When paparazzi, obligations, and pride tear Bash and Grace apart. Will the stubborn scriptwriter come to his senses in time, or will movie star, Grace marry the wrong man?
Before filming starts on her next movie, America’s sweetheart, Grace Carradine, wants a girls’ night out. As she dons a disguise to evade the paparazzi, her brown hair isn’t the only deception, so is her upcoming marriage to her costar. Naval-pilot-turned-author, Sebastian "Bash" Baron finds his friends are pairing up and starting families. Given his history, he knows that life isn’t for him—even if the period romance he wrote is being made into a movie. Those stories only exist in fiction—or other people’s lives.
The two begin a secret romance, meant to last only as long as the starlet is on location in Bash's hometown. When the paparazzi, obligations, and pride tear them apart, will Bash come to his senses in time, or will Grace marry the wrong man?
I HIGHLY recommend this series. You will be hooked into the story like I was.
Join the ongoing book tour from August 28 - September 9.
Be sure to drop by on each tour stop for exclusive excerpts, book reviews, interviews, and more. To check the latest tour schedule, visit the Out of Time Book Page at Book Unleashed.
Other Books by Melissa Klein
Be sure to also check out the first 2 books in the Out of Uniform series:
Out of Uniform but not out of trouble. When life-defining careers come to an end, these naval aviators find reentry into civilian life as difficult to navigate as the Atlantic in a hurricane. As Titan, Mad Dog, Tank, and Bash rise to the challenges life throws at them, they find falling in love to be the biggest risk of their lives. Can they adapt and overcome, or will love and ambition mix like wind shear and an ultralight?
Melissa Klein writes contemporary romance about everyday heroes fighting extraordinary battles. Whether facing the demands of caring for a child with special needs or the struggles of a soldier returning home, her characters take on the challenges life throws at them with perseverance, courage, and humor.
Melissa sets her stories below the Mason-Dixon Line where she’s lived all but an unfortunate six months of her life.
While she won Georgia Romance Writers Unpublished Maggie award in 2013 and Rose City Romance Writers Golden Rose award in 2012, she still hopes to win the lottery. If she does, she’ll buy a huge farm in north Georgia and convince her children to live next door. Until that time, she lives in Atlanta with her husband, who puts up with frozen dinners with the words are flowing. You can find Melissa at http://www.MelissaKleinRomance.com
Tagline: Sex, witchcraft, and rock and roll on the Sunset Strip
LOS ANGELES, summer of 1987.
Kathryn Blackmoore, the 26 year old heir to Blackmoore World Corp. and the future matriarch of the Blackmoore dynasty of witches has fled the haunted old monied neighborhood of South Hill in Bellingham, Washington looking to trade in a century of rumors, superstition, and her own heartache for the sun, sex, and music of the Sunset Strip.
Taking up residence in the famed and decaying Chateau Marmont hotel, Kathryn quickly finds herself in an erotic and thrilling journey into the world of Niiq, Arish, and Kuri; members of the band Nephilim, who seem to have the women of the Strip enthralled by their dark and sensuous sound. When bodies begin to turn up all over town and a mysterious and haunting figure fixates on Kathryn, she quickly learns that you can never escape your destiny.
RISE OF THE NEPHILIM is the first of a two part erotic paranormal romance/thriller revealing the beginnings of one of the most captivating characters in The Blackmoore Legacy series. It is a standalone prequel of eroticism, romance, and suspense.
The library was quiet with the exception of the short and humming-to-herself library assistant stacking the books left out or returned through-out the day. The girl was a junior; she was sure of it. She had never talked to her; they had never orbited the same solar system in the day-to-day endless galaxy of Mariner High School, but that didn’t matter.
She could still reach inside the girl’s mind whenever she wanted to, and explore everything she kept hidden from the rest of the world. She could travel the fleshy terrain of the girl’s brain and see her hopes and dreams, her fears, her loves, and her longings.
