Guy murmured, feeling the trees around him hush as the man spoke. Guy’s Craft power tingled, sending surges of energy down his spine. He inhaled, then let out his breath slowly. He hadn’t had to wrestle with his power in ages. Down, boy,he told himself, amused when his cock twitched. Something about the Delegate and being in the woods was getting his energy all riled up.

“Are you gifted?” Rose asked him, tilting her head.

He nodded. “Wood.” He gestured to the trees. He could tell she didn’t have even a spark of Craft, but she seemed naturally intuitive.

She smiled. “Interesting, Mr. Taciturn.”

He laughed, enjoying her poke at his cryptic statement. “Not that interesting,” he said wryly.

“There aren’t a lot of WoodCrafters,” she said, dark eyes speculating. “Do you create soulmate rings?”

Guy went still. “No. I’m not bonded,” he said, suddenly angry. Everyone knew only a soulmated Crafter could make the rings. And why did so many people assume he wanted a soulmate? He’d had a wife, and he’d loved her deeply even though she wasn’t his soulmate, and then he’d lost her, and now his life was shit.

“I’m sorry,” she said, stepping back. “Crafting with wood is so rare, and there’s the shortage of rings…” She trailed off apologetically.

Guy shook his head, then scrubbed at his face. “No, no. You did nothing wrong. I’m just—” He cut himself off before he said anything more.

“What’s wrong? Rose?”

Guy looked up, then froze. The Delegate had come over while he was having his little internal freak out. He stared at the man as everything went strangely silent in the forest. He felt as if the ground had suddenly dropped out from under his feet. Theo Fraser was around the same height as Guy, and muscular, but he carried himself like a man used to delicate negotiations. Guy wanted to touch him to see if he was real, but somewhere in the back of his mind he knew that wasn’t proper. He needed to wait … for what? He shook his head against the vertigo, and looked down at his trail runners for a moment, hoping the familiar sight would help settle the weirdness. He jammed his right foot against the root poking up through the dirt and let the wood’s quiet strength seep into him. What the fuck was wrong with him? With his power? When he looked up again, the Delegate stared at him, dark eyes unwavering.

“Theo? Theo, are you okay?” Rose was asking. She put a hand on the Delegate’s arm.

Theo blinked. “I’m fine, Rose.” He held out his hand to Guy. “Hello, I’m Theo Fraser.”

Guy couldn’t move. The man’s brown eyes seemed lit with some kind of knowledge Guy didn’t share. Slowly, as though he had to push through molasses, he raised his hand. Theo grasped it, and Guy sucked in a startled breath when static jumped over his skin. “That’s some power you have there,” he managed to say.

Theo let go, looking just as startled. “It’s not my power. It’s yours.” He flexed his fingers. “You zapped me.”

Guy frowned, not sure what to say. His Craft power wasn’t anything nearly so dramatic as that. Talent with wood was a quiet skill. No one would even know he had any abilities at all unless he told them. Rose’s intuition about his Crafting was an anomaly.

“Did you finish filming the segment?” Rose asked, interrupting Guy’s thoughts.

Theo turned to her, looking confused. “No. I felt something … odd. I thought you were upset. I wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Rose pursed her lips. “I’m fine.” She glanced at Guy. “Theo, this is Guy Keaton. He said he used to use these trails a lot.”

“Hello, Guy,” Theo said, and then he smiled.

Guy almost stepped back, because it felt like he’d been punched in the chest. He sucked in a breath as his gaze met Theo’s. He’d swear the Delegate was peering right into Guy’s soul. He forced himself to look away, but his attention didn’t wander far, and his gaze landed on Theo’s hair. It was long for a politician: it just brushed his shoulders in soft waves. I bet it feels as soft as it looks,Guy thought, strangely fascinated.

“So, you used to hike here often?” Theo asked. “Have you been going somewhere else lately?”

Guy wrenched his attention back to the Delegate’s words. “No.” He cleared his throat. “I mean, I used to hike and run here all the time, and then, well…” He trailed off again. He had no idea how to tell people his wife was dead. He’d never been able to figure out how to explain the dramatic disaster of his life, and how Pamela’s death had changed everything for him. He doubted he’d everfeel comfortable explaining.

Theo’s expression softened as if he knew exactly what was going on in Guy’s head. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to pry.”

Is this what it’s like to be on the receiving end of an Empath?Guy drew in a deep breath and decided to just get it over with. “I used to come hiking here all the time before my wife passed away three years ago.” He shrugged. “Cancer.”

Theo nodded as if he’d already expected that explanation. “I’m so sorry for your loss.” He glanced back at the cameraman for a moment. “I need to finish up the segment we’re filming, but I’d like it if you stuck around. I want to hike the rest of the trail, and it’d be nice to have company.”

Guy saw Rose’s eyebrows lift, but her surprise barely registered. The thought of hiking withsomeone intrigued him. “Yeah, that would be cool,” he found himself saying before he could question his sudden desire to hang out with a complete stranger. He hadn’t really wanted to hang out with anyonein years.

What the hell is wrong with me?he thought, running a hand over the back of his neck. His skin prickled, as if static was still running just under the surface.

“Great. I’ll be done in a few minutes,” Theo said, and then he loped back towards the camera.

“I have no idea what just happened,” Guy murmured, mostly to himself.

Rose laughed. “You met Delegate Fraser. He has that kind of effect on some people.”

Guy made a face. “I’m not some people. I’m just a guy. I’m ordinary.”

Rose gave him a speculative look. “Hmm.”

“Hmm? What does that mean?” Guy shifted his weight. His cock hung heavy and half-hard against his thigh. He wasn’t used to it. He wasn’t used to feeling much of anything, lately, except grief.

Rose just shook her head. “Nothing. You’ll see.”