She was able to pick out that her name was Tammy. She was a studious girl with dirty blonde curls that hung to her breasts, her skin milk-white and soft, her face delicate and scattered with a dusting of freckles across the bridge of her small nose. Her brown eyes were golden and looked over the spine of each book, scanning their titles and looking up to each aisle to see where they belonged.
Kathryn Blackmoore stood from the table where she had been discussing after graduation party plans with her best friend Lila Sifuentes and with her boyfriend Sheffield Burges, excited to finally walk and receive their diplomas and be done with this place forever.
She was tall – five feet and nine inches. Her lean body was dressed in a pink-and-white pin-striped collared shirt, the sleeves rolled up to her elbows, the collar popped and buttoned only to her full breasts.
A three-tiered pearl necklace glistened in the bright white fluorescents overhead, and her thick shoulder-length feathered mane was a rich auburn that seemed to glow around her like a halo.
She gathered her books and began to make her way to the doors to begin the walk through campus back to her home. Her long legs were encased in a khaki, knee-length Ralph Lauren skirt with a slit up the left thigh and a tasseled and thin brown leather belt was fastened loosely around her waist and rested on her hipbones. Kathryn looked at her watch; it was 9:00 p.m. They had been put in charge of the after-party by the entire student body – at least by the Golden Gods, as the popular kids were called – and it was their job to deliver.
Somehow by some cruel joke perpetrated by the universe, Kathryn had somehow become one of them. That was a first for her family, and it was no surprise to her that this ascension in the school’s hierarchy was achieved by her relationship with Sheffield. He was one of the kindest and most popular guys at their elitist school, and was a rock star on the Soccer field. It was the school’s claim to greatness and claim to fame. Other schools had football, but Mariner was known throughout the country for their school’s soccer team. In the eighteen years of its existence – as long she had been alive – Mariner was a crowning achievement and had only ever lost three games. Families from the country over, who dreamed of soccer field futures for their children chose Mariner – a public high school – over the best sports-driven private schools.
Mariner was a dynasty of Bellingham Washington, and the rite of passage for the exclusive children of South Hill, with their centuries-old Victorian, Tudor, Colonial, and Craftsman mansions that stood on large plots of land between treacherous and almost guard-like evergreens on every street, and sidewalks lined with monstrous oaks and maples. Homes filled with inhabitants of both the living and the dead.
Then there werethe Edgemoore kids. Nouveau riche. Most of them were native Californians whose parents moved here in a great rush for cheap land when California’s real estate began to climb higher and higher, and for the chance to get their kid on the Mariner soccer team.
Here, on the cliffs on the other side of Bellingham Bay, and staring back at the old genteel mansions, were the castle-like and gaudy estates of Edgemoore.
These kids had no respect for the history that still stood in the city, and the almost haunted charm of Fairhaven, that filled the space along the water between these two wealthy neighborhoods. Fairhaven was the last town to merge with the county of Whatcom in 1903, finally forming the greater city of Bellingham. For the city, and everyone in it, there was a difference between the South Hill neighborhood and the rest of Bellingham itself, as if it were still its own town.
Connecting the south to the north of Bellingham was the campus of Fairhaven University, which in the 1890s had been the Washington State Normal School. Fairhaven University was carved through the trees and made up of tall, red-orange brick buildings and concrete bridges overpaved pathways in between the green. The city was not unlike Bram Stoker’s description of Transylvania: a place wild and filled with spirits, and fiercer things that lived in the mouth of the Carpathian Mountains that surrounded it.
The city was surrounded by cliffs and an endless army of evergreens.
Interstate 5 snaked through all of this above the city, so that every exit dipped down into it. Kathryn had grown up here, had been born here, into South Hill’s superstition and paranoia and never-ending fears.
South Hill was filled with the descendants of the founding families, and the majority had worshiped at The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.
The white wood church with its gorgeous and detailed mammoth windows of stained glass was crowned with a single black-slated roof and spire.