Guy stared past her. The Delegate gestured to the woman holding the microphone, and the cameraman grinned. Theo began talking, but this time, Guy could tell there was something more there. Some sort of energy the Delegate hadn’t had before.

“He’s a good guy,” Rose murmured, watching with a half-smile on her face. “You could do worse.”

Guy frowned at her. “What?”

She just shook her head. “You’ll see,” she repeated.

I’ll see what?Guy wondered, but then the cameraman unshouldered his equipment, and Theo turned back down the trail. His dark eyes gleamed, even in the bright afternoon light. Guy nearly took a step back when their gazes caught and held. There’s nothing to fear,he told himself, as Theo started walking toward him. He’s just a man. A good man.Somehow, repeating those words in his head didn’t make him feel any better.

SOULMATE Release Day!

It’s been a long time coming, but the first book of a brand new paranormal gay romance series is here! I’m already in the middle of book two, SEER, and book three, SHIFTER, is planned out. I hope you enjoy SOULMATE!

Buy links: EvernightAmazonGoogle PlayBookStrandKoboSmashwordsNOOKiBooks

  

Gay Romance, Paranormal, Erotic Romance, Suspense, May/Dec
Word Count: 53,500
Heat Level: 3
Published By: Evernight Publishing

****

Guy Keaton doesn’t want a hookup or a soulmate or anything in between. When he lost his wife to cancer, he knew he’d be alone for the rest of his life. He has a grown son, and his woodshop, and in a world where those born with powerful gifts are few and far between, that’s all that really matters.

Theo Fraser’s empathic gift is rare and strong. He isn’t looking for love, but when he meets Guy, everything changes, because he knows that when you find your soulmate, you hold on tight and don’t let go. The only problem is that Guy thinks he’s straight, and Theo doesn’t know if he can convince a man already set in his ways to change his mind.

Will Guy be able to give up his grief and accept Theo’s love? And what happens when a terrible betrayal forces them to fight to keep each other alive?

****

 

Story Excerpt:

“You seem very sure I’m bisexual.” Guy put his hands in his pockets.

Theo paused on the trail. He could see the trailhead just up ahead. “Aren’t you?”

Guy looked at him. “I was married for a long time.”

“That’s not an answer.” Theo took a risk and stepped closer. “I know a great way for you to find out for sure.” He ignored the little voice in his head that was telling him not to be an impulsive idiot. He looked back down the trail and waved a “wait” signal to the two bodyguards trailing them. Julio had already reached the trailhead, and Theo knew he was checking out the car. They were as alone as they were going to get right now. And it’s just a kiss. It’s not like we’re going to have sex in the middle of a hiking trail.

“How?” Guy asked, sounding wary.

“I kiss you right here, right now. If you like it, you’re bi. If you don’t, you’re not.” Theo waited, knowing even as the words left his mouth that nothing in life was as simple as what he’d just suggested. He knew that even if Guy enjoyed the kiss, there would be some serious questions for his soulmate to wade through before he came out the other side. Guy had just spent most of his life thinking he was straight, and denying the feelings that were buried deep all along. And I know firsthand that it isn’t easy to change beliefs you hold onto too tightly, Theo mused, thinking of his parents. He shook off the bad memories. Now was not the time to dredge up that emotional shitstorm.

“That’s crazy,” Guy said, half smiling, and half looking like a man about to run for the hills. “You could be a shitty kisser.”

Theo smirked. Guy hadn’t said no. “I’m an Empath. I’m incapable of being a shitty kisser.”

Guy laughed, as Theo had intended. “So the rumors about Empaths are true? They’re great in bed?”

Theo didn’t reply. He let his silence speak for him.

Guy ran a hand over the back of his neck. “This is crazy,” he muttered, repeating himself.

Theo’s cock swelled as he sensed Guy’s tentative arousal. And fear. Don’t forget the fear, he thought, as his power instinctively reached out to his soulmate. Guy was the one person in the world he would never be able to block out. He sensed Guy’s attraction to him, and his anxiety, as well as his bone-deep weariness with being sad. The relaxation he’d felt just a little while ago on the trail lingered, too.

“Yeah, okay. What the hell,” Guy said, stepping closer. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Theo grinned. “You sound like a man trying to decide if he should try out a new taco, not a kiss.”

“It’s just as terrifying,” Guy replied instantly. “You never know when a taco could be harboring one of those insanely hot peppers. I could get burned.”

Theo reached out and put a hand on Guy’s shoulder, willing him to relax. “I’m not a habanero, Guy,” Theo murmured.

“You might as well be,” Guy said, his voice catching.

Theo moved his hand from Guy’s shoulder to his cheek. “Shh.”

Guy’s eyes widened.

Theo put his thumb on Guy’s lips and sensed a sudden spike in the older man’s arousal. Here goes nothing, he thought, just before he leaned in and kissed his soulmate for the first time.

****

Guy froze as Theo’s lips touched his. Theo’s mouth was soft and expressive, and so damned hot he thought he might go up in flames if he moved even an inch. He stood there, trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with him, when suddenly his Craft power lit up through his body. Energy rushed through him, and he reached out to grab Theo’s arms. He meant to push him away, but he found himself clutching at the younger man as if he were a life raft and Guy was drowning.

“Easy,” Theo murmured against his mouth.

“Fuck.” Guy kissed him back, searching for … what? He had no idea. All he knew was that he’d never felt so damned aroused in his life. His cock shoved against his pants, hard and hot and insistent. He groaned when Theo slid his hands into his hair and kissed him again, licking into his mouth with intent. They were the same height, so Guy didn’t have to crane his neck down the way he’d had to in order to kiss Pamela. It was strange. Hot. More than that, though, he felt unbalanced. Confused.

Theo gentled the kiss and pulled back. “There.”