The first time Kathryn had ever used her witchcraft against another was the priest who had tried to take advantage of her when she was twelve. It had felt invigorating to watch his body convulse and the blood begin to slip out of his mouth, eyes, and nose – even his ears.
When he had hit the floor, his brain fried, she had screamed and run out of the office as soon as one of the nuns and another priest – Father
Malady – opened the door, covering her tear-stained face.
It didn’t help anything when she told them what he had been attempting to do when the aneurism hit. She could hear the headmaster’s thoughts, as well as the two nuns and Father Malady, who had sat with his arms folded, his angular and almost rat-like face with his beady green eyes looking at her with a smug grin. They knew she had somehow caused it. She was a Blackmoore, after all; she was a witch and she had used her charms to seduce the priest. To bewitch him and befuddle him and make him lose all of his sense and self-control. She had made him weak on purpose so that she could kill him – to sacrifice him to Satan and make another hit in their diabolical war with the Church.
She had said nothing. She wanted to leave and go to Fairhaven Middle School. She was in her last year of junior high and she didn’t
want to be in this place any longer, with ruler hits and other obscene punishments. They were more than happy to get her out. Her father,
Trevor Mayland, had been the one to insist she go to Catholic School.
He feared the Blackmoore name as much as anyone else, regardless of the fact that he had married her mother, Annaline Blackmoore in 1961.
He had loved her so much that he had wanted to save Annaline from what he saw as the Blackmoore curse. He thought that she would be far from the devil’s reach if he could marry her and make an honest woman out of her. A God-fearing woman who would go to mass every
Sunday and keep far from her family’s other practice, aside from Blackmoore World Corp. – a multi-billion-dollar-a-year international company which handled almost all the shipments of goods, most legal and some more questionable, of the entire world – was running the Church of Light, the Spiritualist church that her great-grandmother Aria had started in 1898, where she would commune with the dead, read palm, tarot cards, and tea leaves.
It was a place where for a hefty sum, Aria could be hired to work her witchcraft for others, no matter the intention. The Church of Light was then run by Aria’s daughter Fiona, and now her daughter Mabel, her mother’s older sister. Annaline had been too adventurous for that anyways, and so Trevor’s plan meant nothing one way or the other, as Annaline was too much of a wild child, concerned with music festivals and poets and drinking while smoking pot and cigarettes.
This fact did not stop Trevor Mayland from worrying about “his girls,” as he called his wife and daughter, and sending Kathryn to boarding school, only a few blocks from her actual home, to only visit on the weekends, was extremely easy for him.
Yes, she had had enough at that point, and the death of the priest put a smile on her face – a smile she had to fight back when they almost hesitantly told her that she was finished and would be going back home.
They were witches; this was true, and Father Malady had known this. A man of forty-seven, straight from Ireland – in Kilcommon,County Mayo – where the Blackmoores had originated from, and where they still lived inside the great limestone citadel known as Blackmoore Hall on the shores of Broadhaven Bay.
Everyone in that part of Ireland knew of the Blackmoores. They believed them to be a family who grew into their wealth because of a pact with the devil, and those who knew them gained fortune or befell ruin simply for knowing them.
During the witch hunts her ancestors had fled the Black Moor and built a rustic cottage with a thatched roof along the cruel and wild sea, in hiding from both the evils of Christian men and the even greater and ancient evil that had tormented the clan of the Black Moor for centuries before finally escaping. He was a dark and bloodthirsty God who had tried to make slaves of the clan and had forced them to sacrifice the weak and the innocent to his altar.
They had finally escaped him, turning their back on him and refusing to write his name down or speak it from their lips. This went on for two hundred years, until all those who had known him had died, and he had grown weak from being forgotten. They left the moor in the year 1145 and journeyed northwest, as far from the wood and that deity as possible. They were secluded and far from wealthy, and then suddenly in 1845, they began to buy up nearly thirteen thousand acres of land and built a great, almost castle-like home. They were all certain that the family was finally reaping their rewards for the trade of their souls.
This had never been the case. The reason for the wealth was far more mundane; Katy Blackmoore of New Orleans – where the family
had moved to in the 1780s – denounced the family and the many evils that served the Dark God of the Wood who wished to wipe out the Blackmoores, and left for Spain. She returned almost a year later married to Spanish royalty, and bequeathed a fortune enough for a kingdom to her father Tristan, her brother Nicholas, and her grandparents Sarafeene and Malachey, in exchange for being left alone by them so that she could live a normal life.
She had lost her mother to her family and their Legacy – the name of their great curse – and she was certain that if she separated herself from her family and lived a good Christian life, never summoning her witchcraft, then she would not lose her husband, and her children would never suffer the loss of a parent, or the feeling of knowing who you were and what you were would end up killing the one you loved.
The Blackmoores had agreed and with that money, they made the family flourish. First in New Orleans and Ireland, and then later, the family moved west and north, and all points in between. Spreading out all across the United States, England, France, Italy, and Ireland, in vesting in industry and especially shipping; and acquiring and building fleets upon fleets of ships, until there was no one to rival them.
By the time the family had arrived in Fairhaven to begin building their empire in the “Gateway of Alaska,” as it had been known, the residents of the city were openly hostile – being fueled by the legends and superstitions of immigrant priests and servants who whispered about the dangerous and devilish Blackmoores of Kilcommon and their mission to take over the Christian world and hand it to the devil and his fallen angels, wrapped with a big bloodstained bow.
It was shit, but superstition is slow to die, and even in 1979, the people of South Hill still feared the Blackmoore name and what it meant if you talked to them. Kathryn had suffered that for so long, and for the longest time, Lila Sifuentes – the only Latina in the school –had been her only friend.
Her father had always loved Kathryn, but up until his death a week after the incident – due to the sudden brain tumor that claimed the lives of those who have unprotected sex with a Blackmoore – he had always been slightly wary of her, as if he could see the curse deep under her veins.
Unprotected sex with a Blackmoore always seemed to kill seven to twelve years later, and always of a severe seizure and hemorrhage caused by the tumor. Blood pooled from the nose, mouth, and other parts of the face, and the body would convulse. They would be biting their tongues so hard that often they bit the tip off completely. Every witch in her family always hoped and often believed that they would be the Blackmoore to survive the curse, that their lover would be strong enough to beat it back.
They always died, and her father had been no different.
Kathryn had been dangerously beautiful all her life, with a statuesque body and icy eyes – the palest of blues – and soft olive skin with an always-perfectly-feathered auburn mane lik ealion, and the latest fashions straight out of Vogueclothing her. She had a husky whiskey voice, much like the actress Kim Novak. She had loved Bell, Book, and Candle, so the comparison was flattering; besides, she thought Kim Novak was a magnificent and stunning creature.
About the Author:
Marcus James is the author of five novels and has contributed to several anthologies with Alyson Books and has been a contributing writer for Seattle Gay News. He lives in Seattle with his husband and Staffordshire terrier. He is 32 years old.
The building was coming down, Gabe knew it. After the last explosion, he and his partner, Lee, were able to grab one of the women huddled by the window and carry her down the ladder. There were two more people in that room, and he would be damned if he’d leave them behind. Seeing his cousin Josie hanging from the window had almost paralyzed him with fear, but thanks to his years of training Gabe didn’t miss a beat. He grabbed her out of the air from one of her coworkers who held onto her, saving Josie from a three-story fall headfirst.
Another explosion rocked the back of the building and Gabe raced back up the ladder. He didn’t stop at the top. He jumped through the window instead, desperate to find the trapped people. His turnout gear and oxygen tank protected him from the worst of the heat and the thick black smoke that filled the room, obstructing his vision as he scanned for anyone, hoping he wasn’t too late.
He heard a loud scraping noise from the back corner. Easing his way closer, he was finally able to make out the same shorter man that saved Josie trying to leverage a filing cabinet off a trapped woman.