There? Who was the man kidding? Guy stared at him. Was Theo as stunned as he was? The younger man’s mouth looked red and slightly swollen. I did that to him, Guy thought, and then, But I’m straight.

“Dammit,” Theo muttered, and then he stepped closer and kissed Guy again.

This time, Theo pressed himself up against Guy’s torso, and for the first time in his life, Guy felt another man’s hard-on against his hip. “Jesus,” he gasped, unable to stop his body’s instinctive thrust forward. He grabbed Theo’s arms again, absently reveling in the man’s strength, and pulled him closer. “What the fuck is happening?”

Theo answered by biting Guy’s lower lip.

Guy moaned into Theo’s mouth, and walked them back until the younger man’s body hit the sturdy oak tree at the edge of the trail. Guy’s Craft flared again, and the tree shuddered as his energy hit it, but then Theo slid his tongue into his mouth and he didn’t care about anything except the younger man coaxing him to open himself wide. He did, and Theo bit him again. Guy’s erection swelled, and he gasped. He slid his hands down Theo’s arms to his hips.

“Oh, God,” Theo said, head thunking back against the tree as Guy pushed into him.

Manic Readers loved The Fixer (The Criminals 2)!

mrheader

The Fixer (The Criminals #2) received 4 stars at Manic Readers!

“This story by Ms. Leaf is well written and enjoyable.  I enjoyed returning to this world and look forward to more in the future.”

Read the rest of the review.

buy links: EvernightAmazon – BookStrand –  SmashwordsKoboiBookstore – Barnes & Noble

  

Gay Romance, Suspense, Erotic Romance, Lawless, May/Dec
Word Count: 42,500
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing

Scroll down for an excerpt.

When Zero Graham wakes up in the hospital, he has only one thing on his mind: revenge on the mastermind who shot him and trashed his home. He’s the best fixer in the business, and that means he has a reputation to uphold.

Julian Amon doesn’t want to check up on his mother’s patient, but he can’t say no to her, and he finds the older man intriguingly hot. His decision to tag along when Zero checks himself out of the hospital borders on crazy, but the older man interests him, and Julian has always enjoyed a good mystery.

Zero doesn’t want or need a babysitter, but Julian’s physical competence and lack of fear push all of his buttons in exactly the right way. Violence is his kink, and the younger man doesn’t seem to mind the scent of blood, but will Julian be able to handle the pressure when Zero closes in on his enemy?

What are people saying about The Fixer?

Manic Readers — 4 stars!

“This story by Ms. Leaf is well written and enjoyable.  I enjoyed returning to this world and look forward to more in the future.”

Story Excerpt:

Zero couldn’t help it. He leaned in and cupped Julian’s cheeks. Fine auburn stubble pricked his palms. He loved it. “Darling, how enterprising of you,” he murmured. He really liked this man. Julian’s delightful combination of youthful innocence married to a startling level of self-confidence flat out did it for him. Instead of jerking his head away from Zero’s hands, Julian’s skin heated more. Zero watched while the younger man’s face flushed a deeper pink. “Lovely,” he murmured.

“What the hell, Zero?” Julian stared at him.

Aw, fuck it. Zero moved closer, crowding Julian up against the bathroom door. It didn’t take much movement to pin the younger man there. His motorhome might be a luxury model, but it was still a small space for two large men. “Are you quite certain you want to stay here with me, Julian?” he asked, giving the man one last exit possibility. “I can’t guarantee that you will remain innocent under my care.”

“Innocent?” Julian laughed. “I’m not innocent, and neither am I in your care. For the last time, I’m a grown man. I choose where I want to be.” Julian leaned into Zero’s touch, eyes going heavy lidded. “You keep making the assumption that I don’t know what I want.” He put his hands on Zero’s wrists. “I’m bisexual. I’ve never been in anyone’s closet, let alone my own. Stop pretending that you’re in charge of my life, Zero.”

Arousal slammed into Zero, despite his exhaustion. Most men looked at his size and ran the other way. The ones who liked their lovers big ran away when they discovered Zero’s brain was just as impressive as the rest of his body. Julian, however, hadn’t shied away even once. Delight warred with the violence Zero worked so hard to keep in check. He wanted to grind himself into Julian until they were both dirty and aching. Zero hummed under his breath, and leaned in. “I’m going to kiss you now. And you’re going to like it.”

“So much talk,” Julian whispered, but Zero’s mouth shut him up.

****

Julian froze the moment Zero’s lips touched his. Instead of devouring him, Zero coaxed him open gently. Instead of biting, Zero licked and nibbled until Julian’s need for a solid touch burned through him. He yanked Zero closer, groaning when the man’s heavy body pressed him to the wall. “Fuck, Zero. Stop with the teasing.”

Zero lifted his head. “Oh, but teasing can lead to such delightful things, Julian.”

Julian answered by biting Zero’s bottom lip. “You talk too much.” He knew he was asking for trouble by hooking up with a guy recovering from a gunshot wound, who also had a lot of unfinished and probably illegal business to deal with, but fuck if he cared right now. He wanted Zero. He hadn’t felt this revved up by a simple kiss, like, ever. So what if I get myself in trouble? I gotta live my life, right? He licked inside, chasing the fading taste of beer on Zero’s breath.

Zero shuddered, hands going around Julian’s neck. He threaded his fingers up into Julian’s hair. “Mmmm. You taste like a very, very bad idea.”

Julian groaned, then ground his cock into Zero’s hip. “Don’t overthink this, Zero. We could have a good time together.” He wasn’t a small man, and he knew he was in fantastic shape, but his lean muscles were no match for Zero’s bulky frame. Decades of some kind of weight lifting had given Zero enough mass to shoulder his way through just about anything. He locked one hand in Julian’s hair, and then he used the other to jerk Julian closer. Julian let him. Hell, Julian liked it.