“Got the last two, Lee. One trapped,” Gabe called into his radio.
“The building’s coming down!” Lee answered. “I’m almost at the top of the ladder. Get them out here now!”
Gabe reached the man just as a loud whoosh sounded through the room and flames waved across the ceiling. Time to go. The man with the pole looked up at the flames…but instead of making a run for the window as Gabe had expected, he began to desperately push on the cabinet.
Maybe I’m jaded after all these years.
Gabe grabbed the man’s shoulder. The guy cried out in pain before he turned to face him. The smoke was so thick that it was difficult to make out his features, but the burn marks on the guy’s shoulder from the steel pole he was using were easy to see.
“You have to get out!” Gabe called. “The ladder is outside the window. GO!”
“No! I won’t leave her! She’s unconscious. I’ll pull her out”—cough, cough—“if you can lift this damn thing.”
Gabe could tell the man was serious about not leaving without the woman. He figured it must be his wife or someone he loved.
To have someone love you that much… You would never be left behind. He longed for just that.
He put both hands under the edge of the cabinet while the other man dropped the pole and grabbed onto the woman’s arms. With one great heave, the cabinet was raised. The man screamed in pain but managed to pull the woman out before falling to the ground himself and coughing violently.
Gabe quickly lifted the woman into his arms and carried her to the window, handing her off to Lee before turning to pick up the last survivor who was still coughing on the floor. Gabe removed his oxygen mask and placed it over the man’s face before stepping onto the ladder and heading down to the waiting EMTs. Now that they were away from the smoke, Gabe looked down at the man in his arms to find stunning moss-green eyes staring up at him.
Desperate for something to clear away the sucker punch that one look had delivered, Gabe could only come up with the other woman in the fire. “Your wife is going to be okay. We got her out thanks to your help.”
Gabe gently placed the man down on the waiting gurney. Within moments, one of the EMTs removed the oxygen mask Gabe had given him and replaced it with one from a tank in their rig. Gabe noticed more burns on the man’s hands and chest as well as bleeding across his abdomen.
The green-eyed man quickly pushed the mask away from his face. “Wife?”
“Building’s clear, Gabe. Now we just need to keep it contained,” Lee stated through Gabe’s headset.
“Copy, on my way.”
“Wife?” the man asked again, looking adorably confused, eyes squinting, leaving a cute little wrinkle between his eyebrows.
“Yes, the lady under the cabinet is already being transported to the hospital,” Gabe replied, doing his best to not look into those beautiful eyes or at the tempting bottom lip that was currently between the other man’s teeth. The man looked confused for a moment, and then his face lit up in happiness. It was like the clouds parted with just that one look.
Where the hell did that cliché come from?
“Janice? She’s safe?”
“Yes, she’s on her way to the hospital. You can meet her there when you’re transported.” Gabe began to back a few feet away; he had to get back to the fire and stop staring at the poor man.
Damn, I’ve been alone too long when I’m lusting after a married, heterosexual man.
Being a gay firefighter, it wasn’t easy for Gabe to find the right partner. Sure, easy sex was always available, but he wanted a commitment. Men might think it was hot to date a fireman, but they soon found the hours he worked and the dangers he faced to be too much, and they would eventually leave.
“Wait, wife? Janice? No…I’m gay. She’s my friend—” The man began coughing so violently he was gagging over the side of the gurney.
“We’re outta here, Gabe,” said Royce, his friend and one of the EMTs, before replacing the oxygen mask.
Gabe ran back over, catching the gurney before it went into the rear of the ambulance.
“Wait, what’s your name?”
Gabe and Royce shared a look before Royce gave a slight nod and smiled. Then the doors closed and the ambulance sped away, leaving Gabe and the rest of the firefighters to battle the blaze into the late afternoon. Royce would keep an eye on the guy for Gabe as best he could. After all, the man had saved his young cousin’s life, and he couldn’t just ignore these intense feelings of attraction, could he?