“Someday we’re going to fuck and nothing will be the same ever again,” Zero murmured.

“Promises, promises.” Julian smirked, grinding against Zero until his dick hurt with the pressure. “You feel like a guy in need of some relief.”

“Fuck.” Zero’s eloquence seemed to have completely deserted him. Julian let Zero manhandle him down the hall to the master bedroom.

“You’re going to get us both killed,” Zero muttered, muscles bulging as he moved.

“But what a sweet way to die,” Julian replied, not giving a shit about Zero’s paranoia. “You talk too much.” He inhaled, catching a hint of the man he knew lay under all the hospital scents.

Zero grunted, lips busy along Julian’s jawline. “You don’t know what you’re fucking with.”

“I know you’re going to fuck up your incisions if you keep that up,” Julian said when Zero shoved him up against yet another wall.

“Shut up.” Zero kissed him again, savagely this time.

When the kiss ended, Julian gasped for air. “We definitely doing this then?” he asked, trying to get his bearings.

Zero stared at him, dark eyes gone black with lust. “You better be very sure, my dear.”

 

 

The Fixer – First Chapter Fun!!!

Want to know what you’re getting when you 1-Click on THE FIXER? Scroll down for a First Chapter excerpt!

buy links: EvernightAmazon – BookStrand –  SmashwordsKoboiBookstore

  

Gay Romance, Suspense, Erotic Romance, Lawless, May/Dec
Word Count: 42,500
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing

Scroll down for an excerpt.

When Zero Graham wakes up in the hospital, he has only one thing on his mind: revenge on the mastermind who shot him and trashed his home. He’s the best fixer in the business, and that means he has a reputation to uphold.

Julian Amon doesn’t want to check up on his mother’s patient, but he can’t say no to her, and he finds the older man intriguingly hot. His decision to tag along when Zero checks himself out of the hospital borders on crazy, but the older man interests him, and Julian has always enjoyed a good mystery.

Zero doesn’t want or need a babysitter, but Julian’s physical competence and lack of fear push all of his buttons in exactly the right way. Violence is his kink, and the younger man doesn’t seem to mind the scent of blood, but will Julian be able to handle the pressure when Zero closes in on his enemy?

 

First Chapter Excerpt:

Some big motherfucker was sitting on Zeke Graham’s chest, and he didn’t like it one bit. He opened his strangely groggy eyes, about to use his considerable strength to shove the fucker onto the floor, when he realized that he couldn’t move his arms. Or breathe on his own. A horrible tube stretched from his lips down into his throat, hurting his esophagus. He couldn’t swallow. Beeping sounds from his left pierced his skull, setting off a headache worse than any he’d ever had before.

“Zero? Can you hear me? Try and relax. You’re in the hospital, and you’re on a ventilator. Don’t fight it. You’re waking up from surgery,” a female voice said. Something cool touched his arm.

Zeke, known to most everyone as Zero, struggled to order his thoughts, but everything seemed to float away from him before he could make sense of it. He tried to turn his head, but the room he was in was dim and blurry, and he couldn’t see much. He tried again to lift his arms, but he couldn’t move at all. His limbs felt like they’d been squashed underwater, and the sound of the machine breathing for him freaked him the fuck out, not that he’d show it. He counted to ten in his head. In his experience, counting slowly did more to calm him down than any fancy meditation exercise. And given his shit luck for most of his life, he needed something to keep himself from flying off the handle every other day.

“Okay, try and cough as we pull out the tubing. On three,” the voice said.

Zero counted silently as the woman counted aloud.

“One, two, and three.” She smoothly pulled the tube out of his throat.

Zero choked, then gasped as a searing pain in his chest made his headache seem like a joke. “God,” he croaked, but no sound came out.

“Easy. Your throat is still trying to figure out how to work,” the woman said, easing an ice chip between his teeth.

Nausea swept through Zero, and he frowned, clenching his teeth. The ice chip cracked in half, then melted. “Sick,” he managed to whisper.

“It’s from the anesthesia. Hang on, and we’ll get you something for that. We don’t want you vomiting with that chest wound,” the nurse said.

Zero concentrated on lying perfectly still. He must have dozed or something, because when he opened his eyes again, something burned in his arm.

“That’s the Zofran. It should help with the nausea,” a male voice said. “As soon as it kicks in, you’ll feel better.”

Somehow, Zero knew that he should be more worried about what was going on, but he couldn’t seem to focus. He closed his eyes, and drifted off. A long time later, he woke up again. The pain in his throat was better, and he could see clearly. He was in a hospital bed, in a room with a window on his right. A row of what looked like cloth cells stretched down the left-hand side of the antiseptic space and around the perimeter of the room.

“Hello there.” A male nurse bustled into his room, pushing back the curtain. “I see you’re awake. Can you tell me your name?”

Zero licked dry lips. “Zero. Zeke to my dead mother.”

“Excellent.” The man nodded, eyes on the monitor above his bed. “You’re awake, and your vitals are stable, so we’ll be taking you to your room, now.” The man turned to Zero and smiled. “How are you feeling?”

“Like a truck sat on me.” Zero tried to lift his arms, and was happy to find that they worked. Sort of. He hadn’t liked being so drugged that he couldn’t control his body. Nearly all his life, he’d had no one to depend on but himself, and he hadn’t been this vulnerable since he was a kid. He needed to be able to defend himself if necessary. “Like shit.” He tried clearing his throat, but the pain in his chest put a quick end to that action. He concentrated on breathing, counting in his head until he felt a bit calmer.

The nurse nodded. “I know you feel like crap right now, but believe me, you came through major surgery better than I’ve seen most people.” His gaze flicked down Zero’s body. “It’s a good thing you’re in excellent shape.”

Zero wanted to snort, but he had a feeling it would hurt like hell. “What did they do?” He hadn’t expected to feel so bad after surgery. He’d thought the bullet had simply slipped through his body, no biggie. He knew he had an exit wound on his back.

“You had your lung reinflated, and a fragment of a bullet removed. Apparently, a tiny piece had lodged up against one of your ribs. You’re a very lucky man.” The nurse began to unpeel the stickers and leads stuck to Zero’s “Your heart is strong though, so there’s that.”

“How long?” Zero struggled to make his mouth work. He really needed a drink, but he had a feeling that was off the table for a while.

“How long what? How long were you under? Several hours.” The nurse bundled up the EKG wires and shoved them into the cabinet under the machine.

“No.” Zeke clenched his teeth in frustration, then tried again. “How long before I can get out of here?”

“It’ll be a few days.” The nurse smiled. “Depends on how quickly you can be up and walking around. As soon as you can use the toilet by yourself, you’ll be good to go.” He undid the blood pressure cuff. “They took the catheter out while you were still under, so that’s good. As soon as you start to feel like you have to use the toilet, just let your nurse know and they’ll help you get there.”

“You’re not my nurse?” Zero swallowed again, wincing at the soreness in his throat.

“No, I work on the recovery ward. I’ll be helping you down to your room, and that’s it.”

Zero nodded, and let his eyes close again. Where the hell is Felix? And Ariana? he wondered. He’d been helping his friend out, protecting Jenna, the sister of Felix’s boyfriend, Nick, and then all hell had broken loose. That little prick Quincy Edwards had busted into Zero’s warehouse bunker, probably with the help of both intel and men from his mobster uncle. Zero had taken a shot to the chest, and Jenna had died. He grimaced. The girl had been a sweet thing, and she certainly didn’t deserve to lose her life like that. He might’ve died, too, if Felix and Nick hadn’t shown up in time to call Ariana, his doctor on call. She was another one of his favors. He’d helped her out with a problem years ago, and she owed him a house call. She’d shown up, no questions asked, thank God. He’d been in the service with her husband, too, so the connections with her family were tight. He grimaced. He didn’t like to call in the favor, but it was a good thing he knew her.

“Ok, there, Mr. Zero, hang on and we’ll wheel you down.”

“Please, it’s just Zero,” he said as he opened his eyes to find out that a hospital aide and a new nurse had appeared out of nowhere. A frisson of fear shot through him as he took in their unfamiliar faces. Hell. I’m really out of it. I’m going to bite it if I don’t get my shit together. He couldn’t afford to be drifting in and out of life like this. He had enemies. He had a business to run. Contracts to place, and goods to sell. He wasn’t used to being so weak. It wasn’t safe.

“So, what do you do for a living?” the nurse asked. Her cheerful demeanor told Zero she didn’t mean anything by her question. She unlocked the wheels on the bed and nodded to the aide. The man pushed gently, and the bed began to roll toward the double doors at the end of the ward. “Are you a cop?”

A cop? Amusement rushed through Zero. She’s just making small talk, he told himself so his mind wouldn’t go zooming off into what-ifs. He had no capacity to plan for an exit right now, so he needed to make do with the situation as it was. “Not a cop. What would you say if I told you I was a fence?” he asked, smiling slightly. He flexed his fingers and toes, gratified to feel the weird, groggy tingling recede. The more awake he became, the better he felt about his situation. He could think again, which was what had bothered him more than anything else. Pain he could handle. Not having his brain work was a disaster he couldn’t bear to contemplate.

“You like to tell tales, don’t you?” The woman laughed, and her braids bobbed as she smiled down at him. “Since you’re not a policeman, I thought you’d say you were a bouncer. You look like you could bench press a horse.” She guided the bed down the hall. “Next you’ll be telling me that you’re a world-famous assassin, or a spy, like James Bond.”

No, being a contract killer is my best friend Felix’s job. Zero smiled wider, despite the pain starting to bleed through the fading anesthesia. “I did work as a bouncer once, my dear.” If he’d been feeling better, he’d flirt a little. The ladies enjoyed it, and somehow, they always knew he didn’t mean anything serious with it. “And I can mix a delightful martini.”

“You’re a sweet talker, aren’t you?” The nurse grinned as she punched the button for the elevator. Her dark skin gleamed even in the harsh hospital light, and Zero suddenly wished he had his camera. He liked taking pictures of people.

Everyone should have a hobby, he mused, thinking about how he’d light her face. Of course, the handsome male aide silently pushing the bed from behind was more his type, but Zero wasn’t one to discriminate when it came to art.

“I’m Jacinda. You just lie back and enjoy the ride,” the nurse said.

Zero nodded, frowning when the last remnants of the anesthesia made him dizzy. “Will I have a private room?” he asked as they wheeled him into the empty elevator.

Jacinda looked at him in surprise. “Of course. Doctor Amon arranged everything for you. I thought you knew. They told me you were conscious when you came in for treatment.” The elevator binged, and the doors opened. They pushed his bed out.

“I am still waking up,” Zero said, wondering if Ariana would make an appearance at his bedside. It would probably be better for her if she didn’t. He made a mental note to call her and make sure she stayed far away. If Felix had completed matters like he’d expected, that disgusting twit Quincy would be dead by now, and his uncle, Robert Edwards, would be out for blood. Zero didn’t want Ariana getting caught in the crossfire when he eliminated the man. He wasn’t keen on anyone breaking into his home. Not only was it bad for business, he also had a reputation to maintain.

“Ah, it looks like you have visitors already,” Jacinda said, pushing him into a room. She arranged the bed near a bank of monitors on the wall, then locked the wheels. The aide helping her wandered out, and Jacinda busied herself with letting down the side rail of the bed nearest the bathroom. “Whenever you feel up to it, just push this button and I’ll help you to the bathroom.”