Boys of Brighton
Genre: m/m romance
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Date of Publication: 30 December 2016
Number of pages: Print – 116
Word Count: 40,560
Cover Artist: Boroughs Publishing Group
Emergency room nurse Samuel Mason is offered a ménage a trois with two ex-miltary men and discovers a love more dangerous—and more exquisite—than he anticipated.
As soon as Spider heard the water running in the shower, he turned to Dante. “We shouldn’t do this. We can’t leave him.”
Dante came forward and wrapped his arms around Spider. “It was part of the deal we made, Jack. We can’t back out now.”
“It just doesn’t feel right to me, it’s Sam.” Spider knew it was part of their initial arrangement with Sam, but things had changed, hadn’t they?
“We’ve got another mission. We have to head a security detail in two days. Besides, Sam hasn’t asked us to stay. We can’t make that decision for him.” Dante backed away and returned to preparing their final meal together. Spider’s heart raced, knowing this was the wrong decision.
“But I know he cares about us. I can feel it. He was meant to be a part of our team,” Spider said, trying to explain what he felt to his core, he knew Sam loved them on some level. They’d spent the last five weeks living together, acting every bit like a family, and it had been plain to see how each of them felt, or maybe he was simply seeing what he wanted. The two went on to work silently on supper for several minutes until they both heard the water turn off in the shower.
“Sweetheart, look at me,” Dante said, and Spider finally met Dante’s eyes. Spider knew he was the one more likely to show emotions out of the two of them, but the pain he saw in Dante’s eyes confirmed he felt the same way about Sam. “We have to carry on with our lives and let Sam carry on with his. It’s selfish to force ourselves on him.”
“But, Major, I don’t believe we are. Do we really have to leave like this?” Spider still fell back on his military training when stressed.
“Leave?” Sam spoke softly from the doorway, a towel hanging low on his hips. His beautiful tattoos stood in vibrant contrast against his creamy white skin and lean muscle. His red hair was wet and standing up in odd angles and his beautiful brown eyes shone slightly.
“Leave?” Sam repeated, his face becoming a mask, showing nothing. “Is it time for the two of you to go back already?”
Dante released Spider, who stepped forward and held out his hand. Sam immediately took it, and Spider pulled him in close so both he and Dante could surround him. “Yes, Sam, we have another assignment.” Spider thought the words seemed like a physical blow to Sam even as he tried to hide his response from them.
“When?” Sam asked in a strangled voice.
“So this is my farewell supper?” Sam stepped back out of their reach and took a deep breath. “I should have guessed with all my favorites on the menu.”
Sam was smiling now, but it didn’t reach his eyes. Spider was desperate to touch him again, but didn’t know if Sam would allow it. “We wanted to make the night special.”
Sam looked around at the table set with wineglasses and his grandmother’s good china. “It looks beautiful, thank you. I’ll go finish getting dressed and we can start our last evening together.” Sam stepped forward, gave both Spider and Dante a quick kiss on their cheeks, and went back to their master bedroom.
Dante stood straighter and squared his shoulders, the same stance he always took when the hard decisions needed to be made. “We have to go, Jack. We both knew this couldn’t last forever, and all three of us went into this knowing it would eventually have to end. Now is that time.”
“Don’t you feel it? The pull to him, the need to keep him with us?” Spider couldn’t understand why Dante was fighting so hard to not allow himself to fall in love with Sam.
“Of course I do. But again, soldier, that’s not our decision to make.”
Boys of Brighton
Genre: m/m romance
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Date of Publication: 3 March 2017
Number of pages: Print – 117
Word Count: 40,060
Cover Artist: Boroughs Publishing Group
Two reclusive gay men—Brighton’s local librarian and its grumpy bear, former motorcycle gang member turned diner owner—find each other and love.