“Of course,” Zero said, and she patted his arm before heading out of the room. He turned his attention to the two men waiting by the window. “How interesting. I thought the two of you would be too busy to come check up on me.” His voice still had a hint of rasp to it, but he made an effort to speak clearly. He didn’t want anyone to know how weak he felt, even his friends. Felix scowled at his words, and Nick frowned. Zero sensed their exhaustion, even through his own post-surgical weariness.

“We’ve completed our business,” Felix said, not elaborating.

Judging from the shadows under Nick’s eyes, Zero knew precisely what that business had been. Quincy Edwards was dead. “Heading west, then?” He thought briefly about apologizing, but the two men already knew how deeply regretful he felt about Jenna’s death. Nick looked like a man floundering on the edge of drowning, and didn’t need to rehash the circumstances of his sister’s death.

“Yes. I don’t really want to stick around,” Nick said, rubbing his eyes. “Especially since Felix won’t let me go after Quincy’s uncle.”

“Felix knows that villain is my problem to solve,” Zero said softly.

“Even though he helped his nephew kill my sister?” Nick demanded angrily. He took a step forward, but then stopped when Felix put a hand on his arm.

Zero sighed, and the pain in his chest reminded him that he wasn’t up to hunting anyone at the moment, damn it all to hell. Patience, he told himself. “Even so. He invaded my home. He is my responsibility. I don’t take kindly to men breaking into my sanctuary. Clearly, he wanted me dead because I would not work for him. Vindictive bastard.”

Felix nodded. “We understand.”

Zero knew his friend Felix truly did get it. He wasn’t so certain about his friend’s new boyfriend. “I promise that he will not enjoy my justice, dear Nick.”

Nick glared at him, then shrugged off Felix’s arm. “I don’t have the resources to do what needs to be done, despite my skills. I’d need your help anyway. I’m a thief, not a killer.” He started pacing at the foot of the bed.

Zero watched him for a moment, feeling the exhaustion from his surgery dragging at his limbs. “You need rest, and to grieve. I will properly dispose of the criminal, and we will all live happily ever after, yes?” He hoped Nick took the hint. The only thing Zero wanted right now was to sleep some more, and maybe take a piss.

Felix, inscrutable as always, leaned back against the windowsill. “Nick. Let it go. Zero will do what he said.”

“Fuck, Felix—” Nick began, but Zero cut him off.

“It is regrettable, what happened to your sister. I will tie up all the loose ends as soon as I am on my feet. Do not fret over it. You know my word is good, and that is precisely why I will handle the situation. My reputation is my business.” Zero pushed the button on the side rail, elevating the bed a bit more. He needed to face Nick properly, so the man could see his intention on his face. “We’ve worked well together for several years, haven’t we? We have made a great deal of money.”

Nick stopped pacing and stood in the center of the room, hands clenched into fists. “Yes.”

“Then trust that I will take care of it,” Zero said. He glanced at Felix. “You’ve explained to him how we met, correct?” He still remembered that day vividly. He’d been barely fourteen, an early freshman in his new high school. The bleachers had stretched above his head like prison bars. The boys holding him down thought it would be funny to rape a “fucking faggot”, as they liked to call him. Felix, a senior at the same school, had discovered the boys assaulting Zero, and used his fists to convince them that it was a very bad idea. Since then, Zero’s loyalty to Felix for saving him from a brutal had never wavered, and he wasn’t about to let the man down now, despite the recent debacle.

Felix nodded.

“Good. Then you understand that I keep my word.”

Nick shoved his hands into his pockets. “You didn’t keep Jenna safe, though, did you?”

Zero would have liked to shake some sense into Nick, but he didn’t have the energy for it right now. And, too, the man was clearly grieving deeply. “You know what happened, and you know how deeply I am sorry for her loss,” he merely said. He couldn’t have predicted that fucking Robert Edwards would give his nephew the manpower to break into Zero’s warehouse, especially not when the older Edwards wanted his nephew dead. He cocked his head, thinking about the situation. “I believe that Edwards was simply trying to ensure his nephew’s death, above and beyond the contract that he took out on the boy. What better way to do that than to break into my home? Though very few people know where I lived, everyone knows how I feel about threats against me and mine. He would know that I’d retaliate swiftly. Even better if I died during the process. The elder Edwards has never liked my independence, and I would never work for him directly.”

“Edwards didn’t pay up yet, I noticed,” Felix murmured.

Zero nearly smiled at his old friend’s single-minded thought process, but held back when he looked at Nick again. The poor man was doing his best to hold it together, but he had a way to go before his grief over his sister’s loss ran its course. “I will check into the situation tomorrow,” Zero merely said.

“You still expect him to pay for the contract he put out on his nephew’s head, after all that happened?” Nick asked.

“But of course,” Zero said, surprised that such an experienced thief would need an explanation. “Business is business. The circumstances of the kill do not invalidate the matter of Quincy’s death. Felix is owed his money for the job. If Edwards does not pay, the contract will be declared void, and Edwards’ ability to do business will be damaged. He dare not risk it.” Zero reached up and rubbed his face. He was beginning to feel a lot more pain. He glanced at the nurse’s button, then decided against calling her. Pain never killed anyone. Spiraling down into a hole of opioid medication could very well mean his end. He had no intention of becoming addicted to any substance. He would endure, and he would heal, as he had so many other times in his life.

“You act as though Edwards will be able to continue doing business at all. Dead men don’t get to fucking do business, Zero,” Nick bit out.

At that, Zero had to let his smile out. He knew he didn’t look healthy, or happy, and that the smile was more of a baring of teeth than anything else. “I want him to suffer before he dies, Nick.” He looked at his old friend, Felix, and saw understanding in his expression. “And for him to suffer, he needs to not quite understand what is coming for him.”

The Fixer Release Day!!!

buy links: EvernightAmazon – BookStrand –  SmashwordsKoboiBookstore

  

Gay Romance, Suspense, Erotic Romance, Lawless, May/Dec
Word Count: 42,500
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing

Scroll down for an excerpt.

When Zero Graham wakes up in the hospital, he has only one thing on his mind: revenge on the mastermind who shot him and trashed his home. He’s the best fixer in the business, and that means he has a reputation to uphold.

Julian Amon doesn’t want to check up on his mother’s patient, but he can’t say no to her, and he finds the older man intriguingly hot. His decision to tag along when Zero checks himself out of the hospital borders on crazy, but the older man interests him, and Julian has always enjoyed a good mystery.

Zero doesn’t want or need a babysitter, but Julian’s physical competence and lack of fear push all of his buttons in exactly the right way. Violence is his kink, and the younger man doesn’t seem to mind the scent of blood, but will Julian be able to handle the pressure when Zero closes in on his enemy?

 

Story Excerpt:

Zero couldn’t help it. He leaned in and cupped Julian’s cheeks. Fine auburn stubble pricked his palms. He loved it. “Darling, how enterprising of you,” he murmured. He really liked this man. Julian’s delightful combination of youthful innocence married to a startling level of self-confidence flat out did it for him. Instead of jerking his head away from Zero’s hands, Julian’s skin heated more. Zero watched while the younger man’s face flushed a deeper pink. “Lovely,” he murmured.

“What the hell, Zero?” Julian stared at him.

Aw, fuck it. Zero moved closer, crowding Julian up against the bathroom door. It didn’t take much movement to pin the younger man there. His motorhome might be a luxury model, but it was still a small space for two large men. “Are you quite certain you want to stay here with me, Julian?” he asked, giving the man one last exit possibility. “I can’t guarantee that you will remain innocent under my care.”

“Innocent?” Julian laughed. “I’m not innocent, and neither am I in your care. For the last time, I’m a grown man. I choose where I want to be.” Julian leaned into Zero’s touch, eyes going heavy lidded. “You keep making the assumption that I don’t know what I want.” He put his hands on Zero’s wrists. “I’m bisexual. I’ve never been in anyone’s closet, let alone my own. Stop pretending that you’re in charge of my life, Zero.”

Arousal slammed into Zero, despite his exhaustion. Most men looked at his size and ran the other way. The ones who liked their lovers big ran away when they discovered Zero’s brain was just as impressive as the rest of his body. Julian, however, hadn’t shied away even once. Delight warred with the violence Zero worked so hard to keep in check. He wanted to grind himself into Julian until they were both dirty and aching. Zero hummed under his breath, and leaned in. “I’m going to kiss you now. And you’re going to like it.”

“So much talk,” Julian whispered, but Zero’s mouth shut him up.

****

Julian froze the moment Zero’s lips touched his. Instead of devouring him, Zero coaxed him open gently. Instead of biting, Zero licked and nibbled until Julian’s need for a solid touch burned through him. He yanked Zero closer, groaning when the man’s heavy body pressed him to the wall. “Fuck, Zero. Stop with the teasing.”

Zero lifted his head. “Oh, but teasing can lead to such delightful things, Julian.”

Julian answered by biting Zero’s bottom lip. “You talk too much.” He knew he was asking for trouble by hooking up with a guy recovering from a gunshot wound, who also had a lot of unfinished and probably illegal business to deal with, but fuck if he cared right now. He wanted Zero. He hadn’t felt this revved up by a simple kiss, like, ever. So what if I get myself in trouble? I gotta live my life, right? He licked inside, chasing the fading taste of beer on Zero’s breath.

Zero shuddered, hands going around Julian’s neck. He threaded his fingers up into Julian’s hair. “Mmmm. You taste like a very, very bad idea.”

Julian groaned, then ground his cock into Zero’s hip. “Don’t overthink this, Zero. We could have a good time together.” He wasn’t a small man, and he knew he was in fantastic shape, but his lean muscles were no match for Zero’s bulky frame. Decades of some kind of weight lifting had given Zero enough mass to shoulder his way through just about anything. He locked one hand in Julian’s hair, and then he used the other to jerk Julian closer. Julian let him. Hell, Julian liked it.

“Someday we’re going to fuck and nothing will be the same ever again,” Zero murmured.

“Promises, promises.” Julian smirked, grinding against Zero until his dick hurt with the pressure. “You feel like a guy in need of some relief.”

“Fuck.” Zero’s eloquence seemed to have completely deserted him. Julian let Zero manhandle him down the hall to the master bedroom.

“You’re going to get us both killed,” Zero muttered, muscles bulging as he moved.

“But what a sweet way to die,” Julian replied, not giving a shit about Zero’s paranoia. “You talk too much.” He inhaled, catching a hint of the man he knew lay under all the hospital scents.

Zero grunted, lips busy along Julian’s jawline. “You don’t know what you’re fucking with.”

“I know you’re going to fuck up your incisions if you keep that up,” Julian said when Zero shoved him up against yet another wall.

“Shut up.” Zero kissed him again, savagely this time.

When the kiss ended, Julian gasped for air. “We definitely doing this then?” he asked, trying to get his bearings.

Zero stared at him, dark eyes gone black with lust. “You better be very sure, my dear.”

The Fixer Cover Reveal!!!

Releasing February 15th!

  

Gay Romance, Suspense, Erotic Romance, Lawless, May/Dec
Word Count: 42,500
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing

When Zero Graham wakes up in the hospital, he has only one thing on his mind: revenge on the mastermind who shot him and trashed his home. He’s the best fixer in the business, and that means he has a reputation to uphold.