Rick just knew he was going to ruin this evening somehow. Heck, he’d already started by causing those three men to notice him. He’d planned to stand behind them, hopefully going unseen, until Bear had called his name and he had to walk through the group. Now his anxiety level was rising like a toxic tide.
“Easy. Look at me. Breathe…” When Rick looked up, everything looked fuzzy, and he noticed they were in Bear’s office instead of at the table. “Breathe in and out. That’s it.”
After several minutes, Bear’s handsome face came into focus, and Rick could finally speak. “S-s-sorry” was all he could manage to say.
“No, that was my fault. I should have never called their attention to you or made you walk through them with your anxiety. I’m the one who’s sorry,” Bear replied with a guilty look on his handsome face. “I won’t ever do that again unless it’s an emergency. I’ll come to you instead, I swear.”
Rick realized a while ago that Bear was aware of Rick’s “little quirks” but had never brought them up so openly before. He felt a bit embarrassed and found himself unable to meet Bear’s eyes. “It’s okay, and it’s not your fault that I’m this way.” That responsibility belonged to someone else entirely, a man so vicious it had taken four officers to take him down.
“This way?” Bear gently cupped both of Rick’s cheeks so he couldn’t look away again. “The way you are is perfect to me, never doubt that.”
He looked so serious that Rick had no other choice but to nod his head in agreement.
“Okay, now are we ready to have dinner and apple pie?” Bear’s smile brought out that one dimple he had on his left cheek.
“Oh yeah,” Rick replied. “Did you know an average nine-inch pie holds roughly six medium apples?” He hung his head so quickly that Rick was surprised he hadn’t given himself whiplash. Damn nervous useless information, he’ll think I’m a freak.
“Yeah, we use around five or six depending on the size of the apple,” Bear answered and carried on toward the front without one word of censure or even a strange look for Rick’s “info drop” as he liked to call his freaky behavior. It wasn’t like he could namedrop, but boy he could spit out useless information like a pro. Maybe for a little while, Rick would be able to act as if his idiosyncrasies didn’t matter and not have to worry about how he appeared to others.
Bear led Rick to their table by keeping a possessive hand on the small of Rick’s back, and Rick had no idea why it felt so good there. How can I be attracted to another giant of a man? Didn’t I learn my lesson the last time? Rick honestly didn’t quite understand why Bear wanted to spend time with him, but Rick wasn’t going to complain. He felt safe when he was with Bear, which was an odd feeling for him to begin with.
Over the next hour, Rick learned more about the man that occupied every dream he’d had over the past year. He knew Bear had been in a motorcycle club back in Chicago but had left it to “find a new life,” as Bear put it, but he wouldn’t elaborate further. What he did know still amazed Rick, who’d never left Brighton. All the places Bear had seen were a world away from Rick’s reality.
“Here you go, sweetie, your apple pie.” Rick looked up and smiled at Sarah. The older woman was an absolute angel to everyone.
“Thank you, Sarah. I absolutely love your apple pie,” Rick stated as his mouth watered for a bite.
“We know, honey,” Sarah responded.
“Hey! What the hell? You told me you didn’t have any more apple pie, you old crone,” yelled one of the three men who’d made Rick feel nervous when he’d come in. “What do I have to do, go in the back and give the boss a blowjob like little Mr. Bookworm here did?”
Rick immediately pulled his messenger bag off the table and placed it safely on the bench seat—Bear’s gift was in that bag after all. He slid across the bench, putting some distance between himself and the irate man. The man’s two friends were desperately clawing at the third man’s jacket, trying to pull him back.
Rick’s anxiety began to rise, and of course, he knew what was coming next. “In a recent survey, it was found that four out of ten people have dated someone from work. But in this case, you are completely mistaken. We’re friends.”
The drunk man stopped and just stared at Rick like he’d grown a second head. “What do I care? Are you some kind of idiot?”
Rick witnessed the change in Bear and sat fascinated as he went from attentive, charming dinner date to a hulking man who, with one look, could make most people shake. But the truly bizarre thing was that, instead of feeling fear, Rick felt excited.