Julian Amon doesn’t want to check up on his mother’s patient, but he can’t say no to her, and he finds the older man intriguingly hot. His decision to tag along when Zero checks himself out of the hospital borders on crazy, but the older man interests him, and Julian has always enjoyed a good mystery.

Zero doesn’t want or need a babysitter, but Julian’s physical competence and lack of fear push all of his buttons in exactly the right way. Violence is his kink, and the younger man doesn’t seem to mind the scent of blood, but will Julian be able to handle the pressure when Zero closes in on his enemy?

 

Story Excerpt:

Zero couldn’t help it. He leaned in and cupped Julian’s cheeks. Fine auburn stubble pricked his palms. He loved it. “Darling, how enterprising of you,” he murmured. He really liked this man. Julian’s delightful combination of youthful innocence married to a startling level of self-confidence flat out did it for him. Instead of jerking his head away from Zero’s hands, Julian’s skin heated more. Zero watched while the younger man’s face flushed a deeper pink. “Lovely,” he murmured.

“What the hell, Zero?” Julian stared at him.

Aw, fuck it. Zero moved closer, crowding Julian up against the bathroom door. It didn’t take much movement to pin the younger man there. His motorhome might be a luxury model, but it was still a small space for two large men. “Are you quite certain you want to stay here with me, Julian?” he asked, giving the man one last exit possibility. “I can’t guarantee that you will remain innocent under my care.”

“Innocent?” Julian laughed. “I’m not innocent, and neither am I in your care. For the last time, I’m a grown man. I choose where I want to be.” Julian leaned into Zero’s touch, eyes going heavy lidded. “You keep making the assumption that I don’t know what I want.” He put his hands on Zero’s wrists. “I’m bisexual. I’ve never been in anyone’s closet, let alone my own. Stop pretending that you’re in charge of my life, Zero.”

Arousal slammed into Zero, despite his exhaustion. Most men looked at his size and ran the other way. The ones who liked their lovers big ran away when they discovered Zero’s brain was just as impressive as the rest of his body. Julian, however, hadn’t shied away even once. Delight warred with the violence Zero worked so hard to keep in check. He wanted to grind himself into Julian until they were both dirty and aching. Zero hummed under his breath, and leaned in. “I’m going to kiss you now. And you’re going to like it.”

“So much talk,” Julian whispered, but Zero’s mouth shut him up.

****

Julian froze the moment Zero’s lips touched his. Instead of devouring him, Zero coaxed him open gently. Instead of biting, Zero licked and nibbled until Julian’s need for a solid touch burned through him. He yanked Zero closer, groaning when the man’s heavy body pressed him to the wall. “Fuck, Zero. Stop with the teasing.”

Zero lifted his head. “Oh, but teasing can lead to such delightful things, Julian.”

Julian answered by biting Zero’s bottom lip. “You talk too much.” He knew he was asking for trouble by hooking up with a guy recovering from a gunshot wound, who also had a lot of unfinished and probably illegal business to deal with, but fuck if he cared right now. He wanted Zero. He hadn’t felt this revved up by a simple kiss, like, ever. So what if I get myself in trouble? I gotta live my life, right? He licked inside, chasing the fading taste of beer on Zero’s breath.

Zero shuddered, hands going around Julian’s neck. He threaded his fingers up into Julian’s hair. “Mmmm. You taste like a very, very bad idea.”

Julian groaned, then ground his cock into Zero’s hip. “Don’t overthink this, Zero. We could have a good time together.” He wasn’t a small man, and he knew he was in fantastic shape, but his lean muscles were no match for Zero’s bulky frame. Decades of some kind of weight lifting had given Zero enough mass to shoulder his way through just about anything. He locked one hand in Julian’s hair, and then he used the other to jerk Julian closer. Julian let him. Hell, Julian liked it.

“Someday we’re going to fuck and nothing will be the same ever again,” Zero murmured.

“Promises, promises.” Julian smirked, grinding against Zero until his dick hurt with the pressure. “You feel like a guy in need of some relief.”

“Fuck.” Zero’s eloquence seemed to have completely deserted him. Julian let Zero manhandle him down the hall to the master bedroom.

“You’re going to get us both killed,” Zero muttered, muscles bulging as he moved.

“But what a sweet way to die,” Julian replied, not giving a shit about Zero’s paranoia. “You talk too much.” He inhaled, catching a hint of the man he knew lay under all the hospital scents.

Zero grunted, lips busy along Julian’s jawline. “You don’t know what you’re fucking with.”

“I know you’re going to fuck up your incisions if you keep that up,” Julian said when Zero shoved him up against yet another wall.

“Shut up.” Zero kissed him again, savagely this time.

When the kiss ended, Julian gasped for air. “We definitely doing this then?” he asked, trying to get his bearings.

Zero stared at him, dark eyes gone black with lust. “You better be very sure, my dear.”

Her Dangerous Mistake WON Best in Category: May/Dec!

Her Dangerous Mistake WON Best in Category: May/Dec!

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Best in Category: May/Dec!

Moira is on the run—her apartment has been trashed, her bank account hacked, and someone is stalking her. Only one man is dangerous enough to keep her safe … that is, if she can convince him to help her. Neil Deven used to be her father’s best friend until betrayal turned him violent. Neil disappeared, and finding him might be the biggest mistake of her life, but Moira won’t survive alone.

Neil remembers Moira as a sweet little girl caught in the middle of her father’s criminal life. The gorgeous woman who shows up at his door is anything but a child, but he’s already got problems. Dragon shifters are a dying race with no way to change form, yet Neil’s powers keep growing. And Moira stirs long lost instincts—he can’t deny her need. He must protect the woman who will be his mate, or die trying.

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