What’s wrong with me?
Boys of Brighton
Genre: m/m romance
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Date of Publication: 2 June 2017
ISBN: ebook - 9781944262785
Number of pages: Print - 120
Word Count: 40,810
Cover Artist: Boroughs Publishing Group
A widower and a man who fled his past find love in Brighton, TX, despite the violence of one’s homophobic family.
Royce heard the deep rumbling and knew his hopes that they could work this out had disappeared. The roar of Jesse’s bike as it pulled out of the driveway and away from their house felt like a stab to his chest. Was it still “their” house? Was he coming back? Was he safe? Royce didn’t have the answers and a sick feeling began to spread through his body. Jesse had left him. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so hard on him. But Jesse was keeping things from him and Royce was frustrated. He’d spent the last few weeks afraid Jesse would be hurt or leave. Well, he left.
The pain was starting to set in. Jesse left. The realization hit home like a sledgehammer. He left me. Royce couldn’t understand why Jesse hadn’t taken his things with him. Maybe he’s coming back? Royce didn’t know what to think. He never thought Jesse would just take off like this because they’d always found it easy to talk things out up until now.
Royce wandered through his empty house room by room…rooms he’d hoped and prayed would be filled with children someday. He’d always dreamt of giving children with special needs a good home and viewed adoption as the option for him. But when Daniel had died, so had that dream, until Jesse came along. Now Royce’s pain was becoming intense, and he knew unless you’d suffered through the loss of the person you love, there was no way of properly describing it. But the closest he could imagine was paralyzing, painful emptiness creeping into his heart and soul.
Should he go look for Jesse or wait here? What would Royce do if Jesse didn’t come back? That one thought alone kept Royce pacing the floors. He stopped by the kitchen and grabbed himself a beer before continuing with his silent vigil. The more he thought about everything that had happened, the more worked up he got. Hell, he’d already lost one man he’d loved. Royce couldn’t help but wonder how he’d pissed off fate so badly that this was happening to him again.
Hours crawled by and Royce sat waiting. At two in the morning he surrendered to the fact that Jesse wasn’t likely to be coming back. He’d been gone over twelve hours. Royce had already called Dante, one of the leaders of the Sentinels, to let him know Jesse had left. That had been hours ago, and Royce wondered if the Sentinels were still out looking for Jesse. Royce would still pay to have Jesse safe even if it was without Royce at his side.
He walked slowly to their bedroom, taking his shirt off and dropping it on the floor in the hallway, not caring where it landed. He continued on, leaving his pants at the bedroom door, boxers at the foot of the bed. By the time he crawled up onto the mattress, he couldn’t hold back his sorrow and loss any longer. The last time he’d cried was at Daniel’s graveside. Royce had thought he’d be impervious to that kind of pain again, but he’d been sorely mistaken.
Royce laid his head down, praying sleep would take him away into blissful nothingness. He hoped against all odds that this had all just been some sort of cruel nightmare and he would wake up at any moment with Jesse in his arms. But all the while knowing full well his reality had changed yet again and his future was uncertain.
Royce awoke hours later. He hadn’t even realized he’d fallen asleep and had no idea what woke him, but something was different. Slowly, he opened his eyes; the room was dark but he could make out the outline of a large figure standing in the doorway. There was just enough light coming down the hallway to confirm that it was indeed Jesse. Royce sat up in bed, conflicting emotions running through his mind and heart. He was overjoyed that Jesse came back but Royce felt betrayed at being left in the first place. Those two emotions kept him on the bed, silent. If Jesse came back for his things, Royce wasn’t about to beg. No matter how much he wanted Jesse to stay, the man had to want to stay first.
About the Author:
M. Tasia is a paralegal and author who lives in Ontario, Canada. A member of the RWA and its chapter RRW, she is a dedicated people watcher, and a lover of romance, 80’s rock, and happy endings. Mother of two wonderful girls, she is also a servant to two spoiled furry children.